First time to Hawaii

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poker27
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First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:47 am

Hi all, recently received word that I will be attending our ‘presidents trip’ with my company, which is taking place in Maui at the beginning of April. Hawaii has been on my list for a while, and could never convince myself that the long flight and cost was worth it, so this was a nice kick to make me go. Gf and I will be staying at a Maui report for 4 nights which work is paying for (minus a huge tax bill), but given the 10hr flight, we want to extend our time. We have a few dinners/ activities planned in Maui, includig renting a motorcycle to explore the island.

We were thinking of going to the big island and staying 6 nights there. Planned on renting a convertible in Hilo, spending 2 nights and driving to Kona, and spending 4 nights there. We have a few water falls, and beaches on our list to see, but not sure what else we...

Has anyone been and could off up some tips on things to do in Maui (won’t have a car), Hilo, and Kona? Or places we should go instead? We are into anything from laying on a beach, physical activity, and great food/music/ nightlife. This is will be the longest (and most expensive) vacation of my adult life, so trying to do it right.

Thanks all!

Traveler
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Traveler » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:00 am

I have only been to Oahu so I can't help with recommendations but I hope you enjoy your trip!

tj
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by tj » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:07 am

I moved to Maui a month ago. There's a restaurant near the airport called Da Kitchen which is really good.

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dougger5
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by dougger5 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:19 am

We were in Maui for 7 days last month, so I can speak to The Valley Isle.

I'd say the most singular experience was witnessing the sunrise from atop the Haleakala Volcano. We used a tour company for this, even though we did have a rental car. They pick you up at 3am, and give you a good spot to watch from. It's a good activity for early on, while your internal clock is still on Mainland time.

We did a whale watching tour, as it was peak time for humpback activity, and we did see several whales breaching and fin-flapping. Whale season extends into May, so you may get an opportunity to spot some. But you don't necessarily have to do it on a tour, as other activities involving sea activities - e.g. snorkeling, submarine tours - will give you that opportunity as well.

We also opted for a tour bus for the Road To Hana. Nice way to survey the rain forest side of the larger volcano, with turn-of-the-20th-century bridges, waterfalls, seascapes, etc.

We opted for the full ride, which follows the road around the north side of Haleakala, and also around the south side, where the road is much choppier. We also considered a combination tour bus / helicopter tour for this, which shortens the total duration of the tour, and gives you some unique views. If we go back, I think we'll definitely do that.

The beaches on the west side of the island seem nice - though we're not lay-out-on-the-beach types, and we're close to beaches where we live.

We did the Old Lahaina Luau, which seems regarded as the best on the island (reserve early). We did enjoy it, but I can't speak to that vs what you'll find on the other islands.

Our main references were a couple of threads here, as well as the guide "Maui Revealed." And of course all the hotels there have tons of pamphlets and concierges.
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:23 am

Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Erwin007
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Erwin007 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:31 am

dougger5 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:19 am
We were in Maui for 7 days last month, so I can speak to The Valley Isle.

I'd say the most singular experience was witnessing the sunrise from atop the Haleakala Volcano. We used a tour company for this, even though we did have a rental car. They pick you up at 3am, and give you a good spot to watch from. It's a good activity for early on, while your internal clock is still on Mainland time.

We did a whale watching tour, as it was peak time for humpback activity, and we did see several whales breaching and fin-flapping. Whale season extends into May, so you may get an opportunity to spot some. But you don't necessarily have to do it on a tour, as other activities involving sea activities - e.g. snorkeling, submarine tours - will give you that opportunity as well.

We also opted for a tour bus for the Road To Hana. Nice way to survey the rain forest side of the larger volcano, with turn-of-the-20th-century bridges, waterfalls, seascapes, etc.

We opted for the full ride, which follows the road around the north side of Haleakala, and also around the south side, where the road is much choppier. We also considered a combination tour bus / helicopter tour for this, which shortens the total duration of the tour, and gives you some unique views. If we go back, I think we'll definitely do that.

The beaches on the west side of the island seem nice - though we're not lay-out-on-the-beach types, and we're close to beaches where we live.

We did the Old Lahaina Luau, which seems regarded as the best on the island (reserve early). We did enjoy it, but I can't speak to that vs what you'll find on the other islands.

Our main references were a couple of threads here, as well as the guide "Maui Revealed." And of course all the hotels there have tons of pamphlets and concierges.
As a counterpoint to your Haleakala experience, that was the worst thing we did in our week in Maui last year. It all depends on what the weather is like when you’re up there. For us it was cold, windy, blustery, and miserable and you couldn’t see anything because of the fog. After getting home, I did some more research and found that there are usually only around 70 days per year when the sunrise is really visible atop Haleakala, so you have about a 20% chance of seeing the sunrise.

The main problem is that in order to get in to the park at that time of the morning you have to reserve your tickets weeks or months in advance when you have no idea what the weather is going to be like.

I would second the whale watching tour. The end of March is getting towards the end of the season, but that was the coolest thing we did, and one of the most awesome experiences we have ever had.

We had a car and did the Road to Hana (aka Divorce Highway). It was worth doing as well.

If you like beaches there are a couple of awesome beaches on the northwest side of the island. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton and really liked (Kapalua Bay and Napili).

The year before we did the Big Island. We stayed on the Kona side but drove over to Volcanoes NP one day. Not sure how much the recent volcano activity has affected things, but we liked the Kilauea Iki Crater hike a lot, although I’ve heard that is closed. The lookout at the end of the road down there is also quite impressive. We hit a lot of beaches on the Kona side and snorkeled. Waipio is great but we also really liked Pololu. We hiked down there and had the beach to ourself most of the day (granted it was September). Black sand and picturesque.

