A knowledgeable travel professional, with their extensive knowledge and contacts in the industry, can provide support before your trip, monitor your progress en route and provide post travel assistance. At Legato we coordinate air, land, rail and sea transportation to help ensure your trip can proceed seamlessly. Rather than than doing your own time consuming research, let us use our extensive knowledge to help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure the quality of trip you’ve been looking for.
Hawaii Local Time
Pearl Harbor, named for the pearl oysters once harvested there, is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii, a World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and the only naval base in the United States to be designated a National Historical Landmark. The devastating aerial attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in 2,390 dead and hundreds wounded, and drove the United States into World War II. Pearl Harbor honors this history-changing event with the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites:
- USS Arizona Memorial
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
- Pacific Aviation Museum
- USS Oklahoma Memorial
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii’s #1 visitor attraction, with villages and exhibits representing the island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa, Samoa, Tahiti, Marquesas, Tonga, and Easter Island.
The award-winning Ali’i Luau takes guests on a journey to learn about Hawaii’s royalty while enjoying traditional Hawaiian food and entertainment.
Set on 42 acres of Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center has a lagoon that hosts canoe tours through the day and an exciting Canoe Pageant
Located on the south shore of Honolulu, the world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Known in Hawaiian as “spouting waters,” Waikiki was introduced to the world when its first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, was built on its shores in 1901. Today, Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area and a vibrant gathering place for visitors from around the world. Along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue you’ll find world-class shopping, dining, entertainment, activities and resorts.
But there’s more to Waikiki than just the beach. Attractions of Waikiki like the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium offer fun for the whole family. You can learn about the history of Waikiki by reading the surfboard markers along the Waikiki Historical Trail. Among the various things to do, fantastic shopping and dining can be found all along Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues and at gathering places like the Royal Hawaiian Center and the Waikiki Beach Walk. And the fun keeps going long after the Waikiki sunset with amazing nightlife and live music.
The North Shore
Stretching for more than 7 miles, the beaches of the North Shore host the world’s premier surfing competitions during the peak, winter months, including the Super Bowl of wave riding, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November – December). Stroll in the thick sands of Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach — just leave the surfing to the pros.
The months between November and February are the best times to watch big wave surfing. These massive waves can sometimes swell up to thirty feet or more and can even be dangerous for experienced surfers so please heed warning signs. From May to September, the waves subside, creating a more tranquil atmosphere for surfing, swimming and sunbathing.
Leahi (Diamond Head)
The iconic silhouette of Diamond Head State Monument sits along the Honolulu skyline just beyond Waikiki. This 760-foot tuff crater is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. Known as Leahi (brow of the tuna) in Hawaiian, the crater was named Diamond Head by 19th century British sailors who thought they discovered diamonds on the crater’s slopes. These “diamonds” were actually shiny calcite crystals that had no value.
It only takes a short drive or bus ride to get to Diamond Head Crater from Waikiki. This moderately challenging trail includes two sets of stairs, totaling 175 steps, as well as dark, underground tunnels and old military bunkers that require a flashlight. The stunning views that greet you at the top of Diamond Head are well worth the effort. If you plan to hike on Saturday morning, don’t forget to stop by the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market — Oahu’s premier farmers market showcasing locally grown food and produce — across the street from the monument entrance on Monsarrat Avenue.
Home to the State Capitol, Honolulu is the vibrant epicenter of Hawaii. Here you’ll find everything from historic landmarks and treasured monuments to world-class shopping and a flourishing arts and culture scene. Home to the majority of Oahu’s population, the sprawling city of Honolulu spreads throughout the southeastern shores of Oahu, from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu Point, encompassing world famous Waikiki.
Honolulu has it all. This is the home of some of Hawaii’s most historic places from Iolani Palace, the Kawaiahao Church, the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archive and the treasured artifacts of the Bishop Museum to iconic landmarks like the Aloha Tower, the King Kamehameha I Statue, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and the historic Hawaii Theatre. Honolulu is also Hawaii’s hot spot for arts, culture and entertainment. From the nightlife, live music and fine dining of Waikiki to the art galleries and underground bars of the Chinatown arts district. Whether you’re looking for Hawaii’s finest museums, or Hawaii’s finest Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, the best resorts, festivals, and events, or just some fun things to do, you’ll find it all in Honolulu.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout
Just a 5-mile drive northeast of Downtown Honolulu, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and lush Windward Coast. Driving up the Pali Highway through tall trees and dense forests to get to the lookout, you’ll see the city disappear and the tranquil beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape emerge.
Perched over a thousand feet above the Oahu coastline amid mountain peaks shrouded by clouds, the stone terrace overlooks the areas of Kaneohe and Kailua, Mokolii (a pointy island locals call Chinaman’s Hat) and the University of Hawaii’s marine biology research center, Coconut Island. Other notable landmarks that can be seen are Hawaii Pacific University’s Windward campus, Kaneohe Marine Corps Base and the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, which is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens.
