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National Parks Trip

K M
Oklahoma City...
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6 posts
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National Parks Trip

Planning our first trip to Hawaii in March, part of our quest to visit all of the National Parks. Any advice on best parts of Hawaii and Maui to stay for easy access to Parks, but also getting sunshine and a nice beach (if only for part of the trip)? No kids traveling with us, probably have 8 days or so, and not on a strict budget. I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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1. Re: National Parks Trip

There are 2 main national parks in Hawaii . . . Haleakala on Maui http://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm

and Volcano National Park on the Island of Hawaii - also known as the Big Island. http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm

Are you planning to only go to Maui? With 8 days, you really only have time for one island.

Here are some areas run by the national park service in Hawaii - if you are interested:

http://www.nps.gov/kala/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/puhe/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm

California
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for Oahu
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2. Re: National Parks Trip

Welcome to TripAdvisor, KM! Sounds like a great adventure!

This is what you need to do. Post on the individual Island Forums (example: Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii). Tell us what you plan to do. AND - include a nightly accomodations budget. This is important, even if you are flexible ... as it gives us somewhere to start.

Also tell us how many nights you will be on each Island - so we can help with logistics.

You may end up trading "easy access" for the beach ... but you can work it out. Do you have a good map for each of the Islands you plan to visit?

Note that you are planning late! Very last minute for Hawaii. It is not off-season here - but very busy!

So hop on it! And reserve your rental cars ASAP as well.

See you on the other Forums. I am wearing my Acadia National Park sweatshirt.

Betty Lou

washington
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for Maui
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3. Re: National Parks Trip

With only 8 days, 7 nights right, you only have time for one island, Trust me the time change will get you!

You do know that there is no lava flow on the BI right now? Suggest you focus on Maui and the Oheo Gulch and Haleakala. That gives you a 2-fer on your quest for national parks.

As mentioned you need to find rental cars and lodging ASAP.

LA
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4. Re: National Parks Trip

There are many National Historical sites as well as the National Parks:

www.nps.gov/state/hi/index.htm?program=parks

K M
Oklahoma City...
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5. Re: National Parks Trip

Thanks for the advice, I'll go to the island-specific forums for more detail. For big picture, we were thinking about 4 days per island, maybe leaning more towards Maui as it sounds like there's more to do. But really we're most concerned with some good scenic hikes, plus at least one day of laying on a nice quiet beach (maybe with a little paddle boarding or minor snorkeling mixed in). Hotel budget probably ~$500/night. Otherwise, we're pretty easy. March 21-28 (excluding time to get there). (Acadia is still on our wish list!) Thanks!

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: National Parks Trip

I don't think Maui has "more to do" at all. I would say overall because of its size and the climate diversity, the BI actually has "more to do" but really on any of the four islands you'll find more than enough to entertain you for a week. The Big Island actually has five national parks/sites, more than another island; VNP, Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

I would agree to just pick one island. In addition to the most national parks, the Big Island also has the state's best snorkeling. It's best to split a stay about 75/25 between west and east respectively.

Edited: 24 January 2014, 04:12
United States
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7. Re: National Parks Trip

March 2014, as in 5 weeks from now? Have you priced out flights at all?

March very is a popular time to visit Hawaii given that some schools have spring break in March and it is winter and cold in many other parts of the country.

I just priced out OKC to OGG on 3/8, OGG to ITO on 3/13, and ITO to OKC on 3/15 as a red eye, and yikes! $1400pp! And that's with two stops on the overnight flights home.

Your plan will be a whirlwind for 8 days, 7 nights! I am thinking your first day will be mostly a loss due to travel and check in time being at 3pm. You'll probably want to stay in Kihei or Wailea in South Maui to be slightly closer to Haleakala than West Maui is. Both South Maui and West Maui will offer the greatest chance of sunny skies and nice beaches, being the dry sides of the island.

I guess you'll probably want to do sunrise at Haleakala the second or third day in Hawaii, while jet lagged. You will be getting up at 3-4am to get there in time to see the sun rising. Squeeze in some beach time, somehow...on these days....

Then road to Hana the 4th day (whew) because you can't get to Oheo Gulch (part of Haleakala National Park) from the summit of Haleakala easily. RTH will consume your entire day since most people drive there and then turn around and drive back in the same day before it gets dark out. Again, you'll want to get going really early, especially if you want to hike the Pipiwai Trail near Oheo Gulch.

Then in on the 5th day, another travel day!? So check out of your hotel/condo, return the car, take Hawaiian Airlines to Hilo on the Big Island, pick up a new rental car, and drive to Volcano National Park. Get to OGG about two hours ahead of time since it's a small airport and security can get backed up during busy periods.

And now you're doing a lightning strike on the BI and stay in Volcano for two nights without seeing anything else on the BI I guess? No beaches or sunny weather near here, and the West side of the BI is a long drive. So...VNP on days 6 and 7, then fly home the afternoon/evening on day 7. This seems like a very, very busy trip!

Edit: just saw you posted your actual dates and they don't include the travel days... Still seems like a whirlwind trip to me, though.

Edited: 24 January 2014, 04:15
Saint Cloud...
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8. Re: National Parks Trip

You have some good advice from coalminer & BLBL.

I also think you should go to only one island.

Though you could fly into Honolulu and spend one or two nights there & see the Pearl Harbor museums & then to either Maui or Island of Hawaii, and then back to the mainland from that island.

Is your interest just in National Parks?

Or does it include National Historic Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, etc.?

Some added info from coalminer's reply:

Here are some areas run by the national park service in Hawaii - if you are interested:

http://www.nps.gov/kala/index.htm - National Historic Park on Molokai

http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm - National Monument that includes part of HI, CA and AK. In Hawaii, USS Arizona Memorial & the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center on Oahu) is part of the National Monument.

http://www.nps.gov/puhe/index.htm - National Historic Site on Big Island

http://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm - National Historic Park on Big Island

http://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm - National Historic Park on Big Island

Big Island has the most National Parks, National Historic Sites, etc.

Maui has Haleakala and Oahu has Pearl Harbor.

Go to each of the island forums.

Read the Top Questions on each forum.

Use the search on each forum: trip report (Island of Hawaii forum has a couple of Top Questions for trip reports)

Maui is great for whale watching and waterfalls during winter months.

K M
Oklahoma City...
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6 posts
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9. Re: National Parks Trip

Wow, this is so helpful, thanks to all! We're talking about narrowing down to one, then doing the other when the kids are old enough to join us and enjoy it. To answer one of the questions, we're interested mainly in National Parks...obviously appreciating the other National and State sites where we can. Wish we could stay a few weeks! We're thinking Maui, with a few days on the beach (Fairmont Wailea?) and then RTH with a stay at Travaasa (looks way more convenient to the Park). Again, thanks for the ideas! I'll hit the Maui forum when we get closer to booking (will do as soon as possible).

LA
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10. Re: National Parks Trip

Travaasa is NOT more convenient to Haleakala National Park.

Please visit the park website and do some research with a map to get this straightened out. Travaasa in Hana is probably one of the least convenient places from which to visit HNP.

As National Parks go, Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park on The Big Island of Hawaii is THE one to visit. An active volcano, a huge historical and anthropological site unparalleled anywhere else in the US. So many climate zones, so much awe-inspiring actions of nature.

I'm a kid who grew up on the national park system and HVNP is my favorite park of them all.