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9 days to make the most of Hawaii (too many good things in little time)

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My wife and I are going to travel from Portugal to Hawaii and staying for 9 days, from February 21 - March 1 2013. I am traveling for work reasons and staying in Oahu from Feb 16 - Feb 21, but I think I will hardly have the chance to visit the island properly, so these days don't really count.

We don't have a lot of time to visit, and considering we live almost on the other side of the globe, it's unlikely we will have a lot of chances to go back. So, on the one hand, we want to experience as much as possible of Hawaii in all its diferent aspects, but on the other hand it probably is not ideal to jump between islands, spending a couple of days in each one. We've been researching and trying to come to a conclusion but there's just so much to do and experience that it is now becoming a frustrating task.

Here's our profile and what we are looking for (as best I can describe):

- We are on our early thirties and walking/driving around won't be a problem.
- Our budget is not extremely low, but we would like to save whenever possible. So, high-end resorts and restaurants are probably off. Mid-range, would be the best way to describe where we are at.
- We're looking to spend a two/three days just relaxing at the beach, so nice beaches (there are so many!) would be a big plus (I don't think this is a problem anyway)
- We would like to explore the nature and scenic side of Hawaii, hiking and/or driving
- Also history and local culture are something we value wherever we go, so basically getting away from the more touristic places and getting to know the locals, experience the food, etc.

We've been bouncing between two main plans so far:

a) Our starting and departure point will always be Oahu, due to flights. Our first plan was to spend a couple of days in Oahu and going just around honolulu, then on Feb 23 leave for the Big Island, because we would really like to visit Volcanoes NP. Again, spend a couple days there and visit the coffee plantations. Then, on Feb 25 fly to Maui and spend a few days mostly at the beach there. Also, watching the sunset/sunrise at the top of Haleakala seems just amazing! Finally, travel back to Oahu on March 1 and take our flight back to Europe.

b) As amazing as plan a) seems, I can't help but thinking it's one of those things that works well in theory but not so much in practice. There's a lot of traveling, and the balance between being at more places and actually enjoying them may be a bit off. Reading the guides here at Fodors it seems like a good compromise could be to focus on two instead of three of the islands. Maybe even just one, if it concentrates most of what we are looking for. My first instinct would be to consider a couple of days in Oahu (since we have to be there anyway), and then spend the rest on Big Island. It seems like it has everything: scenic routes (Hamakua), nice beaches (Kohala), local culture (coffee plantations), natural wonders (volcanoes). It just seems like we could spend a whole week there. Although I didn't explore much, maybe Oahu itself could be enough for the entire time and we wouldn't have to move. Maybe I have unfounded prejudices there, but I just fear it may be more touristic and not as genuine and diverse as Big Island.

I am sorry for the long message, I basically tried to give you as much information as possible. One way or another, we'll have to decide quickly because prices and availability are looking grimmer by the day. We would really apreciate any insight on these questions. It's a good kind of frustration, but we need to settle on a final decision.

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