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Need Hawaii tourist suggestions
Old 04-20-2013, 02:08 PM   #1
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Need Hawaii tourist suggestions

Help! I'm drowning in information overload and can't figure out where/what to do.
Here's the scoop- we will be on NCL cruise in July, Saturday to Saturday.
We already plan to go to Pearl Harbor on the Friday morning before the cruise. And, we are staying overnight on the Saturday when the cruise ends. Since this is part of the good ol' USA, we will do things on our own(rent car, cab, etc.) vs shore excursions.
Sunday and Monday: Maui
Tuesday: Hilo
Wed: Kona
Thursday and Friday: Kauai

DW and I both have bad backs, so long slow walks (e.g., some of those eco-tours) likely won't be good for us. We'd like to go to one beach for swimming and snorkeling (where we could rent lounge and umbrella), presume Volcanoes National Park is a must, but beyond that I'm befuddled.

Also, is that Polynesian Cultural Center good for their Luau? I'm sure it's tourist trap but we just want to have some fun and be entertained.

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Old 04-20-2013, 03:01 PM   #2
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I really enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center (pay the extra and get the guide), but not the luau. Besides being alcohol free, the food and entertainment weren't up to par compared to the luau in Lahaina (Maui), IMHO.

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Old 04-20-2013, 03:14 PM   #3
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On Kauai go North one day and explore the North Shore. Stop by Kilauea Lighthouse on the way up. Make sure to spend time checking out Hanalei and the beach at beautiful Hanalei Bay. Drive all the way out to the end of the road to Ke'e Beach and check out the incredible views of the NaPali Coast.
For your other day on Kauai take the drive all the way to the end of Waimea Canyon to Kalalau Lookout. Stop by the various viewing points on the way back down for gorgeous views of the "Grand Canyon Of The Pacific". After that head to Kauai Coffee for a tour and sampling of their coffees.
Either day if you get back to the ship early you can walk over to the Marriot and enjoy a piece of Kauai Pie at Dukes.
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Old 04-20-2013, 04:01 PM   #4
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Might be some useful info here (FAQ archive) E komo mai Hawaii!
Living an analog life in the Digital Age.
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Old 04-20-2013, 08:28 PM   #5
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Thanks all! Gumby I checked those other links and will research further. Thanks again.
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Old 04-20-2013, 10:18 PM   #6
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Aloha! I'm in Maui right now (first visit) and am smitten with the island.

I have been to the luau at the Royal Lahaina, as it was the one recommended by many, and it was very good but not outstanding as far as these cultural shows go. Once you are in, you can imbibe to your heart's content. The setting is beautiful and the performers are very professional. They change costumes very quickly between sets! The food is good and I especially liked the pulled pork roasted underground.

I took a snorkeling excursion on a 60 year old catamaran to the Molokini crater and the Turtle Island. Very fun, but my back got sunburned. I recommend this or another similar excursion, but perhaps wear a Tshirt. You can ask for a wetsuit but the water is warm enough not to need it. These boats leave from Maa'alea Harbor. At the harbor there is a neat little museum (free) and a wonderful pizza restaurant called Porto. There is also an Aquarium, which I have not visited.

Today I had a wonderful day. I started by driving to the top of the Haleakala crater - 1.5 hours of switchbacks - and the changes in climate and geography were amazing. You start in the tropics, go up through temperate climate with dairy farms, and end up climbing scary, unfenced hairpin bends in volcanic tundra at 15 mph through the clouds. The elevation at the top is just over 10,000 feet, and I definitely was conscious of my breathing. At this point you are either in or above the clouds. When I arrived, the sky was blue and I could see a volcanic peak on another island, but while I was there the mist rolled in and my trip down the mountain was like driving through pea soup fog in Newfoundland! On the way down I visited the Lavender farm, which is not yet at its seasonal best, but is lovely. Then I noticed a sign for "Historic Makawao Village" which looks like something out of the old West but dates from the 1940s. It has become an artisan's haven. On reaching the lower part of the island I headed for Ioa State Park, which is a tropical oasis in a sheltered valley. On the way back to Kihei I stopped at Maa'alea Beach for a walk through the water and I still have sand between my toes. There is nothing like being spontaneous!

