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Best advice for Hawaii?

Posted by mtnrdredux (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 13:47

We long promised our kids a trip for their 16th bdays, and my oldest is now a year away. He wants to go to Hawaii.I have been, and so has DH, but 20+ yrs ago, to Oahu, Maui and Kauai. I hate going back to places, but hey, its been a while.

Anyway, we will go in the last half of March. I think to make it a shorter trip we will fly ny to la, stay a night or two and then fly on. I only want to spend about 10 days in Hawaii.

Any and all suggestions? Our two girls are 11 and 12. I fondly recall biking down Haleakala (sp?) so id like to do that again, otherwise ...

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 14:08


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

My advice is also 20 years out of date, but one of the best things from our two week trip was taking a zodiac boat trip along the north shore of Kauai, going along the cliffs and into sea caves. Although in March the water might be too rough for that trip.


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RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

Went 25 years ago and recently went back. What I missed the first time, that I LOVED this trip was the snorkeling.

At Hanauma Bay, in Oahu, the turtles were almost running into you.

Molokini crater in Maui is also GREAT. I want to go back - just to snorkel.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snorkel HI


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LOL, now I remember the zodiac trip on the Napali coast, and getting sick from the fumes! And Hanauma bay being so crowded and kind of murky!

That crater looks fabulous!


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duplicate kvetch!

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 14:21


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Oh, mtn so sorry you did not have the wonderful experience I had. They limit the number of people who get in every day to keep it from being crowded and there are days every week that it is closed just to allow nature to do it's thing undisturbed, I did not find it crowded or murky at all. How long ago were you there?


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mdln, over 20 yrs ago. And it was full of food ... if memory serves, frozen peas? ... people used to attract fish.

Sounds like they wised up! I agree snorkeling is delightful.


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I'm about 30 yrs out of date, but I so remember going to the top of Haleakala to watch the sun rise. It was incredible, especially seeing all the stars...I never saw so many in my life...couldn't find a single constellation as the sky was so dense with stars. Incredible. Loved Hanalei Bay...stayed at the Princeville overlooking the bay...where Puff the magic dragon came from ;)

Also really enjoyed our helicopter ride over Kilauea to see the molten lava. We didn't have enough time to spend in Volcanoes Nat'l Park. I would've liked to do more hiking on the volcano.

We were supposed to also take a helicopter ride through the waimea canyon, but as it's the wettest place on earth, it's not always feasible, so we saw the napali coast instead by helicopter. This is what we missed.

I also didn't get to the north shore to see the big waves on Oahu for which I'm sorry.

Lanai was just a pineapple plantation when we were there, but I understand it's quite built up now.

We did not go to the leper colony on Molokai, though we did see some beautiful shore line. Molokai's main drag was a "blink and you miss it" town at that time...no idea what it's like today.

It's still paradise though, so whatever you do, you'll enjoy it!


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Oh yea, they clearly prohibit feeding the fish. The first time you are there you have to watch a 10 minute presentation about the rules, and the reasons for the rules, for keeping the bay natural. It was actually quite interesting.

Whew, I was there in late 2012 and wanted to go back, was afraid something happened since I was there.


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RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

Anyone been to 4S Hualalai? That looks like a must, people rave over it. If you were flying into Oahu and doing the big island, would you add a third island? Or does it all start to look the same?


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We did the mule ride down to the leper colony. Definitely for the adventurous. If you don't like horses or are afraid of heights, it is not for you.

Each island is different. I thought the big island and Volcanos Natl Part was the most different. Yes, with those 2 choices, I'd probably add in Maui. We flew into HNL, then to Kona, to Maui, and then back to HNL for flight home. Works as long as you know somewhat know what you want to do & see before getting there. Book interisland flights early and you can save quite a bit.


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Yes, Annie, the bike ride down Haleakala was at sunrise. I agree, very memorable. And we took a catamaran trip to Manele Bay on Lanai, and picnicked where they have since plopped down a 4s.

Mdln, I AM a bit afraid of heights. BUt we all like horse back riding, so maybe. I am so glad they got smart about Hanouma. Some things DO get better, humans don't ruin everything!

