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Planning a Trip to Hawaii: 20 Common Questions Answered

Not sure which Hawaiian island is your kind of paradise? Any island would make a memorable vacation, but not every one has that particular mix of attributes that makes it perfect for you.
Many of our members posting in the Forums are repeat visitors to the islands. As such, they have plenty of tips for first-timers regarding what’s worth splurging on (ante up for a helicopter tour) and the best ways to find everything from hotels and condos to authentic luaus that won’t break the bank. Here are a few questions that they’ve tackled in recent months.

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Pick up a copy of Fodor’s Hawaii 2009, our full-color guide, or start your search with the help of our online guides. Read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sights from other travelers.
Big Island | Oahu | Kauai | Lanai | Maui

Should we stay all 7 nights of our trip on one island?
“For 7 days, I’d also suggest one island. There’s so much to do on each island, no need to spend precious vacation time traveling to the next island. We love Kauai and the Big Island.” — posted by PeaceOut | view all responses

Any suggestions for eating out in Waikiki?
“Arancino’s italian cafe on BeachWalk is terrific (~$25 per person with a drink) for dinner. Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Co. shrimp truck parked on Kuhio between Launiu and Laiolu has excellent fresh plates for ~$12. Open 10-10. Tiki Bar & Grill or the Barefoot Bar at Hale Koa (opposite ends of Waikiki beach) are both good for happy hour.” — posted by suze | view all responses

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Will rain ruin my vacation?
“It surely can rain on any day in Hawaii but rarely do rains last all day. Here’s a website that you may find helpful.” — posted by martym | view all responses

Which airline should we take to fly between islands?
“If you prefer a larger jet go with Hawaiian (Boeing 717 or 767). Go! (Mesa) uses smaller jets: CRJ-200s. Island Air uses Turbo Props instead of jets. See” — posted by JohnD | view all responses

What’s your favorite hike on Kauai?
“I’ve also done that Pihea Trail in Waimea Canyon. If it’s raining THAT hike is very difficult (thick mud and steep climbs as you get farther into the trail). Unfortunately that’s what happened to us and we never made it to the swamp part. But we got to see brilliant rainbows thanks to the rain.” — posted by CajunStorm | view all responses

I’m exploring condo/townhouse/home rentals on the Big Island. Can I negotiate the price?
“I’ve used VRBO many times for my Hawaii trips & for the last couple, I didn’t ask for a lower price, but did indicate that I was debating between 8-10 nights & asked if I chose 10 nights, could I get a free night. Both times the owner readily agreed to give me a free night.” — posted by Mauigirl50 | view all responses

Should I go to Oahu or Kauai?
“I cannot compare the two – Kauai is romantic and slower pace and Oahu, at least Waikiki Beach, is fast and crowded. Sitting on the beach in Waikiki you get your 2 square feet of room where as Kauai you get the whole beach in some places. NOW the Other side of Oahu is much calmer and peaceful but not the abundance of hotels. I’m a Kauai girl myself. Go to Waikiki if I am with girl friends.” — posted by Shar | view all responses

Is now a good time to buy airfare to Hawaii for winter 2009?
“Keep checking daily. Our friends in San Jose were ready to pay $800 each to Maui but found tickets for $500 on the same airline but booking through a partnership airline. If you are staying at a hotel, you might find greater discounts there than with the airline. Some are giving an additional free night with hotel booking. ” — posted by offlady | view all responses

What are the must-sees on the Big Island?
“There’s a really neat place on the Big Island called Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. AMAZING place!! It will be a long drive from Waikoloa, but VERY well worth it! The museum and visitor’s center is great.” — posted by ChristieP | view all responses

Do we need to rent a car on the islands or is it better to just take taxis?
“You definitely should get a car in Maui (never been to Kauai). Things are pretty spread out, and there are a lot of things on the other side of the island from Kaanapali that are worth seeing, and I would not want to pay a cab fare every time. Even to get to Lahaina, it isn’t within walking distance to Kaanapali, and that is where most of the restaurants in that area are, except for the hotel restaurants and places like Leilani’s.” — posted by debrad149 | view all responses

