Two (wonderful) Hawaii Travel Guides
Oh, how I love travel guides. More than I probably should, really. Whenever there’s the slightest hint that I might be going on a trip somewhere, I jump online and to bookstores and start gathering information. As one with a serious travel-bug, I love knowing all about the places I’m going and what I can expect to see – in addition to things to keep an eye out for.
Heck, I’ll even read travel guides when there’s not a slim chance I’ll be heading somewhere. But then again, I’m a big nerd, so..
Back in August (before this blog was born) my husband and I spent our honeymoon on the glorious and magical Hawaiian island of O’ahu. We stayed in a spectacular hotel on Waikiki beach, and spent a week perusing the island via foot, bus, and rental car. The week holds some of the happiest memories of my life, and I will forever claim I left a piece of my heart in the Pacific Ocean on Waikiki beach.
This, however, is not about how much I love Hawaii.
Packed in my bags for the trip (and in my purse every day along the way) were two travel guides that I picked up to prepare for the adventure. The first was (pictured above) the Lonely Planet guide to “Honolulu, Waikiki & O’ahu.” The second was the Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Honolulu & O’ahu guide. I selected both of these for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I trust the Lonely Planet and Eyewitness Travel companies and the well-informed staffers they hire to compile these guides. Second, I’m a sucker for color and pictures, and many of the travel guides I found contained pages and pages of text. While that’s all well and good, and while we know I love text, we’re talking about places where I want to see sights. For that reason, I think pictures are absolutely a necessity.
If I had to choose, I would say the Lonely Planet guide was my favorite of the two guides I took with me. Like the Lonely Planet magazine, the photographs and layout are just gorgeous. These people take pride in their visuals and obviously hire talented photographers, along with their talented writer staff.
The guide breaks down the island into different parts – Honolulu, Waikiki, Southeast O’ahu, Windward O’ahu, North Shore, Leeward O’ahu, and Central O’ahu – and then highlights the best things about each region. Recommendations are frequent (such as “Best neighborhood for walking” and “Best shave ice”) and, from the ones we tested, pretty dead-on. There’s a section with suggested itineraries, but then it feels like you’re left to explore.
Though the book is packed with a lot of information, it never feels like too much and the excess of information came in handy. For restaurants, there are notes like “Closed Sundays,” which are always helpful for non-locals. The final section of the book is practical information – such as speed limits, food glossary, climate charts, and a section on dangers to watch out for.
Whenever I go on my next adventure, if there’s a Lonely Planet guide for it, I’m absolutely picking it up.
(At Chinaman’s hat, which we located thanks to the Lonely Planet Guide.)
The best thing about Eyewitness’ guides is that they’re not attempting to exhaust every single thing you could possibly do while vacationing somewhere. It’s their focused brevity that makes them shine. (I own 4 or 5 of these for different places, and I’m never disappointed.) If you’re going to a site like Pearl Harbor, which is massive and has endless things to see, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Turning to the Top 10 Pearl Harbor list will ensure you hit the major points and don’t smack yourself later for missing something like the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Also, there are lists like the Top Ten Moments in History list, which gives a super-quick overview of the history that makes up a place like Hawaii. When you’re out walking around, you may want to know what happened in a particular spot without having to read a whole book about the event. In addition, the lists of local dishes to try, the best golf courses, bars and clubs, and places to shop are all super handy when you’re faced with a barrage of options. O’ahu is a rich island, and there’s too much to do it all in one trip.
Also, there was a detachable map in the back of this Eyewitness guide that my husband and I kept on us at all times, and used more than once to figure out where in the world we had wandered to. Waterproof and small, these maps are great to keep in your pocket just in case. Big Plus.
I hope to share more thoughts on travel guides when I do some more traveling. So far I know there are trips to see family in Michigan and Texas slated for this year, and perhaps a bigger – OutsideNorthAmerican – adventure awaits in 2012. (Aleisha.. hint.. hint..)
What travel guides do y’all use? Am I the only one who reads these things? 🙂 Surely that can’t be true.