Having just come back from Hawaii, I thought I'd share some tips with my fellow Aussies.
1. Always carry at least $5 worth of $1 notes, a few $5 notes and at least $3 worth of quarters (.25 cents).
The small notes are very useful for tipping, catching the trolley or the bus. The quarters are useful for making phone calls (in case you don't take your mobile) and catching the bus as the fare is $2.25 and neither the bus nor the trolley give change.
2. Don't bother taking anything beach related except your swimmers and (speedos if you wear them). This includes thongs (called slippers in Hawaii). Everything beach related like beach mats, towels etc can be bought cheaply at the ABC stores dotted everywhere throughout Waikiki. You'll probably come back with swimming costumes/bikinis/board-shorts. They have absolutely stunning ones over there.
3. Pack a small torch. Very useful if you are dining outside at night or in restaurants that have dim lighting.
5. A lot of tours and shuttles including those to Waikele leave from in front of the new Trump Tower on Saratoga Road opposite the park at Fort De Russy. This isn't mentioned in a lot of the timetables you see online.
6. Waitstaff in Hawaii earn very little - around $7.25 an hour. Don't include your tip in your debit card/credit card payment slip. The restaurant will only deduct the price of the meal and taxes and the waitstaff will miss out on their tip. If paying for your meal by debit card/credit card - leave the tip in cash.
7. The smaller ATM's not connected to banks and not in hotel foyers tend to charge less for withdrawals than banks. Don't withdraw cash from the ATM's in hotel foyers - the fees were $3.75 compared to $2.50 in banks and $2 at the smaller ATM's.
8. If you're going to other islands, don't bother with snorkelling at Hanauma Bay. It's very crowded, there's not many fish, a compulsory educational film to watch before they let you snorkel, it's takes a long time to get there and it costs $7.50 per person.
9. If there's an excursion you have your heart set on, book it as soon as you arrive in Hawaii or before you leave.
10. DO NOT book anything (excursions etc) through those discount booths you will see offering great reductions on whale watching tours, luaus etc. They are time share operators. They're very persistent so if we couldn't avoid them quickly enough, the line we had was "we're leaving today."
11. If you are only going to Oahu/Honolulu/Waikiki - either travel over there with only carry on and buy a suitcase over there or take only one set of clothes in your suitcase. You will buy heaps of stuff and appreciate that extra room.
12. If you take several changes of clothes and are going to other islands - leave your shopping till the end.
13. The best prices on souvenirs tend to be at the Aloha stadium markets or the ABC stores.
14. A private shuttle service is the cheapest way to get from the airport if you have 3 people or more in your group. Luggage is generally not allowed on the bus although I did some people take some on. The big shuttle services charge per person and make many stops to drop people off but the private shuttles charge one fee for the shuttle and take you directly to your hotel.
15. Take about $200 US dollars over with you. Westpac tend to have good exchange rates for cash and have all notes including the smaller ones.
16. If you're not sure where to catch the bus to get to a particular destination, head to the Ala Moana shopping center. They all leave from there. Just make sure to ask the driver for a transfer ticket so you can board the next bus.Edited: 3:48 pm, January 25, 2010