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3 Days in Oahu

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Oahu

Oahu is the busiest of the Hawaiian Islands. After over 10 visits to Hawaii, I recommend 3-4 days for a visit to Oahu combined with a visit to one of the other islands. While Oahu is busy and exhibits many skyscrapers and high rise hotels; other islands have a more serene feel to them.

I highly recommend a rental car when arriving in Honolulu.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, I am a frugal but definitely not cheap. Oahu is expensive; so even the least expensive hotels are pricey on this island.

In order to save money, if you are trying to do that; stay somewhere like the Aston Waikiki and for the last night splurge on the Hilton Hawaiian Village (where you leave the Aston early in the morning and spend all day at the Hilton Hawaiian Village; experience the night activities and the next morning until departure. There are shows, luaus, fireworks, private beach, private lagoon, swim areas, etc. It is worth the cost for at least a night.

My recommendations:

Hilton Hawaiian Village.       The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a mall area and parking lots; self park or valet. The shopping area is extremely nice and the shops give away samples. Check out the times of Luaus and Fireworks (even if you decide not to stay here). Highly Recommended.

Aston Waikiki Beach

Is about a mile down the road; on Waikiki Beach. It is conveniently located to a lot of shops and restaurants. Highly Recommended.

Day 1:

When you first arrive, you will be a bit tired (especially if this is your first stop in the Hawaiian islands), but if staying at either the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel or Hilton Hawaiian Village; park your car and walk Waikiki Beach and grab lunch or dinner watching the surfers, there are a lot of shops on the strip, check them out, and go for a swim at the beach or back at the hotel.

Day 2:

Get up early and be at Pearl Harbor by 7:15 AM. From Waikiki it around a 45 minute drive and can be longer if it is during the work week. Grab breakfast on the way. Pearl Harbor tickets are handed out first come, first serve. If you get there early, you will be in the first or second tour groups and it is well worth it to get in within 45 minutes of arrival. If you arrive later in the day, you may not get a ticket or you may get a ticket for mid-afternoon and will have to time your day accordingly.

Pearl Harbor (just dress appropriately) You can wear shorts and t-shirt, but halter tops and short shorts will be turned away. There is 40 minute video when you arrive about what happened at Pearl Harbor (Bring some tissues), followed by a boat ride out to the USS Arizona and a return trip. The whole experience will take until about 10:30 AM if you arrive at 7:15 AM.

The afternoon is really up for grabs. I suggest going to the Dole Plantation for an afternoon snack! The drive is beautiful and if you go to the Dole Plantation; there is a fun train ride and Dole Whip when you finish!

 

Day 3:

Take a trip around the Island. Start early in the morning with the intention of driving all the way around. It will be filled with many spots and picture taking opportunities. Check out the links below as they may help you decide your stopping points.

Hanauma Bay State Park is a conservation park with a $7.50 charge. There are package deals to this park and also to the Banzai Pipeline on a tour or shuttles from Waikiki. Just remember that the park is always closed on Tuesdays.

 

Banzai Pipeline

North Shore

Waimanalo Beach

Waimea Beach

Sunset Beach

Haleiwa Town

Shark’s Cove

Diamond Head

 

End of Day 3 or Day 4: Departure

Spend the morning at the pool, eat breakfast on the beach, go for a stroll, or some morning shopping…before heading off to the airport.

Things You Should Know:

  • If you are going to do a helicopter tour; do it over the Big Island or Kauai, but not Oahu (or Maui)
  • Snorkeling is great at Hanamuau Bay (depending on the time of the year; you can see whales breach)
  • Remember to rent a car for the entire trip
  • Driving around the island is beautiful; stop often and take pictures
  • Make sure to get Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation
  • Stay on Waikiki Beach – save money on other islands with hotel accommodations
  • Stay here a few days, but make sure to visit another island
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7 Reasons To Visit Kauai

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and has various environments such as rainforest, swamps, mountains, desert, and beaches. Kauai is temperate all year and ranges from the 60’s to 80’s Fahrenheit. The hottest months are August- September where the temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and January is the coolest month with an average of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I have been to Hawaii over ten times. The rooster is commonplace especially in Lihue.

Kauai is less commercialized than Maui and offers serenity, beauty, and provides a piece of paradise!

 

What You Should Know About Kauai

  • You should rent a car
  • You should be aware of where to stay depending on the time of the year.
    • Poipu is best in the summer and the North Shore is best in the winter
  • From the North Shore to the Poipu can take around an hour to an hour and a half depending on traffic
  • You cannot get lost; there are only a few roads
  • The cheapest souvenirs are at Wal-Mart near the airport

What We Do:

  • Rent a car
  • Almost always stay near the middle of the island (Lihue)
  • My favorite hotel is the Marriott Kauai Beach Club
  • My favorite place to eat is Duke’s on the beach of Marriott Kauai Beach Club
  • Go all over the island
  • I have spent as little as 3 days on Kauai to 3 weeks at a time (writing my dissertation).
  • It is one of the best places on earth.

