Getting to Hawaii...
Most persons arrive by air and there are international direct flights to Honolulu, Kona, and Maui from the west and central US. Foreign carriers come non-stop from Australia and Japan.. flight times are between 5.5 and 9 hours from the Mainland. Many travelers choose to break their trip in the west coast for a day.
There has been an increase in the number of cruise ships that are now sailing to the islands from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. This gives the traveler the option of flying one way and sailing home or around the islands on trips of between 7 and 16 days. Since interisland travel is by air, it is very expensive and flights of 75 miles can cost more than a $1 per mile, many first time visitors take advantage of the 7 day cruise ships which visit all the islands for a day. This option gives the first-time visitor a taste of Hawaii and saves huge air fare costs in the process.
Getting around Hawaii
Rental cars are all available but with many restrictions on some islands. On the Big Island many roads are prohibited. Another restriction on rental 4x4's is that they can't be taken off the paved road. It is more important that a visitor ask of his selected rental firm what restrictions and limits they impose. To save some money, it is wise to rent a 4x4 only for the day or days you will actually need it rather than for a longer period. Also, on many islands gas stations are few and far between. Keep your tank full. In addition, on many islands all the police cars are un-marked private cars that can sport a blue light when needed.
Speed limits are between 35 to 55mph, with seatbelt laws strictly enforced. Roads, except in Ohau, are 2 lane and very slow. Expect rush hours to be between 2 to 6 when hotels change shifts and many workers are on the road. Expect to average 35 miles per hour when driving to place of interest and few passing lanes.
Public transport is not well developed and taxi fares are high... Most visitors choose a rental car or stay put at a resort much of the time. Remember you are on vacation...it is not a death march.. Take travel by car in small steps and enjoy what you see rather than seeing what you can enjoy.
Water sports/nature and the outdooors:
Hawaii in reality is the American Tahiti... with fish and corals and diving in pure waters heated by the sun to to between 70 and 80 degrees with visability underwater that often exceeds 100 to 200 feet. Beaches are clean and not subject to sand fleas and pests.
This is the home to some of the finest big game fishing on earth...it is Jurassic park of the sea. Maui and the Big Island are home to the finest diving and snorkeling of all the islands in the chain. Places like Kalakeaua Bay, or Capt Cook, offer the finest snorkeling in the entire chain and it is a mecca for watersports of every kind.
In some islands there are mountains rising to over 13000 feet wiith snow and alpine conditions. The National Park service has many fine parks and offers naturalist porgrams jist like on the mainland usa. If you have a golden eagel pass bring it. Many parks offer camping but it is hard to get. Beach camping is on most palces forbidden and in bad taste. There are many companies that offer guided back-packing and hiking trips for one to more days. Pack trips and hunting trips are also very popular in the mountainous regions. Because much land is private, it is prudent to employ a guide who has secured permission to access hidden gems off-limits to independent travelers.
The hike to the volcano on Hawaii is often closed by the park service for safety reasons. Always consult a ranger before planning and embarking on your adventure. You can't walk right up to the lava as in days past, but it is still pumping 500,000 cubic yards of magma a day into the sea. You can see this up close, and safely, from the air.
The islands of Hawaii and Maui have recently started to offer cave exploring adventures and guided trips with naturalists.
The islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii are best seen from the air as 80% of the gems cant be seen from a road or trail. Consider an air tour as an outstanding way to discover what and where the things are that are important to you.