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Category Archive for 'DansMeals'

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler. Part 4: Kauai And Other General Tips.

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Per request I’ve added some pictures to this roundup.  Your feedback is always appreciated! Have another city you’d like to see covered like this? Hit the comments!

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
Part 3: Maui
Part 4: Kauai

Related posts:
Which Miles To Use To Fly To Hawaii?
DansMeals: Los Angeles For The Kosher Traveler

Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
And one of these days I really ought to write up a trip report on Maui and The Big Island.

DDF forum 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
—————————
The 2nd most popular destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Hawaii. More details can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.

If you’re flying to Hawaii in coach on the Delta glitch with your family you should look into the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which gets a free checked bag (a $50 round-trip value per person per trip) for up to 9 people on an itinerary with the primary cardholder!

The revealed series of books are absolutely required reading if you are going to Hawaii. They read like a novel and are unlike any other guidebook you’ve seen before. They have great recommendations for everything there is to do on the islands, from private beaches to the best hikes. It’ll be the best money you spend on your entire trip:
Oahu Revealed
Big Island of Hawaii Revealed
Maui Revealed
Kauai Revealed

————————————————————————————–

Some other general tips:

-If you’re going to a beach with an infant invest in something like this pop-up tent where you’ll be able to keep them out of the sun.

If you still don’t know which islands to hit up:

Oahu for a plethora of museums, aquariums, water parks, nightlife, and Pearl Harbor.  Oahu is very kid-friendly.  It’s also the only island with a daily minyan and a shabbos minyan within walking distance of tons of hotels.  Plus kosher food is readily available.

Maui‘s nickname is Maui No Ka Oi, or Maui is the best. It definitely has a nice mix of things to do for everyone and is a good balance between Oahu and Kauai. Great snorkeling, a plethora of water activities everywhere, lots of shopping, the best whale watching boats, and it’s not overly touristy like Oahu and not as remote as Kauai. And the road to Hana is the stuff dreams are made of.  There is a Monday and Thursday minyan, but nothing for shabbos.  Shabbos food can be ordered locally though and the Hyatt Regency stocks kosher food.

-The Big Island of Hawaii has incredible snorkeling, diving, and beaches on the west, stunning beauty and waterfalls in Waipio Valley, sunsets you’ll never forget up Mauna Kea, raw beauty on the south coast, and volcanoes erupting in the southeast along with volcanically heated hot springs.  There is usually a shabbos minyan and locally make kosher food.

Kauai is just stunning, perhaps there are less activities than can be found on Maui and Oahu and the greenery makes up for it.  You may be able to get a minyan if you stay in Princeville up north.  The Grand Hyatt stocks food from Oahu Kosher though it may be cheaper to just order it yourself from Oahu.

There’s incredible hiking on every island.

Of course there’s also Molokai and Lanai. Molokai is preserved as Hawaii was before tourists changed it. You’ll want to rent a condo here. Lanai is nearly entirely owned by Larry Ellison and he’d be more than happy to put you up at one of the two Four Seasons hotels on his island.

Most hotels will have an Inncom thermostat. These have motion sensors if you open or close a balcony, so unless you block the motion sensor you can’t open and close a balcony door on shabbos.
If you do leave the balcony open for shabbos you won’t have A/C in the room, as that turns off when the balcony is open., even if the balcony is just slightly cracked open.
VIP mode allows A/C to get colder than normally allowed and it runs even if the balcony is open.
-While you are holding “display”
-Press “off”, then
-Press “Up” arrow
-Then release “display”

Please read Part 1/Oahu for tips on interisland flights, how much time to spend on an island, bringing kosher food from home, ordering kosher food from Oahu, gear that you’ll want in Hawaii, and whether you may have to keep 2 days of shabbos. See Part 2/Big Island of Hawaii for more kosher food options for Kauai as well.

Having your own snorkeling gear and Tabi’s is really great, more on that in part 1 as well.
————————————————————————————–

Kauai: A stunningly beautiful island that’s less touristy than Maui and Oahu.

Kosher traveler info:

-Chabad of Kauai has just recently started having Shabbos morning prayers at the Princeville community Center at 4334 Emmalani Drive Princeville, HI 96722. While most weeks there is not yet a minyan, recently more tourists have been staying nearby so hopefully in the near future there will be a more consistent minyan.
On some weeks there are communal meals available, email them at jewishkauai@gmail.com for more info.

