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Hawaii next spring
Old 11-16-2011, 08:05 PM   #1
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Hawaii next spring

Hi,

I have made a promise to each of my three kids to take them on a special trip -- just me and them, for a week or so, anywhere in the world. My 9 year old daughter's turn is next. She has chosen Hawaii, and our best available opportunity will be the last week of March, 2012 (~3/25 - ~3/31).

Here's here prioritized list of what she wants to do (higher priorities first):

Snorkeling
Whale watching
Submarine
Aquarium / glass tubes
Volcano
Swimming
Waterfalls
Helicopter ride
Surf lessons (I'm hoping with Nords?)
Boating tours
Ceremonies (not sure exactly what she means by this...maybe the fire stuff)
Hula school
Unprioritized but she's definitely interested: visit the telescopes on Mauna Kea (?)

I'm starting to make rough plans, so my first question is, given the above list, what are the best island(s) to visit? I have heard that the whales go past the big island, and I think the telescopes are on the big island as well. Nords is on Oahu? I know helicopter rides and waterfalls happen on Kauai, but may happen elsewhere.

We can probably stay at most a full week, traveling to and from CONUS on an 8th and 9th day, so I'm guessing that 2 islands would be good. 3 islands is probably too much island hopping/planes/airports/packing/unpacking/rental cars/etc. overhead and not enough having fun.

Thanks,

2Cor521
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:15 PM   #2
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I would recommend Maui, hands down. You can do virtually everything on your list (not sure where the aquarium is) and it is simply stunning. We rented a house in McKenna, which is a bit south of all the tourist spots and absolutely loved it. The snorkeling will enable you to swim with turtles and a plethora of different fish. We started each morning by going for a 2 hour swim/snorkel and were always the only people there.

In addition, you can drive to the north side for surfing and amazing views of the island. All the islands have something special, but for my money I'd recommend Maui. There is more than enough to fill your time for the week.

Have a great time. You daughter is lucky to have such a caring parent to spend quality time with one-on-one. Enjoy!
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:50 PM   #3
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For my daughter's 10th birthday in 1991 we went to Hawaii and of the things on your list did:

Volcano - Kilauea was erupting, awesome day. Walked on top of the larva flows, had to stop about 15 mins when a shower hit the hot surface we were walking on and produced a white-out. Watched the hot larva roll into the sea and "explode".

Waterfalls - also on the Big Island. Nice walk and high falls but have seen much better.

Whale watching - out of Pearl Harbor. A pod of 3 hump backs came alongside the boat and spent a full 30 minutes doing all the things you'd hope whales would do - incredible experience.

Snorkeling - a repeat of what we did 2 years earlier - Hanauma Bay, short bus ride out of Waikiki Beach. Brilliant, superlatives fail me to describe this.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:09 PM   #4
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if "volcano" is important and you are going to more than one island. then it's pretty hard not to include the big island. dormant volcanos , while interesting , don't come anywhere near comparison to kilauea and volcano national park.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:08 AM   #5
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We stayed in a beach cottage at Kapoho in August based on a recommendation by Nords, and it was the highlight of our trip. Heated protected tidepools filled with fish and sea turtles. Easy 1hr drive from there to the volcano national park. Highly recommended.

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Old 11-18-2011, 03:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
Hi,My 9 year old daughter's turn is next. She has chosen Hawaii, and our best available opportunity will be the last week of March, 2012 (~3/25 - ~3/31).

Here's here prioritized list of what she wants to do (higher priorities first):

Snorkeling
Whale watching
Submarine
Aquarium / glass tubes
Volcano
Swimming
Waterfalls
Helicopter ride
Surf lessons (I'm hoping with Nords?)
Boating tours
Ceremonies (not sure exactly what she means by this...maybe the fire stuff)
Hula school
Unprioritized but she's definitely interested: visit the telescopes on Mauna Kea (?)

I'm starting to make rough plans, so my first question is, given the above list, what are the best island(s) to visit? I have heard that the whales go past the big island, and I think the telescopes are on the big island as well. Nords is on Oahu? I know helicopter rides and waterfalls happen on Kauai, but may happen elsewhere.

We can probably stay at most a full week, traveling to and from CONUS on an 8th and 9th day, so I'm guessing that 2 islands would be good. 3 islands is probably too much island hopping/planes/airports/packing/unpacking/rental cars/etc. overhead and not enough having fun.

Thanks,

2Cor521
Tough choices!

