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  1. #1
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    Default Hawaii...How do you decide which Island...

    Looking into going here early 2019. I hate to say this may be a once in a lifetime experience but just not sure. So we definitely want to make the most of it.

    That being said, how do you decide which Island(s) to put on your to do list. I'm sure they all have their own beauty. Or is it just as easy to get from one to the other.

    I've barely scratched the surface in researching but just looking for info regarding this from ones who have been.

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  3. #2
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    So, I'm not expert, but I went to Hawai'i in February for 8 days. Here is what we did.

    My wife had a conference on the Big Island. This island is actually called Hawai'i, but to avoid confusion, everyone just calls it the Big Island. It's divided into two parts, the Kona side, and the Hilo side. We were staying on the Kona side, but during breaks in the conference (it was just a half a day each day) we drove across the island to check out Hawai'i Volcano National Park. It's actually 2 hours across the island, so we stayed next to the park. It was so cool! Active volcanoes, great hikes, lava flows, etc.

    All of the Hawaiian islands are volcanic, but only the Big Island is active. The rest were formed and as the crust moved, they moved away from the hotspots. The Big Island is still on the hot spot, and so it is the youngest island, geologically. It has two huge volcanoes: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa is part of the National Park. Mauna Kea has an observatory on top, and you can drive up to the visitors center where they have nightly stargazing parties. The Kona side of the island is covered in old lava flows. Any sandy beaches or lush areas are man-made. The northern and eastern sides are lush tropical, like what you would expect Hawai'i to be like. Driving across the saddle road between the two Mauna's was literally like driving through southern Utah, if you've ever done that.

    We spent a day over on Maui. We flew over, got a rental car, and headed down the famous Road to Hana. We were staying in Paia, at the famous Mama's Fish House Restaurant/Cabins, and we had dinner reservations, so we drove the road to Hana as far as we could and still make it back in time for dinner. That is the windiest, smallest road, I have ever been on. And I grew up in the Appalachians. I know windy roads. Holy cow. But there were cool waterfalls and overlooks. Maui is much more lush than the Big Island. The next day we got up hours before the sunrise and headed up to the top of Haleakala, which is inside Haleakala National Park. This is where you go see the sun rise above the clouds. It's so popular, you have to have tickets (very small charge). They require tickets to be able to control traffic and parking. It was beautiful, but freezing.

    The last two days of our trip, we went to Oahu. Oahu is very populous, and traffic around Honolulu is awful. We actually stayed at Aulani for two nights, and Aulani is amazing. We spent our two days seeing sights, and never actually hit the beach. The first day we got a Circle Island Tour through the Polynesian Cultural Center. This took us through historic Honolulu, the Punchbowl cemetary, Diamond Head, the Dole Pineapple plantation, the North Shore, and then dropped us in Laie at the Poly Cultural Center after lunch for an afternoon/evening there, ending with a luau and performance before bringing us back to Honolulu around 10pm. The next day we toured Pearl Harbor and the surrounding sites.

    I did not make it to the other two islands that people spend time on: Molokai and Kauai. Kauai is my brother's favorite place, and is the site of many movies and TV shows, such as Lost and the Jurassic Park films. It is known as The Garden Isle. Apparently SUPER lush and tropical. The only thing I know about Molokai is that on the north side is an active leper colony. Now, no one actually has leprosy anymore, but those that suffered from leprosy and moved there have chosen to stay. It's actually under the National Park Service umbrella, but you have to get a permit to visit, and no cameras are allowed.

    If you want great beaches, I would visit Maui and Kawai. If you want National Parks and historic sites, go to the Big Island (even though there is a National Park on Maui as well). If you want to visit historic sites and Aulani, go to Oahu (but be prepared for a lot of people).

    Feel free to PM me for any questions or specifics.
    2002 - 2017 - 20+ visits (POR, BW, All Stars, VWL, CSR, BLT, BC, SSR, CB, Dolphin, OKW, offsite x4)
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  5. #3
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    Absolutely loved Kauai!! The beaches are awesome and there is plenty to see. Rent a car and drive from one end of the island to the other. You can stop where ever you want. We spent a whole day just cruising and checking out the sites. The rest of our vacation was spent at the Princeville Resort. The island is very green. Lots of hidden waterfalls. Just a very relaxing experience

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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by azcavalier View Post
    The only thing I know about Molokai is that on the north side is an active leper colony. Now, no one actually has leprosy anymore, but those that suffered from leprosy and moved there have chosen to stay. It's actually under the National Park Service umbrella, but you have to get a permit to visit, and no cameras are allowed.
    To be clear, only the colony is under the NPS umbrella, not the whole island.
    2002 - 2017 - 20+ visits (POR, BW, All Stars, VWL, CSR, BLT, BC, SSR, CB, Dolphin, OKW, offsite x4)
    I survived Hurricane Irma @ OKW!
    Next up - Disneyland Fall 2019