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The North Shore

Things You Should Know:

On the drive up to the North Shore. It is a spectacular drive; passing many beaches, valleys, jungles, and flowers! If you see an area you would like to spend an hour or so, stop! Get out, take pictures, and capture the moment; then load back up and continue on your path.

Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea are a few of the cities on the way; Tunnels Beach is a wonderful place to spend a few hours; there are lifeguards and the drive to this location is beautiful. There is a lighthouse and other sights that are of interest. Again, stop when you see something of interest.

There is a cave across the street from Tunnels Beach. Stay out of there; there are bats and bats can carry rabies.

What We Do:

  • Drive all the way up to the end of the road; stopping along the town of Hanalei and shopping and getting some ice cream or quick bite to eat.
  • Stopping at Tunnels Beach is one of my favorites; I am not a beach person, but there are huge trees that provide sun protection and allow for reading a book or walking the beach.

Around Lihue

What You Should Know:

This is the area right around the airport. The Kauai Marriott Beach Club and Ritz Carlton Villas back up to the airport. Again, you should rent a car from the airport.

Kalapaki Beach is a wonderful place to spend a day or half day. There is a surf school, you can watch cruise ships come in, and there is a mini mall on the grounds and across the street with Shave Ice. Duke’s has wonderful Banana Smoothies.

Staying in this area is the half way point to the North Shore and to Poipu or even Polihole Beach.

From Lihue, you may want to stock up on a few groceries before going to your hotel. there is a Walmart close by.

Kauai has a lot of golf courses and wonderful resorts.

Around this area, there is the Kilohana Plantation, and Wailua Falls; there is also a Costco and Shopping Area.

One of my favorite activities is kayaking up the Kayak Wailua

This kayak experience is about 45 minutes paddling upstream and a 15 minute hike to Secret Falls and the returning. Just remember to pack a bag for water and a snack or two. The sun is really intense; sunscreen, hats, and the trail is extremely muddy so do not wear “new shoes” The estimated trip will take 3.5-4 hours depending on how long you spend at the waterfall.

What We Do:

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Poipu

What You Should Know:

The drive from Lihue allows you to go through the Tree Tunnel and make your way to Poipu. There is a resort zone in this area.

On Poipu Beach – Tombola (Nukumoi Point) is sand that separates two bays. On this beach, there are places to surf, body boarders, and has been voted as the #1 Beach in America. The endangered monk seal is frequently a visitor on this sand; please- please be respectful of the monk seal and do not touch and give him/ her space. Talk with your children about this as well. Respect nature!

Shipwreck Beach is behind the Hyatt Hotel- there is a large surf here and be careful not to turn your back to a wave as you could be pulled into the water. This beach is better for walking and watching surfers.

A good hotdog can be picked up at Puka Dog

There is also a glass beach; 20 years ago there was a glass company and many of the remnants of the glass went out to sea and have come in. It is quite beautiful (15 min. from Poipu but worth the drive)

What We Do:

  • Take our own snorkeling gear to Hawaii
  • Spend time on Poipu Beach; usually spending time at the Marriott or Hilton in Poipu
  • Walk around
  • Spouting Horn

Polihole Beach

What You Should Know:

This is the closest beach to the Napali Coast. Rental Car Companies will let you know that issues with the car are not covered if you go here. Just avoid the potholes and go slow. It is off road for about 30 minutes. When you get on the sand; just make sure to stay near other cars and not to go too close to the water unless you have a 4×4.

This is one of the most remote and beautiful beaches in the world. Remember when you get in the water that there are no lifeguards and there are intense waves, currents, and rip tides.

What We do:

We go to Polihole Beach in the morning; we pack water, Subway, snacks, and additional drinks in case we end up with a flat tire. (this has not happened, but we are prepared just in case). After a half day, we go to Waimea Canyon; driving and getting out to take pictures; it is incredible! The colors of the canyons and rock are just spectacular.

Waimea Canyon

What You Should Know:

Waimea Canyon is on the west side of Kauai. Waimea is the largest canyon in the Pacific- “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and has 10 miles and is 3500 feet deep. Waimea Canyon is in the Kokee State Park which covers 4345 acres.

What We do:

Usually stop at Waimea Canyon after a morning visit to Polihole Beach. Do not miss seeing Waimea Canyon!

