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First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

London Ontario
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First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Hello Oahu forum!

We are in the midst of planning our first vacation to Hawaii in March and will be only staying on Oahu. I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on which airline is better from the mainland. We will be flying out of Detroit so options include Delta, United, American and US Air. I am thinking it is between Delta and United at this point. Our stay will be for 10 days.

Also, we are hoping to split our stay between Aulani and the north shore (hopefully Turtle Bay). Which would you do first? Should we do a couple of nights on Waikiki beach? We don't really like crowds but do want to see the the Arizona, Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana shopping centre. Otherwise, we are looking to snorkel, do the dole plantation, walk the beach and just some general sightseeing.

Any input you could give would be appreciated.

Chicagoland
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1. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

We have visited Hawaii's four major islands for decades. Look for a 767 or 330 widebody aircraft nonstop into HNL. Avoid 757's and west coast connections -- especially annoying on the redeye flights home when you fly four hours on a narrowbody plane, then sit in an airport after midnightwith another long leg ahead of you -- possibly also on a 757.

Aulani is sort of 'nowhere', on man-made lagoons. I'd prefer staying IN Honolulu while you do the historic and 'city life' things. Turtle Bay should be warm enough by March.

With ten nights, you do have enough time to a few nights on Waikiki and an Island #2, but North Shore Oahu is a nice change from Honolulu too. Will you rent a condo at Turtle Bay?

It's not too early to reserve your rental car!

London Ontario
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2. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Thanks, ChiSue.

Will look at the airlines more closely to see aircraft type. We thought about doing 5 nights in Oahu, 5 in Maui but didn't think we'd really have enough time as I figured one day would be taken up moving between islands. Do you really think there is enough time for that?

We are HUGE Disney fans so really want to stay at Aulani. May cut it down to 2 nights and the rest elsewhere. Two nights there, 4 nights Honolulu and 4 nights north shore seemed like a lot of moving around. We want some relaxation!!!!

Dallas
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3. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Which airline is better from the mainland? Not really a question you can get much of an answer to. All people have some they prefer based on location, time of flights, level of service, etc.

Our favorite is American....we live in Dallas !! We can get non-stop flights from Dallas to Oahu or Maui, and we frequently use miles to book flights.

So, if you think it is between Delta and United, then I guess you kind of have to compare prices, convenience of flights and times, etc. Both of them will probably get you there alive and that is the main criteria. I can tell you that I seem to see lots more complaints about United than other airlines. That is totally based on anecdotal information and in no way has any statistical value.

"Also, we are hoping to split our stay between Aulani and the north shore (hopefully Turtle Bay). Which would you do first? Should we do a couple of nights on Waikiki beach?"

I personally would not stay at either one but that's just me. Waikiki has the best options for accommodations, is convenient to restaurants, shopping, public transportation, and you do not need a car the entire time. You will have to have a car for your time on Aulani and Turtle Bay.

You can do all the things you want from Waikiki as easy as the other two locations.

Just as a comment, Dole Plantation is really kind of a potty stop as you travel around the island. It's really not worth much other than that. (Again my opinion)

So, those are my thoughts, hope they give you some things to help your decisions.

Aloha

Chicago
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4. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

As for airlines, they're all about what and what. Just get the cheapest, with fewest stops and shortest travel times as possible. From DET there aren't any nonstops and you'll be making connections on the west coast most likely. No help for it, you'll likely be on a smaller plane, but the differences from a wide-body to a narrow-body (to me at least) aren't that great. The best you can hope for is a connection in DFW one way and PHX the other.

As for the Aulani, most report it's far from a Disney park, and basically just a Disney themed hotel. It's completely up to you though. I'd honestly look into splitting time between Waikiki and North Shore, or Waikiki and another island. If you do Aulani, Waikiki and Northshore, that's three separate hotel check in and out sessions, so something to think about.

Minneapolis...
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5. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

I am also a big Disney fan planning a first trip to Hawaii and I understand your interest in Aulani. We decided to spilt our stay for this May - 4 nights in Waikiki and 4 nights at Aulani (plus 2 nights on the Big Island). I know Aulani is not for everyone. Everyone is unique and has different travel interests/goals. We are very excited to try it, though. A good friend of mine stayed at Aulani for a week and just raved about how beautiful it was and all there was to do for her family there. I bet you will love it! There is a deal right now, by the way, that I heard about that gives a free 4th night if you pay for 3 nights, plus free breakfast for two adults. It should be available for your dates.

The thinking for me about our hotel choices was that we will be able to get out and do a lot of different things during our Waikiki portion, and then make the stay at Aulani more of a relaxing, slower paced time. We also do not like big crowds and just want a nice family vacation with our 3 children (12 and under), so think it will work out well for us. We are spending one day visiting the North Shore while at Aulani and are possibly doing Pearl Harbor from there, the latter of which is quite convenient from Aulani according to what I have heard. So, although I think that Aulani would not have been a great fit for our whole time on Oahu, it works well for us for half the time.