  8. #5
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    I have been thinking about your post and trying to think of what to tell you, but realize I don't know enough about you to make suggestions. Having lived in Hawaii for over 13 years and visiting to many times to count I know that Hawaii does have everything you would want it to be if you could give me some more info.
    Do you want to do high end resort stay? Maybe be a beach bum? Interests in history or maybe beautiful gardens? Group touring or be a loner? Night time excitement or reading on a beach umbrella? Shopping? Fine dining or "local kine"? How many will be with you and general ages?
    The Islands are similar but also vastly different. Your dreams of Hawaii can be met with a little thought and planning.
    KAY

    DVC MEMBER - OKW & HHI
    First trip to WDW - Dec, 2005
    Last visit to Disneyland - 2014

    First trip to Disneyland - 1955

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  10. #6
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    My sister lives in Honolulu, and I've gone every year for about 12 years now. I absolutely love Hawaii, and would move in a heartbeat if I could. I feel like all the islands have very different vibes. So I would ask you, what are you envisioning for your vacation? Lounging on the beach all day? More active- hiking, sailing, snorkeling, etc. Or historical sight seeing? Kauai is probably my favorite island, but it is much more remote, quaint, and laid back. If you are into hiking and trails then Kauai may be the best choice. Oahu is very populated and very touristy. However, there are some hidden gems on Oahu, and it is so nice to have access to so much gourmet dining and shopping. And so much history- Pearl Harbor is an amazing and powerful place to visit. Not to mention Aulani! Big Island is more rugged and active to me- the Hilton Waikoloa Village comes highly recommended...my sister knows how much I love anything Disney, and she said this one has a monorail Maui is going to be the more lush, relaxing on the beach/ resort island. It's not too difficult to island hop, but tickets have gotten expensive the past few years. I guess it all depends on what your expectations are. I've been to Oahu 13 times and it never gets old. I always find something new and exciting to do! The traffic is crazy and is it getting so crowded there. So if you are wanting more relaxing vibes, I'd either plan to do Aulani/Ko Olina area, or try Mauai or Kauai!
    1980-2001 CR;CBR 2001 AKL 2002 AKL 2003 AKL 2004 AKL; CB; AKL 2007 WL 2008 AKL 9/09 AKL Jambo 12/10 AKL Kidani 9/11 AKL Kidani 9/12 AKL 12/12 AKL 5/13 AKL 12/13 SS 9/14 BLT 12/14 SS 2/15 Aulani DVC 7/15 CBR 10/15 Yacht Club 12/16 DS 7/17 Aulani 01/19 POR 08/19 Yacht Club

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  12. #7
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    Thanks everyone for all the input. Like I said I have barely scratched the surface for this and this week was an extra busy work week. But anywho I have done some research and know that we would like to do/see things like Pearl Harbor, Haleakala (for the sunrise), Seven Sacred Pools and perhaps the Dole Plantation.

    We are a group of 4 adults (2 teens 18 & 19) and more interested in parks, historical sites and a bit of hiking. Not sure if we'd be better off doing group tours or renting a car. It's not that we aren't beach people we'd just prefer waterfalls as we feel you have something beautiful to look at and enjoy to be in. We fell in love with this idea when we went to Puerto Rico to El Yunque Rainforest.

    But I will keep researching and trying to find other things that interest us. Thanks everyone...
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  13. #8
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    We've been to Hawaii several times in the past 20 years. Each island has it's own charm.

    Is it possible for you to island hop? The first time we went, we did Oahu, Kauai, and then Maui for 3 days each. This is what we've discovered over the years:

    We found that although we enjoyed Oahu, the only time we go back is when we're traveling with others who've never been to Pearl Harbor. The Dole Plantation is not really worth the time to see as there are much better sights to spend time on. Waikiki Beach is very crowded, but fun to walk. If you do go to Oahu, stay in Honolulu on Waikiki. Spend the morning at Pearl and then the afternoon on the beach. If you have time, drive to the North Shore as it is truly beautiful. I would also visit the Japanese Temple Garden along the way.

    Maui is not our favorite, but is beautiful. The Road to Hana is amazing. We also did the Haleakala Sunrise tour and it was amazing! If you do this, I would suggest planning this very early in your trip so that you're still on mainland time which makes getting up at 3 am much easier, haha! Like Oahu, Maui has become more commercialized over the last 5-10 years and is getting more crowded. This is what we didn't enjoy - the crowds.

