Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaii

What is the weather like?

Hawaii has only two seasons - summer, from May to October, and winter, from November to April. As the locals say, there is winter, when it's warm, and summer, when it's warmer. In other words, Hawaii's weather is pleasant year-round and you will be able to wear a T-shirt and shorts no matter what month you are here. June and July are generally the driest months for all islands. But even in Hawaii's winter months, rain and cloud cover are very intermittent and you should get plenty of time in the sun.

What is the average temperature in Hawaii?

The average temperature in Hawaii is about 80 degrees F (26.6 C) in summer, dropping to about 75 degrees F (23.8 C) during the winter months.

How intense is the sun in Hawaii?

Very intense, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You should bring sunscreen that has a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. The higher the better. And avoid the sun around noon if you have very sensitive skin.

What clothes should I bring?

Bikinis, tank tops and shorts are generally the perfect attire no matter when you plan to come. However, it can get a little chilly in the evenings, so bring a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt and long pants as well.

What island should I visit?

That depends on what you would like to see and experience. If you are eager to see the famous Waikiki Beach, the surfing paradise, historical Pearl Harbor and be surrounded by plenty of restaurants, shops and nightlife, visit Oahu. It's called the "Gathering Place" for a reason. Here you'll find the most activities to do. Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu attracts the most visitors.

If you want to see a real, active volcano, black-sand beaches and enjoy plenty of open space, go to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you dream for a peaceful vacation, surrounded by tropical beauty, empty white-sand beaches, gardens and evergreen nature, pick Kauai. If you'd like to see the largest dormant volcano in the world, Maui is your spot. If you want to unwind completely, enjoy a lot of peace and quiet without many other people around, then you might like Molokai or Lanai.

Where can I see real, active volcanoes and flowing lava?

Visit the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. With a little luck you will be able to see the lava flow.

On which of the Hawaiian Islands is Waikiki and Honolulu located?

Waikiki and Honolulu are on the island of Oahu.

How much money will I need per day?

That depends on how luxurious you want your vacation to be. In general, Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the United States. On average, things cost about 30 percent more than on the continental United States. However, if you're on a budget, there are affordable restaurants and hostels with rooms for under $80 or even $50 a night. If you plan to cook yourself, you can buy on sale items in supermarkets. Go outside of Waikiki because the supermarkets there are more expensive. You'll find better prices in the surrounding neighborhoods.

What is the approximate rate for accommodation?

That depends on the type of Hawaii accommodation and how close it's located to the beach. There are plenty of budget hotels which have rooms for under $80 a day. And there are also plenty of four and five star hotels with rates as high as $500 and more per day.

How long is the flight to Hawaii?

A flight from the U.S. west coast to Hawaii takes about 5 to 5.5 hours and 13 from the East Coast. If you fly from Europe, the whole trip may last from 20 to 48 hours, depending on how many stops you will have. From Japan, the flight to Hawaii is 6 hours and 10 from China.

Are there sharks in Hawaii?

Yes, there are about 40 species of sharks in Hawaii. Of these 40, about eight species are commonly seen near the shore. The most frequently seen are the sandbar, scalloped hammerhead, reef whitetip and tiger shark.

How likely is it to be attacked by a shark in Hawaii?

Very unlikely. Shark attacks in Hawaii are rare. On average there are about two to three shark attacks per year. Considering the number of people in Hawaii's waters (there were more than 7 million visitors in Hawaii in 2005), this is a very small number. Surfers and spearfishers seem to be at a higher risk than swimmers. Between 1828 and 2005, a total of 119 shark attacks have been recorded in Hawaii. Twenty-one of these were fatal, the last being in 2004 when a when a surfer was killed off Kahana on Maui.

It is good to know that humans are generally not a natural prey of sharks. So when a shark attack occurs, the shark has most likely mistaken the human for another prey. That's why sharks often times immediately let go of the human once they notice that it's not what they thought it is. If humans were on the sharks' menu, the shark wouldn't let go, but eat the whole human.

What can I do to minimize my risk of being attacked by a shark?

According to the State of Hawaii Shark Task Force, you can do the following:

  • Don't swim alone
  • Swim in guarded areas
  • Avoid swimming at dusk
  • Don't swim with bleeding wounds
  • Avoid murky water
  • Don't wear bright jewelry or high contrasting colors
  • Refrain from excessive splashing
  • Don't swim if sharks are known to be present
  • Be alert if turtles and fish are fleeing the area
  • Remove speared fish from the water

Are sharks the greatest risk in Hawaiian waters?

No. You're more likely to drown in Hawaiian waters than to be the victim of a shark attack. There are strong currents and high waves on some of Hawaii's beaches. Each year, an average of 60 people drown in Hawaiian waters.

Why is the water so clear in Hawaii?

That's because compared to the U.S. mainland, relatively little junk is discharged into Hawaii's waters. Moreover, natural ocean currents bring a constant supply of fresh ocean water.

Why are there so few shellfish in Hawaii?

First of all, the water in Hawaii is too warm for some of the more familiar shellfish. Second, shellfish are mainly filter-feeders. But there isn't much to filter in Hawaiian waters. However, there are more shellfish in Hawaii than most people think. They tend to hide under rocks and in the sand.

What is that crackling sound I always hear when I put my ears under water?

For years, people didn't know the answer to this. This underwater "noise" even interfered with sonar operations in the early days of submarines. Today, we know the answer. That crackling sound you hear is hidden snapping shrimp defining their territory.

Why do coral cuts take long to heal?

On some of Hawaii's beaches, even in some parts of famous Waikiki Beach, you'll see signs that warn of sharp coral. If you step of the coral reef with your bare feet, you might get cut because the reef is quite sharp. Coral reef cuts also take longer to heal than ordinary cuts. That's because coral contains a live animal, a proteinaceous matter, which is a toxin for the body. It takes quite some time for the body to dispatch it. You can avoid coral cuts by wearing water shoes.

Are there snakes in Hawaii?

No. The state is trying really hard to keep snakes out of Hawaii.

What language is spoken in Hawaii?

Since Hawaii is a U.S. state, English is the official language. However, Hawaiian is spoken by most locals as well. It's also taught in schools and universities.

Do I need a visa to visit Hawaii?

If you're a U.S. citizen, you don't need a visa or passport. Visiting Hawaii is just like going to another state on the mainland. If you're not a U.S. citizen, you might need a visa, depending from what country you're from. Check with your local travel agency if you need a visa or not.

What currency is used in Hawaii?

Hawaii uses the U.S. dollar.

How can I go to a neighbor island?

The easiest way is by plane. The cost for an interisland flight ranges from $40 to $75 for a one-way ticket. The two largest airlines in Hawaii are Hawaiian Airlines and Go Airlines.

Can I visit the island of Niihau?

Nihau is privately-owned by the Robinson family and off-limits to tourists. Unless you have an invitation from the Robinson family or one of the Native Hawaiians who live there, you cannot go to Niihau. However, there's a snorkeling tour that leaves from Port Allen Harbor on Kauai's north shore, which will take you across the channel to Niihau. You will be able to snorkel in one of Niihau's pristine bays. It is also possible to take a helicopter tour of Niihau.