An Essential Guide To Honolulu

Experience island life at its best, where time slows down, shoes are optional and cocktails are aplenty.

With the price of direct flights getting lower and more regular from both Australia and more cities in the USA, Hawaii has never been more accessible and affordable for everyone.

If you haven’t been yet, Hawaii definitely needs to be added to your bucket list. These perfect palm trees, beautiful waters and summer air all year round is for everyone, no matter what kind of holiday you’re looking for.

Here’s a complete guide to everything you need to know to plan your visit to Hawaii.

waikiki beach

hawaii stamp graphic

Where is Honolulu?

While Hawaii is part of USA, it’s actually the only part of the States that is located in Oceania. It’s the northernmost island group in Polynesia and is actually pretty far away from USA in the North Pacific Ocean.

Honolulu can be found on the island of Oahu. The group of islands that make up Hawaii follow the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone UTC-10.

Getting to Honolulu

You can fly directly with Jetstar into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) from major cities on the east coast of Australia, including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. You can also fly directly to Honolulu from most major cities in the USA.

The main area of Honolulu, including Waikiki Beach is about 35 minutes from the airport by car depending on the traffic. You can book a seat on the Go Waikiki Shuttle for $18 USD per person for a return trip. You can even add a leis greeting for $7 USD extra. Now that’s how you land in Hawaii!

Taxi’s are also available at the airport if you haven’t organised any transport when you arrive, and are not too expensive depending on the traffic. Lots of the taxis have fixed fares to the airport rather than using a meter, so ask how much they charge before you hop in. 

Check out the best deals on flights to Hawaii

Visas for USA

As an Australian passport holder you need to apply for an ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States. It’s pretty easy and painless, you just need to fill out the online form and submit it off for approval from the US Government. Generally the approval comes back within 24 hours, but it’s a good idea to apply a couple of weeks before you go just in case there are any delays.

You are able to apply for an ESTA if you don’t currently hold any other visas for USA (such as a working or visitors visa), you’re travelling to the States for less than 90 days and you’re travelling on a passport from one of the approved countries.

You can apply for your visa or find out more about whether you’re eligible for an ESTA on the US Customs and Border Protection website.

An ESTA costs just $14 USD and is valid for travel to the United States for 2 years. You can travel on the same ESTA multiple times during its 2 year validity, as long as no trip is longer than 90 days.

waikiki beach

Climate in Honolulu

Hawaii has a tropical hot semi-arid climate. Temperatures vary very little throughout the year, however the summer time is the dry season, with rain more prevalent in winter despite the consistently high temperatures.

Getting Around Honolulu

If you’re planning to stay around the Honolulu/Waikiki Beach area, you can pretty much get around everywhere on foot or on local buses and tram cars. If you need to go a little further taxis are reasonably priced and an easy way to get around.

If you’re planning to explore a little more of the island and want to visit the North Shore or the Dole Pineapple Plantation the best option is to rent a car either for the day or for a few days to allow yourself the most freedom and ease.

Book your car rental in advance to save time!

Currency in USA

Currency in the United States is USD $.

You can find ATMs everywhere around Hawaii and most, if not all restaurants, cafes and shops accept credit and debit cards.

READ MORE:
Touring Oahu On The North Shore Surf Bus

Internet Access in Honolulu

Most hotels around Honolulu will include internet access in their mandatory resort charge, however they may restrict access to a certain amount of MBs per day or certain areas of the hotel.

Many of the restaurants and cafes around the main street of Waikiki will have internet access for customers having a meal, but you might need to ask your server for the password. The Ala Moana shopping centre also has free wifi if you get desperate.

sunset at waikiki beach

The Main Streets of Honolulu

Honolulu is the capital and largest city of Hawaii, but the main area is primarily Waikiki.

Kalakaua Avenue is the main street of Waikiki and is the main tourist area on Oahu. It runs from Ewa to Diamond Head, all the way along Waikiki Beach.

Along this street is where you will find shopping and dining options, as well as the entrance to most of the major beach front hotels. Kalakaua Avenue has easy beach access as well as lots of public transport options and everything you could ever need.

Check out the best places to stay around Waikiki

Best Time To Go To Honolulu

Honolulu is a year round destination, with sunny warm days all year round and little rain or cold days during the winter months.

Between May and September during the summer is the absolute best time to visit, when you’re almost guaranteed perfect weather and sunny beach days.

The biggest crowds head to Hawaii during the USA summer holidays around June and July, so try to avoid these months if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds. Australian mid-year school holidays always send swarms of people over to Hawaii, trying to escape the cold winter.

READ MORE:
Snorkelling in a Volcanic Crater at Hanauma Bay

hanauma bay

Can’t Miss Experiences in Honolulu

+ Take a tour or rent a car and explore the North Shore where you can find local turtles having a swim
+ Ride a horse or an ATV around Kualoa Ranch (which is where the original Jurassic Park was filmed as well as scenes from heaps of other movies)
+ Shop up a storm at Ala Moana Shopping Centre
+ Go snorkelling amongst the colourful sea life at Hanauma Bay
+ Make sure you experience at least one traditional Hawaiian luau for some amazing food and a cultural celebration
+ Take lots of time out to relax on the world famous Waikiki Beach

Check out all of the experiences and adventures you can have around Hawaii

Good to know for your visit to Honolulu

Most hotels in Hawaii charge a non-negotiable resort fee, which is charged on arrival when you check into the hotel. Depending on the hotel these fees are normally between $17 USD and $25 USD per night.

These resort fees are often justified by being the “charge” for internet access, using the hotel towels, complimentary water, etc. Hotels are required to list these fees in their prices with all booking websites, so make sure you keep an eye out when you’re looking for hotels, or shoot them an email to double check before you leave.

If you’re staying for a week or so this extra charge can easily add up to more than $200 USD, so you don’t want to be surprised by the extra costs when you’re checking out.

Explore all of our adventures around Hawaii

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AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO HONOLULU

Happy travels,



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Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started Explore Shaw to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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Just two twenty-something married Aussies, visiting as many places as we can in between normal life, and hoping to inspire and offer advice for your travel planning.

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