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Hawaiian Getaway
Old 12-23-2007, 11:27 AM   #1
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Hawaiian Getaway

DH and I are planning to spend next Christmas in Hawaii next year. We have never been to the islands and would like to spend a week to ten days there. I am sure that there are a lot of people on this board who have visited. Any advice, tips and suggestions would be appreciated regarding where to stay and things to do. We are both pretty active and love to walk, swim etc. also is there a place to rent motorcycles to run around the islands on. Thanks in advance
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:45 AM   #2
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Follow this link: (FAQ archive) E komo mai Hawaii!
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Old 12-24-2007, 03:41 AM   #3
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If you decide to stay in Waikiki, then I have a hotel to recommend. We love to stay at the Moana Surfrider. It's now a Westin hotel. The historic section is great. It's, I think, the oldest hotel in Waikiki and very nice. My daughter was there a couple of weeks ago and said that it was decorated beautifully for Christmas. It's right on the beach and has an amazing banyan tree. As for things to do in Waikiki...plenty of shopping, there's a zoo, and nearby is plenty of other activities. There's a shuttle to the water park and there's the polynesian cultural center. Lots to do on Oahu.

Maui and Kauai have some nice, but very expensive, resorts.

Just depends on what you want to do: Lie around a pool and relax, or be in an area where there are more activities.
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Old 12-24-2007, 02:00 PM   #4
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The DW and I have also been thinking of going to Hawaii. Since we have never been there before we thought it might be a good idea to take a cruise so we could see all the islands the first time. If we were to go back we would have a better idea of where we would want to go. Has anyone taken a hawaiin cruise? What were your experiences?
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Old 12-24-2007, 07:23 PM   #5
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We are headed to Kauai in January. Ask me in a month how that was.
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:54 PM   #6
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The DW and I have also been thinking of going to Hawaii. Since we have never been there before we thought it might be a good idea to take a cruise so we could see all the islands the first time. If we were to go back we would have a better idea of where we would want to go. Has anyone taken a hawaiin cruise? What were your experiences?
Living here I've resisted my mom's many offers take the family on a Hawaii cruise. However, my mom, a former travel agent, and veteran cruiser, has gone twice. The first time about 5 years ago she liked this last time year or so ago, she didn't.

I've also talked to other couple who have taken them and my sister shared a candid conversation with a cruise ship employee.

Pro
  • Absolutely the least expensive way of seeing all the islands. By the time you pay for airfare (cheap now but...), rental cars, and hotels or condo, food and activies I'd imagine you spend twice as much as on a cruise.
  • Food is better than most moderate priced tourist places you'll eat on the island (not necessarily better than local kind places, or the good restaurants in Waikiki)
  • Some of the place you'll see like north coast of Kauai are hard to get normally.
  • No unpacking, no getting lost searching for unpronouncable name that all look a like.
  • New ships with good amenities
  • Good way of meeting interesting people
Cons
  • If you are a veteran cruiser (I am not) you'll find the staff (primarily Americans) aren't as good as the foreign ones. (The work is long, the pay is lousy, and young Americans are not as service oriented as say Filipino kids)
  • As one of the somewhat bitter cruise ship employees described it "Hawaii cruises are the Walmart of cruises". My mom had similar complaints about the cabins, overall elegance. QEII this is not.
  • Shore execursions are often pricey and crowded, especially at some of the smaller ports Kauai, Hilo, Molokai.
  • Like a tour you'll not have as much time as you want at some places.
  • You won't meet locals
  • No beach time.
So my overall advice is yes they are in many ways a good orientation. However, they miss some of the essence of a Hawaii vacation which is relaxing for few days at our fabulous beaches. So if you do a cruise I'd recommend spending a few days at Waikiki or Maui, or Kona just sort of relaxing.
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Old 12-24-2007, 11:47 PM   #7
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The DW and I have also been thinking of going to Hawaii. Since we have never been there before we thought it might be a good idea to take a cruise so we could see all the islands the first time. If we were to go back we would have a better idea of where we would want to go. Has anyone taken a hawaiin cruise? What were your experiences?
I'm with Clif.

I've been on the Norwegian STAR and WIND voyages to Fanning Island (Kiribati) with side trips to the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. (No Molokai or Lanai or Niihau cruises are available.) The ships had foreign crews and both were great but I haven't been on any of the newer American-flagged ships.

When we got to port, though, we rarely went ashore. You can really enjoy the ship's amenities when the other 2000+ passengers are being shuttled around the islands like herds of lemmings.

