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Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

City Slicker

Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

Hello all my husband and I are looking to travel to Hawaii sometime next year 2015. I thought I'd start doing some planning now. I have a few questions that I hope you guys can help out with. I have been googling and looking at alot of info on Hawaii. My first question is which Island should we visit if we can only visit one? Are there any hotels you can recommend. We have gold status with Hilton and Platinum status with Hyatt but not really sure if that means much in Hawaii. We're not sure if we should visit Oahu or Maui. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your advice and expertise. 

37 Replies
Nationally Recognized

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

definitely not oahu. I know bc i lived there. It is a tourist trap. The other islands are a bit more wild, authentic and beautiful.

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

Kuaia is one of the most amazing places I've ever been. My wife and I got married on a beach 'at the end of the road'. I've been to one other Hawaiian island and  Kuaia was hands down the better.

 

As other people will mention Kuaia is less developed. They don't allow hotels higher than a palm tree so you don't have any of the big resort style hotels ruining the beach line.

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

Maui is restful, with unobstructed beauty everywhere you go. If you haven't been to a volcano before, as I had not, consider driving to the top of Haleakala. At the very top, it's looks like a moonscape, so the contrast to the lush beauty everywhere else on the island is interesting. Far higher on the priority list, though, is the Road to Hana. I remember lush green and ocean nearly the whole way. That said, be prepared for an extremely narrow road. The driving felt nerve-wracking to me, but the scenery was worth it. (We stopped in the rainforest, and were "chased" by wild chickens! The story has delighted us and various crowds for years.)

 

We stayed at the Marriott on Lahaina, one of the beach areas, and, were pleased with every aspect of the stay. If you plan a winter trip for next year, schedule it to correspond with the migration of the whales. They are fun to see. Also, we went out on a tourist boat, and there were spinner dolpins following the boat, then swimming out ahead, as if they were playing with us. 

 

Enjoy your trip!

Highlighted
Stately Explorer

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

Three years ago I went on an ocean cruise (Royal Caribbean) that began in Honolulu and visited several of the islands. After circling the islands (docked on 4 islands) and sailing in the area, the ship crossed the Pacific Ocean and ended its journey in Vancouver, BC. The whole itinerary lasted 2 weeks.

 

There are shorter cruises that just circle the islands, and there are pluses and minuses to visiting Hawaii by means of a cruise, but I enjoyed the trip tremendously, and I got to see quite a bit. You can also extend your visit by flying into Honolulu earlier and spending time on your own there.

 

One thing that I did (I posted a "story" on this) is to book an excursion that consisted of a helicopter ride over the island of Kauai, the "Garden Isle".  It was a breathtaking experience, and although it may be a bit pricey (around $250 per person), it was a very worthwhile "splurge".

 

Sergio

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

I second Kuaia!

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

I've traveled to both Maui and Oahu with my family in the past 5 years. We throughly loved our visit on both islands. When people ask me which island they should go to, I tend to say this: if you've never been to the Hawaiian islands and want more attractions, go to Oahu. There's are TONS to do and it's easy for a first-timer because there are tourist packages, festivals, events....it's endless.

 

If you've been to the islands before or you want a more relaxing, laid-back vacation, go to Maui. It's not as touristy, but there are still things to do. There's still stuff to do, but it's more at your own pace and you're on your own for the most part. Now that my family has been to all of the islands, we find ourselves coming back to Maui the most. But, this summer, we're going back to Oahu because we're taking my in-laws and they've never been to the Hawaiian islands.

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

So, I am not an expert, but I definitely have some things you should think about when deciding on which island.  Now if you can only visit one and love history, then of course visit Oahu because you have Pearl Harbor and some amazing museums.  I am not sure if you have considered Kauai, but this place is what you imagine Hawaii being like.  Rain forest like, beautiful and not as busy as Oahu or Maui.  Now, Maui gives you a place that is not as busy as Oahu, but yet still has everything you could think of.

 

I personally love the Big Island of Hawaii.  You have Hilo on the rain forest side, and Kona on the desert side to visit.  There is the ever flowing volcanoe on the south end of the island.  I love the open area, all the farming land, and different areas to explore.  My husband and I are actually moving to the small Coast Guard base in Hilo in about 2 months, we were very excited to see this tiny unit as a possibility for us. 

 

For vacationing I personally believe that you should visit Maui, and if you can take a short flight next door to the big island just at least see the volcanoe, it is incredible.

Internationally Known

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

Hi! I have never been to Hawaii (except for a two night stopover on Oahu, but that doesn't count). I also have plans to go in the near future, and was wondering which island to go to. I had heard Maui and Kauai were the best, but then I found this quiz online and when I took it, it turns out the Big Island suits my needs more. Now, never having been I can't tell you if this quiz is accurate, but its fun to take and helps you understand a bit more about the islands and what you are looking for in an island. Here's the link:

 

http://www.hawaii-guide.com/content/posts/which_hawaii_island_to_visit

 

Best of luck!

City Slicker

Re: Hawaiian Islands which Island to visit

I lived on Maui for five years with my wife and kids up until a few years back so here's some tips for you.

 

If you can only visit one island Oahu is the best bet. Waikiki is commercialized but the rest of the island (e.g. North Shore) isn't so it has the best mix of everything from the best beach (Waikiki), history, shopping, good tourist attractions, etc.

 

Kauai'i is one of the most beautiful places on the planet but there's not much to do unless you love hiking, staying at your hotel or driving.

 

The Big Island is a bit sleepy but there's tons to see if you don't mind driving. The island has rain forests, a live volcano, lava deserts, rolling hills, black sand beaches and amazing resorts, inns, cottages, coffee plantations, etc.

 

Maui is great especially for families but really for everyone. Whether you're snorkeling at Molokini, dining in Lahaina, driving to the top of Haleakala, driving out to Hana (not as great as everyone says by the way) or going to Warren & Annabell's magic show (seriously great show with advanced tickets required), Maui has just about everything. Even though we lived there we loved going up and staying at the hotels on the beach in the Kaanapali resort and I highly recommend this area.

 

Final tips:

Rent a convertable.

Leave nothing valuable in your car.

Some restaurants charge half as much for lunch as they do dinner.

Start the trip with atomic bomb proof sunscreen and end it with 10 spf.

I'm not kidding about Warren & Annabell's -- it's an incredible show even after having seen it five times.

Pack light -- you'll need your swimsuit, a coverup, one nice dinner outfit and some comfortable clothes for the heat and humidity.

When you leave the airport, go directly to Costco as everywhere else is really expensive. You'll be surprised what all you can buy there.

Rent snorkel gear for the week (if you like snorkeling) and get the good equipment.

Go on a sunset cruise and a snorkel boat.

Get ginger pills and take them for 12 hours before any time you might get car or seasick. I'm a diver who gets terribly seasick and they work wonders and have no side-effects.

 

Gosh, I could go on and on -- I think I need to go back ;-)

 

Have fun!