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Hawaii newbie - general location advice needed

Hawaii newbie - general location advice needed

Old Feb 25th, 2023, 07:53 AM
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Hawaii newbie - general location advice needed

Hello all,
We have never been to Hawaii and desperately need some "real world" general advice regarding which island and general locations to stay. Here are some insights:
  • Going in August for 8-12 days
  • Leaving from Austin, Texas
  • We are okay to rent a car for the entire say
  • Probably staying in an AirBnB (resorts are too expensive)
  • Not interested in shopping or nightlife
  • Enjoy going to places where the locals go
Most important criteria:
  • Privacy/quiet
  • Great restaurants (driving to them is fine)
  • Lots of beach time (driving to them is fine)
  • Easy access to nature (volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforest, etc.)
  • Waterfront (sitting on a balcony/patio and hearing crashing waves)
Is this a tall order? Please help!!
-Kelly
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Old Feb 25th, 2023, 08:40 AM
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On the Big Island, we have stayed a few times at the Sea Village condo complex. It is just below Kona, in a relatively uncrowded area, on Alii Drive.

There is a good little cove for snorkeling, 5 minutes drive away. I think it's called Disappearing Sands or Magic Sands. There's a little outdoor cafe at that cove, also, which is part of the Sheraton resort.

The units are individually owned, so they vary in style and furnishings. Available on VRBO.
There are no elevators, so remember that, if you want the third level. We always booked the top level, with a lanai directly over the water.

Prices are very good. Washer/dryers in unit. Free use of tennis court and barbecue grills. Small pool overlooking the ocean. Nice landscaping. Free parking.

A low-key, well-kept place. Farmer's market a block away. Kona restaurants a few minutes away, also.

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Sea+Villag...o&t=osx&ia=web

Last edited by MoBro; Feb 25th, 2023 at 08:51 AM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2023, 09:25 AM
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You need a guidebook to help you pick an island(s). I say this with love. But a first trip to Hawaii is tricky to plan.

You need to be very careful using AirBnB in Hawaii. It's really not the thing there and there are illegal units listed on rental sites. As far as resorts being too expensive, you can check for more modest hotels.

Your wish list somewhat contradicts itself. And some very specific. If you want to see a volcano then you need to go to Big Island aka Island of Hawaii. If you want great restaurants you will likely need to be in a location with more people around. Beaches are everywhere on every island, so that doesn't narrow it down.

To be so close to the ocean you will hear crashing waves from your balcony, be ready for 'sticker shock' about prices.

aloha, suze
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Old Feb 25th, 2023, 11:58 AM
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MoBro,
After a quick search, I think Kona checks all the boxes! Thanks!

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Old Feb 25th, 2023, 07:27 PM
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I love the Big Island but am not a Kona fan. Hate Allíi Drive and how crowded and slow it is. And donít like the vog that Kona is susceptible to. The upside of Kona is that you can be ocean front and within walking distance to restaurants and bars. The downside is that itís loud, crowded, vog, and there really arenít any beaches. There is Magic Sands, but you can get absolutely pounded into the sand because of the way the shore breaks.

I prefer the Kohala coast north of the airport. Youíre closer to all the big beaches and Waimea and the Saddle Road for traveling to the east side of the island. We usually rent a condo in the Waikoloa Beach Resort. Love the Mauna Lani area, but itís more expensive.
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Old Feb 26th, 2023, 01:16 AM
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Not Waikiki.

Big Island would also be my choice again. I liked Hilo which is a good base for the waterfall volcano part. But it tends to be the wet side. Hence it's cheaper but is also more "local". Would it be worth it to split your stay? Save on car rental usually if pickup and return there.

Hawi is an area I'd like to visit next time (actually my neighbor's parent''s Airbnb). But it wouldn't be beachfront.




Last edited by mlgb; Feb 26th, 2023 at 01:30 AM.
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Old Feb 26th, 2023, 06:42 AM
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[QUOTE=kureiff;17441608]I love the Big Island but am not a Kona fan. Hate Allíi Drive and how crowded and slow it is. And donít like the vog that Kona is susceptible to. The upside of Kona is that you can be ocean front and within walking distance to restaurants and bars. The downside is that itís loud, crowded, vog, and there really arenít any beaches. There is Magic Sands, but you can get absolutely pounded into the sand because of the way the shore breaks.

Itís been a while since we were there, but we did not experience any vog at all. Is that something that will happen in August?

Kona is crowded, and I would not recommend staying in the center of it. Note that Sea Village is 2.5 miles south, where tourists thin out.

Allii drive goes a ways, down from Kona, doesnít it? You must mean you hate the part of it thatís actually in Kona.

Several times we took our little ones to Disappearing Sands. As I recall, itís a protected cove with no pounding waves. There are several beaches south of there, as well. You can take your pick.

We also stayed a week at Mauna Lani one year. Itís a gorgeous, high-end, very pricey resort. The OP specified no resorts.

Also have spent a week at Waikaloa (sp?).
Again, itís a resort vibe.

Having a car is a necessity. The northern part of the island is gorgeous. I remember wide open ranch land up there and a cute town, unless itís all been developed now.

From Sea Village you can easily drive up into the green hills, and find little towns, also. Again, unless itís all developed now.

Not a fan of staying on the Ďrainy sideí myself. We drove to Hilo, just for the experience. Donít need to do that again.