After you’ve soaked in the view, continue through the Pali Tunnels to Windward Oahu. As you near the bottom you’ll face a “tough” decision: go straight to the buzzing beach town of Kailua or turn left through Kaneohe and follow the lush coastline to Haleiwa and Waimea Bay on Oahu’s famed North Shore.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Staring out at the circular-shaped shore of Hanauma Bay on the southeast tip of East Honolulu, you can imagine how this beautiful cove was once a volcanic crater. Today, this crater, likely flooded by wave erosion, is home to an important nature preserve and the island’s most popular snorkeling destination.
Preservation is emphasized at Hanauma Bay after it went through a major restoration to re-establish its delicate eco-system. Learn about protecting the bay at the recently opened Marine Education Center where you can watch a short theatre presentation and view exhibits. Then swim out into Hanauma Bay’s clear blue waters and explore the lively reefs full of colorful fish. Rent or bring your own masks, snorkels and fins. And be sure to pack a lunch or stop by the snack bar after a morning of exploration.
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Hawaii Travel Information and Tips
Can I use my valid foreign driver’s license to drive in Hawaii?
Yes. Your valid driver’s license is good for one year from the entry date on your passport.
Can I use my cell phone while driving in Hawaii?
No. You may not use any electronic handheld device while driving. This includes phones, cameras and mp3 players. Holding a phone at a stoplight or while paused with the engine running is considered a violation and you will receive a ticket. Fines vary according to island and can be as high as $150.
You may use a Bluetooth headset or hands-free device with your cellphone.
What’s the speed limit in Hawaii?
The speed limit varies from 10 miles per hour (mph) in tiny lanes and 25 in most residential neighborhoods to 60 mph on some freeways.
What should I do if I am in an auto accident?
If you are in a collision, the first step is to call the police at 911 to file a report or to contact emergency fire or ambulance services. Do not leave the scene until after the police are finished. You may need to contact your rental car company.
What are the helmet laws?
• All riders 17 years old and younger must wear a helmet.
• Bicycles– All riders 15 years old and younger must don a helmet.
• Motor Scooters & Motorcycles– Helmets are required for all riders 17 years old or younger.
Does my child need a child safety seat?
Most rental car providers have child safety seats available for rent.
• All children under the age of four must be secured in a Federally-approved child safety seat.
• All children between the ages of four and seven must ride in either a booster seat or a car seat. Children 4’9” or taller or those riding in vehicles with lap-only seat belts in rear seats are exempt.
Weather in Hawaii is very consistent, with only minor changes in temperature throughout the year. There are really only 2 seasons in Hawaii: summer (called Kau in Hawaiian) from May to October and winter (Hooilo) from November to April. The average daytime summer temperature at sea level is 85º F. (29.4 C) while the average daytime winter temperature is 78º (25.6º C). Temperatures at night are approximately 10º F. lower. The islands are an incredible collection of diverse micro-environments, each with its own unique weather, plants, and animals. As a result of the shielding effect of volcanic mountains and the differences in weather found at various elevations, you can find tropical rain forests, cool alpine regions, arid deserts, and sunny beaches – all within the span of just a few miles.
Water and Surf Conditions
Hawaii’s near-shore water temperatures remain comfortable throughout the year. The average water temperature is 74º F. (23.3 C), with a summer high of 80º F. (26.7º C). Wave action varies dramatically between island coasts and seasons. Summer waters are typically gentle on all beaches. During the winter on many north shore beaches, Pacific storms drive ocean swells towards the islands, creating Hawaii’s legendary big waves.
Wave conditions are often very localized, so if the waves are too big on your beach, you can usually find calmer water at a more sheltered beach. Strong currents can make any beach unsafe at any time during the year, particularly in the winter. Ask your hotel staff or a lifeguard about ocean currents or look for warning flags and posted beach conditions.
Most of the rain falls in the mountains and valleys on the windward (northeastern) side of the islands. It is these passing showers that create Hawaii’s rich, green, tropical environment.
The wettest months are from November to March, but winter rains do not generally disrupt vacation plans, since the weather is very localized. This means that if it is raining where you are, there is almost always a sunny spot to be found around the coast.
In Hawaii, we are fortunate to enjoy the comfortable weather cooled by the trade winds. Named for the winds that once carried ships around the globe, these gentle breezes keep our island weather just right during most of the year, but can become gusty and dangerous on occasion.
From January through March, the trade winds are less frequent and the islands experience the humid conditions referred to as “Kona weather.” Kona winds is the local term for stormy, rain-bearing winds. Under extreme conditions, Kona winds can cause extensive damage.
