Who here has been to the Hawaiian Islands?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by chrono1081, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Hi guys,

    I need a vacation, desperately. I just left my current job and will be starting a new one hopefully in a few weeks and between that time I wanted to take a vacation to Hawaii and see volcanoes and rain forests and try scuba diving and swim with dolphins. (Don't judge!). Oh and of course ocean kayak.

    Anyway I was wondering who has been to Hawaii, what island you liked the best, and what activities you enjoyed the most.

    I'm hoping to book this trip within the next few days.
  2. smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    I've been 5 or 6 times, I've lost track. Seriously.

    I take it you've never been? If so, then you're probably going to be pretty happy no matter what - it's an awesome place and more than lives up to its billing.

    Oahu: I'm OK with Oahu, although I suspect there will be some follow up posts which turn their nose up at Oahu/Waikiki and all that. Yes, there's a "touristy" feel at times, but there's also things to do which aren't touristy at all.

    Some ideas for Oahu:

    * Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona memorial
    * Waikiki beach/surfing lessons/etc
    * North Shore (waves this time of year will be less than wintertime)
    * Hanauma bay snorkeling
    * Drive the island, around the shore but also Tantalus

    Lots of photo ops pretty much everywhere on the islands, bring a camera...

    Oahu is the most urban of the islands.

    In contrast, Kauai is the least urban, but awesome scenery:

    * Waimea canyon
    * Waimea lookout
    * Na'Pali coast/rainforest areas

    Lots of people like Maui, but it didn't click for me, probably because the day was ruined by rain (was there in January):

    * Drive up to Haleakala (did not do this, it was covered in snow)
    * Take the road to Hana (did this in a driving rain)
    * Whale watching
    * Hang out in Lahaina

    It really depends on how much you want to do vs. how much you want to relax. It is possible to do both however. For me, just driving around and finding things to photograph was extremely rewarding and relaxing at the same time.

    I tended to use Oahu as my base and take day trips to the other islands.
  3. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    I've been there twice in the past 8 months (I have friends that live in Maui and Oahu). Loved every minute of my trips. I suggest getting off the beaten path and doing some non touristy things as well (it helped having a friend who had been on the island for a while).

    I've been to Oahu, Maui, and Lanai. I love Muai. Definitely do the Road to Hana, and get out and jump off the waterfalls / cliffs into the freshwater streams. Haleakala was cool. Black Rock is fun, La Haina, etc. In La Haina, you absolutely must eat at Mala Ocean Tavern (and be prepared to be adventurous). The best food I've ever eaten.

    If you have the coin I heard Mama's Fish House is excellent (I didn't go, so I can't speak of it myself).

    I would take surfing lessons, do some snorkeling, paddle boarding, etc. Secret Beach, Little Beach, and Big Beach are all really cool in Maui.

    I went scuba diving for the first time in Maui. Unfortunately it was a windy day so visibility sucked, but still an awesome experience. It's definitely harder than it looks. A shark had washed ashore on the beach we went off of.

    Oahu is cool, and there are places off the beaten path you can check out. The Stairway to Heaven hike is exhilarating and amazing (beat the guard at the bottom before 4:30 am if you want to do it). The Moakes were awesome...we kayaked out to the island and did some surfing, and jumped into a tide pool. Beautiful.

    Like the previous poster said, you really can't go wrong. GO!
  4. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    I lived there for three years.

    If you want diving, go to Ocean Concepts. I earned my rescue diver certification through them and they are great people with fair prices and a reputable business. By reputable, I mean they are serious about their jobs and take proper safety precautions, and people don't die on their dives. Their main office is near the Arizona.

    As for Volcanos, obviously you want to go to the Big Island. It'll probably be about $150 to fly there round trip, and they have car rental agencies right outside the airport (obviously) and you can just drive up to the park and see whatever you want.

    If you're staying in Honolulu and want to enjoy Waikiki and the strip, I recommend just staying on the strip and eating the price, it'll be worth it. When the bars close, go home and don't go in back allies, and don't pick a fight with the locals because it'll get you stabbed.

    My all time favorite place to eat breakfast is the Pancake House near Schofield Barracks. Cheap, fantastic food.

    If you want good food, you need to get away from the strip.

    Go to the eastern side of the island by taking H2 on to H3 and you will be in for one of the most breathtaking drives in the world.

    Not to mention the beaches are less crowded and they are very, very nice.

    Also, the North Shore is definitely worth seeing just to say you've been there.

    Any questions just ask me. I know the islands like the back of my hand.
  5. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Been there 2 times on vacations.

    Big Island - take a helicopter tour, see the volcano, drive to Mauna Kea observatories

    Maui - Snorkel, SNUBA, or Scuba Molokini crater, it is amazing.