If you want lava you're going to have to go to the Big Island, and you can really accomplish everything else there... except for a Nords surfing lesson. If I was in her shoes I wouldn't spend an entire day island-hopping just for an hour's lesson with some ponytailed geezer her Dad won't stop talking about. Plenty of places on the Big Island to find surfing lessons... either on a longboard or a stand-up paddleboard. But I'm not a big fan of racing around madly among islands trying to see everything.

People's preferences are all over the map, which is why some prefer Waikiki and others want to hide away on Lanai. A 9-year-old will probably be just as happy with boiling lava as she would be with downtown Honolulu, but the Big Island is a lot cheaper and (I think) has a lot more to offer.

It's a little late in the season for whale-watching, which usually peaks in February. If this could be a heart-breaker then you should check the whale-watching cruise comments to see how they did at that time of year.

Mauna Kea might restrict access by age-- above 10,000 feet there are liability issues and health concerns with altitude sickness in adolescents. This was a problem about 10 years ago for a 16-year-old who wanted to do a week's research up there, but I don't know if it also applies to day-trippers.

A Kapoho rental with backyard snorkeling will blow her mind. The water gets warmer as it gets deeper (the tidepools are only 6-8 feet deep) and you can see the thermal layer shimmering in the currents. The tidepools have lots of fish, a few well-fed moray, and daily honu visits.

And, of course, I'm a big fan of the Atlantis submarine ride!
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Old 11-18-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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If your daughter is into dancing, there's a huge Tahitian dance competition happening at the Waikiki Shell in that time period. It's pretty awesome

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Old 11-18-2011, 11:46 PM   #8
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Greetings.

To the OP, if you had to choose one island based on the list that you noted, then the Big Island would probably be the most optimal choice. Kilauea is a must-see since it is unquestionably the most famous active volcano on the planet. For me, Mauna Kea at night under a clear sky is close to spiritual - words cannot describe the painting that the solar system creates in that moment with the myriad of bright stars and the thick Milky Way. I actually felt something like vertigo on the Big Island as I stared into the starry sky at 3am once. That island also has plenty of beautiful waterfalls, rainforests, deserts, valleys, beaches, etc. - in fact, most Hawaii lovers would prob agree that the best snorkeling in Hawaii is on the Big Island. It's also got the best 4x4 excursions if you're into that.

Anyway, I have made 10 trips to the Islands in the past 5 yrs and can state that they are all magnificent. My next trip is next month to Kauai but after thinking about the nights under the stars on the Big Island I think that I need to make plans for a trip there soon!

Btw, apparently the airfare deals are heating up for flights in early 2012 so keep your eyes open. I am not associated in any way with the Beat of Hawaii website but those guys are great with keeping track of airfare deals.

Have fun. Mahalo.
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Old 11-19-2011, 10:15 PM   #9
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We have been to the big four islands: Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. There is a lot to enjoy on each one.

The OP was correct in thinking that for a 7-8 night stay, two islands would be the max for island hopping. For first-time visitors, I would say that Oahu should be one of the two islands to visit. Not going there would be like for first-time visitors to France to skip Paris.

The second island could be either the big island Hawaii, or Maui. Kauai is just a bit small, and may be better saved for a return trip. By the way, we took a chopper ride in Maui, and a catamaran cruise in Kauai, but there are probably the same type of excursions everywhere.
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:50 PM   #10
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Wow, I have nothing to add here except this is inspiring to get me to visit Hawaii. For our 15-year anniversary we had it narrowed to two choices...Germany or Hawaii. DW voted Germany, and won. I'm not bitter, I enjoyed Germany very much...but I'm really looking forward to getting my way next time.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:03 PM   #11
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I am the type of person that likes to see new places. I went to Hawaii in 2007. It is one of the few places that I would love to go back to again. Hopefully will make it back there with DH next time.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:08 PM   #12
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Not a reply, but would like advice also. Renting an ohana house (is that redundant?) in Kailua, Oahu mid Jan thru late Feb 2012. Been to Oahu twice before, Maui, and Kauai. Really just want to escape the Minnesota winter, walk on the beach, swim laps at the community pool or YMCA, and chillax.

Big question - do we need to rent a car? We are 3 blocks from Kailua Beach and would just prefer to walk around or use bicycles. Really have no desire to go to Honolulu or even the North Shore.