Please heed all weather warnings before hiking, swimming, sailing, or participating in any outdoor activities.
Vog is the local term for “volcanic fog” and it describes the hazy air pollution that occasionally hangs over the islands. Vog is caused when sulfur dioxide and other gasses from Kilauea’s Halemaumau Crater (Big Island of Hawaii) mix with moisture in the air and sunlight. Under extreme conditions—when the volcano is active and the winds carry the fumes north to the rest of the island chain—vog can be hazardous to plants, animals and humans. The most common effects are headaches, watery eyes and breathing difficulties. These effects can be especially pronounced in people with respiratory conditions and young children. It is not advisable to exercise or participate in strenuous outdoor activities when the vog is very heavy. Depending on your personal sensitivity, you may want to learn more about vog before traveling to Hawaii Island and visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Want to know what the vog conditions are around the island? Check your local news weather report.
Not all hazy conditions are caused by vog. If you see a white mist along the coast, it could simply be salt spray hanging in the air. Or if it’s hazy along the mountains in the morning, chances are you’re looking at moisture in the air from the updrafts along the ridges.
Hawaii’s Mountains and Volcanoes
Many visitors are drawn to the natural beauty found in higher elevations. While a light jacket and casual clothes will serve you for most of your trip, you will need warmer clothing if you plan to hike Haleakala on Maui where the temperatures average 40°F- 60°F (5° – 16°C). On Maunakea on Hawaii Island it can get as cold as 12° F (11°C) after sundown. Mountain campsites such as Kokee State Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can also be extremely chilly so check with park officials before camping.
When you’re in Hawaii, everyday feels like Aloha Friday. Clothing is casual, and except for one or two finer restaurants, jackets are not required for dinner. Men in Hawaii have it easy because aloha shirts (casual buttoned down or collared shirts) are appropriate for just about any occasion. Hawaii’s tropical temperatures range from bikini weather in the summer to a light sweater or jacket in the evening. Comfortable shoes or sandals are fine for most occasions.
This term refers to the “Downtown Honolulu” look and is appropriate for business functions and better restaurants. Men: aloha shirt, slacks and dress shoes. For women, it generally means aloha or business attire.
If you will be hiking or will require specialty clothing/equipment, consider buying your gear before you arrive as the selection can be limited on certain islands. This is especially important if you will be spending a length of time on the summit of Haleakala or Maunakea, or camping in higher elevations such as Upcountry Maui or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. See our climate page for more details.
If you’re on a boat, bring sun protection gear and sunscreen. A light jacket is also recommended for wind and rain. Swimsuits are easy to purchase, and scuba suits and gear can be rented.
Sunscreen, Hats and Sunglasses
Hawaii’s proximity to the sun makes for gorgeous tans and nasty sunburns, even on cloudy days. If you want that golden glow, tan slowly with a high SPF sunscreen. Also, protect yourself with a hat and sunglasses.
Many of the private golf courses in Hawaii require “proper golf attire” which usually means a collared shirt and dress shorts or slacks, no denim, cargo or sports shorts. When in doubt, it’s best to contact the course or pro shop. There is no dress requirement for municipal courses.
The baggage claim area of the Honolulu International Airport is located on the lower (ground floor) level of the Main Terminal. You can get there on the free Wiki-Wiki (Hawaiian for fast, speedy) Shuttle, or by walking and following the signs. It’s less than a 10-minute stroll if you want to stretch your legs.
Lihue, Kauai; Kahului, Maui; Kaunakakai, Molokai; Lanai City, Lanai; & Hilo and Kona Hawaii
Directions to baggage claim areas are clearly posted. The luggage carousels are located on the ground floors of all terminals and are a short walk away.
Connecting Flights from Honolulu, Oahu
If you are catching a connecting flight from Honolulu to a neighbor island, look at your baggage claim ticket to see if your luggage has been checked through to your final destination. If your baggage claim ticket reads HNL, your luggage will only go as far as Honolulu International Airport. You will need to retrieve your belongings from baggage claim and check-in your baggage for your connecting flight.
The Hawaii airport codes are:
• HNL (Honolulu, Oahu)
• ITO (Hilo, Hawaii)
• KOA (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii)
• LIH (Lihue, Kauai)
• OGG (Kahului, Maui)
• LUP (Kalaupapa Airport)
• LNY (Lanai Airport)
• MKK (Molokai Airport)
• HNM (Hana Airport)
• JHM (Kapalua Airport)
Airport and Arrival Info
Review information about your arrival experience and what to expect when you arrive at any of Hawaii’s ten (10) airports, including ticketing and check-in, arrivals and baggage claim, intra-airport transportation and ground transportation, and driving directions.
Inter island Travel
Help plan your commute to the neighbor islands with these helpful tips.
