If you travel to the tropics a lot, some of these suggestions may be self evident, but in case you do not, consider these things:
Have someone drop you off at the airport and take your winter coat home with them, if possible. You won't want it here unless you plan to ski Mauna Kea or see sunrise over Haleakala on Maui.
It is more fun to pack light and buy new clothes in Hawaii than to drag a lot of stuff with you. "Getting dressed up" is a relative term. I have lived here for several years and don't own a tie (there might be one restaurant on the Island where you'd be required to wear one). Buy an aloha shirt! No one will believe you came to Hawaii unless you take one home with you. Hawaii is VERY casual. Shorts are worn everywhere.
When you get off the plane in Kona, it probably will be 85 degrees and humid - will you know where your sandals are?
The airport is one of the few in the U.S. that is open air (not air conditioned). If you have jeans, socks, closed-toe shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt on, you could be pretty uncomfortable! We used to put our shorts and sandals on in the plane before we landed. Had them in our carry-on luggage!
Your first few days here, your body may still be in another time zone. Try to stay up till at least 8 pm the first couple of nights, or you may find yourself wide awake by 3 am!
If you don't own a pair of the little rubber "flip-flops" (we call em' "slippahs"), you should pick up a pair for a couple bucks on your first day here. They keep your feet cool, and you can go right into the tidal pools with 'em. Go to Long's Drug (in Lani Hau Shopping Center downtown, or Keauhou Shopping Center) and get your supplies, such as beach towels, sunblock, slippers, Kona coffee, macnuts...
Whatever you are doing at sunset, stop it! Sunsets don't last long in the tropics, so find a place to park the car if you're on the road, and take it in. We have seen whole restaurants full of people burst into applause at the finish of a Kona sunset. (There IS such a thing as a Green Flash, by the way!)
A Few Last Things -
Freshwater fish can be raised in captivity, but ocean fish can't, so please tell your friends not to buy saltwater aquariums. Local divers tell us the fish collectors are harming our reefs and depleting the fish, with serious repercussions.
Sunblock! Sunblock! Sunblock! Don't burn up here and lose your tan the first day back home! Or ruin precious days in Hawaii by suffering with a bad burn. (Especially remember to grease up the tops of your feet!). The beach is really hot between 11:00 and 2:00 - go have lunch somewhere cool. And, remember - you can get burned under a beach umbrella by reflecting sand or water, and you need to reapply block after going in the water...so slather up often!!
Enjoy your stay!
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