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Why traveling to Hawaii is worth it

Dec. 23, 2019
7 min read
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It's Hawaii Week at TPG! The Hawaiian Islands have so much to offer travelers, from the sprawling city of Honolulu to quiet black-sand beaches to restaurants serving inventive island cuisine. And it's possible to pull off a visit to the islands using miles and points. It just takes a little savvy planning and we'll show you how. Visit TPG's Hawaii destination hub for links to more stories about getting to the islands, staying on the islands and what to do while you're there.

Cancun, Mexico 811 miles. Maui, Hawaii 3,826 miles. Well, assuming there was a nonstop flight to Maui from Houston, which there isn't, so tack on a some extra miles for connections.

For us living in the middle of the U.S. mainland in Houston, Hawaii is easily four times as far away as some other fantastic beach destinations such as say, Cancun. It's not just distance. There's also the cost factor. Hawaii is also a pricier destination on cash or miles than many spots in Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean.

So why not save some time, jet lag and money and just take a two- or three-hour flight to a much closer beach or island? Save Hawaii for the retirees, the honeymooners and the once-in-a-lifetimers?

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Ritz Carlton Cancun (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

The attraction of a short two or three-hour flight to a great beach sometimes wins out and draws us to spots we love in Mexico and similar, but they aren't replacements Hawaii anymore than the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas is a substitute visiting Venice. Vegas is fun, Venice, I'm sure, is great, but they aren't interchangeable.

Here's the thing. Hawaii is far, and it's OK to wait to take the trip until your kids are a good age for that long of a journey, but Hawaii is special and 100% worth it.

It’s hard for me to explain with words why Hawaii is worth it, but I’ll try -- and lean on photos to save us a few hundred words here and there.

Related: How to use points and miles to get to Hawaii

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(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

There’s no one thing that makes Hawaii worth it, but there's a combination of things that makes Hawaii my favorite place on earth. Instead, there's a combination of many things -- some easier to describe than others.

The air

A harder thing to quantify about Hawaii is how it makes me feel. At certain times of day in Hawaii, especially at sunset, I simply can’t feel the air. Because I don't feel at all hot, or cold, but rather enjoy a perfect Hawaiian temperature, it sometimes feels like floating or existing in some alternate universe. It's weird -- and sounds even weirder when I type it out -- but it's true.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

The food

On a slightly more practical and tangible level than the air, there's the food. Hawaii has my favorite foods anywhere. There you'll find a unique mixture of island fruits (think pineapple, avocado, mango, etc.), rice, fish, pork, sweet sauces and strong Asian influences.

Take the poke bowl, for example, it's just absolute edible perfection contained in a bowl.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

Then, there's shave ice, which when done well, tastes like fluffy, airy, flavored snow.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

And there's no such thing as too much Kona coffee.

The beach

When it comes to the beach, Hawaii has more options than you could ever enjoy in a trip.

On Oahu, there's Waikiki, which isn't my favorite, but is easily accessible and has waves that are perfect for that first surfing lesson.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

On the Big Island you have the luxury of choice. You can have a postcard-perfect beach at Kauna’oa Bay. (Stay right on this beach at the Mauna Kea.)

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

Or, drive around the island a bit and you can enjoy a black or even green sand beach -- coconut optional, but recommended.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

You want massive waves or calm water? Hawaii has both.

(Photo by Kim Ebert/The Points Guy)

The scenery

Of course, Hawaii has way more than 'just' beaches. You can see volcanoes. And rainforests. There's mountains, cliffs and views for days.

If you make the trip, don't miss the Na Pali Coast. Or the North Shore of Kauai. Or Volcanoes National Park. Really, start planning a few trips to Hawaii. One isn't enough.

(Photo by Getty Images)

The resorts

I'd sleep in a hut with no internet or bathrooms if that's what it took to go to Hawaii. (Well, actually I did to that in Hawaii.) Hawaii is great no matter where you stay, but I readily admit to loving some of the epic resorts. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is just virtually perfect for a family vacation, and it's bookable with Hyatt points.

The Grand Wailea is another five-star resort destination that you can book with Hilton points. If you prefer some Mickey and Moana with your Aloha, there's Aulani. If you have Marriott points at the ready, there's also the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

Related: Best hotel credit cards

Grand Hyatt Kauai (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.)

Bottom line

Even with all that, the logistics of getting to Hawaii with a young family can be overwhelming — well, at least until I learned magic of staying on the West Coast both coming and going.

But despite the distance and effort, every time we get to Hawaii, all I can do is think about how to return. It is always worth it. We smile bigger, play longer, soak in the experience and yearn to return.

Featured image by (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more