We are starting to get serious about booking a trip to Hawaii for the week after Thanksgiving. This will be our first.

Any advice? I am more into having primo swimming, diving, kayaking at the front door than doing the touring thing.

Bite the bullet and buy the Java already :+) And nobody, not even PeterK, is going to give you better advice than that!

I don’t think you can go all that wrong
I might lean toward South Maui (Wailea/Kihei), but there’s no shortage of cool places to play in the water on any of the islands. Pick up a copy of Audrey Sutherland’s book Kayaking Hawaii and take a look at that. If you spend any time on Oahu, I’d love to paddle with you and can supply boats. Oahu’s also probably the best place to get decent rental gear.

I will get around to the Java sooner or later, but with Alex in college and the trip to Hawaii, it may be later. it sure isn’t getting any cheaper.

I would be great to meet you and do some paddling. So far Kathy has been doing the research. I will keep Oahu in mind.

Ther eis someplace with grass huts she likes. Not sure which island. I will check this wekend

Lucky You!
My sister lives in Hawaii; I love it there. I don’t think you will be there during whale season, but there’s plenty of other things to do.

Go for two weeks if you can - a week might not seem long enough considering the time change (and the number of fun things to do!).

If you are flying into Honolulu, stay there a couple days to get used to the time difference. In the meantime, you will feel like getting up really early - you can use this to your advantage if you want to go to the Pearl Harbor memorial (it’s free and gets very busy, go early). Enjoy the touristy bustle for a little while. North shore of Oahu is where they film Lost, if you’re a fan.

I’ve been snorkeling on Kauai and Big Island - good time. Saw some sea turtles, but no sharks. Kauai also has some good hiking and Waimea Canyon. You can do a helicopter tour of Kauai for a couple hundred bucks a person. It might sound expensive but you will never forget it!

Volcano National Park on Big Island is neat; go down to the coast at night and watch the lava flowing into the sea, and glowing red between the cracks under your feet. You can also do a helicopter tour here. While you’re on Big Island, you can go on up Mauna Kea and check out the observatories. You can’t go in them but there’s also a visitor’s center partway up where they set up some telescopes that you can look through. Don’t wear shorts, because it gets cold up there! Also, oxygen is noticeably lacking (14000 feet), so you might get a little dizzy. All free, but you might want to get someone to drive you up - much of the road is very steep, unpaved, and therefore scary.

I haven’t been to Maui yet, but I understand you can rent a bicycle at the top of Haleakala and ride down. I aim to try that next time.

All the vowels are pronounced in Hawaiian words. You will have a lot of fun sounding out street names and such.

The seafood is good. Everything comes with pineapple. Lots of Asian food. Oh, and get used to SPAM being served everywhere. Even MacDonald’s.


Dumb Question - Is Honolulu on Oahu?

I Love Fried SPAM!
I was thinking of doing the helo trip…

The grass hut thing might be Kona Village on the Big Island.

What’s not to love?


You didn’t say which islands, Kauai stole the show in my family’s opinion. It had that exotic not-overly-populated feeling that we expected. The Canyon put The Grand to shame. Wouldn’t go back to ‘The Big Island’; Maui not far behind on the hustle & bustle scale.

We went up the mountain on Maui to do the bike ride mentioned above, but you ride down a public street, fairly heavy traffic. Scary drivers, opted against it.

We liked Aruba much better for an island type of trip. But Hawaii is absolutely something to see, not trying to be a gloomy gus.

Only Advice I Can Offer Is This…
…TAKE US WITH YOU! I’ll be watching this thread because that’s one of those places we’d like to go sometime, and like you would prefer to walk out the door and be on the water than do the “Tourist” thing. WW

“…Revealed” books
(ie. Maui Revealed) Are the best general guide books I’ve ever seen. Definitely pick them up before you leave. We had a great time in Maui a few years ago. Somehow, our daughter was born 9 months later…

Kona Village?
We were looking at Kona Village and Waimea Platation, but I found that you can’t swim at the beach at Waimea.