What clothing should we pack for our January trip to Hawaii?
“The only place we’ve been cold in Hawaii was Volcano on the Big Island, and that was in the evenings. I would mostly pack summer clothes, a couple of pairs of pants and long sleeved shirts, a sweater/sweatshirt, swimming items, a rain jacket just in case (also can be used as windbreaker). Wear flip flops (called slippers there), and you’ll be right in with the locals.” — posted by rickandpat | view all responses

Will our family save money if we rent a condo in Maui?
“I love having a condo when in Maui…usually cheaper than a hotel, you know exactly what the room looks like, you have access to a kitchen (nice to have breakfast or lunch in the condo and keep down prices), and it’s especially nice to have a washer and dryer available.” — posted by beanweb24 | view all responses

081022_Waikiki-Philip-Dyer.jpgShould we risk checking our bags for our trip if includes a tight inter-island transfer?
“Normally if you have at least 60-75 minutes between flights your luggage will be on your flight. I’d look to see if there is a flight after the one you schedule, just in case your bags don’t make your flight. We just went through that a week ago. Our flight from the mainland was 1 hour late which means we missed our original connection. Hawaiian was ready for us and put us on the next flight to Lihue. Unfortunately, our suitcase did not make that flight but did come in about 25 minutes later on the next flight.” — posted by beth_fitz | view all responses

Do you have any suggestions for kid-friendly activities in Maui?
“The Atlantis submarine. I think the kids would really enjoy it. How often in their lives will they be able to glide 100 feet BELOW the surface of the water?!” — posted by Dewd | view all responses

We can afford one helicopter tour—where should we take it?
“Kauai. I’ve always heard that if you can only do one helicopter tour, it should be of Kauai. We had a wonderful time on our tour. A couple of days later we took a boat trip, and it was nice to see from the water some of the things we had seen from the air.” — posted by Samsaf | view all responses

We have a budget of $300 a night for our anniversary trip. Should we go to Hawaii or the Caribbean?
“I have just returned from my first trip to HI and must say you have a dilemma. We only went to the oft-maligned Oahu, and I was blown away with the variety of activities available. Have been to Mexico several times and to much of the Caribbean. From a cost perspective, you probably can’t beat an all inclusive in the Mayan Riviera. There are many all-inclusives to choose from–Palace and RIU both being highly touted.” — posted by Leonora | view all responses

Which island should we visit with a 1-year-old?
“I’ve taken infants to Oahu, Molokai and Maui. I loved them all, but I would choose Maui, especially Kaanapali Beach (not saying Wailea isn’t great, we haven’t stayed there). If you get up early, you can stroll along the beach path with the baby in the stroller. You have have coffee or breakfast at Whalers Village. It’s close to Lahaina for strolling, eating in the evenings, etc. Wherever you go, stay in a condo rather than a hotel — it just gives you so much more flexibility, even for tv-watching while the baby is sleeping/napping.” — posted by dmlove | view all responses

Should we rent a jeep on the Big Island?
“We rented a van, parents rented a car, and cousins rented a jeep. The jeep was fun but not necessary. I have to say I was not prepared for the overwhelmingness of the lava fields on the Kona side—as far as the eye can see with a few resort areas carved out of the lava (complete with imported grass).” — posted by swblouisiana | view all responses

Do you have any favorite family-friendly and budget-friendly restaurants on Oahu?
“I was ever so charmed at the Hau Tree Lanai, which is right on the beach, and you dine among gnarled old trees. There were mostly families with children when I was there, a bit early to see the sunset.” — posted by Kailani | view all responses

Cruising Hawaii—are the local tours cheaper than the ones offered on board?
“Why not just rent a car? That’s what we did at every port on our Hawaii cruise. Used our travel guides and saw what we wanted. Most of the rental car agencies have a pick up service at the ports.” — posted by patandhank | view all responses

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Start your search with the help of our online guides. Read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sights from other travelers.
Big Island | Oahu | Kauai | Lanai | Maui

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