First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

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guitarguy
Posts: 1687
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:10 pm

First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:48 am

Hi All,

We're planning a 5-night stay at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai for my friends wedding in Sep 2018. Very excited!! For the HI folks...I have a couple of questions:

1. Re: the flight - we have enough Delta miles saved up to book C+ seats...have never flown anything but regular economy before on any airline. I'm guessing for the long flight (from DTW) this will be "worth it?" The extra legroom and power outlets would be valuable on the long flight. The free cocktail would be cool too. Priority boarding and dedicated bin space, also not that big of a deal. We'll be checking bags and have "priority" boarding anyway 2 mins later with our Delta Platinum Amex anyway. I'm trying to decide between that, or planning to login 45 days prior to departure and paying a small premium for an exit row. The only problem is, as I understand it, the exit rows could all be gone by then because those with status can nab them early.

2. We're very much debating on extending our stay a few extra days and checking out another island, and we'll have plenty of Chase points to transfer to Hyatt to stay free for the extra time. We would probably stay another 3 nights or so on the next island. We're anticipating getting lots of beach time, snorkeling, etc with our group on Kauai. But Mrs. Guitarguy and I are not really "lay on the beach all day" type of people when we're traveling alone. We'd definitely want to relax, and maybe schedule 1 "main" activity per day...visit some historical stuff, maybe going to a luau, hiking, etc. We're debating on Maui (Hyatt Regency Maui, visit Lahaina, whaling museum, maybe choose between a road trip to Hana or Haleakala, etc) or Oahu (Hyatt Regency Waikiki, visit Pearl Harbor, whatever else there is to do on Oahu), and would be open to any of the other islands. Not sure which ones contrast to Kauai so we can broaden our experience! We would also love to try surfing...maybe they have lessons or something we could do...?

3. We also will be traveling with our Amex Plat card...if anyone can comment on things to make sure to utilize this for...that would be great! We're planning to book the Hyatt in Kauai through the Plat Travel Service (hopefully we can still get our wedding party group rate) and get the $100 resort credit. Also probably a stop at the lounge during our layover in SEA. Not sure what else!!

Would appreciate any advice on the above and/or any other tips for our first visit!

awval999
Posts: 1041
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:17 pm

Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by awval999 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:12 am

It appears you're a points hacker, so I'm going to tailor the recommendations that way.

Let's start with Oahu.

You asked for a contrast with Kauai. And Oahu it is. I personally love Oahu. I love the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. I love the fact that there is a Category 3 (12,000 pt/nt) Hyatt Place. I personally would tell you to save your points and stay at the Hyatt Place than the more expensive (point wise) Regency. I enjoy being about to wake up, get coffee or breakfast, get in the car, and drive to Kailua, or up to the North Shore. And at night, walk around for nightlife. For your "daily" activities there are many: Pearl Harbor, hike up Diamondhead, drive around the island to Kaliua and rent a kayak and kayak over to the Mokalulu Islands. I will say the people that "hate" Oahu are the ones who never live Waikiki. Oahu has lots to explore. But you need a car and to get out of Waikiki.

I've been to Maui before as well. And it's fantastic! In fact we're going back in January 2018. But, it's more similar to Kauai. More beachy. And yes, there are still things to do there: Road to Hana, drive up Halekala. But the hotels are much more pricey (even in points).

Re: Economy plus. Unless you will benefit due to large height, or advanced age, it's not worth the points premium. I always tell my wife, we fly in "first class economy" on tropical flights. We get cheese plates. Drinks. So what, it's like $15/person for a cheese plate and a cocktail. Well worth it. Get two! But save the points. Again, unless you're 6'4", or this is your ONE trip to Hawaii and you're pushing advanced age where the extra room is worth it.

guitarguy
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Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:29 am

awval999 wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:12 am
It appears you're a points hacker, so I'm going to tailor the recommendations that way.

Let's start with Oahu.

You asked for a contrast with Kauai. And Oahu it is. I personally love Oahu. I love the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. I love the fact that there is a Category 3 (12,000 pt/nt) Hyatt Place. I personally would tell you to save your points and stay at the Hyatt Place than the more expensive (point wise) Regency. I enjoy being about to wake up, get coffee or breakfast, get in the car, and drive to Kailua, or up to the North Shore. And at night, walk around for nightlife. For your "daily" activities there are many: Pearl Harbor, hike up Diamondhead, drive around the island to Kaliua and rent a kayak and kayak over to the Mokalulu Islands. I will say the people that "hate" Oahu are the ones who never live Waikiki. Oahu has lots to explore. But you need a car and to get out of Waikiki.

I've been to Maui before as well. And it's fantastic! In fact we're going back in January 2018. But, it's more similar to Kauai. More beachy. And yes, there are still things to do there: Road to Hana, drive up Halekala. But the hotels are much more pricey (even in points).

Re: Economy plus. Unless you will benefit due to large height, or advanced age, it's not worth the points premium. I always tell my wife, we fly in "first class economy" on tropical flights. We get cheese plates. Drinks. So what, it's like $15/person for a cheese plate and a cocktail. Well worth it. Get two! But save the points. Again, unless you're 6'4", or this is your ONE trip to Hawaii and you're pushing advanced age where the extra room is worth it.
We're still new-ish to points hacking...I'm actually the one that started the epic "credit cards reward strategy" thread haha :mrgreen: ...but we've been planning this one as a hack for a while. We're only deciding to pay for the Hyatt in Kauai because of the wedding party group rate...and hoping to get a room upgrade and $100 credit to the resort through the Amex Plat Travel booking.

I'm 6'3"...only 32 years old though. The food and cocktails...meh...we can get reimbursed for that through Amex Plat airline credit should we need to have them. Same for paying to select an exit row...but I'm seriously wondering if they'll even be available. How likely are they to be gone to medallion members? Can they even generally be had by those without status?

Re hotels on Oahu vs Maui...the 2 Hyatt Regency hotels are the same price point. The cheaper Hyatt hotel would certainly be an option...is it still walkable to downtown/restaurants/nightlife? 3 vs 4 stars...is it just as nice? I mean we have plenty of points for either and aren't necessarily looking to skimp, but certainly happy to save.

Regardless of whether we extend to Maui or Oahu, we'll be renting a car for sure so that we can get out and explore! I researched Maui a lot (Hana, etc) but not Oahu much yet. Need to look around more for things to do there! Perhaps a whole week in Maui in the future would be better than trying to see it in 3 days.

p0nyboy
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by p0nyboy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:45 am

I cant comment on the flight. My wife and ive flown to hawaii a gang of times from the east coast...always in economy and never thought it was that uncomfortable. When the flight are free we couldnt care less.

Kauai is awesome. The grand hyatt is top notch...expensive. Beach is nice there. Plenty to do on that island. Be sure to drive up to the canyon...great views...hiking isnt that great there so just stick to the view points along the way. Try the gorilla bowl and sushi from the grocery store close to where you're staying (probably the best food we had there believe it or not.) Just yelp or trip advisor places to eat...its right next to da crack restaurant (mexican.) Good snorkeling/scuba diving on the north shore although when you go surf may be too bad so be careful. Obviously hiking at the end of the road on the north shore...hike to the beach...its like 2 miles. Its muddy so bring shoes you're willing to throw away. Thats what I did anyway...less to bring back in the suitcase. Also there is a great bike trail on the east side. Bike rentals are really cheap. I would have done this everyday if we wouldnt have waited to try it the last day. Some awesome beaches along that trail.

