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Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Boston...
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Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

We (family of four -- two adults, two kids ages 7 and 9) are planning a trip to Kauai next April, and frequent flier seats open up on May 20th, so even though it's far out, I've got a few decisions I need to make . . .

We have never been to Hawaii, and our current plan is to spend the entire two weeks in Kauai -- one week at the Hyatt in Poipu, and one week at the St. Regis in Princeville. We are trying to keep this trip low cost, and are using accumulated Star Alliance, Starwood and Amtrak points to pay for all of our flights and lodging. We may pay out of pocket for 2-3 structured "day trips", but otherwise, I think we will rent a car and hike/swim/explore on our own.

Having just completed a VERY active vacation (we just returned last week from two weeks in Borneo -- I'll be posting a trip report and reviews in the next week or two), we are thinking that we'd like next year's vacation to be a little more relaxed. That said, our family loves hiking, wildlife (not our main goal in visiting Hawaii) and natural beauty. . . I, particularly, love lush, green vistas.

I think that staying on Kauai will suit us just fine, but will we regret not visiting another island? There are a lot of places in the world that we want to see, and we will probably only take a big trip like this roughly every two years (this is an exception because of our accumulated points!), so I'm honestly not sure if/when we will return to Hawaii. . .

Thanks for your thoughts!

San Diego...
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1. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

That's a very personal decision. The volcano on the BI is pretty amazing. If you're big on history, the Pearl Harbor exhibits on Oahu are also worth a side trip. If you just want to hike and relax, there's no huge reason to island hop though. They've all got plenty of good hiking and nice beaches. Maui has more and better restaurants and shopping than Kauai. Oahu also has the big city flavor. It's really up to you. People certainly find more than enough to do to spend 14 day on Kauai, but you could just as easily do the same on Maui or the BI. Evidently it takes a lifetime to see Oahu. Must be the traffic.

It's hard to imagine Hyatt + SR = budget. Good thing for those freebies.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Given that it's April, I'd be hesitant about the weather. April can be wet, part of April anyhow. The April I was in Kaua'i, it rained every day of the ten day trip (although not all day and less on some days than others) --except on the west and southwest. Maybe that was unusual, not sure, but 10 days is a good long stretch. Saw a lot of fabulous rainbows!

Here on the Big Island, I've seen a lot of unstable April weather on the lush side in the last nine years, so I feel it wasn't that unique to experience the April showers.

We toured and loved the north shore in that weather, but it wasn't any good for hiking or swimming. Waimea Canyon was spectacular. I would not have liked to be staying in Princeville that trip.

Weather would really be my only concern. Kaua'i has a side that is super sunny, but the ocean isn't good for swimming on that side. In contrast, the sunny areas of the Big Island and Maui coincide with the best beaches and water conditions.

If you were coming in summer I would say don't even bother to think about going to another island, but in April you might want to hedge your bets and do a week each on two.

Even though I live on the Big Island, the volcano is my least favorite part to visit, but for many it is really something.

I love the scenery on the windward side of Oahu and the North Shore. There is a lot to do there for a family, so I wouldn't dismiss it. The Ko'olau mountains are lush, green, amazing. The nice thing about Oahu too is the lower cost of food and attractions.

The downside of Maui is it's more expensive.

The Big Island is not that expensive, but it does cost to be right on a beach, because that's at a premium here. Being NEAR a beach is more affordable.

Whatever you decide will be very nice and I don't see why you would get bored; there is a lot to discover on any of the islands.

Boston...
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3. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Thanks, Dave and Kamaaina,

Dave, I know calling it a "budget" vacation sounds odd, but we really have a LOT of points saved up and we just plan to blow them all on this trip. But having just paid for a major vacation, we don't want to spend a whole out of pocket. I know that food will be costly, though, and I am also considering spending 4 nights at the Hyatt on the front end of the trip, 4 nights at the SR at the tail end of the trip, and then staying at the Westin condo-style hotel for the middle portion of the trip so that we can buy some of our own groceries to keep costs down. We'll see -- I just need to figure out the difference in SPG points (is the difference big enough that it may be worth holding onto those extra points for another trip?), but their website is down right now for some reason...

Kamaaina, I have definitely thought about the weather being a factor. I think it's a risk I'm willing to take, and am hoping that we'll have better luck since we'll be there the last two weeks of April, with our stay in Princeville the last week... To be honest, if we were to split our stay, I was thinking Maui was the next most attractive island to me...

arkansas
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4. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Book Kauai and don't look back. By your own admission this is your "relax" trip. If you start adding you WILL change the nature of your vacation. You will have a true Hawaiian experience if you loose track of the days because you're just "hangin' loose" on Kauai!

Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Maui is great, just more touristy and busy than the other two, OTOH it is full of all one needs for a great vacation.

