Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Hawaiian Islands? With its pristine beaches, lush tropical landscapes and vibrant culture, it's no wonder Hawaii is on most people’s bucket travel lists. For first time visitors, planning a trip to Hawaii can seem a bit overwhelming. There’s so much to see and do and it can be difficult to know what is essential. 

We’re fortunate to live in California where the flight to Hawaii isn’t too long (compared to the East Coast), and have had a few chances to visit these incredible islands. Whether you’re planning your dream vacation, honeymoon, or simply wander-lusting, we’ve got you covered in this guide. 

1 - Choose Your Island

Did you know there are over 130 Hawaiian islands? While most of them are not set up for tourists, some of the main ones you’ll want to choose from are Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. While all of them offer something unique, there’s something for everyone. 

Oahu is a great mix of city, nightlife, shopping, dining and beaches. Maui is perfect for families and honeymooners with a wide variety of outdoor activities and beaches. Kauai is what one often thinks of when thinking about Hawaii - lush, tropical landscapes and unparalleled natural beauty. The Big Island is a nice mix of tropical landscapes, golf and beaches. 

2 - Outdoor Adventures

The Hawaiian Islands offer an endless variety of outdoor activities. From snorkeling, surfing, to hiking, to horseback riding to whale watching. There really is something for every level of activity. 

Indulge in snorkeling, hiking, surfing, and other outdoor activities amidst Hawaii's year-round warm climate and diverse terrain.

3 - Embrace Hawaiian Culture

What better way to be greeted off the airplane than by getting a beautiful Hawaiian lei? It may seem cliché, but there's nothing like putting on a fresh lei and feeling like you're truly on vacation.

Also, if this is your first time visiting Hawaii, you must experience a traditional luau. Here you’ll learn more about the Hawaiian culture, history, and cuisine. If you’re on Oahu, a stop to the famous Pearl Harbor is a must. 

4 - Explore Natural Wonders

Discover breathtaking landscapes like Waimea Canyon, Haleakalā National Park, and the North Shore beaches. Practically everywhere you turn, there's natural beauty to be found. Be sure to charge your phone or camera, you're going to want to take lots of pictures! And don't forget to watch at least a sunset or two - Hawaiian sunsets are some of the dreamiest in the world!

5 - Sample Local Cuisine

Being surrounded by water, Hawaii offers some of the freshest fish in the world. Enjoy raw poke and sushi straight from the ocean. Cool off with some shaved ice, fresh coconut water, and pineapple.  And don't forget to indulge in a Mai Tai - Hawaii's signature cocktail. If you’re on Maui or the Big Island, visit the world-famous Merriman's or Dukes restaurants. 

6 - Pack Accordingly

Since the weather in Hawaii is typically between 70-80 degrees year-round, you won’t be needing too heavy of layers. Pack lots of shorts, day dresses, swimsuits, coverups, sandals and shoes for walking. Our favorites? The new Ava sandals and Paisley sneakers for sight-seeing. 

Don't forget to pack your sunscreen. And make sure it's coral reef safe! Sustainability and caring for the natural habitat and wildlife is important to Hawaiians (and us too, more on that here), so they take extra pre-cautions to make sure the sunscreens don't damage the reefs. If you can't find any where you live, the Hawaiian drugstores will carry them. 

Lounging in our new Ava sandals

To wrap things up, visiting the Hawaiian Islands for the first time promises an unforgettable blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Paradise awaits – pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable Hawaiian adventure! Have you been to Hawaii? Share some of your tips in the comments!

Founder and Creative Director, Christina Bullock, wearing our Zoey heel prototypes on the Big Island

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