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Rachel Jul 9th, 2002 06:05 AM

Just Back from Oahu & Maui - Trip Report
After much well received advice from this board, I will try and repay the favor with some do's and don'ts from our Hawaii trip. Our trip was from Thursday June 27 - Sunday, July 7 (basically 10 days). I'll try and keep it brief and highlight only the important stuff. Enjoy!<BR><BR>Day 1: Flew from JFK to LAX and basically had no layover. Got right in line for our next flight out. This worked out well and we arrived in Honolulu at 3pm. Checked into the Outrigger Reef. This hotel is just "okay." It really depends on what you are looking for. Rooms are clean and nice sized, but a little dated. VERY busy hotel. Lots of kids/families, small, noisy not the place to relax and get peace and quiet. However, we did tons of sightseeing on Oahu and weren't in our hotel all that much, so it sufficed just fine. But if you are looking for luxury, this ain't it. Were able to get a deal for stay 4 nights, get 5th free so room only came to $140 a night which for Waikkiki beach isn't that bad. After check - in mosyed down to Seaside Avenue for a light dinner at Cha-Cha-Chas (mexican). Not bad food but I was pretty out of it from the flight, so I won't give my full endorsement just in case!<BR><BR>Day 2: Rented a convertible (do this!) and busted out the map. Began our drive in Haleiwa (sp?) and took the north shore all the way around and back to Waikkiki. This took us all day and we stopped along the way at numerous sights and beaches to see a less inhabited part of Oahu. Lovely beaches on the north shore (including a great little spot where From Here To Eternity was filmed, you know that famous scene...) If you have the time, I would reccommend this if for no other reason than to get out of Waikkiki and see what the rest of the island offers. Had dinner at Duke's Canoe Club in the Outrigger Waikkiki. Yummy dinner...(about $75 for two). Crowded scene on the beach with lots of atmosphere but not for a "quiet night." <BR><BR>Day 3: Headed out early for USS Arizona & USS Missouri. Already a line at 7:45am, so would reccomend getting here early. Line moves quickly and we were into the presentation by about 9am. Do NOT go to Oahu and miss this. I was here when I was 16 and can say that at 28 it held much greater meaning for me (especially after this last year). This really is a place everyone should see and experience for themselves as it means different things to different people. Also did the tour of the USS Missouri. Wanted to do this because my Dad was aboard for the surrendering and signing so it held meaning for me. The price for a self-guided tour was $14 each which I thought a bit steep considering you wander around yourself. There are signs marked "tour" that you can follow but you really only get to see so much of the ship. Was interesting however, but may not be for some people. Your call. Went back to Waikkiki and hiked Daimond Head. About 2 miles roundtrip and 760 feet up. Not a bad hike but quite a few steps to climb. Great view at the top and worth the time IMO, but again, maybe not for some. Do wear sneakers and bring a helps, although not mandatory. Walked down to the Hilton Hawaiian Village for dinner and ate fabulous sushi. Although a bit expensive, it was worth it. Don't remember the name but it is in the shopping village part. Hilton (better than I remembered from my previous stay) is quite built up and seems like a great place to stay on Oahu. You could stay here and never leave the premises it seems with all the shopping and eateries. Also seems like it may seclude you a bit from the bustle of Waikkiki. Didn't see rooms but if I went back to Oahu would opt to stay somewhere like this.

