The first thing you’ll notice is the climate. Honolulu temperatures hover around the mid to high 20s, and the water temperature rarely drops below 25 degrees all year round. So leave those long-sleeved tops behind and get yourself into a genuine Hawaiian shirt. Grab your swimming gear and head to Waikiki.
Surfing was invented here, so if you’ve never stood up on a surfboard, this is a fantastic place to have a go. The beach is dotted with surfing schools with expert tanned instructors waiting to share their tips. As you bob about in the surf you’ll find it impossible to ignore the looming heights of Diamond Head, Honolulu’s most famous landmark. It’s an unforgettable sight.
Once you’ve towelled off, make sure you take in Honolulu’s other attractions. The incredible Iolani Palace is an ornate 19th century building and the only Royal Palace in the USA. The Honolulu Night Market is something else again – a wonderland of pop-up shops, food trucks, crafts and fashion.
Pearl Harbour needs no introduction. The site of the infamous Japanese attack on the US Pacific Fleet in 1941, which saw four battleships sunk and over 2,000 service personnel killed, is now a national memorial. Make sure you book in advance or get there early, as it’s a case of ‘first come, first served.’
Honolulu is fun, but it’s only the beginning of your Hawaiian adventure. There are live volcanoes on the Big Island, stunning landscapes on the islands of Maui and Kauai, and some of the world’s most lavish resorts dotted throughout the archipelago. Some of the beaches have to be seen to be believed. Our favourites are Tunnels Beach on Kauai, where the 1958 classic South Pacific was filmed, and the surreal sands of Green Sand Beach on the Big Island.
Best time to go
Summer (June to August) is the low season, when conditions are hot and humid. Winter (December and January) is the high season, with increased occupancy and higher prices.
How much will it cost
As part of the USA, Hawaii comes with comparable costs. In late 2015 the average hotel room was USD $252, although there are many cheaper and many more expensive than this. For car hire, USD $40 per day will get you a mid-range vehicle.
There aren’t many diseases to worry about in Hawaii. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date, and beware of sun damage to pale skin under Hawaii’s tropical sun.
Hawaii is a state of the USA so you’ll need to fulfill US visa requirements. New Zealand citizens can travel to the USA for tourist stays up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program. You will need to apply online under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travelling.