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Thread: Hawaii recommendations?

  1. #1
    Senior Member lhamo's Avatar
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    Hawaii recommendations?

    We're going to route our trip through Hawaii on the way back to the US this summer. Will probably stay 5-6 days. Will rent a car. Was originally planning to just do Oahu (likely staying on the North Shore somewhere -- Wakiki is not our idea of fun), but now seriously thinking about focusing on the BIg Island instead. Any advice? Family of four with two young kids (DS 10, DD 6), looking for a fairly physically active, yet also relaxing vacation. Prefer to stay on a beach, in a place with a kitchen if possible. Please suggest favorite spots to visit, stay, etc. I have never been, DH was there about 15 years ago.

    Thanks in advance for any tips!

    lhamo
    "Seek out habits that help you overcome fear or inertia. Destroy those that do the opposite." Seth Godin

  2. #2
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    Sounds fun!

    DH and I went to Oahu last summer. We stayed near Waikiki, and it was crowded and very tourist-y. Driving was also a nightmare! On the plus side, we were right by Diamond Head (hiking), Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (snorkeling), and Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was amazing (though your kids might be bored by it).

    If we were to go again, we'd go to Maui instead and make a trip over to Oahu just for Pearl Harbor. Maui is prettier and more scenic. Honolulu/Waikiki are good-sized cities. Busy. Noisy. Not my idea of relaxing!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Greg44's Avatar
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    Ialoni Palace in Honolulu is a great break from the beach. Learn about the Royal family of Hawaii. "The Bus" system gets you most anywhere you want to go on the Island. Our family likes Waikiki - great for people watching, and yes it is busy. A hike to the top of Diamond head gives you a wonderful panoramic view of the Honolulu area. North Shore - not as many places to stay, Turtle Bay Hilton...? Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie - great beaches there too.

    I went to school for a semester at BYU Hawaii in Laie, north shore, Oahu, last time I was back, was the December after 9/11, my dw decided to stay home and my oldest dd's and I went. They had a great time. Just leave some time to relax and soak up the sun. They having never been wanted to "see it all" and most of our time was over booked with things to see and do.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Madsen's Avatar
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    Ya the Cultural Center is really cool!

    Also get some shrimp from one of those food wagons! (not too spicy though)

  5. #5
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    The Polynesian Cultural Center has some really cool luau events if those interest you. And yes, the bus system is great. I would do that next time as the city driving was just too much for me (though to be fair, I pretty much live in a cornfield and don't have much city driving experience ;-) )

  6. #6
    Senior Member RosieTR's Avatar
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    DH lived on Oahu in the Navy and when we decided to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon we went to Maui, mostly because he didn't want to go to Oahu, because we could fly directly to Maui from the mainland and because we got a great package deal (March 2002 when people were too spooked to fly). The package was for flight, car rental and a hotel with a kitchenette for like 5 or 6 nights. I cannot remember which town we stayed in but it was north of Lahaina (sp?) along the coast. We were there to SCUBA dive so went out the Molokini crater, drove to Hana, went to the top of Haleakala, etc. It was nice for a honeymoon and had enough to keep us entertained for our stay. When we go back we'll go to the big island for sure, as one of my lifelong goals is getting to the top of the highest points in each state. I have heard the big island is ideal for those who would prefer a more rustic and wilderness-type experience but I don't know what kind of cost difference there is vs Oahu or Maui. If you're staying on the big island, you may be able to do a day trip to Oahu if you want the kids to go to the Pearl Harbor site or the Polynesian Cultural Center though there may be opportunities to experience Polynesian/Hawaiian culture on the island of Hawaii itself. Kids that age may not be too interested in Pearl Harbor either, so that could be kind of a waste unless you and your DH want to see it. Unless you like big cities I'd say stay away from Oahu except to fly in/out of. Of course, you're coming from Beijing, right? So Honolulu might not be a big deal in comparison. I suppose the biggest thing to worry about is what the season is (rainy v dry) and which side of the island you're staying on (wet or dry side) as well as the wave patterns for the season you'll be visiting. It could suck if the main activity is going to be swimming in the ocean/hanging out at the beach and it's the season/side of the island more appropriate for big-wave surfers than a 6 yo. Likewise if you want to do a bunch of rainforest hiking and it's rainy every day with 1 ft deep mud on every trail. If it were me, I'd email or call dive shops and ask them about conditions on what side of whichever island you're thinking about during the time of year you're going to visit. They pay a lot of attention to the weather/wave conditions because sometimes it's inappropriate to dive at certain times of year depending on wave patterns and rain patterns can affect visibility in the ocean which also affects diving quality. They will also likely know about shark and jellyfish activity which could impact you if you're hoping for a lot of beach time. Have a great time! Hawaii is beautiful.

  7. #7
    Senior Member fidgiegirl's Avatar
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    I did like Pearl Harbor and kind of feel like it shouldn't be missed, but am with Rosie that if your kids wouldn't dig it then it might not be too enjoyable. If you do want to do it my friends said to do a tour and that's easier. We went on our own and it worked out, but my parents tried and couldn't get in.

    We were on the Big Island and stayed in a private rental on the Hilo side down by a hippie town called Pahoa. We liked it, very rural and very quiet. Suuuuper dark. It was neat because we could go to the night viewing station for the lava flow (at least at that time it was located on the Pahoa side). It was relatively close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is super cool, especially to drive through the lava fields down to the end of the road where the lava flowed over, cutting it off. The Big Island really is BIG. My DS and DBiL stayed on the Kona side and they spent a LOT of time in the car. We did, too, but not as much as they did. Now the disadvantage for you guys on the Hilo side would be that potentially the ocean swimming isn't great. But we snorkeled at these AWESOME tide pools, and went in thermal pools. If swimming time is a big priority for you guys, maybe be sure to get a place with a pool. Probably better luck with that on the Kona side, but we didn't get over there. Like posters said above, there are all kinds of reasons why the ocean wouldn't be the best on any day - critters, and also it always looked really rough to me. We liked the Big Island, though. Total chill factor.

    I think on Oahu there are some resorts on the west side of the island. If you end up having to do Oahu, maybe that would be a good choice - out of Waikiki, a little more quiet, still getting in the R&R you want.
    Kelli

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  8. #8
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    Oh, yeah--I forgot to mention that the ocean, while wildly beautiful, was very, very powerful. Waikiki beach had walls built that acted as breakers for the waves, and it was still kind of crazy. So a pool might be better for the kids. Maybe you could just stick your feet in at the beach or wade around in knee-deep water. I do remember seeing some kids in the ocean, but they lived there and were used to it.

  9. #9
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    I am hoping to go to Hawaii next year and mulling over options. Has anyone else been since 2011? What island did you go to? What were the highlights or low points of your trip?

  10. #10
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    Kauai. Laid back. Small. Bargains can be found. Snorkling world class. Good eats both expensive and very reasonable. Dive bars have great deals.

    You can certainly spend plenty of money but is not required to be there.

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