When making a decision on my next place to travel, states in the US don't take priority. Yes, I've always wanted to go to Hawaii, but for $700 a ticket, that's the same price for a ticket to Dubai in off season! I definitely didn't have any plans on traveling to Hawaii anytime soon, but in the midst of changing careers, and a friend being there the same time, the thought of going to Hawaii seemed very inviting.
Tickets from LA to Hawaii, are like never cheaper than $500. I booked my ticket less than a week out, and spent close to $800, I believe. We rented a car, and I refused to drive anything less than a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4x4. Even though it cost a little more, I feel like it's a must in order to get the true Hawaii experience. I can't speak for any other island, but for the Big Island, driving a 4x4 almost seemed necessary.
The Big Island is small, from both ends of each island it takes 2.5 hours each way. Kona on one side, Hilo on the other. I flew into Kona. I think staying in Kona is the best idea. There is more to do in Kona, than Hilo. But our Airbnb was in Hilo, ugh so literally every night we would have to drive from whatever activity we did in Kona, to go to our Airbnb in Hilo, which got tiring after a while. There are definitely things to see in both Hilo and Kona. In the daytime if you are driving from one end to another you collect all these massive dead bugs on your windshield, it's actually pretty interesting and gross at the same time. I was there for 4 days, and that was totally sufficient!
Omg- random and fun fact: A week prior to heading to Hawaii, I was in Mexico City for work. Somehow I ate the wrong thing, and was sick as a dog... and I don't mean the cough, cough type, I mean can't keep anything inside your body type. So I literally couldn't eat anything in me, except bananas, papaya, and applesauce, or I would be running straight for the toilet. I spent only $13 on food there, it was kind of a blessing in disguise. But, I am a huge foodie and because I couldn't hold anything in, I can recommend any amazing food places because I didn't try anything!
Here are my top 5 things to do on the Big Island:
- Rent a 4x4, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited! Throw off the roof, when driving on the long roads of the Big Island and let the sun in. It also makes for the best Hawaii photo prop.
- Go to a Luau! Yes, it is super touristy and only done at hotels, but it's such a cool experience. Get to try all this awesome Hawaiian food, see hot Polynesian men hula dancing, and immerse yourself in the culture. They usually cost $75-$100 per person, and less if you book in advance, but it's one of those things you can only do in Hawaii. We went to the Royal Kona Resort.
- Get sick in Mexico, so you don't have to spend money on food in Hawaii (unofficial point)
- Grab your Snorkeling Gear! If you don't have snorkeling gear, that is totally fine too they have great excursions. We did a kayaking and snorkeling adventure, basically 2 in 1. Adventures in Paradise in Kealakekua Bay.
- See Volcanoes! You can visit the Hawaii National Park, $20 fee for one car all day. Tip: It is so cold at night, but that is the best way to get a view of the volcano. If you end up driving from Kona to Hilo, or vise versa, which you will, you will see plenty of volcano rock.
Hawaii is amazing, and I can't wait to see more. Let me know if you have any questions.