Whenever you travel to a new place, it’s important to be well-informed. After all, by learning about your destination in advance, you’ll be able to avoid quite a few hiccups. To help learn about the islands before your trip to Hawaii, this guide has all ofs your Hawaii FAQs answered by a local.
The Basic Hawaii FAQs
Where Is Hawaii?
Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s about a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, California and a seven-hour flight from Tokyo, Japan.
Is Hawaii an Island?
Hawaii isn’t just one island. It’s a collection of islands.
How Many Islands Are in Hawaii?
There are eight main Hawaiian Islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island (officially called “Hawaii”), Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe.
What Languages Are Spoken in Hawaii?
The primary language spoken in Hawaii is English, although English and Hawaiian are both official languages in the state.
Since Hawaii is so diverse, you’ll likely hear a wide variety of languages during your trip to the Islands, including Tagalog, Ilocano, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and more.
You’ll also likely hear the local dialect called Pidgin. This dialect is a combination of many languages, including Hawaiian, English, and Japanese. While you might want to be able to recognize a few Pidgin phrases, I don’t recommend attempting to speak Pidgin during your time in the islands.
What Currency Is Used in Hawaii?
The U.S. Dollar is the currency used in Hawaii.
What Time is It in Hawaii?
Hawaii has its own time zone, which is called Hawaii Standard Time (HST).
Hawaii also doesn’t follow daylight savings. This means that, depending on the time of year, Hawaii is 2-3 hours behind California, 5-6 hours behind New York, and 10-11 hours behind London.
What Is the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit?
This is one of the most popular Hawaii FAQs, and it is a difficult one to answer. Every Hawaiian island has its own unique atmosphere. While Kauai is a hiker’s paradise, Maui is where all the honeymooners go. In my opinion, all of the Hawaiian Islands are worth a visit – but not all in one trip!
If you’re looking for more information about each Hawaiian Island, this article should help you decide which Hawaiian Island is best for you.
Weather in Hawaii FAQs
What Is the Weather Like in Hawaii?
The weather in Hawaii is pretty much always warm. The temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or raises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
In other words, Hawaii doesn’t really have your typical four seasons. Instead, there is a dry season and a rainy season. Dry season, which is full of sunshine, runs from about April to October. Rainy season runs from about November to March, and depending on where you are in the islands, you can experience quite a bit of rain.
If you’ve decided to visit during rainy season but want to avoid the rain, your best bet is to head to the west sides of all of the islands. I’m not sure what the science behind it is (if you know, let me know in the comments below), but the west sides (such as Kona, Lahaina, Waimea, and Ko Olina) of all of the islands stay relatively dry while the east sides (such as Hilo, Hana, Lihue, and Kailua get quite rainy.
Does It Snow in Hawaii?
While you might be surprised to see this question on this list of Hawaii FAQs, it actually DOES snow in Hawaii! But you don’t have to worry about it, because it’s only on the very top of Mauna Kea, a volcano on the Big Island. Fun fact: from the sea floor to the peak, Mauna Kea is technically the tallest mountain in the world.
If you’d like, you can go see the snow on the top of Mauna Kea. Most car rental companies on the Big Island don’t allow you to drive to the top, so I recommend taking a tour instead.
Book Here: Mauna Kea Sunrise Tour
Book Here: Mauna Kea Stargazing Tour
When Is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
In my opinion, the best time to visit Hawaii is when it’s not too hot, not too rainy, and not too crowded. That’s usually around April-May and October-November (not including Thanksgiving weekend, because it gets quite crowded then).
Does Hawaii Have Hurricanes?
Yes, Hawaii does have hurricanes, but odds are they won’t impact your trip. While hurricane warnings happen a few times per year, they rarely hit the islands. As a matter of fact, the last major hurricane in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
That said, if you’re really worried about hurricanes, you can simply choose to stay in an area that’s not along the normal hurricane path. Most Hawaii hurricanes only get close to Hilo (on the Big Island) and Kauai. So you can choose to stay in Kona on the Big Island, on Oahu, on Maui, or even on the smaller islands of Lanai and Molokai.
Which Islands Have Active Volcanoes?
There are technically seven active volcanoes in Hawaii. Five of these volcanoes, Kilauea, Hualalai, Kohala, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea, are all on the Big Island. The sixth volcano is Haleakala on Maui. And the final volcano is actually forming a new Hawaiian Island called Loihi, which is to the southeast of the Big Island.
All of Hawaii’s volcanic eruptions that you’ve heard about in your lifetime have been from Kilauea. The rest of the volcanoes on this list have been rather quiet for the past few hundred (or thousand) years.
Even though Kilauea is quite active, you don’t have to worry for your safety. If Kilauea does affect a community, it’s usually the small area of Pahoa on the Hilo side of the Big Island, but that is very rare. And on this rare chance that there is a volcano-related emergency and you need to evacuate, you’ll hear about it, whether it’s through a phone alert, the news, or even your neighbors.
How Many Volcanoes Are In Hawaii?
While there are seven active volcanoes in Hawaii, there are many more extinct ones. As a matter of fact, many prominent mountain peaks, including Mount Waialeale on Kauai and the Koolau Mountain Range on Oahu, are extinct volcanoes.
