The islands of Hawaii have many diverse ecosystems, each with different climates. For example, the tops of Mauna Kea (Big Island) and Mt. Haleakala (Maui) get snow in the winter while it is in the 70's at beaches around the islands. Consider what activities you plan to enjoy, then pack. If you plan to explore trails through rainforests bring shoes you don’t mind getting really muddy. If you plan to walk the lava fields of Volcano’s National Park on the Big Island keep in mind that some lava is very sharp and proper hiking shoes are necessary. Just be casual. You do not need to bring a suit, dress slacks, or fancy cloths. The attitude and dress code for the islands is "hang loose". Even at the fanciest of restaurants aloha wear is all you need.
October to May the temperature averages mid 80’s during the day and mid 60’s to mid 70’s at night. It rains more often but it doesn’t last very long. May to October it averages mid to high 80’s during the day and mid 70’s at night. The sun is very, very strong. Even if you have a base tan, about an hour or so of tanning is plenty. Protect yourself whenever enjoying activities in the sun. Waterproof sunscreen with protection of SPF 15 or over is highly recommended. Click for Honolulu, Hawaii Forecast
Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time. During the Spring months, when the clock is turned ahead, Hawaii is 6 hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST), 3 hours behind Pacific Standard Time (PST). In the Fall, when the clocks are turned back, Hawaii is 5 hours behind EST, 2 hours behind PST.
LOCAL TERMS AND CUSTOMS:
Hawaiian words and names are used frequently in street and place names. The Hawaiian language is very easy to get used to. To pronounce a word begin by sounding out one syllable at a time. (Aloha= A-lo-ha)
Aloha means hello, goodbye, or love.
Mahalo means thank you.
When directions are given Mauka means towards the mountains and Makai means towards the ocean.
Kama'aina means Hawaii resident. Malahini means visitor to the islands.
When going to the rest room look for Wahine for women and Kane for men.
If some one asks you if you are pau, that means are you finished.
A shaka sign is when you stick your pinkie and thumb out and fold your other three fingers down. This is a form of greeting and also means the same as a thumbs up.
A flower lei can be given on any day as a symbol of love and friendship.
A flower worn behind the left ear means you are taken, behind the right means you are available.
A Luau is a celebration where friends and family gather and lots of food is served. Birthdays and graduations are popular reasons for a luau.
It is customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home.
Rubber slippers, called rubba slippahs by locals, are a popular and practical footwear in the islands.
Hang Loose is a popular local phrase that means just relax and take things slow, no worries.
Pidgin is a local dialect spoken in the islands. It is like slang English with a heavy accent. It takes getting used to to be able to understand what is being said.
DO WHAT LOCALS DO:
People often ask us for suggestions of activities that LOCALS enjoy. On weekends you will find all beach parks packed with local families. Beach parks are a great place to get together with friends and families for the day. Also, many locals enjoy surfing, snorkeling, diving, wind surfing, hiking, swimming, and sunbathing in their free time. On our vacations we also enjoy playing tourist in the islands and visit many of Hawaii's attractions.
RECEIVE A FRESH FLOWER LEI WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN HAWAII
We have received many emails from disappointed travelers who thought everyone was welcomed to Hawaii by a beautiful scantily clad island girl who adorned them in fresh flower leis when they arrived. You must arrange for a traditional lei greeting if you want it as part of your Hawaiian vacation experience. Receiving a fresh flower lei that smells wonderful is very memorable and can really enhance your Hawaii experience. If it is important to your Hawaiian vacation experience inquire with your travel agent or arrange one online with a Lei Greeting Company prior to your trip. We recommend requesting to receive a plumeria lei to welcome you to Hawaii!
PRESERVE YOUR FRESH FLOWER LEI by putting it in a plastic bag and placing it in the refrigerator. If you have a lei made of SCENTED FLOWERS place the lei on your pillow each night prior to going to sleep for sweet smelling dreams. Return it to the refrigerator prior to going to bed and reuse it the following night. Your lei will give you sweet dreams for several evenings.