-The Grand Hyatt Kauai has a kosher menu with food supplied from Oahu Kosher that you can order from their restaurants or from room service with advance notice.

-Costco (Lihue), WalMart (Lihue), Times (Lihue), and Safeway (Kapaa) have kosher groceries.
See Chabad of Kauai’s site for more detailed info.

Cars:

There are some places on Kauai where having a 4WD can come in handy such as in Waimea Canyon and Polihale.  While a 4WD isn’t needed, it can definitely be worth renting for a day. Besides for that, if you can fit into a convertible that is definitely the car of choice.

Chabad of Hawaii has passed on a corporate rate for rentals at Enterprise or National in Hawaii that provides better rates, waives underage fees, and waives different location drop-off fees.
The company name is Hawaii Kosher Weddings. The contract number is XZ36016 and the pin is HAW

You can also bid for car rentals on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

Buy gas at Costco where it’s cheaper than at most stations on the islands.

Hotels:

The north side of Kauai (Princeville area) is lush and beautiful but that comes at a cost: it’s also rainier and buggier.  Usually the rain is brief and shouldn’t disturb your trip. The south side (Poipu area) is less lush and drier and closer to Waimea Canyon.  If you’re driving down to the Poipu resort area you’ll go through a tree tunnel that is pretty neat.

There’s no road that circumnavigates Kauai. Polihale Beach on the west coast and Ke’e Beach on the north coast may only be several miles apart, but you’ll need to drive across the entire island to go from one to the other.

kauai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re traveling with a family in Hawaii it’s definitely worth looking into renting a private home or condo from sites like VRBO , Home Away , or airbnb.
Before I was married I got $150 tickets for my family to go to Hawaii and we stayed at a great condo in Poipu found on VRBO.

You can also bid for hotels on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

-The S. Regis Princeville Resort is an SPG category 7 property (30-35K Starpoints per night or 24-28K points per night on a 5 night redemption). This is by far the most luxurious hotel on the island and the views from the rooms are simply  unparalleled. Beware that most rooms have no balconies. The setting however is breathtaking with the ocean crashing on the cliffs below and the waterfall-filled mountains in the background. There are several hot tubs and pools and butler service on the beach as well as in the suites.  They even give kids free S. Regis branded plush animal upon checkin! Chabad is 1.2-2 miles away depending on how you walk there.

S. Regis view from the room:

S. Regis lobby:

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-The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is an SPG category 6 property (20-25K Starpoints per night or 16K-20K points per night on a 5 night redemption). The villas come with full kitchens and other nice amenities not found in normal hotels. Chabad is just 0.6 miles away.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 10K bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and 15K bonus Starpoints for $5,000 in 6 months which would give you a total of 30,000 Starpoints.

-The Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu is a category 6 hotel (25K Hyatt or Chase points/night or 12.5K points+$150 per night).  This is an excellent south shore property with countless pools, beautiful grounds, and exotic birds.  It’s a great place to be if you never plan on leaving the hotel grounds, but that would be absolutely criminal.

Grand Hyatt Kauai:

IMG_0108a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-The Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation).

-The Marriott Kauai Lagoons in Lihue is a Marriott category 7 property (35K Chase or Marriott points per night or 28K per night on a 5 night reservation).

-The Kaua’i Marriott Resort in Poipu is a Marriott category 7 property (35K Chase or Marriott points per night or 28K per night on a 5 night reservation).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points for spending $3,000 plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user.  It offers 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses and has no foreign exchange fees. The Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold each earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, offer up to 5 points per dollar spent, have no foreign exchange fees, and come with free lounge passes. Chase points can transfer into Hyatt or Marriott points instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you or your spouse holds a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Card card.  Chase also has a Hyatt card which gives 2 free nights for spending $1,000 though the bonus categories on the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like Sapphire, Freedom, and Ink are generally much more lucrative than the Hyatt card.  Bear in mind that Ultimate Rewards points don’t expire and are transferable while the Hyatt nights must be completed within 1 year and are officially non-transferrable.

