Touchdown99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2737 times:
A Question for those who have been to the various Hawaiian islands:
I am thinking of going to Hawaii at the end of March / early in April as some very good Fly & Drive deals from Germany are on offer by United. The package includes a rental car for 13 days on three of the islands + 2 free inter-island flights on Aloha + a free stopover on the mainland.
7 days on Big Island and 3 days on Oahu are fixed, but one has a choice for the remaining three days between Kauai and Maui. I have only been to Oahu about 10 years ago (yeah yeah, those lovely Hawaiian DC10-10s !!), so I really don't know whether I should go for Kauai or Maui. What are the pros and cons of the two ?
Also, when going to Big Island, which part is recommended ? The Hilo or the Kona area ? While there are only direct flights from the mainland to Kona, I could also opt for a connection to Hilo via HNL.
How in general is the situation on the islands if one does not have a pre-booked hotel package ? Is it possible to find reasonably priced accommodation on the islands or should I book in advance ?
ANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 2719 times:
I'd have to pick Kauai also. Maui is fine, but is so over-populated with tourists these days, especially the time frame you're talking about.
There are no main-land flights to Hilo even though the airport was rebuilt some time ago to accommodate them. If I remember correctly, UA paid for some of the airport refurbishment and for a while in fact flew there nonstop from the states. Both sides of the island have their unique beauties. The Kona side is the real tourist side. The Hilo side, even though it gets more rain is, IMO, prettier. On the Hilo side you can go to Akaka Falls, very huge waterfall. And it's also the side of the island with Volcano National Park. That is something you shouldn't miss unless of course you have seen it before.
I get to Hawaii twice a year, whether I need it or not, it's a nice break from Alaska weather, and the fares from here aren't bad. Enjoy your trip!
Another suggestion, if you must do 10 days on Oahu, nothing is preventing you from taking day trip off the island I'll bet. Often the tour companies can arrange for day trips to other islands that include airfare and a car. So you might want to consider that wile you're there.
GuitrThree From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1988 posts, RR: 9 Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 2719 times:
If you want to experience the big city on a tropical island.. do the rest...
but if you want to experience Hawaii like it should be, spend your time at Kauai... I see you are splitting three days between it and Maui.... you will be sorry...
It took two separate trips to see all of Kauai's beauty... first trip was 5 nights 6 days and went to the coast of the east and north, and just past the airport to the south.. did the helicopter, luau, snorkeling...
Next trip was also 5 nights, 6 days... did south coast, and west coast, Dinner cruise up past the Naval Base and to the Napali coast.. also drove up the mountains and viewed the "Grand Canyon of Hawaii." After these two trips we finally saw it all...
Recommend the helicopter tour and eating at all the family restaurants.. they have the normal fast food choices, but none of the bigger types as we have here in the mainland, such as Chili's, Applebee's, etc... And that is a GREAT thing...
Kauai is the most natural island. Plus, the added benefit is that landing in the UA 757 on that short runway... 2nd trip was a heavy crosswind one-wheel landing... ahhhh. I thanked the pilot for the fun landing!
Did you know Taylor Swift has a STAR to BNA named after her? No, I'm not kidding.
Touchdown99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2712 times:
Thanks for the input so far and keep the comments rolling in ! It has already been really helpful.
Well, if I could, I would certainly give Oahu a miss as I have been there before and it is quite over-populated. But that is the package deal (and it will probably entertain the better half who has not been there before and will certainly indulge in some pre-departure shopping in Honululu and Waikiki).
As I see it, it is Kauai 3 Maui 0 at the moment.
Is it worth spending 7 days on Big Island ? Does one get around easily or are the roads time-consumig ? We could always take a flight from there to Maui for a day or two, just for the sake of having seen it (not sure if I will ever have the opportunity to go there again - pretty far away...), but it is difficult to decide whether two more days on Big Island would be the better choice.
ANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2710 times:
The big island is truly, "the big island". The drive from the Kona side to the Hilo side (without crossing the top of island*) can be time consuming but isn't bad . . . 4-5 hours.
*Crossing the top of the island with a rental car is forbidden (or it used to be) by the rental car companies. The road is not in the best of shape. It can (and has ) been done.
Seven days on the big island is okay, if you plan to spend three of them relaxing and doing nothing. That is of course what vacations are for. If you want to "expedite" the sight seeing and get back on a plane, you'll need no more than 4 days to see it all . . . . please don't miss Volcano Park. It is easily a full day adventure and very well worth your time and energy.
I agree, I would skip Oahu if I could. I have many friends there (Ohana - family - they adopted me) so I always stop for a few days to visit. But generally, I go to Hilo on the big island (slower pace, quieter) or Kauai.
