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Hawaii vacation questions
Old 03-30-2010, 04:50 PM   #1
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Hawaii vacation questions

I'm doing some research on possibly a Hawaii vacation. This will be our first Hawaii trip as well as our first real family vacation. I'll be traveling with my wife and 2 kids(6 & 9). I've been searching mainly on travelocity, orbitz and farecompare. the going rate for flight + 6 night hotel seems to start at around $500/person for late June. (is this the best I can do?). These rates are for boutique hotels like Aloha Surf, Island colony and Castle Ocean Resort. Anyone has experience with them? Their user reviews seem to be average. We're not picky at all, just need something clean and basic. We won't be in the hotel room a lot anyway, just need a shower, clean beds and simple cooking so we don't have to eat out all the time.

I'm thinking I should keep it to one island this time, I'm sure I'll be back to do the inter-island hoping in times(or do you think I can do two?). We're very into water activities, swimming/snorkeling/kayaking and I might go for some shore dive as well. We've been going to Laguna Beach/La Jolla/Catalina Island in the past but I finally decided it's time to bite the bullet and upgrade to Waikiki, so the sandy beach is a must, the price for the zoo and acquarium seems to be pretty cheap so we might hit those, too, as well as hanauma bay. Any other suggestions? Oh, I'm so excited just typing this post from my cubicle. Can't wait to ER!
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:06 PM   #2
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I hope you won't be disappointed in Waikiki. The weather will be great of course. But it (Waikiki) is only 10 blocks long and with all of the high rise hotels there, really packs in the tourists. Honolulu is really quite urban. So if you had in mind the sparsely populated beach, Honolulu/Waikiki doesn't really cut it. The beaches south of Los Angeles are nicer (in my opinion) than Waikiki.

One thing though that I would like to do though on Northshore Oahu is see the Monster waves at WaiMea bay. When I have gone the waves were big but weren't the giant ones that you could feel crashing on the shore.

A better (perhaps more costly) vacation in my opinion is Maui or Hawaii (Big Island) or better yet check out Orient beach on St. Martin in the Caribbean for one amazing beach.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:39 PM   #3
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Greetings. I would reiterate what MasterBlaster says in that you may have a better "Hawaiian" family vacation on another island - I love Maui and the Big Island - or perhaps in another area of Oahu. Maui has the better beaches while the Big Island has more adventure activities including Mauna Kea and the active Kilauea volcano.

As for deals, you may want to look into renting a condo rather than hotel rooms since you mention that your family would prefer to cook rather than eat out. Given the tourism trouble and the depressed real estate market in Hawaii I would presume that some incredibly good condo rentals exist right now. Having said that, I am currently in the stages of planning a Kauai trip for June and am seeing some extremely good deals for very good hotels so perhaps you may want to do some more investigating for better hotel deals - I suspect that Maui and the Big Island will have better deals than Waikiki since those islands are solely dependent upon tourism for their local economies.

Good luck and enjoy...Hawaii is awesome.
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:53 PM   #4
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This thread may help:
(FAQ archive) E komo mai Hawaii!
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Old 03-30-2010, 05:57 PM   #5
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As for deals, you may want to look into renting a condo rather than hotel rooms since you mention that your family would prefer to cook rather than eat out. .
actually, that was the route I was going to take and I found some good condo deals on craigslist last week, the plane ticket was only $381(after tax and everything) then bam! prices went up on all sites yesterday, now it's at around a little under $600 I think (for the same flight date) WTH? is there some pricing algorithm going on just like the Quan's? But if I book flight with hotel, the pkg deal becomes more reasonable.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:01 PM   #6
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I think it is what you are looking for that would determine what island. Each has it's own charm. For us it is Kauai. Not as much hiking and such as the big island, no volcanoes, just a great get away. I am sure Nords will be along with a comment soon.

There is plenty to do on Oahu. Great beaches, sometimes crowded, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor, Pineapple plantations (I think there are some still there) and no additional money for travel to an outer island. You can't go wrong with any of them.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:04 PM   #7
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the plane ticket was only $381(after tax and everything) then bam! prices went up on all sites yesterday, now it's at around a little under $600 I think (for the same flight date) WTH?
How they price airplane tickets is a big puzzle. In general it helps to know what a good deal actually is and then when you see one grab it and don't look back.

