Time you stay there
You can go to the US 30 days before and leave 60 days after you semester (info from March 30, 2011). Example: In my case, semester started on Sep 1, 2011 and ended Dec 20, 2011. Rest is matter of counting 30 or 60 days. I’ve done the following: Flight over 5 days NY and 4 days LA (summer) and stay there the time you’d like. Chicago, New Orleans or Las Vegas might also be nice places to visit. My flight back went over San Francisco (4 days, cold in Feb, but sunshine), Miami (there I stayed 9 days, visited Key West, Everglades National Park, Miami, South Beach, West Palm Beach, Cocoa Beach (kind of village where Kelly Slater is from) and next to it Cape Canaveral, Orlando, Tampa Bay… It was just awesome. And finally I stayed in NY in winter once more for 3-4 days. My advice: do more if you like to see the cities and party and especially: plan at least 1 week per bigger Hawaiian island – it’s so worth it to see th mentioned above. You’re dump if you have the money, party too much on O’ahu and don’t do so.
Sam’s Club is no. 1. There is no cheaper way in long term to buy things on O’ahu (main island of HI). Membership for 1 year and 2 persons: $30, done in 5 min., safe more than hundreds of dollars over your time there. Big rice bag for the whole semester: $15, cheese more expensive – cheddar cheese is the best, ca. $7 .. like in Germany, noodles and so also partly even cheaper than in Germany. In general is Hawai’i very expensive so take care and buy at Sam’s for e.g. your BBQs at the student housings or apartments (see next what better/cheaper).
Reserve a hostel room in Hawai’i at least 1 week before studies begin. If you follow my advices on top: stay there even 2 weeks and travel the other 2 through the US (total 30 days). Hawaiian Monarch is a cheaper way to stay. We had a studio (2 persons) for in total $850/m but that’s not in general so! The first place we lived, 1 BR apartment cost $1400 w. pool etc. but the quietness and place was cool – Hawaiian King Nohonani Street. Student housings are – hm… I haven’t heard good stuff about it. $1500 for a studio, 2 persons.. also pool but problems + sometimes bugs. I haven’t had those problems with own apartments but looked for those extremely long. Check craigslist.com AND especially being ON O’ahu the bulletin boards of hotels, houses etc… It’s worth it, also spending that money for having an awesome experience in paradise. And: you will never, I pronounce “NEVER”, get the chance to make such a cheap and long stay on such a beautiful place.
You will definitively have to read a lot – depending of your course choice at the Hawai’i Pacific University. But you’ll get into it. Don’t read everything; it’s even for the mess of mainlanders too much. You will quickly learn how to do it the best way as you’re students. As an industrial engineer, I was graduate student and had one technical course: telecommunications (HI, the birth place of WLANs). Decision Models for managers and Innovations and Creativity were my 2 economy courses. They were nice and if you had “Produktion/Logistik” (undergraduate/bachelor) and maybe operations research, then it should be no problem with the economy courses. I definitively learned to work much more efficiently in HI and the grades were also great. As undergraduates it’s even easier. Remember to make breaks, e.g. with surfing, it helps!
Moku’s surf rental and Koa Surf rental – first cheapest to rent, second to buy used awesome boards! 9’6 is THE Waikiki-Board. As a beginner: don’t start smaller if you’re about my size (186cm, normal stature). You will need much longer to learn surfing if you do not do so – I surfed almost everyday and from one to four times a day (industrial engineer). As a girl or smaller take at least 9er (to 10.. not bigger). Pay attention that it should be epoxy – lighter. Most people couldn’t learn that good surfing because of bad boards. First board you should try: Koa rental: 9’6er white with blue frames. They have some of it. Rent it a couple of times or other boards… I loved this sport as a pendant to studies or hiking (see below).
Whoever was on O’ahu and “just” hiked some of the standard trails, was at the North Shore or so has not seen the true beauty this island as well as the other ones. Here some cool stuff you should do on O’ahu:
Stairway to Heaven:
(next link: other access trail [advanced], then going down over the steps)
To answer the question of about “best spots” of O’ahu: there is not only one… see below…
I think that some of the must-sees are definitively:
- Makapu’u Point (lighthouse, bunkers, & beach)
- Waimanalo Bay (Waimanalo Beach, Bellows Field Beach Park)
- Kailua & Lanikai
- Nuuanu Pali Lookout (and Trails… not only the “main” one but also the ones to the top are sooo awesome! ;))
- Malaekahana State Recreation Area (go by foot to the island next by)
- Turtle Bay Resort (not only the main beach but also a small walk round the corners.. especially when good weather and big wave it’s awesome and there is a blow whole in the resort where you can sit next by)
- Noth Shore (of course… Sunset is a must-see by sunset… a walk down the whole coast is also very nice from e.g. Sunset to Haleiwa .. but it’s quite a bit in the sun.. you should know the rest, I think)
- Kaena Point (the West-side tour with a real off-road car to the place of the highest waves of the island)
- on top of the Lahilahi Point by sunset on the West side in Makaha (go up the top, ignore the closed chains.. it’s allowed and accessable from the other side.. and to Makaha Beach Park… also there round the corner in direction of the Lahilahi Point there are some old left over fundaments of former times…)
- Mt. Kaala – the highest point on the island (take the right trail when the main trail splits into three.. or for the “kick”, try the middle one… I think that it’s just suicide as there were a veeery long time no people up there before me.. 😉 … but the trail to the right (yellow trail going down) should be fine… inform yourself and get a lot of maps about this trail.. not all are really detailed and you can get up there from 2 sides… on top, there is a military station… no access and only accessable by permission… but that doesn’t really matter in Hawai’i…
- Kolekole Pass.. also the further going trail (not really well marked through a passage with a warning but also those small ribbons for hiking trails) up to the ridges and over them… it’s awesome and really worth it! you access the trail over the military base without special payments/permission…
- Ko Olina Resort (very nice beach parks)
- Nimitz Beach Park (very nice beach park on the south of the island)
- West Loch Community Shoreline Park (walk also there round the corners and the other paths..take your time… it’s worth it!)
- Nuuanu Valley lookout AND especially the 2 trails to the sides from the lookout that are not on the normal hiking maps… you go through the bushes and there are also those small ribbons marking it… go up to the crests… it was one of the best things that I’ve done in Hawai’i. Pay always attention for the weather. You need long to get down there and within 30min the weather there can change from sunshine to thunderstorms with flashfloods – believe me, I had luck experiencing it.
- Maunawili Trail (take a whole day with the Nuuanu Pali lookout trail and watch out when the last busses are going)
I think that those are the most interesting spots on the island from those not every “normal abroad” student knows. Even some who live the whole life on the island haven’t done everything… so DO IT TODAY, tomorrow you’ll be probably somewhere else in the world! 😉
Enjoy Hawai’i and especially its overwhelming sunsets & sunrises!!