CONNECTING FLIGHTS BETWEEN ISLANDS
If you will be taking a CONNECTING FLIGHT TO YOUR FINAL HAWAIIAN ISLAND DESTINATION airlines will forward checked luggage to your connecting flight if you request it when you check in on the day of your flight. This is available even if you are will be traveling with more than one airline. You just need to advise the airline agent of your entire travel itinerary to your final destination when you check in your luggage. This will save you from having to recheck your bags and going through security again.
TO SOOTH A SUNBURN apply aloe lotion with LIDOCAINE. This blue gel by Banana Boat is sold at island stores along side the sun screen. Be sure to choose the aloe lotion with LIDOCAINE. This ingredient will numb the pain of the burn. The most effective protection against sunburn is wearing WATERPROOF sunscreen SPF 15 or higher whenever in the sun. The ocean, pool, and sweat will wash away non-waterproof sunscreen and you will burn if you are not careful. The sun is very strong in Hawaii, the strongest between 11am to 2pm. If you have no base tan limit your expose to direct sunlight to 45minutes - 1 hour, or 2 hours if you have a nice base tan . Please note some people have allergic reactions to Lidocaine but for most people it provides amazing relief from sunburn pain.
Pineapples are good and good for you! Whether you enjoy your pineapple in the islands or in the comfort of your home, when selecting a fresh pineapple the skin should be yellow in color and should smell sweet. The night before you want to enjoy the pineapple break the top off then turn the pineapple upside-down on to a plate and place in the refrigerator. The sweetest juice settles in the bottom of the pineapple. When you turn it over the sweet juice on the bottom is distributed through out the entire pineapple! Pineapple not only tastes delicious but it is very good for your digestion system too. If your pineapple has an acid bite to it sprinkle a little salt on it. It takes the bite away and leaves the pineapple tasting sweet!
COOL HAWAIIAN NIGHTS
You may want to consider bringing a light jacket or sweatshirt. The nights can be cool (high 60’s) and restaurants and stores are often chilly with their air conditioning blasting!
BEWARE OF PETTY THIEVES
DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES in your rental car, on your beach blanket. or loose in your hotel. Use the safe in your hotel room if you must bring valuables that you won’t be carrying on you. Some thieves target popular tourist attractions and scenic lookout spots to break into cars. It only takes them a few moments to get inside the car, so don't give them a reason to want to break into your car by leaving your valuables visible.
DISCOUNTS ON ISLAND ACTIVITIES
When booking your activities inquire about military, senior, or Kama'aina (HI Residence) discounts, if eligible. Many activity providers also offer a discount when booking 3 or more on a tour. There are also coupon books available on street corners of tourist areas and hotel lobbies to help save on island activities. Groupon can also be a good way to get discounts on activities, services, and restaurants!
SCAM DEALS AND TIME SHARE PRESENTATIONS
Beware of activity booking agents who lure you in for a low price but then tell you they are sold out and try to sign you up for a more expensive tour. Also beware of special deals where you get a free dinner or rental car if you go to a time share presentation. They will waste your time by talking to you for several hours. Your time in the islands is so limited, use it wisely. Remember... if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!
RENT A CAR AND EXPLORE THE ISLAND
The islands are pretty easy to get around on. There are major roadways that will take you along beautiful coastlines, to waterfalls, through rainforests, and even to a live volcano! When renting a car the rental agent will provide you with a map of the island. If you have any specific activities in mind ask the renal car agent to circle your destinations on your map. There are also maps with popular attractions noted in free guide magazines available at the airport, hotels travel desks, and on tourist area curb sides.
ITEMS TO TAKE WHEN EXPLORING BY CAR
A few items to have with you when going on an island driving adventure are: beverages, snacks, full tank of gas, tissue paper (in case the rest stop is out), map, proper clothing and footwear for each of your destinations, camera with extra film, and sunscreen. A hat is strongly recommended, especially if you will be getting out at scenic spots to site see or if you have a convertible car. Even with a full head of hair your scalp will get sunburned if not properly protected by a hat and it can really put a damper on your Hawaiian vacation.
STAY OFF CELLULAR PHONE WHILE DRIVING
It is illegal to use your cellular phone without a hands free devise while driving. This includes dialing the phone, answering the phone, texting, or playing games/music on the phone. You are not permitted to do any of these activities while in the drivers seat of a vehicle, even if you are pulled off the side of the road.
