Advice needed: first trip to Hawaii

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Oct 21st, 2017, 11:58 AM
  #1
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Advice needed: first trip to Hawaii

My husband and I, both recently retired, would like to go to Hawaii for the first time. We are not limited in trip length and are thinking of a minimum of ten days to visit two islands. Although we realize this is late planning, we are thinking of February into March. The question is, which two islands?

We definitely want to go to Kauai for one of them. For the other, we have been leaning toward the Big Island in order to see the volcano, but we are also interested in the historic sites on Oahu. We have not considered Maui, but should that go into the mix as well? We are not snorkelers but would enjoy walking on beaches, some hiking, visits to gardens and historic sites, and scenic drives.

One recent thought is to start in Honolulu to see historic sites, perhaps only a few days, then go to Kauai for the rest of the time. I understand that the better location on Kauai in the winter is the south shore.

So--lots of questions, and much advice needed. For starters, which island to tack onto Kauai, and then where to stay? We would like a condo on Kauai; what are good rental agencies beyond HomeAway?

All help welcome--thanks!
penel523 is offline  
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Oct 22nd, 2017, 10:25 AM
  #2
 
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With ten days, split between two of the smaller islands, since you want to go to Kauai (good choice) spend 5 there and 5 elsewhere, I would probably pick Maui since it will be right in the middle of whale season and also Maui has good snorkeling.
I have not used them, but Parrish Rentals gets good reviews, they are a local property management company.
You could do Big Island instead of Maui if you had more than 10 days since you would want 7 days minimum on that island.
jamie99 is offline  
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Oct 23rd, 2017, 10:50 AM
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Maui and Kauai..
Every island has a different vibe.
Big island Hawaii, is the one that either you love it or not.
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Oct 25th, 2017, 10:55 AM
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Here is a vote for Oahu and Kauai (or Maui).
Part of this might be personal preference, but Oahu shouldn't be tossed out of the mix, as it seems to address most of your activity choices quite nicely. And Oahu provides a nice contrast to the other island you choose, as it has Waikiki and Honolulu, with more activities, shopping, and plenty of sightseeing opportunities, both urban and rural. And there is Pearl Harbor and Polynesian Cultural Centre, both "must-sees".
Make sure that you spend some time on the North Shore Oahu, with any luck you can watch some surfing on 20 footers.... never to be forgotten!
While Maui may be the best for whale watching, you can see whales on the other islands, and to me, given that you will be there during whale season, this also shouldn't be missed.
Have fun with your decision.... but when you get right down to it, you really can't go wrong. All the islands are full of Aloha, and are great!
kanunu is offline  
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Oct 26th, 2017, 10:26 AM
  #5
 
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For a first trip to Hawaii I wouldn't go to BI although I love it, I have been there many times. It is not what one visualizes when one things of Hawaii. I agree with MoonFish, you either love it or not. If all you want to do is see Volcano than 3 days is adequate I think.
February is whale watching and you can get an eyeful on Kauai as well. Perhaps not as good as Maui but plenty. HOpe you decide on a condo or hotel with direct ocean view. that is part of the experience for me.
Yes South Shore on Kauai in Winter but do plan on driving up to North shore Kauai for the sheer beauty of it and taking in funky Hanalei alsoa the Canyon is a must see
Shar is offline  
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Oct 27th, 2017, 03:56 AM
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Maui and Kauai are very similar and if you both are not "snorkelers but would enjoy walking on beaches, some hiking, visits to gardens and historic sites, and scenic drives," between the two I would definitely pick the more scenic and beautiful Kauai as you plan to do.

But because Maui is similar and because there isn't much to do (other than the crater and beach activities) I would pick Oahu for the historical sites - which are amazing and give you a real feel of the island's importance and history.

I have been to the BI a few times and I like it but it is not a lush and tropical as Oahu and Kauai and everything is spread out all over the very large and very b-i-g island. We spent many hours each day (sometimes up to 4-5 hours) in the car getting from one site to another.
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Oct 27th, 2017, 09:05 AM
  #7
 
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Everyone has their opinions and their likes and dislikes ... You will find people who find each of the islands to be their fave.

To me Kauai and Maui could not be more different. I fell so in love with Kauai that I've moved there and remain in awe of the beauty.

Maui is my least favorite of the main islands. I have no desire to return there. But I will say that Haleakala at sunset will always be one of the most memorable experiences of a lifetime. There were many beautiful places to hike and photograph. But for me, having wall-to-wall hotels and condos, big highways, strip malls, and crowds at every major beach completely ruined the vibe. In all fairness I will admit that my perception was probably colored by the fact that it was exceptionally hot and humid when I visited. But that said, I know people who rave about Maui.

