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Hawaii in January, budget travel, snorkeling a MUST

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Oct 3rd, 2012, 05:37 PM
  #1
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Hawaii in January, budget travel, snorkeling a MUST

Hi!

We are flying into Honolulu on December 31 and are staying for two weeks. We are curious about what island(s) to go to. We could do one, or a few. We do have pals on the big island, so that might be a factor.

Here are our priorities (in no order):

affordable lodging (75 - 150 per night)
snorkeling
I'd like to see a volcano
beach time
And, we'd prefer to not have to spend a fortune or a ton of time getting to other islands

We are in our late 30's/early 40's, husband and wife without kids, very independent travelers who have been all over the world. We tend to stay away from chain restaurants, large resorts, etc. We eat adventurously!

Thanks so much in advance!
Bobbie
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 05:42 PM
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Would start with a few day on Oahu - and checking the weather daily - go early to the best snorkeling in the islands - at Hanaumau Bay. It's a reef protected cove so that would probably be the best bet in Jan - plus it's at the south end of the island - where the best weather is in the Winter/big surf months.

Check other posts in here under Hawaii - for a wealth of information/opinions.

IMO: For the real deal/Volcano - get over to the Big Island - and for the most lush/green scenery - get to the Garden Isle - Kauai.

Once you get to the inter-island terminal on Oahu - next to the big Intl one - it doesn't take long to get to the other isles. In fact - Kauai is a 20 minute flight.

And the outer isle airports are fairly small and easy to navigate, find the rental cars, whatnot.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 05:43 PM
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BTW - if you have friends on the Big Island - I would recommend 3 days on Oahu - say 4 on Kauai - and the 2nd week on the Big Island where there is plenty to do.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Thanks!
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 06:54 PM
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If you're wanting to see an active volcano, the Big Island is your only choice. You'll also find the best snorkeling in the state, and some of the most beautiful beaches there. And having friends on the island I assume helps with lodging costs. Easy choice, as far as I can tell.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 09:03 PM
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better make up your find soon as I am sure the places fillup fst for news years eve and onward. High season and prices are up.....
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Oct 5th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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"Hawaii For Dummies" is a quick read with a quiz to help you decide which islands appeal to you.

January is winter in Hawaii, too. I would skip northern shores of Kauai and Oahu, and the northernMOST part of Maui. Oceans will be calmer off southern shores. January is also the beginning of Whale Season, best viewed off Maui, but you'd see them off Big Island too.

Maui has semi-dormant Haleakala; you can hike into the crater. Only Big Island has the active volcano (and rainforest Volcanoes National Park) -- will be wet in January. Maui has *good* snorkeling off many easy-access, sandy beaches. Big Island has the best sealife, but few easy-access beaches; you may have to trek across bare lava to reach beaches or have rocky entry. The accessible portion of Maui is relatively small, and it has a wide choice of lodgings and restaurants. Big Island is HUGE, with fewer man-made choices. If you want Big Island, consider flying into Kona and out of Hilo or the reverse.

Decide NOW and get your rental vehicle and lodging booked. Hawaii is a snowbird haven all winter, and Jan. - Mar. brings the whale watchers.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 09:20 AM
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With only two weeks you don't want to be jumping from island to island, especially if you've already locked into Oahu for arrival and departure. Do you really think you can do "a few" islands with just twelve days to explore? That's 3 days per island including all of the traveling and checking-in-checking-out. So really one full day per island to explore.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Since you specify "budget travel" and only have 2 weeks, I would stick to just Oahu (where you are flying in/out) and the Big Island (the only island you can see a volcano, plus your friends). I'd do 1 week on each.

Trying to add more islands will significantly drive up the overall cost of your vacation and take away time from more fun things you could be doing.