Second question. Anyone know a place to get a good cheap bike rental for 6 weeks?
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:11 PM   #13
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If Nords will not spring for the surf lessons, check out Waikiki Beach. Always several instructors, and there is just the right amount of surf for beginners.
I watched DS take his first lesson there, and they had him up in 20 minutes or so.
She will not be quite ready for the North shore, but you'll get some great up close photos and she will have surfer bragging rights when she gets home.
By visiting the Big Island you can combine several of the activities on your list.
*Lots of choppers to take you to see the volcano and perhaps a waterfall.
*Many different ways to see the whales.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:33 PM   #14
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Not a reply, but would like advice also. Renting an ohana house (is that redundant?) in Kailua, Oahu mid Jan thru late Feb 2012. Been to Oahu twice before, Maui, and Kauai. Really just want to escape the Minnesota winter, walk on the beach, swim laps at the community pool or YMCA, and chillax.
Big question - do we need to rent a car? We are 3 blocks from Kailua Beach and would just prefer to walk around or use bicycles. Really have no desire to go to Honolulu or even the North Shore.
Second question. Anyone know a place to get a good cheap bike rental for 6 weeks?
You're coming to Hawaii to swim in a chlorinated pool?!?

No car necessary for Kailua. You can get around fine by walking or bicycle, although you might get rained on at inconvenient times of the day. The worst case would be a $20-$30 cab ride, which beats the heck out of dealing with a rental car, airport fees, taxes, & parking. And if you have a change of heart (or a bad weather system) you could always call the Enterprise Rent-A-Car franchise on Hamakua Drive.

The first place I'd ask about bicycles would be the homeowner. They might have a beach cruiser or two sitting in the garage that they'd be happy to throw in. If that doesn't work then you could ask the homeowner where they'd go to rent a bike. If that doesn't work then I can ask a friend of mine who lives up there.

I'll be driving around Kailua on 8-9 December for a couple days of meetings. Let me know if there's anything you want checked into, including rental bike shops.

My spouse and I are good friends with the spouse of the new owner of Kimo's Surf Shop. (Yes, his name is also Kimo. He's a retired Marine.) Highly recommended for surf gear... I'll be shopping their 3mm neoprene jackets next week.

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If Nords will not spring for the surf lessons, check out Waikiki Beach. Always several instructors, and there is just the right amount of surf for beginners.
I watched DS take his first lesson there, and they had him up in 20 minutes or so.
She will not be quite ready for the North shore, but you'll get some great up close photos and she will have surfer bragging rights when she gets home.
By visiting the Big Island you can combine several of the activities on your list.
*Lots of choppers to take you to see the volcano and perhaps a waterfall.
*Many different ways to see the whales.
I'm happy to drive "all the way" into Waikiki for surf, but if lava has a higher priority then I wouldn't waste any time with me on Oahu.

BTW, 3DHawaii.com is now labeling the surf breaks. For example, here's the 3D scoop on Canoes:
3D Hawaii | Hawaii Vacation Planning - Vacations - Hotels - Activities
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:14 AM   #15
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Nords, Thanks for the advice. Re. swimming, I'm not strong enough to swim in the ocean, but can swim nonstop in a lap pool - plus I saw "Jaws" at a very impressionable age.
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:17 AM   #16
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Nords asked for a trip report, so here's kind of a quick breakdown:

Overall, we left Idaho on a Saturday morning, flew through Seattle and Honolulu to Kailua/Kona arriving there Saturday evening. Spent about five days on the Big Island. Flew Thursday evening to Lihue, Kauai via Honolulu. Spent about three days there. Flew home via Honolulu/Seattle Sunday evening / red-eye and arrived back in Idaho Monday morning.

On Hawaii:

Stayed at the Outrigger Keahou (sp?) on Alii drive south of Kona. The hotel was a good choice, as my daughter enjoyed the hotel breakfasts, the tidepools with fish and turtles and morays, and the hotel swimming pool. (Yup, Nords, she swam in the hotel pool. Mostly because we're not 100% confident in her ocean-swimming ability and she wasn't fond of the saltiness of the water. She also made a few friends at the pool which would have been less likely in the ocean.)

Snorkeled at two step near the place of refuge. Bought snorkel gear from a shop here in Idaho and packed it with us, which was an OK but not great idea. It did save us having to hunt for the stuff while there, but it took up luggage space and weight, and there are plenty of places in Kailua/Kona to buy snorkel gear. The snorkel vest worked well for her, but the facemask didn't fit, so she mostly used just regular swim goggles from then on.

Overall, my daughter did more cruise ship type excursions, which increased the cost of the trip, but it was what she wanted to do so I supported it:

We went to the seahorse farm by the airport. My daughter really liked it here; I thought the most interesting part was the "leafy dragons" which are absolutely beautiful but endangered sea horses. (Buy your own for $15K-$20K.)

