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blackbrandt

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Anyone here ever been to Hawaii? The fam is planning on visiting next year. What are places to go/avoid? We're outdoor enthusiasts, so hiking/swimming/snorkeling/scuba diving is all a plus. :)

Any advice would be great.

Thanks!

Matt
 

K'Tesh

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Yes, I lived there for 3 years, and went back often. I was a travel agent for 10 years, and I sold Hawaii exclusively for 9 of them.

What islands are you headed for?

If Oahu...

The USS Arizona Memorial is a must do. Go with an arranged tour, as they will make it possible for you to do it, and still have a lot of the rest of the day available for other activities.

Hike Diamond Head, it's an easy .8 mile hike and the views are incredible. Go as early as you can (it's far more comfortable).

If it's still around, Captain Bob's snorkel cruise is a lot of fun.

A circle island tour helps you see more of the island, and learn more about where you are. I'd do it early in your trip, then you can rent a car and go back to check out the stuff you want to spend more time doing

A seaplane flight is a lot of fun (so are helicopters).

Biking down from Tantulus is fun. Better is doing a mountain bike adventure tour in the Ka'a'ava valley (yes, 3 "a"s in a row). I lived near there. Lots of fun

Have your family do a flower lei greeting with transfers. It's nice to have someone waiting for you there, the flowers are sweet, and they guide you through the airport, as well as deliver you to your hotel. No futzing with renting a car (parking is expensive, and you likely won't need it the whole time). They will also take you back to the airport when your trip on the island is done.

There's a sunset booze cruise that is good... The food is good, the views are nice.

Avoid the submarine tour at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. (not the one at Pearl Harbor)
 
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Nathan

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Been to Hawaii a couple of times. For the activities you describe, you would like Kauai.

I am also a scuba diver and have been on over 100 dives. Diving in Hawaii is good but not as good as the best diving in the Caribbean in my opinion. My favorite dive destination is Bonaire.
 
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davel

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Honolulu is one of the busiest cities in the US. Might as well visit LA. If you must go to Oahu, see the memorial, then head for the north side of the island. For what you describe, I would recommend Kauai with Maui a second choice.
 

DavidMcCann

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I've had a few friends climb this, it's on my bucket list-



Another friend just moved out there to work....I'll see exactly what he's doing, but I believe it's a dive operation
 

tfish

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I've been a few times. I've been to the Big Island, Maui and O'ahu. I think I've been to O'ahu 6 times. I like it the best. Yes It can be crowded but you can get away from the crowds easily. Lot's to see and do. I've been going once or twice a year for the last few years. My wife wants to move there for a year. I said OK but she'd have to move up to Alaska with me for 6 months. I've not heard her talk about moving again.

Funny Hawaii rocket story. The first time I went ..O'ahu..I looked to see if they had a rocket club. Sure enugh and the Pres was a guy named Mike. I was able to get away one day. ( Every other day my wife and I take off and do what we want to do.) So I go looking for a hobby shop. I find one and go see what they have. Sure enough some rocket stuff ...mostly Estes. I ask the guy at the counter if he knows some guy named Mike, He says that's him right over there. As it turned out he was on his way to a launch. I tag along and see they fly mostly Estes stuff. They asked about me and when I said I fly out at Black Rock, they all wanted to hear stories about M motors and what it was like out at BR.

I'll (my wife and I) be going back to O'ahu in May IIRC.

Tony
 

jnelson

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I've been to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and "the big island".

Random bits I remember...

Wherever you go, be on the lookout for the small food shacks (generally small, individual outfits each run by a few locals). They're quite common, and quite good. We stopped at a shrimp truck on Oahu somewhere north of the Dole plantation- I've never had better shrimp at any restaurant, not even close. On the road to Hana there's a vendor that sells chocolate infused with pretty much any flavor imaginable (there were some 'interesting' ones to try...).

The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu was a definite highlight.

Blowholes... there's a couple on Oahu that were fun to visit.

I didn't actually go there, though I wanted to- Oahu's "sunken island". It's a large sandbar off the east coast, if I remember correctly. Just Google it.

For some reason, all of that was from Oahu. I'll try to remember things from the other islands...
 

BEC

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We've only been once - a too-short stay on Kauai. We WILL be going again. Not crazy busy as others have described on other islands (though we were there in late January).