Are There Other Types of Natural Disasters in Hawaii?
The only other kind of natural disaster that occurs in Hawaii are earthquakes, but these are all relatively low level.
Hawaii and the U.S. FAQs
Is Hawaii Part of the United States?
Yes, Hawaii is part of the United States. It first became a part of the U.S. when Queen Liliuokalani, the queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen in 1893. But Hawaii wasn’t technically annexed by the U.S. until 1898. Then, in 1900, Hawaii officially became a U.S. territory. Finally, in 1959, Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state.
Is Hawaii a State?
Yes, Hawaii is a U.S. State.
Hawaii Size FAQs
How Long Does It Take to Drive Around Oahu?
When people visit Hawaii, they think they can drive around each of the islands in one day. And while that is possible, I wouldn’t recommend it, simply because you won’t get to spend much time at the actual stops.
But you can still drive around the islands in one day if you want to. It takes just under 4 hours to drive all around Oahu.
But keep in mind, the road doesn’t make a full circle. There’s a little section at the northwestern tip of the island called Kaena Point, which is a hike, not a road. So, since you likely won’t be anywhere near the starting or ending points (which are in Waianae on the west side and Waialua on the North Shore), this drive will take longer than four hours.
Plus, you have to account for traffic. Traffic on Oahu can be pretty bad. For example, you don’t want to be driving from Honolulu to Kapolei (the west side of the island) at 5 p.m. Traffic is always at a standstill. Even the North Shore gets its fair share of traffic jams on a prime surf day. Simply put, it will probably take you more like 6 or 7 hours to actually drive around Oahu.
Most people do a loop trail that skips the west side of the island and instead cuts through the middle. This Shaka Guide audio tour has great directions for this loop, as well as music, stories, travel tips, and more!
How Long Does It Take to Drive Around Maui?
Unlike Oahu, Maui actually has a complete loop around the perimeter, but not all of it is paved, particularly the section south of Hana. Most rental car companies don’t actually allow you to drive this stretch of road, which makes it pretty much impossible to drive around Maui.
That said, if you have a car of your own or you manage to find a car rental company that allows you to drive on the island’s unpaved roads, it takes about 6 and a half hours to drive around Maui. Even though Maui isn’t much bigger than Oahu, the drive is much longer, thanks to the many winding roads (like the road to Hana) and the lack of highways.
How Long Does It Take to Drive Around Kauai?
Like Oahu, Kauai has a section of the island’s loop that isn’t accessible by car. In this case, it’s the Na Pali Coast.
That said, you can still explore the rest of the island’s loop, starting at Haena State Park in Hanalei and ending at Polihale State Park (or vice versa). This drive all around Kauai takes just two hours and 20 minutes! And if you’re staying in Hanalei, you’ll already be conveniently located at the starting point! (No one really stays near Polihale State Park, simply because there are no accommodations.)
Kauai may be the only Hawaiian Island where driving the entire perimeter in one day is actually doable. But would I recommend it? The answer is still no. There are so many fantastic stops to see along the way that you could easily spend days exploring the sites! So why rush through them by trying to drive around Kauai in one day?
How Long Does It Take to Drive Around the Big Island?
The Big Island may be the only island where you can drive around the entire perimeter. The entire road is paved! But, because the Big Island is just so big, I still wouldn’t recommend trying to do so all in one day.
It takes just under six hours to drive the perimeter of the Big Island. And the Big Island rarely has traffic, so this is a pretty accurate estimate, assume you make no stops.
But if you’re just trying to get from the Kona side of the Big Island to the Hilo side (or vice versa), you can take the relatively new Saddle Road and cut your trip down to just an hour and a half.
Is Hawaiian a Language?
Yes, Hawaiian is a language, although you probably won’t get a chance to hear more than the basics on your trip. Sadly, the Hawaiian language is no longer widely spoken in Hawaii.
What Are Some Hawaiian Foods I Should Try?
First, it’s important to note that there is a clear difference between “Hawaiian food” and “local food.”
Hawaiian food includes dishes like kalua pig, lau lau, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia. It’s the kind of food that ancient Hawaiians actually ate and that you’ll (hopefully) get at an authentic Hawaiian luau. If not, here’s a list of the most authentic Hawaiian restaurants in Hawaii.
Local food, on the other hand, comes from a mixture of different cultural influences. This includes dishes like musubis, manapuas, and malasadas – and most of the items on the Hawaii food bucket list.
Traveling to Hawaii FAQs
Do I Need a Passport and Visa to Visit Hawaii?
It depends on where you’re from. If you’re from the U.S., no, you don’t. If you’re from another country, you’ll for sure need a passport. You may or may not need a visa, depending on your country of citizenship.
For more information, you can visit the iVisa website.
How Long Is the Flight to Hawaii?
That depends on where you’re coming from! It’s about five hours from Los Angeles, seven hours from Tokyo, ten hours from New York, and seventeen hours from London.
Can I Use My Phone in Hawaii?
If your phone plan provides service in the United States, you can use your phone in Hawaii.
