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Hawaii - How to decide which islands?!

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jcrow

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so, dh and i are headed to hawaii for our 2nd anniversary!! super super excited but oy,i''m having such a hard time planning it. i''ve read nearly every hawaiian thread on ps and i still feel like i can''t quite grasp which islands to see. we''re only going to be able to go for 7-8 days which doesn''t leave a ton of time for island hopping. but since it''s not our honeymoon, i want to take it all in and not just rest & relax, you know?

i figured we can take in 3 islands. i know it''s a lot, but i think we can do it.

hotels:
2 nights - oahu - the royal hawaiian (hilton)
2 nights - big island - four seasons or mauna kea??
3 nights - maui or kauai... maui - Fairmont Kea Lani or westin in ka''anapali or Wailea at the Four Seasons, kauai - grand hyatt

activites:
oahu -
polynesian cultural center
eat malasadas
hiking diamondhead

big island -
star gazing at Mauna Kea
lava & valcanos
sea turtles in kiholo bay

maui -
sunrise from haleakala creater
helicopter tour on blue hawaii
whaler''s village
lavender farm
mama''s fish house
road to hana

kauai -
whale watching via boat
dinner at the beach house
see na pali coast
shaved ice at matsumoto''s
see the sea turtles
helicopter ride
hike waimea canyon
queen''s bathtub
spouting horn

questions:
1- where to stay on big island? there were a couple of recs for mauna kea & four seasons anything else i''m missing?

2- is kauai the only place to do whale watching or do the other islands have this as well?

3- anything else i''m missing? other recommendations?
 

Skippy123

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Jcrow, when are you going? Whale watching maybe out of season? Very exciting!
 

jcrow

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I think whale watching is from late November to mid-April. so, we should have a shot.

and with that, i just answered Q #2.

"Whales may be viewed from all the Hawaiian islands, but most of the whales congregate in the waters off Maui, particularly along the south and western shores (between Wailea, Kihei, Lahaina and Ka'anapali.

The Big Island’s Kona Coast, with deep waters close to its lee shores, is also fertile territory for whale sightings."

link
 

swingirl

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If you plan on doing all that on Maui you will be doing a lot of driving. It doesn't sound like you are interested in spending any beach or ocean time. How will you be getting from island to island? You will be very busy. I prefer some downtime in Hawaii to just enjoy the beauty. But you can't go wrong with any of those islands and activities. It would take me a month to do all of those, though.
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/22/2008 11:25:30 PM
Author: swingirl
If you plan on doing all that on Maui you will be doing a lot of driving. It doesn''t sound like you are interested in spending any beach or ocean time. How will you be getting from island to island? You will be very busy. I prefer some downtime in Hawaii to just enjoy the beauty. But you can''t go wrong with any of those islands and activities. It would take me a month to do all of those, though.

good point. i guess it''s just an outline of what''s available. doesn''t mean we necessarily have to do all of that.
 

Skippy123

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Jcrow, I would pick 2 islands; I agree w/Swingirl, that is a lot to do plus it takes time at the rental car places and airports, just my 2 cents.
Oh, you are there during whale season, yay!!!
 

jcrow

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akk two islands? this is sooo hard.

maybe one night in oahu instead of 2? i know.. that''s not really cutting out an island.
 

Skippy123

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Date: 6/22/2008 11:33:28 PM
Author: jcrow
akk two islands? this is sooo hard.

maybe one night in oahu instead of 2? i know.. that''s not really cutting out an island.
It is super hard; I was in your position at one time, but you don''t want to feel rushed. You should have seen me; I talked to every friend and relative about where to go. hehe Can you check out the Hawaii Revealed Series at your Library and look at those to help you decide???
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/22/2008 11:36:54 PM
Author: Skippy123
Date: 6/22/2008 11:33:28 PM

Author: jcrow

akk two islands? this is sooo hard.

maybe one night in oahu instead of 2? i know.. that''s not really cutting out an island.
It is super hard; I was in your position at one time, but you don''t want to feel rushed. You should have seen me; I talked to every friend and relative about where to go. hehe Can you check out the Hawaii Revealed Series at your Library and look at those to help you decide???
yes. i''m going to order them.
 

jcrow

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and i hear you on the whole feeling rushed thing.

i''m just worried that this is our one shot at hawaii.
and if it is, what are the things that we shouldn''t miss?
 

gailrmv

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JCrow, we went to Maui and Kauai (I know I am mispelling that) for our honeymoon and loved both. I hope to go back sometime, and I think I would do the exact same islands! We had 10 days and it was perfect, not rushed at all. If I were you I would not try to do more than 2 in a week. I've heard several people disappointed with the real crowded island where Waikiki is (the big island?) because they said it was too crowded. That's not one where I plan to visit.
 

blushingbride

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Hi Jcrow - DH and I spent our honeymoon in Maui and stayed at the Four Seasons (we went for 12 days)....we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it there!!!
It was beyond amazing and the service was impeccable! I highly recommend staying there...it's a great location (within walking distance to the shops at Wailea
), not to mention it's absolutely gorgeous!