    Kauai - I echo what smithrh said.

    Oahu - Arizona memorial, Diamond Head. Wakiki is just a huge tourist trap in my opinion.

    I hope you enjoy your trip.
  6. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Thanks so much everyone for the suggestions so far :) (Keep em coming!)

    Here's what I hope to do while I'm there:

    1. Ocean kayak. I've only ever done this once and it was in New Zealand and it was in Milford Sound (not technically an ocean) but we got turned around 20 min into the trip due to weather and I never got to go out into the ocean :(

    2. Snorkle/Dive*. I've never done either :(

    3. See volcanoes! I never saw lava in real life and the only volcano I saw was White Island in New Zealand.

    4. Hike!

    5. Swim with dolphins! I adore animals and this would be awesome.

    I'd love to add windsurfing lessons to this list but since I'll only be there 6 - 7 days it may be pushing it. I'm single too so I'll be going by myself.

    I've gotten some good ideas from the posts above on where to go. I'm hoping to book the trip REALLY soon since I have no clue when my new job will start. They said "A few weeks" but they also said it'll take a few weeks for them to decide on a candidate and picked me two days later so...they move faster than they claim.

    *I have an awful gag reflex. Its hard for me to have a dentist work on my teeth so I'm not sure if diving is realistic for me :/
  7. mikegem macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2012
    Big Island!!

    Been to Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. I've been 9 times to the Big Island. It's the variety that keeps me coming back, as recently as last March.

    Burned out - been there: lunch, a bottle of wine, and a few hours on a sunny, warm beach recharges my interest in life pretty fast. A couple or three days of that, and I'm ready for some adventure.

    Kona side (west) is lava desert. If you fly into Kona, you'll think you got on the wrong plane! Kona is the tourist haven, parties, dancing, food, etc. Very high end hotels just north of Kona. Hilo side (east) is wet, not so touristy, more like regular life. Fabulous farmer's market downtown on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It's got a U of Hawaii campus. Waimea (kind of north central) is exactly on the transition from wet to dry - the east side of the town is wet, the west side is dry. It has one of the island's very best restaurants, Merrimans. Excellent cuisine, and not necessarily expensive. Lunch will fit most budgets. Go there, you will not regret it.

    Volcano - Go drive down Chain of Craters road and see the lava flow. Go at night and see the red glow all the way up the slope to the crater, and the bluish flicker of methane fires among the rocks. For a thrill, take a flashlight and sacrificial shoes and walk the lava fields at night. For a real thrill (maybe your last), walk out (at night, the park rangers will stop you in daytime) to where the lava flows into the sea. This is dangerous. My wife and I did this on our first visit when we were young and stupid. We wouldn't have missed it, but it could bag you your very own Darwin Award.

    Drive over Saddle Road, goes across the island between the two main volcanic peaks. About half way across, turn north and go to the observatory Visitor Center at 9,000 feet. Check the schedule, they usually have a bunch of telescopes out for you to use in the evening. There are tours of the telescopes above at nearly 14,000 feet. The view is incredible.

    Or turn the other direction off Saddle Road and go to the NOAA observatory. No tours that I know of, but the drive goes through the most amazing lava fields.

    Visit the Waipio Valley (northeast), take a picnic and walk down the road into the valley. You can drive *if* you have a 4WD, which I recommend just on general principles. There are lots of accessible roads that a 2WD can't do.

    Great seafood, incredible fresh fruit, your choice of environments from prehistoric rain forest to rock desert, activities from slug-like sun-warmed torpor to ocean kayaking to all-night partying.

    That said, I have enjoyed my visits to the other islands very well. It's just that the Big Island has more to do, and more space to do it in.

    I hope you can go soon, and that you enjoy it. Good luck.
  8. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    Hanauma Bay snorkeling for sure on Oahu! Also the hike to the top of Diamond Head is fun.

    Volcanoes national park and sunset/star gazing atop Mauna Kea is also a must do on Big Island.
  9. mikegem macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2012
    and one more Big Island thing...

    Just noticed the dolphin swimming goal...

    I've twice kayaked across Kealakakua Bay to Captain Cook Monument, just south of Kona. There are plenty of kayak rentals there, it's easy to do. Dolphins both ways, both times. Sea turtles once.
  10. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Thanks everyone for the input :)

    I booked the trip! I leave on May 1st. (Knowing my luck my new job will call and want me to start early 0_0; )

    I literally eenie meenie miney moed which islands to go to since I liked all of them. Hopefully I will have more than one trip here so I picked Maui and Hawaii this time.

