The biggest component to travel for me has always been cost, my journeys have to be budgeted and affordable. I am terrible at managing money, but I am great at winging it and saving a few bucks. I will suffer through long layovers, cheap cabs, inconvenient living arrangements (to an extent), as long as I can get to where i’m going and spend my energy and money at the destination. I want to share how much I spent on my Hawaii trip, in hopes that it will inspire someone who perhaps has never traveled to treat themselves to a life changing experience, without worrying about the anticipated cost.
Flight -590 (kayak)
Lodging -0 (you could estimate approx 200 a night if you rent a room)
Uber -100 (several trips)
Luau -100 (cheaper options)
Sandbar trip contribution -60
my total= ~1200 for 1 person for 5 days.
The cost of the trip was heavily augmented by cutting expenses staying with a friend, and being driven primarily by her. I will definitely say, Hawaii isn’t a cheap trip….and this is coming from a New Yorker. It is nearly impossible to avoid inflated costs, as common items found in the mainland USA are shipped to Hawaii, and you have to pay for the convenience of having it available. This total also includes transport to and from airports, and expenses while travelling.
Overall, on a scale of 1-10, i’d rate Hawaii as an 8 for value as a single person travelling.
The beauty of the natural scenery, the available nightlife and mainstream culture, the ability to saturate yourself in the native culture, and the abundant wildlife and outdoors expeditions make it extremely worthwhile!
**A quick piece of advice, research is the key to success when travelling. Research the cost incurred, research where you are going, ask people who have been before, …you can never have too much information.
So, in my humble opinion, Hawaii is a MUST see destination for nature enthusiasts. There are miles of natural raw landscapes to take in. Tall tree covered mountains, crystal blue pacific waters with gorgeous sandy beaches, popular trails for hiking, and plenty of picturesque land to inspire you to seize the outdoor day. If you are into nightlife as well, Honolulu has you covered. There are tons of bars, lounges, and clubs that cater mostly to tourists and transplant locals.
I spent the entirety of my trip on the island of Oahu. It’s the most populated, third largest island, and the easiest and cheapest to access for a trip. For a mainland comparison, think of Honolulu and Waikiki as a posh sun drenched open downtown area, surrounded by a mixed appearance suburban area. High end shopping, beautiful people, late 90s styled construction and little evidence of the wild world around it. I used uber to get around this area, and avoided as many tourist traps as I could. The whole area has that “veneer” that I like to avoid. A smooth shiny finish that has scrubbed away local people and wildlife in lieu of commerce and urban expansion, but its a necessary evil i’m guessing. My friends and I partied all night in Honolulu at a few local mega-clubs, names of which I can’t recall. I couldn’t make it to any gay venues, but I got asked on an awesome date while I was there so I thought I’d satisfied that quota. We also spent time at a cigar lounge, had dinner at a few chain restaurants, and brunched at trendy hotspots.
What my fellow outdoor travel enthusiasts should do…
Go to the sandbar! Its a natural wonder and you can rent a pontoon boat to enjoy it. The sandbar is a naturally occurring area on the windward side of Oahu, where the tide recedes back into the pacific ocean and reveals a small submerged island of sand. Its surrounded by water in Kaneohe bay, and becomes the perfect spot for pseudo-isolated relaxation. We brought drinks, food, music, and games to play on the boat. I of course went walking out as far as I could on the sandbar, until the point which I realized I was literally standing at the drop-off for the pacific ocean. It was one of those sobering moments when you realize you are staring into the vast void of something much bigger and more important than you.
Hike Koko Head trail. It’s a steep incline rated as moderately difficult, definitely not for beginners, the out of shape, or faint of heart. There were points at which I was crawling on all fours to scale the mountain. It’s built on top of an old cart transit system that was used to move cargo down the side of the mountain. It resembles train tracks that you use as steps to climb all the way up. I climbed it in the middle of the day in march, and I sweated buckets. Bring water, and definitely some music to push you through the tougher parts. This is the perfect activity for those that want to challenge themselves physically, prefer dynamic engaging cardio, or want to compete against their friends if you go in a group. There is no better feeling than surpassing others on the trail while listening to Formation, and checking out the amazing views around you. The view from the top is an almost unblocked 360 degree view of the entire island, well worth the average 40 minutes to complete the climb. I took an uber to the trail, as it’s kind of far away from where I was staying, and then walked afterwards to a little strip mall and had Korean food with a friend to recover. Perfect early day activity.
Hike Diamond Head trail. This trail is the one you can bring your mom and aunt that like to walk with you. It’s challenging in a few spots, but overall easy. The trail is more manicured, and has rails and concrete steps in spots to help you along the way. It is tourist HEAVY, so brace yourself for some traffic if you go at primetime. It also costs a small fee to hike, as it’s considered a park area. Try to make it there early in the am, so you can catch the sunrise over the ocean.
Go to the North Shore. The beaches in Oahu are abundant, and if you’re like me, there is nothing better than roasting under the sun and getting as dark as humanly possible. We had an acai bowl to start our day, which if you’re also into fitness is a perfect pairing for a protein packed breakfast, and made our way down Kamehameha way to lay out on the banzai pipeline. We saw whales off in the distance, and the water and sky were perfectly picturesque. We also found a more secluded beach and grabbed a fattening lunch of garlic and butter drenched shrimp over rice, and relaxed all day. There were cliche surfer guys with long sun-bleached hair, and a local celeb taking photos in a line of bathing suits on the beach. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a honeymoon, or just a lazy outdoor afternoon with your mate.
Go to a Luau. This activity is better suited to the culture enthusiasts. When my friend suggested we do this, I was deeply hesitant because I didn’t want to participate in anything that was a mockery of what traditional Hawaiian people do. I preferred to go to a real fire-pit, pig roasting in the earth Luau, or nothing at all. However, the one we went to which was inside a theme park styled activity center, was amazing. They took a great deal of time to describe the Hawaiian tradition, used native Hawaiian actors and actresses, and talked at great length about the history of the islands and how they were settled by different cultures over the course of history. They also spoke about the impact of colonization, and the history of the United States occupying the land.
For my birthday, I had the chance to celebrate in Hawaii. My best friend of more than 10 years invited me to her home there, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend my February birthday on a warm sunny beach instead of battling snow-maggedon in New York. I booked my flight at the last minute after Christmas day 2015, and left in mid march 2016 for the best trip I have ever been on so far.
Hawaii is a wild and beautiful place. It is a tropical island that has the overall feel of the mainland United States, but none of the urgency or continuity. It feels like a land isolated. The first thing you notice visually are the sweeping hills and tall mountains, the lush green foliage, and the sandy sun drenched atmosphere. A detailed or discerning eye will also notice the divide in the people living there. The firm charm of the original native culture, and their passive disconnect with a very present US military and mainland sensibilities.
As the official first start to my adventure seeking, I planned hiking expeditions, a traditional Hawaiian Luau, Honolulu nightlife, and lots and lots of nature exploration.