I'm not wild about helicopter rides, and the kids have all been on them before, so I would rather not (especially since it ususally cost a mint for the 5 of us to go). Is that the only way though to really see lava flows?


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Just in case you don't know, the lava is not always flowing. Only when there is an eruption, it flows - quite a sight. That would be the only time I'd spend the $ on heli ride. You can see and learn a lot about volcanos and lava flow from the park. Encourage stopping at the visitor center and going on their tours. Also interesting to walk through the dormant lava tubes underground.

I found the riding more scary than the heights, held on to the saddle so tightly my hands were quite sore. My sister has a horse, rides, and competes (jumping), she loved it.


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We loved our week at the Grand Hyatt Resort on Kauai. We had an ocean-front room with a balcony at the end farthest from the spa. Saw the most amazing birds out there! Breakfast every morning was delicious in their gorgeous restaurant. The weather was beautiful and they opened up the huge glass doors to the lagoon and the swans swam in. DH took DS on a rafting trip around the Napali Coast, which they loved. They had a chance to snorkel in and out of some of the caves there. We took a private helicopter tour of the island, which we also really enjoyed. DH & DS played golf with friends at Princeville and Poipu Bay. Both great courses, especially Princeville's. We also snorkeled again, but I don't recall at which beach. The Hyatt's pools, connected by a kind of natural looking lazy river is a huge plus. You can relax as you float past grottos and small waterfalls or just laze by one of the pools in between.
We then flew back to Oahu where we stayed 3 nights at a hotel on the beach. I'm not crazy about Honolulu. To me,
it's too much like any big city with all the traffic and congestion, although the kids did enjoy snorkeling at Honauma Bay and lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Honolulu. The USS Arizona Memorial was memorable. I'm glad we took the kids to see it. We also took them on an oceanographic submarine tour there. It as fun, although we didn't see as many larger sea creatures as we'd hoped that day. One evening we hired a stretch limo and took the kids and our friends on a tour of Honolulu to enjoy all the lights. It was a relaxing and fun little outing.
Next trip back, we will skip Oahu and head to Kauai again.
Lynn


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Because we came from Ohio, we awoke the first day at about 3 A.M. and couldn't get back to sleep, so we gathered our snorkel gear, and drove out to Hanauma bay arriving at about 5 A.M. Its really not so crowded at 5 A.M. We swam and snorkeled for hours and when we finally left (around noon) is was really starting to get crowded.

Although I don't know that even with jet lag helping you out, you'd be able to get a teenager up and out and to the beach by 5 A.M.


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LOL, Bob, You've met my son? I have used jetlag to my advantage more than once. The most memorable was sunrise in the Forbidden City, by myself in the light fog as it lifted. But having Hanouma bay pretty much to yourself? Wow, count me in!

Mdln, yeah, we've not-seen-a-volcano-erupt on a few vacations now, so Im not feeling lucky.

Lynne, Thanks for sharing your vacation! My kids love lazy rivers. And snorkelling in Napali sounds cool. Great ideas for Oahu, too, which I think we HAVE to go to for historic reasons. I like the idea of seeing the lights at night; make the best of being in a city.


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You might consider flying into Oahu and spending a few hours at historic sites and then departing for another island. Quickly.

The 4S at Hualalai is absolutely fabulous, the one on Lana'i is beautiful but likely a bit too remote (boring) for a vacation wherein teens desire more action and entertainment, and the one on Maui in Wailea is also fantastic but -- if I had to be picky -- a little too busy for my tastes. YMMV, especially with teens who enjoy more bustle. I would probably choose instead the newly opened Andaz for our next stay on Maui, if there is a next stay.

I personally think splitting 10 days between the Big Island and Kauai is perfectly sufficient for a great Hawaiian experience. If you do add Maui to the itinerary, I strongly suggest going there first. I prefer to end my trips in a quieter, more relaxed setting rather than the other way around. We once spent time on the Big Island and then headed to Maui, and Maui felt like a zoo, but on our next trip when we started in Maui it didn't have that feel.

