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Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Sydney, Australia
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Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Aloha Trip Advisors,

I need ur help choosing an Island!! Kauai or the Big Island? I'm torn.

I'll be in Hawaii for 13 nights in June with my fiancé. We plan to visit two islands: Oahu and.......!! I'd love to know ur thoughts. We don't know how long to stay on each island or which to visit first. We are pretty flexible, love exploring and seeing lots of things, equally we enjoy relaxing at the beach. No doubt there will be lots of shopping on Oahu. Don't mind the commercial side of Waikiki but wouldn't mind a few days away from the crowds.

Some background; We are 30 yrs old, not typically a romantic couple.

Likes: outdoors, beautiful beaches, both love snorkelling + kayaking. Seafood. Sunsets, cocktails + dinner by the beach. Nice bars/restaurants. Shopping. Hiking (just once). Fun water activities. A cultural dinner would be nice. Shrimp trucks sound cool.

I welcome all feedback and ideas. Feel free to throw in any suggestions for hotels etc (mid range $), with breakfast inclusion. Thanks for sharing ur time!


Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Ps. We plan to hire a car in Oahau. I believe we'd have to do the same on Big Island ?

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2. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Definitely have to have a car on the BI. Not necessarily on Oahu for the full time you are there.

Do you have specific things you want to see on Kauai or the Big Island? The Big Island is quite large and has some nice beaches, snorkling and resorts. If you think you want to go to the Big Island to see an erupting volcano, it is not really very active at this point in time.

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3. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

You probably don't have enough time for Big Island if you want to stay both sides. Beaches and snorkeling are in the Kohala Coast area (NW). The volcano is SE. There's little shopping and restaurants and lodgings are spread out. Sea life is the best of the islands, but there are fewer easy-access beaches here.

Kauai is small -- and feels even smaller because you can't see the vertical parts except from the air or sea. The north shore is gorgeous, loved by hikers, and it is *romantic* -- not what you requested! Sea life is least good of all the islands.

Neither of these seems to have enough 'man made' activities for your wishes. I'd choose Maui over either one.

Or...if this is your first visit to Hawaii, how about staying Waikiki plus some nights on the north shore of Oahu? You really don't need to pay to rent and park a car in Honolulu, where you can use taxi's or the bus system. You do need one everywhere else in Hawaii. You might also consider a daytrip or overnight to the volcano on Big Island instead of a longer stay away from Oahu.

If you do decide to try another island, can you push on when you arrive at HNL, then return to Oahu to shop and enjoy the nightlife for a while before you depart for home?

Remember that each interisland transfer will eat up almost half a day, door-to-door.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Well the Big Island is much better for snorkeling than either Kauai or Oahu, so if that is a priority, or if seeing Volcanoes National Park is a priority, then I'd do Big Island. The Big Island is very large, so if you choose the Big Island, I'd do 8 nights there and 5 nights Oahu. I'd also split the 8 nights there with 2 nights East (near VNP) and 6 nights West (Kohala Coast for snorkeling/ beaches).

Kauai is beautiful, and probably has the prettiest lushest scenery above ground of all the Hawaiian islands. It has the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon and the North Shore as some of its highlights. Kauai has great hiking and kayaking on rivers. It is much smaller than the Big Island, so would be easier to cover in a shorter amount of time. If you choose Kauai, I'd do 7 nights Kauai, 6 nights Oahu.

Sounds like you'd be happy with either Kauai or Big Island, both are good for outdoors activities, you just have to decide what your priorities are for this trip. You'd definitely need a car for either Kauai or Big Island.

San Carlos...
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5. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

I would do Oahu for 5 nights and the BI for the remainder. The Kohala coast is the best area to stay IMO. Kauai is also beautiful especially if you are looking for a tropical experience.

Nanaimo, Canada
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6. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Emma, when you decide on which island to add, make sure you get on the specific forum for that island. And then you can ask again about accommodation, but include an amount per night in U. S. dollars for the budget. Your mid range may be very different from other's mid range.

Breakfast included is usually only at resorts, and you usually pay a lot more for it. Sometimes you can get a deal. The best breakfast can be a cup of Kona coffee, or Maui coffee, or even Kaua'i coffee, sitting on your lanai in the morning watching the sun rise. Add in some fresh papaya with lime, and banana bread, and you are set.

There are so many wonderful places to try breakfast, that I wouldn't want to be stuck having breakfast at a hotel every morning. It's fun to get out and try different places.

Kauai, Hawaii
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for Kauai, Kapaa
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7. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

I'd venture to say that most visitors don't find that Kaua`i feels very small - and we who live here and know certainly don't. There's so much to see and do here that you can easily keep busy for a week. The small-town feel of the island makes a nice contrast to O`ahu. Not that I don't like Maui, but IMHO it's kind of "`Oahu lite."

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8. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

Small isn't bad...its good! Its not the size the count. Its what you do with it. LOL

IF you do the Big Island, spend the majority of your time there and not on Oahu. Ditto for whatever other you choose.

For Kauai and in June we on the Kauai forum would recommend staying on the North Shore but hotels are few and far between. Really the only hotel is the very expensive St Regis. You could also check the hotels in Poipu like Grand Hyatt, Sheraton and Koa Kea for a small boutique hotel feel with terrific service. It would be a nice contrast to the busy Waikiki hotels. But to me the North Shore is the place to be. Maybe Hanalei Colony Resort would interest you. Close to the top beaches, quiet (no tvs etc) and a bit remote. Think Whitsundays.

I love Maui and you might too, but it will be the most similar to Oahu in my opinion. Busy streets, crowded hotels etc. One time last year, it took me an hour to get from the condo to the pharmacy a few blocks away. Ugh. I do love the vibe, the restaurants, the shopping but you are going to get that feel on Oahu.

Kauai has all the shrimp trucks and then some...... Come over to our forum and we can help you with specific questions on Kauai. Its an awesome island.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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9. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

I love them both . . . if snorkeling/diving are most important, then you should probably go to the Big island. But summer on the northshore of Kauai is pretty amazing - not much can surpass that! :)

10. Re: Island Advice ~ Kauai vs Big Island

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