Amidst all this traveling and planning for traveling, we've recognized that we need to get the "real" Summer vacation tour down. Before ticket prices start to become filthy expensive and before my calendar books full. So, considering all the good advice I've been receiving on this blog about traveling in the past, I'll ask once more.
What's the best way to enjoy Hawaii? We're thinking 10-14 days some time around mid-August. Perhaps Maui. Hotel in the ~$120/day area. Good beaches, interesting spots to visit. All that jazz.
If your visit is to Maui and you are willing to rough it for a night or so I highly recommend staying at the cabins at Waianapanapa State Park. Best link: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/maui/H25281.html
You are right on a rocky coast with strong winds and swells breaking on the black rock right outside your window. The cabins are very simple, but you get the true tropics feel. There is a warm wind blowing through your cabin at night, and the sounds of the swells breaking right close.
Here is a photo that shows how close you are to the coast: http://iolaire.net/current_site/photos/travel/2002/Hawaii/Pages/19.php
So if you are willing to take a 1 star room for a 5 star location look into it.
Challenge by Scott Hill on May 23, 19:07
I stayed on Maui and enjoyed almost everything I did, from tours to water activities. However, whatever you do, DO NOT do the biking down Haleakala thing--it totally sucks. (If you get a chance to see sunrise from the observatory on the volcano, DO do that. Gorgeous.)
We stayed on the West coast of Maui on Kaanapali beach. It was beautiful over there. We also visited the whaling town of Lahaina, which was very nice as well. Paia offers a little more "local" (non-touristy) behavior, and was incidentally the best place to watch the sunset. The drive to Hana is a definite must-do activity, and I highly recommend taking the helicopter tour as you'll get to see a ton of the island that you wouldn't get to see otherwise.
My personal favorite is actually Kauai. I've written it up quite thoroughly here (http://billeisenhauer.blogs.com/main/2004/10/kauaihighly_rec.html).
Go to this island if you want to enjoy the beaches without laying on top of your fellow sunbathers and if you want to enjoy more of the nature side of things. Do not go here, if you are looking for a party.
I'll be there in late August and early September myself...
Oheo Gulch on Maui is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited (http://www.hawaiiweb.com/maui/sites_to_see/OheoGulch.htm). But make sure the weather is good before you go, if it is the least bit stormy they won't let you swim in the pools because of flash floods.
There is also a lava cave near Hana that is cool if you are in the area (http://www.mauicave.com/links.html) Bring a candy bar though because the whole cave appears to be made out of chocolate and will leave you craving some when you emerge.
David -- We've been to HI 18 times in the past 10 years, can't get enough of it! For most people, Maui is the best place for the first visit. You can find a lot to do regardless of your taste. If you want to chill on the beach and swim with tropical fish, I highly recommend Napili Shores. It's basic but clean, and ocean view is affordable. Napili is up the coast from Kaanapali, so you can shoot down the road to restaurants, shopping, sunset catamarans etc. Hula Grill is fun. Within walking distance up the road from Napili is Kapalua, the best beach anywhere, period. Calm, intimate, uncrowded, and you can jump up the hill for a meal at the Kapalua resort. The reason it's uncrowded is the parking lot is tiny and most people at the resort are golfers. That's why Napili rocks; inexpensive and within walking distance. If you want to party more, stay right on Kaanapali. We like Kaanapali Beach Hotel, more of an authentic feel than the big chains. Skip the mountain biking trip, though you can drive to the top of the volcano if you want. Definitely skip the road to Hana; it's a tough drive with not much to see at the end. If you don't mind spending money, the helicopter tour is highly recommended. Roy's Restaurant is very good (any of their locations). Windsurfing lessons are fun there because the wind is consistent. I haven't done the camping/roughing-it thing, so I don't know about that. Kauai is great too, just very laid back. Best for a second trip. Have fun! -- Brian
Challenge by Kevin Barnes on May 24, 0:19
The big island is well worth it. It was my favorite part of our recent trip last fall. You should be able to find a relatively inexpensive puddle jumper from whichever island you end up at.
You'll find nice beaches on every island. So, where you go really depends on what you want to do.
10-14 days is a nice amount of time. You might want to go to two islands.
Kauai is lush and green everywhere, and a bit more "rural". Maui is a bit more developed, but still has some beautiful places to see. The big island is neat because of Volcano National Park (real live lava flow!), and two amazing mountains (one tall, the other *gigantic*). A trip to the top of Mauna Kea is well worth it.
If I were planning a first time trip for that length of time, I'd go to Maui and the big island. (Do keep in mind that the big island truly is big: the main highway loop around the island is a 6 hour drive, if I recall correctly... plan accordingly.)
Unfortunately, $120/day is on the low side for staying in Maui. A couple places i can suggest:
* Banyan Tree House (http://www.hawaii-mauirentals.com/) This is up on the Haleakala mountain in a wonderful little town called Macawao. Macawao is a teeny town of organic food stores and little clothing shops, and also an amazing hot sauce store. I haven't stayed at the Banyan Tree House, but it seemed nice when we visited. It is a bit far from the main things you might want to do, though.
* The Mauian (http://www.mauian.com/) A very simple place on the west side, with very simple rooms (not even air-conditioned when i was there), but it's very close to a great beach. Great place.
We did Hawaii Last August. It was wonderful! My recommendations are to do the Big Island and Kauai. And of course a little Honolulu. Kauai and the Big Island give you the best variety of geology, with the big island being the youngest, a Kauai the oldest. The contrast of gradual slopes on the big island and the Canyons of Kauai are tremendous.