NJdad6
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by NJdad6 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:44 am

Congrats on the award and trip. Others will scream bloody murder (they did last time I said this) but the Big Island is my least favorite of the islands. I think Maui and Kauai are much more scenic and there is more to do. The Big Island is huge (size of Connecticut). Way too much driving for vacation. The resort (Fairmont) we stayed at was beautiful though.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by dougger5 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:51 am

Erwin007 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:31 am
dougger5 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:19 am
We were in Maui for 7 days last month, so I can speak to The Valley Isle.

I'd say the most singular experience was witnessing the sunrise from atop the Haleakala Volcano. We used a tour company for this, even though we did have a rental car. They pick you up at 3am, and give you a good spot to watch from. It's a good activity for early on, while your internal clock is still on Mainland time.

We did a whale watching tour, as it was peak time for humpback activity, and we did see several whales breaching and fin-flapping. Whale season extends into May, so you may get an opportunity to spot some. But you don't necessarily have to do it on a tour, as other activities involving sea activities - e.g. snorkeling, submarine tours - will give you that opportunity as well.

We also opted for a tour bus for the Road To Hana. Nice way to survey the rain forest side of the larger volcano, with turn-of-the-20th-century bridges, waterfalls, seascapes, etc.

We opted for the full ride, which follows the road around the north side of Haleakala, and also around the south side, where the road is much choppier. We also considered a combination tour bus / helicopter tour for this, which shortens the total duration of the tour, and gives you some unique views. If we go back, I think we'll definitely do that.

The beaches on the west side of the island seem nice - though we're not lay-out-on-the-beach types, and we're close to beaches where we live.

We did the Old Lahaina Luau, which seems regarded as the best on the island (reserve early). We did enjoy it, but I can't speak to that vs what you'll find on the other islands.

Our main references were a couple of threads here, as well as the guide "Maui Revealed." And of course all the hotels there have tons of pamphlets and concierges.
As a counterpoint to your Haleakala experience, that was the worst thing we did in our week in Maui last year. It all depends on what the weather is like when you’re up there. For us it was cold, windy, blustery, and miserable and you couldn’t see anything because of the fog. After getting home, I did some more research and found that there are usually only around 70 days per year when the sunrise is really visible atop Haleakala, so you have about a 20% chance of seeing the sunrise.

The main problem is that in order to get in to the park at that time of the morning you have to reserve your tickets weeks or months in advance when you have no idea what the weather is going to be like.
Point taken regarding the weather.

But the bit about reserving a spot in the park applies only if you are driving yourself up. With the tour, we reserved a day or two in advance, thus had access to somewhat reliable weather reports.
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investor997
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by investor997 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:46 pm

I've done "President's Club" trips to Maui before. My advice would be to extend your stay on the island by several days - and definitely rent a car. Consider flying in early and ending the trip with President's Club. This way you can go "cheap" early on and explore the island at your own pace, then return the car and let your company wine and dine you at the resort to finish off the trip.

If you've never been to Maui, you can easily spend a week and a half there and not run out of things to do.

I also agree with the other poster who suggests Kauai over the Big Island. Not that I dislike the Big Island - I love it - but I rank Kauai higher.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by captaindorky » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:48 pm

I just returned from a week on the Big Island. Everybody will have differing opinions, but I find the Big Island to be my favorite, and I have been to Oahu, Maui and Kauai multiple times.

We've never spent much time in Hilo proper, but in that area you have a very worthwhile Botanical Garden and then the volcano. The recent changes in that area I found to be quite spectacular and the park is a must see. Isaac Hale park and beach is amazing. The most recent lava flows entered the ocean right next to this beach, transforming the harbor and creating a new black sand beach.

On the Kona side, all kinds of options. Hapuna Beach is wonderful. The coffee plantation tours are interesting, if you are into that kind of thing. We liked Greenwell. Place of Refuge is worthwhile. Snorkeling with the manta rays at night is something you would never forget.

On the way over from Hilo to Kona, check out the Waipio Valley lookout. The Pololu Valley on the other side is worth a view and the hike down to the beach. There is also a macadamia nut factory in this area (Hamakua) that has samples.

As I am sure you are aware, get prepared for sticker shock at the restaurants and grocery stores. We almost always elect to eat in. Costco is your friend. Local fish and meat can be found at the grocery stores. We especially like KTA and Foodland. Make sure to try Poke! Tex's has great malasadas.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Kiter » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:58 pm

You should have a car for Maui. What do you consider active ?There was downhill biking from the crater top to Paia last I was there OR you can rent a quality road bike in Paia and ride up the 10,000 ft and then come down on your own .

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by dougger5 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:17 pm

Kiter wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:58 pm
You should have a car for Maui. What do you consider active ?There was downhill biking from the crater top to Paia last I was there OR you can rent a quality road bike in Paia and ride up the 10,000 ft and then come down on your own .
One of my favorite memories from our trip, along with the sunrise from the crator, was a road trip around the smaller volcano on the north side of the island. As you drive clockwise from Kaanapali, the road turns into a sort of modern version of the Hana Highway - one lane, cut into steep rock slopes, with periodic turn-outs for encountering opposing traffic. I did not sufficiently research this, and so I found myself unexpectedly driving with white knuckles and a constant fear of damaging my rental with a head-on collision with a careless driver coming from the opposite direction.

But we made it to our objective intact: Lorraine's Shave Ice. Miss Lorraine serves it with a dollop of ice cream at the bottom, and is otherwise an engaging host whose operation sits on a picturesque spot. She bemoaned how there are long dead periods, punctuated by sudden influxes of customers.