The have a fabulous spa and while you are laying out by the pool, the attendants come by and spritz you with Evian water, offer fruit, popsicles (DH's favorite part) and massages! It was by far the most beautiful and relaxing hotel we've ever stayed at.

Oh, and if you go to Maui, you MUST watch the sunrise at the top of the Haleakula volcano - it's simply heavenly!!! You have to wake-up at 2:00 AM in order to have enough time to get up there (it's 10,000 ft. above sea level), but it's once in a lifetime so, it's worth it. The Four Seasons made our arrangements for us - we went with a bike tour in which we got to bike down the volcano after the sunrise - that was a whole experience in itself!
 

Rosebud8506

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jcrow, I saw an article in our paper over the weekend and it says that the Royal Hawaiian is going through a major renovation until 12/31/08 - so they are temporarily closed.



I second Oahu and Maui (Wailea to be exact) if you want to go for the ultimate in luxury on Maui.

Enjoy your 2nd anni!! Hawaii is beautiful!!!
 

Irishgrrrl

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JCrow, have you considered a cruise? DH and I are hoping to do a cruise through Hawaii someday . . . that way we''ll get to see a lot more of the islands, and we won''t have to worry about getting from island to island, switching hotels, etc. Whatever you wind up doing, I''m sure you''ll have a great time!!!
 

KimberlyH

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I''ve been to Maui and Oahu and both were amazing. DH has been to both those islands as well as Kauai and while he enjoyed Kauai it was his least favorite of the three. The Royal Hawaiian is an amazing hotel, you should really enjoy your stay there. I can''t remember the hotel we stayed at in Maui, but I remember it being nice. I think for 7-8 days I would only go to two islands, just sitting at the beach, enjoying how beautiful it all is is a must do. Good luck choosing!
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/23/2008 9:50:00 AM
Author: Rosebud8506
jcrow, I saw an article in our paper over the weekend and it says that the Royal Hawaiian is going through a major renovation until 12/31/08 - so they are temporarily closed.

I second Oahu and Maui (Wailea to be exact) if you want to go for the ultimate in luxury on Maui.

Enjoy your 2nd anni!! Hawaii is beautiful!!!

eeks! i had NO idea! thank you!
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/23/2008 9:40:54 AM
Author: blushingbride
Hi Jcrow - DH and I spent our honeymoon in Maui and stayed at the Four Seasons (we went for 12 days)....we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it there!!!
It was beyond amazing and the service was impeccable! I highly recommend staying there...it''s a great location (within walking distance to the shops at Wailea
), not to mention it''s absolutely gorgeous!

The have a fabulous spa and while you are laying out by the pool, the attendants come by and spritz you with Evian water, offer fruit, popsicles (DH''s favorite part) and massages! It was by far the most beautiful and relaxing hotel we''ve ever stayed at.

Oh, and if you go to Maui, you MUST watch the sunrise at the top of the Haleakula volcano - it''s simply heavenly!!! You have to wake-up at 2:00 AM in order to have enough time to get up there (it''s 10,000 ft. above sea level), but it''s once in a lifetime so, it''s worth it. The Four Seasons made our arrangements for us - we went with a bike tour in which we got to bike down the volcano after the sunrise - that was a whole experience in itself!
another vote for four seasons - check!
the bike ride, is that the scary one?
 

blushingbride

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Date: 6/23/2008 10:52:55 AM
Author: jcrow

Date: 6/23/2008 9:40:54 AM
Author: blushingbride
Hi Jcrow - DH and I spent our honeymoon in Maui and stayed at the Four Seasons (we went for 12 days)....we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it there!!!
It was beyond amazing and the service was impeccable! I highly recommend staying there...it''s a great location (within walking distance to the shops at Wailea
), not to mention it''s absolutely gorgeous!

The have a fabulous spa and while you are laying out by the pool, the attendants come by and spritz you with Evian water, offer fruit, popsicles (DH''s favorite part) and massages! It was by far the most beautiful and relaxing hotel we''ve ever stayed at.

