October 2016 Hawaii trip help please

Jul 22nd, 2016, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,951
Nor should one be admonished if they'd rather take a shorter flight on smaller planes then a much longer flight on the preferred wide body plane.

Or be admonished for the area they choose to stay.

Or whether they island hop. One days lost hours is another's adventure. On our last journey, we left the BI house at sunrise and took the first flight to Maui direct, provisioned up, had lunch at HGS and were in Hana by late afternoon. Not a second of it felt wasted or lost.
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2016, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Apr 2016
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I would definitely do all three islands if you honestly feel you'll never get back. I just returned from 35 days on the Big Island and 5 on Kauai...love both. I've been to Maui but it's been five years so I'll let others chime in there.

First things first....pack LIGHT. I think you'll be surprised at how casual the dress is there. You will never wear socks unless you hike, and you'll look out of place even in a knit Polo shirt outside of the resort areas. One SMALL bag each is plenty....and will make your inter-island flights that much easier.

Second, you will get up EARLY and go to bed early. Roosters are everywhere...and they are loud. And Coqui frogs (loud) are becoming a problem on the big island. Take some ear plugs if you are light sleepers. Wasn't a problem for me....


-This sounds like a romantic and potentially once in a lifetime trip. With that in mind....you HAVE to stay on the north shore of Kauai. I'm just not a huge fan of the Koloa/Poipu area (it IS nice but it feels like "any other place" to me). Hanalei (and Ha'ena), on the other hand, is arguably the prettiest spot on earth. The difference between the north and south shores IS that big. Most of the lodging options are going to be in Princeville, but I had a blast staying at the Hanalei Inn...a very cute little five room hotel right in the village ($150/night with AC, Cable, Wifi, full kitchen/bathroom and private lanai)...much nicer than the pictures. Don't let people scare you away with talk of rain in Hanalei....it's worth it.

-I definitely recommend Captain Andy's Nepali Sunset and/or dinner cruise. A first rate outfit...I've done it three times and LOVED it each time. Amazing views and excellent food. But be careful....they are very liberal with the beer and "Sneaky Tiki's"....and it's a long two hour drive in the dark back up to Hanalei if you've been drinking. (Funny story....my girlfriend's daughter hit it off with one of the crew members and may be going back to work for them next summer!)

-Go to Ke'e Beach at the end of the road for at least one sunset...awesome. And I definitely recommend that you hit the Kalalau Trail (entrance is at the Ke'e Beach parking lot). Just hike up to the top of the hill (no permit required for this section)....very easy hike/walk with mild cardio....with great views in all directions. Start around 3:30-4:00pm and you'll be back down in plenty of time to take in the sunset.

-Watch out for traffic in Kapaa (very cute town with excellent shopping)....it's horrible (one lane bottleneck). Add an extra 30 minutes to any commute north or south because of this (we missed our Capt Andy's cruise because of this and had to reschedule)

-Waimea Canyon is stunning, but....you won't be blown away by it if you've seen the Grand Canyon (I noticed that you are from the SW). Maybe stay north shore....get up early and drive down to Waimea Canyon, and get to the Captain Andy's dock by 2:15pm for the dinner tour?

-My favorite Kauai beaches are Ha'ena Beach Park/Tunnels, Ke'e, and Hanalei Bay. Definitely hit these beaches and save the snorkeling for the Big Island.

-The drive from Hanalei to Ke'e Beach is breathtaking....and is the prettiest drive on the island.

-Fun, kitschy Hawaiiana shopping at Hilo Hattie's in Lihue (next to the Walmart in Lihue)....if you are looking for something different. My favorite t-shirt/surf shop is HIC Surf (all over the islands)

-Many drownings in Kauai....watch the currents there.

Hawaii (Big Island):

-Great snorkeling at Two Steps (I recommend this over Kealakekua because it has easy access, you can go at your own pace and don't have to be part of an organized tour, and because you can also visit the adjacent City of Refuge before you hit the water). Get your gear at Snorkel Bob's in Kona ($7/day and the gear there is very high quality....cheap masks/fins will ruin the experience. And don't be embarrassed to ask for a flotation device if you are new to snorkeling). The Coffee Shack in Honaunau is a must stop for breakfast/brunch on the way down to Two Steps. And don't worry if it's cloudy or even a bit rainy....the water visibility will still be amazing. I felt very safe in the waters there.

