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3 islands - 11 days, OK - a little rushed

3 islands - 11 days, OK - a little rushed

Old Dec 2, 09, 4:37 pm
  #1  
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3 islands - 11 days, OK - a little rushed

Hi folks, first time poster (but have been lurking for a bit)

We have planned a family vacation and after some consideration, decided to stretch it to 3 islands instead of 2. We know this is a little rushed considering the amount of time we have available, but we figured we may not return for some time so want to maximize and our visit. We would like to hit the highlights as best we can.

I do apologize if many of you have already given recommendations in previous posts, but I didn't see anything that quite fit our schedule.

Our flights are set. Booked with miles, so well ahead of our trip: 6 adults, 2 teenagers (18 and 12 - almost teenager) - all direct family. We arrive in Honolulu a Saturday night in June. Go the following Wednesday to Maui, then the following Saturday to Kauai, and return to the mainland the following Tuesday. OK, that's confusing so here goes:

Day 1: Oahu (arrive evening - so basically just dinner and sleep)
Day 2: Oahu
Day 3: Oahu
Day 4: Oahu
Day 5: Oahu - MAUI (time TBD)
Day 6: Maui
Day 7: Maui
Day 8: Maui - Kauai (time TBD)
Day 9: Kauai
Day 10: Kauai
Day 11: Kauai - return to mainland in the evening.

I HAVE flexibility on the inter-island travel, so I can accommodate the schedule to spend more or less time in any particular island. The mainland flights are not flexible anymore.

I am aware of some of the more common activities:
Oahu - Diamond head, Hanauma Bay, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, North Shore
Maui - Haleakala, Hana (leaning towards not doing this in the interest of time), beach day (Wailea or Lahaina), Old Lahaina Luau?
Kauai - Waimea Canyon, Napali coast, Wailua river

I know our time is limited, but we would probably like one day in each island to be our "lazy" day and just hang out at the resort, spend some time in the beach, or just go shopping - a no "schedule" day!

Last bits of info I can think of:
- We will have a car for all 3 islands (Large 8 person SUV so we can all travel together). Booked already (Hertz).
- Our hotels are NOT booked. Due to the short stays of 3-4 nights we will probably look at regular hotels/resorts, we will book 3 rooms in each island. We know nice resort rooms are expensive, so we have budgeted between $175 - $250 per room per night.

Sorry for the long post. What I ask is:
- Hotel recommendations? or at least what general areas you recommend we stay in.
- Activity recommendations. Only 1 of the 8 people going have been to Hawaii - so assume no one has seen anything yet (yes, sadly it will have to include some touristy things) - we have budgeted for 1-2 helicopter tours, and 1-2 sightseeing/snorkeling day cruises.
- Meal recommendations (prefer to avoid expensive touristy places - any place with good local seafood would be great!). Its not really about the $$$, its about good local places.
- Have I spread the available time correctly between the islands, or should I stay more or less time in any particular one.
- Literature recommendations (we have plenty of time before our trip to read up, and there are countless of books, I don't know what to buy!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. My family and I appreciate your input.
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Old Dec 2, 09, 6:08 pm
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make sure you can get a Maui-Kaui direct flight, we planned this once - hotels etc and only then fund out we had to go through Oahu This was a very long amount of time taken out of relaxing vacation
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Old Dec 3, 09, 11:56 am
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You have to start somewhere, in order to get a feel for the various islands. As you predict, I agree that you will run out of time and be sad as you leave each one.

Keep in mind that pack/unpack, hotel check-out/check-in, airport waiting, driving to and from airports, inter-island flight(s), car swap and food/refreshments replenishment, etc., can gobble up a precious day .

Without question, the Revealed series by Wizard Publications, Inc., on Kauai. I have the 3rd Edition of the Maui Revealed book in my hand. Get a book for each island that you are visiting and preferably well in advance. www.wizardpub.com. Complete with coloured photos, the books are excellent guides for both new and repeat visitors .

We talked ourselves into driving to Hana a few weeks ago, for the first time in 20 or so years. It was a pleasant journey but required the better part of a day. The Haleakala Crater trek can be time consuming too. If you are determined to visit one or both, consider starting early....5 AM or so. Driving the circular route on Oahu or driving north-south and the reverse on Kauai can each take a day, as there are so many places to stop and enjoy.

To cheer you up, you are likely going to have an excellent vacation, no matter where you go on the Hawaiian Islands .
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Old Dec 4, 09, 8:00 pm
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Originally Posted by bambamfly View Post
- Have I spread the available time correctly between the islands, or should I stay more or less time in any particular one.
First of all, welcome to FT!