Activities:
Drive north. The scenic drive past Hanalei Valley on one lane bridges is just stunning. Don’t miss the wet and the dry caves along the way, regardless of whether Puff the Magic Dragon is around.
-Take a helicopter ride. They’re not cheap, but it will be the highlight of your trip. The interior of Kauai is stunning but it’s extremely remote. The only way to see places like Waialeale, the rainiest place on this planet, is from the air. A helicopter ride will take you over the “Jurassic Park” falls and the jaw-dropping Na Pali coast. Some helicopter tours even land at Jurassic Park falls and allow you to hike into them. Other tours will whisk you away to the forbidden island of Niihau.
I’ve flown on Blue Hawaiian twice, once before marriage and again on our honeymoon. The first time it was raining but that made the waterfalls and Waialeale really look incredible. The second time it was dry which made for better lines of sight, but less impressive waterfalls. You can’t go wrong either way but definitely try to get seats in the front row.
-Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, drive up slowly and take in the beautiful and changing scenery with the canyon on one side, and the sheer cliffs of Na Pali on the other. Come here early in the day before the clouds set in and block the views. Bring a sweater!
-The hiking up in Waimea Canyon is second to none. Stop in the visitors center for hike suggestions and maps. If you’re up for an all day hike that is a real treat try the Nu’alolo/Awa’awapuhi grand loop hike for indelible views of Na Pali that you will always reminisce about.
Note that it is much warmer at the lower Na Pali side of this hike than it is at the beginning of the hike due to the change in elevation.
The scenery from this hike is way too unbelievable to describe, but the hike is 11 miles long and has to be started before 10am to finish it before 5pm.  I’m not crazy about La Britue meals, but it was really cool to have a hot lunch hours away from civilization while overlooking Na Pali.

You may have to hang tight for some parts of the Nu’alolo/Awa’awapuhi grand loop hike:

But the views will stay with you for a lifetime:


Not too worry, there are plenty of shorter and easier hikes up here and all around Kauai, see Kauai revealed for more!
-If you have a 4WD vehicle with 4-low and are feeling brave then don’t miss Miloli Ridge Road which will open up to the a truly stunning view of Na Pali. You can also take the paved Makaha Ridge road in any car, but the end is blocked off by a government building. Just before the building though we found a place to pull over and take in a partial view of Na Pali.
With a 4WD in Kauai you can also access several other trailheads inaccessible with other cars and you can drive on the sand dunes of Polihale.
-Kayak to Fern Grotto and hike to Secret Falls. You can rent a kayak from Kamokila Hawaiian Village across from Opaekaa Falls.

Kayak, hike, and head right on into the falls:

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-Polihale Beach: The waves make it dangerous for swimming (though Queen’s Pond offers a respite) but the west coast of Kauai has miles and miles of empty beaches.  Calmer beaches to swim in can be found elsewhere.

The sunset from anywhere on the west coast of Kauai is sure to be awesome:


-You can drive right up to Wailua Falls.
-Queen’s Bath in Princeville is supposed to be stunning, though I haven’t made it there yet.
-Snorkeling and diving are must-dos in Hawaii.
-We went on a boat tour of Na Pali that left from the South shore in the winter time. The entire boat was covered in vomit. The good news was that I paid with my Starwood AMEX and won the chargeback on a trip that never should have happened. Stick to summertime tours that leave from the north shore. Or see Na Pali from the air or on foot.
-Other activity ideas: ATV, zipline, horseback riding, powered hang-gliding, golf, etc.
-Find a local fruit stand or farmers market and skip the grocery stores.  The fruit in Hawaii is just amazing, don’t leave without trying locally grown Maui Gold Pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, etc.  They just taste so much better in Hawaii and they’re much cheaper at farmers markets.  Beware that you can’t bring any fruit home with you besides for Pineapple or Coconut.
-Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the most famous and scenic hike in the Hawaiian Islands, Kalalau Trail. You can hike the first couple miles as a day trip, but you need camping permits to do the whole trail. Allow a couple nights and be sure that you’re prepared for the hike of a lifetime!  It’s definitely on my bucket list, though I think I should have crossed this one off before having kids…

And don’t forget to relax too ;)

Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

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DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler. Part 3: Maui

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
Part 3: Maui
Part 4: Kauai (Upcoming)

Related posts:
Which Miles To Use To Fly To Hawaii?
DansMeals: Los Angeles For The Kosher Traveler

Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
And one of these days I really ought to write up a trip report on Maui and The Big Island.

