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Big Island or Oahu?

Bloomington IN
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Big Island or Oahu?

We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be in Hawaii for two-four weeks next summer. We have four (pretty adventurous) daughters ages 12, 13, 14, 17. Would you recommend the Big Island or Oahu if I'm choosing between the two?

OR how reasonable is it financially to fly into Honolulu, spend a couple days on either end to do Pearl Harbor, etc., but spend the rest of the time on the island Hawaii?

Any specific recommendations of activities on either island would be wonderful! Thanks!

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

I'd split the time between Oahu and the BI. Kids that age love Waikiki and there's lots to do both in the city and on the north shore, and the Big Island offers great snorkeling, diving, SUPing, kayaking, hiking, and Volcanoes national Park. Check rates from your home city for a multi city itinerary, home > Kona> and then back home via Honolulu or even flying from the mainland into Hilo and back via HNL.

On the BI make sure and fly into Hilo and out of Kona or vice versa, and split your stay approximately 75/25 west and east. So if you have ten nights on the BI, which is a good start, split it 7/3.

Look into a condo on the Kohala Coast for the most room, best weather, and access to the island's best beaches. Either Waikoloa Beach for more shops and restaurants or Mauna Lani for best onsite beaches and snorkeling. Also the beach homes on Waialea Bay for a great beach and snorkeling in summer. See 2papayas.com for some options and to get a sense of prices.

In summer the Kohala Kayak tour is a good one. Also consider the manta ray night snorkel and a horseback ride into Waipio Valley.

On the east side in the summer I'd stay in Volcano for the best access to the Park and generally good weather.

With two weeks, I'd split it 10/4 BI/Oahu, and just stay in Waikiki on Oahu. If you end up with four weeks, I'd spend two weeks on the BI, and two weeks on Oahu, but I'd split that time on Oahu between Waikiki and the north shore.

Chicagoland
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2. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

I like what Shea has suggested for your family.

With a month, you *could* see four islands! (We have usually stayed two to four weeks on each of the four major islands, but you can plan less time for smaller Kauai.

How have you decided on Oahu + Big Island? (Just wondering why not Kauai or Maui.)

California
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for Oahu
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3. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

Can we back up a little? Why those two islands? Have you considered all your options?

If those are your choices, split your stay in half. You certainly don't want to short-change Oahu. Much, much more than Pearl Harbor.

Try to fly into one island and home from the second one. It isn't always feasible, but it's worth a try. Interisland flight? You'll want Hawaiian Airlines.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

If you have a month I would definitely consider more islands than BI and Oahu. While I know the girls will love Waikiki , Pearl Harbor is a great visit, one trip to Dole Plantation and the north shore after 5-6 days a new island would be nice. Maui and Kauai are my favs so after Oahu I would split time there if you have 4 weeks or chose one if you have 2 weeks.

There are loads of BI fans but I am not one of them. It does have great snorkeling though. I like Oahu, Maui and Kauai. I visit the BI because good friends live there but to me it looks like Central Oregon. It is basalt lava rock most every where you look if your not in Hilo. I know there are others who love BI and will not agree with me at all. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for sure.

Originally from Chicago and my sister still lives there...we planned a Christmas trip to Maui in December for 8 days.. she is disappointed she won't see Waikiki as that is her vision of Hawaii but I am sure 8 days in Maui will be awesome for her.

On inter island travel....We flew on Hawaiian Air between the BI and Kauai this summer and I think it was $240 for two one way. We flew Alaska Airlines TO Kona and FROM LIH (Kauai) home and it was no more then RT to KONA or LIH.

Good luck with your selection. There is no right answer it really depends on what you want your Hawaii trip to be....

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

I have to respectfully disagree with staying up on the Kohala Coast on the BI. I would recommend staying near Kailua Kona "south" between like Mile 3 and Mile 6 to get a better feeling for the community. Mile 1 is downtown Kailua for reference. We stayed in a great place if you want to private message email me I will share it with you. It is large enough for your whole family and has a pool and access to a great snorkel spot and walking distance to some fairly nice beaches....you can bike or bus to downtown.

We travel a lot to Hawai'i and always stay in condos or homes but we don't like Kohala on the BI or Kihei or Ka'Anapali on Maui or Princeville on Kaua'i ...to me they are like staying in a planned community suburb. BUT again...I respectfully disagree. And that might be your comfort level and that's great as long as you are traveling and that's what counts.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

With four kids that age, I particularly wouldn't recommend staying in Kailua Kona because you have to drive almost an hour each way to the nice beaches, and you really shouldn't let them wander around on their own in town or at the little surfing beach (Magics). Too much drug and alcohol activity and petty crime. They can wander around Waikoloa Beach, which has lot of nice shops and several restaurants, although it is touristy (as is Kailua Kona, but in a less upscale way, for better or for worse).

The Mauna Lani resort area is much less built up and they've done a good job preserving area ancient fishponds, historical structures and trails, petroglyphs, and planting native vegetation, but the downside is it can be too quiet for teenagers looking for shops and the like. It is a good place for active kids who like the ocean.

The Big Island is very beautiful, but it is very different from the other islands, which is why we recommend people stay longer and take their time. It's an island that needs to be explored. If you just see most of it from the highway and don't have a lot of time to get into our valleys and heiaus and expire the amazing shoreline and ocean activities, you're more likely to be disappointed or come away with a negative impression.

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

SheaG...that certainly was not my experience. We stayed in a very nice place at mile marker 4. I went for a run everyday and never saw anything like you described. We hit our local snorkel area every morning and again we did not see any evidence of the unsavory activities you mentioned.

I'm not sure I would let my children wander around any town on their own that I was new to myself. But I never felt that Kailua Town was unpleasant or unsavory. There were loads of families in town seemingly having a good time. I liked Kailua Town almost as much as Lahaina.

I guess nice beaches is again subjective but we had great places to snorkel right outside our door. I would highly recommend the place we stayed which was a gated community (which I did not know when I booked it) but I never felt like the "gate" was necessary.

I guess too each there own including our opinions which is why I like reading everyone's contributions.

Edited: 31 July 2012, 00:39
Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

Yes, I've raised four kids here and my partner and I have a criminal defense law practice right in downtown, so I'm quite familiar with the issues and common drug problems and petty crime which visitors may not see in short stays, and that's a good thing! But for that reason, I just don't recommend people wander around at night or let their children do so at any time in town.

And burglaries are quite common along Alii Drive, so that gate really is needed. For that reason it's not recommended that people stay in ground floor condos, and that they do lock up their vacation rentals carefully if staying there. It's not that different from many other towns these days, I suppose.

Island of Hawaii...
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9. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

Zubsin, fyi you stayed in Keauhou (for sake of accuracy). It is a very suburban area, don't why you would call it more real community.

The great snorkel spot there -- I would assume you mean Kahalu'u -- Snorkel Bob's is encouraging people to stay away because it is getting too overused and damaged.

With four teen daughters I would recommend Waikoloa Beach as a good base where there is a wholesome community. Yes it is a resort community, but so is much of Ali'i Drive -- only the druggies and bad element don't hang out there as they would stand out. It is nice for teens to get away from the parents for a bit and in Waikoloa it is safe to allow that.

Kohala is a great base for adventures, but I'd suggest a stay on the east side too.

Definitely give some time to Oahu as you have quite a long stay you can do.

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Big Island or Oahu?

PS. feel free to post a topic on the Island of Hawai'i forum about your Big Island portion ... not everyone reads at the state level. I mean, this is the right forum for asking about multi-islands, but there are more Big Island regulars reading the island forum.