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1st trip to Hawaii, need help choosing islands!

1st trip to Hawaii, need help choosing islands!

Aug 12th, 2013, 02:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 8
1st trip to Hawaii, need help choosing islands!

My husband and I are planning a 2-week trip to Hawaii starting around mid-September this year and are struggling to work out which islands to visit. We are in our early 30's, enjoy short hikes, great beaches, luxury hotels and eating local food rather than at fancy restaurants. We would love to go snorkeling and find some time to relax as I will be in my 5th month of pregnancy by the time we go. We want to see as much of the natural beauty that Hawaii has to offer as we can, but without it being too physically demanding on me.

I would appreciate any help you can give as we do not have much time left to plan and book. Thank you!
Jalebi is offline  
Aug 12th, 2013, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,768
Any of the Hawaiian islands have everything you ask for.

Hawaii is tough to plan the first time. I went to the library and got a stack of guidebooks, mostly to look at the photos but also get an overview of what each island had to offer.

Do you know if you want to go to 1 island for the entire 2 weeks. Or you want to changes islands and see 2 or more?

Maui to me gets the vote as the most obvious choice for a 1st time trip.
suze is online now  
Aug 12th, 2013, 04:21 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 261
Maui and Kauai. You'll get just what you're looking for. Lots of variety on both islands.
edjim is offline  
Aug 12th, 2013, 04:59 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
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We have stayed on Maui, Kauai, The Big Island, and Oahu a number of times. Our favorites are Maui and Kauai. The Ritz Carlton and Grand Wailea on Maui are very lovely (but located on different parts of the island), and we also liked the Hyatt and the resort in Princeville (part of Sheraton hotels I believe.) on Kauai. For your first trip I would suggest trying to visit a few of the islands since they all are quite different. The Big Island (Hawaii) is particularly interesting with it's volcanic rock on one side and lush rainforests on the other. I am sure you will want to return some day so if you are able to visit a few of the islands, you will know which one (s) to visit again in the future. It is relatively easy to island hop.
luvsun is offline  
Aug 12th, 2013, 05:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 8
Thank you for your replies!

We were thinking of visiting at least 2 islands as 2 weeks is quite a long time to spend on just one. Big Island was on the shortlist as we are very interested in seeing the Kilauea Volcano, probably by helicopter as this will give us the best views from what I have read. Should we stay there and then pick between Maui and Kauai? Or stay on all 3? Would you split your time equally between 2/3 islands or is there more to do on one versus the other?

Also if anyone has recommendations for local places to eat I'd love to hear them.
Jalebi is offline  
Aug 12th, 2013, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 78
I think that you have time to do all three islands. The volcano on the Big Island is an amazing sight, not to be missed, but check out the VOG reports. We have visited the Big Island several times, but the last time (a few years ago), I was severely affected by the air quality. (I'm mentioning this because you said you were pregant.). I wouldn't miss it, but I would only spend 2-3 days on the Big Island and then the rest of the time on Maui and Kauai. Maui has many luxury hotels, especially in the Wailea area, but not so sure about the local (inexpensive) food. I have not been to Kauai in years, so I don't feel comfortable giving too much advice in that area. The scenery was beautiful, though!
khor is offline  
Aug 12th, 2013, 08:05 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 26
I think you have time to see at least two islands. Personally I would not try to do three, but I've spent 2 weeks on the Big Island and still want to return to do more there. Big Island is definitely the most diverse (you can't see it in 2-3 days) but if you just want to see the volcano park and leave you can do this in 2 days. Kauai is great for hiking but if you are just looking for short hikes any island will do. Most famous sites--Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and Waikiki Beach are all on Oahu. All have luxury hotels and resorts. Oahu and Maui have the most night life. Oahu and Big Island have the most historical/cultural sights. Honestly, you really can't go wrong with any of the islands.

Check out this list and perhaps it will help you choose an island:

jt865504 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 02:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
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which one did you like when you looked at them on gmaps?
Katzgar is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 05:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,540
My bias would be to suggest no more than two islands. Yes, they are close together and short flights but you still have to get to the airport, drop off the rental car, shuttle to the terminal, go thru security, wait at the gate, etc. Eats up too much precious vacation time to do it more than once.

The best snorkeling in Hawaii is on the Big Island, IMO. It also has the most luxurious hotel on the island, The Four Seasons Hualalai. Just exquisite. The Big lsland also has Volcanoes National Park but not sure about visiting VNP pregnant. Check on that. I remember reading something about the fumes emitting from the volcano being toxic but then they everything is toxic to a pregnant woman these days so who knows?

For a second island, I would suggest Oahu. So much historical and cultural there. Maui is great and all but it reminds me too much of Southern California. Maybe Kauai? Small and lush and just gorgeous.

Have a great trip!
taitai is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 07:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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If you are focusing on 'natural beauty' go with Kauai and the Big Island.

