Updated for 2020!
With temperatures staying consistently around 25-35 degrees Celsius for the majority of the year, Hawaii is the tropical destination to escape to any time of the year! I have been to Hawaii in both Spring and Winter seasons and I can vouch that the weather there has been pretty consistent in both cases.
If the amazing weather alone isn’t enough to convince you, Hawaii also houses an abundance of beaches, natural parks, trails, and unbelievable scenic drives. Whether you love the beach or you love hiking or both, you are in for a guaranteed treat when you go to Hawaii.
|Ideal Season:||March to June||Trip Intensity:||★★☆☆☆|
|Advanced ticket purchases:||Polynesian Cultural Center Show, Pearl Harbor Tour|
|Trip Cost:||~Approx. $1500/per person||Personal Cost:||~Approx. $1000/per person|
|Trip Cost ($USD) include: hotels, trains, tickets
Personal Cost ($USD) include: food, personal spendings
What is a Perfect Week Itinerary? PWI for short, these are 7-full-day itineraries designed to allow you to explore all the trendy sights within a limited schedule without tiring you out (too much). All of my PWIs are extensively researched and personally tried and tested, however, they are written based on my personal opinions and preferences and therefore should be used as a guide only. As much as I try to keep all my itineraries up to date in terms of travel times to the best of my ability, more research and double checking is encouraged on your end before you finalize your own itinerary.
A little background on Hawaii
Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and within the Polynesia strait, the islands of Hawaii were formed through volcanic activity initiated undersea since 81 million years ago and still active to this day.
Arrive into Honolulu. Chances are you would have been sitting on a plane for at least 8-10 hours to get to Hawaii and possibly very jet-lagged. I recommend staying close to Waikiki Beach if you want to be at the center of it all.
After checking into your hotel, take the rest of the day off to relax or stroll along the neighborhood. You’ll find many great restaurants and shops along Kalakaua Avenue, or the area around the Royal Hawaiian Center.
We will take it easy the first day and spend the day within Honolulu. Feel free to plan the day as you see fit. Here are some ideas:
1. Waikiki Beach Feeling like a quick dip in the ocean? Come here anytime throughout the day! Being so close to major shopping and attractions, it is no doubt this beach is the most popular hot spot in Hawaii. The water is relatively shallow with wave breaks, perfect for families with children. If you are interested in surfing, it is also a great place for beginners, you’ll see surfboards available to rent all along the beach.
Pro tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, then early morning (before 9:00) and late evening (after 20:00) would be best.
2. Kalakaua Avenue The main street along the shores of Waikiki, filled with restaurants and shops. Great for a quick stroll, or people-watching!
3. Ala Moana An indoor shopping center located about 15 minutes drive north of Waikiki Beach. Whether you are looking to pick up some beachy essentials or you want to shop ’til you drop, with over 350 stores and restaurants – it is bound to keep you busy!
Morning: Head to Hanauma Bay ($7.50pp, closed Tuesdays) for some snorkelling fun! Hanauma Bay used to be the mouth of the Oahu volcano millions of years ago, but today the risen ocean waters have covered the entire volcano and a beautiful showcase of corals and oceanic marine life have since called it home.
If you are not into snorkeling, this is one of my favorite beaches to just lie down and read a book. And if you are into snorkeling, you can rent a snorkel set near the entrance for $20 a set.
Afternoon: Stay in Hanauma Bay for as long as you need before heading towards North Shore on the other side of the island. Drive by Haleiwa, try their famous Matsumoto Shaved Ice, before stopping to take a dip in Laniakea Beach. On your way back to Honolulu, be sure to stop by the Dole Plantation for some pineapple fun!
Morning: Leave for Maui. The whole flight should be around 30 minutes, aim to get to Kahului by noon so you have an entire afternoon to explore the east loop around the island.
Afternoon & Evening: Drive into Haleakala National Park ($15 per car entrance fee, good for 72 hours) and follow the path up to the Haleakala Crater, plan your time wisely to ensure you get to the top by sunset (see here for sunset times). The climb up can get foggy depending on weather but the road is well paved and generally a smooth drive, the entire drive should be about 1.5 hours one-way. Once you get to the top, sit back and take in the sunset (maybe snap half a few hundreds of pictures while at it). Most people will leave after the sunset, but if it is clear sky that evening, I would highly recommend adding stargazing to your itinerary as the lack of lights in the area (and island for that matter) will give you a high definition view of our Milky Way and the bazillion of stars around us.
Wake up bright and early for your day’s journey around the big loop of Maui. I recommend going from North to South and around to the Hana Highway.
You will stop first at the Pipiwai Trail inside Haleakala National Park. The entire trail is about 3.5 miles both ways and can take 2-3 hours to hike all the way to Wailua Falls and back. The same trailhead also leads you to Pools of ‘Ohe’o (Seven Sacred Pools) for some wave crushing action. After the hike, hop back into your car for a stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park to see the black sand beach, blow hole, and sea arch.
Morning: Feel free to hang around in Kahului before your flight back to Oahu.
Afternoon: Back in Oahu! Time for some sunshine and relaxation. Feel free to spend your time freely around Waikiki Beach (it is honestly my favorite place to be despite being so touristy), or enjoy a nap somewhere – i.e. on the beach!
Evening: Drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a night of eye-opening cultural performance, yes with fire and papaya ice cream. Things are heating up guys and gals!
Morning: Aim to wake up around 4am for your hike up Diamond Head. The crowds start to appear around 5am but try to get to the top before the sunset to ensure a premium viewing spot (google result for current sunrise times).
Afternoon: Visit Pearl Harbor.
A full day of free time. Spend it as you like!
If today is a weekend, head over to Aloha Stadium for their outdoor market that takes place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. The market is THE place to get your Hawaiian souvenirs at a fraction of what the same stuff would cost around Waikiki Beach.
Looking for a more relaxed itinerary?
Skip Maui. Although I love Maui for its abundance of outdoorsy things to do, it is at the end of the day, another island you have to fly to with so many things to do on it that going for a day or 2 is only enough to scratch the surface. If you want a more relaxing vacation in Hawaii within a single week then I’d highly recommend staying in Oahu only.