Time to plan a trip to Hawaii! This will be a mix of business and pleasure. A fair warning: It's Hawaii...it'll be heavy on the pleasure :)
Whether you live here or you've never been to Hawaii, you'll find SOMETHING new to you. Let's dive in...
Just visiting and visiting when you're planning on moving are two different things. You can do both, but you need to stay mindful of the end goal, because it's easy to get caught up in the luaus and mai tais and forget to look at your possible schools and medical clinics.
This site, right now, is mostly on Oahu. But, I always recommend visiting at LEAST two islands when you go, because they are all so different.
1. From west to east, Kauai is the first island of the chain that you can easily visit. Niihau is actually an inhabited island slightly further west, but they don't accept tourists without special permission. Beautiful, lush, and not very populated, Kauai is a great choice for people looking for resort vacations or outdoorsy adventures.
2. Next in line from west to east is Oahu. Home to the state capital and largest city of Honolulu, Oahu is also the most densely populated island. The rest of the information here is on visiting Oahu.
3. Neighboring Oahu to the east is the island of Molokai and Lanai. Molokai is a sparsely populated wilderness that was home to a leper colony and it's caretaker, Father Damien. Lanai is a privately owned tiny island with a few luxurious resorts and bed and breakfasts. Also of note is the island of Kahoolawe, which was a US Navy testing site until fairly recently...and is still off limits to visitors.
4. Next in our west to east direction is the island of Maui. Home to Haleakala National Park and the Road to Hana, Maui is a waterfall-laden paradise.
5. The final island is the Big Island, or the island of Hawaii. No one I've ever met in Hawaii calls it Hawaii. It's the Big Island. Home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as it's name suggests, the island itself is home to three active volcanoes. The Big Island also has 11 of the 13 climate zones (depending on which system you're using).
Meanwhile, back to Oahu...
- First order of business: Traveling to Hawaii. Unless you luck out on a one-way or repositioning cruise, or are mega-wealthy (in that case, here's the store!), the most logical way to get to Hawaii is by air.
- Second, accommodations in Hawaii: Pick your level, bearing in mind you're using this trip as a primer to living in Hawaii. Accommodations in Hawaii range from budget to luxury.
- Third, find and book your transportation around the island. Taxi service, car rentals, bus service, among others are included here.
- Now, using the tourist angle, there are a ton of things to look at. Dining, nightlife, entertainment, activities, beaches, parks, etc., are all worth checking out. Pick a few that are your "must see" things and keep in mind that you're planning a MOVE...you don't need to see everything now.
- I highly recommend hitting up at least one other island during a Hawaii trip.
- And here is where real life represents. Set up job interviews, check out neighborhoods, stores, homes, schools, churches. Pay attention to rush hour traffic, and always BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. If you hate a long commute on the mainland, you're gonna hate it here too. Plan accordingly.
- Ideally, I'd suggest using a first visit to Hawaii to do first round interviews, narrow down neighborhoods and schools, and have some fun. Then, here, I'd suggest planning another trip (try for a different season) for next round interviews, the actual purchasing of a home (if you're going that route), setting up school visits, etc. Ideally.
Things to keep in mind:
- You don't need to see and do everything during these trips, but
definitely kick back and relax a bit.
- Keep a notebook or whatever
device you use for that handy and USE IT. You may think you'll remember
how much you liked the layout of the kitchen in the second of five
condos you saw in one day, but you might not. Write it down. Pay attention to gas and grocery costs, ask people what their utilities run or their car insurance is. Write it down!
- Talk to the LOCALS. The realtor at the open house, your interviewer, the bagger at the grocery store...the more you can glean now, the less you'll have to learn when you move. Any contacts you can make now will be helpful in the long run.
- Bring it down. Here's why it's important: if you have your vacation blinders on and forget that a move like this will cost, say, $15k, you may forget that you can't squeeze your budget to cover an extra $150 over your allotted monthly cap for rent + utilities. Then you sign a contract, move, and suddenly three months in you realize you can't make ends meet.
- BE HONEST. See? Told you you'd keep seeing this. Your likely job is in downtown Honolulu but you'd LOVE to move to Kailua? Sure, you can make it work. Unless you hate traffic. Because rush hour on that commute can be big mainland city brutal--think Seattle, LA, Chicago rush hour brutal. So if that's enough to ruin your day on the mainland, it might do the same here.