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Hawaii. Travel insurance and more

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Those who grew up in the 80s will remember watching TV programmes like Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. which showed glimpses of Hawaii’s beautiful beaches and exotic Polynesian culture.

Expensive flights and Hawaii’s reputation as the haunt of celebrities and millionaires may have prevented budget-conscious Singaporeans from identifying it as a likely holiday destination.

However, with budget carriers like Scoot now offering regular flights to Honolulu, it may be time to reconsider visiting this island paradise.

Safety first

But first, let’s get the boring stuff out of the way and talk travel insurance, visas, and dangers such as Earthquakes, Zika, Box jellyfish and more.

Okay we don’t want to dwell on the dangers too much and as the old saying goes you’re more likely to get run over crossing the road. But that said, it’s handy to know what safety precautions you may need to take.

Here goes:

Flash Floods can happen very suddenly. Before hiking, always check the weather forecast to see if heavy rains have occurred or are forecasted in the area.

Rockfalls can happen anytime, but occur most often after recent heavy rain. Avoid hiking at the base of cliffs and at the pools of waterfalls, especially during and after rainfall.

Box Jellyfish and Portuguese Man-of-War. For most people a sting from a box jellyfish or a Portuguese Man-of-War is a very unpleasant, burning sensation, but hospitalization is not necessary. However, some people suffer a severe allergic reaction and have to be hospitalized.

Big waves and strong currents. Watch out for high surf, dangerous shorebreaks and strong currents. ... While Hawaii has one of the nation's best lifeguard systems, some remote beaches do not have lifeguard towers. It is not recommended to swim at a beach that has no lifeguard tower.

Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. There are active volcanoes in Hawaii and some parts are considered highly seismic. You should be prepared for earthquakes and possibly a local generated Tsunami.

Remember, most visits to Hawaii are trouble free. The most common problems faced by Singaporeans are lost and stolen passports so be vigilant when you’re out and about and of course never leave your bags unattended.

E-register your trip

The Ministry of Foreign affairs advises you to register your trip with them so you can be contactable in the event of an emergency. Because Singapore does not have an embassy in the Maldives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be your first contact point if you run into trouble.

Now, to make things more convenient, you can e-register with MFA on their website or through the MFA@SG app, available for both Android and iOS devices.

The eRegister system is a voluntary and free service provided by the MFA to all Singaporeans who travel or reside overseas. It allows you to record information about your travel itinerary abroad.

MFA contact information
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office, Tanglin, Singapore 248163
Email [email protected]
Telephone (24 hours) (65) 6379 8800/8855
Website to register https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg

Visas not required for Singaporeans

It’s easy to forget that Hawaii belongs to the United States so visa requirements are the same as America. Under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), Singaporeans require an electronic travel authorisation (ESTA). Apply at least 72 hours prior to travel. There are restrictions on the eligibility for travel under the VWP if you have been to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen. As visa requirements often change at short notice, contact your travel agency, or the United States Embassy in Singapore (Email: [email protected], Tel: +65 6476-9100 for up-to-date information.

Singaporeans who require further information on entry into the United States can also visit the United States Department of State's Visas website.

Travel insurance

Purchase comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. That means you are covered the moment you buy your travel insurance should anything happen before your trip begins. For instance if you have bought your travel insurance before any news breaks out or travel advisory’s are administered you would be able to claim for curtailing your trip. Not only will this save you plane expenses, but you may also be refunded for your hotel and unused entertainment expenses. Check out Budget Direct Insurance for affordable comprehensive travel insurance with great benefits for cancellation, delay and postponement due to natural disasters for instance.

If you don’t purchase travel insurance before any advisory is issued or news breaks out, you will unfortunately have to bear the costs of cutting your trip short. Additionally, if you bought your travel insurance policy after the travel advisory was issued, you may not be adequately covered as many insurers will not cover known events or trips to countries against the advice of the government.

Now for the good stuff…Why you should go

Breathtaking beaches

Hawaii is well known for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. This makes it a haven for beach lovers and watersports enthusiasts who can  participate in the many water sports on offer such as jet skiing, parasailing, snorkelling, surfing, rafting, kite surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving.

Underwater views

Besides snorkelling and scuba diving, another way to get up close and personal with marine life is to do so via a submarine. The submarine descends 100 feet below the surface of the ocean, offering unbeatable views of green sea turtles, sharks as well as sunken ships and remnants of hurricane-swept airliners.

Whale watching

Maui, the second largest Hawaiian island, is the cradle for humpback whales that return every year from late November through April to frolic in the warm waters and give birth. Watching the great North Pacific humpback whales dancing through the Pacific waters is truly an awe-inspiring sight. Book a tour boat or simply watch the whales from the beach.

Adventurous activities

Thrill seekers can satisfy their adrenaline rush by ziplining through trees or skydiving. This can be combined with horseback riding through Hawaii’s spectacular valleys.

Natural wonders

Hawaii is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the South Pacific. View an active volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or make a trip to Haleakala in Maui. The world’s largest dormant volcano, it stands at more than 10,000 feet above sea level and has some extraordinary lookouts and trails. It also offers gorgeous sunrise views and glimpses of endangered birds.

Also worth a visit is the Waimea Canyon State Park on Kauai island. A deep gorge that stretches approximately 14 miles long and more than 3,600 feet deep, it has been nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Historic sites

There are five historic sites that comprise Pearl Harbour. These mark the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 1941, which plunged the United States into World War II and claimed thousands of lives. Visitors can choose to visit all five sites or one or two of them.

Recommended is the USS Arizona Memorial which commemorates the attack of Pearl Harbour with an offshore shrine. The memorial was built over the midsection of the sunken USS Arizona.

Free boat tours depart to the shrine every 15 minutes from 7.30am until 3pm (weather permitting). The 75-minute tour programme includes a 23-minute documentary film about the attack.

Cultural experience

No visit to Hawaii is complete without experiencing a luau. From tasting local dishes like poi and kalua pig cooked in an earth oven to enjoying traditional Polynesian entertainment, it’s the perfect way to experience the true aloha spirit.

Scoot flies to Honolulu four times a week via Osaka. Average return fares are approximately $1,050.

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