Rachel Jul 9th, 2002 06:13 AM

Day 4: Got up early again and flew to the Big Island to do Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Cannot say enough good things about this park!!!! Did not want to go initially but my husband is an earth science teacher who loves this stuff. It was INCREDIBLE. A Definite DO, if you have the time. Terriffic education about how islands were formed when you can see it in action up front. Walk right up to lava flows, hikes along crater floors still emitting steam...just great. Had a tasty little lunch in Volcanoe Village (something Cafe, I think...will have to look this up). Also, we lucked out and our convertible was brandy new...a Seabring with leather seats and just 400 miles on! Just a great day all around! Do, do, do this park! Dinner was snacks from the vending machine at the airport :)<BR><BR>Day 5: Woke up and went to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. The entrance fee to the park is $3 each and we hopped on a tour that took us there and gave us snorkel equiptment for $10 each (to rent down at the bay is $6 each anyway). You can find coupons all around Hawaii in guides called "This Week on Oahu (Maui, Hawaii, etc)." Another DO on this trip. Although this beach is quite crowded, the snorkeling is fabulous. You need only stick your head in the water and beautiful bright fish swim right up. Great time. Dinner tonight was at the Halekulani at Orchids right next door to the Outrigger Reef. THIS WAS OUR BEST MEAL ON THE TRIP!!! Loved everything from our waiter (Jordan) to the scrumptious food and fabulous service. Well worth the price (about $100 for two depending on how much you eat, drink) We had a drink each, one app, two dinners. Great filet mignon and lobster tails and Onaga fish. Highly recommend.<BR><BR><BR><BR>

Rachel Jul 9th, 2002 06:30 AM

Day 6: Flew to Maui at 6:30am...on the road to Hana by 7:45am. Picked up our jeep at the airport and got a packed picnic lunch at PIC-NICS in Paia. Just check your coolor before you leave. We got jipped out of our potatoe salad and chips! The road to Hana was beautiful. For this people who are worried about heights, etc. I really didn't find this a problem. I am a highly sensitive passenger who needs Bonine on almost every car ride longer than 1 hour and this trip was no problem. You are going fairly slow anyway, and stopping so frequently there isn't much time to get "sick". This trip too is what you make it. You can stop as often or not as you like. Forget the cassette tape...she only stops at well known places. Get Maui Revealed if only for this drive alone. Took us to hikes noone else was on and we were able to appreciate the beauty of plunge pools all on our own! Definite stops: Blue Pool & Venus Pool. Have to look up more information on various hikes for this, as there are some definite do's and don't bothers on this trip. If anyone wants more info, I'd be happy to post. Got to Hana and slept over staying with Hana Alii properties in a cottage. Cottage was minutes from Black Sand Beach. It was clean and neat inside but falling asleep with bird calls and suctioning geckos on the windows took some getting used to! You really feel quite remote out here, like being in the jungle. Don't see how people do this trip in one day and fit it all. We could barely fit it in two.<BR><BR>Day 7: Woke up and did Black sand Beach, Red Sand Beach and skipped Oheo Gulch which I was sad about afterwards, but my little feet could hike no more and upon hearing it was 2 miles to get to the falls, I nixed it. If I could, I'd do it, from what I've heard. Drove to Lahaina our next stop. Checked into the Lahaina Inn - a quaint inn right off Front Street in Lahaina. Nicely appointed rooms (although ours was too small, opt for a bigger one if you can... prices about $120 - $160). Nice veranda overlooking bustling town. Continental breakfast is included here and I enjoyed eating breakfast on the veranda watching the town come alive.<BR><BR>Day 8: My husband went and did Haleakala this day and I stayed behind to get some much needed R&R. Don't really have a review of the park (I had done it previously) although he did say there wasn't too much to see there. We decided to skip the whole sunrise/biking thing and not sorry about that. Just MHO. I went to Kaanipali for the day and enjoyed the beach and resort area and spent the latter half of the day shopping in Lahaina. It was July 4th so there was a huge craft fair going on under the Banyan tree in the courtyard. Very quaint and enjoyable. Did the Old Lahaina Luau for dinner. Basically, the food is not that great but the show was nice and entertaining and something I think you should do once. Don't read too much into this experience: it's a luau, but probably not totally authentic so keep that in mind. Nice entertainment, yummy drinks and we were fortunate enought to have the table to ourselves (in a very crowded place) except for one other couple our age who was great fun to spend the night with. We even met them the next day for drinks! Like everything else, it is what you make it. You're in Maui, enjoy.<BR><BR>