We are not very "outdoorsy" but there are plenty of opportunities there - far more than we availed ourselves of. I also heartily recommend the Wings Over Kauai air tour (small fixed wing airplanes rather than helicopters). We got bumped from our booking on the AirVan (some misunderstanding about a group that thought they'd gotten a private booking) and so they gave us essentially a private flight in the 172. Wonderful.
 

K'Tesh

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Maui:

Aloha Mixed Plate (arrive early, enjoy the sunset, don't be a schmuck who's stuck in line waiting for a seat (only to miss the sunset)).

Old Lahaina Luau... First RATE!!!

Molokini Crater! Beautiful place to snorkel.

Napili Bay... Ditto (and there's an area there that turtles like to hang out).

Haleakala Sunrise (with downhill bike ride) AWESOME!!!

Road to Hana (take a tour, don't try to drive it yourself (less stress, more info (thanks to the guide)).

Helicopter tours! Fun!

On the north side of Black Rock (Kaanapali), you can find turtles, but I remember that there's a bit of a strong current there.

You can learn Kite Skiing over on the north side of the island (not far from the Kahului Airport (OGG))
 

FredA

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Snorkeling and lava on the Big Island....
Beaches and Haleakala on Maui.
Surfing and "tourist" things on Oahu
 

mbauer

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Was stationed there back in '79 thru '81. Lots to do on Oahu. Snorkling is best at hanauma bay, fish persevere, can see lots of morey eels and beautiful fish. Like swimming in an aquarium. Glider flights at Dillingham. Learned how to hang glide on the east shore. Body surfing was a blast but you need November thru March to really have fun doing that. International Market place in Honolulu is the best for fresh fruit, and beach supplies.

Mike
 

watermelonman

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Maui:

Aloha Mixed Plate (arrive early, enjoy the sunset, don't be a schmuck who's stuck in line waiting for a seat (only to miss the sunset)).

Old Lahaina Luau... First RATE!!!

Molokini Crater! Beautiful place to snorkel.

Napili Bay... Ditto (and there's an area there that turtles like to hang out).

Haleakala Sunrise (with downhill bike ride) AWESOME!!!
Downhill? Come on man, the only proper way to get to the top is to pedal it yourself!
 

K'Tesh

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Downhill? Come on man, the only proper way to get to the top is to pedal it yourself!
There's the proper way... and the fun way... One of these days I'd love to race to the sun.
 

watermelonman

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Oh that would be amazing. I think I was at high five hours, though; definitely not competitive. More training!
 

K'Tesh

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Oh that would be amazing. I think I was at high five hours, though; definitely not competitive. More training!
Don't get me wrong... It wouldn't be a race for me... it'd be a slog.
 

Threemorewishes

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One of the highlights of our 2013 visit to Oahu was the guided bus tour around the island. You got to see a lot in a short time and the guide gave you information you would never find on your own. During the bus tour, we stopped for fresh pineapple ice cream at a Dole plantation outlet. It made the taste of the pineapples in our local grocery store seem like wood and paper replicas.

Seeing the surfers do the Bonzai Pipeline was a treat. The waves were not of record heights but still big enough to make a person question the surfers sanity.
 

K'Tesh

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Was stationed there back in '79 thru '81. Lots to do on Oahu. Snorkling is best at hanauma bay, fish persevere, can see lots of morey eels and beautiful fish. Like swimming in an aquarium. Glider flights at Dillingham. Learned how to hang glide on the east shore. Body surfing was a blast but you need November thru March to really have fun doing that. International Market place in Honolulu is the best for fresh fruit, and beach supplies.

Mike
Sorry Mike...

The International Market Place was torn out. It was supposed to be replaced by a luxury retailer. I'm not sure, but those plans may have changed, and a new International Market Place apparently is supposed to open this August. No matter what, the International Marketplace you remember is gone.
 

Hardline

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Matt, I used to live in Hawaii, BW (before Wayne) and together we have been there quite a few times - ran the Honolulu Marathon twice and have a membership with the Grand Wailea on Maui (our favorite island).

I recommend using Andrew Doughty "Revealed" books / app .

http://www.hawaiirevealed.com/guidebooks-apps/

I use the app for maps and use the GPS waypoints for all the mile markers on the islands roads as well as links . The vast information about beaches and hikes is well worth the cost and I really like how the author (who lives in Hawaii) has a whole section on updates to the books/apps to keep current with what is happening NOW.