What Types of Electrical Plugs Are in Hawaii?
Hawaii has 120V supply voltage and 60Hz. If your devices were made to use less power than this, you should not bring them or use them on your trip to Hawaii.
As for the types of electrical plugs, Hawaii uses Type A and Type B plugs.
What Should I Wear in Hawaii?
Casual clothing is a must in Hawaii. Flip-flops (locally known as slippers) are the most popular form of footwear, insane amounts of Hawaii swimwear fill every local’s closet, and suits are nowhere to be seen.
But one of the biggest mistakes that people make when visiting Hawaii is wearing those gaudy aloha shirts (yes, you call them Hawaiian shirts, but they’re actually called aloha shirts).
Don’t get me wrong. Locals wear aloha shirts too, but not the bright red ones with the blinding white hibiscus pattern. Instead, they were aloha shirts with muted colors and tasteful patterns, like the ones from Rix Island Wear.
For a more comprehensive guide, check out our article on the best Hawaii outfits for your island getaway.
What Is the Main Airport in Hawaii?
The main airport is the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Oahu. Odds are, you’ll have to make your way to this airport first, regardless of which Hawaiian Island you plan on visiting.
Can You Drive Between the Hawaiian Islands?
This is one of the most popular Hawaii FAQs. No, you cannot drive between the Hawaiian Islands. There are no roads connecting the islands, as the water is WAY too deep to build bridges.
Is There a Ferry Between the Hawaiian Islands?
There actually aren’t ferries between the main Hawaiian Islands! While we did have one once upon a time, there were concerns about the ferries’ negative environmental impact on the waters and reefs. That means that you’ll have to fly between islands.
The only exceptions to this rule are the ferries that run between Maui and Lanai, as well as between Maui and Molokai.
Living in Hawaii FAQs
Is Hawaii a Good Place to Live?
In my opinion, Hawaii is a fantastic place to live. With beautiful nature, fantastic weather, friendly people, and great food, what more could you ask for? But since I live here, I’m obviously biased.
There are a few downfalls to living in Hawaii though, the main one being the cost of living. It’s absurdly expensive to live in Hawaii. And while this does vary a bit depending on where you live in the islands (Honolulu is much more expensive than Hilo, for example), the cost of living anywhere in Hawaii is higher than the national average.
Another reason people might not want to live in Hawaii is the small size of the islands. While this might not seem like a big deal at first, locals actually have a term for when people leave because the island feels too small: “island fever.” You have to be comfortable with the idea that you can drive from one side of the island to the other in an hour.
And last but certainly not least, the traffic in Hawaii is horrendous. Honolulu traffic has actually been compared to Los Angeles traffic – and deemed worse! While Los Angeles traffic requires that you drive slow, Honolulu traffic means you might come to a full and complete stop on the highway. All this traffic is a combination of lots of cars and not enough roads.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Hawaii?
Like I said earlier, the cost of living in Hawaii depends on where exactly you live in the islands. On average, studies have shown that you need an income of $120,000 to live comfortably in Hawaii. But that said, the average household income in Hawaii is $80,000.
Which Hawaiian Island Is Cheapest to Live On?
The cheapest Hawaiian Island to live on is the Big Island – particularly the Hilo side. While Hilo is a lovely area, it’s not exactly what you think of when you picture Hawaii. With 142 inches of rain per year, Hilo doesn’t quite have the sunny skies that Hawaii is known for – and you won’t be spending many days at the beach. Plus, Hilo is quite secluded, so don’t expect to find major stores like Costco or Target.
Other Questions About Hawaii
Are There Hot Springs in Hawaii?
Hawaii has hot springs, hot ponds, and hot tide pools. Pretty much all of the hot springs, ponds, and tide pools in Hawaii are on the Big Island (although there are a few places on Kauai and Maui that market themselves at hot springs, even though they aren’t really hot).
Currently, the only open hot spring in Hawaii is Pohoiki hot springs at Pohoiki Beach on the Big Island.
Are There Overwater Bungalows in Hawaii?
No, there aren’t any overwater bungalows in Hawaii. It turns out the weather and water conditions in Hawaii just aren’t ideal for that sort of accommodation.
Are There Casinos in Hawaii?
There are no casinos in Hawaii. There’s actually no gambling at all in Hawaii (not even bingo!). Find out more about why in my “Are There Casinos in Hawaii?” article.
Are There Theme Parks in Hawaii?
There actually aren’t any traditional theme parks in Hawaii — as in the type with rollercoasters. But there are some alternative forms of amusement parks in Hawaii.
There is also a water park in Hawaii! Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii (which locals will remember was called Hawaiian Waters, once upon a time) is located in Kapolei, Oahu.
There is also Disney’s Aulani Resort in Ko Olina, Oahu. While this isn’t technically a theme park either, it is part of the Disney brand. And the pools, lazy river, slides, and splash pad definitely give off a waterpark feel.
Book Here: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Do you have any other questions about Hawaii? Let me know in the comments below! If it ends up being a common enough question, maybe I’ll add it into this article!
Want to remember the answers to these Hawaii FAQs? Pin this post for later!