If you do the big island, I recommend staying at the volcano teapot cottage. http://www.volcanoteapot.com/ be warnned that there isn't a ton to do on the big island so don't plan on too much time there. Kona is smaller than people make it sound.
Kauai is wonderful. simply put wonderful. lots of outdoor stuff to do, lots of great small towns, lots of interesting places. you need at least a week here. You can start getting a feel for the place through their community radio station too. http://www.publicradiofan.com/cgi-bin/statsearch.pl?country=USA&state=HI&city=Kauai if you're there in August you should be able to see a seal nursing her young on Poipu Beach.
have a great trip.
Challenge by david on May 25, 14:32
It's too hot in August. I think you should go somewhere that has perfect weather now, but is not so nice in the winter, and save this trip for the miserable danish winter when you'll need it more. Nothing beats Christmas in Hawaii
I was in Hawaii in August and had the best time in Kauai, north - east corner.
You have: Incredible snorkeling - think aquarium, the secret beach which was one of the most beautiful beaches i have ever seen and there were maybe 10 people on a 3 km stretch, the Na Pali Coast trail for serious, serious hiking or, if you are smarter than me you arrive at the same destination on a Kayak in 3 hours of light paddling. There's surfing and windsurfing, too, of course. Be a good swimmer the waves can be rough.
I liked the area up there in the north of Kauai because it's super laid-back and there are no huge hotels.
The nightlife with tequilas and so on will be lacking - it's pretty country up there. Basically dead at night. But it is pristine and incredibly beautiful. Anyway, the rest of Hawaii probably is, too. Happy travels :)
Long time no chat. This is Shane (from Shane and Roxanne from the first Buillding of Basecamp in Chicago a couple of years ago.) Since Roxanne and I live on the Windward side of Oahu in the beautiful little town of Kailua, we're kind of biased toward Oahu. Sadly, most people that come to the island never leave Honolulu or Waikiki. While there is certainly lots to do in town and 'kiki, it by no means is representative of the island of Oahu. But that's cool because there can literally be only a few people on the entire 2 miles of Kailua beach in the morning when we go for our daily dip. Rox has actually started making vlogs at her personal site (http://www.inthetransition.com) and you can get glimpses of Kailua beach.
Everything mentioned above is pretty much correct. Every island has a 'personality' and tons and tons to keep you busy for your entire stay.
I'd recommend posting a list of things you'd like to do (tourist things, entire days at a secluded beach, people watch, nightlife, surf, etc.) and with that 'personality profile' it might be easier for people to make more specific recommendations.
Maui is... well... Maui. Very touristy and very expensive. It will be difficult to find a "nice" place for $120/night unless you do some serious searching. Keep in mind there are over 10,000 unlicenced bed-n-breakfast places to stay in the island. And while the people are usually wonderful (that's the absolute best thing about Hawaii, its people) you often times won't get exactly what's advertised or end up with what you see in pics on their websites.
The flip-side is that you'll prob spend very little time inside and will instead be out-and-about.
Kauai is very rural. Little to no night life as mentioned above. Much more rainy if you stay on the North Shore. Cheaper than Maui but not as much selection in restaurants and urban stuff as Maui or Oahu. My problem with Kauai is the damn chickens. Hundreds of thousands of wild chickens everywhere and the roosters start crowing at 4am EVERY SINGLE DAY and don't stop until late into the evening. Is less of a problem in "town" but if you want to stay in a nice little Hawaiiana BnB/vacation rental out of the main towns you should know about the chickens! :-)
It's affordable to island hop depending on your lodging and desire for a car. You can get to almost any point on Oahu via bus. Great bus system! I can't speak for the other islands as we always rent a car and by the time your done with taxes and gas that will add around $40-50/day but makes it SO much easier to get around to do and see what you want.
If you do make it to Oahu either on your way in or out, and have time, Dinner and drinks are on us!! :-)
I just got back from a week-long wedding/honeymoon/vacation in Hawaii, and have only one piece of advice: buy Oahu|Maui|Kauai Revealed before you make any other plans. We got it a few days before we left and realized we would have planned differently if we'd had it earlier. It became our bible while we were there; the one time we left the hotel without it, we regretted it when lunchtime came around.
If you are going to be in Maui (which is what we did), stay a few days in Lahaina. Lahaina Shores is reasonably priced and right there on the water.
I can also heartily recommend the Old Lahaina Luaua as a very enjoyable evening.
I've also heard the fine seafood at Mama's Fish House along the Road to Hana is not to be missed. While we did drive the Road to Hana (all the way around), we could not get in to Mama's on the day we were there. Get reservations!
As others have said, it is a fabulous place to unwind, but has an amazing array for the "active traveler". Maui, although a relatively tiny spot on the earth, has great natural diversity. Haleakala, tons of waterfalls, and those breathtaking sunsets off the Ka'anapali beach boardwalk come to mind.
I live on Maui, so if you have any specific questions - or need a bit of a Rails-friendly tour guide (can't have any of those Java weenies leading you around, can we??), send me an email...
Also, it's Makawao, not Macawoa, in case you need to do some searching.. For lodging, Peace of Maui, which is a little less full-service than a hotel and has shared bathrooms and kitchen but has a great ambience - and when we stayed there (last August) they were charging $50/night... that's up near Makawao as well.