By Amy Chiplin, on February 28, 2020

The Hawaii Solo Travel Guide

Exploring Hawaii on your own terms

Hawaii solo travel tips

The Hawaiian Islands, and Maui especially, are legendary vacation destinations, where you can spend your days relaxing on scenic beaches and learning about the culture in the lush, natural paradise. While it can be enjoyable to explore with your family or best friend in tow, there’s something magical about visiting all on your own.

When you take a solo trip to Hawaii, you’re free to experience the islands at your own pace, whether that means visiting all the sacred sites or stopping at every single shave ice joint along the way. Stake a claim in the sand and spend every minute splashing in the surf or hit the hiking trails and become one with nature.

Before packing your bags, though, check out some of our top solo travel tips below. Then book your flight to Honolulu and get ready to explore the islands your way.

A man hiking a beautiful coastal trail with lush green valleys and cliffs along a bright blue ocean view while traveling solo in Kauai, Hawaii.
Attribution: Raphael Rivest/Shutterstock

Things to know when traveling to Hawaii

  • Learn the language: Though nearly everyone speaks English on the islands, Hawaiian is technically the official language. Take the time to learn a few words, which the locals will appreciate. For example, aloha means hello, mahalo translates to thank you, and ’ono grinds refers to delicious food.
  • Leave no trace: Be respectful of the land and do not leave behind any trash. In the same vein, don’t take any lava rocks, shells, or sand from the beaches (it’s illegal to do so at any national park in the U.S.) Aside from the environmental implications, there are local myths about bad luck placed on those who take from Hawaiian beaches, so it’s better safe than sorry!
  • Respect culture and traditions: Hawaii is a place steeped in history and culture. You’ll find many temples, sacred sites, and cultural attractions on the islands, and it’s essential to treat them with respect. Research the local customs in advance to ensure you are behaving accordingly.
  • Get on island time: Forget about rushing around when you’re in Hawaii. Locals take their time, whether that’s driving on the roads or preparing your meal in a restaurant. Learn to relax and don’t get worked up if things aren’t moving at the same pace you’re used to—this isn’t NYC after all!
  • Time your visit: Hawaii is obviously a popular destination among tourists. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, plan a vacation outside of major holidays and winter and summer breaks when children are out of school. Also, keep in mind, the rainy season generally lasts from November to March, in case that impacts your planned activities.
A man stands on a ridge and gazes at the Haleakala Volcano at sunrise.
Attribution: Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

How to travel alone for the first time

Many people wonder, is Hawaii safe for solo travelers? Just as with any travel destination, Hawaii is safe as long as you take special care and precautions. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and to trust your instincts.

  • Talk to the hotel concierge for safety tips and tricks about the area. Find out information such as if the neighborhood is safe to walk at night, if you need to worry about the ocean currents, and what to know about the local hiking trails.
  • Do your research. Find out what hiking trails are treacherous, what beaches are unsafe, and what kind of weather you should prepare for. The more you know, the better you can plan.
  • Keep in touch with your friends and family back home. Especially if you plan to take a hike or venture far from your home base, it’s best to let your loved ones know your whereabouts. Frequently check in or let them know when you’ll contact them.
  • Lock up your valuables if you’re leaving them at your hotel and don’t travel with lots of money on hand. It’s also a good idea to make backup copies of your bank information or ID in case you lose your wallet.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, don’t push it. Avoid that walkway, call a ride, or change your plans.
  • Join group tours or take a class, like surfing lessons, to make travel companions along the way. Aside from building friendships, you may decide to travel to your next destination together.
A woman is standing on the beach wearing a rash guard top and looking out at the waves. She is participating in surfing lessons while on a solo trip to Hawaii.
Attribution: Maridav / Shutterstock

Best places to go in Hawaii on your own

No one can say there is one best place to go in Hawaii. Because with so much to see, do, and explore, you can choose whichever experiences you want to have when you’re traveling to Hawaii. And when you’re going to Hawaii alone, you might be surprised to find that you’ll spend a lot of time with other travelers seeking similar experiences. Whether you join a snorkel tour group or spend an afternoon on Waikiki Beach, chances are, you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.

  • Island hopping: If you’ve got time to spare, break up your journey with stops at several different islands, as they each have something amazing to offer. Book one of the hotels in Honolulu and experience Waikiki Beach and then reserve your Maui flights to venture on the Road to Hana. From Maui to Kauai, no island will disappoint.
  • Iconic sites: Hawaii is teeming with must-visit attractions. When you’re taking a solo trip to Hawaii, don’t miss top spots, such as Volcanoes National Park, Pearl Harbor, and the North Shore, among countless others. Many tour guides offer excursions to these famous spots around the islands, making it easy for you to access them.
  • Nature escapes: The scenery is easily the best part of Hawaii. From the lush jungles to the serene coastlines, the Hawaiian Islands are picturesque. Hike Turtle Bay, cruise around Na Pali Coast, and snorkel around Molokini. There are tons of ways to indulge and appreciate Hawaii’s beautiful scenery.
  • Cultural experiences: Take some time to learn about the culture and history. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu or the Hana Cultural Center in Maui. Joining a luau is another fun way to experience the local traditions, from the imu ceremony to the Samoan Fireknife dancer.
  • Best eateries: When you’re traveling solo, you get to eat where and when you want. Craving poke for every meal? We don’t judge. During your travels, be sure to suss out spots for poke, shave ice, saimin, manapua, and of course, plenty of coconuts and fresh seafood.
Three men in traditional Hawaiian dress juggle fire on the beach at night.
Attribution: Deborah Kolb / Shutterstock

Whether you start your adventures in Honolulu, Kona, Haleakala, or beyond, you’re in for an unforgettable trip on your own.


Header Image Via Maridav / Shutterstock