International visitors to Hawaii will encounter difficulties when trying to rent a car if all they bring as a proof of a license is an International License and do not also bring their country issued license. An International License looks similar to a passport but is brown in color and has the persons country issued drivers license information translated into many different languages. The International License is only meant to be used to assist in translating the information on the license and is not in itself a valid drivers license. A valid country issued drivers license is still required in order to rent a car and without one you will not be able to rent a car.
DRIVING AT NIGHT
It can be dangerous DRIVING AT NIGHT. Some streets are not well lit and are very winding. For your safety, limit driving long distances at night.
PLEASE DO NOT LITTER!
To preserve Hawaii’s delicate ecosystems please DO NOT LITTER any trash or cigarette butts while in the islands! Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
DRINKING ALCOHOL IN HAWAII
The legal drinking age in Hawaii is 21 years or older. There are booze cruises which go out far enough that anyone at any age can drink alcohol if they choose to. It is unlawful to have an open container of alcohol in your car or in public places like beach parks and street side.
WHALE WATCHING is a popular past time in the islands, especially December-April when the Humpback Whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii to give birth. Whales can be seen from the land and ocean of all islands. In 1998 the Pacific Whale Foundation reported 352 individual whales in Hawaii's waters and recorded the songs of 42 different whales. Look for narrated whale watching tours offered on by the Pacific Whale Foundations on several of the islands.
HOW TO ENJOY MARINE LIFE
You can HELP PROTECT our unique MARINE CREATURES and habitat by having a experience without handling, feeding, or removing sea creatures from the ocean. Just relax and enjoy the amazing environment happening naturally, you never know what you may see.
NOTE: It is unlawful to approach or touch Humpback Whales, Hawaiian Monk Seals, and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. These animals are endangered and your contact could injure or cause sickness to the creatures.
BE CAUTIOUS OF HAWAIIAN CREATURES CROSSING THE ROAD
The Hawaiian Islands are the home to many animals that may cross the road. Please drive cautiously, especially at night. Signs are posted in areas where certain animals cross frequently.
BEWARE OF THE NENE
You may encounter Hawaii's State bird the Nene (Hawaiian Goose). It is a very aggressive bird and will defend it's nest and young. They have the right of way anywhere in the State. Because they are endangered it is unlawful to approach or touch a Nene. Admire these amazing creatures from a distance for everyone's safety.
DO NOT BRING FRUITS & VEGGIES TO OR FROM HAWAII
To prevent the spread of unwanted insects Federal Law prohibits bringing or sending certain plants, vegetables, and fruits to the US Mainland. Violators are fined up to $1,000 for mailing or carrying items that require quarantine. There are items (pineapples & papayas) that are sold pre-quarantined and approved for shipping. For more information call the USDA at 808 861-8490, Monday-Friday.
Sign up for the Virtual Aloha enewsletter which will bring you a monthly dose of Aloha sharing our latest Hawaii travel tips and activity reviews, suggestions to move to Hawaii, and Hawaiian theme celebration ideas!
Ask us anything Hawaii related, submit your questions!
Limited Offer: All Virtual Aloha enewsletter subscribers receive a free ebook with over 7,500 first names translated into Hawaiian! A fun resource book for translating your name and especially handy when having a Hawaiian themed celebration.
Send us pictures from your Luau or Hawaii Theme Wedding!
If you would like to share photos from your Luau or Hawaii Theme Wedding/Vow Renewal please email them to
Note: all photos submitted become property of A Friend in the Islands and may be used for promotion.
Follow on Twitter:
Tips to create a beautiful meaningful wedding without the burden of wedding debt:
Follow on Instagram:
Subscribe to the Aloha Friends YouTube channel for Luau craft tutorials, ideas for Hawaii theme celebrations, and relaxing Moment of Aloha videos to enjoy a mental vacation to Hawaii anytime! YouTube Aloha Friends Channel
All content on the website was written by Mike or Kim Crinella. All photographs on the website were taken by Mike or Kim Crinella, were submitted to A Friend in the Islands by a website user, or were Public Domain Fair Use at the time of publication.