As for the second island to visit...the big island is really nice. Its our favorite anyway. Lava is currently flowing into the ocean so you can see lava up close if you hike to it. When you get to the end of the road turn right away from the ocean and hike for 30 min or so...look for groups of people (that means they found lava flowing down the hill.) You can walk right up to it. On the way back you can head to ocean and view lava from a distance flowing into ocean. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... awaii.html

Check out the keck observatory. Depending when you go if its a new moon you're going to see more stars in the sky than you ever imagined. One of the darkest skies you will find due to the entire island using special lights at night (no light pollution.) You can see the milky way without camera trickery. Ive only seen the milky way 3 times in my life...as many times as ive seen lava flowing...its rare to see because of light pollution.

If you like to snorkel visit two step. Google it...its a hot spot. You can scuba there but its not worth it imo. Snorkeling is really good though.

If you like to kayak go early in the morning and head out to captain cook bay. Dolphins are always there in the morning. We swam with them. Awesome experience.

If you like to scuba dive check out the manta ray night dive. Really cool.

Of course lots of coffee places...just hit them up and suck down all the free samples you want. They dont care.

Someone mentioned oahu. Oahu is alright. Waikiki is like any other city except its right next to the ocean. Thats it. Its a cluster to say the least. Pearl harbor is great. Diamond head is alright...nice views of waikiki. Haunama bay sucks for snorkeling. North shore is really nice unless you go in the winter...then you have a good chance of death if you get in the water. Waimea bay is great...to the left of the rock where people jump off from is actually really good snorkeling. Not busy at all. Sharks cove is a cluster, meh snorkeling. People rave about the east side, I forget the beach that is famous there. WE didnt care for it. Well if you like being pelted with sand 24x7 then its the place to be. Insanely windy.

If you're only staying a few extra days it may be better to hit up oahu since the big island is massive...especially for a first timer to the hawaiian islands.

p0nyboy
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by p0nyboy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:50 am

awval999 wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:12 am


Let's start with Oahu.

drive around the island to Kaliua and rent a kayak and kayak over to the Mokalulu Islands.
Mokalulu island was pretty lame. Although I find ocean kayaking to be boring...not much to look at. I prefer being surround by a canyon when kayaking. Mokalulu is a bird sanctuary. Its infested with flies. The surf was too bad when we went so we couldnt head left to that swimming hole. We could go right and there was swimming holes where waves would come up and fill large depressions in the rock. Kind of dangerous. Right after I got out of one a huge way hit it. If that would have pulled me out it would have been lights out. The right side isnt protected...big waves, strong currents. If you do decide to kayak out there just make sure you stay in line with the island...if you venture on either side it will be a much more difficult paddle.

SRenaeP
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by SRenaeP » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:28 am

guitarguy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:48 am
Hi All,

We're planning a 5-night stay at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai for my friends wedding in Sep 2018. Very excited!! For the HI folks...I have a couple of questions:

1. Re: the flight - we have enough Delta miles saved up to book C+ seats...have never flown anything but regular economy before on any airline. I'm guessing for the long flight (from DTW) this will be "worth it?" The extra legroom and power outlets would be valuable on the long flight. The free cocktail would be cool too. Priority boarding and dedicated bin space, also not that big of a deal. We'll be checking bags and have "priority" boarding anyway 2 mins later with our Delta Platinum Amex anyway. I'm trying to decide between that, or planning to login 45 days prior to departure and paying a small premium for an exit row. The only problem is, as I understand it, the exit rows could all be gone by then because those with status can nab them early.

2. We're very much debating on extending our stay a few extra days and checking out another island, and we'll have plenty of Chase points to transfer to Hyatt to stay free for the extra time. We would probably stay another 3 nights or so on the next island. We're anticipating getting lots of beach time, snorkeling, etc with our group on Kauai. But Mrs. Guitarguy and I are not really "lay on the beach all day" type of people when we're traveling alone. We'd definitely want to relax, and maybe schedule 1 "main" activity per day...visit some historical stuff, maybe going to a luau, hiking, etc. We're debating on Maui (Hyatt Regency Maui, visit Lahaina, whaling museum, maybe choose between a road trip to Hana or Haleakala, etc) or Oahu (Hyatt Regency Waikiki, visit Pearl Harbor, whatever else there is to do on Oahu), and would be open to any of the other islands. Not sure which ones contrast to Kauai so we can broaden our experience! We would also love to try surfing...maybe they have lessons or something we could do...?

3. We also will be traveling with our Amex Plat card...if anyone can comment on things to make sure to utilize this for...that would be great! We're planning to book the Hyatt in Kauai through the Plat Travel Service (hopefully we can still get our wedding party group rate) and get the $100 resort credit. Also probably a stop at the lounge during our layover in SEA. Not sure what else!!

Would appreciate any advice on the above and/or any other tips for our first visit!
1. I would definitely upgrade to Comfort +. A few years ago I made the decision to upgrade any flight longer than ~3.5 hours if I can't get an exit row. I've found regular economy too uncomfortable and I'm not particularly big or tall. The exit rows will be most likely be taken by Medallions long before your flight.

2. As far as another island, it all depends on your interests though you can find activities (hiking, kayaking surfing, etc.) on any of the islands. If you do decide to go to another island, you may want to get a multi-city flight vs a roundtrip for Kauai.

3. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is fantastic and I would advise upgrading to the Grand Club. The lounge and spa access and late checkout definitely made it worth it. Perhaps you can use the resort credit to help defray the cost. Be sure to read the fine print regarding airport lounge access. Some cards allow for guests and others don't.

-Steph

guitarguy
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:48 am

SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:28 am
guitarguy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:48 am
Hi All,

We're planning a 5-night stay at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai for my friends wedding in Sep 2018. Very excited!! For the HI folks...I have a couple of questions:

1. Re: the flight - we have enough Delta miles saved up to book C+ seats...have never flown anything but regular economy before on any airline. I'm guessing for the long flight (from DTW) this will be "worth it?" The extra legroom and power outlets would be valuable on the long flight. The free cocktail would be cool too. Priority boarding and dedicated bin space, also not that big of a deal. We'll be checking bags and have "priority" boarding anyway 2 mins later with our Delta Platinum Amex anyway. I'm trying to decide between that, or planning to login 45 days prior to departure and paying a small premium for an exit row. The only problem is, as I understand it, the exit rows could all be gone by then because those with status can nab them early.

2. We're very much debating on extending our stay a few extra days and checking out another island, and we'll have plenty of Chase points to transfer to Hyatt to stay free for the extra time. We would probably stay another 3 nights or so on the next island. We're anticipating getting lots of beach time, snorkeling, etc with our group on Kauai. But Mrs. Guitarguy and I are not really "lay on the beach all day" type of people when we're traveling alone. We'd definitely want to relax, and maybe schedule 1 "main" activity per day...visit some historical stuff, maybe going to a luau, hiking, etc. We're debating on Maui (Hyatt Regency Maui, visit Lahaina, whaling museum, maybe choose between a road trip to Hana or Haleakala, etc) or Oahu (Hyatt Regency Waikiki, visit Pearl Harbor, whatever else there is to do on Oahu), and would be open to any of the other islands. Not sure which ones contrast to Kauai so we can broaden our experience! We would also love to try surfing...maybe they have lessons or something we could do...?

3. We also will be traveling with our Amex Plat card...if anyone can comment on things to make sure to utilize this for...that would be great! We're planning to book the Hyatt in Kauai through the Plat Travel Service (hopefully we can still get our wedding party group rate) and get the $100 resort credit. Also probably a stop at the lounge during our layover in SEA. Not sure what else!!