Oh, and if you go to Maui, you MUST watch the sunrise at the top of the Haleakula volcano - it''s simply heavenly!!! You have to wake-up at 2:00 AM in order to have enough time to get up there (it''s 10,000 ft. above sea level), but it''s once in a lifetime so, it''s worth it. The Four Seasons made our arrangements for us - we went with a bike tour in which we got to bike down the volcano after the sunrise - that was a whole experience in itself!
another vote for four seasons - check!
the bike ride, is that the scary one?
LOL...you know I''m petrified of heights
and the ONLY reason I agreed to do it was because one of my best friends had done it on her honeymoon and she''s as much as a wus as I am so, I thought, if she can do it, I can. Plus, I saw her pictures and it was truly one of the most spectacular sights I''d ever seen. You''re literally above the clouds, on a volcano watching the sunrise...does it get more romantic than that?


The bike ride itself was completely safe. You have a guide in the front and then ride single file all the way down (the women lead the pack with the men following behind) and another guide brings up the rear and follows everyone down in the van (you can hop back in the van and ride down the remainder of the way at any point if you feel scared or tired). The roads are paved and very smooth...you glide down the entire way, stopping for pictures and the occasional car...but I think we may have peddled once the whole way down. It''s so cool...I highly recommend it to anyone going to Maui. It''s something DH and I still talk about to this day and will never forget!
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/23/2008 11:03:14 AM
Author: blushingbride
Date: 6/23/2008 10:52:55 AM

Author: jcrow


Date: 6/23/2008 9:40:54 AM

Author: blushingbride

Hi Jcrow - DH and I spent our honeymoon in Maui and stayed at the Four Seasons (we went for 12 days)....we LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it there!!!
It was beyond amazing and the service was impeccable! I highly recommend staying there...it''s a great location (within walking distance to the shops at Wailea
), not to mention it''s absolutely gorgeous!


The have a fabulous spa and while you are laying out by the pool, the attendants come by and spritz you with Evian water, offer fruit, popsicles (DH''s favorite part) and massages! It was by far the most beautiful and relaxing hotel we''ve ever stayed at.


Oh, and if you go to Maui, you MUST watch the sunrise at the top of the Haleakula volcano - it''s simply heavenly!!! You have to wake-up at 2:00 AM in order to have enough time to get up there (it''s 10,000 ft. above sea level), but it''s once in a lifetime so, it''s worth it. The Four Seasons made our arrangements for us - we went with a bike tour in which we got to bike down the volcano after the sunrise - that was a whole experience in itself!

another vote for four seasons - check!

the bike ride, is that the scary one?
LOL...you know I''m petrified of heights
and the ONLY reason I agreed to do it was because one of my best friends had done it on her honeymoon and she''s as much as a wus as I am so, I thought, if she can do it, I can. Plus, I saw her pictures and it was truly one of the most spectacular sights I''d ever seen. You''re literally above the clouds, on a volcano watching the sunrise...does it get more romantic than that?


The bike ride itself was completely safe. You have a guide in the front and then ride single file all the way down (the women lead the pack with the men following behind) and another guide brings up the rear and follows everyone down in the van (you can hop back in the van and ride down the remainder of the way at any point if you feel scared or tired). The roads are paved and very smooth...you glide down the entire way, stopping for pictures and the occasional car...but I think we may have peddled once the whole way down. It''s so cool...I highly recommend it to anyone going to Maui. It''s something DH and I still talk about to this day and will never forget!
ok. cool. wanted to be sure it was the scary bike ride. the one where ppl have died

that one for sure is not for me! plus i think tgal said something about it being canceled anyway.
 

blushingbride

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To be honest, the only thing that was really scary to me was driving on the road to Hana (it''s also something you MUST do - so be sure to rent a convertable!). The road was narrow (but paved) and it took some getting used to - driving it on the way back we were old pro''s but, I was a scared in the beginning. Have you heard about this? The road takes you to some really remote areas of the island - great for taking in the beauty that is Hawaii - this is where you''ll see waterfalls, etc.
 

jcrow

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blushing bride -yes, although i'm a scaredy-cat it's on my list for maui. did you stay in hana?
 

jcrow

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ok, so i think we can nix oahu if we can take in the polynesian cultural center the last day of our trip. our flight isn''t until night so maybe we can do that during the day? except, what the heck do we do with our luggage?
 

fleur-de-lis

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Hi JCrow! I''ve been to the islands a handful of times and island-hopped on each of my trips. If I had to summarize the majors:

Oahu-- *GREAT shopping*, Honolulu itself is very paved/crowded with cars so its not lovely, but has a retro/cheesy appeal; it''s a very international island with an interesting history
Kauai-- if you dream of waterfalls and rainbows, north shore Kauai is where to go; lovely slow pace, nice snorkeling/hiking
Kona (big island)-- most agrarian, lower %age of tourists than other islands, volcano-related stuff is cool and more opportunities to ATV if you''re into that
Lanai-- great for the 5-star resort experience; fewer off-property activity options than the other islands
Maui-- the blend of all of the above: good hotels/shopping, great variety of activities, good tanning beaches, good topographical difference all in one place (though "great" shopping is Oahu, "great" relaxation is Kauai, "great" resort Lanai, etc.)-- it''s what I image Honolulu was like in the 1950s