As far as weather goes, this is the first week of May and we're under an island wide flood advisory from a Kona storm and it sounds like Kaua'i is way wet -- so while late April is better, it's not immune. Spring weather is unpredictable.

Do whatever feels right. Just know that Princeville is a bit of a risk.

There are no Starwood properties on the Big island that I would consider that nice (just the Sheraton, in receivership), and there is no Hyatt either. Maui and Oahu offer MUCH more ...

not to worry, doesn't hurt my feelings when "my" island isn't chosen. They're all great.

washington
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6. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

With 2 weeks you can really start to feel at "home" on an island. If Kauai is calling to you, go for it. To be honest, with kids, I'd use the points at the Westin Villas on the north...St Regis is lovely, but a bit "staid" for kids.

Chicagoland
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7. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Are your points about to expire? If not I'd save some and skip at least one hotel wherever you go. I'd also choose Oahu or Maui for a two-week stay. Kauai is a very small island once you subtract the huge portion you can't access because it is *vertical*. It IS likely to be rainy up north, and you can't hike muddy trails safely.

With two kids: I'd want 'home away from home' in a condo. I wouldn't sanwich the condo stay between two hotels. I wouldn't choose the St. Regis.

I'd want a non-stop in and out of Honolulu on a good aircraft (767 or 330). If I had air points I'd buy coach and use the points to upgrade to first on this long flight.. That way you get points on what you spend and points for the miles flown. If you 'buy' with points you accumulate nothing towards your next trip.

You will want a rental car wherever you go. You don't *have* to have one within Honolulu, but you'd want to get out and explore the rest of Oahu. Your kids are old enough to appreciate Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl, Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum. They'd probably like the Polynesian Cultural Center. You could split time between Honolulu and the north shore. Staying on Oahu would save the time and cost of 'hops'.

If Maui, you could spend some time in Hana as well as in the South or West Maui locales. I'd do a condo with possibly a few nights in a hotel at the end of the trip. Maui is all about easy-access beaches with great swimming and snorkeling, Haleakala, Iao Valley, Road to Hana. The Oceanarium is a treat. There's a wide choice of lodgings.

Edited: 07 May 2011, 16:53
Santa Rosa...
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8. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

Maybe you'll want to take into consideration which island you fly into. Remember, it's way easier to fly into Honolulu using points. Mileage seats from west coast connecting flights nonstop to the other islands is harder to get. Also, using mileage points on an itinerary that includes a change of planes to Hawaiian Airlines in Honolulu is harder to get too. Including Hawaiian Airlines in your free mileage seats usually bumps up the required miles. The reason is Hawaiian Airlines doesn't so readily give up seats to the mainland carriers mileage programs. When checking for mileage seats you might find you will need to consider flying into any of the islands , just to get there, then transferring to an interisland flight to your final destination. You might find you'll come out ahead by paying seperately for an interisland flight.

So if you end up having to fly into Oahu or another island why not take advantage of that opportunity to visit that island for a few days? Sounds like you're planning this on the heels of a very active vacation you just finished and you're wanting the opposite of busy. I can see that but on the other hand will you end your trip wishing you had checked out something on another island that's been on your mind?

Moorpark, California
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9. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

April is a lovely month to travel to Kauai. I'm not an expert on the weather patterns of Hawaii but I've personally only experienced a lot of rain in December (4 times) and February (once). My husband was on Kauai in March 2006 but that was unusual. I would never hestitate to travel to Kauai in April. As much as I love to see the other islands, I'm a sit and relax kind of person and splitting your stay between the two shores is a great idea. We tend to do this over island hopping. I just dread going through all of the security, etc. at the airport and you usually loose a good chuck of your day doing this.

I like the suggestion of staying at the Westin versus the St. Regis. The biggest reason for me would be the kitchen. I personally get very tired of eating out for every meal and with 4 of you, it starts to add up to big bucks! My boys are 9 & 12 and my oldest is starting to eat full sized adult meals. So having a kitchen is a good option. I've also heard that the pool at the Westin is great for kids.

Napa's suggestion about spending a couple of days on Oahu is also an great idea. My kids wanted to see Pearl Harbor one year so we ended up flying into HNL and spent 2 nights in Waikiki. We spent a full day at Pearl before we continued on to Lihue. I liked doing this at the beginning of the trip so once we got to Kauai, we could relax.

southFla
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10. Re: Will we regret not visiting TWO islands?

I did one island (Oahu) on a tight budget, like

a lot of young people. It was romantic.

I also went to three (Maui/Oahu/big island) islands with

my family. Far more interesting than just Oahu. but all the air transfers,

checking out, checking in, pack/ unpack etc kind of got on my nerves.

To each his own! With small kids, I think I would stick to one island.