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First time Hawaii from 19th nov to 4th dec... Kauai n big island...Help!

First time Hawaii from 19th nov to 4th dec... Kauai n big island...Help!

Old Sep 9th, 2013, 07:19 PM
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First time Hawaii from 19th nov to 4th dec... Kauai n big island...Help!

Hey guys... I n my husband are going to Hawaii for my B'day this year. We'll be there for around 14 days. We are adventurous and love hiking. We've short listed two islands Kauai And big island. We love natural beauty n hate shopping or visiting cities! We would also like to do the following activities on each island.

Big island:
-diving/snorkeling at manta rays or place of refuge at Kona
-stargazing at Mauna Kea
-volcano boat tour
-zip line in north Kohala
-horse riding in Waipio valley
-akaka falls
-punalu black sand beach

Kauai :
-Napali coast
-waimea canyon
-hiking at kalalau trail
-opaekaa waterfalls
-kayaking at wailua river
-hanalei beach
-poipu beach or tunnel beach

I really need help with in which order we should do these activities? Also some budget lodging ideas on each island? Can we include Maui too on our list or it'll be too much to cover in this timeframe? Thanks in advance for helping us out
mandy25 is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2013, 07:53 PM
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what do you consider to be budget lodging? Hotel or condo? KAUAI....Do you have preference for North Shore (Princeville area Hanalei) or South Shore Poipu or somewhere in between like Kapaa? NaPali Coast, tunnels and Hanalei beach are in the same area more or less Poipu is closer to Waimea canyon.... Opaekaa waterfalls and Wailua River are in same general area. 14 days or 14 nights? 14 days usually is 13 nights and you leave on the 14th day. You can expect 1 day for travel so in reality you have 12 days full days and for me that would be too short for 3 islands.

BIG ISLAND You can find reasonable accommodations in both Hilo and Kona. Hilo tends to be wetter and not as funky as Kona but depends on your tastes.. It gets more expensive as you get to Kohala area but there again what is reasonable to me might not be for you. Your budget would be helpful. I am more familiar with Kauai but have done BI a few times. gie us more info. thanks
Shar is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2013, 08:34 PM
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I wouldn't add Maui. It takes a lot of time to island hop. And there are a lot of things to do already for each island. Also, you might have to transit in Honolulu to get from Big island to Kauai.

How budget? There are many reasonably priced hotels on BI especially if you don't go during high-season. Downtown Kona have decent price hotel. Kohala can get a bit more expensive.
You can start with either Hilo or Kona and work your way around the island.
If you arrive in Kona, then you can go CCW:
Kona (snorkel) - south Kona - Punalu'u - volcano park - Hilo - Akaka fall - Waipio - Mauna Kea

Or you can do it the other way.
I love hiking on Big island (and Kauai as well).
Plan to spend some time at the volcano national park. There are several hikes you can do.
Hike down the Waipio valley was also a lot of fun.
renz is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2013, 05:22 AM
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I am planning a similar two week trip in Feb, and our list of things to do is quite similar to yours too. our plan is to fly into Hilo. we arrive at night so we will spend the first night in Hilo (just to sleep), then go directly to Volcano National Park the next morning and and stay one night there. We are hoping to do several hikes there.

Then the next day, I have allocated the whole day for the drive to the Kona area, so we can stop at Akaka falls, Waipo Valley, etc. We then have four nights in Kona for beaches and other activities. We then fly from Kona to Kauai, (costs more for the rental car to start in Hilo and return in Kona, but seemed worth the time and money saved by doubling back to Hilo). In Kauai we opted for the Poipu area in Feb, since it should be sunny while the north shore is supposed to be quite rainy in the winter. (Not sure about weather conditions for Nov). Poipu also seems centrally located for getting to both Waimea and the north shore. It also seems that there are several boat and helicopter tours that depart near there for viewing Napali coast.

