Kathleen Wong|USA TODAY
LAIE, Hawaii – Oahu's North Shore is known for a few things: a slower, more laid-backlifestylecompared with busyHonolulu, stunning beaches and powerful wavesthat drawsthe biggest names in surfing. Every day, tourists flock to the Pupukea and Haleiwa beachesto see what the North Shore is all about.
Those who wish to venture even farther, past the northernmost tip of the island to be exact, will be rewarded. Aboutan hour-and-a-half drivefrom noisyWaikiki – a road trip by local standards–Laie is a smallbeach town that puts culture and its community front and center.
"Laie is so remote," said Delsa Moe, vice president of cultural presentations at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. "You take care of your neighbor. When the neighbor is flooding, the whole community descends upon that yard."
The town is largely undeveloped, and its beauty is on full displaywith a rugged coastline and turquoise ocean just feet from the Kamehameha Highway. Local families set up tents along the beach, and they fish and play in the water until the sun sets. On the other side of the road, the misty Koolau Mountains are in the background.
Laie is a place whereothers are warmly welcomed intoits community, especially thosewanting to learn about Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.
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Consider spending a few days in Laie during your next visit to Oahu and experiencingthe small town's big aloha spirit. Here's a weekenditinerary to exploring what Laie has to offer, from food to cultural activities.
A history of aloha
"Laie is a melting pot," according to Kekela "Aunty Kela"Miller, a local kumu hula (hula teacher) whose family's roots in Laie can be traced back to when Kamehameha I ruled the islands in the late 1700s. Her family is one of the town's oldest.
Centuries ago, Laie was a puʻuhonua, or place of refuge, where people couldn't harm fugitives by law, Miller said. At the time, it was considered a barren, remote place.
In the mid-1800s, Mormon missionaries bought 6,000 acres of landto build a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple and, like othermissionaries, sought to spreadtheir faithto Native Hawaiians. To this day, Laie is a Mormon town (which means it's also a "dry" town, but wine and liquor are sold nearby).Laie is also home to Brigham Young University-Hawaii and its Polynesian Cultural Center, the top paid attraction in the entire state.
"We all knew once the temple went up, it was not just for Laie or Hawaii but the whole Pacific Rim," Miller said. "People from places like Samoa moved here and brought their own ideas. Everybody learned about each other's culture and had respect." She adds that the relationship between Hawaiians and the church hasn't been "perfect," but residentsfeel a sense of pride for the strong community they've built over time.
This history is what makes Laie so welcoming to visitors when it comes to the aloha spirit, Miller said.
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Leave town, aka Honolulu, in the morning and make the scenic drive to the North Shore. Prepare to lose cellularservice at some points along the way. Once you arrive in Laie, check into The Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore– home base for the weekend. It's conveniently located just steps from the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).
Grab lunch at Pounders Restaurant, which serves up local fare with farm-fresh ingredients. Order the ahi poke nachos for the table, a classic appetizer with an island twist. The portions are large, so save room for dessert, like a slice of mango or guava cheesecake.
Once fueled up, walk over to the PCC,casually dubbed Polynesian Disneyland, because it's easy to spend an entire day or even two exploring its 42 open-airacres.
PCC comprises six immersive villages representing six island cultures: Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga. Most of the PCC staff working in the villages come from the island nations themselves.
"They're not playing a role, they’re just being themselves," Moe said.Throughout the day, the villages host different workshops, like how Samoans quickly climbup tall coconut trees to gather the fruit,and presentations, like watching the Maori warrior dance, known as the haka, in Aotearoa. There are also canoe tours and a tram to take you around.
Once it hits 6 p.m., the villages close down,and it's showtime. Head over to the Aliʻi Luau ʻOnipaʻa, a tribute to Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last ruling monarch. The performances recounther life, including her imprisonment in Iolani Palace for eight months as the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown by Western interests. The show is the only full Hawaiian luau on the island (most others are pan-Pacific in that they showcase other cultures, such as Tahitian dancing).
