Here’s what you need to know before visiting Hawaii

This article was created for The Travel Project by Drake Logan, a Nova Scotia native, paramedic in training and occasional world traveller.

Travelers like to try new things, new sights, new food, new everything. So being an adventurous person, I try not go to the same place more than once - Hawaii being my exception. So far I've been 3 times.

The island itself is a small part of the United States that's usually forgotten or on your list of places to see before you die. It's a place that has something for everyone, whether you like laying on a beach sipping a mai tai or being dropped in a cage underwater to feed sharks. The following are some tips and tricks to help you enjoy your time in paradise...

GETTING AROUND

O’ahu’s public bus system is great with fares around 2.50 USD & weekly/monthly visitor passes are also available. But most hiking trails and & viewpoints are out of the way across the island requiring a rental car or tour group. Cabs are readily available at the airport, shopping centers, and along the beach. Resorts also run their own shuttles for excursions.

THE MAIN SIGHTS

Love the beach? Most likely if you decided to go to Hawaii, home to some of the most Instagram-worthy beaches in the world (Sunset, Waikiki, & Kawela).

Love history & architecture? Then walk on down to the Iolani palace, home of the last monarchs of Hawai’i, then finish it off with an afternoon at the Byodo-In temple. Surrounded by two acres of koi ponds, an 18ft Buddha statue, and a 3-ton brass bell you can ring (GoPro time).

Off the map sights more your thing? Why not check out some of Hawaii’s beautiful hiking spots? You could hike through the jungle to find Waimea Falls, check out the end of North America at Ka’ena point to see the seals bathing, or hike up Koko crater (also known as the stairs of doom) to get some great sights of the island.

CHINATOWN

No trip is complete without a day spent in one of the oldest Chinatown’s in the United States. A lively scene of noodle shops, markets, and temples. The perfect spot to get all your friends gifts & candy while also learning about Hawaii’s culture (Also a great spot for budget travelers). Tip – test your taste buds with a new cuisine – Dim Sum (Meat & veggies prepared inside dumplings or seaweed and served in steamer baskets). It’s a dining experience like nothing else and one I look forward to every time I go. Make sure to go recite your prayers for good luck to some of the goddess statues in the courtyards!

SURFING

Who goes to Hawaii and doesn’t go surfing? Well me actually; I never went surfing until my 3rd trip. But for real, surfing is something you need to experience once in your life. It’s challenging & mind blowing at the same time, using muscles you never even knew you had, and the feeling you get catching a swell (wave, if you knew that brownie points) is like nothing else. For the avid surfer there are plenty of places to rent boards along the island for dirt cheap by the hour or daily. If you require some training such as myself there are plenty of companies available for hire such as Reeled in Surf. Or if you’re feeling adventurous hit up some locals to show you the basics, people are a lot nicer than you think.

EAT LIKE A LOCAL

You’re probably thinking people in Hawaii live off of pineapple, coconuts, and spam (pretty accurate) right? Think again. The food in Hawaii is some of the most delicious and healthiest you’ll ever have on vacation. For breakfast my go to is a pineapple bowl – it’s where the pineapple is carved out, filled wth other fruits, greek yogurt, drizzled honey, & topped off with macadamia nuts & coconut shavings. For lunch, I usually went with a poke (pronounced “POH-keh”) bowl – cubed raw tuna usually served over rice, seasoned any way you want it. It’s one of Hawaii’s oldest and most popular dishes, mainly because it’s healthy, delicious, and totally unique. For supper, I would recommend Loco Moco. It consists of a bed of rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy. Sounds delicious right? Tiki’s Grill & Bar makes some of the best on the island. Most importantly for dessert, you MUST get malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery, they’re sweet fried dough rolled in sugar. Probably the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life, other desserts and snacks to try are acai bowls, shaved ice, and mochi.

READY TO VISIT YET?

If any of that resonated with you (how couldn’t it?) then I definitely recommend you head to Hawaii right away. With so many things to do on multiple different islands you’d never run out of adventures to take. We all deserve a trip to paradise at least once in our lives. I’m currently planning my fourth trip to paradise for Fall 2017, hope to see you all there!

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