The Hawaii Revealed guide books are excellent resources with wonderful tips.

This post was edited by jujubean71 on Tue, Aug 12, 14 at 19:10


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RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

Juju,
I didn't realize that I can actually fly into, say Maui, directly from LAX, so I think we will do that, then the Big Island and then a day in Oahu on the way home maybe ... good idea to keep that short.

I guess I the Big Island and Oahu are givens, the question is Maui vs Kauai. I think both will be over kill


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If the kids are into the beach scene and surfing then Kauai would be great, but if you intend to do a lot of shopping then you'd want Maui. I think the three places you've mentioned, Maui/BI/Oahu will be enough over a 10 day stay but I would suggest you stay more than one day in Oahu and take a tour of Waimea Valley. We lived on Oahu for 2 years and I would often go by myself to WV and always came away with a deeper understanding of the the Island's history and culture, and the archaeological sites added even more to the experience. Not sure what a tour of WV is like now, but it used to be a quiet, peaceful place to visit.

One other note: after living on the island for 2 years I would never take a helicopter tour. In just those 2 years there were numerous helicopter crashes or accidents of some sort. The news of all that tragedy never seems to makes it back to the mainland..........and it is definitely never mentioned by those that run the tours.


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We just spent 3 nights at the 4S Hualalai back in July-- our second stay there. We LOVE that place! It's a splurge for us, but the four of us just enjoy every moment there. We never leave the property! I'm happy to share more if you have any specific questions. And by the way, you can also fly direct from LAX to Kona.


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Let me know when you are going to be in LA!


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Gee, my kids just get a weekend away for their 16th birthdays! ;)

Once again we are travel soul mates, mtn. We are going to Hawaii next summer (probably end of June into early July) for DH and my 25th anniversary -- bringing our kids -- for two weeks. We definitely want to go to Maui but are still deciding on a second location (we only want two stops because we want to "settle in" at each) so I'm reading with interest...


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We went last year. Trip of a life time for us. No way no how would I haul children to Hawaii. Let them grow up and pay their own way, if they choose. We visited three islands, the one thing we would do differently would be the Hilo trip. I really wanted to see a live volcano--we flew over then spent the day walking the cooled volcano flats. We should have taken a helicopter from Waikiki, flown over and around the moving lava. I doubt the price would have been much more and we would not have wasted the time we did in the airport and dealing with a car rental. I guess we needed a more seasoned travel agent. Maui was fabulous!! We had all our excursions booked before we left. That enabled us to make our choices in the calm and privacy of our home. Seeing the lines and watching the stressed tourists lined up in hotel lobbies reassured me we had planned well. From the submarine ride to the road to Hanna, sitting under the stars at the Old Lahaina Luau I doubt one could have a bad trip to Hawaii!!!


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This post was edited by kitschyKitch on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 8:57


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Considering their age, they are probably adventurous...
  • Another vote for snorkeling in the Molokini crater in Maui.
  • I questioned the numerous vendors to see which one went the highest with their parasailing. I have pictures where I am just a speck in the sky over the Pacific.
  • The Road to Hana is challenging but worth it when you meet the challenge and then are rewarded with the Black Beach at the end of the drive. I proudly wear my "I Survived The Road To Hana" tee shirt.

    Being from Florida, I had no interest in going to Hawaii but got a work assignment in Honolulu so I HAD to go. How stupid was I? I loved it and took DH back the following year for vacation.


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    DH and I traveled to Oahu, Kauai and Maui (in that order) last fall for our 35th wedding anniversary and found lots of great advice on this website - govisithawaii.com


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    DH and I have both been to Hawaii many times on business. Me more than him, and we went 3 years ago and took DD and DGD for a special occasion trip. They had never been; DGD was 11 at the time. So they chose Maui and wanted to see Honolulu. With teens and adults, choose wisely and according to a lot of what they want to do and what you want to do as a family. I've not been to the big island, but you can spend a lot of precious time driving on both the BI and Maui as both are large and spread out. Here's what I'd recommend for 10 days if you want both some activity and some down time. Maui - 5 days, Kaui - 3 days, Oahu - 2 days (at least 2 nights).