"This is the story that is very relevant and front of mind to our people here in Hawaii: Why not present it in a way to hopefully help our visitors understand?" Moe said. During the show, guests can taste Hawaiian fares such as kalua pig, poi, poke and more.
After the luau, guests can attend the HA: The Breath of Life, a dramatic show following a boy’s life that invites the rest of the Pacific onstage with what Moe called "the glitz, the glamour." Think fire-knife dancing.
Wake up early before the sun gets too hot and head over to CLIMB Works Keana Farms for a three-hour ziplining tour with some of the best vantage points of the North Shore. The tour takes guests soaring through a working farm that grows crops such as lemongrass. Even first-time zipliners will find the tour welcoming and approachable, with the staff patiently encouraging people how to even eventually hang upside down. (But if that's not your style, that's fine too!)
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Spend the rest of the day relaxing at the mellow Hukilau Beach, where the community once threw a luau feast called the Hukilau to raise money for the Mormon meeting house after it burned down in 1940. Hula dancers were set up by the road to attract tourists, and tickets were given to tour groups in Hawaii. The beach is far less crowded than those in town and is still a place where the community likes to gather.
Cool off from your beach dayat Angel’s Ice Cream, a local institutionfor sweet treatsfor more than 20 years. Get a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream or make your own shaved ice bowl by picking from more than 15 flavors, like coconut and guava, and adding condensed milk.
Get breakfast at the Hukilau Cafe, a beloved neighborhood mainstay. The no-frills eatery serves up local favorites such as macadamia nut pancakes and loco mocos, which consistof eggs and a hamburger patty served with gravy over rice.
Before heading back to town, make a pit stop at Laie Point Wayside Park, a peninsula surrounded by jagged limestone and rock formations that makes you feel as if you're at the edge of the world. There's a popular cliff-jumping spot that was featured in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."Accessing the park means going through a residential neighborhood, so please be respectful during your visit and don't jump if you're not a well-experienced cliff jumper or strong swimmer.
Otherwise, go ahead and take in the beauty of Laie.
April thru June and mid-August thru mid-September are Hawaii's "low seasons," and airfares are lower then. No matter what time of year you travel, you may be able to score better deals if you travel midweek.Which Hawaiian island has the nicest beaches? ›
With 227 miles of shoreline, Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island for beaches. Oahu has the best beaches in Hawaii due to Oahu's many protected bays, reefs surrounding the island, gold-sand beaches, and calm waters year-round.Is it worth going to Hawaii for 1 week? ›
Seven days in Hawaii is definitely enough time to see one island, maybe even two. If you are hoping to visit all of the Hawaiian islands, however, you would want at least 10 days – 14 days. Generally, we recommend keeping 5-7 day Hawaii itineraries limited to one island.What is the best island to visit in Hawaii for the first time? ›
If it's your first trip to Hawaii
Chances are, the Big Island of Hawaii has everything you're looking for. But depending on what you want to do, one of the other islands accessible from the mainland — Maui, Oahu or Kauai — could be a better fit.
The cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is during February and March. The most expensive month to fly is December when the holiday period falls, with January being very expensive as well. The peak travel months of June and July are surprisingly not the most expensive months for flights, with middle figure prices.What month of the year is best to go to Hawaii? ›
The Fewest Crowds in Hawaii
To avoid the crowds, these months are the best time to visit Hawaii. September and October are the least crowded as visitor counts drop to the islands after Labor Day. 2019 monthly visitor data to Hawaii. 2019 had no travel restrictions so the data reflects expected 2023 visitor trends.
Molokai is the least visited island of Hawaii. With about 65,000 visitors, the island attracts only a fraction of all the tourists that visit the island group each year. The island is more rural and doesn't have resorts. Molokai is most definitely a destination off the beaten path.What is the most relaxing beach in Hawaii? ›
Loved by both locals and tourists, Lanikai is largely considered the best swimming beach in Hawaii thanks to its calm waters. This is attributed to the coral reef which also makes this a great spot for snorkelling in Hawaii.
this laid-back windward beach is located near the eastern end of the island. The sand is very fine, and it has the same views as its famous neighbors Lanikai and Kailua Beach, without the traffic you have to deal with! It is almost never crowded and the beach is huuuge!