Guaranteed though, there will be an airfare sale coming up. When that happens then that would be the time to buy and lock in the good price.


If you follow airplane prices on just about any route, you'd be surprised by how much they vary every hour, by the day, and periodically when sales hit.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:06 PM   #8
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Hawaii is all good.... you will enjoy it whichever island you choose and how you do it. Every Island has a different flavor but all are beautiful. My wife and kids and I have have been 5 times in 10 yrs. We've done Big Island, Maui twice, Kauai once, all staying in condos and renting a car, eating in mostly. Those were all "busy" vacations, driving a lot in order to see everything. All islands have traffic jams, so you won't exactly feel like you are on a remote island if you have a car. Our last trip, however, we went to Waikiki, stayed at an all-in-one resort (Hilton Hawaiian Village) and did not rent a car. This turned out to be my favorite Hawaii trip, as we did a lot of nothing except sit on the beach, sit by the pool, surfed and paddleboarded at the beach in front of our hotel, and walk to restaurants to eat. It was soooo relaxing! My kids also had more fun not being in a car driving from one sight to another, and had just as much fun playing on the beach as anything else. The best time was morning- I went for a 6 mile run follwed by a 20 minute ocean swim before 8am everyday, then sat on our lanai, watching the ocean, drinking Kona coffee before my family even woke up. Wish I could do that everyday of my life!
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:09 PM   #9
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prices went up on all sites yesterday, now it's at around a little under $600 I think (for the same flight date) WTH? is there some pricing algorithm going on just like the Quan's?
Ha! The airlines have got to be the most poorly run industry in the world. Misery at every level of the process now: Horrible time purchasing ticket, horrible time getting to airport, horrible time dealing with check-in, horrible time on the plane and finally a horrible time getting out of the plane and out of the airport...

Our United plane tickets that we bot last yr on a trip to the Big Island were $980 each the day before we bot, $830 the day we bot and then $1050 on the day after we bot...
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:22 PM   #10
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(FAQ archive) E komo mai Hawaii!

I'd also highly recommend Franko's Maps and guides (Franko's Maps Fabulous Maps of Favorite Places) for surfing & diving.

PM me if you have more questions after reading the threads.
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:23 PM   #11
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Ha! The airlines have got to be the most poorly run industry in the world. Misery at every level of the process now: Horrible time purchasing ticket, horrible time getting to airport, horrible time dealing with check-in, horrible time on the plane and finally a horrible time getting out of the plane and out of the airport...
We have the system that we all want evidently. People vote for the bad service and miserable experience every time they buy a ticket. If one of the other airlines offers food and comfortable cabins but charges $5 more per ticket then nobody buys their tickets.

It's a race to the bottom where all that matters is the ticket price. You have a vote here - Don't do business with the crap service airlines.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:33 PM   #12
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We were very happy with the circle hotel, and went there twice in a row. No frills, close to the water, great view, good service. You can get a feeling the trips (and pictures of the hotel room) from our 2007 trip blog and 2008 trip blog.

We'd go more, but the flying is too much of a bother. The pictures remind me of how much fun we had, however.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:37 PM   #13
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Just go. Get on your horse and take off.

Hawaii is much more diverse than you can imagine... way too massive a project to research sitting at home in front of a computer or with a book in hand. It is very easy to over-think this and be disappointed. You didn't say how long you intended to visit -- my suggestion: at least ten days but no more than three weeks.

It is very convenient to say that the hotel is unimportant but it is very easy to exhaust oneself with all there is to do (no matter which island you decide on) and pampering by a good hotel will be just what the doctor ordered at the end of a long day playing tourist.

Okay, if you must do research -- this is a nice website: BEAT OF HAWAII AND BEYOND. But! Don't treat it as extra special. There are many other sites, that I visit regularly, that are equal to the task .

(In any event, the advice from the residents of Hawaii who haunt this Forum should be given the highest priority.)
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:41 PM   #14
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I'm a big cheapskate. I stalk prices and research costs for hours on end. Hawaii was the only trip where I absolutely, positively could not price out the components cheaper than what the "packaged" vacations were going for. Maybe being in Iowa with the high airfare was part of the problem? Anyway...

