In October, a fellow blogger asked me if I had ever been to Hawaii. My response:
“No, and I’m not sure if I ever will. It’s just so expensive to fly to such a small island.”
Fast forward two weeks and I was clicking submit on skyscanner.com for a three week travel plan. My first stop being Oahu, Hawaii.
Travel is so unpredictable. Places I never imagined are suddenly imaginable thanks to a lot of research and killer flight deals.
So last month I began adventuring, touring and discovering Oahu, Hawaii as a solo female traveler.
With no plans and no idea what the island had to offer, I had to start on some research….about two days before I showed up. I sat on the plane on my layover in Phoenix staring at my phone waiting to see if I could sleep on the couch of a friend of a friend my first night. God, I am such an awesome procrastinator. And for having little planned-not even a place to sleep, I have to say things went extremely well.
Solo female travel is extremely intimidating at first. Half of the people you meet will think you are completely insane and the other half with think you are the coolest person alive. Traveling alone opens you to meet amazing new people and to lead you on adventures you never knew existed. It also strips you of all your comfort and forces you to be in situations most would find uncomfortable.
For example: eating alone. Others tell me all the time they feel bad for people at restaurants who sit alone and that in fact they look lonely. With solo travel, be prepared for those “I feel bad for you” stares. But you are not afraid.
I took a tour on the island and was the only single traveler of the group. But I never felt alone. I paired up with some friendly guys from the Philippians and we had a kick-ass time biking the beaches of North Shore, SUPing, Kayaking and just hanging out. Plus everyone else wants to learn your story. Once they find out you’re alone it’s a flood of questions:
“Aren’t you scared being a female and alone?”
“How long are you traveling for?”
“You’re not seriously all by yourself…are you?”
But in the end, a majority give you major props. And hell, maybe I am a little crazy…but I like it that way.
So I show up to Hawaii and stayed with some amazing people from Advlo.com, who were more than kind to open their home for me for the first few nights. After that I just started floating. A hotel here, staying with an old high school friend there. I usually discovered where I was sleeping the day of after being sent on the street with my backpack and no plan. I’ll admit it was extremely stressful but extremely fun. I always love to be a little spontaneous. We should all learn to do that a bit more. (Note: make sure you’re not traveling there during the Honolulu Marathon, as all hostels will be booked)
I also went on some KILLER hikes. The landscape here is absolutely insane. Jurassic Park meets Lost meets Avatar meets Narnia. All the locals stroll around and I’m there next to them staring up and screaming “BEACHES AND MOUNTAINSSSSSSSSSS”.
Hawaii is absolutely one of a kind. The island of Oahu is no longer than 26 miles across, but the ecosystems are completely different based upon area. The beaches are sunny almost everyday and see about 10 inches of rain per year. Some mountains are actually rain forests that can see up to 400 inches of rain per year with low clouds often lingering.
Did you know 3 of the top 10 rainiest places in the world are located on the islands of Hawaii?
The contrast explains why rainbows are so incredibly common here (At least one a day).
The absolute most difficult and annoying thing I had to deal with while traveling alone in Hawaii was lack of transportation. Unfortunately, I tried renting a car but those dreams were quickly smashed. Locals also told me how risky renting a car is, because if you take it out of the city islanders can spot rental cars and then break into them.
The bus system is quite slow (3 hours to get to the other side of the island) and hitchhiking may be common on the other islands, but Oahu is not the best place. Mopeds are probably the best solution, however that means you must travel light enough to carry everything from place to place on your back. The friend I couchsurfed with the couple days had a moped and we rode that around until we got pulled over by the police for riding two people on a one-seater. Oops.
Overall, I give solo female travel Hawaii 4.8 stars and am definitely returning in the future. I could spend 6 months there and not do every hike I wished. I never felt scared or intimidated and by traveling solo I made dozens of new friends in a matter of 7 days. Not bad, right?
Solo traveling will always lead you to fun and exciting adventures that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. You will meet the skeptics who think you will end up on the side of a milk carton. You will meet the people who envy you because they’ve always wanted to do it. But most importantly it will teach you that the world is not scary and that good people outweigh the bad tremendously.