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-   -   Hawaii - First Time - HELP! (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/hawaii-first-time-help-919428/)

utahtea Jan 13th, 2012 01:25 PM

Hawaii - First Time - HELP!
 
I don't even know where to start! DH and I and have been to all the other 49 states in the US and it's time we visit Hawaii. I've read many Hawaii posts her on the forums but I get so lost.

When is the best time to go for least crowds but best weather? We can go pretty much any time of the year but I was hoping to go soon, like sometime between Feb - May of this year. I'd like to do between 2 - 3 weeks. I doubt I'll get DH to fly there again. LOL We are coming from California if that makes any difference.

Which Islands? Keep in mind we want to see scenery and don't want to shop, see big cities or eat at fancy restaurants. Want to see active volcano, waterfalls and beautiful secluded beaches. We like hiking and can do up to 5 miles round trip. Our favorite destinations in the US are National Parks.

If you were going for the first time, which Islands would you pick and why? What are your favorites and why?

Where to stay? I'd rather have a little cottage on the beach instead of a high rise resort. Want to keep this in the mid range of costs. Has anyone booked though Costco? They have some nice packages but have no experience booking though them.

How easy is it to jump between Islands? DH hates to fly but I think I can get him to do one island hop. Are there other ways to get from one island to the other? Ferry?

Thanks in advance,

Utahtea

montereybob Jan 13th, 2012 01:58 PM

Sorry, no ferries. Flying between islands is the only option. For the most beautiful lush tropical scenery I would recommend Kauai. For the second best, Maui. For the most spectacular volcanic island, the Big Island (Hawaii). Feb thru May is a great time to go for less crowds as long as you avoid spring break. For excellent listings of natural sights and adventures I would highly recommend the the travel guides for each island written by Doughty.

Placename Jan 13th, 2012 02:00 PM

The general rule is one week per island. Interisland flights start at about $100 per flight, so add that into the budget. The only ferries are from Maui to Lanai and Maui to Molokai.

Maui, Hawaii (The Big Island) and Kauai come to mind as choices that fit your request. You shouldn't have any problem finding open jaw flights from California. You need to rent a car on each of those islands.

search the www.nps.gov website to find out about National Parks or Monuments. The big parks are Haleakala National Park on Maui and Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park on Kauai.

The cheapest time of year is late September to mid-November and the two weeks after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas. The weather can still be hot in Sept and October. March and April can be spring break times and be busy with families. The weather is lovely then. Dec-April are best for whale watching.

Little cottages on beaches are the expensive properties. You really need to start serious searching now if this trip is in 2012. Costo puts you in hotels and condos.

Take a look at www.tripadvisor. com to see more and get a better idea of how to organize your plans. It really helps to plan based on the number of nights you stay, not the number of days, and to give an accomodation budget in $$, not in general terms. I'd just guess that mid-range is about $200-$250.

Ma

Placename Jan 13th, 2012 02:04 PM

The Wizard Publications books are not well liked in Hawaii because they give advice that advocates tresspassing on private property, opening gates and driving on roads marked "Private" and otherwise intruding on local residents' privacy. They are also very cagey about promoting really dangerous areas without giving a realistic explanation of the hazards.

DebitNM Jan 13th, 2012 02:06 PM

If you are going to do more than one island, consider flying into one, interisland to second and then [depending on which island] fly home from the second one.

Our first trip we did 5 on Maui, 3 on Hawaii and then 5 on Oahu. We really liked Hawaii a lot and had the least amount of time on it, so we are going back next month for 11 days. We will spend 3 nights in Hilo and the remainder in Kona. Found a nice, reasonably priced condo in Hilo and will stay at King Kam [now a courtyard] in Kona.

Alaska Air has a sale going on now, we are flying RT from San Jose [SJC] to Kona for $298 a person and the flight is a direct, non-stop.

Hope this helps a bit.

MichelleY Jan 13th, 2012 02:09 PM

You may get a little better airfare deal after the high season, which is now. I have never been in May, but it would probably be great. Now thur March, the whales are vacationing in the islands.

If you want volcano, then go for the Big Island(Hawaii), spend a week. With two more weeks or so, go to Kauai and eventhough Oahu has the big city, there is still alot of historical value. Stay 3 nights to see the sites. Plus you do not have to stay in Honolulu if you want to avoid the city.

Maui is also great and fun, but for you I think the Big Island and Kauai work the best.

I don't have specific places to stay, but perhaps others will help out.

montereybob Jan 13th, 2012 02:24 PM

The few controversial recommendations in Wizardpub books are FAR outweighed by the overwhelming number of excellent non-controversial helpful recommendations that they make. I have used their guides for many years and have found the majority of their recommendations to be accurate and helpful in enhancing the enjoyment of my time in the islands. Maybe the most helpful thing would be to inform people of the extremely few recommendations that result in trespassing so we could all avoid them and carry on with enjoying all the other wonderful activities that are recommended. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Please send us a list of what we should avoid.

montereybob Jan 13th, 2012 02:27 PM

Also, please a list of the dangers not published.

qwovadis Jan 13th, 2012 02:50 PM

alternative-hawaii.com
konaweb.com
stayhawaii.com
My fav best weather cute B&bs erupting volcanos
lower tourist best vibe,
Direct flight LAX Kona 4 hours cheapoair.com

Have fun!

tracys2cents Jan 13th, 2012 03:32 PM

Kauai and Volcanoes park have your name written all over them. I have a vHs tape about the park that I was about to toss if you still have a VCR. JUst send a mailing address to my board name @vtmail.com

Consider last two wks of April/ first wk of May.

www.haleohia.com

DebitNM Jan 13th, 2012 06:15 PM

I just received Hawaii The Big Island Revealed[6th edition] in the mail today. I had previously used the books for Oahu and Maui in 2006. In those older books, there was a bit of a devil may care attitude.