ScarletHarlot From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 4673 posts, RR: 59 Reply 8, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 2701 times:
Seven days on the Big Island - you'll have plenty to do to fill those seven days. Spend at least two days at Kilauea. If you can, stay at Volcano House overnight one night. Kilauea was absolutely amazing.
We stayed north of Kona too and that was great. I can't wait to go back to the Big Island. We had seven days there in total and it wasn't nearly enough.
174thfwff From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2677 times:
I've been to Kauai and it's fantastic! I stayed in the Holiday Inn Sunspree for a week, then went over to the Hyatt Regency Kauai for another week which was very, very nice. All in all make sure you rent scuba gear or at least snorkel equipment as there is a lot to Hawaii that's under the water. Second, stop at Bubba's Burger because it's a great burger joint. We went to some kayak place and went up and down the river, and at the end you could hike up and see waterfalls. It was relaxing to say the least.
One really funny thing on that island I noticed is that there aren't any squirrels, but wild chickens. Chickens are all over the place!
If you can, try for an Air Tour as there is a lot to see up there!
GuitrThree From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1988 posts, RR: 9 Reply 11, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2671 times:
One really funny thing on that island I noticed is that there aren't any squirrels, but wild chickens. Chickens are all over the place!
Funny thing.. the one time I didn't carry the camera, there was one of these chickens running around the Lihue Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant's parking lot...
That would have been a good shot....
Oh yea.. I made some recommendations a few posts back, but I forgot one.. went on a Dinner Cruise from the south all the way to the Napoli coast and wow... Not only was the coast unbelievable, but the weather was great (September), food was good, lots of Free Alcohol (if that's your thing, but NO ONE got drunk), didn't see any dolphins but did get to see some flying fish, and we got to see the Navy practicing picking people up out of the water using helicopters....
We used Captain Andy's but there are a few more that I heard were good too.. Left at about 3:30 got back around 8:30 or so. Really nice 5 hours...
bring your camera with a BIG memory card.
Did you know Taylor Swift has a STAR to BNA named after her? No, I'm not kidding.
Airlinerfreak From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 12, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2671 times:
I say go to Kauai as it is the best island and the least populated by tourists. Maui would be my second choice only because there are more people there. But I stay go to Kauai and you will have a nice and relaxing vacation. Make sure to write a trip report!!
Superfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 38506 posts, RR: 80 Reply 13, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2666 times:
Touchdown99: Also, when going to Big Island, which part is recommended ? The Hilo or the Kona area ?
HILO, HILO, HILO, HiILO!!!!!!!!
I LOVE HILO!
That city is paradise!
We stayed at the Hilo Seaside hotel at 87 Banyan. I like the East Side of the Big Island because that's where the tropical rain forest are. You see some of the most spectacular rainbows and sunrises. I love the lush forest and waterfalls (Akaka Falls) and sugarcane feilds.
Kono is just a scaled down Waikiki Beach (HNL). Make sure you get a rental car and drive up to Mauna Kea and also the Volcanos.
The Hamakua Coastline is amazing!
Also the locals in Hilo are really nice.
I personally liked this hotel because it looked like nothing has changed since 1972.
But it's very clean.
I'd recommend getting a hotel room with a kitchen and find a grocery store. The restaurants there are way overpriced and the portions are small.
That is if your not on Oahu. Only Honolulu has the cheap eats.
Is there any way you can get to Molokai?
I loved that small island too!
You can get a Dash 8 100 experience going there.
ANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 14, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2660 times:
Superfly is exactly right - the Hilo side is much more "Hawaiian" . . . beats the canned, Oahu/Waikiki imitation you'll get in Kona. Drive the coast north as far as you can. Stop in the small towns along the way.
Drive south to South Point - southern tip of the island, and take the little road down to the tip. Interestingly, I found this kind of "spooky". I had this big Lincoln Town car, and I got the impression I was heading down hill the whole time . . . the road got narrower and narrower, and then bang! No more road, just ocean. No beach there, just the end of the road with a small park and place to launch boats - with a crane (since there's no beach). Lots of huge wind mills (power generation) on the way down that road.
Banyan Tree drive in Hilo is unique in that each Banyan tree was planted by some sort of celebrity - be it an actor, president, etc.
Go to Kona if you want a miniature Honolulu . . .
Molokai is really off the beaten path.
There are so many places to go, and so much to see, too bad your stuck on Oahu for 10 days.
Corey07850 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2519 posts, RR: 5 Reply 15, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2653 times:
Stay at the Hyatt Regency Kauai and you won't be disappointed... Captain Andy's catamaran (amazing), do the helicopter tour, the canyon is cool but you can just catch it on the way to the marina. Be sure to get some Coconut syrup from the k-mart or whatever and bring it home.