-The beaches on the BI aren't as plentiful as on Maui or Kauai....but the water is SO clear and blue there. My favorite little beach near Kona is Manini'owali (Kua Bay)....about 10 minutes north of the airport (across the highway from the Veteran's Cemetery). Nice white sand and it looks like a drum of blue food coloring exploded in the water....crazy blue/clear water. Hapuna is probably the "best" beach on the island...about 40 minutes north of Kona and 10 minutes north of the Waikoloa resort area. You can rent a beach umbrella, cheap fins and get surprisingly good fish taco's at Three Frogs Cafe (right off the parking lot). Good facilities and a $5 fee to park.

-I wouldn't go out of my way for a coffee tour (or rum tour on Kauai). I enjoyed the coffee bar at Kona Joe Coffee Farm. An open air coffee bar with an amazing view out over the bay below ...and you can watch them roast as you take in the view. Coffee farms are all over the place on the Kona side of the island and down in Ka'u. And...as an fyi....I just saw that Kona Joe is for sale, fyi.... : )

-Poke in Kona! I still like the poke better at Da Poke Shack than at Umeke's (but both are very good). Go early....they often run out of the good stuff later in the day.

-You'll likely cruise along Ali'i Drive in Kona. But be sure to make the scenic 10 minute drive up the hill on Hualalai Rd to Holualoa Village. Cute little enclave of galleries with a very good restaurant (Holuakoa Cafe). Old school Hawaii.

-A MUST stop on the Big Island is the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, just north of Hilo. I can't emphasize how beautiful that place is....and better than the Allerton Gardens on Kauai in my opinion (becuase of the waterfalls and Ocean vistas). Definitely take some bug spray though....mosquitoes can be pesky there.

-The two prettiest drives on the Big Island are: 1) between Hawi (a super cute town on the Northern tip of Kohala with nice restaurant options) and Waimea along Hwy 250. Amazing scenery at about 4000k feet as you pass through pastures and horse farms; and 2) The "Red Road" at the southern tip of Puna (a 14 mile stretch along Hwy 137 between the tide pools in Kapoho and Kalapana). The latter is a bit out of the way for a short stay on the BI. If you can do it....be sure to dine in Pahao Village at Pele's Kitchen for breakfast or Kaleo's for lunch/dinner....if you make it into Puna. Quick FYI....monitor the current lava flow in Kalapana. It might make it to the ocean by the time you get there....and could justify a trek down into Puna to check it out.

-Not sure where you are staying....or how you plan to get to VNP? The southern route from Kona along Hwy 11 is pretty direct. I recommend taking the 12 mile detour down to South Point (paved road the whole way down and a pretty drive....but avoid the trek to the Green Sand Beach). Naalehu is also a very cute little town and you have to stop at Punaluu Bakery for a Malasada and coffee break. But be warned....there's 30 miles of nothing on either side of Naalehu.

-Volcano National Park is amazing and completely justifies squeezing in a BI stay. If you plan to hike the Mauna Iki Trail (recommended)....then you'll want to get to VNP early. If not, I recommend getting there around 2:00pm....hit the visitor center, check out the caldera, walk the Thurston Lava Tube, and drive down Chain of Craters Rd down the hill to the ocean (walk out to the cliff's edge). You'll want to see the Kilauea caldera just after sunset (the glow was much brighter than I expected), which typically falls around 7:00pm...you view it from the Jaggar Museum. Three things to keep in mind about VNP. It's chilly (esp at night)...so layer up. Also, it's usually rainy up on top....but often sunny as you drive down Chain of Craters toward the ocean. And it's 90-100 miles (some of it 35 mph) back to Kona along Hwy 11 in the dark if that's where you are staying....so keep that in mind.

-The Waipio Valley Lookout is beaufiful (a great view of the valley and black sand beach)....and I definitely recommend it....BUT you won't be as impressed with it if you've already seen the Napali Coast. I probably wouldn't go out of my way from Kona or Waikaloa to get to Waipio unless you are making that drive from Waimea to Hilo along Hwy 19. Honokaa, the entry point to the road leading to the lookout, is very cute....be sure to grab a malasada at Tex Drive In if you make that trip.

-The best restaurants are in North/South Kohala....either in Waimea, Waikoloa, and Hawi. Hilo has the cheapest dining options....loved some of the old school take out places like Cafe 100. Dining in Kona, with the exception of the poke, is disappointing. Kona does have a number of fun waterfront spots to grab a drink and watch the sunset. And even though I'm not really into the $40 t-shirt and/or $20 bacon cheeseburger (seriously) thing....I recommend that you visit the Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa during Happy Hour. A beautiful setting.

