And now for part II
of my answer..
|Quoting STT757 (Thread starter):|
This time around we are looking at either Kauai or the Big Island, my first question is how do they differ from Maui. On Maui most nights we went to Lahaina to go to dinner and walk around. Are there similar places on the Big Island or Kauai?
In a startling revelation, the Big Island is, infact, Big. You really feel the size of it when driving around. Nothing will be as close as things are in West Maui, which is a really nice set up with resorts and then a tourist town. The BI
equivalent of Lahina is a Kailua-Kona town, but that's a good 40 minutes away from the resorts you're looking at staying at. I'd definitely do a trip south for a day, hit up the coffee farms on the higher roads, go down to Place of Refuge, than come back up through town and along the coast. Nice day.
As far as up around the Kohala resort area, each little cluster of resorts has its own shopping/dining complex which gives plenty of options for convenience. Not the most exotic or distinctive setting, but that's the place for a meal in a pinch as you're a good 30 minutes from other towns. There are a couple nice towns up that way. Waimea (Kamula) is a real cool place that's a Hawaiian version of a cowboy town, up a couple thousand feet from the beaches. Lots of cattle raising up there to this day, and lots of great/interesting/local joints to eat there, and on a clear day it is really beautiful to drive around the green lands of the Parker ranch. You feel a long way from 'Hawaii', but it's very nice. If you're not going around to Hilo (which I also like) , at least drive the twists and turns of the Old Mamalahoa Highway up to Honoka'a, and then the Waipio valley lookout.
The small town at the tip of the Kohala peninsula is Hawi. A few iconic restaurants- Bamboo and a good ice cream place, are noteworthy. Up there is also the beautiful Kololu Valley lookout and/or strenuous hike way down to the beach.
Kauai is a bit more complicated to explain, and everything revolves around the one (incomplete) ring road that circles the Island. The nice town that you will frequent to get out of the resort will depend on where you stay, Koloa in the south, Hanalei in the north, or the busier Lihue/Kapaa areas in between. While the island is small, it does take more time to get places than you think, and traffic can be surprisingly bad when you're going to different parts of the island. But no matter if you stay north or south, you'll largely be away from that in a very idyllic and quiet setting, either way.
Also, depending on how long your stay will be, I'd strongly suggest splitting up the trip to a few different areas whichever Island you choose. North Kauai/South Kauai, Hawaii, swinging over to Hilo side and Volcano for a few nights, etc.
[Edited 2012-06-26 16:03:55]