    Maui, definitely start there and do Haleakala the first or second morning as you'll have jet lag in your favor. The bike ride is geat as is the sunset but it's extremely cold up there. You'll be wise to take your own hat and gloves & I threw in some thin long-sleeved shirts for us. Even though they will provide some items for you, there is the ick factor. I can't recall offhand the vendor we used but can look it up. The bikes were well maintained and had hydraulic brakes and was convenient. We took our time and let DGD set our pace down. Stopped for breakfast but took some energy bars and water in our small backpacks. Also stopped at a well-known store that had divine doughnuts. Yes, we bought some and devoured them.

    Also ditto the Molokini snorkeling trip. We did the 'snuba' part that was offered which is like snorkeling but you can dive to a tethered tank and go deeper. Fun, fun! I think the vendor was Aqua Adventures or something like that. I can look all this up if interested.

    I spent a whole $10 or so on a local 'Girl Guide to Maui' close to our departure. She's a local who sent me a guide to a lot of local spots for eating, shopping, etc in the area and it was spot on! I don't know about you, but we don't need every meal to be a big fancy restaurant - a bowl or plate of something fresh and local is fine with us for lunch. If that is still available, I'd highly recommend it.

    We also did a zip line adventure one half day and spent the rest of the day on the beach. Turned out it was just us so we had the 2 guys to ourselves. Another fun adventure.

    Your kids might get totally bored with Hana Highway. DH was ready to stop driving about mid-way through but toughed it out. It's a beautiful road but makes for a long day and plenty of 'are we there yet' moments. However, Mama's Fish House restaurant near the beginning is a must-do restaurant for a blow-out meal. Do make reservations well in advance.

    Old Lahaina Luau which someone else mentioned is the very best in the old Hawaii luau experience. They really do it right and the food isn't half bad. It is buffet style but they allow you to walk around the grounds and see them lift the pig out of the ground (yes, it's like pulled pork), and visit artisan booths exhibiting their craft work in a beautiful lagoon setting. Then after the meal there is the entertainment, which was very enjoyable. And the shopping in Lahaina is lots of fun to just stroll around and enjoy the day. Good eats too.

    Kauai - the Garden Isle is much smaller and much more driveable for day trips. Hanalei and Princeville is wonderful to drive up and visit - the old lighthouse and an old church along the way are worth a stop. And if you are up to a hike partway up the cliffs at Napali you might see whales in March. As for the Zodiac boat trips, I believe most of those now leave from the south coast, not so much anymore on the Napali coast. More near Port Charlotte I think. You might check on that as I could be wrong. Poipu shores and the Hyatt is a great place to stay. Old Poipu (which is small) is a great place for strolling around at night and grabbing ice cream and visiting some of the Hawaii art shops there (James Hoyle I love and he's an old hippie and fun to talk with about his art if he's not stoned. Well, even if he is.).

    Oahu - Do take the kids to the Arizona memorial. The museum is new as of 3-4 years ago and is very nice. Still the same tour of the 'Arizona' itself; very moving and quiet. You might take a short drive up to the Punchbowl cemetery - the Arlington of the Pacific and spend a little time there at the memorial and take in the view.
    The kids might enjoy driving up to the North Shore up past Diamond Head and up as far as Haleiwa Town (think the original Shave Ice, surfer town, woodies on display, and other neat old Hawaii) near Waimea Bay. You'll pass beautiful Hanauma Bay and Kanehoe Bay on the way as well as lots of other scenic pull-offs.

    You didn't ask about places to stay, but the Hilton Hawaiian Village is huge and offers a lot of variety in terms of things for the kids to do on their own without really leaving the property. It's also walkable to downtown Hono (Waikiki Beach is right out the door and to the shopping and other restaurant areas, etc). Our DGD wanted to take surfing lessons, but she was a little intimidated by the surf in Maui. When we arrived at the HHV they had the perfect place for lessons with a hand-rope to help get out to the mild surf. She had a blast and learned quickly.