-Hawaiians are really into pancakes! If you like good breakfasts/brunches - visit Hawaii Style Cafe (locations in Waimea and Hilo), Pele's Kitchen (Pahoa....mentioned above), and The Coffee Shack (near Captain Cook....mentioned above).

-There are waterfalls all over Kauai and the Big Island. I wouldn't go out of my way to see many of them....they start to look the same after a while. Rainbow Falls is literally in the town of Hilo....a quick in and out. Akaka falls is very nice but I much preferred the Tropical Botanical Gardens (same area).

-The VOG issue. It definitely does get voggy in Kona and south. I never noticed a smell and it never bothered me....so no biggy. But it does put a haze over the area....ie. little sun. I'd say it was an issue on about 25% of the time I was in that area. There is very little vog north of the airport or on the eastern/windward side of the island. And even if you do stay in Kona and it's voggy....just jump in the car and head north 20 minutes and you'll see sunshine.

-I think the BI has the safest waters of the three islands you'll be visiting...


-Mama's Fish House if you want a special dinner. Book online well in advance. So ridiculously expensive....but you won't care once you are there. The place is amazing.

-The Road to Hana IS very pretty...but I don't think it's prettier than the little drive between Hanalei and Ke'e over on Kauai. And it's not as pretty as the PCH in California imo. But, I'd try to do it if you can. Assuming you are taking an evening flight home from Kahului? If that's the case, then you will have to kill 7-9 hours after you check out of your hotel on your final morning. I'd recommend packing up the rental car early on your final morning....and driving the Road to Hana before your flight home. (And be sure to check out the Charles Lindbergh grave site).

-Maui seems to have the most shark attacks so be aware...

Have a great trip! I've only been back two weeks and I already miss it....
uncfan is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2016, 04:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2013
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uncfan, I might not agree with everything but big kudos to a great effort.

20 days and counting to BI and you have me inspired to make the south route which has alluded us the past two trips. We will be up at the Ranch in Kopaha. We've done the Saddle and north treck a few times, so this road trip is due. We haven't been south of Place of Refuge or VV. Maybe I'll find a property to double book last minute in VV to see the glow before heading back to the horses and cows!
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2016, 06:44 PM
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David, the route to South Point is worth doing; I'd love to jump off the rocks there, but can't quite manage the climb back out. there's a lava tube cave private tour in the area, if you like that kind of thing.
I recommend staying at the neat cabins at VNP Namakanipaio campground (linens provided); proximity to the evening glow is great (and have breakfast at the military base).
Uncfan, The trail is kilauea Iki,not mauna iki.
I don't much approve of labels "must do" There's so much to do in VNP, nothing is a "must".
sylvia3 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2016, 07:36 PM
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Sunset at the Lava Lava Beach Club is so beautiful and fun that we went more than once.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 05:46 AM
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I tend to ramble... : )

Sylvia3....Yep, my mistake. And I agree about the "must do" comments. I think it only speaks volumes about how amazing the islands are when I find myself telling people to de-emphasize places like Waimea Canyon, Waipio Valley, the waterfalls, coffee tours, etc....because of logistical/time constraints.

Iron Butterfly....You might even want to consider staying in Naalehu AFTER visiting VNP (if you choose not to stay in the park or drive all the way back). Not a destination location because of its isolation. But it's only 30 minutes down the road...and it's not rainy like Volcano Village. Naalehu has great weather....morning sun, gentle breezes in the evening. There are also two very nice beach parks in the area so you could get in a morning swim before heading out. Punaluu Beach Park (black sand beach) is beautiful....but I never tried to lay out or swim there because of all of the tourists checking out the sea turtles. I really like Whittington Beach County Park (no beach but there's a great/safe tide pool to swim in). And there are a number of yellow gates along the highway near the Whittington entrance that provide access to some really pretty ocean views. I stayed at a little hostel (slight misnomer since you have your own room) called Hawaii Island Inn (although they go by a different name on Airbnb)....never crowded, clean, and super cheap (but is next to a noisy gas station so you may want to avoid on weekends). And/or check out Colony 1 at Sea Mountain in Pahala if you want something nicer (can book single night stays on Expedia).