So having survived, it is now indeed a great memory. But I'll not be doing it again :)

I left this out of my first post on account of the OP stating they wouldn't be driving. I agree that being able to drive yourself is optimal, but there are public transport options, as well as Uber.
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:21 pm

Avoid Oahu!!
Due to landslides from heavy rains, The Pali Tunnel/HWY, one of 3 tunnels that funnel traffic from the Windward side of the Island to the Leeward/Honolulu side is closed.
Traffic is gridllock everywhere!
Projections for repair keep moving farther and farther out.

Go straight to Maui, then shuttle to see Kauai and the Big Island.

btw: Due to high population and congestions, perpetual gridlock even with the tunnel/Pali Hwy open has become the norm.

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danielrhall
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by danielrhall » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:08 pm

dougger5 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:19 am
We were in Maui for 7 days last month, so I can speak to The Valley Isle.

I'd say the most singular experience was witnessing the sunrise from atop the Haleakala Volcano. We used a tour company for this, even though we did have a rental car. They pick you up at 3am, and give you a good spot to watch from. It's a good activity for early on, while your internal clock is still on Mainland time.
My wife and I had a good honeymoon experience weather-wise with viewing sunrise on Haleakala, and it was in our first 24 hours of arriving in Hawaii, so the timing worked out well. It was beautiful up there once the sun rose, with an almost lunar-like landscape. It was also cold! Our tour company provided warm clothes if needed, which we did.

One thing I highly recommend to do in connection with a sunrise tour is to rent a bike and ride it down the mountain. Don't be concerned much if you haven't ridden in a while or feel you're not in adequate physical condition. From where we were dropped off near the summit back to the bike shop/tour company was about 23 miles and I would estimate that about three or four of those miles involved pedaling. Most of the ride is coasting, and good thing the bike had front and rear disk brakes because there's way more braking than pedaling.

After watching the sunrise at about 6:30 am and then being dropped off just outside the park entrance with our bikes and helmets, we were told the bike shop closes at 4 pm and to be back by then. So we took a very, very leisurely eight hours or so to get back and enjoyed every moment of cycling, exploring, stopping to pick and eat roadside guavas, souvenir shopping and lunch and snacks in the charming small town of Makawao. I'd do it again for certain!

We chose a company in Haiku that offers the sunrise tour and self-guided bike rental. There are many options for organized, supervised bike tours with accompanying van. We saw several of those on our way down the mountain and are glad we didn't use one of them...it appeared way too structured and restricting to us.

We also drove the road to Hana and it was enjoyable on the way back. Not so much on the way there...it rained eight inches that day and the drive was harrowing. We couldn't go all the way around due to a recent earthquake causing one of the single-lane bridges beyond Hana to be closed.

Have fun!

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:05 pm

I would avoid road to Hana, unless you have strong pre-nuptial agreement. I stayed at both the Ritz in Maui and Fairmont in Big Island. Decent hotels.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:09 pm

NJdad6 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:44 am
I think Maui and Kauai are much more scenic and there is more to do.
+1 on the Kauai scenery. Waimea Canyon is a must, and there are some impressive botanical gardens around the island. I'd strongly suggest you work in a visit to Kauai while you're there.
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D. B. Cooper
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by D. B. Cooper » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:06 pm

Fancy restaurants:
Mama's Fish House
Merriman's

Middle of the road, but kinda pricy:
Monkeypod - a chain, but I include this because their mai tais are UNBELIEVABLE. You have to try one - reasonably priced at happy hour.

Less fancy:
Maui Fish Market
The Gazebo (good brunch)

Road to Hana is an experience - I feel like you have to do it at some point, but it's not the end all be all by any means. And you don't have to go all the way. Hit a few pull offs and see a few waterfalls. Do a few mini "hikes". And then call it a day.

Haleakala - same as above. I feel like you gotta do it. It gets cold. And the one time I did it it was cloudy, but glad we did it. We paid a bus to pick us up, but friends have driven it - you just have to plan ahead to reserve a parking spot if you choose that route.

Kaanapali Beach is probably the most impressive - Black Rock at the far north is probably the best stretch.
You'll want to check out Big Beach/Makena Beach too - while there you can climb over a rocky outcrop to Little Beach - which is bathing suit optional. On Sunday nights there is a naked drum circle which I haven't taken part in yet, but I'd like to check out.
Kapalua is very nice too.
Snorkeling is solid at any of these, but probably easiest in terms of seeing a lot of sea life at Kapalua without having to go too far.
I snorkeled a ton - and once we paid to go to Molokini... honestly it's just as good on your own (rent equipment at a shop (not at the hotel beach) for the week - reasonably priced or buy a set at Costco).

April is toward the tail end of whale season. Going charter fishing doubles as whale watching - which is a bonus. But you'll see tons of whales from the shore.

Other than Road to Hana I never really did many hikes - wish I had done more and plan to do more next time...

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by renue74 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:23 pm

We took a family trip to Maui last summer. Fun times.

Below are my takeaways:

Black Rock
• We jumped off the rock. Definitely a memory...but higher than I anticaipated.
• Great snorkeling. Really clear water and great amount of fish, sea turtles. Snorkel near the outcropping at black rock.

Haleakala
• We drove there mid-morning. It was great. I don't feel like we missed anything by not doing the sunrise thing.
• Looks like you're walking on the moon.
• Cold...bring a jacket.

Iao Valley hike
• Short hike. Nice and serene.

Maui Ocean Center
• Nice, smallish aquarium.