The average cost of a one week trip to Hawaii is $4000. Accommodation in Hawaii is the most expensive cost at an average of $275/night. Flights range from $500-$1000 roundtrip, and the average food and drink cost is almost $100/day. How much should you save for a trip to Hawaii?
If you wish to discover the island as a whole, we recommend that you stay at least 5 days so that you have time to enjoy its various attractions and go on a few hikes. If you prefer to make only a quick stop to get an idea of life in Honolulu and do only the essentials, 3 days may be enough.How many days are enough for Hawaii? ›
While many vacations are five to seven days long, we recommend staying for at least 10 days to enjoy your Hawaiian vacation. The time change is difficult to adjust to at first and takes about 3 days to get fully acclimated.What is the number 1 vacation spot in Hawaii? ›
Oahu is the most visited of all the Hawaiian islands, at nearly 4.7 million visitors annually. Oahu is primarily defined by the state capital of Honolulu, as well as Pearl Harbor and the famous beach known as Waikiki. These areas attract tourists by the thousands daily.What is the best Hawaiian island to visit on a budget? ›
Due to the abundance of hotels, activities, tours, and attractions, Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit. Between the competitive prices and myriad of things to do, those looking for a budget vacation to Hawaii will find that Oahu is exactly what they've been searching for.What are the busiest months to travel to Hawaii? ›
December (except for the first week), January and February are the busiest months, when prices for airfare and accommodations are at their highest. In particular, the last two weeks of December and the first week of January are prime times for travel, and hotels and flights are often booked to capacity.What is the fastest flight to Hawaii? ›
About Flights to Hawaii
The fastest flight to Hawaii from United States takes 5h 21m (San Francisco to Honolulu). There are 6 airlines operating flights to Hawaii, including American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
According to their forecast, January, February, May, September and October are slower times to travel to Hawaii. Their forecast shows the busiest months for the islands are in April, June, July, November and December.What day of the week is cheapest to fly to Hawaii? ›
Flights to Hawaii are more reasonable midweek
To get the best airfare prices, look to fly on Tuesday and Wednesdays. All summer long, midweek flights are a better price.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 until November 30, though tropical cyclones can occur off season and storms can happen at any time of year.Do I need a passport to go to Hawaii? ›
Documents for travel to/from Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Islands are the same for any other U.S. state. If you are flying to Hawai'i within the United States, you only need a valid government photo ID. A list of accepted forms of ID can be found on the TSA website.
- Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oahu.
- Maui's Kahului Airport.
- Kauai's Lihue Airport.
- Kona International Airport on Hawaii's Big Island.
LANAI ISLAND - THE PLACE TO RELAX Lanai entices the sophisticated traveller with a handful of exclusive luxury resorts and championship golf courses. It's the least visited Hawaiian Island, small in size and slow in pace those that travel to Lanai, by air or on the ferry from Maui, are forced to rest and relax.Which Hawaiian island is most walkable? ›
Oahu is the easiest island to get around. There are several car rental companies at the Honolulu Airport if you'd like to drive the island. If you're looking to save a few dollars on transportation, the Oahu bus system can get you within walking distance of almost anywhere on the island.What island in Hawaii can no one visit? ›
No one is allowed to visit Hawaii's Forbidden Isle—the 70-square-mile island, which on a clear day can be spied from Kauai's west coast—unless they are invited by Niihau owners the Robinson family, or by one of its 70 full-time Native Hawaiian residents.Can you just sleep on the beach in Hawaii? ›
Is it legal to sleep on the beach in Hawaii? Napping on the beach is totally fine! But, if you are talking about sleeping overnight on the beach, you'll need to obtain a camping permit.Can you walk the beach at night in Hawaii? ›
With the moon reflecting off the water and turning the sand silver, an evening stroll on the beach can be a great way to spend your nights on the island. Kauai has many beaches to choose from, so you can mix up your nighttime walks by choosing a different one each night.What is the friendliest island in Hawaii? ›
Among the Hawaiian Islands, Molokai is known as the Friendly Isle, and those who live there would consider it the best island to live on by far. With many longtime families and few visitors living on remote Molokai, it is one of the most secluded Hawaiian Islands.What is considered to be the best beach in Hawaii? ›
Waikīkī Beach is not only the most famous beach in Hawaii but it is also one of the most well-known beaches on the planet! The 2-mile stretch of golden sand is comprised of 8 sections, each offering unique vibes and activities in Honolulu.Why is Maui better than Oahu? ›
Maui in a Nutshell
It has beautiful beaches, gorgeous resorts, the best whale watching, and fewer tourists, compared to Oahu. It is a bit more relaxing and a lot slower, and the people who visit enjoy that pace. It's the second most visited Hawaiian island after Oahu.