If you stay at the Hyatt Regency, don't eat at the breakfast buffet, but rather at the golf course clubhouse... We were literally the only ones there for breakfast at around 8:00 and the food was outrageous...
On the other hand Maui has tons and tons of stuff to do (much more than Kauai) ... Kauai is good for scenery and relaxing, but there is very little to do otherwise... Maui has gorgeous beaches, great shopping (Whaler's Village Ka'annapali), Maui Ocean center aquarium, helicopter tours, catamaran sails, Mt. Haleakala volcano, Lahaina which is a great upscale shopping and eating area (Ruth's Chris is great as well as some Chicago Pizza Place)... If you do stay on Maui be sure to check out the Luau at the Hyatt Regency (I think it's called Drums of Paradise or something like that)...
The deal sounds cool, but if I were you I would look up what it would cost to go to just Maui or Kauai (or both?)... Oahu and the big island are nothing compared to either...
Superfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 38506 posts, RR: 80 Reply 16, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2654 times:
.....too bad your stuck on Oahu for 10 days.
Well on the bright side Waikiki Beach has lots of all you can eat buffets and .95 Mai Tai.
That came in handy towards the end of our trip. We were broke!
Most of our money went to food.
I never forget when I paid $25.00 for a small chicken breast and celery stick!
I was pissed!
VSLover From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 1886 posts, RR: 24 Reply 17, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2652 times:
if you want to experience an island that is truly and seemingly untouched--kauai is perfect. the natural landscape is nothing short of breathtaking from the south of the island up north to the princeville area. the canyons and waterfalls are spectacular and it is easy to at least get a chance to see much of this in a few days (not that big an island) if you recall the movie jurassic park, a lot of the landscapes were shot in kauai. just watch out for the chickens. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.
the big island is great. my family has a house in the mauna kea area north of kailua-kona (named after the volcano). when you ask which is better: kona or hilo, well you need to first understand the two are very different from one another. hilo is lush, and tropical. much more of a city/large town. kona is dry, warm and not as populated/more spread out. of course regardless of which side you stay on, you can easily drive to the other side and back in a day. a long day, yes...but it is doable. there is only one road that circles the entire island with plenty of stops on the north end of the island and on the south end there is literally nothing to see or do or even anyplace to stop between the volcano national park and kona (well there is a great place for sweet bread at the Punaluu Bakery in the town of Na'alehu very hard to miss). as for the volcano national park, be dressed to walk across a few miles of lava field if you want to walk right up to active lava flows. proper shoes, clothes, and water...because you will have to walk there and then walk back. there is also the mauna loa macadamia nut factory south of hilo which is the worlds largest producer of macadamia nuts.
there are also so many stops here and there and so many other canyons of remarkable beauty i could go on and on and on.
Aloha73G From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2301 posts, RR: 5 Reply 18, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2643 times:
Born and raised in Hawai'i, I've been to all 6 islands that you can visit atleast 3 times.
O'ahu: I've lived here my whole life and it bothers me that most tourists think of it just as a big city. O'ahu has all the natural beauty of the other islands, but alot of it is utilized less because it is overlooked...most notably HIKING trails. The botanical gardens, the Ko'olau Mountains and less used beaches (Lanikai, Waimanalo, & Kailua ) are great. If you stay at Turtle Bay on the North Shore (hotel was just renovated and is fabulous) you won't feel at all like you are on an island with 1,000,000 people. Also, Ko Olina on the West Side is great--it is near the approach for HNL so you see alot of planes flying overhead. Waikiki has changed ALOT in the last 10 years in a VERY GOOD way. I think O'ahu gets a bad rap from people who dont venture out much from the 'urban core.' Outside of Waikiki O'ahu is not very touristy at all.
Maui: My mom was born and raised here, so I have alot fo family there. It is a great island. One of my favorite places in the world is the Kula/Makawao area on the way up to Haleakala. Also, hiking in Haleakala is a life-altering experience. The Maui has ALOT of excellent local food items on available there: the Portuguese sweet bread buns from the Ladies of the Holy Ghost Church, the cream puffs in Makawao, and Azeka's ribs (Korean Style) in Kihei. The road to Hana is BEAUTIFUL....remember as my aunt says, "It's not Hana its the road TO Hana that's cool." If you spend time exploring upcountry Maui (Pukalani, Makawao, Kula) there are alot of amazing inns, art gallerys, gardens, farms etc. I strongly reccomend Maui, but I am biased.
