Alaska or Hawaii

Old Jun 19th, 2010, 06:38 PM
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Alaska or Hawaii

My 12-year old niece has won a trip to either Hawaii or Alaska. 8-10 days. The Alaska trip would include 3 days on land (Denali, Anchorage, etc), and a 7-day cruise. The Hawaii trip would include 8-10 days in probably the Big Island of Hawaii (I've read 8 days isn't enough time to visit 2 islands, is it?)

My question -- for those that have been to both Alaska and Hawaii - which would be a better trip for a 12-year old? She absolutely loves animals, and loves to swim. I've only been to Alaska of the two, and think she'd love the cruise part of it for swimming, but would love the wilderness part for the wildlife, nature.

I have never been to Hawaii, so I don't know what it is like for a child. She would be traveling with her mom.

Anyone out there that has been to both locations that could offer some advice/suggestions? Mainly, we are looking for:

opinions on which trip would be more appropriate for a 12-year old

suggestions on things she would probably like to do at each of the locations

if you have been to Hawaii (or live there), is 8 days enough to see two islands, or should they stay on one? How many days would they need to be there to see 2 islands?

a former resident of Hawaii told us the best place for them to visit would be the Big Island of Hawaii, as there is so much to do there, it is a little more laid-back, and has many of the different climates in the world (rainforest, desert, snow, etc).

Any suggestions/advice you can give is appreciated. Nothing is booked yet, so nothing is set in stone.
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Old Jun 19th, 2010, 06:50 PM
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What time of year?

Both places are fabulous and I'd go again and again to both. I am probably no help as I'd have to flip a coin.

They are so different, yet offer everything you have mentioned above in the way of nature, animals, etc.
Swimming? Well, that is more likely in Hawaii, but we were in Alaska when it was in the 80's and unseasonably warm. So that is not out of the question.

Both places also offer interesting culture.

What does your niece think of snorkeling? How about hiking?

I'm curious what time of year the trip would be.
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Old Jun 19th, 2010, 07:26 PM
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If she likes ocean swimming, body boarding, snorkeling, and maybe wants to take a surfing lesson, Hawaii would be the place. Also, IMO, Hawaii has more of a robust youth culture than Alaska so she may feel more in her element there. In my experience, a large concentration of kids her age range would be found at Kaanapali Resort area in Maui since that area is so popular with families with children and teens.
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Old Jun 19th, 2010, 09:38 PM
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Wow-what a great opportunity, and having spent much time in both places, I guess the above question of what time of year are they planning to travel really makes a difference.

Alaska is so amazing in the summer with all the whales, and sea life. Denali is nice, but is not a zoo with guaranteed animal sightings around every corner. You ride a school bus and need to get tickets in advance of your trip as they are sold out most of the time for every day. Sad for the Europeons who do not know this and show up.

Hawaii of course is the place to swim. The Big Island offers many great places to snorkel, see the volcano and swim with dolphins. I would agree better to stay put as you lose a day of beach time travelling elsewhere. Maui is nice with more traffic-but lots of activities.

My guess would be Hawaii. Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 02:04 PM
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What does your niece say?? This is a good opportunity for her to find out.

BUT, if you do choose Alaska, this is a very poor choice since it is too short for interior Alaska, I would encourage the option to pay a difference and get at least 5 interior Alaska days. The time for Hawaii, is plenty and will give great opportunities for touring.

Since you have been to Alaska, you must know that this is only a fraction of the costs. Tours which are "necessary", are costly, also, wildlife isn't "easy" to get close up views of without TIME in Denali Park (of which I can just about guarantee this package doesn't have the time for) and the add on of wildlife tours. Hawaii is a cheap touring area, most is just drive up, with a cheap rental car.

I have been to both, both excellent.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughts. She would be traveling in August. It's last minute, but we just got her grade card last week and she decided she wanted to go in August! I am finding a lot of the cruisetours are sold out already, so Alaska may not be an option. When I went to Alaska, my husband and I went from Anchorage to Prudoe Bay, and then back down to Seward and boarded the boat for 7 days. I don't think my mom would be able to handle that bus trip up to the Arctic, but I was thinking 3 days on land, and then the 7 day cruise. But that is only if I can find one still open.

As far as my niece is concerned, she is torn. She wants to go to Hawaii because no one in our family has been there before, but she thinks she'll like Alaska better -- so she's going back and forth. I was hoping by posting this that I could give her some more thoughts about both places.

