What shouldn't I miss in Hawaii?

Jun 10th, 2004, 08:58 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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What shouldn't I miss in Hawaii?

We are cruising to Hawaii in March, but at the moment have no idea what we want to see when we get there. Our ports of call are Hilo, Kono, Maui and Kauai and we fancy a helicopter trip in Kauai. Does anyone have any suggestions please - we don't want to hire a car but would like to either use public transport or excursion companies.
kittycat1 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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When we cruised Hawaii, we rented cars in most of ports of call and toured on our own. The islands are easy to get around by car, and car rental was easy. (We were on a 700 passenger ship; it might be more of a hassle on one of today's mega-ships--it would be interesting to get some feedback on that.) We saw as much or more as those on the ship excursions for many fewer $$, and we could go at our own pace. (We did do one ship excursion and realized that we were better off on our own.)

We splurged on 2 helicopter tours--fantastic! One on the big island to Kilauea, which was erupting at the time--think it still is--and one on Kauai. March is a great time to see whales in Hawaii--especially off the coast of Maui. By all means, I recommend a whale-watching tour or excursion. Snorkeling is another fun option. Haleakala is awesome, especially if you are there on a clear day. A horseback (or ATV) ride is another way to see a quieter side of Maui. We love the Kona coast of the big island and driving up to Parker Ranch--again, the rural side of Hawaii. On Oahu make sure you see more than Waikiki Beach: Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum, Iolani Palace, the state capitol, Hanauma Bay (snorkel opportunity), the North Shore and Polynesian Cultural Center.
goforfun is offline  
Jun 10th, 2004, 11:37 PM
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Hilo is a good place for you to take a helicopter ride because you are close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park has a recording with updates of lava flows at 808-985-6000. If there is ground lava flow accessible by car you might want to take a tour into the Park and see the flow at ground level, if not, it's worth taking the helicopter tour - they'll fly you over the crater. Hilo itself as a town isn't too exciting you would probably enjoy the volcano the best. We were at Volcano National Park in March but there was no surface lava flow that was accessible from the road. I wished we had taken a heli ride. A woman on our inter-island flight had told me they took the heli-ride over the crater and it was her best, absolute best, experience.

Don't wait until Kona to take the Helicopter tour, it will be much, much more money because they are much farther away from the Park. Plus, Kona has more to offer.

Kona is a nice little town. If you want to do one snorkel trip then this is the place to do it. The water is the clearest here than any other Hawaiin island. If you can be independant go snorkel Kahalu'u Beach Park ( a few miles south of Kona) there is usually a large van in the parking lot that will rent out snorkel gear, if it's not there then just cross the street, just north of the park is a snorkel rental place that even carries perscription goggles. It's a small little beach but the snorkeling is great, lots of turtles. When you're finished, walk next door to the Keauhou Beach Resort and have a drink/snack in the open air lounge that is over the lagoon/ocean. This place has a wonderful atmoshphere. If you have kids with you the waiters will probably give them bread to feed the fish. If you want to snorkel then Kona should be your spot. The water here is the clearest than any other Island.

If you want a little more of an adventure than you can snuba (kind of like scuba but no prior training required - tanks are kept above water and are connected to a hose that is connected to your gear, very easy!) The company that offers this is Snuba Big Island (808) 326-7446, they are located right in Kona.

If you don't want to be independant then I am sure any snorkel trip booked through the cruise would be great. If your ship books their snorkel trip on the Fair Wind then they will offer snuba as an option on this boat. Save time to walk through Kona, it's a nice little town. If you wanted one deep sea fishing adventure then Kona would also be your best choice. It offers the best fishing for the islands. I know people who fly into Kona only to go fishing for the day. In March you probably aren't going to get a record breaking Marlin but if I recall when I was there this past March they were getting Dorado. Still, it's the best fishing on the islands but it doesn't even come close to places like Cabo. so don't expect as much.

I think Maui has the nicest beaches. Also, Lahaina, where your cruise probably docks is my favorite town. This is a very good place just hang out and explore the beaches plus shop in town. If the cruiseship tours take you to the beaches around Lahaina I'm guessing they will take you around the Whaler's Village area. If they do, stop at the Hula Grill's Barefoot Bar which is right on the beach and enjoy some of their appetizers. The best reputation for a Luai is the Hyatt Recency in Lahaina. I've never done this one but it does have the best reputation. My attitude is if you've seen one you've seen them all. This is an evening event so I don't know if it will be an option for your cruise. You still will see some whales from shore. Maui and Kauai have great whale watching experiences. Don't do any whale watching excursions in Kona or Hilo, you won't see any.