Would appreciate any advice on the above and/or any other tips for our first visit!
1. I would definitely upgrade to Comfort +. A few years ago I made the decision to upgrade any flight longer than ~3.5 hours if I can't get an exit row. I've found regular economy too uncomfortable and I'm not particularly big or tall. The exit rows will be most likely be taken by Medallions long before your flight.

2. As far as another island, it all depends on your interests though you can find activities (hiking, kayaking surfing, etc.) on any of the islands. If you do decide to go to another island, you may want to get a multi-city flight vs a roundtrip for Kauai.

3. The Grand Hyatt Kauai is fantastic and I would advise upgrading to the Grand Club. The lounge and spa access and late checkout definitely made it worth it. Perhaps you can use the resort credit to help defray the cost. Be sure to read the fine print regarding airport lounge access. Some cards allow for guests and others don't.

-Steph
1...we've done 5 hr flights to SFO several times and have been fine in regular cabin...but these, even with the layover, will be longer than that. So I'm kind of thinking the same thing on the C+. We have the miles to burn...so why not right? We will fly into LIH, hop over to OGG or HNL using Delta miles on Hawaiian, and then fly home from OGG or HNL. All one way segments.

2. Right now I'm kind of leaning towards Oahu for the historical stuff and because it seems it's fairly suitable to see in 2-3 days, whereas we would more than likely want to spend a whole week in Maui to get in the big things that take all day (Hana, etc). Plus like someone else mentioned, Maui "seems" like it would be more similar to Kauai than Oahu. Remote, tropical, etc. Oahu seems like a good contrast.

3. We are getting a room that's discounted for the wedding party group rate. It includes breakfast daily for 2 at "whatever restaurant" I forget the name inside the hotel. I don't believe it's a club level room.

But with these Amex Platinum benefits...we will be eligible for a room upgrade automatically upon arrival, so hopefully a better room than the standard. Maybe a club room with a view or whatever which would be cool. We are also "guaranteed" a 4pm checkout regardless of room. We likely wouldn't use the spa...not our thing. The $100 credit can be used for stuff like room service or other extras, not to offset the bill unfortunately.

I've read up on lounge access...some have a small fee and some allow a guest or 2 at no extra charge. The airline credit will offset the fee we'd need to pay for guests in Delta lounges at least, and 2 complimentary guests are allowed in Centurion lounges which is probably where we'd choose to visit during a layover in SEA.

This is our first experience with lounges and some of these perks that this card gives us...pretty cool...but trying to do our homework and get the most out of it that we can! We won't be paying for year 2 at $550 annual fee. :shock:

vested1
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by vested1 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:40 am

We been to Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the big island several times on extended vacations. The big island is our favorite due to the superior snorkeling, at two step as previously mentioned, and numerous other locations. Regardless of which island you choose, I would suggest buying the "Revealed" version of the island you are visiting, example: "Hawaii the Big Island Revealed", which is a great resource for everything you wouldn't want to miss on your visit. You can rent a kayak on Kauai, paddle up the Waimea River and take an easy hike to a beautiful waterfall.

I would also suggest certain activities, like the night snorkle/dive with manta rays, or swimming with the dolphins in the open ocean on one of many available tours. If you go to the big island be sure to rent a kayak to paddle Captain Cook's (Kealakekua Bay) or take a boat/snorkel tour. A hike across the Kīlauea Iki caldera is an amazing experience as well. IMHO Oahu is too congested and commercial for a short term vacation in Waikiki. YMMV.

invst65
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by invst65 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:06 am

Just returned from 6 days in Hawaii. Still getting over jet lag. Was originally just supposed to be a stopover on the way back from Australia but we got bummed out there and left early.

Spent 4 days on the Big Island with 3 in Hilo and 1 in Kuna. Hilo was great. Spent 3 days exploring the Volcano and the highlight of the whole trip was the helicopter ride.

Spent 1 night in Kuna and didn't like it so much. That side of the island is much more touristy and not as scenic as Hilo but if you are looking for beaches and snorkeling that's probably the place to go. If you like lush rainforests and seeing volcanos go to the Hilo side.

Finished off with 2 nights on Waikiki Beach. An interesting place but very busy with lots of hustle and bustle. Reminded me of Las Vegas. Also drove around the whole island of Oahu. It's fairly small and you can see it all in a day. Very scenic but still liked the Hilo area better on the Big Island.

If you decide to go to Hilo ignore the weather forecast. It predicted rain every day we were there but we had lots of sunshine.

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Sandtrap
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:11 am

Hapuna Beach Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii
Try a VRBO on the slopes of Haleakala in the Kula/Makawao district of Maui
Eat everything. :D
Extend your stay another 2 weeks :D
Stay away from Waikiki on Oahu except to visit $$$$$$$
Traffic on Oahu is rated top 5 in the nation. Avoid. (nearly 1 million on that tiny island)
Have fun. Take lots of pictures.

Hawaii No Ka Oi
Homesick :(
Shared experiences to benefit all -- not an exspurt -- per forum guidelines :) Golf score allocation 50/50 swings vs putts.

heyyou
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by heyyou » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:23 pm

The slower paced vibe of the Big island suits us. We like the flowing lava, uncrowded beaches, loco moco, and the Hilo farmers market. The "Revealed" guide books are excellent, often updated, but not many changes other than the lava activity and the mom & pop businesses. The variety of climate zones seen in a day on Big Island is amazing. On Big Island, do drive to Wapio Lookout as seen on most Hawaii monthly calendars, and hike down the road that is too steep for cars. Next drive to Pololu Lookout and hike the dirt trail to the mini-version of Wapio's black sand beach.

Near Hapuna Beach, instead of the public county beach by that name, turn into the adjacent Hapuna Beach Resort and ask the guard at the gate for directions to the beach. Access is limited by the amount of parking. Sometimes you have to wait at the guard gate for someone to leave, we just go early. You drive through the resort's golf course, past the hotel, to get to the beach parking lot where that beach is shared with the hotel guests. The county beach is just around the corner, out of sight.

Surprisingly, Big Island Walmarts have a souvenir area that has a good inventory, and in the grocery section, have better prices on name brand macadamia nuts than at the same brand's local nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the mac nuts covered with chocolate and coconut.

We visited Maui once. It seemed like what Big Island's Kona was modeled on, extensive commercial development. We tried the road to Hana twice. After stop and barely go, for a couple of hours on consecutive days, we turned around.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by lthenderson » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:43 pm

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai earlier this year and had a wonderful time. We debated paying extra for the Grand Club option and in the end didn't. We didn't regret that. There are plenty of things to do and I never once found myself bored the entire week I was there and I didn't snorkel or sit on the beach.

Buy the "Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed by Andrew Doughty and go through that beforehand. If you are into hiking, I paid for the companion app for my phone and it plotted my position on the trails. I really enjoyed the hikes because they were largely free from the hordes of people at all the drive-up destinations.

I started a thread on here asking about Kauai. Lots of good information was given.
viewtopic.php?t=192349

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:31 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

After talking to the Mrs...I think we're leaning toward extending our stay on Oahu.

The Hyatt Place Waikiki is cheap on points as awval alluded to. Not a beach front resort, but we'll get enough of that on Kauai. Because we expect to have LOTS of beach time, snorkeling, etc on Kauai (bride-to-be is a beach bum) we're thinking we can just mostly skip the beach/water/snorkeling/etc on Oahu.