    Sorry this is so long, but like I said, I've been many times over the past 15-20 years. Can recommend some other things such as lodging, but I'm sure you have that figured out. There are some really nice places on all islands these days.

    This post was edited by outsideplaying on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 13:08


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    Glad to hear big island won't be missed. I think it feels most like HI. Don't forget to stop at black sands beach. Have you considered flying into Hilo and out of Kona, or vice versa? You pay a fee for returning car at a different location, but save driving time.

    If you are going to skip Hanauma Bay, I'd do Maui so you can do the sunrise and snorket Molokini crater.

    This has been a great post. It reassured me I've not missed anything great and makes me want to start planning next trip.

    One thing that I loved was - making sure I did not miss the sunset every evening, it became a fun HI ritual.

    Things to SKIP: Dole tour on Oahu (was talked into it), waste of time; Fern Grotto (Kaui), too touristy; downtown Honolulu, seemed like LA.


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    I lived on Oahu about 20 years ago and visited all the islands WTE of Lanai, several times. We even spent a weekend on Molokai.

    I think it is truly hard to go wrong no matter where you go and it really is personal preference. Dh grew up going to Maui every summer b/c his family owned a condo there so he is partial to Maui, but he also really enjoyed the Big Island and considers it to be more like what Maui was years ago b/f it got so touristy. He never went to Kauai but I did when my mother came out to visit us. I really liked the laid back, slower pace of Kauai. We were there just a few years after the last big hurricane that destroyed part of the island. Outsideplaying did a great job listing all the things to do, but one of the things I really appreciated on Kauai was Waimea Canyon, which is considered the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

    It all boils down to what you and your family really are interested in doing and seeing. I think the Big Island is really interesting b/c the landscape is so different depending where you go - lush and green on the Hilo side, the volcano on the southern side, and then much drier on the Kona side. But, if you want to see everything and are planning to stay at the 4S, you will spend a lot of time driving. I don't know if it's still possible to do but when visiting the volcano park, we drove down to the coast after dark to see where the lava flowed into the ocean and it was spectacular. The road is closed off at one point where the lava has flowed over it, but you can park and walk out on the dried lava to a lookout where you can see the lava. The park itself is pretty interesting - my kids enjoyed that when we were there about 8 years ago. We did drive down to the coast with them but did that during the day since they were pretty young and it was a long drive back (we stayed just past the 4S at the Hilton).

    Hilo has some pretty vistas along the coast, plus we hiked to a few waterfalls and through the rain forest. We were able to do that on our way to the volcano the last time we went. We drove across the center of the island from the Hilton, over north of Hilo, then down the eastern side of the island before cutting inland to get to Volcanos National Park. We didn't do it with the kids, but on a separate trip, we continued west from the park to the black sand beach and the southern most point of the US, before heading back up the coast to Kona.

    If you do go to Maui, I don't know if you can fit it in, but a day trip over to Molokai to the leper colony might be very interesting for your kids. Dh and I spent the weekend on Molokai and ended up flying (we didn't do the horses) into the leper colony which was amazing as we got to see some fantastic views of the island from above (it was just the two of us and a pilot). Our tour guide on the island had an amazing personal story to tell…he'd been sent there as a kid b/c they suspected he had leprosy. Never got to say goodbye to his family and was only about 5 y/o. He ended up contracting leprosy when he got there, stayed, married and had kids. At some point, they were given the opportunity to leave, but he chose to stay as it was the only life he'd ever known. Not sure if any of the former residents are still living there, but it was really an eye-opener.

    Since everyone else has given you some good advice, I'll finish there. Except to say that my 15 y/o dd just returned from a 10 day trip to Maui with my BIL and his two girls. She had a blast. BIL has a place there, so for him, it was more of a relaxing beach vacation, but she did surfing lessons, they drove around to Hana but didn't get to see much as it was the day before the recent hurricane so much of the sights were closed. Her favorite activity of all was daily snorkeling. There was a reef right off the beach where they stayed that she said was her favorite spot. They also went to Honolua Bay for snorkeling but she said that wasn't as good.