 

Napali Coast

What You Should Know:

This is one of the most beautiful locations in the world! You can see it by helicopter or boat. I have taken 3 helicopter rides over the Napali Coast seeing the scenes from Jurassic Park and other movies; the size and magnitude of the coast, mountains, and beaches is gorgeous!

Kauai Sea Tours

Captain Andy’s

Both of these companies do an amazing job!

 

What We Do:

  • Have taken trips from Kauai Sea Tours and Captain Andy’s.
  • Have taken Catamaran Rides around the Napali Coast at sunset
  • Have taken Snorkeling Trips around the Napali Coast
  • Have taken the raft tour into the Sea Caves; just know that the Sea Caves are incredible, but it is a long, uncomfortable trip of 4-6 hours of ocean beating in the rubberized raft. This is only available in the summer based on the water levels with the sea caves. Highly recommended but just book a massage for later that day. You will thank me!
  • Helicopter Rides: I have taken 3 here without doors each time and I am scared of heights. Just know that the helicopter will “pick up” when you go over Waimea Canyon and that you get fairly close to the mountains. It is spectacular to see the tunnels in the ocean (Tunnels Beach) from above. You will not regret the adventure, but just know it can be a bit scary!

 

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Why You Should Go to Maui

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I have been to Hawaii over 10 times and absolutely love the beauty, sense of adventure, and sunshine that Hawaii provides. Before I give the reasons to go to Maui; you will first need to make sure that you have a rental car. You will want to have freedom at least on your first visit; after this visit, you may decide that you want a shuttle to pick you up at the airport and spend the time at your resort. The first visit is one where you will want to explore for the first 3 days; then you can relax!

  1. The Road to Hana

Things You Should Know:

The Road to Hana is a spectacular journey to Hana. I typically stay on the Kaanapali Side of Maui so it is a 45 minute drive to start the 51 mile journey to Hana from Hwy 360. The drive starts near Paia. I have stopped a few times at Charley’s Restaurant (Willy Nelson’s favorite spots) and then head out for the drive. The first stop for me is typically Mama’s Fish House. A stunning location and I am told amazing seafood (I am allergic to fish and shellfish; so not going inside to eat here). Then on a short drive up the road to Ho’okipa Lookout where from any view, you can see surfing, at times dolphins, and people playing in the surf. This is a location where experienced surfers only should be in this water…I recommend picking up a Road to Hana CD in a gas station before leaving…sometimes your phone will not work based on where you are on this route.

The route has lots of curves, one way bridges, and lots of traffic with slow drivers and more traffic depending on what time you leave.

Along the way you will see countless waterfalls, pull offs, and stopping points such as: Twin Falls, the Garden of Eden, Hana Lava Tube, Wailua Falls before arriving in Hana.

The journey along the way is spectacular. Mile 7 has Rainbow Trees. Hana has a pretty black sand beach and my favorite place to eat is the Hana Ranch.

You will pass by signs that say Haleakala National Park and this is where the famous Bamboo Forest is located.

When you are finished with this visit; keep driving around the back side of the island; some of the best views of Maui are here. Know you want to be on the road before dark and to keep moving.

What we do:

  • Pack drinks and snacks
  • Stop for breakfast at Charley’s or somewhere on the way
  • Stop at Mama’s Fish House
  • Stop at Ho’okipa Lookout
  • Stop where I see people; sometimes it is a cow path next to a fence
  • Sometimes it is the waterfall – just stop when you see cars
  • Stop to get pictures of the Rainbow Gum Trees (gum trees)
  • Stop at Hana Beach
  • Stop at Hana Ranch for a nice lunch and get a few more drinks/ snacks for the road
  • Haleakala National Park – Bamboo Forest visit
  • Always keep going around the island
  • Always have change of clothes and swimwear just in case
  • There are no snakes on the island so swimming is not a problem anywhere
  • Enjoy the journey; this is not about the destination!

2. Haleakala

What You Should Know:

The drive to the bottom of Haleakala National Park from Kaanapali is around an hour. If you do not like switchbacks or driving without guardrails; then this is not the drive for you. The drive from the bottom to the top takes about 35 minutes and along the way you will see bikes, a few people walking, and lots of cars going up or coming down. When you arrive at the top, there will be a large parking lot and restrooms; there is a ranger station where you can purchase a few souvenirs. Silversword is a beautiful plant that only grows here.

As you go to the top of Haleakala, remember that this is high altitude and Altitude Sickness can occur. The top is over 10,000 feet and higher at the summit.

Haleakala can be seen anytime, but it is recommended that you book Haleakala with a tour group and do a sunrise visit.

