Though Waikiki is the main place where visitors stay, there is no dedicated on-ramp or off-ramp for it from the main highway, H-1. Leaving the airport, the most efficient way to Waikiki is H-1 East.
Though the signs won’t direct you this way, the quickest route is to drive past what they call the Waikiki exits, then take exit 24A (Bingham), right on Farrington, right on Beretania, left on McCully, which will take you into Waikiki. Taking the so-called Waikiki exits (exits 22 and 23) is a less direct route. Most visitors erroneously take the Nimitz Highway from the airport and are greeted by heavy traffic most of the way.

Leaving Waikiki to get onto H-1, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully, and follow the signs if you’re heading west (toward the airport), or take McCully, right on Kapiolani and follow the signs if you’re heading east on H-1.

An alternative to these is to use the “back door” to Waikiki, namely Kapahulu to the west and exit 25 from H1.

How did the islands begin?

The Hawaiian Islands were born of fire thousands of feet below the surface in the icy cold waters on the Pacific Ocean floor. A rupture in the earth’s crust caused a vent to spew hot magma that built upon itself as it reached upward. When it began, no one knows exactly, but the first of the still-existing islands to boil to the surface was Kure. Nothing remains of that island today but its fringing coral reef called an atoll.

As the Pacific plate shifted over the opening of the vent like steel over a cutting torch, more islands were created. Midway, French Frigate Shoal, Necker, Nihoa—all of these once-great islands were….

Read the full chapter in our app. Download here.

Getting there

In order to get to the islands, you’ve got to fly here. While this may sound painfully obvious, many people contemplate cruises to the islands. Here’s a tip—there isn’t a single speck of land between the west coast and Hawai‘i. And 2,500 miles of open water is a pretty monotonous stretch to cover.

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The vast majority of visitors to O‘ahu stay in Waikiki. It’s where you’ll find the lion’s share of all resorts. It’s on the world famous Waikiki Beach. It’s the home of a zillion restaurants. And it’s where the government originally decided they wanted visitors to stay. Yeah, there are a couple of exceptions. One resort out in Turtle Bay near the northern tip of the island. It’s a nice place on a pretty cove, but you are a captive of the resort because there are few dining options nearby (mostly in Kahuku). And east of Waikiki is the Kohala Resort. It’s also by itself and on a nice beach. It’s quiet and pricey and there are additional restaurants not too far away.

What to bring?

This list may assist you in planning what to bring. Obviously, you won’t bring everything on the list, but it might make you think of a few things you may otherwise overlook:

  • Reef-safe and water-resistant sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Two bathing suits
  • Shoes—flip-flops, trashable sneakers, water shoes, hiking shoes
  • Mask, snorkel and fins
  • Camera with lots of storage
  • Junk clothes for bikes, hiking, etc.
  • Light rain jacket and sweatshirt or light coat for some occasions.
  • Mosquito repellent for some hikes. (Those with DEET seem to work the longest.)
  • Shorts and other cool clothing
  • Hiking sticks (carbide-tipped ones work best here)
  • Cheap, simple backpack—handy even if you’re not backpacking
  • Hat or cap for sun protection

If you’re looking to spend the day at a beach, don’t feel compelled to bring everything with you from the mainland. Hawai‘i Beach Time (808-585-1474) rents everything beachy you can think of—from umbrellas to kayaks, beach chairs, surfboards, hammocks, etc. And their prices are fairly reasonable. Spend $50 or more and they’ll deliver it all to you anywhere on the island, for free.

Download our Hawaii Revealed app to keep this checklist handy or read everything you need to know about the Big Island before you plan your trip to Hawaii.

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Featured Resorts

Resorts aren’t actually rated 5 or 4 stars in Hawaii per se.  We’ll call them the “Top Resorts on Oahu”

We have also included the best values on each island.

Top 10 Resorts in Waikiki

Top Oahu Resorts OUTSIDE of Waikiki

Top 9 Best Resort Values on Oahu

That’s a lot of resorts to choose from! But we didn’t stop at simply reviewing the resorts, we’ve organized them based on amenities, prices and region in one app. If you wanted to know more information, such as which resorts have an outdoor lanai, weddings on site, and a swim-up bar, we’ve catalogued all of that information on our app, which you can filter through.

We have the same custom maps found in the book on our app, only now you can zoom in and quickly see what’s nearby, then tap on the activity to read more. The maps will also show you the distance between the resort and the attraction, making it easy to plan your Hawaii trip.

You can also find the following in our app:

  • Restaurants Reviews
  • Sights Information including their location, pricing, contact details
  • Adventure activities and their reviews
  • A planner to save your favourites spots
  • Maps to view nearby activities, resorts, restaurants and more.

Download the Hawaii Revealed app to see all the real gems and not to be missed sights on the islands.
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