Maui Pineapple Tour
• It was actually interesting.
• The Maui pineapple is by far sweeter and better than Dole. (Maui Pineapple Company will tell you why.) :)

Hookipa Beach
• Great to watch surfers and close to Paia....nice small beach town. Good shave ice and shops.


We stayed in Waimea and Kihei.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by BionicBillWalsh » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:02 pm

Where on Maui will you be staying? I have intimate knowledge of most places.

As for motorcycles on the islands. Be extra cautious. Most people in cars are watching sunsets, whales, bikinis, ocean vistas. Not necessarily in that order. They are absolutely not looking out for two wheeled traffic.
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Turkrota » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:26 pm

I did the road to Hana where you ride in a luxury van one way and take a helicopter back. I think it was around $300 a person. I am glad I did that as I have never been in a helicopter and it made the trip really 1/2 day instead of the whole day. My wife wouldn't go on our honeymoon so when we went back 30 years later she still wouldn't go...ha ha. Guess that is why we are still married. It was a great experience and I would recommend it.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by fasteddie911 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:13 am

Rent a car wherever you go, convertible even. Good suggestions on Maui so far plus there's no shortage of suggestions pretty much anywhere on the internet. Don't fear "tourist" things, it becomes that way because it's good, popular, safe, etc. As far as visiting another island, I'd do either Kauai or Big Island, unless you really want to see pearl harbor on Oahu. Kauai is green, lush with Napali coast and Waimea canyon its notable sites. Big island is raw with multiple climate zones and geography from lava deserts, black sand beaches, lush valleys, etc. Everyone prefers different things.

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poker27
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:25 am

Thank you everyone for the suggestions thus far!

There is a free shuttle from the airport to the resort on arrival and departure day, which is why we werent going to rent a car, but still wanted to rent a motorcycle for a day to explore the island. We have booked a whale watching and snorkeling trip already, and will also be attending a luau at the resort.

Yall gave us some good advice, and are now re thinking our idea of not extending our time in Maui, and perhaps taking a shorter trip to the big island.

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poker27
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:27 am

BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:02 pm
Where on Maui will you be staying? I have intimate knowledge of most places.

As for motorcycles on the islands. Be extra cautious. Most people in cars are watching sunsets, whales, bikinis, ocean vistas. Not necessarily in that order. They are absolutely not looking out for two wheeled traffic.
he are staying in the Wailea area.

I was considering taking a bike up the road to Halakala or the road to Hana... Would you recommend or not recommend either due to sights or safety? I'm obviously an experienced rider, but will also have someone on my back, which always brings safety to top of mind.

Thanks!

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by ponyboy » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:04 pm

Maui is a nice island. Sunrise on top of haleakala like others said. Just drive up yourself, no need to spend money on a tour. Check what time sunrise is...be at the top a half hour before. You'll have to leave really early but considering the time change, you'll be up then.

I personally thought the road to hana was lame. The only cool part was the red sand beach. Other than that...a blown day. I guess if you've never seen a black sand beach then that would be cool too. But you're going to the big island, you can see that there without driving hours and hours. Word of caution...if you do the road to hana, plan on an all day tour. I mean 7 in the morning to 7 at night. Drive it clockwise the entire way. When people talk about how rough the road is after a certain point, I have to scratch my head. Its basically a tar/chipped road...we have them all over PA. There may also be a pot hole or two...yikes!

Honolua Bay...great place to snorkel. You'll see muppets coming in on tours/boats that they paid $75. Theres a parking lot. Just park and walk the 7 minutes down to the water.

Cuatro...this was our favorite restaurant on the island. http://www.cuatro808.com/ They have a happy hour I believe, prices were cheaper. Spicy tuna nachos are a thing everyone gets, they're really good.

As for the big island, thats our favorite island. Low key, spread out. Great snorkeling at 2 step, again its free. WE always stay in kona. Great coffee. Costco has by far the cheapest gas. Scuba or snorkel with manta rays is really cool.

Check the lunar cycle. If you're going to be there when its close to a new moon (darkest sky) then head up to mauna kea after 9pm and check out the milky way. My guess is you've never seen it with your naked eyes before. Its incredible. Fun fact...ive seen lava flowing more times than the milky way...and the milky way is above us each and every night...but thanks to light pollution, you cant see it.

As for lava, it may still be flowing. Look it up...we walked/watched it flow into the ocean last time we were there. We're headed back in May so ill check the reports then to see if we can see it.

kayaking...kealakekua bay...if you go early in the morning, a lot of times you can see dolphins. They sleep there. We were able to kayak out and snorkel with the dolphins. Big pod of them within 30 feet of us. Pretty amazing hearing them communicate in the water and in nature. I believe there is also a path to walk down to see the captain cook monument. Good snorkeling there too.

South point is also neat. Southern most point in the US. Make sure to jump off the cliff. its not that high, there are ladders to climb back up. You'll see people doing it...pretty fun.

Thats about it for now. If you need more ideas, check out the revealed books, maui revealed, big island revealed. They're handy for first timers.

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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by teamDE » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:15 pm

One more for doing a Haleakala sunrise trip and ride bikes down. It was so much fun, one of our best memories. The tour guide let us rip down the mountain.

We rented a car and drove down the east coast to Hana and stayed at a spa sort of place there. It was relaxing and nice, but i forgot the name. We saw the black sand beach and the caves, etc. We also drove down and did the hike up the famous water fall (forgot the name), that was cool.

Mama's Fish House is great. And the town of Paia was also cool.

We took out boat out to Molokini Crater and went snorkeling which was super fun.