    Oh, I know I said I'd not offer more advice, but just remembered….Oahu has SO much interesting Hawaiian history that many people never get to experience as they head straight for the other islands. I do think going to Pearl Harbor would be neat for the kids, and I totally agree that Punchbowl is also a must see on Oahu. Iolani Palace is pretty cool too. If you can manage it, head over to the North Shore away from the tourists too. That's where you can see the surfers catching the huge waves and see the quiet side of Oahu.

    I also second the poster (sorry, can't remember who) about not doing a helo tour. There are more accidents than you think as most of the time, it doesn't get reported here on the mainland.

    Have fun planning.


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    I forgot to mention Waimea Canyon, Fourkids! Thanks for that. I've spent most of my time on Kauai and there is really so much to do. I have a small book on hiking trails in Kauai and have hiked so much there I figure I'd sound like a broken record talking it up, when that's not what a lot of people with kids really want to do. The drive toward Barking Sands (and PMRF where I went to work) has some neat little towns and there are some off-the-wall spots out there too - the brick oven pizza place, the original ice cream stand for that rich ice cream they sell over there, and a couple of other really neat little restaurants. I can't remember all the names!

    I agree with you about Hono - there is lots more to do, re Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum. If time permits I'd do it by myself while the kids play in the water or whatever. It's a short bus ride from Waikiki, which is how I did it once when I needed to kill some time.

    Keep in mind March can be a little chilly. Water and weather can be fickle that time of year. Snorkel guides will have wetsuits and we used them in our May trip. Take a change of clothes (or at least a dry t-shirt) and a towel so you will have something dry to put on after you snorkel. You won't regret it during the boat ride back.


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    Thank you all for such lengthy and detailed replies! I greatly appreciate it.


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    We stayed at the Koa Kea on Kauai last November and absolutely loved it! They have their own beach which is great! I second the Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum.

    However, our absolute favorite thing to do in Honolulu was a tour of the Kamaka Ukelele factory. One of the sons of the founder, son is now mid 80s, conducted the tour and he was a blast! Our group numbered about 20 and included all ages. Kamakas are the Rolls Royce of ukeleles. The factory/shop is in the old downtown Honolulu. How can one visit Hawaii and miss this?????

    http://www.kamakahawaii.com

    Here is a link that might be useful: Koa Kea Hotel and Resort


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    Hi MTX!

    You probably heard all my babbling about the Maui Four-Seasons. Sorry...bit I'm spoiled for life now!! I still can't believe how nice that place was. I use their "over the fountains" pic as my computers "desktop" pic!

    In 2009 when we were there, I posted pics we took in this forum. We did Oahu & Maui:
    MAUI-
    * Yes, the Molokini-Crescent crater snorkeling was SO fun!! Take some sea-sick medicine if any of you are prone to that!! They take you out on a swift-boat, & stop @ a few neat places.
    * DW & DD did go horseback riding at a ranch on Maui's southern end. I hung around the pool, & Tori Spelling swam right by me!
    * They also did para-sailing on the NW-coast. I drove around & visited some golf-courses in the Kaanapali/Kapalua area.
    * Road to Hana was neat. LOTS of twists & turns, but the views are jaw-dropping!

    OAHU-
    * Yeah...the Arizona-Memorial is pretty much a given. You can STILL smell & see oil coming up.......
    * The Visitor's-center was getting revamped in 2009, so I'd be interested in seeing it now.
    * There's SO much to do & see in Honolulu, & Waikiki-Beach of course!
    * I can't get enough of the Diamond-Head view...

    DW & DD went to Kauai last year.
    (DD's Summa-Cum-Laude 2013 college-grad present!)
    * They took the Helicopter-ride of the Napali coast & LOVED it!
    * DW & I Honeymooned on Oahu & Kauai way back in 1987!!

    Faron


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    JMC, Ukelele, how cool. My kids played them in their school at one point, so theyd like that.

    Faron,
    That's okay, the 4S Maui is on our list! When you stay at a 4S you just know you will be taken care of, which is really important when you travel as a family. DH and I can roll with the punches (and are more likely to choose small boutique hotels for ourselves), but I don't want a passel of grumpy kids on vacation, and a snafu can do that.