DDF forum 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
—————————
The 2nd most popular destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Hawaii. More details can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.

If you’re flying to Hawaii in coach on the Delta glitch with your family you should look into the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which gets a free checked bag (a $50 round-trip value per person per trip) for up to 9 people on an itinerary with the primary cardholder!

The revealed series of books are absolutely required reading if you are going to Hawaii. They read like a novel and are unlike any other guidebook you’ve seen before.  They have great recommendations for everything there is to do on the islands, from private beaches to the best hikes. It’ll be the best money you spend on your entire trip:
Oahu Revealed
Big Island of Hawaii Revealed
Maui Revealed
Kauai Revealed

————————————————————————————–

Maui: A beautiful island with lots of activities that’s less touristy than Oahu. Ferry service available to Molokai and Lanai islands.

Kosher traveler info:

Please read Part 1/Oahu for tips on interisland flights, how much time to spend on an island, bringing kosher food from home, ordering kosher food from Oahu, gear that you’ll want in Hawaii, and whether you may have to keep 2 days of shabbos. See Part 2/Big Island of Hawaii for more kosher food options for Maui as well.

-Chabad of Maui can provide homemade shabbos meals with 2 weeks advance notice. There is no shabbos minyan on Maui but they do attempt to have a minyan on Monday, Thursdays, and when someone needs to say kaddish.  If you want a minyan for shabbos look at the previous posts on Oahu and The Big Island.

-Update 2/6/2017: The Hyatt Regency no longer offers kosher meals. The Hyatt Regency Maui has a kosher menu that you can order from their restaurants or from room service with advance notice.  Click here to download the kosher menu. In the past I was able to get kosher breakfast comped as a Diamond member…go for the blintzes (they are cholov yisroel) over the eggs.  The beef corn dogs are a great deal as you get the whole package of 5 S’Better corn dogs for just $9 and you can request to have them served in one of the hotel restaurants or brought to your room.  The box of corn dogs costs more uncooked from my local grocery store…go figure!

-Costco (Kahului), Safeway (Kahului, Kihei and Lahaina), Whole Foods (Kahului), Mana Foods (Paia), and Lahaina Farms (Lahaina) all carry kosher foods. Mana Foods is my personal favorite of the bunch thanks to their large selection and relatively low prices.

Cars:

On Maui there is no need for 4WD.  If you can fit into a convertible that is definitely the car of choice.

Chabad of Hawaii has passed on a corporate rate for rentals at Enterprise or National in Hawaii that provides better rates, waives underage fees, and waives different location drop-off fees.
The company name is Hawaii Kosher Weddings. The contract number is XZ36016 and the pin is HAW

You can also bid for car rentals on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

Buy gas at Costco where’s it’s cheaper than at most stations on the islands.

Hotels:

Hotels can be found in North Maui (Ka’anapali) and South Maui (Wailea), both are on the sunny west coast.

If you’re traveling with a family in Hawaii it’s definitely worth looking into renting a private home or condo from sites like VRBO , Home Away , or airbnb.
Before I was married I nabbed $150 tickets for my family to go to Hawaii and we stayed at a great condo in Kihei found on VRBO. There are definitely many pluses and minuses of a private condo/house versus a hotel.

You can also bid for hotels on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

-The Sheraton Maui Resort is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation) in North Maui.  There is great snorkeling by Black Rock in front of the hotel.

-The Westin Maui Resort is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation) right next door to the Sheraton.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 10K bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and 15K bonus Starpoints for $5,000 in 6 months which would give you a total of 30,000 Starpoints.

The Hyatt Regency Maui is category 5 hotel (20K Hyatt or Chase points per night or just 10K points+$125 per night). Very nice grounds, pools, and even parrots and swans. But you’ll want to walk up the path to the Sheraton for a better beach. Kosher dining menu is available. Service can be mixed though.

-The Hyatt Andaz Wailea is a category 6 hotel (25K points/night or 12.5K points+$150 per night). It opened a few months ago and has no kosher menu. They also charge a whopping $25 per meal per person just to heat up your food while other hotels do it for a fraction of that or even for free…not cool!