Which makes the shore excursions somewhat problematic. Most of the activities will only take place if they're fully booked, so there's zero chance of finding a half-full trip. They are all overpriced, some by as much as 2x as the price you'd pay if you scheduled your own. They all involve a tight schedule because the ship won't wait for you. (If you miss underway, the best the ship will do is fly you ahead to the next portcall. Maybe they'll even pay for it.) But having said that, if you find a rental car and do your own excursion then you might avoid the herds.

Some of the itineraries involve an overnight portcall (I think I saw Pride of Aloha do that in Kahului Maui). But again 2000+ passengers can overwhelm a small town and even cause gridlock. Our family doesn't enjoy being shuttled around the sights on a tour bus and we appreciated the ship more inport, so we never took a shore excursion. We usually walked to the beach or strolled a shopping center and took it easy, but we have the convenience of being able to "come back" anytime.

The American-flagged ship's crews took a lot of bad press the first year, but that's been out of the press for a long time. Maybe one of the cruise blogs has more recent info, but I think the complaint rate has come down to parity with the foreign crews. However the American crews still have high turnover so you may encounter many more amateurs and scheduling confusion.

IMO the best way to see Hawaii is to spend 7-10 days on Oahu and another 7-10 days on a neighbor island (I'd recommend Big Island for the volcano). If it can't be done in one trip then do it in two trips. That way you avoid the "%^&*, it's Tuesday so this must be @#$%ing Lahaina" syndrome...

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Originally Posted by Cattusbabe View Post
Any advice, tips and suggestions would be appreciated regarding where to stay and things to do. We are both pretty active and love to walk, swim etc. also is there a place to rent motorcycles to run around the islands on. Thanks in advance
Mopeds? No problem. Motorcycles I'm not sure. The car-rental agencies might not want to touch you but you'll get the straight scoop by posting this question to HawaiiThreads.com for one of the bikers to answer. (And you'll get plenty of responses with your avatar!) Or if you want I can post the question and report back.

I gotta warn you that Hawaii has some of the nation's most unpredictably dangerous drivers, especially around motorcycles. Traffic does not move smoothly around here and ironically it's even worse during rain. When I was on active duty several shipmates were seriously injured and another dozen or so swore off riding in traffic. People don't hear your exhausts, don't check their mirrors, and don't look across intersections before randomly changing direction or even slamming on their brakes. Random brake lights and "sympathetic braking" are nasty problems here. But you'll see plenty of bikers around the North Shore and out on the Leeward coast.

It's hard to answer the "What to do in Hawaii?" question without knowing your preferences. If you have more questions after reading the links, especially the "101 Things To Do" list, post or PM me...
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:46 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the advice and tips. Will begin to do the homework suggested here and will get back to you all with more questions if I have them. We are really not tour type people and would like to get as close to the "natives" as possible. There is no point in traveling otherwise.

Nords thanks so much on the info on cycles. That activity is off the list. May go to that website you suggested anyway to see if you are right about my avatar.
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Old 12-27-2007, 11:35 AM   #9
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Cattusbabe, I would highly recommend a stop on the big island of Hawaii, and a rental car. In my opinion, no trip to Hawaii is complete without seeing Volcano National Park. Also, if you're interested in locals, there's plenty on the big island. It's mostly rural, and beautiful. I would also suggest a trip to south point, the southernmost point in the US, (A wild, lonely, beautiful place) and a drive over saddle road from one side of the island to the other. You can drive through lava fields for miles that look like they hardened yesterday, see large vistas, small towns, etc. Lots of things to do here that have a rural, local flavor. It's our favorite island.
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Old 12-27-2007, 01:19 PM   #10
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Cattusbabe, I would highly recommend a stop on the big island of Hawaii, and a rental car. In my opinion, no trip to Hawaii is complete without seeing Volcano National Park. Also, if you're interested in locals, there's plenty on the big island. It's mostly rural, and beautiful. I would also suggest a trip to south point, the southernmost point in the US, (A wild, lonely, beautiful place) and a drive over saddle road from one side of the island to the other. You can drive through lava fields for miles that look like they hardened yesterday, see large vistas, small towns, etc. Lots of things to do here that have a rural, local flavor. It's our favorite island.
i would have to second everything mentioned by puzzley. I really
like the big island.

my brother and i rented a jeep and drove the the saddle road as well as
going around the entire coast. on occasion the jeep came in handy and it
was fun to drive. i thought it was well worth the extra money.
i'm going back some day for sure.. It's a great place for medium / low
intensity hiking which is what he and i tend to do when we go on vacation
together. we stayed in hilo, volcano, waimea (sp?) and kona in places
that we just found as we traveled. all moderately priced.
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:31 PM   #11
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Big Island be my favorite also. I'd live there if I wasn't such a city boy and internet addict (no broadband on the Big Island when I moved here in 99).
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Old 12-28-2007, 12:00 PM   #12
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RE: Cruise- my 80 year-old parents loved it. They got to see "everything" by bus. Sounds like a nightmare to me. The best part of the islands is the beaches, the flowers, the water. I would really advise against a cruise unless you love buffets, meeting retirees, and have an aversion to swimming or snorkeling.