    Thanks for your ideas!


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    We went two years ago, I had preteen and teen kids. My brother is stationed in Oahu. We loved that island! It is easy to rent a car and drive the island. If you are brave you can hike the stairway to heaven-very strenuous and not for the non physically fit. He took us to all the hidden jewels of the island. SHARKS COVE for free snorkeling. it was incredible! We did not do Hanama bay due to time/price and overcrowdedness. We hiked Diamond Head (bring water) Make sure you make it to Lanaki beach,(He was military so we got into Bellows beach nearby , the most gorgeous beach in the world, imo!) Driving the island allows you to stop and see the scenic overpasses and walk to beaches, each one is just fabulous. I did not find Oahu to be as tropical as I perceived it to be. The Waikiki beach is man made, don't stay too long there. The Hilton was a nice hotel as well with a great breakfast joint right across the street! We flew to the big island for the volcano and again since he was military we got to stay on the grounds in the cute little huts. Amazing hiking that volcano! a don't miss event. We also drove to the sea to see the lava flows, incredible how vast it spread and destroyed everything in its path. We also drove on south on the big island to the black sand beach! TRULY BLACK sand and sea turtles were happily napping as well. (NO touching). We did not have time for the lush part of the big isle. The east side with the volcano was very dry and desert like but beautiful terrain none the less.
    You won't go wrong visiting any part of HI, but I was surprised to find it did not meet what I was expecting it to be. oh make sure you stop and eat at a TEDDYS hamburger joint, wish those were here in the inland states.
    Realize as well that parts of the islands have native locals that do not like tourists and can be a problem. Also lock everything up as theft is very prominent outside resorts. I never felt unsafe but cautious. If you rent a car, check that the tags match and that registration is current. I also felt there wasn't much to do in evenings on Oahu for children. We did the Polynesian laui, fabulous too! Have fun!


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Thank you, all!

    SueB, I want a relatively relaxing trip so we are keeping it to two islands, 5 days each, a day in Oahu (only for the sake of my son, a history buff, since both DH and I have been),

    Since Id never been, and since the 4S there gets raves, I am doing the Big Island - that was a given. It also has a unique look and feel from what i read. Then I had to decide between Kauai and Maui (with Lanai too quiet and Molokai too esoteric(. I chose Maui because I wanted to do the sunrise Haleakala bikeride again, and this time snorkel the Molokini crater. HTH!

    PS Chispa, will do! Not booked yet but should be mid March


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Wow, that is exactly what I would do. Can I come with??? :-)

    Big island - see the waterfalls, volcano national park, and black sands beaches.

    At Volcano Natl Park, take some of the FREE ranger led tours. You learn so much. If you don't - it is easy to wander around, spend a lot of time, and miss the highlights. That happened to me on first trip, did ranger tours on second trip.

    Have fun!!!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Volcano Nat Park Ranger led tours


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Great choices. You will just love the Hualalai and the BI in general. Ahhh!

    Since you're staying at the 4S in Wailea, I recommend the Kai Kanani catamaran for the Molokini snorkel since it departs from Makena Beach located a few miles south of the resort. This saves you from having to drive a long distance to the marina. They do a really nice job and also offer snuba. I personally feel the snorkeling is even better at Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve just south of Makena. Cool area with fabulous coral and sea life. Grab a fresh coconut at a roadside stand! There are so many fab upscale restaurants in Wailea (Capische!) but for simpler fare, try Monkeypod.

    I'm thinking back to other Maui experiences including the fun bike ride down Haleakala and I'm curious: who here has driven Kahekili Highway (rte 340)? Pretty intense, huh? I actually loved it and preferred it over the Road to Hana, but sadly there was no banana bread left when we reached Julia's.


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Go now, lava is flowing!


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    We did the Big Island for the 'Old Hawaii" feel and Kauai for the gardens. The Volcano National Park is fascinating but be aware, when the lava is flowing hard, like it is now, the sulfur fumes, which seep from cracks in the surface, are nasty and the trades take them to the other islands as well. There were signs as we entered the certain areas of the park to "keep the car windows closed and your AC on recirculate". Also, the lava is not flowing in the park area confines but many miles away.