-The Grand Wailea costs anywhere from 54K-90K Hilton points per night (20K Starpoints transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points. 25K AMEX points with the current Hilton transfer bonus or 25K Chase or AMEX points transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points)

-The Ritz Carlton Kapalua is a Marriott/Ritz Carlton Tier 3 property (50K Chase or Marriott points per night or 40K per night on a 5 night reservation).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points for spending $3,000 plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user.  It offers 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses and has no foreign exchange fees. The Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold each earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, offer up to 5 points per dollar spent, have no foreign exchange fees, and come with free lounge passes. Chase points can transfer into Hyatt or Marriott points instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you or your spouse holds a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Card card.  Chase also has a Hyatt card which gives 2 free nights for spending $1,000 though the bonus categories on the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like Sapphire, Freedom, and Ink are generally much more lucrative than the Hyatt card.  Bear in mind that Ultimate Rewards points don’t expire and are transferable while the Hyatt nights must be completed within 1 year and are officially non-transferrable.

Activities:

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-The Road to Hana is an epic drive that offers impossibly lush scenery, dozens of waterfalls, black sand beaches, and more.  Kids prone to motion sickness may not appreciate the curvy drive cut through the side of the mountain…bring a bag!

Start this road early, try to leave your hotel by 7 in the morning so that you have time to make frequent stops to gawk at waterfalls, go on amazing hikes, and make it back so that you’re not driving on the road after dark. A convertible is perfect for this drive. Remember that the point of this drive isn’t to get to Hana, there’s nothing there!  So don’t tailgate the car ahead of you and let the car behind you pass so you can drive slow and take in the heavenly scenery.

Don’t miss the 3 bears waterfall (and hike closer!), Wailua Iki waterfall hike, rainbow trees, the Nahiku road turn-off to the ocean, black-sand beach, venus pool, etc. Take a picture of you with the road cutting into the side of the mountain behind you. The Seven sacred pools are part of Haleakala National Park, so save your receipt to go up to the top of Haleakala for free over the following 3 days.
Don’t turn around, even a regular car can complete the entire loop and it gives you an entirely different perspective with amazing windswept views instead of seeing the same stuff again. The drive does get a bit more difficult on the loop around, but it’s nothing too bad.
-In North Maui don’t miss the Dragon’s Teeth, Nakalele blowhole, and the Olivine Pools. It takes a hike to get to both the blowhole and the olivine pools, but they’re both awesome and you’re sure to get amazing pictures!
-Whale watching boatride can be awesome if a whale breaches near your boat.
Haleakala: Catch an amazing sunrise or sunset and go on amazing hikes in the park. Bring a sweater!
-Downtown Lahaina is fun to walk around, especially at night. The Warren and Annabelle’s magic show in Lahaina gets rave reviews.
-The Iao Needle is good enough for a picture though you don’t need to do it.
-Maui has incredible snorkeling and diving. It’s criminal to not try snorkeling at least once. There are great places to snorkel south of Wailea or at Black Rock by the Sheraton in North Maui.
-You can also take a snorkeling boatride out to Molokini where the snorkeling is legendary and the visibility and water clarity is incredible. Go very early in the morning.
-Ferry service and flights are available to Molokai and Lanai. Those islands are said to feel like the Hawaii of old though I haven’t yet made it out there.
-Jetski, snorkel, dive, kayak, stand-up-paddling, surf, kite-board, parasail, windsurf, you name it, you can do it in the waters off Maui.
-Other activity ideas: ATV, zipline, helicopter tour, hang-gliding (powered and traditional), golf, etc.
-Find a local fruit stand or farmers market and skip the grocery stores.  The fruit in Hawaii is just amazing, don’t leave without trying locally grown Maui Gold Pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, etc.  They just taste so much better in Hawaii and they’re much cheaper at farmers markets.  Beware that you can’t bring any fruit home with you besides for Pineapple or Coconut.

And don’t forget to relax too ;)

When we were in Maui last time with Rafi we took a sunset picture session on the beach with Wailea Photography.  The pictures were stunning and many hang in our house today.  If you mention DansDeals then you’ll also save $50 off the prices listed on the site. This isn’t a paid ad, I just really loved the pictures we got.  We’ve taken photo shoots in Buenos Aires and Banff as well and I find that taking a photo shoot from a vacation spot is far better than any other silly souvenir from the trip.

Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

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DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler. Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
Part 3: Maui (Upcoming)
Part 4: Kauai (Upcoming)

Related posts:
Which Miles To Use To Fly To Hawaii?
DansMeals: Los Angeles For The Kosher Traveler

Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
And one of these days I really ought to write up a trip report on Maui and The Big Island.

DDF forum 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

———————————————————————–
The 2nd most popular destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Hawaii. More details can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.

If you’re flying to Hawaii in coach on the Delta glitch with your family you should look into the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which gets a free checked bag (a $50 round-trip value per person per trip) for up to 9 people on an itinerary with the primary cardholder!

The revealed series of books are absolutely required reading if you are going to Hawaii. They read like a novel and are unlike any other guidebook you’ve seen before. It’ll be the best money you spend on your entire trip:
Oahu Revealed
Big Island of Hawaii Revealed
Maui Revealed
Kauai Revealed

Cars:

On the Big Island you’ll definitely want something with 4WD if possible.

Chabad of Hawaii has passed on a corporate rate for rentals at Enterprise or National in Hawaii that provides better rates, waives underage fees, and waives different location drop-off fees.
The company name is Hawaii Kosher Weddings. The contract number is XZ36016 and the pin is HAW

You can also bid for car rentals on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

Buy gas at Costco where’s it’s cheaper than at most stations on the islands.

Please read part 1 for tips on interisland flights, how much time to spend on an island, bringing kosher food from home, ordering kosher food from Oahu, gear that you’ll want in Hawaii, and whether you may have to keep 2 days of shabbos.

—————————————————————————————————————

The Big Island of Hawaii: BIG! All of the other islands can fit inside of it!
The Kohala coast has famous stretches of sunny beaches.  The Hilo east coast is very rainy, but is home to active volcanoes and hot springs.  The Big Island is raw, lava filled, and not touristy like Oahu and Maui.  It may not be quite as lush as the other islands but there is enough to do here to keep anyone occupied for weeks.

There are 2 commercial airports, KOA for the Kona side and ITO for the Hilo side of the island.  They are 2 hours apart via Saddle Road.

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A sunset on Mauna Kea isn’t something you’ll quickly forget.

Kosher traveler info:

-Chabad of The Big Island is located at 75-5995 Kuakini Hwy #323, in Kailua Kona on the windward (west) coast.
There is no daily minyan but they do get a minyan shabbos night and day roughly 90% of the time. You can join communal meals on Friday night and Shabbos day. The cost for both meals is $54 for adults and $36 for kids and reservations should be made beforehand.

-Chabad of the Big Island sells prepared kosher meals (see menu) made fresh daily and they’re pleased to extend a 10% discount for DansDeals readers for a limited time only with code: DANS10 Once the promo is over you’ll still be able to save 5% with code: DANS5
They can deliver meals to your hotel double wrapped so that you can call in room dining for your food and the hotel staff will bring it up.  The cost for delivery to Kona area hotels is normally $25 and the cost for Waikoloa area hotels is $60.  However if you mentions DansDeals there will be a 20% discount available for delivery as well.
Alternatively you can pickup the food freshly made in Kona for free! Pickup in Honolulu on the island of Oahu is also available for no charge!
Shipping via refrigerated cargo is also available to Maui or Kauai for $75.

You can also find kosher food on the Kona side of the island at Costco, Kmart, Safeway, and Walmart. On the Hilo side you have Safeway and Walmart.

Hotels:

Almost all hotels are located on the sunnier and warmer Kona side, though the very rainy Hilo side has more to do. When we honeymooned in Hawaii we rented a treehouse near the volcano using VRBO…it was awesome and is definitely the way to go if you want to stay on the Hilo/Volcano side as the hotels around Hilo are few and pitiful.

If you have the time it’s definitely ideal to spend some nights on the Kona side and some nights on the Hilo side as it’s quite far to keep driving back and forth.

If you’re traveling with a family in Hawaii it’s definitely worth looking into renting a private home or condo from sites like VRBO , Home Away , or airbnb.

-Chabad is located 0.6 miles away from the Royal Kona Resort You can call Chabad directly for specially discounted rates there at 808-499-4573 or email them at chabadbigisland@gmail.com Chabad can also get discounts at other hotels like the Fairmont Orchid.

-Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel is a Marriott category 5 property (25K Chase or Marriott points per night or 20K per night on a 5 night reservation). Chabad is 1.5 miles away.

