Communikait wrote this post in collaboration with Expedia.com and SoFluential Media. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
So, you’re coming to Hawaii with the military? I’m glad you’re here! As Dane and I approach 6 years of living on Oahu (originally PCSing here with the Army), it is easy for me to look back and say “I wish I would have known” or “if I could do Hawaii over again I would…”. Anyone else feel that way about where they live? Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose! When anyone sends me a note that they are moving here or PCSing here, or even remotely considering ranking Hawaii on their list, I send them the following information. When Expedia asked if I wanted to partner together to share it all – it was a no-brainer! Hawaii is a phenomenal duty station for so many reasons, but being in a prime spot to travel to other islands and the South Pacific ranks pretty high! Expedia is proud to offer military members including active duty, National Guard, reservists, retirees and veterans +gold status in their travel rewards program, Expedia+. Awesome, right? Sign up for yours on the Expedia military offer page.
Let’s get started…
Hawaii Guide For Military Families
The first and sometimes scariest part of moving to an island is figuring out where you’re going to live. Once you have that squared away – the fun can begin! One thing to keep in mind is that traffic on Oahu can be insane, so while figuring out your new house, the mileage may appear small for commuting, but the time it takes could be double or triple what it seems. Dane and I have lived both on and off post and I’ll be honest – on post housing isn’t bad! Utilities add up really quickly (particularly if you have air conditioning) so BAH often doesn’t stretch quite as far as you might like. If you’re concerned at all about making new friends, affordability or if having central A/C is a MUST – I can’t say enough good things about living on base. We have had a really good experience! That said, if post isn’t your jam and you’re not open to it – Ewa Beach, Mililani, Waialua and Kailua are all great spots to live depending on which base you’ll be commuting to 🙂
First Must-See Sights
Now that you’ve gotten your housing squared away and your household goods delivery is in place, take advantage of the somewhat flexible time you have as a family before the work routine kicks up again! Often families who just arrive are staying at a hotel in Waikiki, which puts you in a great position to do some of the fun touristy activities and get you on island time. Be sure to:
-Eat breakfast at Lulu’s. Grab a seat on the rail so you can watch the surfers and surf break on the Waikiki pier. Looking for more food? My favorite brunch spots on the island are here.
-Visit Pearl Harbor. There is so much history on this island and the hallowed grounds of Pearl Harbor are a must-visit for any military family, civilian or tourist.
-Eat some delicious malasadas from Leonard’s. Actually – just fully immerse yourself in all of the delicious food Hawaii has to offer. A full list of 10 must-eat foods can be found here.
-Hike Diamondhead. It’s the easiest hike on the island and offers panoramic views of Honolulu and beyond. Don’t forget your camera! All my favorite Oahu hikes are here.
-Walk up and down Kalakaua Avenue and be sure to snap a photo with the Duke statue! This is iconic Waikiki and it’s the best spot for people watching.
-Take a Maitai Catamaran cruise. You’ll get to see the Honolulu skyline from the water and enjoy a few hours of salt air and sunshine!
Tips For Getting Acclimated To The Culture
I’ll be honest – when we first moved here I couldn’t figure out why everyone moved so slowly. It irritated the crap out of me! I was an East Coast transplant that operated at 500mph for 15 hours a day. I learned pretty quickly that was not the standard operating procedure here on Oahu. The pace of life in Hawaii is slower and more intentional – and that’s not a bad thing. But I’ll be frank – it does take some getting used to. Hawaii is a melting pot of people from all over the world so you can hop on any bus or walk into any restaurant and hear 3-4 different languages at once. It’s a hot destination for tourists from China and Japan and draws international students, surfers and people from around the globe. It’s truly amazing. My best advice for adapting to island life is to keep an open mind. There will be many, many things that are different (food, languages, pace of life, etc.), but different doesn’t always mean bad. Whether you love it or hate it, military life means one thing – it’s temporary.
The Best Ways To Island Hop
Now – let’s talk about the fun part of being stationed in Hawaii…the travel! Oahu is just one among the chain of Hawaiian Islands, each offering their own unique island vibe. We have been lucky enough to see all reachable Hawaiian Islands and I love them all for different reasons. All islands – all completely different – imagine that! Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air and Mokulule Airlines all operate inter-island flights and often run specials for military, or Kama’ina (locals), so keep your eyes peeled. Take full advantage of 4-day leave passes and long weekends – it’s the perfect way to explore another island without burning vacation days. Trust me – you’ll want those leave days for journeys to and from the mainland or to another country! In our time in Hawaii we have explored Thailand, Japan, Bali, Taiwan and all 5 Hawaiian Islands (plus Oahu!). We have airfare alerts set for destinations we want to visit so when we see they are affordable – we hop on the computer and book them. Programs like Expedia’s military rewards make it even easier for us to book, save money and sometimes get awesome upgrades!
Are you excited yet? Moving to Hawaii can be incredibly stressful and sometimes you’ll ask yourself “is this hassle worth it?” The answer is yes. One thousand times over – yes. Hawaii has so much to offer military families from beautiful beaches, colorful flora and picturesque hikes to incredible restaurants, historical sights and fun luaus. Get ready for a fun adventure and don’t forget to pack your ALOHA 🙂
The military offer provides complimentary Expedia+ Gold Status to anyone that signs up by verifying their military status. It’s available to active duty, veterans, military spouses, and dependents. Expedia + Gold Status is valued at $10,000 and includes benefits like bonus points, complimentary upgrades, and exclusive amenities. https://www.expedia.com/militaryoffer/