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Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

St. Louis, MO
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Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

Trying to plan a vacation with the wife for this early July and I need to book very soon….

We have been to both Maui (6 years ago) and Kauai (last year) and loved it. Haven’t tried the Big Island yet as I’m not sure if it will be anything like what I experienced in both Maui and Kauai. Is it worth it or should go back to one of the two islands? Not really into Oahu in the Waikiki area as it’s too touristy for me.

Another option is Punta Cana (looking into NOW Lumiare resort) as the wife is leaning towards to going somewhere different than Hawaii. Anybody been out that area as well?

What’s even better is if someone has been to both destinations and can give me some good advice. We are into beaches, doing several excursions, good food and all that stuff. I must say that we did plenty of top excursions when went to both Maui and Kauai. If indeed going back to Hawaii, I would probably pick Maui since we were just at Kauai last year.

This will probably be our last big vacation before we start having kids, so I know I won’t be going back to Hawaii for a long time once we have a kid. We are from Missouri by the way.

**I posted this on both Hawaii and Punta Cana fourms**

Burlington, VT
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1. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

My wife and I have been to Hawaii four times and we are planning our 5th trip for next year. We have stayed on the four main islands and have enjoyed them all. We love Hawaii and would probably go every year if it was not such a long haul from the east coast. We just took our first trip to DR this past February. We stayed at the Majestic Elegance which is also in Punta Cana.

While we enjoyed our trip to DR we would not go back and the experience was nothing like Hawaii. It is not nearly as beautiful and because it is a third world country there is very little exploring to do outside of the resort area. If you do, you will have to arrange for an organized tour. Almost no one rents a car. The beach is lovely - soft sand and clear water - but its pretty much wall to wall people.

For these reasons pretty much all of the resorts in the DR are all-inclusive. Some people love this arrangement but it is not for us. As with other AIs we've stayed at, we found the food to be average and generally sick of it by the middle of the week. You really can't even go eat at other resorts because they are all set up in the all-inclusive format.

If you're into exploring, trying different restaurants and seeing a variety of beaches you'll be unhappy in Punta Cana. If you're content to settle in at a resort for the duration then it might be a good choice for you. As I said we won't be back but we're already counting the days until our return to Hawaii next year!

pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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for Kauai, Kapaa
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2. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

The Big Island has great snorkeling and lots of historic and cultural sites to explore, and of course, Volcanoes national park. It's not known for fine dining, but if you were happy with that on Kaua`i, you're probably OK.

Don't go to an island thinking to compare it to any of the others. They're all very different.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

I've been to Punta Cana (and all the major Hawaiian islands), and vtgambler pretty much nailed it. Completely different experiences. If you just want an all-inclusive beach resort holiday perhaps with some motorized sports (nothing wrong with those types of vacays), go to Punta Cana. The snorkeling is poor there, better if you take an excursion but still not great. The snorkeling on the BI is quite good, definitely the best in Hawaii (although not on par with St. John, Cuba, French Polynesia, Great Barrier Reef, Red Sea, etc.).

As noted, the BI has a great deal of accessible heiaus and historical parks, petroglyph fields, and other interesting cultural and historical sites. VNP is unlike anything else in the world, and there is very good hiking on a very diverse and large island. It is ideal for outdoorsy types, but there's plenty of opportunity to find a beach (and with far fewer people around than Punta Cana or even Maui and Kauai) and relax.

Big Island, Hawaii
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4. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

As a side note, while it doesn't (and probably never will) rival Oahu or Maui in terms of quantity of quality restaurants, the BI is known for a few well known chefs doing quite extraordinary things at a handful of restaurants, as well as lots of locally sourced beef, lamb, goat, fish, cheese, and produce. Dining can be quite extraordinary if chosen well and on a typical one week or so vacation.

Chicagoland
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5. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

I'd do Hawaii again. After you have kids you might prefer shorter flights -- and in winter -- like St. Thomas/St. John. In July...I'd be looking North more than South. LOL Alaskan cruise?

LA
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6. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

What is it about Punta Cana that your wife finds attractive? That might help us in understanding why the choices are so disparate between Hawaii and Domincan Republic.

California
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7. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

Go to the Big Island.

Park yourself on spectacular Hapuna Beach: princeresortshawaii.com/hapuna-beach-prince-…

Visit the like-noplace-else-on-earth Volcanoes National Park.

Enjoy the best snorkeling in Hawaii.

As someone said, family vacations will be much easier to the Caribbean than to Hawaii. So now's the time! And the Big Island is so much more diverse and exciting than Maui.

(P.S. You may be dismissing the idea of Oahu too quickly. The Waikiki area is "too touristy" for pretty much everyone -- until they get there and fall in love with the place, as I did. Point being: While Waikiki isn't for everyone, many people go in skeptical and fall completely in love with Waikiki and the whole island of Oahu. )

Canada
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8. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

I love the Caribbean AND Hawaii, but the D.R. is the one place my wife and I would never return to. There are many far better choices in the Caribbean, unless you are totally driven by cost. But if you were, you wouldn't be considering Hawaii.

St. Louis, MO
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9. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

Wow - Hawaii by a landside huh?!?! This input is great as I'm trying to convince my wife to go back there even though she wanted to try something new. But, this could be the last time we go back there for a long time. Not sure if I want to go back to either Kauai or Maui (probably Maui since I was just at Kauai last year) or give the Big Island a try for the whole week.

Burlington, VT
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10. Re: Punta Cana or Maui/Kauai/or BI?

Interesting that Hawaii was the winner even on your post in the DR forum...

We love the Big Island. If you're only going for a week I wouldn't try to split it with another island though. You can find pretty much everything on the BI that you find on the others BUT it is much more spread out. You have to be willing to do a lot of driving. We have no problem staying at one of the resorts on/near the beach in Kohala and driving from there. A typical day for us is to get up early and drive to an excursion/adventure and return to hotel in the afternoon and have dinner at the resort or nearby. Or spend the day at the beach and venture out to dinner.

If you want to include the Volcano I would suggest spending the night. Some people recommend spending 2-3 nights on that side of the island but one night has always been plenty for us. Obviously a matter of personal preference. We'll head to the park early and spend the day exploring. Enjoy dinner and a night in Volcano and then head to the west side the next day.