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Hawaii’s Big Island Travel Tips

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Getting To Hawaii's Big Island

Travel to Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona to the west, or Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo to the east. Most visitors arrive in Kona. There is also the option of flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu first and then taking a short, 35-40 minute flight to Hawaii’s Big Island.

Major airlines flying from Sydney to Honolulu International Airport include Hawaiian Airlines (non-stop), Qantas (non-stop), Jetstar (non-stop) and Air Pacific (via Nadi).

Because the island is so big, consider arriving on one side of the island and departing from the other. For example, you might fly into Kona, exploring that side of the island for a while, then driving to the Hilo side (roughly 2 and a half hours) and exploring some more before flying out from the Hilo Airport, or vice-versa. (Be sure to ask car rental companies about drop off charges).

Airport Travel Tips
• Check-in baggage is limited to 2 pieces per person.
• Carry-on baggage is limited to one piece, along with one personal item such as a notebook computer bag, purse, briefcase, camera etc.
• Be careful not to have overweight baggage; US weight restrictions when flying domestically are 22 kilograms, 31 kilograms when flying internationally. The flight from the continental US to Hawaii is a domestic flight.
• Hang identification tags on your baggage and attach an identifying label to your laptop.
• When departing from Hawaii, all baggage must first pass through Agriculture Quarantine before proceeding to the airline counter for check-in. It is best not to bring fruit or other plants, unless you show proof that you are allowed to export them. Without proof, fruits, vegetables and plants will not clear Customs and will be confiscated.
• Once you check-in for your flight, you must go through a security scan. You must have your boarding pass and identification or passport ready.
• Follow the recommended airport arrival and boarding time given by your airline or travel agency. It’s always best to arrive at the airport early.

Staying On Hawaii's Big Island
Major resort destinations on Hawaii’s Big Island include the Kohala Coast, Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) and Keauhou, both in Kona. There are hotels and accommodation in Hilo and Puna on the east side closer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Throughout the island you’ll also find bed and breakfast accommodation, condominiums, holiday rental homes and cottages, as well as hostels.

Currency Exchange
Hawaii’s currency is the US dollar. You can exchange currency at Kona International Airport (KOA) or Hilo International Airport (ITO), at the other major neighbouring island airports, and at resort destinations. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are plentiful. Traveller's cheques are accepted at many businesses.

What To Pack
It's warm in Hawaii, so pack your summer clothes. You may want to bring a jacket or jumper for the evenings. Bring warmer clothes if you plan on visiting higher elevations like Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Suits and ties are very rarely worn here. Bring some casual dress clothes or resort wear if you plan on experiencing Hawaii's nightlife. You can buy an aloha shirt and jandals (or slippers, as the locals call them) when you get here.

Tipping
US standards on tipping apply:
Restaurants: 15-20%. Check to see if “gratuity” is included for large parties
Bar: $.50-$1 US per drink
Housekeeping: $1 US per bed, per night
Luggage porters: $1 US per bag
Doorman: $1 US for calling a taxi
Room Service: 10-15% of the total bill
Taxi: 15% of fare

Language
The official languages of Hawaii are English and Hawaiian, although Hawaiian is not commonly spoken. Major resort areas often have customer service representatives who speak Japanese.

Internet And Electricity
Internet access is readily available in Hawaii. Electricity in the US is 115/120 volts at 60 cycles (60 Hz) per second. If your device does not accept this voltage, you may need to purchase a voltage converter.

Agricultural Inspection
The US Department of Agriculture enforces strict rules regarding the exportation of uninspected plants and animals and requires a declaration form for each person arriving in Hawaii. When departing, your luggage must pass a pre-flight screening for uninspected fruits and plants. You are welcome to take inspected fresh flowers and fruits home. Items purchased at the airport or mailed home from local vendors are inspected for you.

Useful Phone Numbers And Links
New Zealand Consulate: (808) 595-2200

The area code for the state of Hawaii is (808).
Ambulance/Police/Fire Department: 911
Big Island Visitors Bureau: (808) 961-5797
Marriage License and Civil Unions: (808) 586-4545
Airport Visitor Information: (808) 329-3432 (Kona), (808) 934-5838 (Hilo)

Volcano Activity (808) 985-6000

Agricultural Inspection: (808) 326-1252 (Kona), (808) 933-6930 (Hilo)

Camping Permits: (808) 961-8311 (county), (808) 974-6200 (state)

Hilo Medical Center: (808) 974-4700

Kona Community Hospital:  (808) 322-9311

Hualalai Urgent Care (Kona): (808) 327-4357