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

Tomsd Jan 15th, 2012 05:26 AM

I didn't read all the posts but as one who has made numerous trips to Paradise since '77 - and we have been all over all the six main islands - we love Kauai and Big Island - although Oahu and Maui are also great.

I would suggest fly into Oahu - and stay for a few days to get your bearings, snorkel at Hanamalu Bay, drive around the island (you can do it in one day - or do the northern part/North Shore one day and the smaller - Kailua loop another day).

Then fly to Big Island - and into Hilo (probably transferring from Maui airport) - and see the beautiful Volcano (20 minutes from Hilo) and wind up over on the sunny Kona side, a lovely hour and a half drive from the Volcano area. There are some great B & B's in Volcano Village - and the Volcano Village Lodge is our favorite.

Then head over to Kauai and we love the Garden Island's north shore - at Princeville/Hanalei. Be sure to also drive down to almost always sunny Poipu and then up to the "Grand Canyon" of the Pacific.

If you want more info - feel free to email me - Tom at [email protected].

Tomsd Jan 15th, 2012 05:27 AM

BTW - as for your times - April and May are great - and there should be plenty of availability. Just google and google away and find what your want - pricewise and location.

succulent Jan 15th, 2012 06:00 AM

For little cottages on or near the beach, give Hanalei on Kauai a try. Small beach town. NO resorts in Hanalei. Moon Beach Cottage might be what you are looking for. There are lots of rentals in Hanalei.

North Shore Oahu in the Haleiwa area is a location you should look into for beach cottages as well.

I wouldn't discount Maui either. There is Haleakala National Park that includes the crater and lands on the east side in Kipahulu that offer great hiking. For staying, there is a small residential area in Makena with older oceanfront homes, that while not cheap, are a good value.

sylvia3 Jan 15th, 2012 07:58 AM

"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."

The authors have taken great pains to amend those perceptions.

Placename Jan 15th, 2012 08:10 AM

I don't like Tomsd's plan because it's got you doing four islands in your time frame, with lots of airport time.

You don't have to do everything at once. Chose two islands, and it sounds like The Big Island of Hawaii should be one of them because of your interest in Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.

For me, just being on Hawaii and getting the chance to relax and enjoy it a huge part of the experience. I don't like trips where I have to get in a car every day to see something and check it off the list. Likewise, I don't like to pay money for activities unless it is going to be something really special. I've been going to Hawaii long enough to see stupid ideas become promoted into "must-do's" that are just created to make someone a nice living.

I don't think you are going to find any availability for the Hanalei Moon Cottage mentioned. It books up about a year in advance, as do many of the nicer Hanalei properties.

TAW Jan 15th, 2012 09:33 AM

you can also check vrbo.com for rentals by owner. can get reasonable rates thru them and you deal directly with the owner. Often they are flexible with their rates. I've used it many times.
Aloha

sf7307 Jan 15th, 2012 09:46 AM

You hav3 2-3 weeks? Of course, the longer you have, the more islands you can visit. I would have no problem visiting 4 islands in 3 weeks, although 3 might be better. I like Tom's itinerary - possibly day or arrival plus 3 days on Oahu, day of transfer plus a week on Kauai, day of transfer play a week on Hawaii, day of departure = 21 days.

edjim Jan 15th, 2012 12:47 PM

If you have two to three weeks and you've never been to Hawaii, I think it would be really hard to leave Maui out of the rotation. Maui can be a good jumping-off point for Hawaii in general. There is a nice blend of the natural, plenty of beach/resort areas, and some interesting upcountry towns. It also has Haleakela National Park -- many people "adjust" to their jet lag by heading up to the top of the mountain at 3 a.m. Hawaii time to see the sun rise. The road to Hana is also a great trip, IMO, although some folks don't like all the drive time/twists and turns. Agree with the other posters -- you should see the Big Island (you might not want a whole week there) and I would wrap things up in Kauai, when you are more than ready for a slower pace with stunning scenery. B&Bs are a good option on Maui and Big Island. If you want to see Honolulu, Oahu, etc., you could spend the last few days there and then you would have more options for flights home.
We also like visiting in October and even November, a little less crowded, I'm told.

wtm003 Jan 15th, 2012 01:23 PM

Big Island is a must with Volcanoes Nat'l Park.

Since you are a National Park fan I think you'd really enjoy Haleakela National Park on Maui as well as the scenic Road to Hana.

Oahu is great but Honolulu is definitely not what you are looking for. During our first trip to Hawaii we left Maui early in the morning for Honolulu, rented a car to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial and then flew home that night.

And Kauai you can't go wrong spending a week there.

utahtea Jan 20th, 2012 12:28 AM

I've been spending time studying the islands (as suggested here). I was using http://www.gohawaii.com/ but let me know if there's another website that might be better. Right now I'm leaning towards the Big Island and Maui. I've read that we can take a ferry to Lanai and Malaka from Maui.

I didn't necessarily need a cottage, I just want a smaller resort/hotel verse a large resort.

I think I want to go this spring if I can manage it. It won't be till March at the earliest but was hoping for April. Does anyone know when "spring break" is? In our area the schools are usually out the week before and after Easter, but I have no idea when colleges are on break.

Thanks again for all the help.