Thinking a good plan would be to island hop mid-afternoon and get to Oahu mid afternoon or for dinner, rent a car and then spend 1 day checking out Pearl Harbor historical stuff (we both really want to see this), and spend day 2 tooling around hiking and sightseeing (North Shore, Diamond Head, etc). The evenings can be spent close to the hotel...I'm sure there are plenty of bars and restaurants around. Maybe a walk on the beach would be in order as well.

We think saving Maui for another time when we can spend a whole week or whatever there is a smarter idea since the main attraction on Oahu (Pearl Harbor - for us) will really only take a day.

3504PIR
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by 3504PIR » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:42 pm

I'd do the C+, but I really don't think it matters on the way to HI. On the way back most flights are overnight so I'd do it for sure, if not business class which would be 10x better on the return flight.

I'd go to Maui and stay in the Wailea area if visiting for a few additional nights. There are a variety of resorts to include 4 Seasons and a top notch Marriott. Rent a car if you want to drive around and sight see, don't if you intend to sit by the pool/beach and sip cocktails. Option #2 would be the Big Island. No real need to spend time in Oahu as others have already said.

The difference between Maui and Kauai are mainly that Kauai is very country rural outside the resorts and Maui is more built up but not to the extent of Oahu (by a long shot). Maui has a lot to do and is very peaceful. The Big Island is much more like Kauai in feel, and is very rural oriented with more people. I'm being very general but it is agriculture based and has a rural feel to me, much like Kauai. One advantage the Big Island has over Maui is you can visit the volcano which isn't my thing but may be yours.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by iamlucky13 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:58 pm

Kauai is not a big island, but I really enjoyed the hiking and swimming when we went. We spent 5 nights, I think, and I'd have gladly spent several more. Dining options are more limited than the more popular islands, but we still found a good variety, and did some of our own cooking, too.

Since most of the flights go through there anyways, we spent one night in Honolulu so we could visit Pearl Harbor. That was definitely worth doing, but it wasn't enough time to see anything else of Oahu, and I could have cared less about Honolulu itself. To me, it's just a big city with a couple nice beaches, and I'm not a city person.

Definitely save Maui for another trip. Focus on enjoying as much of Kauai as you can. Maui has enough of its own sites and activities to justify a dedicated vacation. I hear the same about Hawaii itself, too.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by invst65 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:37 pm

guitarguy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:31 pm
Thinking a good plan would be to island hop mid-afternoon and get to Oahu mid afternoon or for dinner, rent a car and then spend 1 day checking out Pearl Harbor historical stuff (we both really want to see this)
You have to go out on a boat to visit the U.S.S. Arizona memorial and tickets for the day were sold out when we got there around noon last Monday. Don't know if you can purchase tickets online or not but if so, I would purchase in advance or arrive early if you want to see it. We were able to see other attractions, just not the Arizona memorial.

Also, parking was hard to come by. Had to wait forever for another car to leave. Another reason to get there early or go on a tour bus.
Last edited by invst65 on Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Oct 12, 2017 4:07 pm

guitarguy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:31 pm
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

After talking to the Mrs...I think we're leaning toward extending our stay on Oahu.

The Hyatt Place Waikiki is cheap on points as awval alluded to. Not a beach front resort, but we'll get enough of that on Kauai. Because we expect to have LOTS of beach time, snorkeling, etc on Kauai (bride-to-be is a beach bum) we're thinking we can just mostly skip the beach/water/snorkeling/etc on Oahu.

Thinking a good plan would be to island hop mid-afternoon and get to Oahu mid afternoon or for dinner, rent a car and then spend 1 day checking out Pearl Harbor historical stuff (we both really want to see this), and spend day 2 tooling around hiking and sightseeing (North Shore, Diamond Head, etc). The evenings can be spent close to the hotel...I'm sure there are plenty of bars and restaurants around. Maybe a walk on the beach would be in order as well.

We think saving Maui for another time when we can spend a whole week or whatever there is a smarter idea since the main attraction on Oahu (Pearl Harbor - for us) will really only take a day.
Things get done very slowly on Oahu because of the traffic and congestion and lines, lines, lines. So plan accordingly.
Kailua beach is the nicest with miles of white sand, small rural town but built up.
North shore surf beaches of Waimea to Sunset to Pipeline Ahukai are also pretty but very rough in winter, huge dangerous surf.
Hanauma Bay is a fish wildlife preserve on the opposite end, a protected bay, swim with the fishes, warm blue green clear water.
The Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is touch and go. Worth going to but be prepared for long lines and maybe not getting in at all.
The West side of the island, beyond Pearl Harbor all the way to Makaha is "local country" with perhaps the Koolina Resort a nice place to stay if you are inclined.
Be sure to keep your car locked when parked and take your belongings with you.
Parking and traffic is severe everywhere. Think "gridlock". Think "permanent roadwork and lane closures".
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:20 am

invst65 wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:37 pm
guitarguy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:31 pm
Thinking a good plan would be to island hop mid-afternoon and get to Oahu mid afternoon or for dinner, rent a car and then spend 1 day checking out Pearl Harbor historical stuff (we both really want to see this)
You have to go out on a boat to visit the U.S.S. Arizona memorial and tickets for the day were sold out when we got there around noon last Monday. Don't know if you can purchase tickets online or not but if so, I would purchase in advance or arrive early if you want to see it. We were able to see other attractions, just not the Arizona memorial.

Also, parking was hard to come by. Had to wait forever for another car to leave. Another reason to get there early or go on a tour bus.
I also read this. We would plan on arriving first thing in the morning to hopefully avoid.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:25 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:58 pm
Kauai is not a big island, but I really enjoyed the hiking and swimming when we went. We spent 5 nights, I think, and I'd have gladly spent several more. Dining options are more limited than the more popular islands, but we still found a good variety, and did some of our own cooking, too.

Since most of the flights go through there anyways, we spent one night in Honolulu so we could visit Pearl Harbor. That was definitely worth doing, but it wasn't enough time to see anything else of Oahu, and I could have cared less about Honolulu itself. To me, it's just a big city with a couple nice beaches, and I'm not a city person.

Definitely save Maui for another trip. Focus on enjoying as much of Kauai as you can. Maui has enough of its own sites and activities to justify a dedicated vacation. I hear the same about Hawaii itself, too.
Thanks for the feedback. We will be focusing on Kauai...that's where the wedding and the bulk of our vacation will be.

I think the extra 2 nights, maybe 3, will be more than enough to get our fill of Oahu and see Pearl Harbor.

We will visit Maui in the future at some point and make a whole week or whatever of it!

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by clutchied » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:29 am

make sure you rent a Jeep! You'll regret not doing it :)

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by noco-hawkeye » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:48 am

We've been to Kauai a handful of times, and will be going again in 6 months. My $.02:

5 nights is not that much time, I would stay on one island. I'd stay on Kauai for up to maybe 10 or 11 nights before I started looking at two islands. You will eat up a chunk of time transferring to another island in the airports etc. I'd rather book a few extra nights on the north shore, if you have extra time.

If you have a ton of miles, then first might be worth it - but I don't think it's a obvious choice. I'd take a few more days there in exchange for coach seats, if it was me. The seat size / space is the only thing unique about first - the drinks / check in time / etc are all available to you in coach too (for much less money).

Have fun - Kauai is super laid back, and is great to just enjoy nature in! We love it! (check out tripadvisor too)

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by MrNewEngland » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:56 am

I spent three weeks in Oahu last year dogsitting/housesitting for a friend and that place was absolutely paradise.