Going to Hapuna Beach is an option, too. I remember a hotel property whose beach you could also use, that was less crowded. Do some research on beaches. Although crowds might be a given anywhere.

Last edited by MoBro; Feb 26th, 2023 at 06:58 AM.
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Old Feb 26th, 2023, 07:46 AM
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Vog depends on the volcano, and itís erupting again.

The beach near Hapuna is at the Mauna Kea resort. Itís beautiful. Parking is limited so you have to get there early or weíve had luck later in the day around 3:30 or 4 pm.

Parking prices have increased at Hapuna5/car plus $5 per person. Love to boogie board there.

We usually book through Kona Coast Vacations as they are cheaper than VRBO or Airbnb.
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Old Feb 26th, 2023, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for clarifying, kureiff
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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 02:45 PM
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Hello and welcome! As it is your first time to Hawaii, you will want to check that your accommodations have A/C. It is not something to be assumed, electric is very expensive there, and many places were built without it (not the fancy hotels or bigger resorts, obv.) People will tell you you don't need it, there are the trade winds, blah, blah, but in 40 years of traveling there, I would not go without A/C, particularly in August. Only a few of the units at Sea VIllage have it. This is my personal preference, but I would want you to know to check. For August, I would also look and book a rental car now. This is pure sticker shock, but I use discounthawaiicarrental.com, which is good, I book something and then go back and look every month to see if the price has dropped. Sometimes it does! IF you wait to book the price will absolutely higher and availability a problem. Gas will be at least $1 per gallon more than where you live. I love Kona, despite the traffic, but the west side is loaded with people in an out of the resorts. If you choose it and want some good recs for local eating spots, post again. I'm going out in 2 weeks and will have some new suggestions for you. You will have a glorious time regardless!
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Old Feb 28th, 2023, 06:28 AM
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Itís true that many condos donít have AC. It would be hard to find one that does, I think.
We never needed it, actually, staying oceanside. And I hate the heat.
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Old Feb 28th, 2023, 07:24 AM
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Dolphin Bay Hotel didn't have A/C either, just a ceiling fan and good ventilation (corner unit).
I am not a fan of the big timeshares and condos that have proliferated on the west coast of the Big Island.
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Old Mar 1st, 2023, 05:29 AM
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Thank you, everyone. As someone from Texas, I am quite leery of staying in places with no A/C. Once, we vacationed in Del Mar, CA, at a place with no A/C. The area just happened to have a heatwave, and we were miserable. Never again!

I know this sounds counterintuitive to my requirements for peace and quiet, but I'm really thinking about West Maui. The beaches are just so beautiful. I'm looking at the condo Mahana at Kaanapali. There's been a lot of construction going on there, so curious if it's still happening.
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Old Mar 1st, 2023, 09:03 AM
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Yes that does look counterintuitive. I think there is a Maui resident on TripAdvisor, I'd ask there.
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Old Mar 1st, 2023, 09:10 AM
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The Hawaii forums on Trip Advisor are very active. Many more frequent visitors and island residents participate on that forum. Way more people than here on Fodor's to help you out.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2023, 08:58 AM
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I love Kaanapali but it is probably the most developed part of Maui. Your number one most important criteria is privacy/quiet so I am not sure that is the best location for you. Not that it is particularly loud or crazy but there are a lot of hotels and condos on that stretch and so more people. You may also want to take a look at Kapalua.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2023, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tom42 View Post
You may also want to take a look at Kapalua.
Or Napili. We recently stayed at a low-rise, ocean-front condo at Napili Point that was literally steps from the ocean, quiet and easy walking distance to the beaches.



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Old Mar 2nd, 2023, 10:46 AM
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Nice to see RECENT visitors to Maui here. I went long ago and was turned off by the development in Kihei. But I am generally opposed to high rise condos and hotels along a beach, ymmv.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2023, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
Nice to see RECENT visitors to Maui here. I went long ago and was turned off by the development in Kihei. But I am generally opposed to high rise condos and hotels along a beach, ymmv.
I visited the beaches near Kihei in 1983. So beautiful. We went to Maui about 7 years ago and stayed north of Kanapaali. Although we didnít go to Kihei, we could see all the development below from the Ulupalakua Ranch. Sad.
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Old Mar 4th, 2023, 01:46 PM
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I live on Kauai's North Shore. IMO, that is the only place on the islands that offers my fantasy of Hawaii. All of the islands have beautiful beaches and tremendous natural beauty--and they all have much to offer. But only Kauai offers the beauty in a setting where it is illegal to have a building taller than a palm tree.

The last time I was in Maui they were having an August heatwave. It was so sweltering, it was too hot for me to even enjoy the beaches (many of which were packed like sardines). Different stokes for different folks, but I don't come to Hawaii for high-rises, interstates, beachfront hotels crammed full of tourists, and beaches where the next family is two feet away from me.

I like the Big Island very much, and of course, it is the only island with an active volcano. I also enjoy Oahu's North Shore. I think Maui and Oahu are awesome for people who are looking for nightlife, bustling sidewalks, upscale shopping, gourmet restaurants, museums, and people who don't mind crowds. But that's not me.

Before people jump down my throat, I'll reiterate that depending on what you are looking for, each island might be the one that's right for you. But I know several people who were terribly disappointed in Oahu and Maui because they were so different from their fantasies of Hawaii. Just know what you are signing up for.
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