Utahtea

martym Jan 20th, 2012 03:05 AM

We go often to the island of Hawaii (big island). In fact our 19th trip there is less than a month away. We have staying in a hotel/motel one night in all those trips. If you are at all interested in renting a cottage/house, here are links to some we have enjoyed.

In south Kona,
http://www.vrbo.com/293127 this place is always spotlessly clean, has a great view of the south Kona coast and well equipped kitchen and is very inexpensive

http://www.vrbo.com/141871 nice cottage on a very private estate, has a pool, great view of the coast, wonderful helpful caretakers

on the east side of the island--45 minutes from Volcano
http://tinyurl.com/7qmz82y we usually stay at Lagoon House because I love the snorkeling lagoon behind the house but many of the other houses there have their own warm ponds--and it tends to be sunnier in Kapoho than in Volcano--the town of Pahoa is about 10 minutes away and has a nice supermarket and several restaurants. Our favorite is Paolo's Bistro--Paolo is a chef from Tuscany who makes very good Italian food (natch)--not expensive and it's BYOB.

A beach you might want to visit since if you go to it during the week, you often will be the only people there is Kekaha Kai (formerly known as Kona Coast State Park)--it is north of the Kona airport and requires a drive on an unpaved rough road--we have gone there many times in a rental car--you just need to go slowly.

Another beach on Kona side--which is not secluded but often has few people (especially during the week) is the beach at Honokohau/Kaloko Park just north of Honokohou Harbor (and south of the airport)--in fact you can park in the parking lot on the north side of the harbor and a quick walk takes you there. There are the remains of an ancient fish trap and the ruins of a heiau at the beach.

tracys2cents Jan 20th, 2012 06:44 AM

I think many colleges break the middle two weeks of March, Aprl would actually be better. If you check airfares they might give you a clue, they will be higher on weeks that are traditionally busier.

utahtea Jan 23rd, 2012 01:26 PM

Thanks again for the new post. They are very helpful. I've just been so busy I haven't had time to really dive into the planning part of this trip. martym, thanks for the lodging advise.

I'm going to start checking prices for Mid-April. I see the airfares are better then.

Will report back when we make more decisions.

willowjane Jan 23rd, 2012 01:54 PM

All of these posts are so helpful. I have to keep adding information to my file.

Tomsd Jan 24th, 2012 02:37 PM

Yes, you can take the ferry from Lahaina to Molokai and Lanai, but once you arrive - you are one your own for transportation. You can also take snorkeling or diving tours to Lanai (and Molokai?) if you like.

BTW - getting around the islands is really pretty easy as the airports are small and you really only have to be there about half an hour early. In fact - if you want to see another island - which you can even decide to do once you are over there - you can even do it on a day trip over and back (or an overnight with a carry on day pack) - rent a car and zip around a bit for future reference. Nothing is more beautiful than the North Shore of Kauai if you decide to do a bit more exploring.

kanunu Jan 24th, 2012 07:45 PM

Sorry, I have to disagree with Tomsd on transportation on Lanai. Four Seasons runs a pretty decent shuttle service, which non-4S guests can also use, and the cost is not unreasonable. It runs to/from the hotels, to Lanai City, the golf courses and the ferry, and the schedule isn't bad, considering the relatively limited population.
Lanai and Molokai provide a real change of pace from the major islands, and if you want beautiful, secluded beaches, they have them!

utahtea Jan 25th, 2012 12:47 AM

Thanks Tomsd & kanunu,

I was thinking that the ferry ride itself might be a way to see the islands from the water. I'm not opposed to doing a boat tour.

Island hoping by air is not something DH is going to want to do :( I'm lucky to get him from the mainland to the islands! ;)

Utahtea

Tropics Jan 25th, 2012 08:55 AM

You may want to look into a Hawaii cruise where you'll be visiting several islands. The price may seem expensive but all meals are included, entertainment included, get to see majority of the islands without expensive airline tickets and moving to different hotels. Drawbacks is that your cabin is small compared to a hotel room, possible seasickness but you can get a patch from your doctor and it's good for the entire trip or you can take motion sickness meds; but you shouldn't have a problem. Have fun.

utahtea Jan 25th, 2012 10:36 AM

Tropics,

DH really wanted to do a cruise to Hawaii. Problem is the ones that start on the mainland are 15 days. That's 5 days to get there, ONLY 4 days in Hawaii, then 5 days to get back and on day in Mexico. (Something about having to go to a foreign port). There are some really good prices on this, but I want more than just 4 days in Hawaii! We like cruises, but 10 days at sea would get boring to me.

There is a 7 day cruise around the Hawaii Islands, but you still have to fly there and home. I could easily spend three weeks for the cost of the 7 days cruise. Another problem with the cruise is you have to pay for excursions to really see anything on land.

Utahtea

Placename Jan 25th, 2012 10:48 AM

If you have two weeks, I would chose two islands to spend 7 nights on, each. You could do a day trip to Lanai from Maui, but you may find there is enough to do without the day trip. I wouldn't try to do Lanai and Molokai if this is your first visit to Hawaii and you only have 14 nights.

The 7-day NCL cruise is another option. Yes, you will have to pay one way or another for excursions, whether you book them through the company or rent a car yourself. Personally, I don't like the idea of a cruise, as you miss so much that is the relaxing lovely time of being on the islands, including being able to walk on the beaches and be in the water most any time you want.


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