I have nothing to add other than to tell you that I am jealous and to suggest extending the trip as long as you possibly can.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:36 am

noco-hawkeye wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:48 am
We've been to Kauai a handful of times, and will be going again in 6 months. My $.02:

5 nights is not that much time, I would stay on one island. I'd stay on Kauai for up to maybe 10 or 11 nights before I started looking at two islands. You will eat up a chunk of time transferring to another island in the airports etc. I'd rather book a few extra nights on the north shore, if you have extra time.

If you have a ton of miles, then first might be worth it - but I don't think it's a obvious choice. I'd take a few more days there in exchange for coach seats, if it was me. The seat size / space is the only thing unique about first - the drinks / check in time / etc are all available to you in coach too (for much less money).

Have fun - Kauai is super laid back, and is great to just enjoy nature in! We love it! (check out tripadvisor too)
Our 5 nights will be on Kauai, we will extend to check out another island when everyone else in our party goes home on day 6. We really do want to see Pearl Harbor so allocating a half day to hop over, an evening for dinner, a whole day to see that, and then either stay one more day if we can find more interesting stuff on Oahu to do or just going home, I think is going to be our ticket.

Time is the key...I wish I could take 2 full weeks off but with other vacations and stuff planned already (first world problems, I know) for 2018...we won't have enough time.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:45 am

Turns out the Amex Platinum benefits are worthless as far as the Fine Hotels stuff...you have to pay their ridiculously high prices booking through the Amex travel portal to get this bonus. Not a benefit at all...you just pay a way higher room rate and then get your room upgrade and 100 bucks. Yippie.

Can't even get the group rate pricing we're eligible for by calling and having them book. Lame. Oh well. We'll stay in a standard room, lose the $100 credit, and save $1000.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:57 am

clutchied wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:29 am
make sure you rent a Jeep! You'll regret not doing it :)
We rented a compact car when we went to Kauai. I thought it was fine. A lot of the roads are bumpy and narrow, and depending where you're going may be gravel, but generally reasonable as far as we saw. No doubt there are some of the less frequented hiking trails accessible only up steep and rutted service roads, but we didn't have time to fit in searching those out.

Our exploring ranged from the very end of the north coast highway, to the very end of the main road through Waimea Canyon. Interestingly, that is an 81 mile drive that can easily take 3+ hours that leaves you only six miles from where you started, and there are no shortcuts - the landscape in between is breathtaking, but not very convenient!

We did not try to visit Barking Sands, so I don't know what the roads are like on that corner on the island.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by clutchied » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:44 pm

iamlucky13 wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:57 am
clutchied wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:29 am
make sure you rent a Jeep! You'll regret not doing it :)
We rented a compact car when we went to Kauai. I thought it was fine. A lot of the roads are bumpy and narrow, and depending where you're going may be gravel, but generally reasonable as far as we saw. No doubt there are some of the less frequented hiking trails accessible only up steep and rutted service roads, but we didn't have time to fit in searching those out.

Our exploring ranged from the very end of the north coast highway, to the very end of the main road through Waimea Canyon. Interestingly, that is an 81 mile drive that can easily take 3+ hours that leaves you only six miles from where you started, and there are no shortcuts - the landscape in between is breathtaking, but not very convenient!

We did not try to visit Barking Sands, so I don't know what the roads are like on that corner on the island.
I'm just talking top down enjoying the beautiful scenery :)

we did the road to Hana(Maui) in an olds Alero... I vowed never again!

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:46 pm

Where possible, you can also save money by not renting a car at the airport and instead rent at a location, IE: Enterprise, away from the airport. This cuts down on the airport car rental fees that are tacked on.
Have fun
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Nicolas » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:38 pm

We've been to HI three times and to three of the islands: 1. Maui, 2. Kauai, and 3. Big Island. They're all great but so far we like the Big Island best, there's more to do there. Where else can you find white sand, black sand, and green sand beaches on the same island?

We've stayed in Hilo and at VRBOs in Captain Cook a couple of times. We prefer Captain Cook, but Hilo's fun too. We've snorkled, toured coffee farms, visited Volcanos Nat'l park, hiked across the crater of Kilauea Iki (last eruption in 1959), and watched lava flowing into the ocean, at night!

The volcano has been in continuous eruption for almost 35 years. See it now before it stops! We've circumnavigated the island several times by car. The largest cattle ranch in the USA, the Parker Ranch, is on the Big Island.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by bta15 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:02 am

I've been to Hawaii more times than I can count. If I was going to check out another island after Kauai it'd be the big island.

I understand wanting to use UR for a Hyatt stay. If you are looking for more night life I'd do Waikiki. If you are looking for a more layer back experience I'd do Maui. And oossibly consider the Andaz over the Hyatt regency if it's available on points.

As far as Seattle lounges with your Amex plat I'd def Check out the new delta lounge (if your flying delta) and the centurion lounges. The AS lounges are kind of meh with their food and drink offerings.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by investor997 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:05 am

Consider spending the extra three nights on Kauai and limiting the trip to a single island. Find a VRBO or Airbnb in the Princeville area on the north shore. It's a sharp contrast to the southern tip of the island (Poipu) where the Grand Hyatt is.

I've been to Kauai twice in recent years. My highlight activities:
- HELICOPTER TOUR. It's expensive but worth it. The scenery is mind blowing. You won't believe how many waterfalls there are.
- Na Pali coast. Hike the Kalalau trail to Hanakapiai Beach, or further inland all the way to Hakakapiai Falls. This is more accessible if you're in Princeville.
- Catamaran Sunset snorkeling/Booze Cruise along the Na Pali coast.
- Inner tubing along irrigation canals. Surprisingly fun.
- Hiking in Waimea canyon. Lots of trails to choose from.
- Kauai Coffee plantation

If you're dead set on another island, I vote for Oahu. You can do the AZ memorial in a day. I recommend the "Heart of the Missouri" walking tour on the adjacent USS Missouri Battleship museum. Very impressive. We took Uber to/from the AZ memorial from our hotel in Waikiki - it was about $30 each way. We rented a car another day and drove the north shore. No particular highlights there - look for the garlic shrimp food trucks and have patience when looking for parking.

Three nights is nowhere near enough to see the Big Island. Even six nights aren't enough. I love the Big Island, but save it for another trip. Same goes for Maui.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:07 am

+++++1 on the helicopter tour. There's one for every island. Well worth it. Breathtaking. :D
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Pacific » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:52 am

Without question, I would avoid Oahu like the plague. I describe Oahu as the world's most expensive traffic jam. Pearl Harbor is neat, but not worth the hassle of Honolulu traffic.

I, too, would opt for the Big Island. Don't even think of including beaches on the Big Island - too much else to do and the beaches are not that good anyway.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by investor997 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:43 am

Pacific wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:52 am
I, too, would opt for the Big Island. Don't even think of including beaches on the Big Island - too much else to do and the beaches are not that good anyway.
Big Island needs at least a week - no way 3 days gives it justice. And I disagree about beaches. It has fewer beaches compared to the other islands but some of them are spectacular. Hapuna Beach just north of the Waikoloa area is an example. The water is amazing and the sand is super fine - even finer than the stuff you'll find on Kauai or Maui.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by hightower » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:06 pm

I would stay in Kauai for the whole trip. 5 days is hardly enough time to take it all in and you won't want to leave once you get there.