Mrs. controller1 and I have gone to Hawaii each of the last three years and will be in Hawaii in late May/early June this coming year. IMO, you have too much time in Oahu especially if most of your time is in the Honolulu area. (Imagine big city such as Dallas or Houston, with their traffic problems, on the Pacific Ocean). IMO, Oahu is just not the idyllic Hawaii one thinks of when they see Hawaii postcards. I would take those last two days scheduled for Oahu and split them between Maui and Kauai.

Have fun!

Aloha!
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Old Dec 4, 09, 8:12 pm
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I had a a similar adventure - 1 more day, but a 6 and 1 yr-old in tow. We survived fine. My trip

My thoughts -
1st day on Oahu - get to Hanauma Bay early (you'll be up early anyway) - we got there at 5:30 and were 4 of about a dozen people in the water for an hour. By about 10-11am you'll be snorkle'd out and leaving just as long lines are forming.

Pearl, Arizona, etc., will take half a day - get there early and be prepared to wait - we toured the submarine next door. Diamond head hike was a few hours, the Dole plantation was fun for kids - another few hours on the way to the North Shore. I suppose Waikiki is a must-do tourist trap, but we didn't get much out of it. Pu Ualakaa State Park was nice for sunset photos. Nuaanu Valley Rain Forest and Nuuanu Pali were a nice few hours. Waimea Falls Park was also a good stop up North, but I don't know if it's still there (well, the falls are still there - I saw them on Lost not long ago - where the pilot ended up).

Maui - Hana is a full day. We left at 7am this summer and the last 15 minutes of winding road were in the dark as we rushed to beat sunset. Haleakala - leave at about 3-3:15 - don't let the "you have to leave by 2a" fool you), and spend a few hours after sunrise hiking the trails. Bring warm clothes - 45 minutes in 35 degrees with shorts and a polo shirt is about the coldest I've ever been - but I had a primo photo spot. I'm been to many of the beaches and Kaanapali is my favorite. Especially Black Rock by the Sheraton, for snorkeling. Sooo much else to do - Ocean Center, snorkeling in many places, zip lines, Pineapple Tour (kids's favorite both trips), Upcountry, drive around the northwest corner.

Kauai - Waimea Canyon, all the way to the end. Napali coast - drive all the way around the north and make the 1/2 mile steep hike. Then take a cruise later. Hit some beaches.

Times are about right. I've been to Oahu once, and probably won't go back. But for a first/only time, you really have to invest the day at Pearl Harbor (at least I did).

Hotels are having deals during this down time. Waikiki was blooming with hotels when we were there (stayed in Ko Olina), so I'd bet there are decent hotels at good rates if you look. Maui, I'd look in the Kaanapali area and not Wailea, having stayed at both. Kauai - not as many choices, but stay south/west to avoid the rain.

The Discovered books are great, but really are worth the effort if you're there for weeks and want to discover the nuances of the island. You should probably just hit tripadvisor and Fodor's web sites for several hours to see what is highly rated and interests you - there will be way more to do than you have time for.
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Old Dec 7, 09, 10:05 am
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Great advice - thanks!

- I didn't think about NOT getting a direct Maui - Kauai flight, so will have to plan accordingly.

- Seems Wizard publications have some of the best books out there. I realize we can get many tips and advice searching online, but with our vacation still a few months away I may still buy them for leisurely reading (instead of trolling the internet!)

- The more I think about it, as suggested, I may remove an Oahu day and add a Maui or Kauai day. I have been to Oahu (due to work), but the rest of my family hasn't. I agree the spirit of Hawaii is better represented in a city other than Honolulu and an island other than Oahu. We have to go there, but certainly move elsewhere as soon as we can. Probably stay in Oahu just long enough to do Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, and maybe a trip to north shore.

I appreciate the feedback, thank again!
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Old Dec 13, 09, 6:06 pm
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If you are going to fit a Luau into your itinerary I highly recommend waiting until the Kauai leg of your trip. Smith's Luau is the best I have been to, and we've been to quite a few. On Maui the Old Lahaina Luau is a close second. I would avoid Luau's on Oahu completely unless you want a stereotypical kitchy experience. Luau food is usually mediocre at best regardless of where you go. The real value is in the entertainment and Smith's and Old Lahaina have two of the best shows out there.
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Old Dec 13, 09, 6:29 pm
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Spend more time on the Neighbor Islands

I agree with others: consider spending more time on the Neighbor Islands. Oahu is very touristy. Most likely you will be staying in Waikiki, and it is very touristy.
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Old Dec 14, 09, 12:58 am
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Just to be a contrarian, don't treat the trip like a trophy hunt by trying to bag as many activities and islands as you can, because you don't know when you'll return. You can't possibility see everything this trip or even in 30 trips, so why try? Dial down and relax. Enjoy the time with your kids and wife. Allow the warm weather and slow attitudes to wash over you and slow your pulse rate.

