Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 1:14 pm
Related DD Posts:
Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old!
Related DDF Threads:
Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread
Kauai Master Thread
Maui Master Thread
Oahu Master Thread
So you booked tickets to one of my favorite places in the world with the ongoing Continental award availability glitch. Your cell phone and money will work the same as back home and there’s Costco and Walmart on every island, so you won’t starve, but if you keep kosher you’ll probably be bringing a lot of food in your suitcases. Not to worry though, anything that’s frozen will stay frozen in the belly of a plane, so it will still be frozen when you get to Hawaii. You can’t bring most fruits into or out of Hawaii.
Where do you go from here?
It would be criminal to go all the way to Hawaii and stay on Oahu. I recommend spending about 5 days on an island. It’s not worth island hopping to be on an island for less than 4 days except if you want to do a 1 night trip to the Big Island to see the volcano.
The first thing you need to do is buy the “revealed” book for your island. They read like thriller novels and have great pictures and trip ideas.
The main 4 islands are:
Oahu: The center of the population base and capital city Honolulu. Most tourists go to a hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, but frankly you may as well go to a beach in Florida. There are definitely nice places to check out in Oahu, but most people just stay around Waikiki and complain afterward. Pearl Harbor is on Oahu.
Highlights: Hiking Diamond Head, watching the surfers on the North Shore’s killer waves. Kayaking on the leeward (east) coast. The only island with a Chabad House within walking distance of a resort area (Waikiki).
Lowlights: Extremely touristy and overcrowded in Honolulu.
DD stars: 3.5/5.
Maui: A beautiful island with great weather in the Windward (west coast) major resort areas (Ka’anapali in West Maui and Wailea in South Maui) and in Kihei (South Maui) where affordable condos are available for rent. A convertible is perfect for the road to Hana.
Highlights: The road to Hana (waterfalls and hiking), sunrise on Haleakala, Nakalele Blowhole/Olivine Pools, whale watching boat tours in the winter, browsing the shops in downtown Lahaina at night, beaches from Wailea and further south.
Lowlights: Still feels touristy and built-up.
DD stars: 4.5/5.
Kauai: A lush green isle with jaw-dropping scenery, most of it inaccessible without flying over it, hiking to it or having a 4WD vehicle. The weather (in the winter at least) is much better on the south side than the north side.
Highlights: Waimea Canyon, taking a helicopter your over the entire island, Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, snorkeling at Poipu Beach, kayaking the Wailua River to secret falls, Polihale Beach. Grand Hyatt Kauai. Much less touristy feel than Maui and Oahu. Being the last Jew in the world to take in shabbos.
Lowlights: Traffic around Kapa’a and Lihue. Rainy and buggy on the north shore.
DD stars: 4.75/5.
Hawaii, aka The Big Island: A massive island with active volcanoes. A 4WD vehicle here is essential.
Highlights: Volcanoes erupting, hiking through past eruptions, dipping in volcanically heated hot springs, sunset on Mauna Kea, seeing Waipio Valley, Hilo Wednesday market, watching crazy people jump off South Point, diving with Manta Rays at night. Much less touristy feel than Maui and Oahu.
Lowlights: The least green/beautiful of the islands due to the black lava everywhere, Long drives to get places, Vog (Volcanic Smog) for sensitive breathers, less hotel point options (1 mediocre Starwood, no Hyatts) than the other islands.
DD stars: 4/5.
Other visitable islands include Lanai and Molokai off the Maui coast, but I have never made it to those islands (no free hotels!). Kahoolawe and Ni’ihau are generally inaccessible short of chartering your own helicopter for a couple thousand dollars.
You can book interisland tickets on Hawaiian or IslandAir for 5,000 miles per one-way with AA, Continental, or United or 10,000 miles for a round-trip with Delta or USAirways. You may be able to pull off a 3 flights for 10,000 miles on Continental by use of a stopover if you find a good agent.
Availability can be hard to find though for the times you want.
Airports are as follows:
Oahu: Honolulu (HNL)
Maui: Kahului (OGG). IslandAir also flies to Kapalua (JHM) in West Maui.
Kauai: Lihue (LIH)
Big Island: Windward (Resort westside coast): Kona (KOA)
Big Island: Leeward (Volcano eastside coast): Hilo (ITO)
The best airline is Hawaiian. They are the traditional Hawaiian airline and fly a modern Boeing 717 fleet with a 2-3 seat configuration. The route map is interesting. For example you can fly nonstop from Kauai to Maui, but not from Maui to Kauai. Most flights go through Honolulu, though there are nonstop flights from Maui to Kona and Hilo.
You will earn miles on any mainland carrier you want for the Hawaiian flight.
Baggage fees are $17 per bag for the first 2 bags and $25 thereafter.
I have a corporate account with Hawaiian and can book you in exchange for a $6 per one-way ticket booking fee if you would like, which will save you up to $34 in bag fees per person.. Just email me to book, dan at dansdeals.com
As a corporate traveler you get 2 free checked bags and free standby travel!
IslandAir flies to the smaller islands and secondary airports and they also connect Maui and Kauai better than Hawaiian.
They fly rickety propeller planes though, so you’ll have to decide if the nonstop flight is worth it.
Baggage fees are $15 for the first bag, $30 for the 2nd bag, and $35 thereafter.
Go Airlines flies smaller jets primarily on routes competing with Hawaiian. Don’t tell the locals you flew Go though as they hate them for killing off beloved Aloha Airlines. A better reason to dislike them is their spotty on-time and cancellation record and that they don’t interline baggage or take/earn miles from the mainland airlines.
Baggage fees are $15 for the first bag, $17 for the 2nd bag, and $25 thereafter.