I went to Kauai earlier this year (in February). Stayed 2 weeks actually. It's a wonderful place. The part of the Island you'll be on is known for it's beaches and snorkeling. Definitely check out the Canyon while down there. There's an old plantation there that you can visit that is fun to do with family, they take you around on an old train and show you the working farm and animals. I also loved the northern part of the Island which is the Hanalei bay area. If you only have a few extra days to stay, I would check out Hanalei and stay there for a few nights. The Dolphin restaurant up there is super good (seafood of course). Kayak or paddle board up the river. Body board or try surfing on the beach. Drive up to the end of the road and check out the Na Pali coast. If you like to hike you can hike part of the Na Pali Coast trail (Kalalau Trail). It's notorious for being beautiful but dangerous, though the first few miles are not dangerous at all. We did the whole hike and back packed for 2 nights.
There are lots of great charter boats that will take you out for whale watching or snorkeling or to just see the Na Pali Coast from the water. I would highly recommend that.
No matter what you will love it over there. It's one of the most gorgeous, picturesque places I've ever been.

I agree with others though that 3 days on another island is probably not enough. The big island is amazing and deserves way more than 3 days.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:41 pm

Oahu stay = 90% in transit and logistics + 10% fun time (if they put more cars on that island it is going to sink)
Maui stay = 20% in transit and logistics , etc.
Kauai stay = 10% in transit and logistics (because it's very small)
Big Island stay = 70% in transit and logistics (because it is so large and only a few main roads, though the upgrades on the Saddle Road from Kona to Hilo side has helped. . .unless you stay in one place all the time)
Lanai = seen in less than a half day.
Molokai = seen in less than a half day

Inter Island Trip splitting = add huge percent because of the logistics of airport, rental car, etc, etc.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Erwin007 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:50 pm

Pacific wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:52 am
Without question, I would avoid Oahu like the plague. I describe Oahu as the world's most expensive traffic jam. Pearl Harbor is neat, but not worth the hassle of Honolulu traffic.

I, too, would opt for the Big Island. Don't even think of including beaches on the Big Island - too much else to do and the beaches are not that good anyway.
I agree with you on Oahu but don't think you could be more wrong on the beaches on the Big Island. Kua Beach, and Hapuna as another poster mentioned. The beach at the bottom of the Pololu Lookout (black sand and finest sand I've seen anywhere) is also fantastic. There is lots to do on the Big Island, and quite a bit of variation in what to do since the two sides of the island are very unique.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by TBillT » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:24 pm

We are also dreaming a Hawaii vaca possibly with AMEX points.
I don't immediately see it mentioned above, but don't forget if you have AMEX points you can sometimes convert them to Hotel points.
We've saved up a bunch of points but having trouble seeing how to use them in Maui, with Grand Wailea in mind (Hilton points in theory).
Maybe we will look Big Island based on comments above.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:46 pm

I've been to all the accessible islands, most more than once, several many times. I am pretty sure I will see them all again in the future, i.e., I don't think you can really go wrong with any of them.

With that said... Big Island is our favorite (no Hyatt, but don't let the points tail wag the experience dog). One word: active volcano. And the lava fields on the Kona side are awesome if you have never seen any before. Three days is plenty if you don't need beach time anyway (though we have come across some very nice ones).

Oahu: get out of Waikiki. Someone compared it to Vegas; that's always been my analogy. I hate the hustle and bustle of the strip. Consider a hotel outside Waikiki. Parking is expensive in Waikiki, might be cheaper to rent a car for the day. There are several rental locations in Waikiki. Public transportation can take you to Pearl Harbor. Check out TheBus.org. If you plan on spending a significant portion of the day there (don't forget the USS Missouri), not worth spending money on rental car plus overnight parking IMO.

If you want to stay at Hyatt, the HP will be fine. Still in easy walking distance to everything in Waikiki (that I don't really enjoy that much :happy ). The HR is overrated IMO.

One last thing: if you like hiking, consider the Alakai swamp trail in Kauai. One of my favorite experiences on that island.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... awaii.html

Enjoy your trip.... and plan on going back for more islands and experiences :)

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:03 pm

TBillT wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:24 pm
We are also dreaming a Hawaii vaca possibly with AMEX points.
I don't immediately see it mentioned above, but don't forget if you have AMEX points you can sometimes convert them to Hotel points.
We've saved up a bunch of points but having trouble seeing how to use them in Maui, with Grand Wailea in mind (Hilton points in theory).
Maybe we will look Big Island based on comments above.
Careful with the value you get when converting Amex MR points into hotel points. Do your research first; in the past there were some indirect transfer options (via Virgin Atlantic, if I recall correctly) that resulted in a better (still bad, IMO) value.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by woof755 » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:52 pm

Kauai:
Captain Andy's catamaran to the Na Pali coast was one of the most relaxing and beautiful excursions we have ever done.
We also did a fun kayak adventure to the Wailua waterfall. Nice and long, good exercise, minimal current.

We live on Oahu:
Depends on what you like. the North Shore is less touristy than Waikiki. We go to Waikiki every few months to have a cocktail by the beach and hit the reset button. The International Marketplace is recently completely renovated and has some great restaurants, even for just pupus and happy hour. For something more beautiful (yes, Oahu is as beautiful as the rest of the islands!) check out Turtle Bay hotel. Rent a beach cottage--will look familiar if you watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Of course, no help if using points is a certainty. Turtle Beach is a mile or so away. Almost always turtles sunning themselves on the beach, and if not, they're surfing in the waves close to shore.

In Maui the Haleaka sunrise is unforgettable. The road to Hana is spectacular, but it's a loooong day and not a drive I'd like to do myself--take a tour.

Been a while since we went to Big Island for anything other than kid's tennis tourney. But we enjoyed the drive to Volcano national park. On the way is the southernmost point in the US, and black sand beaches where we saw a zillion turtles.

Enjoy whatever beautiful island catches your fancy!
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Cunobelinus » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:47 am

p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:45 am
Someone mentioned oahu. Oahu is alright. Waikiki is like any other city except its right next to the ocean. Thats it. Its a cluster to say the least. Pearl harbor is great. Diamond head is alright...nice views of waikiki. Haunama bay sucks for snorkeling. North shore is really nice unless you go in the winter...then you have a good chance of death if you get in the water. Waimea bay is great...to the left of the rock where people jump off from is actually really good snorkeling. Not busy at all. Sharks cove is a cluster, meh snorkeling. People rave about the east side, I forget the beach that is famous there. WE didnt care for it. Well if you like being pelted with sand 24x7 then its the place to be. Insanely windy.
I live on the east side and don't get pelted by sand 24/7. The tradewinds aren't that powerful. I hear they were more frequent and stronger a few decades back though.

Bellows Beach/Sherwoods, Lanikai, or Kailua beach are perhaps the beaches you are referring to. The Bellows/Sherwoods and Lanikai beaches have that picture-perfect view of the Mokes ("Na Mokulua" those two splendidly photogenic islands a mile off of the beach), but Lanikai has 3-6 inch waves and Bellows/Sherwoods has 1-3FT waves. Kailua is quite a bit larger and has some smaller breaks for surfing. Undoubtedly far less crowded than the other two beaches, unless you're there on a 3-day weekend, in which case it's only "less crowded" than the other two.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Cunobelinus » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:56 am

woof755 wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:52 pm
Kauai:
Captain Andy's catamaran to the Na Pali coast was one of the most relaxing and beautiful excursions we have ever done.
We also did a fun kayak adventure to the Wailua waterfall. Nice and long, good exercise, minimal current.

