First Hawaii Trip Advice

Old Feb 18th, 2022, 05:44 PM
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First Hawaii Trip Advice

Hello -

I am planning my first trip to Hawaii in hopefully August or September of 2023 (if pandemic subsides enough to travel again of course).

I expect to fill the trip into 7-8 days. I could care less about the city or night life at this point in time, I am a nature-first traveler so I want to focus on beaches, epic trails, gardens etc this time around. That being said, it appears that Kauai might be my best fit, but I am open to day trips to another island or if there are any objections to Kauai being the most rugged/scenic. Budget is top of mind, but not restrictive if I need to spend a bit more to enjoy my time. Please keep in mind that I want bare minimum lodgings, so just a safe airbnb will suit me, no fancy hotels or fine dining needed.

My wishlist for Kauai is as follows:
  • Kalihiwai beach
  • Wailea falls
  • Waimea canyon
  • Kalalau trail
  • Anini beach
  • Hanalei bay
  • Kalalau lookout
  • Princeville botanic gardens
  • Poipu beach
  • Queen's bath
  • Secret beach
  • Kauai path
  • Hanakaipai falls
  • Lawa'i beach
  • Tunnels beach
  • Ho'opi'i falls
  • Kalapaki beach
  • Opaekaa falls
  • Ninini Point Lighthouse
  • Manawaiopuna Falls
  • Allerton Garden
  • Tree tunnel
With that being said, is there a certain order that I should follow for the above? Seasonality a factor? Should I pop in the Big Island as a part of my trip? (As Maui and O'ahu seem a bit too overdeveloped for my taste).

I welcome any and all suggestions. I am completely naive here so I'll take all constructive criticism and run with it! Thanks again to all future posters for you help here!


Cheers -

Zee
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 12:18 PM
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Do some research on Queen's Bath, at least 29 people have been killed and they lock the access gates in winter. Many more have been injured and had to be rescued, putting first responder's lives at risk, watch a few YouTube videos. A few of these are on private property. The full Kalalau Trail requires a permit (yes they patrol on a regular basis) but you can hike a portion of it. The Kalalau Lookout is up at Koke'e State Park which should be on your list, just north of Waimea Canyon. Drive to Koke'e first and work your way down.
Make sure your AirBnB is legal, ask for a screenshot of their permit, if they stall or stammer, look elsewhere. Illegal rentals are a huge problem on all of the islands. If you rent an illegal unit and a neighbor turns it in and it gets shut down, you will not get your money refunded. Just rent a condo,
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 01:20 PM
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I can't help you with Kaui, but I can tell you that there are wild places to visit on Maui and Oahu. Our first trip to the state of Hawaii was to the island of Maui. We rented a car at the airport and used a condo in Kehei as our base for daily trips. The most uncivilized places we went on Maui were the Io Needle and sunrise at Haleakala.
Last November we flew into Honolulu and rented a car at the airport. We stayed with our DD and SIL in Ewa Beach. The wild places on Oahu are on the North Shore and the interior of the island.
As a geocacher, I like the fact that my farthest west cache log is the Earthcache at Waimea Beach.
Try for an airbnb away from a city on whichever island you choose.
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 01:38 PM
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Thanks Jamie and Tom, much appreciated this advice.

I had no clue that was the case with Queen's Bath, I will def avoid then! I reached out the K Trail group for more details on the permit.

Citing Maui and O'ahu, is it feasible to make Kauai my base and island hop to one other island and see enough of it? I have about 7-8 days planned for this trip.

I almost never use hotels as ironically I feel as though AirBnBs are generally cleaner, but if AirBnBs are a tricky topic on Hawaii, I will look into hotels or condos. I have never rented a condo so I ma not sure what that entails price wise for a short-term stay.
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 01:38 PM
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With 7-8 days you need to stick with one island and Kauai would be a good one for you. Popping over to another island is not a "day trip".
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 01:40 PM
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Ah thanks Austin, that is what I have heard, but wanted to make sure that was the case. Kauai seems like a good fit then. Another island next trip.
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 04:16 PM
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I live on Kauai (in Princeville) and with your tastes, I think you are making the right choice. I just returned from Kalihiwai Beach, which I saw is first on your list. It's fabulous!