All these places (except perhaps Makawao) are worth a visit if you have the time. I have rented a car and brought my own GPS, which is very helpful. The maximum speed limit that I have seen here is 55 mph and many sections of road are signposted with speed limits that appear excessively cautious......and that many people ignore. I keep close to the speed limit but impatient drivers overtake and honk at me!

Beaches abound on Maui. I do not presume to know the best for snorkeling, but all of the sandy ones are wonderful for walking. In general, the water seems choppier in the afternoon, so snorkel trips begin in the early morning.

I am here till April 30th and will be visiting Oahu next week. If you find my ramblings helpful, PM me at the end of my vacation when I have seen and done more!
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:26 AM   #7
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Meadbh, DW and I went to Maui years ago and it was absolutely wonderful. We also did the Haleakala sunrise and bike ride down the mountainside. The road to Hana was beautiful, as we stopped at botanical gardens along the way. We stayed at kaanapoli beach hotel and were very satisfied. It is nestled between more expensive hotels and the location can't be beat. We did not get to do the Molokini crater, but when we return that is on the list.
I am interested in trying some of the other islands, and would love to hear how Oahu compared.
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:44 AM   #8
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My suggestion - spend all 6 days in Maui. Your plan involves so much traveling you will be giving up time to relax and explore any 1 place in depth. Maui has plenty of things to do and see during that time.
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:55 AM   #9
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I took the NCL cruise in 2010 and considered it my Hawaii scouting expedition, with the ship as my mobile hotel room. I have since been traveling to Honolulu on business for the last several years and just returned from there the day before yesterday. (We have a negotiated rate at the Hyatt in Waikiki. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it.)

Some tips from my perspective:

1. Take the earliest tour of the Arizona Memorial you can. If you are from the mainland east coast you'll be up and awake before dawn anyway.

2. Waikiki is a tourist trap and the beach is frankly disappointing, but I recommend seeing it at least once. Lots of good restaurants.

3. Definitely rent a car for the volcano day in Hilo. The NCL excursion van was packed like sardines and rushed us through the good stuff, trapping us in a hot and humid van for 20 minutes of worthless stories while we looked out the windows wishing we'd had more time at the crater. Then we were dumped at the macadamia nut factory gift shop for over an hour. The lava tube would have been really cool if there wasn't a continuous line of tourists shuffling through due to the confluence of excursion vans.

4. I enjoyed the "Road to Hana" in Maui. While some would only consider driving it themselves, we found a non-NCL-affiliated excursion van that was much roomier than the cruise ship's vans plus we were fed a hot meal on real plates where the cruise ship's company feeds you box lunches on the curb. Wish I could remember the name of it, but I expect it would stand out in a web search. However, it went all the way 'round the island and once you pass Hana it's pretty dull scenery on the dry side of the island.

5. Kona was beach day, for sure. I took the Captain Zodiac excursion from the ship (you can book it yourself as well) and it was a blast. Probably not for bad backs, though.

6. Kauai was our favorite island, and I used my Hyatt points for a return last fall. While on the cruise we only took one day for an excursion and rented a car since the experience with the cruise ship's van was so poor. We were glad we did. It was easy to take the car rental company's van from the pier to the airport, and cars in Hawaii are cheap (although gas definitely isn't). We took the road north and fell in love with Hanalei. The ship leaves early afternoon on the second day so as to leave time for a view of the Nā Pali Coast , and since we were excursioned out we took that time to just chill out on the ship. Waimea Canyon is a must-see, though, and we were glad to see it on our second trip.

7. There's too much to do on any of the islands in one or two days. Accept that, and plan to return to one or two islands on your own next time.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:31 AM   #10
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This was the tour I took on the Road to Hana:

Road to Hana Eco Adventure Tour

I enjoyed the whole tour, including the desert-like scenery at the southern tip, because the diversity is amazing. We had a hot lunch at a tropical flower nursery and the bus was very comfortable.

I agree with many of galaxy boy's observations. In particular, don't expect to see more than a tiny selection of what each island has to offer on a cruise stop. You simply must return at a later date!

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