Yolo Solo Travel


I took a very spontaneous trip which had me ‘Hanging in Hawaii’.  It was one of the best spontaneous decisions I have ever made!  Having spent three weeks in this paradise and making the most of every day I have a lot to cover so I will try not to go into too much detail and keep it as specific as I can.

So there were cheap flights with Air New Zealand (NZ$495 return) that I couldn’t turn it down.  I arrived in Honolulu at the end of July with just my carry on Osprey backpack.  This was my first multi-week trip travelling with just carry on luggage but with the lovely warm weather I was expecting I was quite confident it was all that I would need and I was right.  Travelling light makes it all so much easier!  Honolulu airport had no free wifi but lucky I have learnt to load public transport directions into Google Maps before I go anywhere new.


I spent my first few nights in Waikiki at the Seaside Hawaiian Hostel.   The staff here were super friendly and there is no socialising in the outdoor areas after 11pm so you can definitely get some sleep.  It is in a great location, just a 5 minute walk to the beach with all the shopping you need in between.  This was also a great place to met people and find friends to explore with.  Spending my first few days here gave me the opportunity to get good advice from locals and other travellers as I hadn’t really planned anything and was just going to figure most of it out along the way.

Activities for my first few days in Waikiki:

  • Explored the streets and beach in Waikiki, you don’t need much time to do this.

  • Ate as much Poke as I could, it is my all time favourite dish which I first discovered when I was in Los Angeles.

  • Byodo In Temple in Kaneohe.  This is a Japanese Buddhist temple of no denomination and a replica of the one in Uji, Japan.  It is nestled under the hills and it is really wet there with random showers of rain occurring regularly as the clouds get trapped by the cliffs.

  • Public bus to Hanauma Bay which has good snorkeling and cost $7.50 to enter.

  • Sealife Park, Makapu’u. I did’t go into the Sealife Park as I don’t support wildlife in captivity for entertainment but the bus ride up the coast was nice and I did wander around Makapu’u which is a rugged coastline with walks and a lighthouse.

  • Attended a few hula concerts which were really good

  • Swam every day because why wouldn’t you? However, if the water was any warmer it would be too warm

  • Volunteered at Kawainui Marsh which I found online and organise before arriving in Hawaii.  We weeded and were given a tour of the area where lots of work is going into restoring the wetlands.



I then flew to the Big Island of Hawaii.  I had booked a ticket with Mokelele Airlines to fly into Kamuela-Waimea as I had organised to couchsurf there.  However, (another story) that fell through that morning and I had to change plans.  It was a little stressful as I had no wifi after leaving my hostel at 7am and I no idea where I was going to stay that night or how I was going to get there.  As it turned out the airline was able to change my ticket so that I could fly to Kona instead and once I had gone through checkout there was wifi on the other side for me to do a little research on transport and accommodation but I didn’t confirm anything before getting on the plane.  The plane ride was far more expensive than what I would have paid if I had booked that flight from the start but I wouldn’t have got the scenic route along the east coast of Moloka’i which was just gorgeous!  We had a brief stop in Kapalua, Maui before landing in Kona.  There was no public transport so I had to hire a car.  Not something I had any intention of doing and it was also my first time driving on the other side of the road.  I had to navigate myself to town with no maps, find somewhere that had free wifi and figure out where I was going to stay that night.  I hit the jackpot with a cool hostel called Pineapple Park.  Hiring a car for the week totally blew the budget but in hindsight I was crazy to think I could really experience the Big Island without one.  With a car I got to see and do so much!



Activities on the Big Island:

  • Walk to and snorkel at Kealakekua Bay where the Captain Cook Monument is located.  Best snorkeling of the whole trip and I even got to swim with dolphins.  If you are going to walk to this location make sure you take A LOT of water, the walk back up in the heat was no fun!

  • Snorkeling at Hōnaunau Bay, not quite as good as Kealakekua Bay but still good.

  • Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park – Some interesting culture and history here and it is right next to Hōnaunau Bay so worth doing both together

  • Swimming at night with manta rays in Keauhou Bay, absolutely one of the most amazing things I have done!  It cost me $80 (US$) and was booked through my hostel.

  • South Point which is the southern most point of the USA, here there are some awesome cliffs which people jump into the ocean from as well as a blow hole which people were also jumping into.

  • Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.  You can walk, drive a 4WD or pay $15 to get on the back of a 4WD.  It is a crazy bumpy ride but fun!  Much better than walking all that way in the hot sun with no shade.

  • Volcano Winery for some wine tasting.  Mostly sweet wines including a honey wine.  I found a red that wasn’t too bad.

  • Volcanoes National Park including the lava tube, petroglyphs and lava flow.  I can recommend hiring a bike and biking out to the lava flow before sunset and stay until dark.  Watching the lava flow into the ocean during the day and night is a treat!

  • Hawaiian Tropical Botanica Gardens.  I love gardens and these are probably some of the best I have ever seen!

  • Rainbow and ‘Akaka Falls.  Both worth a stop if you have nothing better to do but nothing spectacular unless there has been lots of rain, then they would definitely be worth checking out

  • Watched the sunset and moon rise at the same time from Mauna Kea.  You need to book a tour or have a decent 4WD to get right to the top where the Observatories are but you can drive as far as the visitors centre and the view from here at nearly 3000 meters is still amazing!

  • Markets and shopping in Hilo, definitely worth spending some time doing this.

  • Stopped in Waimea, can’t say there was a lot there but I had a car so I was going to make the most of it and drive everywhere.



After my amazing time on the Big Island of Hawaii I flew back to Honolulu, Oahu and caught a bus up to the North Shore where I planned to spend a few days.  I booked three nights at the Backpackers Hostel in Pupukea but ended up booking another two nights as it was so awesome there.  This hostel had many accommodation options and I went for the cheapest and that is what I got so if you are going to stay here be aware that you will get what you pay for.  In saying that it had character and I met some very cool people.  Getting around by bus is super cheap and really easy on the Island of Oahu, you don’t need a car here.  I was fascinated by the fact that in the summer time the ocean is as flat as a pancake on the North Shore but in the winter the swell gets up and surfers from all over the world come to surf the famous Banzai Pipeline.  Legends such as Kelly Slater have been regulars here.

Activities on the North Shore:

  • Snorkeling at Three Tables beach which was ok but still not as good as Kealakekua Bay

  • Haleiwa town which is a cool place to visit.  It is full of surf shops, good coffee and some great art galleries.

  • Waimea Valley Botanical gardens and waterfall.  It was a really nice stroll through the gardens but swimming at the waterfall required wearing a life jacket which was strange, it wasn’t a dangerous swimming hole but nice to cool off.

  • Volunteer at an organic farm which was advertised at the hostel

  • Ehukai Pillbox Hike which is a walk up to some old concrete bunkers with a great view and loads of wild strawberry guavas to eat along the way.

  • Swimming at Waimea beach, there is a good jumping rock at the south end of the beach

  • Dinner at Sharks Cove street food stalls, lots of yummy meals to choose from

  • Watching turtles on the shoreline at Laniakea Beach, there were loads of turtles and it was so awesome to just sit there and watch them



My last few days in Hawaii were spent back in Waikiki.  I returned to Seaside Hawaiian Hostel as I had been happy with my stay there and glad I did as I made a heap of new friends that I joined for a few more adventures.

Activities back in Waikiki:

  • Walked to Mānoa Falls.  There wasn’t much water so no amazing waterfall to see but I went with about five other girls who were great company and the walk itself was worth it.

  • Attending a hulu lesson and then a lei making lesson which was fun.  Hulu is not as easy as it looks, it really works those leg muscles!

  • Watched the Friday night fireworks on the beach by the Hilton.  It is worth it if you happen to be there on a Friday night.

  • Sunset sail on the Kepoikai II Catamaran which was such great way to spend my final night in Hawaii.  I can highly recommend this company, they were awesome!  Beers on board are cheap and if you go do be prepared to get wet and maybe even go for a swim if you are keen.

  • Japanese for dinner which included trying jellyfish for an entree


I still find it hard to think of Hawaii as a state of the USA.  To me it is another Pacific Island with people who’s culture is similar to my own Māori culture.  People of the Pacific I feel share a bond through our language, connection with the environment and our identity.  I truly loved my time in Hawaii and I hope to go back one day to visit the islands of Maui and Kauai. Certainly a special place with much Aloha.

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Never forget You Only Live Once, Karllie 🙂

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