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Big Island Fans - will we like Maui?

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Although I have researched in books and articles, I am having a hard time getting a sense of Maui versus the Big Island. Unfortunately I do not know anyone who has been to both so I am hoping the Fodorites can help. My husband and I are planning a trip for our family (us plus 4 and 8 year old daughters) in February from Boston. We have been the Big Island three times as a family (lucky kids, I know) and my husband and I went to Kauai and Oahu pre-kids.

We picked the Big Island for our trips with the kids because we like the relaxed vibe there and felt assured of great weather. It also never really seems to crowded and there are lots of places to go.

We stayed in a condo on both trips in the Kohala area and really liked being able to easily go to a grocery store and cook in the condo. We are not interested in shopping (can do that at home) or nightlife and might go out for a few nice lunches but we do a lot of eating out at home so don’t really care about that for the trip. We spent most of our time on the beach just relaxing on the beautiful Hapuna, Mauna Kea and A-Bay beaches mixed in with a few drives to north Kohala, Hilo, etc. Seeing whales in February and sea turtles at the beach was a real highlight for the girls. Just getting out of the New England winter is wonderful! The kids are a bit too young to go to Volcano (husband and I have been there before) or do too many active things like hiking or boating. We are not big resort people and like to get out and see the area. To give you a sense of our taste, we stayed at the Mauna Kea on our honeymoon and that might be favorite hotel ever. We took a quick look at the Hilton Waikoloa and ran out of there as fast as we could.

We thought we might try something new this year and were thinking of Maui since neither of us has been there. I have the impression, however, that Maui is very built up and crowded. I can’t get a sense for how Maui compares to the Big Island in that respect. Like I said, we are indifferent to restaurants and nightlife and really just want a low key beach trip. I have read that the Big Island beaches compare unfavorably to beaches on other islands but I find that bit hard to believe given how beautiful the beaches are in Kohala. We will be traveling during school vacation so it will be a busy time anywhere, I imagine, but would like to avoid situations requiring us to rush around and worry about parking at beaches and that type of thing. We also want to have the best chance of nice weather – traveling 12 hours each way with kids for a rainy vacation is no fun - which is why we ruled out Kauai (but correct me if you think that is not right).

Interested in input from people who have traveled to both islands. Should we give Maui a chance or stick with the Big Island? If Maui, where would you recommend we look to rent a house/condo? Any other ideas welcome too.

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