We live on Oahu:
Depends on what you like. the North Shore is less touristy than Waikiki. We go to Waikiki every few months to have a cocktail by the beach and hit the reset button. The International Marketplace is recently completely renovated and has some great restaurants, even for just pupus and happy hour. For something more beautiful (yes, Oahu is as beautiful as the rest of the islands!) check out Turtle Bay hotel. Rent a beach cottage--will look familiar if you watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Of course, no help if using points is a certainty. Turtle Beach is a mile or so away. Almost always turtles sunning themselves on the beach, and if not, they're surfing in the waves close to shore.

In Maui the Haleaka sunrise is unforgettable. The road to Hana is spectacular, but it's a loooong day and not a drive I'd like to do myself--take a tour.

Been a while since we went to Big Island for anything other than kid's tennis tourney. But we enjoyed the drive to Volcano national park. On the way is the southernmost point in the US, and black sand beaches where we saw a zillion turtles.

Enjoy whatever beautiful island catches your fancy!
Agree.

September is getting to be bigger waves on the north-facing shores. The water may be too deathly to get in, even if the waves look "small", or less than 2-3FT. The ocean is much stronger when you're just an island in the middle of the Pacific.

I'd recommend Haleakala for sunset though. You need to book a reservation for sunrise at least a week or two in advance.. then you have to wake up pretty early to drive there in the dark, and then wait in the cold -- yes, it gets cold at 10,000FT+ in the dark with wind. I'd just as soon take your time and maybe go for a hike at the top in the late afternoon/evening, then stay for sunset. It's just like sunrise, but you look the other way =) You can also get a feel for whether or not it'll be really cloudy or overcast beneath you, thus preventing you from seeing the sun set over the water.

Hana is an all-day event. As in, wake up at 5am and get started, and you won't get back to Lahaina/Ka'anapali till 6 or 7pm. Just take it slow and remember that the driver should be driving, not looking at the scenery. Pull over in a safe, designated spot for that. And watch out for the tourists and tour buses that pull over or stop in the middle of the road, just around a sharp turn.

All of the islands are great*. Molokai isn't everyone's cup of tea, but you've got to be more self-reliant there.
*I haven't yet been to Lanai.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Cunobelinus » Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:03 am

Pacific wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:52 am
Without question, I would avoid Oahu like the plague. I describe Oahu as the world's most expensive traffic jam. Pearl Harbor is neat, but not worth the hassle of Honolulu traffic.

I, too, would opt for the Big Island. Don't even think of including beaches on the Big Island - too much else to do and the beaches are not that good anyway.
H-1 is certainly the world's most expensive traffic jam. Until you've been to Singapore or Hong Kong.

I think comparing Oahu to the plague is a little unfair. I think the relationship is more akin to NYC and NY. There's far more to New York than New York City. There's far more to Oahu than Honolulu/Waikiki.

Most people, tourists and folks who live here for only a few years, won't ever go to the Waianae coast. It's both a shame and a good thing -- it keeps it undeveloped and rugged and small, but those folks miss out on Makua Valley and Makaha and Yokohama Bay.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by blaugranamd » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:54 am

p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:45 am
As for the second island to visit...the big island is really nice. Its our favorite anyway. Lava is currently flowing into the ocean so you can see lava up close if you hike to it. When you get to the end of the road turn right away from the ocean and hike for 30 min or so...look for groups of people (that means they found lava flowing down the hill.) You can walk right up to it. On the way back you can head to ocean and view lava from a distance flowing into ocean. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... awaii.html

Check out the keck observatory. Depending when you go if its a new moon you're going to see more stars in the sky than you ever imagined. One of the darkest skies you will find due to the entire island using special lights at night (no light pollution.) You can see the milky way without camera trickery. Ive only seen the milky way 3 times in my life...as many times as ive seen lava flowing...its rare to see because of light pollution.

If you like to snorkel visit two step. Google it...its a hot spot. You can scuba there but its not worth it imo. Snorkeling is really good though.

If you like to kayak go early in the morning and head out to captain cook bay. Dolphins are always there in the morning. We swam with them. Awesome experience.

If you like to scuba dive check out the manta ray night dive. Really cool.
+1 for the Big Island. If you want contrast to Kauai, there's nothing more contrasting than going from the oldest island (Kauai) to the youngest (Hawaii). Big island has 8-10 of the 14 climate zones on the planet all on one island. I do agree though, if you're only going to have 2-3 days, Big Island might be better saved for at least a weeklong trip. But if the prospect of: Active volcanoes, visiting the southernmost point in the US (and jumping off a cliff), hiking (or hitching a ride) to one of only 4 green sand beaches in the world, snorkeling in the ocean in pitch dark while wild manta rays brush against your arms, getting the clearest view of the Milky Way in the US from atop a dormant volcano, and arguably the best snorkeling location in Hawaii (Two Step) appeal to you then you might still be able to pull it off.

Big Island is on my short list of early retirement locations. Kauai is a great relaxation and beautiful sightseeing island, Big Island is great for adventure.

Personally, I LOVED the big island and can't wait to go back. See the link below for a GREAT overview of everything awesome about the Big Island:
https://www.lovebigisland.com/
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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:46 pm

Since it's a rewards flight and you will likely be booking far in advance, it might be worth it to upgrade seats in case the carrier changes the itinerary. My United rewards flight to LIH has changed from going via SFO with a late afternoon return to going via DEN with an overnight return. That means the return flight is both longer and now overnight. I booked a regular economy rewards ticket because I don't mind regular economy for daytime flights, but I don't sleep well with moderate recline. I'm now pondering whether or not to pay for an upgrade for the return flight.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by SR II » Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:28 pm

guitarguy wrote:
Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:36 am
Our 5 nights will be on Kauai, we will extend to check out another island when everyone else in our party goes home on day 6. We really do want to see Pearl Harbor so allocating a half day to hop over, an evening for dinner, a whole day to see that, and then either stay one more day if we can find more interesting stuff on Oahu to do or just going home, I think is going to be our ticket.

Time is the key...I wish I could take 2 full weeks off but with other vacations and stuff planned already (first world problems, I know) for 2018...we won't have enough time.
Looks like you have settled on Oahu. I think you are wise to leave Maui for a whole separate vacation at another time. There is so much to do on Oahu, you might want to consider just an extra day or two.

I would suggest (as others have) renting a car for a day if you want to go to the North Shore, etc. And taking Uber/Lyft around town (to Pearl Harbor and such). Parking, driving and just finding your way around in Honolulu can be a real pain.

If you guys are into history, check out Iolani Palace (http://www.iolanipalace.org). It is fascinating.

Also, Bishop Museum (Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History) is filled with amazing Polynesian cultural artifacts and exhibits. Sorry, but the official website is messed up. Here is a link to it on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Museum.

Both are easy peasy to get to from Waikiki on TheBus (http://www.thebus.org) or by ride share.

Have fun!

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by guitarguy » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:08 am

Thanks for the input all!
SR II wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:28 pm
Looks like you have settled on Oahu. I think you are wise to leave Maui for a whole separate vacation at another time. There is so much to do on Oahu, you might want to consider just an extra day or two.

I would suggest (as others have) renting a car for a day if you want to go to the North Shore, etc. And taking Uber/Lyft around town (to Pearl Harbor and such). Parking, driving and just finding your way around in Honolulu can be a real pain.

If you guys are into history, check out Iolani Palace (http://www.iolanipalace.org). It is fascinating.

Also, Bishop Museum (Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History) is filled with amazing Polynesian cultural artifacts and exhibits. Sorry, but the official website is messed up. Here is a link to it on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Museum.

Both are easy peasy to get to from Waikiki on TheBus (http://www.thebus.org) or by ride share.