You will probably not be able to fit everything in. Waimea Canyon/Kokee Park will be a full day. If you have any interest in coffee, stop at the Kauai Coffee Company plantation, which is on your way to the canyon. There is a self-guided tour and coffee tastings, as well as a terrific gift shop.

You could skip Kalapaki Beach. It's not nearly as nice as the others you'll be seeing. Trade the Kilauea Lighthouse for Ninini. No comparison.

You might add Lumahai Beach, which is on your way to the Kalalau Trail, which starts at Ke'e Beach/Haena State Park. (You'll need a reservation--and they always sell out.) Also skip Princeville Botanic gardens. They can't compare with Allerton Gardens. Wailua Falls is the best waterfall. Opaekaa Falls are nice and are almost across the street from beautiful views of the Wailua River and a sacred ancient site with signage. I think the other falls you mentioned are typically reached as part of guided tours. I'm not familiar with them. If you don't have time, you can also skip Poipu and Lawai beaches. That time of year, the north shore beaches are better for swimming -- and they are prettier any time of year!

You should definitely add Maha'ulepu Trail and Makawahi Cave (which is just off the trail). The views on that trail are stunning.

One of my favorite hiking trails is the Kuilau Trail (not to be confused with the Kalalau Trail).

For the most scenic part of the Kauai Path (KE ALA HELE MAKALAE COASTAL PATH) start at Kealia Beach and head north.

Hanakapiai Falls is part of the Kalalau Trail hike. It's a VERY demanding hike--4 miles each way. Unless you are an experienced hiker, I recommend going only to the first viewpoint. (It's not marked, but you'll know!)
The views don't get substantially better or different after that. But if you are a serious hiker, you can go for it.

The Kalalau Trail begins at Ke'e Beach/Haena State Park. You should definitely go there whether you hike or not. (Reservation needed.) To me that is quintessential Hawaii.

I would definitely nix Queen's Bath in the winter. (I watch the rescue helicopters pick up the injured.) But if it is dry--and the gate is open -- and you are an experienced hiker, it is doable in the summer.

Feel free to ask other questions.
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 05:15 PM
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It would be a tossup to me between the Big Island and Kauai.

if you could expand the trip to 10 days I think you might do both.
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 07:25 PM
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Ah, I am envious of you then Songdoc! Haha! Thank you so very much, these insights are ideal! I have already amended my planning spreadsheet given your tips. I will share it tomorrow or Monday to get opinions on order of destinations if that is okay with you?
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Old Feb 19th, 2022, 07:26 PM
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Thanks mlgb for that tip! I might see what I can do with amount of days spent here given budget.
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Old Feb 21st, 2022, 07:35 PM
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Maui and O'ahu seem a bit too overdeveloped for my taste
welcome any and all suggestions. I am completely naive
just a safe airbnb will suit me


There are plenty of areas on both Oahu and Maui that are less developed. I don't believe your impression is accurate when you consider the entire islands. That said, with only 7-8 days I would pick only one island to visit. AirBnBs are not necessarily the cheapest option for a place to stay, plus you need to research to make sure it is a legally permitted rental unit.

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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 08:36 AM
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Thanks Suze for the tips! I definitely want to go to Maui and O'ahu, but for my first trip you are right, I have to choose one island. I guess Kauai is where JP was filmed and the wilderness is a bit more rugged from what I have heard Kaula trail and all.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 10:02 AM
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There is spectacular beauty on every one of the islands. But IMO, with your tastes, Kauai is your best fit.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 10:26 AM
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Thanks songdoc. Yeah, I want extremely rugged and less-visited, just raw nature. Every island will have its place on my vacations one day, but all things considered Kauai seems like the best first foray. Thanks!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 05:37 PM
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Velocity, you are going to LOVE it!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2022, 05:55 PM
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I'll probably want to move there, that is usually what happens when I visit a place that looks so amazing. Haha!
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