Rachel Jul 9th, 2002 06:47 AM

Day 9: Woke up and headed to our last stop: The Four Seasons. Now I know there has been much debate about this hotel on this sight but I cannot say enough good things about our stay here. The rooms: large and comfy, nicely appointed. We were booked for a mountainside room but were upgraded to garden view without even asking. Even had a tiny view of the water. The bathroom alone is large enought to live in! Poolside service was fabulous. Cold water every refills every time you sipped from the cup, cold towels, ice pops, fresh fruit, evian spritzes and the overall niceness of the staff who were at your every call made this experience truly memorable. And that goes for service throughout the hotel... "Good Morning, Mr. X, do you need directions for your trip today? How about some bottled water for the road? Beach towels, hold on I'll get them for you." You did not need to lift a finger here and best of all you didn't need to THINK. Now, that's what I call vacation! In an event, IMO, I don't know what anyone could complain about here except maybe the cabana system. You DO need to be there at 6:45 the latest to get your paws on a cabana. But is that going to make or break your trip? We didn't wake for cabanas two mornings and we sat poolside and they can attach a shaded hood to any chair which gives you nice privacy and shade if that is what you are after. Anyway, if you can afford the splurge, DO it. Loved this hotel. Took a walk and watched sunset (aaaahhhh....) and headed down for dinner at the Pacific Grill in the 4Seasons. Although a bit overpriced (we felt) and small portions, the quality of the food was very good. Example: For $35 my husband got the lambchops which were basically 3 small appetizer sized chops like you would see at a wedding cocktail hour. However, they were TASTY! Here's where its your call. I will say this: much harder to find cheap eats in Wailea, Maui than anywhere else, so be prepared for that. Service here was lacking so this place came in second to Halekulani.<BR><BR>Day 10: Drove to Makena Landing and swam out to where the snorkel boats were docked to swim with the sea turtles. Only saw one and most people that went with the tour said they saw none, so we were glad we saved the money on this. Spent the day poolside and drove to Mama's Fish House for our last Hawaii dinner. I must say I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this restaurant but I cannot really give it the endorsement that others have. Highest price yet for a decent meal, but still no comparison to the previous two. Service was horrible. Forgot our wine and since they never came to check on us once during the meal, we couldn't even complain. I left here feeling completely taken. The same fish at the Halekulani that cost $30, cost $40 here and was NO BETTER. IMHO, DON'T do this restaurant. There are better ones, I'm sure. <BR><BR>Last Day: Poolside until 2pm and since we had to check out at noon, the hotel had lovely shower/changing rooms available to get ready in. Tons of fluffy towels and amenities...don't even need your toiletries bag!<BR><BR>Some final thoughts: Found the Frommers guidbooks very helpful for eating recommendations and some all around knowledge. Referred to them many times on this trip and mostly they were accurate although not completely. Take it in stride. As you can see, Hawaii can be as active on inactive as you want. Our first half was so hectic I went into a bit of a meltdown and refused to do anything is vacation after all. However, there is tons to do/see on Hawaii, enough for several more trips back! Would love to do Kaui and Lanai next time. If I can help with anything else, just let me know and thanks to everyone who gave such great advice and made our trip what it was! Aloooooha!

cantwait Jul 9th, 2002 06:56 AM

Rachel - great trip report. glad to hear about the four seasons. think most people that are disappointed probably expect perfection when nothing is going to be perfect when you are searching for flaws.<BR><BR>Question on the cabanas, do you think you could generously tip the pool boys the day before to reserve a cabanas with some towels? We did this in Puerto Vallarta and they would put towels out for you.

Maggi Jul 9th, 2002 07:38 AM

Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time to give us your report. I really enjoyed reading it. Are you sad to be home? We are staying two nights in Hana on our September trip, renting from Hana Alii properties also, (the Hamoa Beach House at $295 a night.) What were your impressions of this company? Did your check-in go smoothly? I would appreciate any comments on them and your stay in their property (which one did you stay in, by the way?)

