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Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

J C
Washington DC...
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31 posts
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Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

We are considering a first time trip to Hawaii and are in the "beginning phases" of researching the best way to plan. We are a family of four (2 kids ages 12 & 14). We will have 10 days at most. We would like a nice blend of sightseeing and relaxing/leisure activity. We are realistic that we won't be able to "fir everything in" but would appreciate some suggestions about which sites are not to be missed, how to split our time , etc. We have a middle of the road budget (with kids so not worried about bars/clubs, extreme fine dining, but we do enjoy a good dinner and clean, comfortable, updated accommodations). A few questions:

1. April or June? Which is the better time to visit for weather and/or crowds?

2. Pearl Harbor is on our "must do" list which leads us to believe we will spend some of our visit in O'ahu. With only 10 days, would it be best to stay put in O'ahu or try to stay for 3 nights on one island and week on another?

3. We were originally looking at the Marriott Ko Olina because it has condo style accommodations and because we have had good experiences with Marriott elsewhere (clean, updated, nice grounds and pools). This resort has fairly positive reviews on TA, but others say it is inconveniently located. Is this resort overly crowded? We don't mind people, but we don't enjoy racing to the pool or beach to reserve a spot!

4. If we spilt our time between O'ahu and another island, any suggestions about which island to choose?

Many thanks for any suggestions. Planning a first time visit is overwhelming.

New Lenox, Illinois
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1. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

It is very over whelming! Step back and take it one step at a time! Last year at this time we were planning our trip to Hawaii with kids, their ages are very close to the ages of yours. We looked into lodging first. Our hearts were set on Maui. We booked with Honua Kai a condo resort. The condo had a full kitchen and a washer and dryer in the unit which made it very cost effective. While on Maui we were able to enjoy some excursions and beach/pool time. Pearl Harbor was a must see. So we spent 5 days on Maui, and flew over to Oahu for our last night. The last day we went to Pearl Harbor and explored Oahu before we caught our red eye flight. If you have possible 10 days, your could easily split your time between islands! Good luck with your planning! It seems like too much, but it comes together and you will have a good time!

pzp
Kauai, Hawaii
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for Kauai, Kapaa
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2. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

1) April, unless it's around Easter, will be less crowded. June will have more good weather.

2) Do at least 3 nights on O`ahu. Lots to see and do.

3) Are you aware that Ko`olina is pretty far out of the way of everything? I'd stay in Waikiki for the experience. The Waikiki Marriott is quite nice, and the Courtyard is good, too.

4) O`ahu and Kaua`i make a nice contrast. Kaua`i is very laid-back and rural.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

The Big island is an excellent choice with kids that age and would be a nice contrast to busy Honolulu but Kauai would also be an excellent choice. (I agree with pzp that Waikiki would make more sense than Ko'olina). I would read trip reports for each island and browse through each island forum and the Top Questions to get a better sense of the differences between each.

I prefer June for better ocean conditions and weather. The BI is never crowded.

Nanaimo, Canada
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4. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

You will have a long flight to get to Hawaii in the first place. Is there any chance that you could fly into one island, and then leave from another? If you can avoid an extra inter-island flight, that would save you half a day, and money too!

Check flights to see if you could fly into Oahu, and then leave from Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island. They are all so unique, you can't really go wrong with any of them. You will want to have a car for all the islands, with the exception of Oahu. But even on Oahu, it would be great to get the car for one or two days to explore the North Shore.

J C
Washington DC...
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5. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

Thanks for all the great feedback. I did read that Ko'Olina is out of the way. It sounds like it is best to stay in Waikiki where there is a lot to see and do and then "balance" the rest of our trip on a less crowded island? We want to see Pearl Harbor, so is Oahu the best place to stay while we are trying to do that?

New Lenox, Illinois
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6. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

Most definitely see Pearl Harbor while you are staying on Oahu. Other wise you will have take an inter island flight back and forth from the island you have decided to stay on.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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7. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

I am not a city person, but a few days in Waikiki actually works very well. I also would recommend either Kauai or the Big Island. What family activities do you enjoy? I know it is tough to choose - and I love them both. Maybe read up with them with your kids, see what they may enjoy more. :)

Kapaa, Hawaii
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for Maui, Hana, Oahu
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8. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

Ko Olina is about a 40 minute drive from Waikiki. Yes, it is a bit "out there" but a good place to stay if you don't want the crowds of Waikiki. It's best if you stay out there to avoid the early morning/evening rush hours. If that happens, you will have to double your driving time!!

You could split your time between Waikiki and Ko Olina or you could split it between Oahu and another island. Most people want to short change Oahu thinking Waikiki is about it as far as what to see on this island. That is just plain wrong!! After you get out of the city, there is a wonderful rural island to be explored!!

If you decide to split your time between Oahu and another island, split them as evenly as you can.

Chicagoland
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9. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

Coming from the East, your best flights are nonstops on widebody aircraft into HNL. Stay three nights Waikiki while you see historic sites like Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum (NOT stuffy). Rent a car for convenience within Honolulu and to drive around Oahu's pretty east and north shores, returning via the Pali against the afternoon rush hour.

Then fly to Island #2. Kauai or Maui would be my choice. (I'd want more time for Big Island in order to enjoy staying both Kohala Coast (NW) and at Volcano (SE). Rent a condo for a week. Reserve a car here, too. Both of these islands feel even smaller than they are once you subtract the massive Pali on Kauai and Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains on Maui. You'd get a good 'taste' of either of these without a lot of driving. Stay north on Kauai. Stay West or South Maui. (South is more convenient to major sights.)

On departure from Island #2, check your luggage through to home; sit two hours within TSA security at HNL; board your flight for home. You must have these return flights on one ticket. If you do not, you will have to leave airport security at HNL to claim luggage, then re-check it and go back through security again. Use Hawaiian Airlines within the islands. You may even be able to use HA from home; can't recall who flies a nice widebody out of Dulles.

We fly Chicago-Maui every winter. We avoid 757's and west coast connections. When people suggest that you fly 'into one island and out of another', they usually don't realize the different challenges for visitors not traveling from the west coast of the mainland. I'd cheerfully do one extra short interisland flight to avoid the narrowbody planes that usually fly to Hawaii-West Coast. The return trips are usually redeyes. I prefer one 'hop' plus an uninterrupted flight home over being dumped out on the coast in the wee hours, four hours after departure, with a very long leg ahead of me.

J C
Washington DC...
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10. Re: Beginning to plan visit...need some help.

Excellent suggestions about flights. Thank you so much!