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Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

Montreal, Canada
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Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

We would like to go to Hawaii (from Montreal, Québec) in July 2014. Ideally, we thought of going for 10 nights but are contemplating 14 nights.

We have three children: 13 (boy), 11 (girl) and 6(girl);

We were thinking about going to Maui and I a wondering if we should add on Big Island or Oahu. Considering that we are coming from far, I would like to take advantage of being in Hawaii and experience as much as possible. I know that with the time that we will be there that more then 2 islands is not a good idea.

The volcanos on Big Island are a big interest but considering our 6 year old…the activities on the rest of the island and the distances to drive are not as interesting. I am thinking of even going to Big Island just for the volcanos and then switching islands. I don't see how we can go to Hawaii and not go see the volcanos…it seems like something that just has to be seen. Is it worth it?

My kids enjoys the beach….for a limited amount of time (we definately will go but not necessarily every day); they will hike…again for a limited amount of time; what they like are activities that are "fun" and also enjoy learning about new areas. We, as parents, want to "see" Hawaii and enjoy driving around, learning about the area, discovering new things etc. We enjoys pictoresque towns etc; We enjoy local tours that give us an understanding of the area (but prefer that it be with locals versus a highly touristy tour). My family will snorkel but I hate it.

As far as our accomodations, we will look for a condo. My husband insists on ocean front views when they are available. We prefer luxury but not if it's overbudget (there is a limit!). I am willing to pay up to 400 $/night but would prefer cheaper if I found the right place.

I really don't know where we should decide to go. Like I mentionned…Big Island for the volcanos; Oahu for the movement (but I am afraid that it is going to be too much of a feeling of a "downtown" and not enough of an "island" feel; And Maui…which seems to have a good combination.

I would appreciate your advice and suggestions.

Thank you

Kapaa, Hawaii
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for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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1. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

I've lived in Hawaii for 12 years and have yet made it to the island of Hawaii. Would love to some day but it isn't at the top of my list…………yet!! Chances of seeing flowing lava are very slim but I hear the National Park is awesome. Only you can decide how important it is to you.

That said, you will be flying into Oahu. Stay there for at least 5 days. You would be surprised just how much of this island doesn't include the city of Honolulu. Once out of the city proper there is a large, fairly rural island to be explored. Maui would be a good combo with Oahu.

California
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for Oahu
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2. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

You have enough time for 2 Islands if you have 14 nights.

As msfuzz said ... the odds of seeing flowing lava are slim - but Volcanoes National Park is amazing anyway. There is a MASSIVE volcano on Maui, Haleakala - and you can drive up to the crater.

You can spend a few nights on the east (Hilo) side of the Big Island ... and then fly to Maui or Oahu for the rest of your visit.

Oahu is mostly rural - and it is gorgeous ... but I would choose Maui for condos ... for settling in and enjoying the sites with a good "home base."

Montreal, Canada
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3. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

So, should I just forget Big Island and just go for Oahu and Maui? I really thought that the volcano in Big Island was regularly erupting?

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

The lava isn't always visible, so you may or may not see it. I love Volcano national Park - it is an amazing national park, but seeing lava isn't a priority for me. We just like to let folks know that you may not see lava, which for some people, that would be the deciding factor on whether to visit there or not. :)

Me - I would tell you to not miss Kauai in the summer, but that is me. You really need to research a bit more to see what islands would suit your family best. :)

Edited: 09 January 2014, 20:06
Montreal, Canada
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5. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

I did look at different books and internet and that is why I narrowed it doown to the three islands. Despite that, I am still not sure. I did read up on Kauai, it does seem really beautiful, I am just not sure that the kids would enjoy it. With the 6 year old, it limits the type of activities that we can do and I was under the impression that Kauai was oriented more to activites that my 11 and 13 could enjoy but we wouldn't be able to do them as a family. Am I right?