-The Sheraton Kailua-Kona is an SPG category 4 property (10K Starpoints per night or 8K per night on a 5 night reservation). Chabad is 6 miles away.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 10K bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and 15K bonus Starpoints for $5,000 in 6 months which would give you a total of 30,000 Starpoints.

-The Hilton Waikoloa Village is a mega-resort that costs about 50K Hilton points per night (20K Starpoints transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points. 25K AMEX points with the current Hilton transfer bonus or 25K Chase or AMEX points transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points) Chabad is 27 miles away.

-Volcano House puts you smack in the middle of Volcanoes National Park. Chabad is 96 miles away.

You can also bid for hotels on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points for spending $3,000 plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user. It offers 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses and has no foreign exchange fees. The Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold each earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, offer up to 5 points per dollar spent, have no foreign exchange fees, and come with free lounge passes. Chase points can transfer into Hyatt or Marriott points instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you or your spouse holds a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Card card.

Activities:
-See the current eruption. You can do this in the evening on the coast of Kalapana at the end of highway 130. You can also view eruptions at the Jaggar Museum overlook in the Volcanoes national park which are also better at night.
Helicopter tours can show you eruptions from the sky. Or find a bootleg guide to take you on foot to the real eruption sights, but you’ll have to search online or locally to find someone like that 😉
-In the national park you can also walk and crawl through lava tubes and go on incredible hikes like the Kilauea Iki hike. Start at the Kilauea Iki Overlook to go through beautiful forest and then into the crater where lava devastated the lush forest. You can even have a picnic in the crater! Roads like Hilina Pali Road, off of Chain or Craters road in the park, will offer spectacular lookouts.
-Waipio Valley is like stepping into another world. But only a 4WD vehicle can make it down the steep grade to the paradise of lush valleys and waterfalls that meander on forever. Otherwise it will take a brutal walk to get there and back.  You can also hire a tour guide with 4WD from the top of the mountain.  You can also take a horseback tour through the valley though you will be on their schedule and you won’t have time to explore waterfalls and peer into the valley.  Beware that there are homeless people who live in the valley and they’re best left undisturbed.  There’s no cell phone service down in the valley either.
-Hot springs around Hilo are volcanically heated and are awesome. The ones that can be easily accessed, like Ahalanui will be more crowded than ones like Champagne Pond that require a 4WD drive to get to. We had Champagne pond to ourselves!
-Hilo’s farmers market offers exotic fruit and local wares. Wednesday is the big market day here. A beautiful glass blue wave caught my eye and although the listed price was high, just remember that you can definitely bargain here!  The fruit in Hawaii is just amazing, don’t leave without trying locally grown Maui Gold Pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, etc.  They just taste so much better in Hawaii and they’re much cheaper at farmers markets.  Beware that you can’t bring any fruit home with you besides for Pineapple or Coconut.
-Don’t be scared to drive Saddle Road connecting the Kona side with the Hilo side with the road up to Mauna Kea in the middle. It used to be bad but now it’s a fine drive.
-Mauna Kea offers the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see. The volcano is taller than Everest from its base and you can drive up to the top and watch the sun set on the clouds below you. Bring a sweater, there will be snow at the top!
We did this drive in a convertible but a 4WD would have probably made things easier as the top half past the visitors center isn’t paved. Not for the faint of heart or those with respiratory issues. In fact those with respiratory issues should probably avoid the Big Island altogether.
Stay until after sunset and then watch the star show at the visitors center where you’re sure to see more stars than ever before.
Again, you can do this drive without 4WD, just take it nice and slow and use a low gear going down so that you don’t ride your breaks out.
If you do have a 4WD there are some other cool roads up here that you can drive on-see The Big Island Revealed for maps and details.
Snorkeling by Captain Cook is among the best in the state.  There are tons of other water activities on the Kona side.
Diving options are plentiful, including diving with Manta Rays at night!
-South Island sites like South Point where you can see crazy people (or join them, just be sure to send me the YouTube link!) diving off a 40 foot cliff into waters that don’t hit landmass until Antarctica.  If you have a 4WD you can drive from there to green sand beach or take the road to the sea to a private black sand beach.
-Whale watching boatride.
-Place of Refuge was where you went if you broke the Hawaiian law and were subject to execution. This place was a safe haven and if you made it here your life would be spared. No word on if you were able to leave once the big kahuna passed away…
-Kona Coffee is world famous and there are plantations like Greenwell and Bayview that offer tours and tastings.