We are renting a condo for 5 nights in Kauai, as we found on our last trip to Hawaii that this suits us well. Eating 3 meals a day in restaurants can get a little tiresome, and also quite expensive. We found it both a time and money saver to have breakfast and most lunches at the condo, while enjoying dinner out. There are lots of options, but I'd suggest you book quickly as we found many places already booked up for Feb.

For hotel options, I found it helpful to go to the Hawaii Revealed website (I also recommend their guidebooks), and under "free travel information" click on "aerial views of hotels." There is a complete review of each hotel, as well as a link to the hotel or condo website.

This will be our first visit to these two islands, so this info is just what I've planned based on my research. Folks with personal experience, feel free to chime in if I am off base and need to revise my plans, or if I'm leading the OP astray.
msteacher is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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If you could come slightly later, you'd save. Early December, after American Thanksgiving, is the least expensive time to visit Hawaii.

I would: Fly into one side of Big Island and out of the opposite side; Stay in Kohala Coast area, not Kona Town: Stay in the town of Volcano, not Hilo: Take the northern route across the island: Rent a mid-size or larger car and only drive in daylight hours; Stay ON 'the beaten track' and OUT of danger at the volcano (terrain) and south of the volcano (residents).

Northern Kauai may already be having some winter rain; the ocean will be rougher. You might want to stay Poipu and tour north.

A third island is possible, but do you want to spend half a day 'in transit' and $100 pp in airfare? Don't you want an excuse to return? LOL
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Good advice from Shar, I've only been in early November once, it was pretty nice and we actually got to take the Holo Holo boat to Na Pali coast and Niihau. We stayed in Lihue, but Poipu would be a good choice for you, lots of nice condos. Budget per night would help. Be sure and book your car once you book your flights.

I've never been, but read the lava boat tours can be a bit unsafe as they get very close to dangerous gases. Anyway right now the lava is not flowing into the ocean.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 11:16 AM
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You have 7 activities listed for both islands, that's one per day on a 2 week trip. You don't have time to add Maui. Also since you mention "budget" for accomodations, adding a third island will cost more.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Regarding timing, I'll take a little more detailed approach to your BI question. Are you a certified scuba diver? If so, that's the only way you can dive with the mantas. Otherwise you can snorkel. If you are a certified scuba diver, do NOT plan to do Mauna Kea the day after your dive - you shouldn't go above 1000 feet for the first 12-18 hours after your dive and Mauna Kea far exceeds that.

What time of year are you traveling? The Na Pali coast tours by boat do not run year round. If you're there while tours are running, I highly recommend Na Pali Sea Breeze. Just used them last week and loved the trip.
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Old Sep 10th, 2013, 04:38 PM
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If you are taking to the water, the morning is usually better and less choppy. I've taken trips to Na Pali in October early November. The one in the morning was glorious; the one in the afternoon had waves like "The Perfect Storm."
Agree with Poipu as a base. You can always drive north.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 11:20 PM
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"Hawaii" an amazing place to be !
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 05:24 AM
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On the Big Island, I would stay in the Kohala District. It is sunny and beautiful there and not voggy (and tacky) like Kailua-Kona. Rent a condo and cook lots of your meals (hit Costco on your way out of the airport).

Jack's is a good vendor for the Manta Ray snorkel or dive. I wouldn't make it an either/or and would snorkel both Place of Refuge and the Manta Ray.

There is no lava flow into the ocean at the moment so the lava boat thing is a no go. Probably a smart move as they are dangerous and unregulated anyway. I understand there is no accessible surface flow at the moment either so a hike is out as well. Your best bet for seeing lava is from the visitor center at VNP at night. If you go, either double book a night in Volcano or fly into Kona and out of Hilo or vice versa.

Bring warm clothes for VNP and Mauna Kea.

Rent a car now if you have not already. There is not an unlimited supply of them on the Big Island and the rental agencies do run out, especially around the holidays. You really can't visit the Big Island without a car.

You can visit Akaka Falls and do the horseback ride on your way to or from VNP. So, combine those. Similarly, you can visit the Black Sand beach (it is underwhelming and you probably won't spend more than 30 minutes there) and visit Place of Refuge on your way to or from VNP. So, do the southern route there and the northern home or whatever makes sense.