The best whale watching/sailing experience I have had was on Kauai, hands down. We saw several whales breach completely out of the water. Later that day we saw five large tiger sharks who were eating a the carcass of a baby whale that had been caught up in a fighing net. On the way back there were hundreds of spinner dolphins swimming next to our boat. I don't know if this was just luck but I have done several sailing trips in Maui and not one of them has come as close to the one I've done in Kauai. The whales are starting to travel back to Alaska in March so maybe there are more whales around the most northern island, Kauai. If you decide that you want to do a helicopter tour in Kaui then that would also be wonderful, it's a beautiful island and the views would be stunning.

Gofor fun had some great input on trips too, especially Waikiki if you are going to stop there. Hope you have a great time. Mariann

Mariann is offline  
Jun 12th, 2004, 10:19 AM
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If you are into snorkeling, Fairwind in Kona will take you to the Kealakekua Bay, a marine sanctuary, and the best snorkeling in whole Hawaiian islands. They'll have snorkeling gear. I'm sure it's one of the ship's excursions.
Jun 15th, 2004, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,129
We did a helicopter tour while in Kauai and loved it! It included a stop at a remote water fall with a picnic. The water was too cold for me to swim but another couple enjoyed it. Inter-Island Helicopters is the only company on Kauai to have this extra treat of a picnic, where we stopped for about an hour. Also, they are the only company that has helicopters without doors. It was awesome! Our heli held 4 passengers and the pilot. I sat up front in the middle and enjoyed the views! http://www.luvtotravel.homestead.com/Hawaiiphotos.html Go to the bottom of this page for photos and link to Inter-Island.


monicapileggi is offline  
Jun 16th, 2004, 06:34 PM
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Previous messages have covered this topic well. I'll just add some of my favorite exprience:

Kauai - I agree that a helicopter ride is a good way to see a lot of Kauai. Some areas, like the Na Pali coast, are difficult to tour otherwise. Alternatively, consider a drive to the Waimea Canyon ("Grand Canyon of Hawaii", which has splendid views. Kauai is rural, and very driveable, if you rethink your car rental decision.

Hilo - The main attraction IS its proximity to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can also check wwwhvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch for the status of the eruption. If lava is actively flowing (well, it's more like oozing), and your tour will take you to the active lava field, don't miss the opportunity. (You'll also pass dormant craters and rain forests on the way to the lava flows). As others have said, a helicopter tour is the only way to see Pu'u O'o, the active vent. And the tour out of Hilo is closest to the park.

Maui - Previous messages have covered beach and water attractions. If there is time, you might consider a bus trip on the "Road to Hana". This narrow winding road passes beaches, rain forests, botanic gardens, waterfalls, and mountain views. The payoff is "Hana" a quiet, away-from-it-all rural community with an exquisite but low-key hotel, perfect for lunch.

If you are adventurous (and the weather forecast is good), try the bike ride down 10,000 foot Mt. Haleakala. (Almost no pedaling, it's all downhill coasting; but the ride can get pretty fast on the paved, modern, but twisty road.) I loved it (and I'm in my 50's). You travel through four distinct climate zones: alpine, high meadow, western forest, and tropical.

At the summit, the views into the crater, and out onto the island are spectacular. Go the National Parks website for Haleakala to get an idea. If this sounds crazy, you can still enjoy the views, the geological contrasts, and the "climb" on a bus tour up the mountain.

Hawaii is wonderful. The cruise may convince you to come back for a longer stay on each island.

jcnyc is offline  
Jun 19th, 2004, 04:04 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Kaui-We did a helicopter tour and a whale watch. Ooooh, the Na Pali coast line, snorkeling, bbq on the boat and whale watching was incredible. We also saw many whales (lured by the mystical whale songs from our boat?)and were there in March. The helicoper tour was fantastic with views of the Fantasy Island waterfall, rain forest and again the Na Pali coast line. There is also a nice Fern Grotto adventure you may want to check out.

Maui-Definitely agree with the road to Hana. The Black Beach is breathtaking, you may want to check out Lindbergs Grave, the Seven Sacred Pools and the old Leper Colony, if its still there. The road to Hana is beautiful, a time I'll never forget. The strangest thing I encountered were the Hawaiian cowboys, I really didn't realize that, my image of the people were all hawaiian shirts and bermuda shorts, so needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
jbmonts is offline  
Jun 24th, 2004, 07:42 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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They now have a tour where they helicopter you into Hanna and drive you out - 1/2 the time, double the adventure (that road to Hanna is long, long, long).
Mariann is offline  
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