We then spend the second half on the west coast where it is more resort'y and just vegged out and drank on the beach.

Warning: if you drive to Hana or around the island, bring Dramamine or stronger. The passenger will likely get car sick. We passed several cars pulled over with someone puking on our trip. :shock:

Man, that was a great trip. Our honeymoon five years ago.

letsgobobby
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:18 pm

Deleted
Last edited by letsgobobby on Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

novemberrain
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by novemberrain » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:27 pm

I would recommend not staying in Hilo (or anywhere on the east side). Stay in Kona or Waikoloa or anywhere in the Northwest side. The east (hilo) is cheap for a reason. THe weather there is drastically different from the west side.

northtexan
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by northtexan » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:35 pm

I have been to maui once with family a few years ago, I would recommend getting a car for one day there if you can and go up haleakala for the sunrise. It is an amazing view up there and a great sunrise. be prepared to leave at around 330am though.

I have not been to the big island. I have family on oahu which is where I typically go. I am actually going in 2 weeks. There is tons of stuff there that I could recommend.

coalcracker
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by coalcracker » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:44 pm

Lots of great suggestions here.

I have been to Maui twice, once before and once after children. It's a beautiful place and you will have a great time.

If you can, I recommend renting a car and taking the road to Hana yourself. It will be crowded on the north side of Haleakala until you get to Hana; I recommend doing the full circuit and coming back on the south side. It's a gorgeous and fairly deserted drive as the sun goes down in the late afternoon. You'll hear warnings about dangerous roads but-apart from a few narrow sections with one-way traffic-I've driven on worse interstates in Pennsylvania.

On the road to Hana, make sure to stop at Auntie Sandy's Banana bread to a break. We also chose to test a "rival" banana bread at Julia's on the northwest side of the island, which was arguably better, but the road there was unbelievably windy and more dangerous than Hana IMO!

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ginmqi
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by ginmqi » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:12 pm

novemberrain wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:27 pm
I would recommend not staying in Hilo (or anywhere on the east side). Stay in Kona or Waikoloa or anywhere in the Northwest side. The east (hilo) is cheap for a reason. THe weather there is drastically different from the west side.
Hilo side is cheap because there are not many gorgeous beaches and it rains alot (much wetter than the west side). But it is extremely lush with all the waterfalls and gardens on that side of the island.

Living on Oahu now for about 1.5 years, my favorite is the Big Island and to escape the mega resort/tourist-mecca that is the Kohala/Waikoloa area, Hilo is a great get away. Much easier to get to the water falls and also closer to the VNP as well.

BI is also my favorite island as well. Huge diversity of environments and geography - from dry sandy beach areas to great snorkeling to sheer cliffs to lush jungles/waterfalls and valleys to Mauna Kea summit and to the VNP, all wonderful.

OP, if you're going to be there, also check out the stargazing program at Mauna Kea summit visitor center. You've probably never seen so many stars in your life up there! Highly recommended

And one last note for Maui - the sunrise from haleakala is hugely overrated, imo.

BionicBillWalsh
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by BionicBillWalsh » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:29 pm

poker27 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:27 am
BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:02 pm
Where on Maui will you be staying? I have intimate knowledge of most places.

As for motorcycles on the islands. Be extra cautious. Most people in cars are watching sunsets, whales, bikinis, ocean vistas. Not necessarily in that order. They are absolutely not looking out for two wheeled traffic.
he are staying in the Wailea area.

I was considering taking a bike up the road to Halakala or the road to Hana... Would you recommend or not recommend either due to sights or safety? I'm obviously an experienced rider, but will also have someone on my back, which always brings safety to top of mind.

Thanks!
I think taking a bike to Hana is a good way to die. Between the stop and go traffic, potential for torrential rains, generally unsafe drivers, and roads that are in need of some repair...you'd be putting yourself and your passenger at undue risk. You should do the "road to Hana," but do it in a Mustang convertible or Jeep.

Going up to Haleakala on a bike might be doable but recently, there has been a lot of snow and generally cold weather. In fact, the park recently closed down for nearly a week due to inclement weather. I also wouldn't do it on a bike early in the morning when you'd have to leave well before sunrise. I agree with another poster here, the Sunrise at Haleakala is overrated. Going at any point during daylight hours is worth doing. Once in your life, and then no more.

Wailea is by far the best place to stay on Maui. Give yourself the opportunity to do nothing at least one or two days as just going to the beach and lazing around is underrated. The whales will still be here during your trip and will provide some entertainment. I'd also take a snorkeling trip to Molokini/Turtle station (look into the Kai Kanani catamaran).
Jerry Garcia: If I knew the way...I would take you home.

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ginmqi
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by ginmqi » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:16 pm

BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:29 pm
I think taking a bike to Hana is a good way to die. Between the stop and go traffic, potential for torrential rains, generally unsafe drivers, and roads that are in need of some repair...you'd be putting yourself and your passenger at undue risk. You should do the "road to Hana," but do it in a Mustang convertible or Jeep.

Going up to Haleakala on a bike might be doable but recently, there has been a lot of snow and generally cold weather. In fact, the park recently closed down for nearly a week due to inclement weather. I also wouldn't do it on a bike early in the morning when you'd have to leave well before sunrise. I agree with another poster here, the Sunrise at Haleakala is overrated. Going at any point during daylight hours is worth doing. Once in your life, and then no more.

Wailea is by far the best place to stay on Maui. Give yourself the opportunity to do nothing at least one or two days as just going to the beach and lazing around is underrated. The whales will still be here during your trip and will provide some entertainment. I'd also take a snorkeling trip to Molokini/Turtle station (look into the Kai Kanani catamaran).
This.