I had never seen the appeal of the Big Island -- except for the volcano -- until recently. I go there for a conference every year and would scratch my head at the people who loved it there.

But ... this time I went to some different areas and really appreciated and enjoyed the Big Island. It's still not my favorite, but I liked it.

Several friends of mine went to Oahu and were terribly disappointed by the big city feel, the freeway traffic, and the high-rises. I think Oahu has much to offer--as long as one goes in knowing what to expect. And the North Shore offers a welcome break from Waikiki.

For me, of the major islands, only Kauai offers my "fantasy" of Hawaii. Before moving there I usually booked condos through http://Kauai-vacations-ahh.com.

I live on the North Shore and I love it there. But for a winter trip the common wisdom is to stay south for less rain and calmer seas. But a day or two exploring the North Shore is a must.

I'm sure you will enjoy regardless of what you decide. Every island has its appeal.
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Oct 27th, 2017, 02:59 PM
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First trip - seriously consider the NCL Pride of America cruise out of Honolulu.
Why: Because it really is the easiest way to see 4 islands in a week and you get 2 days on each island. That way if you decide you really like a certain island(s) you can return on a subsequent trip and concentrate on your favorites.
Arrive a few days early on Oahu and see the sights there - definitely worth doing and then take the cruise (2 days on Maui, 2 days on the Big Island (1 day Hilo, 1 day Kona) and then 2 days on Kauai (really 1.5 days and then the ship cruises along the Napali Coast before it returns to Honolulu.

I have been to Hawaii twice.
First time we had 2 weeks and flew between islands - we found we wasted way too much time on flights and settling in to hotels.
2nd time - we arrived early on Oahu and then took the cruise. Even though it was a "busy" cruise we still found it easier and more relaxing.
semiramis is offline  
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Oct 27th, 2017, 05:39 PM
  #9
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Thank you, all, for the excellent suggestions! Songdoc, thanks also for recommending the rental company, which looks excellent. Lots of possibilities to consider.
penel523 is offline  
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Oct 27th, 2017, 05:52 PM
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You're welcome.

At this very moment I am sitting on my lanai and watching the NCL Pride of America cruise by!

A cruise wouldn't be my choice for Hawaii. But for those who do it, the key is doing the shore excursions. The ship docks at the least attractive part of the island. Many people look in the nearby shops, walk to the park, or take a taxi to Kalapaki Beach (at the Marriott) and think they've seen Kauai. Someone told me that with the cruise schedules there was no way they could go to Waimea Canyon and the North Shore. It was one or the other. To me, those are both "musts."

But different strokes ...
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Oct 28th, 2017, 07:45 AM
  #11
 
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Depending on how adventurous you are the Napali coast in Kauai is of course the adventure of Hawaii. My daughter was treated to a boat tour on a zodiac. If you don't get seasick, or can treat with dramamine, it would be by #1 recommendation. It sounds like you may not be really big hikers, so hiking deep into Napali may not fit, but that's another option.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 10:04 AM
  #12
 
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I must say, you have gotten very good advice (although not identical) from everyone. Absolutely go to Kauai and stay in the Poipu Beach area with a view of the ocean. My choice would be Maui as your second island. The town of Lahaina has something of an old town feel. It is not the same as Kauai. My preferred area to stay is the West Coast, not Kihei. Drive up to see Haleakula but no need to do this at sunrise. Also the drive along the Hana coast is a very special and unique day trip. Honolulu and Waikiki do not offer much in the way of historical feeling at all. It is very urban. The best of Oahu is the North Shore, Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center. I would not spend more than one night in Waikiki if you go to Oahu.
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Oct 28th, 2017, 10:06 AM
  #13
 
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Although you say you are not snorkelers, a catamaran trip to Molokini that includes snorkeling and lunch is a very safe and easy way to experience the beautiful underwater sea life. One of my best days ever! You might just change your mind!
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Oct 28th, 2017, 10:11 AM
  #14
 
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" Someone told me that with the cruise schedules there was no way they could go to Waimea Canyon and the North Shore. It was one or the other. To me, those are both "musts."

Actually this is exactly what we did on our NCL cruise:
Day 1 - North Shore - leisurely with several stops.
Day 2: - EARLY start - Waimea Canyon. Day 2 is a "short" day (the ship leaves at 2PM) - hence the early start but it is doable. We were back on the ship by 1:30PM.
We rented a car in every port and really felt that that was the way to go. And we did A LOT of research
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