Visit Hawaii like a local

Your mentors, Hannah and Matt, teach you how to island-hop like you live there

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❄️ Head to the Netherlands to cool off with Ice Man, Wim Hof.

🏝 Since today’s destination spotlight is Hawaii, this video talks about the history behind how the U.S. gained ownership of the Hawaiian islands.

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Your Travel Mentors: Hannah and Matt

Say aloha to Hannah and Matt! They live on the island of Oahu just outside the city of Honolulu, Hawaii. Their resume includes traveling the United States in a camper van, spending months in South America, and backpacking Southeast Asia. They spent most of the pandemic locked down in Bali, where they adopted their dog, Sophie.

When they aren’t traveling, Hannah is a wedding coordinator on Oahu, and Matt is a wedding photographer. These guys love weddings 😄. Matt is in the process of starting his own elopement photography business, combining his love of photography with travel. 📷

Hannah and Matt have a big following on social media, and a pretty cool story about how it started. A few years ago, they traveled to Vietnam to teach English to students in a small village. To share their experience, they began posting more frequently on Instagram.

The town they were living in didn’t have any picturesque views or popular tourist attractions to feature in their posts. They were challenged to show the best side of the small village they were living in. Their experience in that tiny village, searching for the best photo spots, taught them a unique lesson. There is always a spot worth sharing and photographing, and it takes skill to find that spot. Hannah and Matt still take pictures at the most popular tourist attractions, but they have a unique ability to find a different angle or vantage point than you would normally see.

They shared some advice that will help you level-up your travel photography.

  • The best Instagram photo is one that doesn’t look staged. Make an effort to find poses that look natural. That picture just standing next to your partner looking at the camera isn’t cutting it.

  • Take pictures of the popular spots, but try to find a unique angle or a different vantage point. You will stand out from all the other similar-looking photos of the same destination.

  • Research poses before you head out to take photos. Hannah and Matt use Pinterest and Unscripted, two apps you can use to search poses that best fit your location or occasion.

Destination Spotlight: Hawaii

The state of Hawaii is comprised of 137 volcanic islands. It’s easy to forget that there’s a state, so different than any other state in the U.S., sitting way out there in the Pacific ocean. It’s actually the most remote population center in the world. I live on the east coast of the country, and when I visited Hawaii a few years ago, I often forgot that I was still in my own country. The lush green mountain ranges and blue ocean water teeming with wildlife are reminders of islands I would normally need a passport to visit.

Hawaii is made up of a ton of islands, but there are 6 main ones: Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Hawaii, and Oahu. Oahu is home to 2/3 of the state’s population and the capital city of Honolulu. The state is one of the most diverse in the country. Southeast Asian, East Asian, North American, and indigenous Hawaiian combine to form a unique melting pot of cultures.1

Hannah and Matt live there, so who better to give you some local tips on visiting the islands.

Hawaii Itinerary

Hike until you drop

Hawaii is basically a bunch of volcanoes jutting out of the Pacific Ocean. The mountains formed by these volcanoes are full of trails, with some of the most epic views you will ever encounter while hiking. Oahu has some of the best hiking in the chain, with two different mountain ranges running across the island. But Kauai is where Hannah and Matt say to go for the best. The Napali Coast with its towering sea cliffs has tons of trails that take you along the ridge line. Their favorite hike on Kauai is the Kukui Trail, which takes you away from the coast into Waimea Canyon.

Eat poke and mixed plates

Two of Hannah and Matt’s favorite things to eat on the islands. Poke is a dish of diced raw fish. Visit Fresh Catch or Ono Seafood on Oahu for their favorite poke spots. Mixed plates are exactly what they sound like, a plate with a variety of foods like macaroni salad, rice, and meats. Matt swears by North Shore Grinds for his mixed plates on Oahu. “Driving past it you don’t think it’s a restaurant. Walk into it, and it looks like someones living room. It’s my favorite local spot for sure. You don’t ever see tourists inside.”

Gaze at the end of the earth

The island of Hawaii (also known as The Big Island), is home to the southernmost point in the United States. It’s a bit of a drive from the main villages on the island, but you will be rewarded with views of the Pacific as far as the eye can see (actually the only land out there is Antarctica, and it’s pretty far away).

Clean up the beach

Hannah and Matt help clean up the beaches on Oahu at least once every month. Sustainable Coastlines and 808 Cleanups are two resources you can use to find beach clean up events on your trip to Hawaii. Or you can just grab a trash bag and head to the nearest beach!

Travel Tip

Visit Hawaii in peak season and prepare to enjoy your vacation alongside what seems like every other tourist in the world. Christmas and summer months are when most visitors head to the islands, and there are a lot of them. It’s also the most expensive time to visit. “One of the cheapest times to come to Hawaii is the middle of January, because everybody just came.” If you visit at that time, you can actually keep most of your stay unplanned, since there will be available places to stay all over the islands.

Planning Advice

When I asked Hannah and Matt for their number one piece of planning advice, they responded immediately…

There are 6 islands you can travel to in Hawaii. Don’t limit yourself to just one of them.

If you have the time and the budget, avoid the most common tourist plan of staying in Waikiki and doing day trips around Oahu. Head to Maui for the famous Haleakala National Park and sunrise in the clouds. Hike the clifftops on Kauai. Each island is unique, and they are all worth a visit.

Follow Hannah and Matt

Hannah and Matt post about their travels @coupleofcoordinates. They’ll be in Mexico later this month, exploring the area around Cancun.

Matt also posts his photography @mattdavidsonphoto. Follow him now before he gets big so you can say you were one of the first. 💯

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