I drove on the Road to Hana last year and I would NOT want to do it on a bike. Parts of roads can be washed out due to rain and it can be narrow and several times we were shocked at how fast some of the cars were driving through blind corners/turns.

Biking up Haleakala can be great, imo, BUT again weather and the COLD/WIND can be a huge factor. People frequently under-dress for the Haleakala sunrise (and they have a warm car to get into after being frozen in the sunrise weather) so if you're gonna bike up there...I would make sure to have winter-ready gear otherwise you WILL be extremely cold up there at those early hours.

And as said already, many tourist drivers are going to be distracted so take that into account.

malabargold
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by malabargold » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:25 pm

Stay in the northwest corner of Big Island

Bir48die
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Bir48die » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:36 pm

investor997 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:46 pm
I've done "President's Club" trips to Maui before. My advice would be to extend your stay on the island by several days - and definitely rent a car. Consider flying in early and ending the trip with President's Club. This way you can go "cheap" early on and explore the island at your own pace, then return the car and let your company wine and dine you at the resort to finish off the trip.

If you've never been to Maui, you can easily spend a week and a half there and not run out of things to do.

I also agree with the other poster who suggests Kauai over the Big Island. Not that I dislike the Big Island - I love it - but I rank Kauai higher.
Agree to extend on Maui. Also to rent a car. On that side of the island Mama's Fish House is a must. Otherwise, you need a car to get around especially if you want to go to Kehei or Wailea. Then there's Kaanapali or Kapalua/Napali on the other side (also Lahina). Been to Hana several times and it's up for discussion on whether that's worth it or not.

Kauai is nicer for me than the big island. More intimate but also wetter. You should always do two islands if you're traveling that far.

fasteddie911
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by fasteddie911 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:58 am

I agree not doing Hana by bike. Windy narrow road being shared with tourist driving rentals looking at the views, tours vans/buses, not worth the risk. The road itself I think is over-rated as well, keyword being "over". Though you may have enough time on the island to do it and it's a nice enough drive and you can check it off your bucket list, if it's on it, if not I wouldn't worry about it. Haleakala is another curvy, but not necessarily narrow road I'd avoid by bike too. It gets cold and again you're contending with tourists in rentals and tours buses/vans, and cars tend to drift over the lines due to the curves, looking at the view, etc. and there are some parts of the road with steeper unprotected dropoffs (not cliffs, but you are driving on a mountain). The sunrise itself is nice and unique, but you wake up so early and so tired after that it kind of kills the rest of your day.

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poker27
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:37 am

fasteddie911 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:58 am
I agree not doing Hana by bike. Windy narrow road being shared with tourist driving rentals looking at the views, tours vans/buses, not worth the risk. The road itself I think is over-rated as well, keyword being "over". Though you may have enough time on the island to do it and it's a nice enough drive and you can check it off your bucket list, if it's on it, if not I wouldn't worry about it. Haleakala is another curvy, but not necessarily narrow road I'd avoid by bike too. It gets cold and again you're contending with tourists in rentals and tours buses/vans, and cars tend to drift over the lines due to the curves, looking at the view, etc. and there are some parts of the road with steeper unprotected dropoffs (not cliffs, but you are driving on a mountain). The sunrise itself is nice and unique, but you wake up so early and so tired after that it kind of kills the rest of your day.
Thanks for all the advice! Are there any drives via motorcycle that would be advised? We wanted to explore the island a bit, check out some scenery, and beaches, so figured a motorcycle would be the way to go. Perhaps we should just rent a convertible?

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poker27
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:37 am

fasteddie911 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:58 am
I agree not doing Hana by bike. Windy narrow road being shared with tourist driving rentals looking at the views, tours vans/buses, not worth the risk. The road itself I think is over-rated as well, keyword being "over". Though you may have enough time on the island to do it and it's a nice enough drive and you can check it off your bucket list, if it's on it, if not I wouldn't worry about it. Haleakala is another curvy, but not necessarily narrow road I'd avoid by bike too. It gets cold and again you're contending with tourists in rentals and tours buses/vans, and cars tend to drift over the lines due to the curves, looking at the view, etc. and there are some parts of the road with steeper unprotected dropoffs (not cliffs, but you are driving on a mountain). The sunrise itself is nice and unique, but you wake up so early and so tired after that it kind of kills the rest of your day.
Thanks for all the advice! Are there any drives via motorcycle that would be advised? We wanted to explore the island a bit, check out some scenery, and beaches, so figured a motorcycle would be the way to go. Perhaps we should just rent a convertible?

Plutus
Posts: 25
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Plutus » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:35 pm

We did our Honeymoon in Hawaii in 2017 and spent time on Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui.

There were a couple of items that we wanted to see on Oahu such as Pearl Harbor and Kualoa Ranch, but I will most likely not visit that island when we go back again.

Hawaii (the big island) was by far our favorite. We are outdoorsy people and Hawaii provides great opportunities for outdoor activities and it has every climate imaginable all within a couple of hour drive. Below is a list of the things we liked:

South Point: Southern most point of the United States. There is cliff jumping here and there were many people taking the leap.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach: Black sand beach with a park area and concessions.