Rachel Jul 9th, 2002 07:44 AM

Maggi,<BR>I'm at work, but as you can see, I'm doing none! Hard to adjust today. Our flight got in yesterday at noon and I'm a little out of it. Moving slowly...likely Hawaii time! <BR><BR>We stayed in the Wainapanapa Cottage (only $100 a night) and as I said the accomodations were very clean and looked well cared for. Very tropical remote setting. Couple geckos running around our place. For check in they just left us a key since it was after hours and to return it we just dropped it in the slot because it was before hours. So, we never actually saw anyone! Couldn't be smoother. Rustic is a good way to describe our place. Have a great trip!

lcuy Jul 9th, 2002 06:38 PM

Thanks for a great report Rachel! Sorrry to hear you didn't have a good experience at Mama's though...having eaten often at both Halekulani and Mama's, I have a feeling you just hit an off night at Mama's. I have been known to tag along on my husband's business trips to Maui, just to go to Mamas! :-)<BR>Again thanks for a great report.

Lisa Jul 9th, 2002 08:10 PM

Rachel, thanks so much for your informative trip report. I will be going to Hawaii next month and find your report very useful. I'm glad that you had such a wonderful time!<BR><BR>I am curious about viewing the volcano. I read that, recently, the volcano stopped flowing in places that had been easily accessible from special viewing areas. What was your experience? How close were you able to get?<BR><BR>Can't wait to see the park myself!

Ruth Jul 10th, 2002 09:00 AM

Hi Rachel,<BR><BR>Sounds like you had a great time. Now I've got an ignorant question but since I've never been to Hawaii I'll ask it anyway. What's the difference between a cabana and a shaded chair? I see lots of mentions about cabanas but never having stayed at an upscale beach resort, I'm unclear as to what that actually is.<BR><BR>Also would love to hear your answer to Lisa's question as we are going to the Big Island (as well as Oahu and Maui) next January. Thanks.

Rachel Jul 10th, 2002 11:49 AM

Hi Lisa and Ruth,<BR>Glad you guys found the report useful! You can still get pretty close to the flowing lava, within feet of it really. But be is VERY hot and the hike to where it is flowing is actually about a 20-25 minute hike in over already hardened lava field. Wear good shoes (sneakers or hiking) and allow for the time as we didn't and it cost us being able to see the petroglyphs (my favorite!) because we had to catch our flight :(<BR><BR>As for cabanas vs. shaded chairs: There are "cabanas" that surround the edge of the pool and are essentially four posts in the ground with a square tent-like top. Sides are open but top is completely covered. Pool help is also able to attach to any single or double chair(s) a hooded canopy that provides shade wherever you sit. The cabanas are only in certain spots and less claustrophobic because height wise they are pretty large and don't close in upon your chairs. I hope I'm helping although this may be more confusing than it actually is. Maybe try going to and see if you can see some photos.

Beth Jul 10th, 2002 12:01 PM

Rachel you know that flow is constantly changing just a few months ago there was an underground lava tunnel and you saw no flow at all. I lived on Oahu for a few years and made regular trips over and I never got only a few feet away. The view changes constantly some times closer than others but never feet away.<BR><BR>You did not get scared that close? I still panic about the time we took my friend's kids and one of them said "dad should should it feel hot under my feet?" I feel so irresponsible in retrospect would kill someone that put my kids in that situation. If I had kids. We also had to make a trip to the emergency room that night as the very kid who made that comment had a respitory reaction to the fumes.<BR><BR>NOT AT ALL TO JUDGE YOU RACHEL I AM GLAD IT WAS EXCITING FOR YOU! Great experience to see the flow at night.

Lisa Jul 10th, 2002 12:41 PM

Rachel, thanks for responding to my last post! I just have one more question: How did you know where to hike to see the lava flow? I am worried that when I get to the park I will have no idea where to find the lava flowing. The park is very big and the lava flow changes all of the time. I would be so diappointed if I missed seeing the lava flow since I don't know if I'll ever get back to Hawaii. Seeing the lava flow is the main reason I wanted to visit the Big Island.<BR><BR>If you have any tips about how to find very up to date viewing information, as well as any other tips about VNP, I would love to read about them. <BR><BR>Thanks again!