It seems that the authors has reeled in some of the things that locals disliked about the books.

re Trespassing "we took a lot of heat from residents who thought we were encouraging trespassing when we weren't. But the current environment doesn't permit us to do that anymore. So if you are heading to one of those places we describe and you encounter a NO TRESPASSING sign, even if you think it isn't authorized...we have to advise you to turn around and heed sign."

re liability "In past editions we have had the sad task of removing places that you can no longer visit...Because we, more than any other publication,have exposed heretofore unknown attractions, we feel the need to pass this on." and goes on to admonish the traveler to understand the inherent dangers of Nature

I guess they listened...

voyager61 Jan 13th, 2012 06:48 PM

I think Kauai is the best choice for a first trip with your parameters, but all the islands have their attractions; for example you might like some of the bed and breakfasts that have big, but distant ocean views on Maui and are a short drive to the top of Haleakela. Condos are usually the way to go in the Hawaiian islands if you want to be near the beach...cottages are much more rare...avoid President's Day week in February, which books up quickly because of some school holidays. We often book our Hawaiian accommodations 9-12 months in advance, so you may have trouble finding exactly what you want with this short time-frame. You might enjoy a rental in Hanalei (small house), based on your interests, as long as you don't mind a little sporadic liquid sunshine. I think it might be too late to find the perfect spot or spots for this winter/spring, but you might have good luck for the fall.

For sure, don't miss out on visiting Hawaii...if you have been to the other 49 states, this one will surely exceed your experiences in many of the others.

Songdoc Jan 13th, 2012 06:53 PM

"The big parks are Haleakala National Park on Maui and Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park on Kauai."

Actually, Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island.

I enjoyed the Big Island very much -- and am glad I saw Volcanoes Nat'l Park. But I LOVE Kauai -- and I have very similar likes to what you described.

In Kauai, I always stay at Sealodge for gorgeous views at bargain prices. The condos are not on a beach -- but up on a bluff, overlooking beautiful coastline (I'll be there tomorrow!!!) Several agencies and private owners rent the condos--and they're all very similar, with the main difference being the location within the complex. But the photos typically give an accurate picture of the view of each particular unit.

The scenery in Kauai is breathtaking and there are lots of wonderful walks and hikes.

I have lots of Kauai trip reports and photos posted. They should help.

utahtea Jan 13th, 2012 11:53 PM

WOW & Thank you all. You've given me a base to start planning with. I'll keep you posted on what we decide.

Utahtea

montereybob Jan 14th, 2012 12:28 AM

Thanks to DebitNM for the update on trespassing and danger issues.

sassy_cat Jan 14th, 2012 06:25 AM

Hi Utahtea,

We're off to Maui for the first time in February (we've been to Big Island twice plus Oahu).
Big Island is 'big' and I think it takes more than a week to visit (we did 12 days the first time and 9 the second).
Polulu lookout and the hike down to the black sand beach was fun.
Waipio valley is another great hike but both these require a steep ascent.

I recommend 2 islands Big Island + Maui or Kauai but avoid President's week in Feb (20th). That's when we're going as it's school vacation time but it is busy then.
Winter is the best time to see whales though.

Don't forget your National Parks pass. I love Hawaii ((R))

DebitNM Jan 14th, 2012 07:32 AM

[Waipio Valley has a 25% grade, and one should be very careful about driving or hiking in that area.]

jamie99 Jan 14th, 2012 12:38 PM

May is lovely and rates should be lower. Fall is also nice, that is when I usually travel.

Kauai is lovely and my favorite island. No buildings by law are allowed to be taller than a coconut tree (with the exception of the Marriott in Lihue). There are two waterfalls you can just drive right up to and others you can hike to. Kauai has the gorgeous North Shore going for it and also the Waimea Canyon (often called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii). Lots of hiking and water sports, this is the island to do a helicopter tour if you wish, otherwise a good excursion is a boat tour of the Na Pali coast.

I'd go with a condo on the North Shore either of those times of year. If you are set on a cottage look into Hanalei or Anini Beach. Cottage would be more expensive than condo in many instances though.

Big Island might be interesting also, been a lot of years since I've been there and sometimes the volcano is not active so just keep that in mind, but the park is still interesting to visit. The Place of Refuge is beautiful and serene and a snorkel trip to Captain Cook I remember as a lot of fun and seeing lots of fish.

suze Jan 14th, 2012 05:43 PM

For an "active volcano" you have to go to the Big Island. For everything else you are seeking adding Kauai would fit your wish list. 2-3 weeks would be plenty for these two islands (3 weeks is better!)

pdx Jan 14th, 2012 08:38 PM

You need to put Kauai on your itinerary because it has the Shrimp Station and that's reason enough. Killer-good coconut shrimp with the best dipping sauce ever! Get the recipe for that sauce while you're there, will you?


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