For hotels in your price range in Waikiki (not resorts not chains) I suggest looking at: The Royal Grove Hotel, The Breakers, Waikiki Sand Villa, Queen Kapiolani. There's loads of interesting, inexpensive and adventurous eating around town. No problem with that part.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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Maui has semi-dormant Haleakala; you can hike into the crater

We did this just last week. I was wondering whether Haleakala is dormant or extinct, now I know, it's semi-dormant . It's a good walk -- we did 5.2 miles. I call it a walk because sneakers are fine, hiking shoes not required (whatever shoes you wear will get filthy!). But be aware (I think they should post a warning at the beginning), the return trip is a SLOG -- it's all downhill going, all uphill (not steep, but a steady incline) returning, and at 10,000 feet, it's hard work! But the view of the crater (which isn't really one crater at all, it's a series of cinder cones - 7 to 10 of them) is fantastic if you've never seen one before, and getting up close (we've been the Haleakala before, but never hiked down) is great.

Here's a link to a few pictures from the hike:

https://picasaweb.google.com/1043488...eakalaSept2012
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Oct 5th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Lucky U SF7: Would love to take the hike down into Haleakala - and even camp there for a night or so. Saw the sunrise - but didn't have time for a hike. Actually - wasn't planning on it ahead of time or would have spend half a day doing that.

As for getting from one island to another - no sweat. Some think if you have to pick up your suitcase and put it in a car and then drag it out to a plane (suggest you fit your stuff into a carry-on) - that is a lot of work. ):

From hotel room to hotel room, we can usually make it from Oahu to Kauai in about 3 hours (including renting as car)- and add a bit more if going to Maui (not much) and about the same if flying directly from Hono to (or back from Kona) - but a bit more into Hilo as I think you have to stop once in Maui?

Anyhow - try to see as many islands as you can - and then you know where you want to spend more time the next time you return.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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Your budget is very very low for peak season.

Interisland flights are about $80 per person each way. Allow 4 hours from the time you leave your hotel until you arrive in the next island.

You need to rent a car on any island other than Oahu. Make reservations early. Rentals will be expensive.

The general recommendation is a week per island. You will get the best rates for renting a condo by the week. There is also a sales tax of nearly 14% and a cleaning fee, usually at least $75.

Again. Your budget is very low for accomodations.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 03:14 PM
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I think that is the worst advice possible. Unless you're about quantity over quality.

I travel on a tight budget so I know. And that budget is fine, generous even for Waikiki. But tight for any of the other islands.

If you didn't have friends on Big Island and hadn't mentioned wanting to see a live volcano, I'd suggest your entire two weeks right on Oahu. It's the least expensive island because a rental car is not necessary (nice but not absolutely required like on the rest of the islands), there's loads of ways to eat cheap, free entertainment, etc. Oahu is the most tourist friendly island for amount there is to do, and ease of doing it.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 10:15 AM
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But check with the U.S. Geological Survey; the lava flowing right now is visible only from the air (other than glow).

http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
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Oct 9th, 2012, 02:34 PM
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I recommend Oahu and maybe looking at one of the Ohana or Aston hotels. For snorkeling you have to check out Hanauma Bay. Best spot in the world for snorkeling.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 02:50 PM
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My best advice is see at least one other outer island and don't be scared by these trepidations of horror about how long it takes to get from one island to another. The 20 minute flight to Kauai is also a scenic wonder.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 02:53 PM
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And if you fly into Hilo - and the plane goes around the north/east side of the Big Island- that is also a visual feast, with the Waipo valley and all laid out below. Remember - the Inter-island flights stay closer to the water/ground than the International ones.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 04:34 PM
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"don't be scared by these trepidations of horror about how long it takes to get from one island to another."

Please stop insulting posters Tomsd. Inter island travel has changed drastically. Gone are the days that you can reach the airport and be airborne within 20 minutes for a 20 minute flight. It just is no longer the reality. Just as gone are the days that you could be dropped off at Logan Airport in Boston and be airborne 20 minutes later on a shuttle to NYC.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 04:46 PM
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It's not only about time... it's about MONEY Tomsd. This person needs to stay on a budget. When you don't have a lot of money I think you can have a more enjoyable vacation not spending your cash on extra plane tickets. I can *enjoy* myself on Oahu just exactly as much as trying to fit in Maui and Kauai for example.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 06:17 PM
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FWIW, the security line in Maui last Sunday was 40 minutes long. Inefficiency/stupidity had a lot to do with it, but regardless, that's how long it took.
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