Volcanoes National Park (many of these may be changed or closed now so please verify ahead of time): Kalauea Iki Trail was awesome. You hike down into a still steaming cinder cone.
Thurston's Lava Tube is one of the largest accessible lava tubes in the world.
At the time, the Kilauea crater was still very active with lava. We went to the Jagger Museum after dark and was able to watch the lava. This was awesome.
At the time we were there you could park in the Kalapana area and hike or rent a bicycle to travel several miles to the end of the road. You would then hike toward the sea to view the lava flowing in the ocean or hike toward the volcanoes to find the surface flows. We did both. We went off on our own and hike for about an hour before finding the surface flows. We almost gave up and turned around, but using binoculars we were able to spot the heat rising from about 800 yards out. The experience of standing within a few feet of active lava flows was amazing. This made our trip. We rented our bike around 3 pm and returned it around 10 pm. It was a blast.

Mauna Kea: Most people talk about Haleakala on Maui but Mauna Kea is 3000+ feet higher and more remote. Here you drive up in order to see the sunset rather then the sunrise. You have to stop part way up at the check point at 9200 feet of elevation for a minimum of 30 minutes so that your body can acclimate to the altitude change. It is one of the few places in the world that allows such a quick change in altitude. You also need a vehicle with 4wd in order to continue the drive for the remaining 5,000 feet of elevation. Don't be discouraged if the weather is bad at sea level, on the way up, or even at the check point. When we went up, it was foggy and raining most of the way and at the check point. Halfway between the checkpoint and the summit, we broke through the clouds and it was clear. The top is perfectly clear about 350 days per year. Because of this and the minimal light pollution, the top contains some of the world's best deep space telescopes utilized by countries all over the world. We stayed for sunset which was spectacular. After sunset, you have about 30 minutes to hang around before you are ordered to descend. Lights from vehicles can impact the telescopes so they force you to descend past a certain point. There is a pullout at probably 12000 feet of elevation at Lake Waiau to stop on the way down. Here we just stargazed and took some photos. You can see things here that you will most like never see where you are from due to light pollution. You can see the milky way clearly. The best time to visit is during a new moon. It is unbelievable. Besides the lava flows, this was our second favorite spot during our trip.

We drove all the way around the island and some other interesting stops were: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, Akaka Falls, Waipi'o Valley Lookout.

Maui: We stayed at the Four Seasons in Wailea. This in itself was a great experience.

We did the sunrise at Haleakala. We lucked out and it was perfectly clear for us.

We did the road to Hana, but went all the way around. To us, the best part of the road to Hana was the part after Hana and more specifically the part after the Kipahulu Visitor center (heading clockwise). Here is an example of the road after this point: https://www.google.com/maps/@20.647297, ... 312!8i6656. It is an awesome drive, and much less crowded. Other notable items on this route are the Huialoha Church, Manawainui Gulch, Charles Lindbergh's grave, and numerous other scenic view points.

We also did a Luau at the Hilton which was a fun experience. The rest of the time we did our own snorkeling which was an amazing time. Most mornings, we had sea turtles swimming within 10 yards of us eating algae off of the rocks.

I have pictures online that you are welcome to view. If you see anything of interest, please ask and I can point you towards the location. https://joeraguse.smugmug.com/ (click browse and then Hawaii)
Last edited by Plutus on Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Plutus
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Plutus » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:37 pm

poker27 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:37 am

Thanks for all the advice! Are there any drives via motorcycle that would be advised? We wanted to explore the island a bit, check out some scenery, and beaches, so figured a motorcycle would be the way to go. Perhaps we should just rent a convertible?
Rent a four door Jeep Wrangler hard top. Then you can drive anywhere and also take the top off as a convertible. Best of both worlds. This is what we did. Most of the time, we just had the top section over the front seats off. You can store that section at your hotel or in the back seat. It is simple to get on/off and minimal weight.

Topic Author
poker27
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by poker27 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:53 pm

Plutus wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:35 pm
We did our Honeymoon in Hawaii in 2017 and spent time on Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui.

There were a couple of items that we wanted to see on Oahu such as Pearl Harbor and Kualoa Ranch, but I will most likely not visit that island when we go back again.

Hawaii (the big island) was by far our favorite. We are outdoorsy people and Hawaii provides great opportunities for outdoor activities and it has every climate imaginable all within a couple of hour drive. Below is a list of the things we liked:

South Point: Southern most point of the United States. There is cliff jumping here and there were many people taking the leap.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach: Black sand beach with a park area and concessions.

Volcanoes National Park (many of these may be changed or closed now so please verify ahead of time): Kalauea Iki Trail was awesome. You hike down into a still steaming cinder cone.
Thurston's Lava Tube is one of the largest accessible lava tubes in the world.
At the time, the Kilauea crater was still very active with lava. We went to the Jagger Museum after dark and was able to watch the lava. This was awesome.
At the time we were there you could park in the Kalapana area and hike or rent a bicycle to travel several miles to the end of the road. You would then hike toward the sea to view the lava flowing in the ocean or hike toward the volcanoes to find the surface flows. We did both. We went off on our own and hike for about an hour before finding the surface flows. We almost gave up and turned around, but using binoculars we were able to spot the heat rising from about 800 yards out. The experience of standing within a few feet of active lava flows was amazing. This made our trip. We rented our bike around 3 pm and returned it around 10 pm. It was a blast.