How is Kono Village? I know there is no TV or phones there. I don’t mind. I like the idea of all the water sports equipment being available on the beach. Is it on a bay? How is the swimming there? How is the surf?

Maui no ka oi

Second Revealed plus…
If you’re on Maui and want to do the volcano, the most amazing thing to do is ride horses to the bottom. Feels like you’re riding through Mongolia. The landscape is just otherworldly.

As noted, dress WARM, including gloves and a warm jacket if you plan to spend much time other than a quick look-see at the volcano’s upper reaches.

BTW, you can also hike the crater and there are even cabins at the bottom, allocated by lottery. It’s a very long way down there, though. Took most of the day by horseback, so best to be experienced with hiking desert conditions if you plan to hike down there.

Also off the beaten path…Climb down the 2,000 ft. sea cliff that leads down to Kaluapapa (sp) on Molokai. Or take the mule ride. Only a couple dozen visitors allowed down per day.

This takes you down to the old leper colony. It takes up an entire peninsula that is undescribable in a sort of wild, wicked, fierce beauty.

It’s a land stuck in time with a terrible and tragic history. Lepers still live there. Disfigured, though technically cured.

The climb down is on a very steep path. Mostly involves jumping down rock to rock in some portions. Then you get on an old school bus and the mayor/policeman/chamber of commerce guy, one of the patients, takes you around the colony.

Don’t call the people there lepers, though. It’s now termed Hansen’s disease.

It’s not an easy trip on many levels, but it’s one you will never forget. You can also fly there from a charter hop from Wailuku apt. but it’s more of an adventure to take the local’s boat transport over from Lahaina in the morning. A guide will meet you at the dock.

Unbelievable as it might seem, there were even some locals guys jamming on ukelele and guitar waiting for a boat when we got there.

They weren’t playing for tourists, I guarantee. Molokai, dubbed “The Friendly Island” is either wishful thinking or a complete misnomer in that regard.

Once there, you can also rent a car and hike down to the leper colony yourself, but you need to get a permit first.

I did this trip on my own while my husband was in Maui with a meeting group. I have had trouble ever since describing what I saw there since no one else was with me and I forgot to bring enough film.

We hope to return to Maui next spring. Next time my husband wants to make the time to go back to Kaluapapa with me.

Lots of great advice here …

– Last Updated: Sep-10-06 3:03 PM EST –

I strongly agree that you should run to the bookstore, NOW, and buy the REVEALED set of hawaii guidebooks.

If time is short, skip Oahu! 80% of the Hawaiian population is crowded into this little island. It is like being in Miami! There ARE great sights to see here, but not at the expense of missing Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island. Each island is unique!


My suggestion would be to go to Maui first. You will be waking up in the middle of the night due to jet lag and the time difference. Since you're up already, might as well drive up to the summit of Haleakala and watch the sunrise. Dress warm. It will be 40 degrees and windy! Then, take the road to Hana, at least part way, and enjoy some of the dreamiest scenery in all the world. Oh yeah, splurge and rent a convertible! Sign up with the Pacific Whale Foundation to see the whales (in season). Also, take their snorkel trip to the sunken volcano crater Molokini. You can rent snorkel gear from SnorkelBob and drop it off on another island if desired. Download his snorkeling suggestions before you go. Get prescription lenses if applicable! Also, ignore the warnings on your rental car agreement and drive the northwestern loop of Maui. The scenery is spectacular, driving along these cliffs on a ridiculously narrow road, but you will never forget it!

then click on SNORKEL MAP'N THINGS
then click on the island


Kauai is beautiful, and is THE PLACE to splurge for a helicopter ride. Heed the advice in Kauai Revealed when choosing your chopper. Also, you just HAVE TO take a boat trip along the NAPALI COAST. Again, heed the advice in Kaui Revealed, or settle for a so-so experience! Waimea Canyon is beautiful, and so are all the snorkeling sites around the island.


