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Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Sydney, Australia
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Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

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.

4. You don't need to hire a car in Oahu. The Bus goes everywhere including to the North Shore and right around the island for $2.25.

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
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1. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

"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."

This doesn't make any sense. The waitstaff get the tip whether it is cash or on the credit card slip. The restaurant will report the tip as a taxable wage if it is put on the credit card which what the waiter/waitress should be doing anyways if they receive cash tips.

Everything else is a pretty good tip.

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2. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

PiratessayARR - When we paid for meals using our debit card, we added a tip and signed for the higher amount. We subsequently discovered when we checked our transactions online, that ONLY the price of the meal had been charged/deducted from the card, never the higher total and therefore the tip. The tip/gratuity amount was never included in the initial bill presented to us, only the meal.

Edited: 4:46 pm, January 25, 2010
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3. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Tropicgirl

I have found that when I use my debit card and leave the tip on it at home that the transaction will at first only show the bill without tip it usually takes a couple days for the transaction to show with tip included,

Probably because when they run your card it is only for amount of bill then you add the tip on when you are signing it.

We usually only use our credit card to get airmiles or cash when we are on vacation.

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4. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

We've been home since Friday 22 January. We used the debit card and paid for those meals at the end of December/first few days of January. The extra amount has not to this date been deducted from the debit card. After we discovered this, we started leaving a cash tip.

Edited: 5:18 pm, January 25, 2010
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5. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

mmm. strange

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6. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Thanks for all the info. I leave in 8 weeks and am really looking forward to my first trip to Hawaii.

I hear it takes a long time to get the bus to the other side of the island?? Is it worth it or is it better to take a tour? I dont want to sit on a bus for hours!

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7. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Sunnygirl, my pleasure. It depends. I thought The Bus was worth it.

The advantages were that you were in control - you decided when you got on and off. It was cheap. It was about 2 hours to the North Shore. Take a light cardigan though because the air-conditioning on the buses meant the bus was quite cold for that length of time.

The disadvantage of the bus was that a tour would be quicker because it would be direct to the North Shore/around the island but the North Shore is still a fair way out of Waikiki.

Edited: 6:27 pm, January 25, 2010
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8. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Great tips Tropic girl can I add

#3 - also handy if you climb Diamond head

#4 - sorry disagree with this one - yes the bus does go all the way and is cheap but it takes forever - we always grab a car and do Dole the Northshore and come back the east coast and back through the Pali . Beauty of the car is stop where you wnat and for however long you want.

Also we found most Busses will leave from Kuhio as well near the Outrigger West - might save a trip to Ala Mo .

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9. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

Yes some good tips here.

I will add my 2 cents as well LOL

I dont think you should skip hanauma Bay,but just be aware that it does take time to watch the video etc,walk down to the water,gets crowded,cost 7.50and yeah itsnot like our QLD reef thats for sure,,but we loved it and will go again.

Its such a pretty beach,really pretty

If you want to see millions of fish,,yeah well dont go

I think they should close it more than once a week,i saw so many people stand on that reef,i felt like telling them off.

Its a long trip on the bus to the north shore,we did it,,it was a whole day,,4 hours just on the bus in total,if you can drive,,take a car,you will see so much more,and stop at all the beaches that way too..

I didnt mind the trip,,but my miss 12 wasnt impressed..

Those free books at the airport have all the info on the buses,and even what numbers go where etc,but after reading here before i went,, i knew all the bus numbers I needed,,its VERY easy to catch a bus thats for sure.

I took over an empty suitcase inside my suitcase,,wasnt a bother,,I have got great good suitcases from op shops here,,much cheaper than buying over there.I didnt see many cheap suitcase there?? like $40 still in wallmart,my lovely $10 suitcase were so much better,,visit your op shop a few times a week if you can,,good ones come in all the time,,

All my clothes i took over I left there(i came home with only new clothes),,even all my underwear,just chucked them daily,so each year or when you go through your underwear draw,dont just chuck the older ones out,,just save them for your holiday and chuck them then,,look out for the sales and buy the 7/10 packs for $10,,cheaps as chips.

Dont forget to check out the cheesescake factory,we really LOVED the desserts and food there,we sat down there late like 10.30 11pm most nights(after shopping)

and dont forget to eat at the BUbba Gump shrimp,if you like forest Gump the movie you will love the place,

Dont forget to check out the supermarket,we had fun in there buying sweets etc

You need to have shaved ice and have a shrimp plate

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10. Re: Tips for Aussies heading to Hawaii

thanks tropicgirl- great tips for those of us going soon.

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