Have you ever wanted to take a guided tour but wanted to go at your own pace or didn’t want to be amongst a large group? It is entirely possible with Shaka Guide! During my recent vacation to Hawaii, I used Shaka Guide several times. I enjoy planning travel, but some of my plans changed at the last minute, so I had no time to plan anything. I had hardly heard of Shaka Guide before my trip, but the tours on Shaka Guide are amazing.
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What is Shaka Guide?
Simply put, Shaka Guide is a tour guide in your pocket, or should I say, “on your phone?” It’s a smartphone app that offers guided driving or walking tours. The app is straightforward to use. Tours are usually around $19.99, though some are $9.99. Bundles of tours are $29.99 and typically contain all tours for a specific destination.
How long are the tours on Shaka Guide?
The duration of the tours varies depending on location and kind of tour. Some are only a couple of hours, but others are 6+ hours long. Most of the tours average 4-6 hours, especially the tours in Hawaii. In my experience, I found them to be on the quicker end of their estimated duration ranges, but I also didn’t stop everywhere the tour told us to. A good rule of thumb is to plan for roughly half a day for your tour, but don’t try to do more than one in a day.
Where Does Shaka Guide Offer Tours?
Currently, Shaka Guide has tours for the following destinations:
- Arizona: Grand Canyon, Page, Petrified Forest, Sedona, and Tuscon
- California: Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite
- Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park
- Hawaii: The Big Island, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu
- North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway
- Utah: Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks, and La Sal Mountains
- Virginia: Shenandoah National Park
- Wyoming: Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park
They are constantly adding new tours. Great Smoky Mountains and Mt Ranier National Parks are all coming soon. I can’t wait to see where they’ll pop up next!
How to Buy Shaka Guide Tours?
There are a few ways to buy tours on Shaka Guide. One way is to buy tours using the Shaka Guide app via an in-app purchase. Another way is through the Shaka Guide website or Viator. The app and login are still required when buying tours through a website.
How to Download a Tour Bought via the Shaka Guide website or Viator?
After buying a tour via a website, you should receive a confirmation email with a purchase code. When you’re about ready to start your tour, follow these easy steps (or just watch the animated gif):
- Copy the code from the email
- Open the Shaka Guide app
- Tap on Support at the bottom-right corner
- Tap the Retrieve Purchases button
- Tap the “Use Reem Code” button
- Paste the purchase code from the confirmation email
- Tap Redeem
How Does Shaka Guide Work?
After purchasing the tour, download the tour from the My Stuff tab (second icon from the bottom right). Note: At this point, this is the only time your phone needs Internet access! You can turn on airplane mode to conserve data if you want – Shaka Guide only requires GPS, which should work without a data connection.
When you are ready to start the tour, hop in your car and tap “Start Your Tour.” If you are away from the tour’s starting point(s), the Shaka Guide will prompt you if you want directions to the starting point.
Along the way, feel free to listen to anything you want. If you use Apple CarPlay, Shaka Guide is considered a navigation app. Thus, you can listen to other audio (Pandora/Spotify/podcasts/radio, etc.) while guided through the tour. I found it distracting, so I turned off the music I was listening to. I assume this paragraph still applies if you are using Android Auto. Shaka Guide can play some background instrumental music, which was nice.
One thing to note: I experienced an audio issue while using Apple CarPlay wirelessly. Using a cable to plug so CarPlay was not wireless solved the problem.
Once you get to the start point, the tour will automatically begin. It will start with an introduction, then give turn-by-turn directions, tell you where to stop, provide some historical and contemporary context, and a couple of jokes that you might chuckle at.
When you make a stop, use the toggle in the Shaka Guide app, as shown above, to turn off the tour temporarily. This will help save on battery life. When you’re ready to get going again, use the same toggle to turn on the tour.
My Shaka Guide Review
Besides the audio issue I mentioned previously, everything else worked flawlessly. We did three different Shaka Tours: North Short Kauai, Waimea & Na Pali, and the Grand Circle Island tour of Oahu.
All three of them were comprehensive yet enjoyable. We definitely saw things we may have overlooked had we tried to plan the drive ourselves. Did we do everything that the Shaka Guide tour suggested? Not at all. Did we skip entirely a couple of stops? Absolutely! Were we slightly disappointed at one of the places we stopped at? Of course, but that would have been the case no matter how we found it. Despite that, the Shaka Guide app continued guiding us on the tour.
Shaka Guide did lead us to some well-hidden spots, such as Kahili Beach (pictured below). Not only was the sand soft and the water warm, but we were only one of three couples on the entire beach! This wasn’t the only beach that would otherwise be passed by had it not been for Shaka Guide.
The tours on Shaka Guide are fun and well worth the cost. They saved us much more time than if we had planned the drives ourselves. My affiliate link is below; I earn a commission on tours bought via their website and Viator. As always, I appreciate the support if you use my link. This post was not sponsored by Shaka Guide; all opinions are mine.