    Kauai and the Big Island are our favorites! We just spent 10 days on the Big Island this past summer. We did 4 on the Hilo side, exploring the very active volcano and the park. If you do volcano national park, make sure you book a boat tour to see the lava entering the ocean. You could feel the heat we got so close! Volcano House is a great place to stay, but we tried a bed and breakfast, Kilauea Lodge, and loved it! The only draw back to staying around the park is that there aren't a lot of great places to eat. Oh, my mom and my DH did a helicopter ride over the park and really enjoyed it. (I'm too chicken to get in a helicopter so they dropped me off at a pool so I could train, haha!)

    The Kona side is probably my favorite vacation spot anywhere. I'm not going to deny that it's probably because the Ironman World Championships is held there, so I get to pretend I actually qualified to do the race and I got to swim the course and ride the bike course (no way I'm running that course unless I actually qualify someday!) Anyway, Hawi on the north side of the island has a great ice cream store you have to stop at after hiking down the Pololu Valley. We also did a tour of a coffee plantation that was very interesting. I jokingly told the guide I wanted to apply to rake the coffee beans and he said they were hiring for that position. So tempting! The beaches are beautiful. Oh, and one must always take a trip to South Point, which is the most southern spot in the US. A kayak tour to Captain Cooks monument or a sunset cruise by the monument is also fun. On the Kona side we always stay at the Marriott Waikoloa, as it has a beach (Hilton does not). Side note, the Kona Airport is by far my favorite airport. It's just fun and different.

    Kauai is also a favorite. The North Shore and Princeville is by far the most beautiful place I've ever been. Kauai is very laid back and there isn't a lot of night life. Princeville Ranch has an awesome zipline tour that we do every trip. There are also some great, but difficult hikes on the north end. A zodiac tour is fun but can be rough so many prefer a cruise or sailboat tour around north end where you can only drive so far and then hike or boat to the Napali Coast. The Waimea Canyon is also a must see.

    Sorry this is so long, but I just love Hawaii and wish we could retire there. If you can, pick up the Hawaii Revealed books or check them out at your library. They are by far the best travel books I've ever used. If anything can help you plan a trip to Hawaii, it's the Hawaii Revealed books. there is a book of each island.
    Recovering VMK Addict Avalanchefan

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  15. #9
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    We would definitely be in favor of Island hopping! I hate to call something like this a trip of a lifetime but I still want to absorb as much as possible in one. I know just like is said for Disney you can't do it all but that is why I am researching early to hopefully do all that interests us.
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  17. #10
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    If island-hopping gets to be out of your budget (tix were $300 each last time I checked for us to hop to big Island), then it sounds like Oahu might be your best bet. I have always found it to be a good mix of history/ sight-seeing, hiking/waterfalls, and beaches. We stayed for 3 weeks in July, and were more than busy every day. I love Dole Plantation- its a more central part of the island and I love to see how the terrain changes. There is an awesome train ride there- the Pineapple Express. Its very touristy, but I've always found it to be kinda Disney-esque. And even if you don't stay at Aulani, I would definitely plan a Ko Olina beach day. You can eat at Aulani and shop/ walk around, then head over to the lagoons at Ko Olina. Parking can be a pain, but worth it. You get 4 hours parking free at Aulani if you eat at one of the restaurants. For good hiking trains, I'd head to Manoa Falls and Waimea Valley falls. I believe part of Jurassic Park was filmed around the Waimea area. Its very lush. For historical sites, Pearl Harbor, Bishop Museum, Iolani Palace, Honolulu Museum of Art- try to do the private tour of Shangri-La. Its breathtaking.

    One thing that most people don't take into account is traffic and driving- it can take quite a while to get around the island as there is oftentimes 1 main road. If you have a traffic app, use it. And plan more time to get somewhere than you think you'll need.
    1980-2001 CR;CBR 2001 AKL 2002 AKL 2003 AKL 2004 AKL; CB; AKL 2007 WL 2008 AKL 9/09 AKL Jambo 12/10 AKL Kidani 9/11 AKL Kidani 9/12 AKL 12/12 AKL 5/13 AKL 12/13 SS 9/14 BLT 12/14 SS 2/15 Aulani DVC 7/15 CBR 10/15 Yacht Club 12/16 DS 7/17 Aulani 01/19 POR 08/19 Yacht Club

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  19. #11
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    Thanks for all that helpful information. We really were looking forward to Island hopping. We were looking more into the Big Island itself and maybe Maui. We really want to do road to Hanna. But Pearl Harbor is definitely on the list too. I have friends that went a couple times in February so maybe prices are cheaper then. I will definitely ask because $300 pp can add up quick...
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