I find the greatest charm of Hawaii comes from it''s ability to get you to unwind and enjoy the moment. If you''re going to the airport every other day, I doubt you''d really achieve the Hawaii-nirvana, you know? With 8-10 days, I''d recommend the following:
1) one week on one island, then a 2-night "taste" of another island, --OR--
2) if you absolutely positively must see 3 islands, I''d still only book overnights on two islands, and do a 14-hour sightseeing trip to sightsee on the third; there are companies that specialize on daytrips from Oahu to see the volcano fields on Kona or up to the top of Haleakala and dining in Lahaina on Maui


As for my specific experience, my last few trips have consisted of a F-F week on Kauai in Princeville followed by a F-M long weekend on Waikiki beach for shopping, outlandish automobile renting (Lamborgini, anyone?), and having fruity drinks brought to us poolside for hours as we toast ourselves to a retro-chic burnt umber. Due to nostalgia, we''ve taken to staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but if you do, it is *definitely* worth it to upgrade to the Ali''i tower. Not only are the suites far nicer, but you can bypass all the madness at the main desk, it''s the closest to the ocean, and it has a private pool and bar (with complimentary appetizers for guests each evening) for guests of the Ali''i tower only. (Also, if you want to bring back a Louis Vuitton trinket, there is an LV branch on the resort whose prices are lower than on the mainland.)

Based on my experiences, my advice would be to book a week on whichever "other" island matches your closest image of Hawaii (lush/green/waterfalls=Kauai, luxury exclusive resort=Lanai, activity-loving boat tours/drive to Hana/bike Haleakala=Maui) and then hit Oahu for a couple of days of shopping/dining/touristy things before heading out. If you would like any specific info, just ask-- I''d love to help!
 

jcrow

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fleur - it make take me a minute to fully digest your info (thank you thank you thank you for your imput!!) but . . .

i hadn''t thought about a day trip. that''s probably exactly what we are looking for. i really want to take in the lava & volcanoes on the big island, but not necessarily stay there overnight. i hadn''t even thought about the option of a day trip. i will look further into it!

i hadn''t even considered Lanai, but 5-star resort definitely has my ears perked. will look further into that as well.

again thank you! lots of points i hadn''t thought about and they way you broke down the islands and info is very helpful!
 

blushingbride

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Date: 6/23/2008 2:05:25 PM
Author: jcrow
blushing bride -yes, although i''m a scaredy-cat it''s on my list for maui. did you stay in hana?
No...we didn''t stay there since it''s really out in the boons. Although, there was a lovely hotel there if you were interested. It used to be that you could do the road to Hana and continue driving all the way back to Wailea, but a hurricane knocked out some of the bridges so, you have turn around at somepoint and drive back the same way you came - which was actually cool because it allowed us to stop at some places that were too crowded to stop on the trip to Hana. We actually drove about an hour past Hana to see some additional waterfalls, etc. The Four Seasons concierge gave us all the mile markers to look out for along the way to ensure we didn''t miss anything like the eucalyptus trees, photo ops, etc.
 

jcrow

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Date: 6/23/2008 2:33:00 PM
Author: blushingbride
Date: 6/23/2008 2:05:25 PM

Author: jcrow

blushing bride -yes, although i''m a scaredy-cat it''s on my list for maui. did you stay in hana?
No...we didn''t stay there since it''s really out in the boons. Although, there was a lovely hotel there if you were interested. It used to be that you could do the road to Hana and continue driving all the way back to Wailea, but a hurricane knocked out some of the bridges so, you have turn around at somepoint and drive back the same way you came - which was actually cool because it allowed us to stop at some places that were too crowded to stop on the trip to Hana. We actually drove about an hour past Hana to see some additional waterfalls, etc. The Four Seasons concierge gave us all the mile markers to look out for along the way to ensure we didn''t miss anything like the eucalyptus trees, photo ops, etc.
very good to know. thank you!
 

Fly Girl

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We did two islands, Maui and Big Island. We stayed at a B&B, because we wanted to see Hawaii, not just a resort and other tourists. We definitely achieved at goal by staying at a B&B. Hookena Beach is a county park with a natural black sand beach. Here are the locals, just hanging out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We toured a coffee farm, purchased macademia nuts from a guy selling them out of the trunk of his car, toured the volcanoes, and spent plenty of time just hanging out.

Hookena.jpg
 
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