She has never been snorkling, but absolutely loves the water -- so I think she'd love that.

Yes, I know the prices in Alaska to do the excursions add up.

Thanks again for all of our posts. I'll print this out and let her read it. (We are pushing for her to reconsider the time of the year if she goes to HI. We are in OH, and ideally it would be better for her to go in the winter when it is so cold here -- but I have a feeling she wants to be able to go back to school in September and say she got to go to HI.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 03:27 PM
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It might help to watch some videos about each place. You can find them at the local library, online or by using a DVR.

It always helps me to make decisions when I am "seeing" the location in detail. When I read and read, it just leaves me torn.

Maybe "seeing" the locations and the various activities offered, it will help her. Let us know!
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 04:23 PM
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I've been to both places, and I loved the islands of Hawaii and also loved Alaska. But for a 12-year-old who likes the water, I would recommend the Big Island. We spent 10 nights on the Big Island a couple of years ago, and we're looking forward to going again. There is great snorkeling there, and hiking, and so many other things to do. The Big Island and Kauai are our favorite of the big four Hawaiian islands.

Alaska is so beautiful, but I don't think a 12-year-old would have as much fun on a cruise ship as she would on the Big Island.

Tell her to have fun, whichever one she picks!
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 05:35 PM
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We went to the Big Island when our daughter was 10 and son 16 and stayed a the Hilton. I didn't get to see the volcano because the kids wanted to stay at the hotel and swim, rather than be in the car. Daughter swam with the dolphins. We took our daughter to Alaska when she was 15. She went halibut fishing in Homer. At the time, she didn't seem to enjoy it as much as Hawaii, but when she talks about the trip she has great memories. When she was 13 we took her on a cruise to Costa Rica, she had a blast and the kids on the ship really bonded. Daughter ended up swimming all through high school.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Big Island for sure. It will be pretty warm in August. See the volcanoes, snorkel, swim, go to a luau, have a shaved ice, she will love it.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 05:59 PM
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I would vote for Hawaii. I would also suggest trying 2 islands. If you fly into one island,say Maui, and return to the mainland from a second island,say Kauai, you would have only one inter island flight. The islands are so different, your niece could have a taste of two. My children have wonderful memories of Hawaii when they traveled there around your niece's age.
My children have been to the 4 major islands several times and their favorites were Kauai, (more laid back/lots of nature )Maui, and Oahu, in that order. All have amazing beaches, cultural experiences, hiking, mountains, waterfalls, etc. Get her a good guide book and let her plan. That's half the fun of a trip.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 06:33 AM
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This is so completely about personal interest, they are both incredible places. Personally I LOVE the Hawaiian islands (and am just not interested in Alaska)... so that's where I'd go. I'd try to stay for the full 10 days and split time between Oahu (where you'll likely need to fly in and out of) and either Maui or Kauai.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 08:40 AM
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My take...

Three days on land in Alaska pre- or post-cruise wouldn't be enough time to do much justice to Denali; however you could spend a day on a Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward and combine it with a Seward-based cruise, e.g. pick a cruise to or from Seward to/from Vancouver, then the day before the cruise or the day after, take a full Kenai Fjords tour, then Anchorage for the balance of the trip. You could spend the "extra" day in Vancouver before or after the cruise; Vancouver is a fabulous city for kids to visit - so much to do.

My concern with Hawaii in August is that it will be really hot and humid. Fine when you're swimming, but what about the rest of the time? Not knowing your niece or her mom, it's hard to say if that would be an issue; I know when our son was 12 and we went to hot/humid places in the summer, he'd spend time in the pool and then we'd find him parked in the cool hotel room in front of the TV. Scenic wonders, quaint neighborhoods... meh. But people are different.

Most of the cruise ships have tons of activities for kids, they're way -way- more economical than most land-based activities, and at 12 she could have the run of the ship and still be safe and supervised, so good time for mom. I'd go with the cruise/Alaska alternate myself.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 08:51 AM
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I think for that age - Hawaii hands down.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Been to both, and based on your criteria, it is in MomDDTravel's words, "Hawaii hands down."

Yes, there's time to see two islands. Maui should be one of them. She should definitely snorkel, and if interested, snuba -- it's like diving, but you can do it as young as 9, you don't go below 20 feet so no decompression issues, and if she likes water that much, she'll LOVE snuba.

Hope it's a fabulous trip!
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