I've got 3 kids and we've been to Hawaii together a few times. The best memories are allowing the day to unfold, playing on the beach, watching the sunset, feeling ourselves relax together. One of my kids will graduate from high school this year and I find myself longing for those younger years. I don't wish that we could have done more different things, but rather that we could of done more of the same.

I realize that you probably have a different idea and don't fault you at all. Just writing this for your consideration or maybe someone else who is reading along. Hope you have a great time!
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Old Dec 14, 09, 7:22 am
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Originally Posted by nishimark View Post
Just to be a contrarian, don't treat the trip like a trophy hunt by trying to bag as many activities and islands as you can, because you don't know when you'll return. You can't possibility see everything this trip or even in 30 trips, so why try? Dial down and relax. Enjoy the time with your kids and wife. Allow the warm weather and slow attitudes to wash over you and slow your pulse rate.

I've got 3 kids and we've been to Hawaii together a few times. The best memories are allowing the day to unfold, playing on the beach, watching the sunset, feeling ourselves relax together. One of my kids will graduate from high school this year and I find myself longing for those younger years. I don't wish that we could have done more different things, but rather that we could of done more of the same.

I realize that you probably have a different idea and don't fault you at all. Just writing this for your consideration or maybe someone else who is reading along. Hope you have a great time!
Excellent advice. Going from island to island involves packing, trip to airport, flight, trip from airport, unpacking. That part of the trip will not be relaxing. Spend time relaxing. That's a better memory for the future than the memory of how long the security lines were.
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Old Dec 14, 09, 7:47 am
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I agree, having been to all the Islands more than once and Oahu like 9 times cut a day or two off Oahu and as others have said leave yourself some breathing space on your trip. Traveling with that many people, not matter how friendly you are will be difficult, multiple rooms in the same hotel, tables big enough for everyone at dinner, the where should we go discussions that go on for 45 minutes trying to keep everyone happy. In addition, transfers, flights and the like sap energy. Don't say let's cram it in now becuase we'll never go back. I did that to Antarctica and it was grand but would never have that attitude on a trip within the 50 states!!!
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Old Jan 17, 10, 7:35 am
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Originally Posted by controller1 View Post
First of all, welcome to FT!

Mrs. controller1 and I have gone to Hawaii each of the last three years and will be in Hawaii in late May/early June this coming year. IMO, you have too much time in Oahu especially if most of your time is in the Honolulu area. (Imagine big city such as Dallas or Houston, with their traffic problems, on the Pacific Ocean). IMO, Oahu is just not the idyllic Hawaii one thinks of when they see Hawaii postcards. I would take those last two days scheduled for Oahu and split them between Maui and Kauai.

Have fun!

Aloha!
I disagree a bit. Yes, Waikiki is very busy - too busy for my taste as I've gotten older, but we just spent 11 nights at Ko Olina on Oahu (June 2009) and had the best vacation! We used to live on the windward side (on the Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay) so we love exploring Oahu, and have taken our kids back 4 times only to Oahu (mostly due to being too lazy once there to spend a day traveling to and from another island, but next year will do a week on the Big Island as well as a week on Oahu).

Ko Olina is a long drive from Waikiki, but has a neighbor island feel. It has excellent snorkeling at their man made lagoons, and we have a timeshare at the Marriott, so have a condo with a kitchen, they have gas grills for bbq (yum, fish!) and a brand new Costco and Target right there for staples. To us, that was a great vacation, with day trips to the North Shore, Kailua beach, Waikiki, the Dole plantation, etc... Plus lots of downtime.

I think three islands sounds rushed, with the travel time between them added in. You do lose a day each time, or the better part of one, so if it were me, I'd try to maybe concentrate on two islands instead.

We've spent two and three nights on Kauai at a time, and saw a lot. It's small and easy to navigate. Maui, though, is very large, and we've spent a week at a time, and didn't see everything! The Big Island was so great, to fly into Kona and out of Hilo, with so much to see and explore. We did five days of that, and had a great trip (with baby in tow, DS was 6 months old, great age for that as he rode in the backpack for our hikes).

With a large group, I'd look into condos instead of traditional hotel rooms. On Waikiki there is a new Embassy Suites even, maybe too small for the whole group, but they have two bedroom suites. Also, I've heard great things about the Aston (I forget which one) condo unit in Waikiki. It is nice to have a washer/dryer (the Aston does) as you only need casual clothes and swimwear in Hawaii, and we change a lot (in the heat and all).

Definitely do not miss the Aloha Flea Market on Oahu - every weekend and Wednesday. We always pick up macadamia nuts, dried fruits, homemade jams, and $3 tee shirts at it! It's very near Pearl Harbor, at the stadium.
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