Ala Moana Beach Park
This 100-acre park includes a grove of palm trees offering shade and a grassy expanse with picnic tables. The beach itself, patrolled daily by lifeguards, is wide and flat, opening to a shallow bay that's all sand, no rocks. Parking is easy, ample and free.
Although the following figures are average estimates on what you might spend on necessities and fun in Hawaii, they may help you when planning your vacation budget: Breakfast and lunch: $8 to $16 per person. Dinner: $14 to $25 per person.How much is gas in Hawaii? ›
|Week Ago Avg.||$5.02||$5.45|
|Month Ago Avg.||$5||-|
Hawaii has a great deal to offer visitors no matter what time of year you visit, but some months are still more popular than others. Hawaii's “high” travel season is from mid-December to March, with peak travel around the winter holidays, from Christmas through the New Year.What is best way to visit Hawaii for first time? ›
- Try the Local Food When You Visit Hawaii for the First Time. ...
- Don't Go to a Luau on Your First Night. ...
- Use Reef Safe Sunscreen. ...
- Research Beaches Before You Go. ...
- Always Check the Weather Before Hiking. ...
- Do Your Own Circle Island Tour of Oahu. ...
- Take a North Shore Tour. ...
- Snorkel with Manta Rays.
Take cash. While we mostly operate in a cashless society, you'll need cash in Waikiki. Taxi drivers, for instance, prefer cash over cards. Ashlee says small notes are handy for tipping porters, (US$1-US$2 per bag), housekeeping staff (US$1-$2 a day), bar staff (US$1-US$2 per drink) and guides/drivers (US$5-US$10).How early should I book Hawaii vacation? ›
As a rule of thumb, book early - no later than 2-3 months before you go! It's not uncommon for the Best Accommodations in Hawaii to get booked quickly, especially during the summer months over holidays.How much does it cost to island hop in Hawaii? ›
Depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book your tickets, travel between the Hawaiian islands can be very reasonable. Flights can be found as cheap as $39 each way on Hawaiian and Southwest Airlines. $39 is the best we've seen. Expect to pay between $50 to $100 for a one-way ticket.Is it cheaper to fly or cruise to Hawaii? ›
Taking a cruise is far cheaper overall than flying into the islands and booking a hotel stay. Not only do you get the already paid for food from the cruise ship, but you also get to see all the islands. If you do not mind spending longer at sea than on land, maybe a cruise is a better option.Is Hawaii very expensive? ›
To live comfortably in Hawaii, an annual income of around $70,000 to $100,000 for a single person, or $120,000 to $200,000 for a family is recommended. Is it expensive to live in Hawaii? Yes, Hawaii is known for its high cost of living due to factors such as housing, groceries, utilities, and transportation.Where in Hawaii is prettiest? ›
Kauai is the winner
In our opinion, Kauai takes the throne as the prettiest Hawaiian island. It has a variety of views and terrain to see. Rocky coastlines, beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and mountains and valleys. There is so much to see and do.
