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Maui or Kauai? First time

Philadelphia...
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Maui or Kauai? First time

Hello,

I will be traveling the first week of September for one week to Hawaii from Pa with my fiancé and it will be our first trip to Hawaii. We are looking for a hotel on the beach with good snorkeling. We like shops, restaurants, activities in walking distance from our hotel, and we are big nature lovers.

Where would you recommend staying Maui or Kauai? My father stayed in Oahu air force base for three years back in the 60's and I remember him saying that Kauai was very beautiful.

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

Your dad was right, but I'd bet the part of Kauai he was referring to was the north shore, where there really aren't any of the type of hotels you're looking for. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider Kauai. As much as which island, I think your choice is about a difference between a large resort hotel and a private cottage on/near an exotic tropical beach. If the cottage idea appeals to you, choose Kauai's north shore. Otherwise, go to Maui.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 00:26
Morro Bay...
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2. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

I love Kauai, go every year and will be on the North Shore in September. It is green and lush and the views are amazing. That being said, however, if your highest priority is a nice hotel on a good snorkeling beach with shops and restaurants within walking distance, you might consider the Kaanapali area on Maui. It is probably not the choice of many on the Kauai forum, however!

Alaska
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3. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

Both islands are a toss-up for me as to which we prefer and the only reason Maui edges out Kauai is familiarity. When we go to Maui, we always stay in a budget condo that is wonderfully comfortable, oceanfront with a big lanai. Average price per night for that luxury is about $150 plus the taxes. This fall it is $145 AND the beach is premier!

When we are on Kauai, being on the beach isn't a priority. If we have a view, that is wonderful and our last stay we had a million dollar view for around $200 a night, if I remember correctly. Our next stay will be in a cottage in the town of Hanalei and we will be able to walk everywhere. That is going to be a blast. But we are in a residential, small cup-de-sac. I don't care if I am staying on the beach on Kauai because it is a pricier choice and I prefer to stay in budget.

Honestly, I think you would prefer Maui for the convenience. It is a first visit and it might seem easier and give you more options for being on a snorkeling beach.

Are you a hotel person by preference or have you ever considered condos? There are a variety of reasons we LOVE condos, but if hotels are your preference, I don't want to go into all the reasons. Some folks just have never realized how wonderful condos are........Both islands are wonderful. Deb

California
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4. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

I also love both islands and put my money on Kauai. It is very different than Maui. I will say Maui has an edge over Kauai for bigger, better, on the beach resort hotels. It also is better for dining options. Saying that, there is nothing more beautiful than waking up to the red dirt mountains staring at you and the torquoise blue waters of the North Shore. Sept is a wonderful time on the island. If you do consider Kauai look into The Sheraton, Koa Kea or Kiahuna Plantation on the South Shore. On the North Shore its tough to find on the beach hotels except St Regis. You might consider a cottage on the bay or for knock your socks off views, a condo in Princeville.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

The "good snorkeling" seals it. Kauai doesn't have any. Sorry, Kauai lovers, I adore your island and visit as much as possible, but if snorkeling is a priority as the OP indicated, it's not a good choice.

Having said that, there are few places more beautiful than the north shore of Kauai in summer.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 03:02
Santa Rosa...
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6. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

Hotel on the beach, shops, restaurants in walking distance. This sounds like Poipu to me. Hotels right on the beach would be the Sheraton, Koa Kea Resort and the resort condos called Kiahuna Plantation. Good dining and shopping all around in walking distance, great beach for swimming and some snorkeling a 10 minute walk down the shoreline to Poipu Beach Park. No, it's not the best snorkeling in the islands but the folks out there sure seem to be enjoying themselves. Lawai Beach has the best on the south shore and arguably the best on Kauai. It's only a 10 minute drive away from these resorts.

The north shore is quintessential Hawaii but the entire island is beautiful including the south shore. Spots for nature lovers is all around the island, not just the north shore. You'll have the Mahaulepu coastline,in Poipu. Waimea Canyon on the west shore and many beautiful vistas. . But it's true the north shore does abound in mother nature. The problem for you is the lack of hotels right on the beach and also in walking distance to things. But Kauai is a small island and most people find the distance from the south shore to the north shore to be an easy drive.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 03:17
Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

OP, you should probably also post on the Maui forum to get equal perspectives....

I believe strongly in matching people to islands based on what they share as their interests and priorities rather than trying to make your favorite island fit them. While obviously my favorite island is the BI, I routinely advise people to visit other islands if the BI doesn't seem like a good fit. Maui is my least favorite island but for the OP I think it fits much better than Kauai.

When someone lists good snorkeling as a priority in their OP, I think it's important to pay attention to that. Kauai snorkeling is poor, bottom line. It's not just that it isn't "the best", it just isn't good (incidentally I think in September when the OP is coming the north shore snorkeling is much better than Lawai). And maybe the OP will decide she can live with that given all the other positives, but it's important IMO to be upfront.

Hey, it wouldn't really be fair if Kauai was that beautiful both above AND below water.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 03:47
Phoenix, Arizona
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8. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

We made our first trip to Hawaii some 20+ years ago. It was to Maui. I never had a desire to visit Hawaii, but (fortunately) my wife did. We absolutely loved Maui, had a great time. Did everything possible in a weeks time that involved the water. Took 2 trips out to Molokini for snorkeling.

However, when I couldn't get Hawaii out of my mind and we started looking at going back again ... we ended up picking Kauai (the Garden Isle yeah know). Well, it is more laid back which suited our style and we haven't gone anywhere other than Kauai since. If you want to do stuff, you won't run out of stuff to do on Kauai either.

They are different. Maui has far more touristy stuff and nightlife. Kauai is peace and beauty.

My point ... you can't go wrong with either. Make YOUR pick, enjoy!!!

Buford, Georgia
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9. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

We always have fun snorkeling on Kauai, but I will admit the snorkeling on Maui is much better and there's more snorkeling beaches close together. It's easier to snorkel around the points on Maui and had a lot more variety that way. We like the Kihei area of Maui for affordable accommodations and lots within walking distance. We did drive to the snorkel beaches, but many were within a few miles. On Kauai we stay on the East side and love the convenience for going north or south, but drive much more to get to snorkeling beaches.

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Maui or Kauai? First time

The problem I see with picking for you is that you have a lists of desirable things but havenʻt said which are more important, and these things tend not to be all together.

Parts of Maui are great for

>>> a hotel on the beach with good snorkeling. We like shops, restaurants, activities in walking distance from our hotel (west and south Maui) are fairly developed, even over-developed, and not the most natural beauty other than the ocean. But natural beauty is within reach of a day trip.

On Kauaʻi, you get the beauty of nature (all the Poipu area is not my favorite), but you get significantly less of all the rest and you donʻt get the better snorkeling. Also there is an affliction that is killing the coral on the north shore.

If you think about it, the building that goes with shopping and dining, usually decreases the natural beauty factor.

Overall, Maui is busier and more touristy, and Kauaʻi is more laid back, and that is why there are really good restaurants and shops on Maui. People go there for that scene. They go to Kaua;i for hiking and nature and to have a quieter experience.

So you need to decide how you want to compromise on your list.

Edited: 24 July 2013, 05:08