Have fun!
Yes...we have. We decided we both want to see Pearl Harbor, and although we're sure it's nice, we kind of think that the rest of the island may not have as much to offer as the others for an extended amount of time. Plus, Oahu will be all booked on miles and points so we're kind of limited to staying (lodging) in Waikiki. We are thinking:

Hop over in the afternoon on Saturday when the rest of our party heads home, Uber from the airport to the HP, hopefully walk to dinner and walk along the beach at Waikiki that evening just to check it out. In the morning, Uber to Pearl Harbor, spend the day there, Uber back to hotel, dinner somewhere local again.

Not sure at that point if we'll want to go through the bother of renting a car and exploring the island (north shore, etc) for another day, or just head home. Is there enough to see on Oahu that renting a car and dealing with the traffic to get out of Waikiki is worth it for a day trip?

We just think that leaving Maui or the Big Island for another time when we have more than an extra day or 2 is going to be best, whereas Oahu seems doable in a shorter time.

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:41 am

guitarguy wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:08 am
Thanks for the input all!
SR II wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:28 pm
Looks like you have settled on Oahu. I think you are wise to leave Maui for a whole separate vacation at another time. There is so much to do on Oahu, you might want to consider just an extra day or two.

I would suggest (as others have) renting a car for a day if you want to go to the North Shore, etc. And taking Uber/Lyft around town (to Pearl Harbor and such). Parking, driving and just finding your way around in Honolulu can be a real pain.

If you guys are into history, check out Iolani Palace (http://www.iolanipalace.org). It is fascinating.

Also, Bishop Museum (Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History) is filled with amazing Polynesian cultural artifacts and exhibits. Sorry, but the official website is messed up. Here is a link to it on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Museum.

Both are easy peasy to get to from Waikiki on TheBus (http://www.thebus.org) or by ride share.

Have fun!
Yes...we have. We decided we both want to see Pearl Harbor, and although we're sure it's nice, we kind of think that the rest of the island may not have as much to offer as the others for an extended amount of time. Plus, Oahu will be all booked on miles and points so we're kind of limited to staying (lodging) in Waikiki. We are thinking:

Hop over in the afternoon on Saturday when the rest of our party heads home, Uber from the airport to the HP, hopefully walk to dinner and walk along the beach at Waikiki that evening just to check it out. In the morning, Uber to Pearl Harbor, spend the day there, Uber back to hotel, dinner somewhere local again.

Not sure at that point if we'll want to go through the bother of renting a car and exploring the island (north shore, etc) for another day, or just head home. Is there enough to see on Oahu that renting a car and dealing with the traffic to get out of Waikiki is worth it for a day trip?

We just think that leaving Maui or the Big Island for another time when we have more than an extra day or 2 is going to be best, whereas Oahu seems doable in a shorter time.
Good plan.
As for "The Bus", you will spend a lot of time waiting for "The Bus" and it's slow progress through traffic and frequent stops, and transfers (get out, wait for another bus) like all city buses tend to do.
Renting a car on Oahu is the quickest way to get around. Taxi;s are very pricey but worth it if you only are going from the airport to Waikiki and back. Uber is an alternative. If you are not driving all over the island then you're paying for car rental for the car to sit much of the time.

Waikiki at night is enchanting, evening walks on the beach are romantic, at sunset. . Hawaiian music from the major hotels wafting over in the distance, the slow soft rolling surf twinkling in the moonlight, the smell of Hawaiian BBQ and Luau food occasionally caught in the soft breeze. . . .

Maui and Kauai are places that are worth it to "just be" besides "see". Same for the Big Island but the seeing part takes a lot of time because of distances and no "shortcuts" from place to place. Look at the road map and get an idea. However, there are wonderful places on the Big Island to "just be" as well, strolls along Kona shore and docks, old style Hilo, and paniolo country in Kamuela.. . smell of Pulehu ribs. . . . upcountry pastures. . . .

Don't forget the Helicopter rides on Kauai, (drops into deep canyons and waterfalls).

Sounds like your trip plans are evolving nicely. :D
Enjoy.
Hawaii' No Ka Oi
Mahalo Nui Loa

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by p0nyboy » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:05 am

blaugranamd wrote:
Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:54 am
p0nyboy wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:45 am
As for the second island to visit...the big island is really nice. Its our favorite anyway. Lava is currently flowing into the ocean so you can see lava up close if you hike to it. When you get to the end of the road turn right away from the ocean and hike for 30 min or so...look for groups of people (that means they found lava flowing down the hill.) You can walk right up to it. On the way back you can head to ocean and view lava from a distance flowing into ocean. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... awaii.html

Check out the keck observatory. Depending when you go if its a new moon you're going to see more stars in the sky than you ever imagined. One of the darkest skies you will find due to the entire island using special lights at night (no light pollution.) You can see the milky way without camera trickery. Ive only seen the milky way 3 times in my life...as many times as ive seen lava flowing...its rare to see because of light pollution.

If you like to snorkel visit two step. Google it...its a hot spot. You can scuba there but its not worth it imo. Snorkeling is really good though.

If you like to kayak go early in the morning and head out to captain cook bay. Dolphins are always there in the morning. We swam with them. Awesome experience.

If you like to scuba dive check out the manta ray night dive. Really cool.
+1 for the Big Island. If you want contrast to Kauai, there's nothing more contrasting than going from the oldest island (Kauai) to the youngest (Hawaii). Big island has 8-10 of the 14 climate zones on the planet all on one island. I do agree though, if you're only going to have 2-3 days, Big Island might be better saved for at least a weeklong trip. But if the prospect of: Active volcanoes, visiting the southernmost point in the US (and jumping off a cliff), hiking (or hitching a ride) to one of only 4 green sand beaches in the world, snorkeling in the ocean in pitch dark while wild manta rays brush against your arms, getting the clearest view of the Milky Way in the US from atop a dormant volcano, and arguably the best snorkeling location in Hawaii (Two Step) appeal to you then you might still be able to pull it off.

Big Island is on my short list of early retirement locations. Kauai is a great relaxation and beautiful sightseeing island, Big Island is great for adventure.
Almost everyday we would get up early and head to two step to snorkel in the morning. Afterwards on the way back to our condo we would always stop at the Royal Kona coffee center. We liked their setup the most. Tons of free coffee to sample. We'd refill our sample cups 5 or 6 times while chilling on their deck. (we did purchase a bag of coffee so we werent complete mooches.) They dont care regardless.

For scenery Kona Joes is hard to beat. Coffee is good but overpriced if you plan to buy any. Its trellis grown...thats why. We hit up costco before we left and bought 2 huge bags of Kauai Coffee. We actually liked that more than kona coffee and its significantly cheaper.

The southernmost point is a cool place to visit. Theres a bakery near there that sells malasadas...they're really good. I didnt jump off the cliff...I should have. That ladder you have to climb back up looked sketchy but a lot of people were doing it.

Im not sure if I could retire to any of the hawaiian island just because its so far away from our families. Now a 3 month stretch...no problem!

And with Southwest going to be flying to the hawaiian islands in 2018...that companion pass is looking mighty fine!

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Re: First visit to Hawaii (flight, Amex Plat benefits, extend stay?)

Post by Cyclone » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:27 am

If visiting Pearl Harbor, you should make reservations ahead of time. My wife and I went to visit in July and I forgot about that. We got to Pearl Harbor shortly after it opened, and the boats to the memorial were already booked until 3:30.

I have to laugh at the posters referring to Honolulu as a "big city". It is ranked 54th in the United States between Tucson and Tulsa, hardly what I call "big cities". Honolulu may be more dense, though.

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