Aloha, Hawaii!

Updated: Sep 13

✦ Post-pandemic, bulging unspent tourism budgets are begging to be released. Susie Boswell provides tips for first-time visitors to one of the most sought-after holiday spots of them all.


The grace and beauty of the Hawaiian hula as featured in Brilliant-Online
The grace and beauty of the Hawaiian hula. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority, Nicholas Tomasello

Of all the most desired international destinations, the name alone of a mere handful evokes an instant aura, images, even aromas. Paris is one such exmaple, its distinct elan and architecture, bustling sidewalk cafes, the waft of Gauloises and Gitanes.


Chief among this rare coterie is Hawaii – palm trees, endlessly rolling clear blue surf, fine-sand beaches, golden sunshine, fragrant floral lei, hula and the universal greeting “Aloha” come to mind.


Making up for lost time over the past two years, many families have pent-up travel budgets and now are eager to spend. So it’s time for grown-up holidays: not cost-cutting compromises, not el cheapo imitations but a trip to take in one of the world’s top must-see, unique “bucket list” locations.


Waves wash up on a south Maui beach as featured in Brilliant-Online
Waves wash up on a south Maui beach. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority, Tor Johnson

A flight duration of about 10 hours from Sydney, more due north “up” the map than to the east (or west), sees passengers depart on Hawaiian Airlines’ Airbus A330 at 9:40pm in time for six to eight hours’ overnight sleep, waking for breakfast a couple of hours ahead of arrival in Honolulu at around 11:30am local time, minimising the effects of jet lag. Hawaiian prides itself on its in-flight hospitality, aiming to immerse travellers in the “Aloha spirit”, relaxing into holiday mode from the outset of the journey. Qantas and Jetstar also fly the route from Australia as alternative options.


The 50th state of the USA offers some immediate advantages: English language, familiar units of currency and familiar cuisines among them, making it easy to slide into moving about and making the most of your time away – leaving maximum opportunity to explore the things that are different: the many aspects of Hawaii’s rich culture and environment head of the list.


Strolling the boardwalk at lush Akaka Falls, Hawaii island as featured in Brilliant-Online
Strolling the boardwalk at lush Akaka Falls, Hawaii island. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Tor Johnson

The breadth of experiences on offer, pleasing pretty much every taste and desire, means it’s essential to do your research beforehand to create an efficient, flexible itinerary and pack in maximum exposure to the huge variety of attractions across the six major islands. One of the best destination websites anywhere on the globe, the official gohawaii.com is an indispensable source for planning and offers a link for a free visitor’s guide as well as newsletter sign-up.


Waikiki waterfront bars abound, with views to Diamond Head as featured in Brilliant-Online
Waikiki waterfront bars abound, with views to Diamond Head. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority, Ben Ono

The quality and excellence of a Hawaii holiday is very affordable. A calendar of annual events and festivals is among more in-depth information and savings advice at hawaiianairlines.com.au/trip-planning-guide/budget-tips-for-hawaii-travel. Under headings of affordable accommodation, thrifty transport, cheap eats and meals, and free things to do are ideas for reducing baggage charges, noting the 64kg allowance (ideal for shopping!) and how bundling can sometimes score you two extra nights free. Lonely Planet’s Hawaii guide book, too, is a smart purchase, with plenty of detailed information and helpful money-saving tips.


Each island - Oahu, Maui, Hawaii the Big Island, Lanai, Molokai and Kauai – has distinctive aspects so confining a visit to just one of them denies the chance to make the most of every moment away. Hawaiian Air has regular inter-island services allowing holidaymakers to split their time between two or more locations - a dual destination vacation - or make individual full-day trips to tour second or third islands. Norwegian Cruise Line is the noted operator of inter-island cruises Honolulu-Honolulu, its vessel Pride of America visiting multiple ports of call over a week-long excursion; recently, though, staffing shortages have affected sailings so best to check booking availability directly with NCL.


Joy for a boy mastering the bodyboard, Hawaii island as featured in Brilliant-Online