What We Did:

  • I have seen Haleakala at sunrise two times and have seen it at least 6 times without a sunrise visit. Hands down- make this part of your trip.
  • Bring sweatshirt and/or jackets/ blankets if you go at Sunrise because it is extremely cold; otherwise it is cold but manageable.
  • Bring Snacks
  • Plan to spend about 30-50 minutes at the top unless you are on a sunrise tour; then you will arrive around 2:30 AM and will wait until the sunrises; then head down and usually part of the trip is breakfast.
  • I would not advise driving in the dark up Haleakala on your own; during daylight hours should be okay.

 

3. Bamboo Forest

What You Should Know:

When you leave Hana, you continue around the backside of the island and you will see signs for Haleakala National Park. On the left hand side of the road, you will see a turn off with parking lots; pull in here. There is a view of the ocean, restrooms, and the paths that take you to Haleakala or to the Bamboo Forest.

The Bamboo Forest is a hike. Haleakala National Park (the back side) is there along with a path that takes you to the Bamboo Forest. Do not miss this. Know you have to be in good shape to complete this walk; it is a lot of up and down; twists and turns, and tree roots. If you have bad knees, legs that struggle, or hip replacement/knee replacement surgeries; you may want someone in your group to take pictures and show you.

As you walk to the bamboo forest; you follow a river and if you toward the river; be careful as signs are everywhere about the dangers and warnings of deaths that have occurred from falling. There is a well marked path and if you stay on the path; you are safe.

On this path, there are swinging bridges and huge canopy trees. Bring your camera.

 

4. Water

What You Should Know:

The water is the ocean. With that being said, you are on an island and rip tides, waves, and lifeguards are not always where you will want to be. There are tide pools and rocks near water ways (especially the road to Hana) or up by Kapalua where you may be tempted to climb down and be close to the water and get a selfie or picture in general. Remember, if the wave comes and takes you with it; you may not be able to get back where you were. This is not to scare you, but it is a reality.

Snorkeling in Molokini: take a tour company and out for a 2 hour snorkeling trip. There are pretty fish and the water is beautiful. Remember not to go too far from the boat; there is a current. The snorkeling tour company will tell you all about it. Wear a life vest or float on top of it.

There is a nice boat ride from Lahaina to Lanai that goes over some rough water but takes you for a few hours to the 4 Seasons Lanai. It is a beautiful tropical destination if you are looking for something to do. Dolphins will swim next to the boat.

The Ho’opina Lookout has surfing; if you are a beginner; you will want to find an easier area to surf. Lots of small waves around the island. Lahaina is a good beginner location.

What We Do:

We do not really swim in the ocean unless on an excursion. The pools at the hotels usually capture most of our time. We will definitely get into the ocean play/ splash around but as far as going out a distance or standing near a blowhole next to the coast; not so much.

The boat ride from Lahaina to Lanai is nice; suggested if you are on the island more than 4 days.

The Snorkeling in Molokini is very nice.

We stay on the Kaanapali side of the island but if you decide to stay near Wailea; check the updates on bacteria as sometimes this can affect the time in the water.

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5. Lahaina, Kaanapali Beach, Kapalua

What You Should Know:

This is a popular location for all of the major hotels and there is plenty of beach available for all.

Lahaina is a pretty location where there are lots of shops; good location to walk around. Surfers are nearby and the park has beautiful trees. There are galleries and lots of companies trying to get business for tours on Maui.

Kaanapali Beach is a hotel zone. There is Whalers Village (major shopping area) that is quite happening at night. All of the beaches here are extremely nice.

Kapalua is further north; near the Ritz Carlton you will find Dragon’s Teeth and beautiful forests. As you drive around the top part of Kapalua, you will find many cliffs and witness surfers climbing down the cliffs

What We Did:

  • Remember that Lahaina is usually one of the warmest spots on the island.
  • If it is raining in Kapalua; it is probably not raining in Lahaina.
  • If you are island hopping- book flights out of Kapalua instead of OGG
  • If you are flying to the mainland or international; you will have to go in or out of OGG.
  • Stay on Kaanapali or Kapalua
  • My favorite places to stay are the Marriott Ocean Club, Ritz Carlton, and Kapalua Villas. I have also stayed at random places through Hotwire. (just know that air conditioning is not standard at all hotels or accommodations)
  • I have been to Maui more than 10 times so ask if you have questions.
  • If it is your first trip: Make sure to do the Road to Hana and Sunrise at Haleakala
  • Save your money and do not do a helicopter ride on this island
  • Snorkeling is okay, but if you are island hopping; save it for a different island

 

 

 

I have been to Maui over 10 times; for as short of a stay as 2 days and as long as two weeks. If you have questions, please ask!