Hawai'i (Big Island): My dad's home island--He was born in Hilo. I agree Hilo is way better than Kona. The area around Hilo is beautiful. The Hamakua Coast, Waipi'o Valley, Akaka Falls etc. are very nice. Obviously, the volcano is AMAZING--more hiking. The rainforests aroudn teh park are incredible. If you keep headed over the volcano to South Point stop in Na'alehu for some great food and at the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach near Pahala. South Point (Ka Lae) itself is amazing. I went there for the first time last July and was blown away. You stand on these cliffs about 40 feet above the water and you can see fish swimming since the water is so clear. The cliff is an over hang, and there are ladders to climb back up if you choose to jump in as I wanted to. Driving around the Big Island is possible in a day w/ minimal stops and is quite intersting to see the changes in geography and climate. Kona is touristy and HOT, but the airport is worth the flight in (no jetways). Waimea/Kamuela int he center of the island is beautiful. Also, the "Saddle Road" the previously mentioned shortcut from Hilo to Kona is BEAUTIFUL, and very lightly traveled.
Kaua'i: My aunt lived here for many years. Along with O'ahu it has the best beaches due to its age. The Waimea Canyon and Na Pali coast are World Wonders and both home to MANY amazing hiking trails (Hanakapiai Falls, Koke'e State Park, Alaka'i Swamp). The touristy areas are just as touristy as O'ahu, Maui or Kona. Like all the islands, each area has a different feel because of geography and weather and it worth it to see them all. Again I like to point out that Kaua'i has the best beaches....Maui's suck compared to O'ahu and Kaua'i (it's all about age). But the Na Pali Coast and the Canyon are VERY worthwhile.
Moloka'i: The "Most Hawaiian Isle" This island is the least touristy. The Kalaupapa peninsula is very cool (former leper colony) and the North Coast of Moloka'i is hoem to the highest sea cliffs in the world. The south coast has the town which is very cute and alot fo ancient fish ponds. The West Side is home to Moloka'i Ranch for those who like luxury camping. There are also quite a few nice beaches on the West side.
Lana'i: Another Aunt lives here. It has 2 amazingly luxurious hotels and amazing beaches. Shipwreck beack on the northeast side is my personal favorite. The cave diving here is very well known. The town is very cute and has a different feel from most places in Hawa'i since it is at higher elevation and not near the water. The beaches are very un-crowded and very beautiful since you can see Maui and Moloka'i.
You can reach both Moloka'i and Lana'i from Maui by ferry.
Here are population figures for each island for comparative purposes:
O'ahu: 900,000 (600 sq. miles)
Hawai'i: 158,000 (4,028 sq. miles)
Maui: 125,000 (727 sq. miles)
Kaua'i: 60,000 (552 sq. miles)
Moloka'i: 8,000 (260 sq. miles)
Lana'i: 3,200 (141 sq. miles)
So basically I say every island is great and I advocate visiting them all for atleast a week. I hope the info I wrote will help you choose which island you want to go to first.
Email me if you have any questions!
Aloha Airlines - The Spirit Moves Us. Gone but NEVER Forgotten. Aloha, A Hui Hou!
Touchdown99 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 19, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2629 times:
Wooow, thanks for all the information. It has been very helpful so far indeed.
As for the accommodation aspect: When travelling the US mainland I am somewhat used to just look around for available accommodation on the spot in order to give me maximum flexibility where and when to go. Is it wise to pre-book accommodation on Hawaii because of limited availability, particularily on Big Island and Kauai ?
P.S.: By the way, I would be on Oahu only for 3 days. Big Island would be 7 days, Kauai or Maui another 3 days (I could, however, always add a day or two here or there).
Hawaiian717 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3091 posts, RR: 8 Reply 23, posted (8 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2599 times:
With 7 days on the Big Island, I'd consider splitting the time between the Hilo side and the Kona side. Hilo is lush, and much more convenient to the volcano and thus a better base to see that. I'd recommend a helicopter tour of the volcano, it's a great way to see the lava flowing. Do this out of Hilo, since it's closer you'll spend less time in transit and more time looking at the lava.
As far as Hilo hotels go, the Hilo Seaside that Superfly mentioned isn't bad, but the Hawaii Naniloa and Hilo Hawaiian are better. Cafe Pesto in downtown Hilo has good food.
I'd consider the Kona side more for the relaxing/sunbathing part of the trip. There are some things to see over there though, a few historic sites as well as several coffee plantations (they're all mostly the same, so you really only need to visit one or two). There are several large resorts north of Kona; on the South Kohala coast in the general vicinity of Waikoloa. There are also some hotels in Kona itself.
I wouldn't wait until I get there to do the hotels. You never know when there's going to be some event that will fill things up, and there isn't an abundance of well known economy chains that you can be pretty sure to get a decent room and a good price. Specifically, there are none. I'd recommend planning ahead.
I'd definitely do Kauai over Maui.
Another thing I would recommend trying to do is take an Atlantis Submarine ride. Off hand, I know they do them from Kona and Waikiki.