9 myths & misconceptions about Hawai‘i travel

Panorama honolulu hawaii beach

Hawai‘i is a world-class vacation destination, but some people are delaying booking their trips because of the 2018 volcanic eruption and hurricanes. 

If the news left you concerned, here's some good news: not only is the state alive and well, a Hawaiian vacation is more affordable than it was in 2018. Let’s tackle several common misconceptions you may have about the Aloha State!

Lava from Kilauea flows into the ocean

1. Kilauea volcano is erupting & will impact your vacation

Kilauea is a volcano on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. A large eruption last year destroyed homes and forced evacuations on the southeast coast, but after months of inactivity, the U.S. Geological Survey declared the eruption over in December, and the volcano has remained silent since. The USGS closely monitors Kilauea and provides regular updates on its status. It could erupt destructively again, but it's unlikely that would affect most tourist areas on the Big Island, which are dozens of miles away. (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is an important exception.) It also wouldn't affect destinations on other islands; Honolulu, for example, is more than 200 miles away, separated by a vast stretch of ocean. 

2. There's no escaping resort fees

Resort fees are like “convenience fees,” or a variety of other add-on charges that you don’t quite understand, but seem to be inescapable. And there’s no denying resort fees at many of the hotel options may have you feeling like a vacation to Hawai‘i is out of reach. However, there are still plenty of Hawaiian resorts and hotels without resort fees. Your travel agent can help you find a Pleasant Holidays option without additional fees on the back-end.

Hurricane swell waves off the coast of Hawai‘i

3. There's still hurricane damage from 2018

In August 2018, Hurricane Lane made big news as one of the rare Category 5 hurricanes to approach Hawai‘i. The storm, however, weakened as it came near and didn’t make direct landfall, although wind and deluges certainly caused impacts on the main islands. Effects were mainly localized and, aside from a few lingering closed areas, Hurricane Lane's aftermath won’t impact your visit. 

4. Isn’t there a hotel strike?

There was, but it’s been over since last year. The 2018 Hawai'i hotel workers strike lasted 51 days, but a deal was struck in November.

Parents and 3 kids on the beach in Hawai‘i

5. Hawai‘i resorts are only for couples

With so much to do, see, and taste, there’s truly something for everybody in Hawai'i: young and old, solo traveler or big groups of family or friends. Pleasant Holidays offers family-friendly resorts where kids stay free, and villa and condo options too.

6. Maui is the best island to visit

Maui is arguably the most celebrated Hawaiian island among North American tourists, and there’s no question this “Valley Isle” is entrancing: from the crater views at Haleakala to the spellbinding coastal drive of the Hana Highway, and some of the most fabled surf breaks on Earth.

The truth is every Hawaiian island has its own special magic: the rainforests and cloud-hung summits of Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, the iconic spread of Waikiki and Diamond Head on O‘ahu, the verdant vegetation and Waimea Canyon on Kaua‘i, the dazzling sea cliffs of Moloka‘i—and so much more. Each of the main tourist islands has beaches, palms, waterfall cliffs, and opportunities for cultural exploration. Your AAA travel agent can even customize a multi-island Pleasant Holidays vacation package.

A humpback whale breaching off the coast of Hawai‘i

7. Summer is the best time to visit

Summer (kauwela) is the most touristy season in Hawai‘i, with June seeing the greatest numbers of visitors, but that’s mainly a product of school and vacation schedules. With consistently warm tropical temperatures year-round, there’s no bad time to visit Hawai‘i. The calm waters of summer make for awesome swimming and snorkeling, while the sunny weather of spring (waipuna) and fall (akuma ka)—also good seasons for taking a dip—tends toward the paradisal. Winter (ka hooilo), meanwhile, offers some of the best whale-watching anywhere on the planet, as well as the chance to watch surfers ride some legendary monster waves.

8. Everyone is greeted with a lei upon arrival

Perhaps nothing so neatly captures the popular outside conception of Hawai‘i as the lei, that traditional Polynesian flower garland commonly worn around the neck. It’s easy to think, based on countless movies, TV shows, and commercials, that you’ll step off the plane and immediately have one placed over your head by a smiling greeter.

That’s certainly possible and popular—but it is usually arranged beforehand. When booking your Hawai‘i travel, you can purchase a lei to ensure you are immersed in the Hawaiian experience from the moment you step off the plane. 

A woman riding a horse in Hawai‘i

9. Hawai‘i is just a beach and surf destination

Not in the slightest! Hawai‘i lays claim to some of the most famous beaches and surf breaks anywhere, but you could spend your entire vacation off the sand and still have a world-class trip. From horseback riding, backcountry hiking in lush mountains, learning firsthand about Native Hawaiian history and culture to gastronomic adventures amid unique fusion-style food Hawai‘i is known for, the sky’s the limit. (We'll also point out that a lot of the Hawaiian seaboard isn't sandy at all, but rather rocky volcanic benches and headlands as well as some of the tallest and most glorious sea cliffs, or pali, on the planet: rugged coastlines of piercing beauty.)

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