We also went on a night swim with the manta rays which was absolutely cool. Highly recommend this tour and also Captain Kris Henry @ Sea Hawaii Rafting. Imagine floating face down in the water with a 3/4 wetsuit as a manta ray with about a 10-12 foot wingspan and a 2 foot wide mouth swims up directly at your face before arching backwards onto its back about 6 inches below you, brushing against you as it descends again. Now imagine that there are about four or five of them doing this directly beneath your group. That's cool. My daughter really liked it but got cold quickly in the night ocean. Oh, and we saw a bunch of dolphins and a couple of humpbacks as the sun was setting.

Didn't see the green flash that people talk about, but we tried a couple of nights. Does it really exist? Not sure.

One excursion was a whale watching cruise out of Kaneohoe (?), a little town north of Kailua/Kona by 30 miles or so. My daughter really enjoyed the catamaran, and we did actually see five or six whales as well as quite a few dolphins even though it was towards the end of the season. My favorite part was actually the hydrophone and listening to two males singing and hearing their songs slowly changing.

We went on the Atlantis sub tour, which my daughter really liked. (It was a tad too Disneyland-ish for me.)

We went parasailing (UFO parasails) one day. That was fun and the ocean was absolutely beautiful shades of blue and my daughter was entranced. I'd done it before, so mostly I was enjoying watching her enjoy it.

We went swimming with the dolphins on a tour one day. That was fun also, but again my daughter got cold in the ocean. They didn't get very close to us because some of the folks in our tour group ignored the "don't splash excessively and you can't catch them" advice. But still saw 40-50 dolphins within about 10-20 feet in the wild. Very cool.

Did the luau at the Royal Kona hotel. Neither of us liked it...the imu (traditional oven to cook a pig) smelled like a bad mixture of old coffee, dirt, and rotten banana leaves. The dinner was plain. The dancers were interesting and good; the lady experiencing everything through her Ipad ruined things. We left early.

Summited Mauna Kea and saw the telescopes one afternoon. Easy drive and easy hike for us, but we only stayed up there a brief time out of concern for my daughter's health. She said she felt fine; I was a tad daddy-paranoid so I made her recite pi to 30 decimal places after we decended (She memorizes pi. I don't know why.)

[Attached picture is of me on the summit of Mauna Kea. I don't post pictures of my kids to preserve their privacy.]

Enjoyed Scandinavian Shaved Ice (on Alii drive) as well as smoothies at Alii Buzz. Both very good food and very hydrating.

We skipped Kilauea because it didn't fit into our schedule and things weren't very active while we were there anyway. We also skipped the aquarium (apparently it closed?).

On Kauai, we stayed in Poipu at the Outrigger Kehana (?) Plantation Resort between Poipu road and the beach. Nice condos -- spacious and comfortable.

On Kauai we:

Did a helicopter tour of the island with Island Helicopters, which lands near the base of the "Jurassic Park" waterfall and also tours the Napali coast and the rest of the island. We both really liked this tour.

Fed the koi by the hotel front desk.

Did a catamaran cruise of the Napali coast on a catamaran because she had really enjoyed just being out on the boat on the whale watching tour on the Big Island. Saw dolphins and perhaps five or six humpbacks, including a baby that leapt almost entirely out of the water, which was very cool to see.

Swam in the ocean at Poipu beach and just enjoyed the waves for a while. It was great to see my daughter's confidence increase throughout the week to where she was willing to play in the surf without life jacket or holding my hand. (I was right there).

Visited Waimea and Opeka'a (sp?) Falls the last day.

We didn't make a special trip to get a Nords surf lesson, and we didn't try on the Big Island because the surf lesson folks there didn't think the surf was good enough for teaching. I really appreciated their willingness to turn down business just to make sure that what they offered was excellent. We did bring boogie boards to the beach in Poipu, but ended up not trying them since she was content to just play in the surf.

2Cor521
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:27 AM   #17
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Nords asked for a trip report, so here's kind of a quick breakdown:
....
Your daughter is quite a lucky girl indeed. Sounds like you two had a great time. You two must have loads of energy. Just reading your trip report exhausted me .
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:41 PM   #18
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That sounds like a wonderful trip. She is indeed a lucky girl. Nice picture of you.
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:01 PM   #19
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What great memories you will have of this trip !
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:15 PM   #20
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Did a catamaran cruise of the Napali coast
How incredibly cool and spectacular just this one excursion must have been! I have seen the Na Pali coast from a private plane piloted by a friend (back in the 1960's), but have never gone there by sea. It is one of the most stunning places on earth, for me at least.

What a wonderful dream come true for your daughter.
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