Also....meant to point out earlier that Da Poke Shack now has a second location directly on Hwy 11 just before the turn down to the City of Refuge

I don't recommend jumping from the cliffs at South Point...just my opinion. I think it mostly comes down to what the water conditions are like. The surf was pounding my first time there. It was calm on my second visit and there were people jumping. Just don't force the issue. Several locals warned me about the currents ("you'll end up in Japan") and Great White sharks have been known to frequent that area. But definitely worth checking out!

MSM53....you won't need a vacation when you get home. You'll definitely be on the move much of your time on the Big Island. But you'll get in plenty of beach time and R&R on Maui and Kauai.
uncfan is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 10:06 AM
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appreciate your thoughts uncfan. Our last trip we didn't make it south of the airport KOA or Hilo. So Da Poke Shack remains on our radar. It is good to search other areas other then VV, but a night of rain would be fine with us. We are they type that would rather be washed out with rain and heavy surf in Hanalei then Poipu sunny day predictions. I like rain and weather.

vrbo is problematic as they are taking down owner/manager phone numbers, so last minute booking won't work. And airbnb has some downright scary places. I can't imagine being in a yurt or a tiny house/ makeshift shed house with Darby coming in with wind and rains.

I hope at the original posters plans are coming together.

Oh and I've been to the Grand Canyon and stayed in a patio suite at El Tovar. Perhaps that is why Waimea Canyon has never wowed me completely. When I flew with Gerry Charlobois of Birds In Paradise, may he rest in peace, I was always saying, enough of the Canyon, let's fly over the Pali. We had some enjoyable flights.
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 12:12 PM
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We will have to agree to disagree.

I see our plumber *on his board* when he was 'supposed' to be at our condo. The glass guy says he can't come until tomorrow because his helper needed to take Auntie shopping. I am still waiting for someone to patch and paint two small holes where room A/C units were removed when we installed central air in May. The upholsterer can't tell me when fabric will arrive for my club chair.

This is not 'just me'. All the owners I know experience the same.

I do not denigrate anyone else's opinions or experiences. I only post what I have experienced. IMO this OP does not have time to *enjoy* staying on four islands in 11 nights. People come to the forums to get our opinions.
ChiSue is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 04:48 PM
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Had appliance repairmen at different times...fridge, AC, oven. Painters. Carpet measurers and installers. Furniture delivery. Electrical guy to replace a bathroom fixture. And some guys from a Goodwill equivalent to take away an armoire. Also the guy who changed locks. Oh, AND the guy who fixed the dryer.

NEVER has one been late, let alone not show. not. Once. Professionals behave like professionals. I can see fabric from overseas being delivered on a sketchy time line, but idiots who work like that won't be in business long.
sylvia3 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 05:00 PM
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Btw, vrbo isn't taking down phone numbers, it's just that a lot of people never listed them.
sylvia3 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 05:06 PM
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That hasn't been my up close and personal experience sylvia3. Places I had bookmarked have their phone numbers removed and your email to the owner now goes thru vrbo/expedia. they have forced a gateway. And they respond before the owner can asking for a booking.
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2016, 05:08 PM
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I'm sorry 53MSN if our banter has hijacked your thread. It happens.
Inakauaidavidababy is offline  
Jul 24th, 2016, 06:09 AM
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I checked my favs,too, and the phones are just symbols now, but displayed when you click. It's incredibly sneaky and shady. Even clicking on the phone symbol gets a BS warning message.
sylvia3 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 11:07 AM
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Thanks David, I have found this entertaining. Here's where I am at.
1. My typo mistake I am currently living in SE not SW.
2. We love to drive and find it relaxing seeing new and different, leisurely way to be on our own.
3. Our inter island hops are first out.
4. Our trip: direct to LAX then to HNL with early afternoon arrival. Chill out from jet lag. Day 2 Pearl Harbor then quiet evening.
Day 3-7 Kauai with transfers early on day 3,7
Day 7-11 BI with transfers on day 7,11
Day 11-14 Maui with travel day 11 early and 10 pm flight to LAX day 14
Arrive at 5:30 am visiting family for 2.5 days before flight home.
By my calcs this is basically 4-4-4 days between 3 islands. Oahu is a quick stopover. Main flights locked in. Could alter inter island.
Uncfan, wish I would have had your post before making reservations on Kauai, but figure lots of time out of hotel hiking etc. we do have a Napali sunset cruise planned.
Who do you recommend? HoloHolo or Capt. Andy?
**Need lodging recs for BI and MAUI. like the Mauna Lani resort on BI but clueless on Maui. Not wild about Waikoloa Village, I think it is. Trams/boats for transport sounds like Disney. Even consider new residence inn not on beach. Westin/Kaanapoli Alli?
**best golf on BI/MAUI?
**Has anyone done the ferry to Lanai/Molokai snorkel excursion?
**Love some island special food ideas?