Hawaii is a stunning location with plenty of fun things to do, no matter which island you visit. If you're in the market for a beachy, relaxing vacation, you may want to head to Maui. Otherwise, consider Honolulu for its abundance of hotels, things to do and plentiful flight connections to other U.S. cities.What is the best island to stay in Hawaii for a week? ›
The four main islands most tourists visit, however, are Maui, Oahu, Big Island (also known as Hawaii), and Kauai. These destinations in Hawaii are all fabulous. Lanai and Molokai are more off-the-beaten path and are typically visited by more seasoned Hawaii visitors.What is the least expensive city to visit in Hawaii? ›
Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, with a total cost of $2,625. A Ko Olina Resort lagoon on Oahu. Maui is the most expensive island to visit, coming in nearly $1,000 more expensive, with a total cost of $3,600.Which island in Hawaii is cheapest to fly to? ›
Maui is a popular destination with many deals
If you're traveling from the United States, Kahului is the cheapest Hawaiian city to fly into, making the Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) among the cheapest airports in Hawaii.
- The Fall. September through the first two weeks of December are the off-peak or "low season" in Hawaii. ...
- April and May. The months between the end of the winter rainy season and the start of summer offer great prices and fantastic weather.
The cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is during February and March. The most expensive month to fly is December when the holiday period falls, with January being very expensive as well. The peak travel months of June and July are surprisingly not the most expensive months for flights, with middle figure prices.What time of day is best to fly to Hawaii? ›
most flights to Hawaii arrive in the afternoon. Do not nap! Stay awake and busy as late as you can. If you can make it until 8 or 9 PM, I consider that a victory!What is the off season to visit Hawaii? ›
Spring and Autumn are the “low” or “off” season in Hawaii. April through mid-June, and September through mid-December see the fewest tourists. This can result in a wider variety of options for you when it comes to hotels, transportation, and attractions.What months are most expensive for Hawaii? ›
Between mid-March and early-April 2023. This can also be one of the highest-priced times of year to visit Hawaii.How much is an average trip to Hawaii? ›
What is the average cost for a trip to Hawaii? The average per-person cost for a Hawaii vacation is about $4000 for a one-week trip. This includes $1000 for flights, $2000 for accommodation, $550 for meals, $250 for a rental car, and $300 for tours and activities.
Top tips for finding cheap flights to Hawaii
High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly to Hawaii is January.
How many days are enough in Hawaii? While you might never want to leave Hawaii, usually people plan to stay 7-10 days during their vacation to Hawaii. That gives enough time to get over jet lag, participate in a few scheduled activities, explore the Hawaiian island a bit, and have time to relax and unwind.What month is rainy season in Hawaii? ›
Hawaii's heaviest rains are come from winter storms between October and April. While the effects of terrain on storm rainfall are not as great as on trade wind showers, large differences over small distances do occur, because of topography and location of the rain clouds. Differences vary with each storm.What is the hurricane season of Hawaii? ›
The Central Pacific Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 until November 30, though tropical cyclones can occur off season and storms can happen at any time of year.Is Hawaii expensive to eat out? ›
Food in Hawaii is expensive, even if you don't go to a restaurant for each meal. The average cost of food per person per day is about $61, but it can fluctuate depending on where you eat and how many people you go with. Fortunately, there are also some ways to save money on food costs during your vacation.Which is the cheapest island to visit in Hawaii? ›
Due to the abundance of hotels, activities, tours, and attractions, Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit. Between the competitive prices and myriad of things to do, those looking for a budget vacation to Hawaii will find that Oahu is exactly what they've been searching for.How much is a flight to Hawaii per person? ›
Average worldwide flight costs to Hawaii (from all airports) are between $968 and $1,580 per person for economy flights and $3,040 to $4,961 for first class. Depending on activities, we recommend budgeting $74 to $150 per person per day for transportation and enjoying local restaurants.What months are hotels cheapest in Hawaii? ›
Generally, the most affordable rates for both flights and hotels in Hawaii will be primarily during the fall and somewhat so during the spring. For accommodations, the months of September through November (sometimes into early December) offer the best hotel deals, again excluding Thanksgiving.