Otherwise- make your plans early. I always recommend Maui and the Big Island. You clearly want to be at a beachside hotel or condo, if possible. And make sure to reserve a rental car early. This year, there was nothing available on TBI the week after Xmas, and on Maui, the economy cars were being quoted at $190 a day! Not a motorcycle fan, but I would also caution you against it. Just get a convertible.
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Old 12-29-2007, 12:29 AM   #13
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The DW and I have also been thinking of going to Hawaii. Since we have never been there before we thought it might be a good idea to take a cruise so we could see all the islands the first time. If we were to go back we would have a better idea of where we would want to go. Has anyone taken a hawaiin cruise? What were your experiences?
Friends of ours took a cruise to Hawaii last summer on Carnival Line. They were quite happy with it. They did like the part about seeing all the islands and lodging on the ship while visiting each island.
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Old 12-29-2007, 08:19 AM   #14
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We really enjoyed where we stayed in Maui. It was a condo that was beachfront (but no beach - rocky). It had it's own beautiful lawn area with shuffleboard, a pool, and a barbeque area. It was "reasonable" compared to other beachfront condos. The name of the complex was Kihei Surfside: Kihei Surfside When we left I got a list of private owners who rent out their condo's...I should have it somewhere (hopefully!) if you decide to go to Maui and are interested. Private owners may offer a better deal than that listed on the website.

We really enjoyed snorkeling in various places around the island, went hiking, did the biking down from the top of that big crater (can't recall the name right now), etc. It was a great time and so relaxing.
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Old 12-29-2007, 09:25 AM   #15
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We just made our reservations for our second trip to Waikiki. We're staying at the same hotel (Resortquest Waikiki Circle), since it has a great location, great view, and is simpler and cheaper than other hotels ($166/night through hotel or about $125/night as part of airfare/hotel deal). The hotel is right across the street from my favorite surf spot.

While Waikiki is more city than country, that's OK with us because we live in the country.

I'm looking forward to a return trip, since we'll know our way around, know which restaurants are good, etc.

In picture one, that's me with my arms up.
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Old 12-29-2007, 10:14 AM   #16
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I would advise you to also look on Fodor's travel boards, as Hawaii is discussed constantly there. Fodor's Travel Guides - Plan Your Trip Online
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Old 12-29-2007, 11:35 AM   #17
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did the biking down from the top of that big crater (can't recall the name right now)
The Haleakala bicycle trips have been "suspended" for a few months pending survivor litigation and concern over the environmental impact of the crowds. The Dept of Natural Resources is expected to give the tour operators a bit of room to come up with a new plan but local residents haven't been very happy about the whole thing.
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Waikiki restaurants and stuff
Old 12-29-2007, 06:26 PM   #18
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Waikiki restaurants and stuff

Al, a list of those restaurants and other value attractions would be appreciated. ResortQuest Circle sounds like our place to go next season. We like old fashion places and value. I have not been back to Oahu since 1967. Figure we would need a car rental for only part of our stay, comments on car? While we're there, we will be looking for a monthly house rental for the following winter. Thanks.
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Old 12-29-2007, 07:17 PM   #19
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Al, a list of those restaurants and other value attractions would be appreciated.
I'm sure others know much more, but here's what we found:

We rented a car last year, but will not this year. We've already traveled around the island, and a car cost $18/day to park at the hotel. Most days it just sat there, and when we took it out, we were worried about not getting a parking space when we returned. Might rent one for a day.

I might catch a lot of grief for this, but we found that the snorkeling at Hanauma was not worth it. I think we saw about 12 fish total (DW says 25), and lots of light brown coral.

I really enjoyed body surfing at Sandy Beach, though it's the most dangerous place on the island (people tend to be dumped on their heads).
SandyBeach.jpg

Restaurants: Ono's (authentic Hawaiian) should be experienced once. We walked to Don Ho's from Waikiki, and that's fun, though not that special. We liked the Japanese noodle place a block from the hotel. McDonald's spam and eggs breakfast is not to be missed. Sorry, but I don't remember the names of the restaurants we liked.
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Old 12-30-2007, 12:17 PM   #20
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We stayed at the same ResortQuest hotel as TAl last year and have to say it was worth the money for the ocean view. I would also recommend Ono's.

We are also heading back in February for a long weekend as I want to learn to surf this year, so am trying to work out flights etc.
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