We went in April which was less expensive than the summer months. We booked the vacation (air and hotel pkg) thru United vacations and stayed at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki. I loved this hotel. Beautiful patio, huge banyan tree. We even saw James Earl Jones at Pearl Harbor.

OT: When the narrative by the veteran was over at Pearl Harbor my son went up and asked him for his autograph. The vet was a little hard of hearing and apologized to my son, telling him that James Earl Jones had already left. Very loud then, my son said, "No. I want your autograph!" The old vet got all choked up and gave my little boy a big hug and an autograph.
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Old 03-30-2010, 08:51 PM   #15
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What island would be best for a younger, party scene with fewer kids?
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Old 03-30-2010, 10:10 PM   #16
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To the OP. June is close to peak time and while deals are better than most years, the bargains that were easy to find last year, aren't as great. For a first time visitors, a package deal to Waikiki is a pretty good way of getting a fee for the island.

As a general rule adults like the less touristy outer island, although they are pricier. Kids generally like Waikiki better. My only advice is not to over schedule yourself, a week is nice length of time to see the highlights of Oahu, but you do want to have some time to just chill and enjoy the beach and beauty.

Feel free to PM me also if you have questions after you read the threads, and checked out other online resource.. I volunteer have volunteered at several of the more popular sites.
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:30 AM   #17
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What island would be best for a younger, party scene with fewer kids?
That's a good question. I don't know if you can split 'em up that way.

If a more luxurious (expensive) Waikiki hotel has a pool, it tries to separate "adult" and "family" pools. Kids aren't usually at the beach before 9 AM and they start thinning out at dinnertime. If Waikiki's various beaches don't offer enough shade (or have too many kids) then you could probably move a couple hundred yards in either direction. Or out to deeper water...

Waikiki probably has the highest density of party scenes. Lahaina has a reputation, as does Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Poipu on Kauai. But I haven't been to those last three in years (we have a kid!) so I haven't done any recent in-depth research.

Gosh am I looking forward to empty-nesterhood...
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Old 03-31-2010, 04:24 AM   #18
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We almost always stay in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, but there is also a Courtyard by Marriott not too far from the beach. We've done it that way to get the room & rentacar package, and for the fact that we know it, and for the fact that I have little time to do the research. (We were there last week, as a matter of fact...DD is in university on Oahu and works at the Polynesian Cultural Center).

Anyway, I am sure you can get better deals that what we got, but you have to dig for them. Personally I would stick with Oahu the first time, since there is so much diversity, and it is good for the kids to see Pearl Harbor at least once in their lives. But you may have other priorities.

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Old 03-31-2010, 09:27 AM   #19
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We have the system that we all want evidently. People vote for the bad service and miserable experience every time they buy a ticket. If one of the other airlines offers food and comfortable cabins but charges $5 more per ticket then nobody buys their tickets.

It's a race to the bottom where all that matters is the ticket price. You have a vote here - Don't do business with the crap service airlines.
Well, with respect to the airline industry and Hawaii, the supply/demand equation has been broken for awhile. Who knows what the chicken and the egg is as to how the business got to where it is but as of today, you and I as the consumer (demand function), are looking at a limited supply function as we can basically choose only from United and to a lesser extent Continental/Delta and Hawaiian Air. Currently, even if we would prefer to pay for better service, the option simply doesn't exist so we are left to act like price hawks in order to get the best price for service and quality that is fixed. I wouldn't argue that the Consumer of the past is not to blame for ultimately destroying competitive quality but today that isn't an option for us to choose.
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Old 03-31-2010, 12:29 PM   #20
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I would recommend Waikiki for a first time visit to HI. Climb up Diamond Head for an unforgettable view. Hanauma Bay is OK but get there EARLY before the crowds kick up all the silt.

I am a big fan of the Waikiki Beach Marriott as well, but partially because I am Platinum and I buy a cheap city view room and they always upgrade me to a suite or Oceanfront.

Oh and you must go to Duke's Canoe Club and try the Hula pie. One serving will feed your whole family.
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