Rachel Jul 10th, 2002 12:58 PM

Lisa & Beth,<BR>Yes, it was warm under my feet! Actually, being unprepared I was wearing cheap teva like sandals and almost felt as if they would melt so I stayed back aways plus like I mentioned, it was very HOT. My husband videoed it (and actually got yelled at for going into an restricted area!) and you can see the heat waves on the camera! There are also park attendants monitoring the site and making sure people stay within certain areas. This is not the type of lava flow (my husband assured me) that will just randomly explode...these flows are very slow moving, hence the creation of new land just extending beyond what is already there, not exploding and forming new islands. However, I'm no volcanologist so don't quote me. I think to make yourself feel better about it all, you should really visit the Visitors Center and talk to the rangers. I kept it in perspective in that no way would they let all these people this close if there was real danger at hand.<BR><BR>As for the flow changing, you can contact the park - they always know where and how the flow is moving up to the very minute and I believe someone else posted a link on this board once before. Do a search for VNP. As for how you will know how to get there, just stop into the Visitor Center in the morning and they will instruct you. It is my understanding however, that the flow is always in the same "general" area...the most recent flow area. Of course it is moving and changing direction etc. Once you get to the road...there are tons of touists hiking in. The path is marked clearly with yellow reflectors but even if it weren't you just follow the crowd!<BR><BR> We were so close, we could have reached out and touched it and yes, it was a bit scary but actually quite uneventful if you will. When I got right up to it my first reaction was, "Is that it?" because the flow at that time was moving so very slowly. You actually had to hang out for awhile to see it move. Otherwise, you just witness the redness beneath the black lava rock and can tell it's hot. Hope this helps more!<BR>

xxx Jul 10th, 2002 01:09 PM

The flow is in the same general area but I have been on some evenings when the flow is in the far distance. You just can't get close at all. Night views are the absolute best time to see the lava flow. Too hot and just steamy during the day. The rangers are out at night also.

RL Jul 10th, 2002 04:13 PM

First of all, thnaks for the great trip report -- it's fun to read and compare similar experiences with other. <BR><BR>Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but I couldn't disagree with you more on Mama's Fish House. I think it's nearly a crime ;-) to tell people not to go there. The best fish (Mahi Mahi) I've ever had, and the service was great. We went for lunch so I don't know if that makes a difference. just IMHO.

Tom Jul 10th, 2002 11:54 PM

And remember, Rachel, the SIDES of a cabana are usually DOWN for the utmost in privacy!!

Ruth Jul 11th, 2002 05:44 AM

Thanks Rachel (and Tom) for the info about cabanas.

rick Jul 11th, 2002 06:02 AM

Thanks for a great report, we're heading to Oahu and Maui in two weeks and this is exactly what we needed to know. We're staying at the 4Seasons too, but we've also got 4 kids with us. Did you find you needed to whip out wads of dollar bills every time a staff member came by you at the 4S?

Rachel Jul 15th, 2002 09:52 AM

No, we absolutely did not feel like we had to whip out wads of dollars which is a good thing because we don't have wads of dollars!<BR><BR>Actually, upon tipping we found ALL the staff to be genuinely appreciative which shocked us a bit. Here's an example...I ordered one drink poolside for $6 and the waitress kept returning every hour from 11am-4pm to see if we needed anything else (which we didn't). She also refilled our water, brought us cold towels, brought my husband a hooded canopy, etc. Basically we felt really well cared for all day. We left a $20 (a $13 tip for her) and she looked stunned when we told her to keep the change. The next morning as soon as we got to the pool she came right up to us and asked how she could help us! I didn't even think it was that big of a tip!<BR><BR>Basically, we just stuck to the basics, a few dollars every time they got our car and a little more for the bell hops who took care of our luggage, but that's it. <BR><BR>I'm really disappointed with my Mama's Fish House experience. I feel as though I was at a different restaurant than everyone else. Oh well, we'll just have to go back and try it again, I guess. :(

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