So this is where we are with tentative plans. Could always change but based on reading this is what we think. have been mostly using Hawaii Guide and trip advisor for reviews and this forum.
Appreciate your knowledgeable input.
On travel days we figure hop in a car and drive to something we want to do.
Beaches we will see, stop for shorter periods or on rest days, a quick snorkel, etc. we have a daughter on the FL emerald beaches, white sand, beautiful which we love to go to to just hang on a beach.
Thanks to you all. Hawaii looks very touristy, we understand, but we also enjoy private out of the way.
And yes, probably only ever trip. Our son has been to HNL before for medical conference, one of our daughters did the NCL with a group of friends to experience the islands when she lived in San Fran. They really made the most of each stop, sights and rest. She helps with planning too. This is a celebration of 41 years of marriage, a week from our kids, and the first time we have ever taken 2 weeks to go any where. So yes, this is a special trip. Now if I can keep my husband off his computer as much as possible, lol.
53MSM is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 11:27 AM
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I started reading this thread and just couldn't go through all of the back and forth on the "Island Time" debate of 2016. Haha. So sorry if I repeat something someone else said or missed something. But I too struggle with the idea of wanting my limited vacation time to be relaxing, but wanting to do all.the.things. So my advice to you is - balance it. If your husband feels strongly about VNP, it's a must-do. I personally feel Kauai is a must do. And Maui - while yes it is quite commercialized, there is a reason for that, and if this is your one and only Hawaii trip I don't see how you can miss out on that too. I would MAYBE give up one of the Maui days to BI making it 5-4-3 or 4-5-3 but either way, you'll be satisfied.

Since this is a trip of a lifetime and Hawaii is such a special place - I would try very hard to prioritize what is most important to YOU. If you don't think you would love it - skip it. For example, the Road to Hana - not my cup of tea and it takes up a whole day. To some it is a must do.

Lastly - I suggest lodging with vrbo. I'm relatively new to it, but last 3 trips used with great success. Often you can get beachfront access that hotels can't, with all the gear you need (beach towels, umbrellas, chairs, etc) that you have to pay extra for in a hotel... not to mention the savings on breakfast food and snacks!
4sammy is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 11:33 AM
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Let me add to the above - I have never been to BI so don't base any changes to your itinerary on that suggestion (like I have that much power ha).
4sammy is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 12:14 PM
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"Not wild about Waikoloa Village";
that's on the BI, 6 miles upland from Waikoloa Beach Resort (which is a very good place to base your stay).
sylvia3 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 12:21 PM
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Personally I am not wild about sunset cruises on Kauai, I far prefer the morning tours when the sea is calmer. Have been on both Holo Holo and Captain Andy and they are both good, boats, crews and food. If you have to take a sunset cruise, I would pay a few extra bucks and take the Captain Andy Southern Star boat with real hot food, no juggling paper plates, etc.
jamie99 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 02:08 PM
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4sammy, we have looked at Vrbo and frequent them in FL. Only thing is with the cleaning charges and the damage deposit they seem to be much more expensive. Plus we would like a restaurant/bar on site or close. This trip means no cooking for me.
Jamie 99 thanks for the suggestion. Only reason sunset is because my daughter recommended it. I have no pref. She thought wine, dinner and champagne would be a great treat.

Sylvia3 there are so many resorts there, do you have a fav?
53MSM is offline  
Jul 25th, 2016, 03:51 PM
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"Not wild about Waikoloa Village, I think it is. Trams/boats for transport sounds like Disney."

That's the Hilton Waikoloa Village (Big Island), and yes, it feels like Disney. IMO the Mauna Lani is a great choice. But it's on the west side of the island, 2+ hours away from VNP. It can be done as a day trip, but IMO the experience is better when you can see the glow from the crater in the dark.

If I had my druthers on Maui, I'd stay at Napili Kai Resort. Set in the northwest corner of the island on one of its best beaches, and old-school Hawaiian-ish.

Best golf? If you stay at the Mauna Lani, may as well play the south course there. We stayed in a condo overlooking this hole a couple months ago, and I've walked other parts of the course. Beautiful....
FaceInTheCrowd is offline  

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