    If anyone has any more tips/suggestions feel free to throw them at me :D
  11. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    If you are worried about snorkling, go to a good dive shop in your area before you go and buy a quality snorkel. You are more likely to have issues with the cheap ones they give tourists, and you can find one that best fits your mouth.
  12. smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Doesn't matter, really. Now that you're booked, no one will tell you to cancel your trip just to start work a few days earlier.
  13. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    This is good advice.

    If you want to swim with the dolphins...take the ferry from La Haina to Lanai, and hang out on the beach in the park. The dolphins almost always make a visit to that bay. You may have to swim a decent ways out, so bring fins and a snorkel.
  14. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    As predicted, I got a call. Not from the job I applied for but a different job wanting to interview me.

    They didn't sound pleased that I would be out of town until the 8th but not much I can do now :/
  15. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2009
    City of Angels
    Went to Maui last summer for a wedding. Did not want to leave and I now want to move to Hawaii in 30 years once I retire.

    My friends and I drove the road to Hana all the way to the sacred pools. One wrong move and you'll end up driving off the edge of the cliff. Swam in the pools at the end and did some cliff diving.

    Also got drunk somewhere in Lahaina. Everything in Maui is usually closes early but we somehow found a bar that was open until 2 am and got wasted there.

    Couple friends went snorkeling. I didn't go. You have to book way ahead of time.

    We also rented mopeds and rode up and down the island for 4 hours, stopping at tourist spots. So damn fun. Weather was crazy - sunny and then 20 mins later light drizzle and back to sunny again. Food is awesome too. I went on a food run trying to find the best loco mocos on the island.

    Best part is that time slows down in Hawaii. Usually on vacation you gotta run to the next spot and cram your day trying to see everything you need to see. In Hawaii it's like, "what do you want to do next?" "I don't know, lets go chill in the pool and think about it for a couple hours"

    We also swam in the ocean at 3 in the morning and it was still warm. That was awesome.
  16. smithrh macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Let it go, you've made your decision on the new job and on the trip.

    Now, enjoy yourself for a while.
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    Did a tour group thing to all the islands, excluding Niʻihau, using the local bus (short-haul airplane) to get from island to island. :p

    They all have something different, so rather than repeat the highlights already mentioned, I would just suggest that you attempt to visit each of them.
  18. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    I went when I was a child, like 1st or 2nd grade, and had a great time with my family. We did the snorkeling thing on the reef and went to a traditional luau with fire dancers, hula girls, and the roasted pig. One thing that sticks out in my mind is how good and fresh the pineapple and papaya were. We stayed a few days on Oahu and a few days on Maui. Have a great time and post some pics for everyone here. It's such a beautiful place. :)
  19. Eldiablojoe macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2009
    West Koast
    If you haven't already decided on accommodations, there's a condo community on the west side of Maui (in Napili, between Kapalua and Kanapaali - just 15 minutes north of Lahaina) that the individual owners rent out their condos.

    Less expensive than the hotels and they have kitchens and supplies. Plus you get to use the ocean front pool, barbecues, and best of all the cove opens up into the open ocean. The cove not only has a hand-ralied walkway right down into the water, but the cove is so chock-full of sea turtles you will have to go out of your way not to run into them :)

  20. TexasChemE macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    This past December, my family and I went to Oahu and stayed on Waikiki. We had a great time. Highlights include Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona, Honolulu Zoo, and Diamond Head.
  21. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    On Kaua'i, there is a great ocean kayak trip you can take from one end of Nā Pali to the other. They will drop you off on the north end, and you paddle all the way around to the east end at Polihale State Park, where they pick you up. You paddle into lava tubes and see things you'll never see any other way. It's amazing, and rather than ruin the surprises, I'll just say you'll never forget it.

    My parents live there, so I go pretty often. I'll also throw in my vote for the Haiku Stairway on O'ahu. Also unforgettable.
  22. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    The helicopter sightseeing from Princeville airport is outstanding too. :cool:
  23. JasonR macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    The Kayak trip sounds amazing.

    We climbed the Haiku Stairway...unforgettable is the perfect word for that. I wasn't thrilled about doing it, but am so glad we did it. :D
  24. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Well talk about being a small world....

    A friend of mine who I haven't seen since we were deployed to Kuwait together will be staying about 5 minutes away from each other in Maui. He's already there now and we're going to meet up Wednesday.

    (Incase anyone is curious I saw his status update on Facebook about Maui and called him to see how long he was going to be there).

    I'm going on this trip alone so it'll be nice to run into a friend there.
  25. chrono1081 thread starter macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Woo! I'm here and its awesome and I'm buzzing so its time for bed.

    I noticed that people I talk to seem surprised that I traveled here by myself. Single people take vacations too!

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