Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Hawaii?
Hawaii is located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly 1,500 miles north of the equator, 2,500 miles west of Los Angeles and 2,800 miles south of Anchorage. The islands fall almost halfway between New York City and Sydney, Australia; both destinations are about 5,000 miles from Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital.

How long does it take to get there?
A flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu takes about five and a half hours. Flights leaving New York and other East Coast cities last from 10 to 12 hours, depending on your departure point.

When is the best time to take a Hawaiian cruise?
Cruises are available year-round, but the peak travel season typically lasts from mid-December to the end of March. Travelers looking for less traffic can cruise in spring, between April and June, or set out between September and early December.

How long do Hawaiian cruises last?
Hawaiian cruise itineraries range from seven to 16 nights.

Will I need a passport or visa?
U.S. citizens do not need a passport for an inter-island cruise, but they will need a government-issued photo ID. Passports and round-trip tickets are required for international visitors; these travelers should explore visa rules in their country of residence, too, as some nations require extra paperwork for travel to Hawaii.

Is English spoken?
Of course! Travelers also might hear Hawaiian, a dialect with many Polynesian influences, and Pidgin English, the casual, slang-filled speak used by the locals. Japanese also is spoken throughout the islands, especially on Oahu and other tourist-heavy spots.

What is the time difference?
Hawaii Standard Time lags five hours behind Eastern Standard Time and two hours behind Pacific Standard Time. These differences increase by one hour between March and November, as Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time.

What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
Hawaii uses the U.S. dollar. Currency exchange stations are available at most hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.

Is tipping a common practice?
Tipping is customary here, and a welcome reward for top-notch service.

What should I wear?
Annual temperatures average between 70 and 90 degrees, so visitors opt for breezy, free-flowing clothes made from natural fibers. Shorts and T-shirts are great during the day, while casual slacks, polo shirts and sundresses are perfect for evening activities.

What should I pack?
Bring your summer essentials when visiting Hawaii. Sunscreen, sunglasses and swimsuits are a must, as are protective hats, insect repellent, good walking shoes or hiking boots and a sturdy camera. You'll also need a jacket for rainy days and windblown evenings on the deck of your cruise ship.

Is the water safe to drink?
Yes, but bottled water also is available throughout the islands.

What types of electrical outlets are used?
Most cruise ships and Hawaii hotels and resorts use 110- or 120-volt outlets. Converters and adapters come in handy for international visitors.

How do I make a telephone call from Hawaii?
Tourist resorts and public phone booths offer direct dialing for U.S. and international calls. Calling cards also are available. Most U.S.-based cell phones work in Hawaii, but check your coverage area before your trip.

Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Most Hawaiian hotels offer sizable A/C units. Travelers looking for a breezier experience might look for a seaside eco-resort cooled by large windows, ceiling fans and ocean breezes.

What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy?
Shoppers will find a bit of everything in the islands, from high-end boutiques to tourist-friendly souvenir stalls. Honolulu offers the best of both worlds, including the largest mall in Hawaii, Ala Moana Center, and the unique offerings of Chinatown. Popular souvenirs include macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, flowered shirts, pearl jewelry and original art from a Maui gallery.

How do I get around?
Tour guides scattered throughout the islands offer bus, boat and helicopter tours. Public transportation also is available in the larger cities -- Honolulu offers TheBus, with special rates for visitors, as well as a tourist-friendly, open-air fleet of sightseeing trolleys.

Can I rent a car?
Yes, if you're over 21 years old, carrying a valid driver's license and can provide a major credit card to cover insurance costs.

What can I do there?
Make the most of your island paradise. There are water sports, of course, including fishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing and some of the most enviable surfing in the world. Land-based adventures range from museums and Polynesian cultural pursuits to shopping, hiking, biking, tennis and golf. In between land and sea is a serene stretch of beach, the most common goal of the Hawaiian visitor.

What is the diving like?
Centuries of volcanic activity have created some thrilling seascapes for Hawaiian divers. Additional attractions can vary by island -- Oahu, for instance, is ringed by a number of shipwrecks, while Kauai is known for wildlife haunts like "The Fishbowl" and "Turtle Bluffs." Snorkeling spots are just as plentiful, as a number of sheltered bays scattered throughout the islands provide prime underwater views.

Do you have any photography tips for travelers in Hawaii?
There's plenty of beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is recommended). If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter.

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