Mauna Kea: Most people talk about Haleakala on Maui but Mauna Kea is 3000+ feet higher and more remote. Here you drive up in order to see the sunset rather then the sunrise. You have to stop part way up at the check point at 9200 feet of elevation for a minimum of 30 minutes so that your body can acclimate to the altitude change. It is one of the few places in the world that allows such a quick change in altitude. You also need a vehicle with 4wd in order to continue the drive for the remaining 5,000 feet of elevation. Don't be discouraged if the weather is bad at sea level, on the way up, or even at the check point. When we went up, it was foggy and raining most of the way and at the check point. Halfway between the checkpoint and the summit, we broke through the clouds and it was clear. The top is perfectly clear about 350 days per year. Because of this and the minimal light pollution, the top contains some of the world's best deep space telescopes utilized by countries all over the world. We stayed for sunset which was spectacular. After sunset, you have about 30 minutes to hang around before you are ordered to descend. Lights from vehicles can impact the telescopes so they force you to descend past a certain point. There is a pullout at probably 12000 feet of elevation at Lake Waiau to stop on the way down. Here we just stargazed and took some photos. You can see things here that you will most like never see where you are from due to light pollution. You can see the milky way clearly. The best time to visit is during a new moon. It is unbelievable. Besides the lava flows, this was our second favorite spot during our trip.

We drove all the way around the island and some other interesting stops were: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, Akaka Falls, Waipi'o Valley Lookout.

Maui: We stayed at the Four Seasons in Wailea. This in itself was a great experience.

We did the sunrise at Haleakala. We lucked out and it was perfectly clear for us.

We did the road to Hana, but went all the way around. To us, the best part of the road to Hana was the part after Hana and more specifically the part after the Kipahulu Visitor center (heading clockwise). Here is an example of the road after this point: https://www.google.com/maps/@20.647297, ... 312!8i6656. It is an awesome drive, and much less crowded. Other notable items on this route are the Huialoha Church, Manawainui Gulch, Charles Lindbergh's grave, and numerous other scenic view points.

We also did a Luau at the Hilton which was a fun experience. The rest of the time we did our own snorkeling which was an amazing time. Most mornings, we had sea turtles swimming within 10 yards of us eating algae off of the rocks.

I have pictures online that you are welcome to view. If you see anything of interest, please ask and I can point you towards the location. https://joeraguse.smugmug.com/ (click browse and then Hawaii)
Mauna Kea looks amazing, we have added that to our itinerary.

I think I am most jealous of your plane seats within your album :)! Looks like an amazing trip

02nz
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by 02nz » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:57 pm

I haven't traveled as extensively in Hawaii as others, but I'd also say that Kauai is very special, I liked it better than Maui. Kauai has some incredible natural landscapes and is less developed overall than Maui, but still plenty of creature comforts (Costco in Lihue! They have great poke). I would absolutely do the extension part of the trip on Kauai.

fasteddie911
Posts: 335
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 3:13 pm

Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by fasteddie911 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:13 am

I'd avoid a motorcycle altogether, not worth the risk on vacation. Not that Hawaii is unusually dangerous on the roads, it's actually pretty good, but statistically motorcycle fatalities make up the largest percentage of roadway deaths compared to other states. A convertible is still a nice and safer way to enjoy it.

mak1277
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Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by mak1277 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:25 am

Erwin007 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:31 am

As a counterpoint to your Haleakala experience, that was the worst thing we did in our week in Maui last year. It all depends on what the weather is like when you’re up there. For us it was cold, windy, blustery, and miserable and you couldn’t see anything because of the fog. After getting home, I did some more research and found that there are usually only around 70 days per year when the sunrise is really visible atop Haleakala, so you have about a 20% chance of seeing the sunrise. g
I think the experience is worth it even if the weather is bad. We had fog, rain and very cold temps. It was still amazing. The really cool thing was that 45 minutes after sunrise, the park was almost deserted and we wandered around in solitude for the rest of the morning.
Erwin007 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:31 am
The main problem is that in order to get in to the park at that time of the morning you have to reserve your tickets weeks or months in advance when you have no idea what the weather is going to be like.
We drove up on our own without reserving parking (didn't even know that was an option) and didn't have a problem. Just be sure to get there early enough (more than 30 min. before sunrise).


I'd also highly recommend Kauai...amazingly beautiful.

Kiter
Posts: 137
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:21 pm

Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Kiter » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:27 pm

IMO the sunrise at the crater is over rated,3-4am departure with chance of clouds. Check the weather and drive up before sunset take a short hike and see the sunset . Stay and see the stars . The same with road to Hana ,weather ,traffic backups at the first 20 waterfalls ,wash outs of the road ? Go to the winery and further or around west mountains . Mamas will set you back with cocktails maybe 200$ ,try Halimalie general store upcountry . A great local upscale place ,the only locals at Mamas will be the busboys. Check out the kiting and canoeing at Kanaha beach park. Always lock your car and hide your stuff ,particularly with a new car rental /convertible . Aloha

Mr.BB
Posts: 1230
Joined: Sun May 08, 2016 10:10 am

Re: First time to Hawaii

Post by Mr.BB » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:41 pm

poker27 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:37 am
fasteddie911 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:58 am
I agree not doing Hana by bike. Windy narrow road being shared with tourist driving rentals looking at the views, tours vans/buses, not worth the risk. The road itself I think is over-rated as well, keyword being "over". Though you may have enough time on the island to do it and it's a nice enough drive and you can check it off your bucket list, if it's on it, if not I wouldn't worry about it. Haleakala is another curvy, but not necessarily narrow road I'd avoid by bike too. It gets cold and again you're contending with tourists in rentals and tours buses/vans, and cars tend to drift over the lines due to the curves, looking at the view, etc. and there are some parts of the road with steeper unprotected dropoffs (not cliffs, but you are driving on a mountain). The sunrise itself is nice and unique, but you wake up so early and so tired after that it kind of kills the rest of your day.
Thanks for all the advice! Are there any drives via motorcycle that would be advised? We wanted to explore the island a bit, check out some scenery, and beaches, so figured a motorcycle would be the way to go. Perhaps we should just rent a convertible?
You do not want a large car going around those corners on the road to Hana.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

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