The best advice I can give you is to shop at Costco. Yes - Costco. On Oahu there are four, but we like the one around the corner from my old house in Hawaii Kai. On Maui it is right outside the Airport. Get your water, your flower leis, your snorkeling gear (cheaper than renting), your shirts, trinkets, macadamia nuts, etc., etc. You'll find the most expensive thing in Hawaii is food.

On Oahu Wayne and I stay at the Park Shore Waikiki and its is in a great spot for us right on the beach (http://www.parkshorewaikiki.com/). You head downstairs, pass through the ubiquitous ABC store and if you turn right, you head into Waikiki and if you turn left you head into Kapiolani Park and away from all the tourist madness. You can walk to the Waikiki Aquarium (our favorite "hidden gem" http://www.waikikiaquarium.org/ ) , to the Diamond Head Hike, snorkel/paddle/surf right in front of the hotel and the finish line for the Honolulu Marathon is about 300 yards away.....


Most people who go to Hawaii the first time go to Oahu, but we prefer Maui since we are more the outdoorsy type and it is better suited to our personality. At one time Wayne and I held the second fastest bike descent down Haleakala, back when you could do it from the top (now you have to start from the Park boundary). We booked a private Sunrise ride and our guide (who held the fastest time) actually spent a good portion of our descent sitting backwards on his bike talking to us :surprised:. https://mauimountaincruisers.com/

Use this link to look for events happening in the future: http://www.gohawaii.com/en/
I use it to find free things to do. For example a search of Maui from July to August shows free Hawaiian music concert from 6 to 7:30 in Lahaina (http://www.gohawaii.com/en/events/hawaiian-music-series-concerts-in-lahaina-july1/)

No reason to pay for something if you can get it free, eh? Hawaii is expensive to visit, but you really can moderate the costs with planning and a willingness to step outside the tourist box. Whatever you decide you will have a wonderful time, the place really is magical.



 

RFMan

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Fresh papaya.

Volcano National Park.

You'll never want to leave :)
 

K'Tesh

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Leather Gloves, long (denim) pants and durable long sleeve shirts, as well as a walking stick, for hiking on the lava flows on the Big Island. I still carry the rock Madam Pele gave to me... Embedded in my left middle finger. Do not go out there and get stoned. The moron who was tripping on peyote out there was shredded by her. Pele doesn't suffer fools lightly.

Best time to go... Late in the afternoon, right around the full moon... The light of the moon almost makes it like day out there. You'll still want (and need) flashlights (carry a spare). Water, cell phone, cameras (with video capability), bandages, sturdy shoes (NOT flip flops like peyote fool), and some kind of offering (watching a quarter melt is kinda neat). If you pack it in, please pack it out with you (except the quarter).

The black pincushions (sea urchins) found all around the areas you'll want to snorkel is called vana (sounds like: "Vah-nuh"). They are particularly nasty creatures. Likely imported from Japan where it is considered a delicacy, this invasive species has a really painful sting. It looks blunt like a rounded pencil led, but it has a nasty surprise hidden inside those spines. Treatment for the sting is vinegar, or urine... I was fortunate enough to be closer to the restaurant than the rest room... Of course this was the day after I had my encounter with Madam Pele, and it was (at that time) my better hand. Hurt like hell with those little spines being pressed further inside my flesh as I was having to lift and carry my luggage at the airport. I don't know what vana tastes like, but I'll make sure that other animals will get the chance every time I encounter it in the future.

Sunscreen... It's painfully easy to get burned in Hawaii on your first full day there. 15 minutes, and you can already start burning. A bad sunburn on your first day can ruin a lot of other days. Apply frequently as needed.
 

tab28682

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.........

Avoid the submarine tour at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. (not the one at Pearl Harbor)
Was wondering about your thumbs down on that submarine tour.

We took it in 2007 and enjoyed it. Bring a techno geek, I thought the sub itself was a great deal of fun and a worthy adventure. A 100% novel experience for me and more than 99% of people out there who have never traveled underwater. Comfortable and great viewing windows. All the staff were friendly and the sub captain was fun and informative.

Yes, the underwater route consisted of artificially placed sunken aircraft, ships and reef encouragement devices, rather as if Disney had designed it. Still interesting and saw a lot of wildlife, especially sea turtles. I could see how the same sub at a better natural location could be even better.

