Honolulu: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Home to the famous Waikiki Beach (a world-class surfing destination), Honolulu is the capital of and largest city in Hawaii, United States. The year-round warm and sunny weather, great outdoor activities, rich and diverse culture, local cuisine, music and arts make it a favorite destination for Canadians. Honolulu is also the gateway to the  Maui, Kawai and Hualalai aka the “Big Island”), which makes a trip to those islands easy through short flights and ferries.

Honolulu is a beautiful, safe and vibrant city, but it can be also expensive, overcrowded and have some safety concerns you should be aware of. If you're planning a trip to Honolulu, we've listed a few things you should know before your set off on your trip.

Getting around can be challenging if you don't know the best options for doing so. Here are some tips on how to get around Honolulu:

  • TheBus: Both reliable and affordable, this public bus system covers most of the island of Oahu. A pass will cost around $7.50 for the day and $30 for 7 days. TheBus is reliable and frequent but can be slow and crowded during peak hours. For routes and timetables, check the company's website, or consult Google Maps to help you plan your trip.
  • Biki: This bike-sharing service has 130 stations across Honolulu. Bikes can be rented for a day ($4.50) for a maximum of 30 minutes per ride, or for $30, you can purchase an Explorer plan, which gives you a bank of 300 minutes to be used within a year. Biki is a great way to explore the downtown area, Waikiki, and Ala Moana.
  • Trolley: This tourist-oriented service offers hop-on hop-off tours of various attractions in Honolulu. Day passes cost around $55; a 4-day pass will cost approximately $65. The trolley has four lines: Red (historic Honolulu), Pink (shopping and dining), Green (scenic Diamond Head), and Blue (panoramic coastline). The trolley is fun and convenient but can be limited in where it will take you on the island, so the next option is also one worth considering.
  • Car: This is the most flexible and comfortable way to get around Honolulu, especially if you want to visit places outside of the city. You can rent a car from various agencies at the airport or in Waikiki. However, driving in Honolulu can be stressful and costly due to traffic congestion, parking fees, and gas prices.
  • Purchase a Go Oahu Card, which offers a discounted pass to 45+ attractions, including Pearl Harbour, snorkeling, catamaran tours, museums, and more. Passes from one to seven days are available.
  • Avoid touristy restaurants and try local specialties, such as poke, plate lunch, shaved ice, or malasadas sold at food trucks, markets, or hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
  • Hotels in Honolulu can be pricey, especially during peak seasons. You can save money by staying in a vacation rental (i.e. AirBnB/VRBO/HomeAway), where you can meet other travellers and enjoy a more authentic experience.
  • The best time to visit Honolulu is during the Fall and Spring months when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds and prices are lower.

Located about 16 km west of Honolulu or 27 km from Waikiki, Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbour holding a historic site and a naval base.

  • From Honolulu - There are several ways to get to Pearl Harbor, such as by car, bus, taxi, or tour. Depending on the traffic and transportation option, the trip can take from 20 minutes to an hour.
  • From Waikiki - You can take a bus, a taxi, a shuttle, or a guided tour. Buses are the cheapest option, but the trip take about 1.5 hours and require at least one transfer. The taxi is the fastest option, but it can cost around $35 USD one way. The shuttle is convenient but can be crowded, and you have to book in advance. The guided tour is the most expensive option, but it includes admission to the attractions and a knowledgeable guide.
  • Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring flip-flops to protect yourself from the sun and the sand. Also, mosquito bites, which can carry diseases, are very common. Therefore, using insect repellent is highly recommended.
  • When swimming during the day, stay within your skill level and follow the lifeguards' instructions. Watch out for jellyfish, coral, and reef fish that can sting or bite.
  • Avoid swimming or walking on the beach at night, as the ocean can be dangerous and there may be no help nearby. Also, it’s advised to stay away from glowing coral. While they emit light at night that can be very beautiful, the coral’s beauty can also make it easy to miss the reef fish among the coral, which can bite when disturbed.
  • Always keep your valuables in a safe place such as at your hotel or with you. Do not leave them on the beach or in your car.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid people who seem intoxicated or suspicious.
  • Waihi Falls is a beautiful sight, especially at sunset. Visitors should plan to go there with a guide who is familiar with the area and can lead them back to the starting point, as getting lost in this area is easy to do.
  • Follow the local laws and regulations regarding weapons such as knives and firearms as well as helmets and pedestrian safety. Hawaii has strict rules about what you can and can't carry or do on the islands.
  • Honolulu is generally a safe city, but some neighbourhoods have higher crime rates than others. Stay away from unfamiliar or poorly lit areas, especially at night.

Travel insurance may protect you from unexpected costs and risks that may occur during your Honolulu trip. So, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to help you enjoy your holidays with peace of mind.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
Travel protected with Allianz Global Assistance
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