I have not booked flights either, yet. We are flying Delta and hoping for a larger plane for part of the journey (because of tips I read on TA), but our options are sadly limited from Minneapolis. I noticed some of their larger planes fly to Honolulu out of Salt Lake City, so you could try for a connection there if you fly with them.

Have a wonderful vacation, whatever you decide! Enjoy your planning...

Edited: 02 February 2014, 22:24
Chicagoland
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6. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

I could have been more clear about the flights. I want a single long leg nonstop on a widebody -- with whatever short hop or hops are necessary. We fly AA via DFW to get that nice 767 -- can go nonstop to HNL or to OGG (Maui).

The OP could fly into HNL, do the Honolulu stuff, then fly to OGG and home from there without going back to HNL. You dont *have* to go via the coast; there are other cities and other airlines that fly nonstops into HNL from farther within the mainland. *I* would not stay Aulani at all; rather have a nice condo on Maui for a week, and three nights in a hotel on Waikiki. March is part of Whale Season, best viewed from Maui.

IMO Disney built Aulani it to serve as a destination for Disney cruises. I wouldn't travel to Hawaii to see Walt's version of Hawaii! Turtle Bay is north shore and may still be windy in March, whereas the OP could stay from Kahana south on Maui and have calmer ocean. (Or stay Big Island.)

We have never stayed less than two weeks on any of the four major islands during our winter visits, but we tend to skip Oahu, having 'been there and done that' with the major sights -- and north shore is too cool for a January-early March stay.

Karin -- Only two nights for Big Island? Flying in and out of ITO? Doing only the volcanoes?

Chicago
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7. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Sue, I agree with wanting one single nonstop on a big plane if possible, and will pay a little more to avoid stops, but coming from Detroit, the OP doesn't have that option - there are no directs from DET. I must admit, being in Chicago we're a bit spoiled for options, especially with United, American and Southwest. A quick look on kayak for random dates in march didn't show many options for connections from DET with wide-body planes for the haul end of the trip.

California
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8. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Always count your nights. 9? If you do have 10 nights, you can see two Islands. Honestly, you are planning a little late. Understand that you will lose at least a 1/2 day with each Island transition. And you'll be paying for interisland flights.

We have all kinds of people posting who blindly follow Disney. Don't get me wrong ... I'm a Disney person from way back. Just make sure that you know about Aulani before making it a priority. Aulani is nice. Nice art ... nice grounds. Nice water features and creative touches. Small by Disney standards. Nothing amusement-parkish at all. Not very Disney-ish. But it is in Ko'olina - which is isolated ... about an hour from Honolulu (maybe more, depending on traffic.) Less than a handful of restaurants in Ko'Olina outside of the resorts. No shopping. Few activities.

If you are splitting your time between Oahu and another Island - stick with one accomodation for each. If you plan to spend your entire vacation on Oahu - then sure - split your stay between two accomodations ... but not three. You'll lose too much time processing. BUT - the vast, vast majority of hotels are in Honolulu. And many of the activities and sites that draw visitors are in Honolulu. You don't want to do much commuting between Turtle Bay or Aulani and Honolulu. Traffic is nasty. And you will need a car for Turtle Bay and/or Aulani.

The Dole Plantation is a tourist trap. Big T-shirt shop and activities for little kids. Great for a potty break and cold drink - but it is not a major destination and pales in comparison to most of your options.

Any input you could give would be appreciated.

London Ontario
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9. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Thank you, everyone, for the detailed responses. I think we may rethink and stay on Waikiki Beach for the first four nights and then move to Aulani for the last. Then we can go to the North Shore for a day from there.

Thank you. I shall keep researching and hopefully, can find a reasonable oceanfront hotel near the attractions. If anyone has suggestions, fire away!

Thanks again.

Minneapolis...
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10. Re: First time to Hawaii - Hotel and airline question

Yes, 2 nights, in and out of ITO. We are seeing Volcanoes National Park, a couple waterfalls, the Hamakua Coast, and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

I do not blindly follow Disney. And I am not traveling to Hawaii to see Walt's version of it.

I was polite in my post, and I must say that often when someone posts something about going to Aulani, some people respond in a predictably negative and unfortunately condescending fashion. I know Aulani is not a theme park. I have really looked into it and know what I am getting into. My understanding is that it is about Hawaii, not Mickey Mouse. I like the quality and customer service Disney offers. And I like that it is away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. When I think of Hawaii, I think of a place that is relaxing and peaceful, not a big city. I understand that people LOVE Waikiki and I am sure they have very good reason. We will be spending half our time on Oahu staying there so I look forward to seeing it.

For us, we are a family with young kids. We rarely drink, do not care about fine dining, bars, or people watching. We want to see & experience the natural beauty of Hawaii and spend time together. If we feel that Aulani meets our needs for part of our stay, then I do not see that as a "problem" for others to solve or something to ridicule.

I do appreciate all of the insight of destination experts and others who post here. I know nothing personally about Hawaii, so have learned from my research here. Thank you for that.

Edited: 03 February 2014, 03:42