I gave it a thumbs up and know others that enjoyed it as well.
 

K'Tesh

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Was wondering about your thumbs down on that submarine tour.

We took it in 2007 and enjoyed it. Bring a techno geek, I thought the sub itself was a great deal of fun and a worthy adventure. A 100% novel experience for me and more than 99% of people out there who have never traveled underwater. Comfortable and great viewing windows. All the staff were friendly and the sub captain was fun and informative.

Yes, the underwater route consisted of artificially placed sunken aircraft, ships and reef encouragement devices, rather as if Disney had designed it. Still interesting and saw a lot of wildlife, especially sea turtles. I could see how the same sub at a better natural location could be even better.

I gave it a thumbs up and know others that enjoyed it as well.
The sunken plane when I was there consisted of a the ring of airframe that surrounded the wing root of a jetliner (and the wings). The forward and aft sections of the airframe were ripped away during a storm and rolled to the bottom (read: 2 miles down). What people could see on one side of the sub, the other's couldn't. By the time the sub turned to allow others to possibly get a view, whatever it was (shark, or turtle) it had swam off. I seemed to be on the side that didn't get to see the cool animals. The artificial reefs created by the sunken ships were interesting though. Disney designed... That's almost a fair description. However, if Walt and his Imagineers had done it, there would be mirrored objects for you to view (so both sides would be looking at a plane or a ship, and the sub would go between them). The seats were comfortable, and the windows allow for good views (when there's something to look at). Do not use a SLR camera, my friend had nothing but trouble with his camera trying to autofocus on blue on blue objects.

While the crew was nice, they did a pisspoor job of explaining how a marine head (toilet) worked (DON'T FLUSH TOILET PAPER!!!). So someone (of course) did, and flushed repeatedly trying to get it to go down. The deck of the ship was overflowing with raw sewage which of course we had to walk through.

On top of all that, there's this annoying fact. Where they dive, it's a sandy bottom, with nothing natural to attract fish and other wildlife. The subs on Maui and the Big Island have natural features which (though I haven't done it personally) would be far more interesting to look at (provided you're on the correct side of the sub to see it). I'd be far more interested in checking out the subs on Maui or the Big Island than the one on Oahu.

The other Oahu sub experience (USS Bowfin) is something I haven't had the opportunity to try. I did get a guided tour of the USS Missouri, which was very good indeed (though the cost of lunch and drinks was a tad (read: REALLY) expensive).
 
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boatgeek

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I went to Maui a couple of years ago in February, and would definitely go back. We borrowed a copy of the "Revealed" guidebook and found it didn't steer us wrong anywhere. The North Maui road (from Kapalua to Kahului) is the second sketchiest road I've ever been on, and the first had suspension bridges that weren't connected at either end. It's narrow, winding, and sheer drops to the water. Beautiful, too. We didn't go to Hana because it seemed like a long trip and two of our family get carsick easily.

For lodging, check out VRBO or AirBNB. We got a 2-BR condo with a swimming pool for about two thirds of the relatively cheap hotels. We don't dive but had good luck renting snorkel gear from Snorkel Bob's. They didn't charge us for a lost snorkel even though they could have. To be fair, the rental cost of the snorkel was probably more than actually buying it, but it's still nice not to be nickeled and dimed. If I was going again, I'd bring a mask and snorkel and rent fins there so I didn't have to carry them.
 

K'Tesh

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I agree, the Hawaii Revealed series of books is Excellent! I don't know how up-to-date it is, but then again, I've been out of the business for 7 years this August.
 

Hardline

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I agree, the Hawaii Revealed series of books is Excellent! I don't know how up-to-date it is, but then again, I've been out of the business for 7 years this August.
The 7th addition was published December 2015 and the web site has updates to the book current to date. The app was updated February of this year.
 

K'Tesh

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The 7th addition was published December 2015 and the web site has updates to the book current to date. The app was updated February of this year.
The author(s) continue to have one of the best jobs in the world!
 

Mushtang

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My best day in Hawaii was on a business trip to Maui, leaving on the late late flight Sat night and we were done with business on Friday, so a half dozen of us rented motorcycles and rode around the island all day. Incredible views!
 

blackbrandt

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Thank you everyone for your responses! All responses have been greatly appreciated. I will definitely look at Hawaii Revealed. :)
 
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