In terms of food. We had some wonderful meals there. Our favorites were dinners at Ulu and Beach Tree at the Four Seasons ($$$$$) or grabbing poke bowls from the Foodland in Mauna Lani or Waimea. Both ends of the cost spectrum but both fabulous.

Have a good trip
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 05:52 AM
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Not much help to you on which order to do these, but I will say that we loved our tour with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. I had no clue there were so many stars in the sky! I had a bit of altitude sickness, but overcame it quickly with sitting down and feasting on some chocolate.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 06:18 AM
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We stayed in Kona for a month this past Feb and did not find it tacky or voggy. The Kohala coast is beautiful but we loved where we stayed also. We walked into town most every day for the open air market or dinner. We rented a condo and made our own breakfast and lunch: http://www.konareef.com/ I believe we paid about 140-150 a night so not real expensive for Hawaii.
We drove to Place of Refuge as a day trip, we stopped by the Black Sand beach and viewed sea turtles both times we went. However, it was very windy both days and the black sand is rough so not a place we wanted to stay. The above poster is correct, in and out in a half hour.
We also drove to Volcanoes National Park for another day trip, we also did this trip twice. Just be sure you return home before dark. If you like hiking it would probably be best to spend the night at the Park. Be sure and take a sweatshirt as it rains there a lot and gets really chilly.
We spent one night in Hilo (rains 80% of each day) and then drove north around the Island stopping at Akaka Falls (beautiful!) You could probably add your horseback riding into this day also. We stopped a lot at little towns and just enjoyed the oh so different topography of the land, The lava fields were a surprise!
We enjoyed where we stayed as you can take day trips all around the island. Just be sure to rent your car as soon as possible. Our son came to visit us, wanted to rent a car to spend a couple of nights at VNP and had to pay $200! Most places were out of cars, he had to go to one of the expensive hotels on the Kohala Coast.
Jacks is the best place to take your Manta Ray dive at night. If you do not dive, you can still go, they have a circle that they place in the water for snorkelers.
If you don't already have it, buy 'Hawaii Revealed' Great information.
cd is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2013, 05:31 PM
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Thanks guys... U Really did cut down my research by these informative replies! I think we should skip Maui al together. Poipu and Kohala or Kona seems to be best bases. By budget accommodation I meant 140-150 per night. I don't have diving certification. So will snorkel only. Will wait for few more recommendations on lodging that fits in our budget. Thanks once again!
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Old Sep 17th, 2013, 09:57 PM
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A couple of things.
I assume you'll actually go into Volcano National Park and not just take the boat tour. That should be at or near the top of the list for the Big Island.

On Kauai, do the helicopter tour if you can. I went with Blue Hawaiian last year. It was expensive but worth it. You could take the helicopter ride and go to Poipu in the same day. Also, you could spend time at Hanelei, Tunnels and Ke'e, which I think is actually the most spectacular of those three beaches, in one day. For budget hotels, you might look in Kapaa. The beach there is unswimmable (good for surfing, though), but it's a decent location between the north and south shores. I stayed at the Aston Islander and liked it.
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Old Sep 18th, 2013, 04:25 AM
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When we are on the Big Island, we usually stay in houses/cottages in south Kona--so I have no first hand knoweledge of lodging in Kailua or on the Kohala coast. However, here are some places you could start.

On the Big Island, the King Kam hotel in in Kailua Kona--which is now a Marriott Courtyard--has recently been redecorated and appears to have rooms in your price range http://www.konabeachhotel.com/

I checked the Sheraton at Keauhou (just south of Kailua Kona)and the least expensive rate was $179--plus there is no beach there.

You might want to consider a condo--gives you more room and cuts down on food costs. Here are a few I found on VRBO--There are many more.

Kailua Kona

At first glance, both the hotels and condos on the Kohala Coast are above your price range--though you might find a deal.
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