    We learned some rental car companies restrict off road driving and with kids you are probably going to want to do some of that in the remote areas on the BI.

    Locals sell trinkets along the road between Kona and the park, we chatted with them, bought cheap pearls, and learned a lot of local history that way. One guy showed me how you could distinguish the different lava flows and how old they were, another told me where to buy the best macadamias. It was fun.

    The area between Kona and the park is not too exciting unless you like coffee plantations but there are green sand beaches that, while they are a good hike off the road, are said to be amazing. I was told the green is emerald that has been ground up into sand over millions of years. Not sure if that is true but it sounds good. :-)

    Kauai had many different, but small enough to be easily accessible venues. It was easy to get around and see/try them all. I could see kids having a good time hiking the canyon, surfing, snorkeling or exploring the tiny villages.

    We used this site a lot:
    http://www.hawaii-guide.com/


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Editing post as I did not read closely enough and did not realize island decision had been made.

    If you have time while on Maui, stop at Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop. Yummy food and the self serve water hutch is super cute! I would love to know the color they used for the hutch- it was an amazing soft turquoise. My husband was mortifed when I tried to snap a pic- so the attached is the best I could do.

    Safe travels!

    This post was edited by sparklebread on Sun, Sep 7, 14 at 18:56


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    I've been to the Big Island six times. The first was when I was a geology undergrad and we went as a field trip for a class I was taking, and the most recent was two weeks ago with my two kids ages 7 and 8. My kids have each been there three times. Hawaii is where we choose to vacation. We make decisions in regards to other finances in order to make this happen.

    Anyway, definitely rent a 4WD vehicle. There is a gorgeous green sand beach (green sand...yes! It's formed from an old cinder cone where the magma has all eroded and what is left are the olivine crystals.) three miles from the end of South Point Road. Unless you want to hike six miles round-trip (I've done it twice and don't recommend it), the only way to get there is by 4WD. Also, if the water is calm at South Point, take a chance and jump off the southern most point of the United States. Definitely a thrill. Then hike a little more and go around South Point and see how dangerous the water is on the East Side. It's an amazing place.

    A 4WD will get you up to the top of Mauna Kea to see the telescopes. Although you can make it easily to the Visitors Center with a regular car. I would highly recommend spending an evening stargazing up there.

    Punalu'u Black Sand beach is a beautiful place to see a black sand beach and sea turtles. A hike to the bottom of the Pololu Valley will also get you to a gorgeous black sand beach and you can see the remains of the 1946 tsunami that hit the area.

    HVNP is well worth the trip, even if you can't see the lava up close. I've been there when we've hiked right to the lava and I made my own rock (this was on the geology field trip and is not recommended for amateurs), seen the lava flow from either side of the Chain of Craters Road, and most recently, only seen the lava glow at night from the Halema'ua'u Crater. The first time I went, we were able to go right to the edge of the crater at the overlook and we even hiked across the Kileau Crater. Now, the crater is active and the area around it is closed. The overlook was actually destroyed in an explosion when the crater became active. The lava changes every day and you never know what you are going to see when you go.

    Have a fabulous time! We've never stayed at the 4S. Instead we stay a bit further up the Kohala Coast at the Fairmont Orchid. The beach at the 4S is rockier and smaller than that at the Orchid, but the other amenities at the 4S make up for it. Maybe if we didn't go every other year, we'd be able to afford the 4S! :-)


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    Thanks again everyone.

    As some of you noticed, our itinerary is already booked for our 2 week spring break. Flights, hotels, everything. I am looking forward to being in a spot where I don't feel like I have a ton of must-see's!

    Anyway, if anyone cares to comment for general use, by all means, but I probably won't be checking back on the thread.


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    RE: Best advice for Hawaii?

    "I am looking forward to being in a spot where I don't feel like I have a ton of must-see's!"
    Lol, then the Big Island might not be for you. Too many "must-sees" to count. :)


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