The Big Island is truely big, and deserted. All of the other islands would fit inside of it. It takes HOURS to travel from one side of the island to the other. Some of the snorkeling sites are outrageously wonderful. (My favorite in all of Hawaii was Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park aka City of Refuge). You can easily spend an entire day at Volcanos National Park. Thurston Lava Tube is neat, and so is the looooong drive down (and back up) the chain of craters road. Make sure to gas up before entering the park! There are neat black sand beaches to visit, and many other possibilities.

Oh, regarding your waterfront hotel. For us, it was a waste of money. Why, because we spent all of our time snorkeling, hiking and sightseeing, and not sitting at the hotel. Our room came with free breakfast, but we were always out of the hotel before the restaraunt opened. And we always got back late in the evening, exhausted. Besides, EVERY day on EVERY island, there were red flags on the beaches warning people not to enter the water due to rip currents or something. So, we couldn't have swum THERE if we had the time. And, with all there is to see, I truely felt sorry for all those tourists who simply sat on the beach at their hotel. There was SO MUCH they were missing!

We didn't have time to visit Molokai or Lanai, but intend to on future trips. I understand that they are wonderful as well!

Oahu not that bad.

– Last Updated: Sep-11-06 7:29 AM EST –

I agree with everyone's coments I agree with the comments above, and have personally only been to Oahu... but ny wife has been to variso islands of the great state of Hawaii 7 or 8 times, and still likes Maui and Oahu the best. So here are my comments on Oahu:

Agree with not staying in Waikiki Beach, You can drive and see it, but no reason to stay. The best kayaking is Mokolua Islands area, which is by Lanaki Beach. Dlong suggested we check it out, and we did and loved it. I would wager that it is the most famous kayaking part of the state... since it is in kayak adverts frequently. We had lunch at the Kalapii (?) Market, hamburger outdoors. We stayed at Ko Olina, which is not in Waikiki. Anyhow, all this means nothing to someone who has not been there. I will just say that, with a car, you can get all over this island well. And there are parks, sanctuaries, and plenty of beaches. Plus, the waves will be starting to get really crested and hairy on the North Shore about when you're going (so kayaking is a southshore experience for you only) and the surfers will be out on Waimea bay and Banzaii Pipeline, which is always super fun.


Kayak (not) rentals in Honolulu
Visiting Honolulu in March, I was amazed at the lack of kayak rentals. I scoured the phone book looking for shops. One called Aloah never answered their phone or returned calls. Most shops seemed to be located on the north side. Kaulua? (I have a hard time remembering names and Hawaiian names sort of blend together–need a few more consonants). I didn’t have a car, so that seemed kind of far, although THE BUS went there for the same two bucks it took to go anywhere. Additionally, it was stormy and the northern shops were not renting due to wind.

A shop called Go Bananas said they’d rent to me. I had them give me directions on how to get to the shop via THE BUS. But then I figured it wasn’t that far from the Ala Moana hotel so I roller bladed through Wakiki to find their shop on Kapahulu. I first looked near the beach and the canal, but finally found them way the heck up Kapahulu about a mile from any water. Yah, they’d rent to me, but I’d have to carry the kayak somewhere to launch it. I was irritated that they hadn’t told me, when I was asking about getting there via bus, that I’d need to transport the boat. Had they told me, it just so happened that I was packing a boat cart, and I could have towed the kayak to the water. But the cart was back at the hotel, so I left disappointed.

At least roller blading along the Oli Wai canal was fun.

I was surprised that I did not see many kayaks in Honolulu. Lots and lots of high-end outrigger canoes, but no kayaks.

Long story to say, if Oahu has lots of good kayak rentals available, pickings must be slim on the other islands.

Go Bananas is a good shop
Beachfront operations are rare to nonexistent on Oahu because there’s lots of people using the beach and lots of desire not to further commercialize it. My strong impression of beachfront operations on other islands is that you tend to get boats that aren’t in particularly good shape. You’ll get better gear at Go Bananas, but yes, you have to transport it the mile or so to the beach.