Watches and warnings are prepared for the Hawaiian Islands by the National Weather Service Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu. Find out what to do in the event of an extreme weather situation.
Visitors with Special Needs
The Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) from the Hawaii State Department of Health has compiled a comprehensive list of Hawaii Traveler Tips for Kauai, Maui and Molokai, Oahu and Hawaii Island that includes transportation options, equipment rentals, service animals and more.
Kauai – Driving Times from Lihue Airport to:
Fern Grotto: 20 minutes
Haena: 1 hr. 15 min
Kapaa: 25 min
Kilauea: 45 min
Poipu/Koloa: 30 min
Princeville: 1 hr
Spouting Horn: 30 min
Wailua Falls: 15 min
Waimea: 45 min
Waimea Canyon: 1 hr. 15 min
Oahu – Driving Times from Waikiki to:
Hanauma Bay: 30 min
Honolulu Int’l Airport: 20 min
Iolani Palace: 15 min
Kailua: 30 min
Ko Olina Resort: 45 min
North Shore: 1 hr
Nuuanu Pali Lookout: 20 min
Pearl Harbor: 30 min
Polynesian Cultural Center: 1 hr
Turtle Bay: 1 hr. 15 min
Waimea Valley: 1 hr.
Maui – Driving Times from Kahului Airport to:
Haleakala: 1 hr. 50 min
Hana: 2 hr. 30 min
Iao Valley: 25 min
Kaanapali: 50 min
Kapalua: 1 hr
Kihei: 25 min
Lahaina: 45 min
Wailea: 35 min
Wailuku: 10 min
Hawaii Island – Driving Times from Kona International Airport to:
Akaka Falls State Park: 2 hrs 10 min.
Hapuna Beach Park: 30 min
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 3 hrs. 15 min.
Kailua-Kona: 15 min
Kealakekua: 45 min
Keauhou: 25 min
Onizuka Center for International Astronomy: 2 hrs
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park: 1 hr
Waimea: 45 min
Waipio: 1 hr 30 min
Driving Times from Hilo International Airport to:
Akaka Falls State Park: 30 min
Hapuna Beach Park: 1 hr 45 min
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 45 min
Kailua-Kona: 2 hrs 30 min
Onizuka Center for International Astronomy: 1 hr
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park: 3 hrs
Waimea: 1 hr 30 min
Waipio: 1 hr 30 min
Hawaii uses the United States dollar as its currency. Exchanging money in Hawaii is as simple as using an ATM (automated teller machine), however, it’s helpful to exchange some of your currency before you travel so you’ll have money for cab fare and other incidentals.
Recently, U.S. currency has been reissued with new safety features, so there are many different varieties of bills and coins in circulation. U.S. paper bills come in $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. (Please note that some small stores and fast food outlets in Hawaii will not accept bills over $20.)
U.S. coins include the penny (1 cent), nickel (5 cents), dime (10 cents) and quarter (25 cents). There are also $1 coins but they are not used very often and can be easily mistaken for quarters.
Bring your debit card and you can withdraw cash from an ATM. The machine handles the currency exchange for you, and the service fee may be less than a bank. ATMs also accept credit cards for cash advances, but the foreign exchange fees may be higher, so check with your bank prior to traveling.
If you will be conducting business or making large purchases, many Hawaii banks have international banking divisions.
Shopping & Dining
The majority of stores and restaurants in Hawaii accept cash, debit and credit cards. Checks and travelers checks are accepted at some locations, but it’s best to check with the merchant first. If you are shopping with an international credit card, please check with your financial institution regarding currency exchange rates and international transaction fees.
Tips are customary and appreciated for good service. U.S. guidelines are 15-20% on served meals, at least $1 per bag for porters and at least $1 per night for housekeeping.
Bringing money into the United States
If you and your travel companions together are carrying $10,000 or more in cash or other negotiable instruments such as endorsed checks, you must declare it upon arrival. If you do not, it is subject to forfeiture. Your money is not subject to taxation or duty. For more information, download this handy guide for international visitors or click on US Customs and Border Protection.
Hawaii State Tax
Hawaii does not have a sales tax, however we have a General Excise Tax which businesses can pass on to their customers. This GE Tax on goods and services varies by county (island).
Kauai – 4.000 %
Oahu – 4.712 %
Molokai – 4.166%
Lanai – 4.166 %
Maui – 4.166%
Hawaii Island – 4.166%
Hotel Room Tax
In addition to the 4.712% General Excise Tax, all visitors who stay in hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, inns and timeshares are required to pay a “Transient Accommodations Tax.” This state tax is currently 9.25 percent.
For any person to lawfully marry in the State of Hawaii, a license must be obtained from an authorized agent. Once the license has been issued, there is no waiting period before the marriage can take place. Go to http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/marriage/index.html for complete details.
Marriage License Information: 808-586-4545