If you are interested in seeing some historical sights/sites then Oahu (Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor, etc.).
suze is online now  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,980
Two islands, Maui and Kauai would be great. Big Island is a lot of driving which might be tiresome if you are pregnant, I'd save it for another trip, it is a great island.
jamie99 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
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I'd save Big Island for another time. It's farthest south, has a lot of bare lava, and September is Hawaii's hottest month. If the volcano is active, there can be toxic vog across the whole island. It's also more time-consuming because it is so spread out.

Two islands is plenty. I'd choose some nights Waikiki -- maybe a night or two at Turtle Bay -- then Maui. All of Maui's top hotels are in Wailea except The Ritz in Kapalua. Kapalua will have more breezes and is near the 'buzz' of Kaanapali and Lahaina, but is as far as you can get from some of Maui's major sights: Haleakala and Upcountry, Iao Valley, Road to Hana -- and from the airport.

Northern Kauai is gorgeous, but...not much in the way of restaurants.

Heed the advice about not 'hopping' between islands unless you want to spend a lot of your trip inside airports and getting to and from them.

Where will you fly from? My DH and I go to Maui from Chicago and look for a single long leg on a widebody aircraft (no 757's), adding a hop at the end if necessary. Can you fly into one island and home from another?
ChiSue is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 8
I did some more research last night and discovered I won't be able to go to the volcano as the fumes indeed toxic and dangerous whilst pregnant. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to go back another time! I agree that lots of driving will be too much for me.

We will be flying from NYC - I was actually just working out if it's best to take a flight to Honolulu (direct from NYC) then do the 'short hop' to Maui/Kauai, or if we ought to fly somewhere half way (west coast) and take a direct flight to Maui/Kauai and back from the other on the return leg. I think it may work out best just to do the long haul and get it out of the way.

Does anyone have any experience with Hawaiian Airlines? I've never flown with them before so am a little worried about how comfortable I will be on the rather long flight.

I think I am leaning towards Maui and Kauai for this trip. Given we're going to land in Honolulu anyway is it worth spending a night or two in the area before moving on to the next island?
Jalebi is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Absolutely spend time on Oahu. It's my favorite of the Big Four. See Pearl Harbor and walk around Waikiki, and then rent a car for a day and drive around the island. The "other" side is quiet, tropical, lush, and beautiful.
carolyn is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 465
My vote is for Maui or Kauai, and Oahu. I love the Big Island too - but my best friend went there when she was pregnant and she was told not to go to the volcano because of the VOG in the air...so the advice you got was good

Maui is a fantastic island with a little bit of everything. Definitely has the luxury resorts, great restaurants and fabulous beaches. I am going to Maui in Oct-Nov of this year and here's my short list of must-do restaurants most of which I've tried before and some new ones I'm dying to go to: Kihei Caffe, Monkeypod kitchen, Da Kitchen, Star Noodle, Mama's fish House, Koiso sushi, Merrimans, Haliimaile GEneral store, Honu, Nuka Nuka, Tiffanys bar and grill, Leoda's kitchen and pie shop, Eskimo Candy, Honokowai Okazuya, and Sam Satos. Definitely have more restaurants but will probably do more research as my trip gets closer.

Kauai is just a beautiful island - I went once and am dying to go back again. The most beautiful scenery I've ever seen was the Napali coast and Waimea canyon from a helicopter. Less restaurants to choose from than Oahu or Maui, but still great.

We live in NYC, and we've been taking the Hawaiian air direct flight from JFK to HNL for our past 2 trips. It's a nice airline. I would say their customer service is a little slow...they seem to be on island time, but the time spent in the air was great. New wide-body planes and lots of aloha!

I love Oahu. Oahu is my go-to destination for a foodie trip. I was raised in NYC and love dining out and I've found that Oahu has tons to offer. We love splurging on tasting menus at Alan Wong's restaurant on S. King Street, but we also have a ton of other low-key favorites...Sushi sasabune, Side Street Inn, Boots and Kimos for brunch, KCC Farmer's market, local food at Helena's or Ono's, delicious thai food on the north shore at Opal's, and a great food truck culture. If you love to eat, you will love Oahu. It is great for exploring, and for a nice dose of Hawaiia culture - Polynesian Cultural center, Pearl Harbor, lots of museums, and I love shopping at Ala Moana mall. I don't mind that it's a busier island than the others...I am a city gal at heart so it combines the 2 of my favorite things...beaches and city life! If you click on my profile, I have a few trip reports of our last trips to Oahu, Maui and Big Island...they may be helpful.

Have a great time!
tifa2276 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,768
I thought I replied yesterday about Hawaiian Air, but I don't see the post...

I love love LOVE Hawaiian Air. I wish they flew everywhere. There are my personal #1 favorite airline. They have great cabin crew, the TV/audio entertainment has lot of Hawaiian music and travel log type shows (bring your own earphones or purchase for $4). They still serve nice meals for free. the atmosphere is *almost* like being in Hawaii from when you get on the plane.
suze is online now  
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