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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6. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

You know your family best . . . my first trip to Kauai was with a 6 year old and a 13 year old - and they never wanted to leave! :)

Chicagoland
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7. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

I'd spend a few days Oahu to take in 'the scene' that is Waikiki, see Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum (not stuffy) -- then spend a week-plus on Maui. Your family might enjoy an afternoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Maui has Haleakala (your walk-in volcano); also touches of Kauai along the heavily tropical Road to Hana and at the Iao Valley. Both West and South Maui have many nice condo complexes; we prefer 'the ends' (Wailea and Kapalua) more than heavily touristy Kaanapali's tall elevator buildings, but your kids might prefer that area and the mall of Whaler's Village. It is closer to Lahaina Town -- home to two of the best luau in the state.

Maui also has many easy-access beaches for snorkeling and the second-best sea life in the chain. (Big Island has the best, but has few easy beaches.)

Decide on your islands and get your rental cars reserved for airport pickup. You can be carless in Honolulu, and you will pay to park there, but it is convenient to have a car on a short stay, and there are five of you.

I would look for a widebody aircraft on a nonstop for your long leg -- most likely in and out of HNL. We stay Maui. On returns to Chicago we check our luggage through at OGG (Maui) and spend two hours within airport security at HNL before boarding our flight home. Put any interisland flights on the same ticket as your return to avoid having to collect and re-check luggage at HNL.

Re: The active volcano. It is so uncertain whether the volcano will be 'doing much' that I wouldn't build any trip around just that. It is a phenomenal, desolate sight at all times, but unless you were a geology major, a peek is adequate. You could consider staying Kohala area (NW) and doing a helicopter tour over the volcano out of KOA -- save you driving to the SE portion of the island. July will be pretty hot on this southernmost island.

Edited: 09 January 2014, 21:30
Montreal, Canada
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8. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. I will definatly follow them.

Thank you.

Longmont, Colorado
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9. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

Even if you have 14 days, if you choose Big Island staying in 1 island is not a bad idea. We spent 9 days in BIg Island the first, 6 the second and we haven't done everything and would liek to go back. We missed the Manta Rays both times, swiming with wild dolphins is on my list. WEe did see lava the first trip and wouldn't mind doing that again. THere is just so much snorkeling to be done, hiking and other things. We were in Maui for 12 days - covered a lot except some spots, 8 days in Kaui in summer - we were pretty satisified with what we did. If you choose to do one island, your expenses would be lower and it will be more relaxing. THere is always a lot of beach stuff, hiking stuff to do in each island with a few days thrown in for relaxing. Between the Revealed books and the Snorkeling Maui (or whichever other island books) you'd be set for 2 weeks. Been to all 4 islands with a total of 5 trips. I don't see what the big deal is - stopping in Oahu. It is nice but the other islands are so much nicer. Why bother. - SPent 8 days there as well.

Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: Which island(s) with 13, 11 and 6 year old

Well, first off I think you have a misimpression of the Big Island. While it is large it's very easy to have a holiday there that doesn't involve lots of driving, particularly because all of the best beaches and many excellent snorkeling spots are within a small radius on the Kohala coast. You can minimize driving by flying into one side of the island and out the other, only requiring the one cross island drive, which is in and itself interesting with stops along the way. I'm not sure what you mean by the activities don't sound as interesting. Perhaps you could share what kinds of things you want to do that you think the BI doesn't have?

It is true that it has been the case for some time that there are no accessible surface lava flows. The only visible lava action currently is the glow from the lava lake inside Halemaumau crater, although it is quite impressive.

I agree with the others though that I would only choose two islands. I would not just fly to the BI for VNP, either make it one of your islands or skip it and choose another. I personally don't like the Oahu/Maui combo as it combines the two busiest islands. The BI is the quietest of the four majors and has the best snorkeling. Maui has many more beachfront lodging options and more and longer beaches. They all have their pros and cons, I would read through some TRs and the top questions on each individual forum to get a better sense of each island.

( a note re a previous post, seeking out swimming with wild dolphins is illegal and harmful to our dolphin population, and tours that promote such activities should be avoided)

Edited: 09 January 2014, 23:46