And don’t forget to relax too 😉

Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

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DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler. Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
Part 3: Maui
Part 4: Kauai

Related posts:
Which Miles To Use To Fly To Hawaii?
DansMeals: Los Angeles For The Kosher Traveler

Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
And one of these days I really ought to write up a trip report on Maui and The Big Island.

DDF forum 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

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The 2nd most popular destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Hawaii.  There’s more detail that can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.

If you’re flying to Hawaii in coach on Delta glitch with your family you should look into the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which gets a free checked bag (a $50 round-trip value per person per trip) for up to 9 people on an itinerary with the primary cardholder!

There are 4 major Hawaiian islands. I’ll cover them each separately. Hawaii is paradise defined and one of my favorite places in the world.

It’s not just the pretty beaches and incredible snorkeling, it’s the refreshingly pure air, hiking, waterfalls, volcanoes…ahh. Just be sure to also leave some time to relax!

Best of all, as a US state, you have all of the conveniences of being back home, though it can take a long time to fly there from the east coast.  Your phone works without any roaming fees.

I’ve been lucky enough to make it to Hawaii 5 times:
-In March 2006 I flew to Oahu for 2 days as part of a glitch that included flights and hotels for $87.
-In January 2008 I got $150 United tickets for the family to Hawaii. We spent a week on Maui and a week in Kauai. My parents rented condos in both places for the family.
-In December 2008 Mimi and I spent nearly a month in Hawaii with a week on each island before topping it off with a Shabbos in LA on the way home. We nabbed the Sheraton Waikiki for dirt cheap on Priceline, stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui and Grand Hyatt Kauai on faster free nights, and had a treehouse on the Big Island via VRBO.
-In December 2009 we went back for 2 nights at the Westin Moana Surfrider Waikiki, a week at the Hyatt Regency Maui, and a week at the Grand Hyatt Kauai on faster free nights once again. This time Hyatt was actually paying me thousands of miles for every free stay.
-In December 2011 we flew with 5 month old Rafi and stayed for a week at the S. Regis Princeville thanks to Starwood free resort nights and a week at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui thanks to lifetime Platinum free suites.
For the last 3 trips we flew Continental BusinessFirst using miles.

Fair warning: The Huffington Post (Disclaimer: This article has non-tznius pictures) says that Hawaii will ruin your life . They’re not far off, it’s kind of like how flying internationally in business or first will class will do the same to you!

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The revealed series of books are absolutely required reading if you are going to Hawaii. They read like a novel and are unlike any other guidebook you’ve seen before. It’ll be the best money you spend on your entire trip:
Oahu Revealed
Big Island of Hawaii Revealed
Maui Revealed
Kauai Revealed

Interisland Flights:

You can use miles to island-hop. United charges 5,000 for a one-way flight on Hawaiian or IslandAir.  They even allow a free stopover on a round-trip so you can fly Oahu-Kauai-Maui-Oahu for just 10,000 miles.

There is a DansDeals corporate account for Hawaiian Airlines that allows you to take 2 free bags per person, a $34 value per flight. It also gives free standby on earlier flights. You can email jj@dansdeals.com with the exact flights, dates, and time that you want, passengers names and dates of birth, and the price you found on hawaiianair.com to make a booking. A $6 per person per leg fee applies.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to change terminals in Honolulu and beware that you may have to recheck your luggage in Honolulu. Though, always ask your originating airline to check your bags through to your final destination. Bring a copy of your interisland itinerary to allow them to attempt to do so.

How long should you spend on a single island? The bare minimum is 4 days on the ground. A week is ideal.

Bringing kosher food:

Food that is in a deep-freeze will remain frozen upon arrival in Hawaii.  Mimi cooked a month’s worth of food in about 2 days for our honeymoon and we brought it all frozen.  We had each hotel freeze the food for the next islands.  Or save the time and buy ready made double sealed travel meals from places like Pomegranate.

You can even bring a double sealed meal onto the plane and have a flight attendant heat it up for you.

Call your hotel beforehand to arrange for an extra fridge and to place extra food in their freezers.
Hotels can heat up double-wrapped food for varying fees. Or bring along your own burner or buy a cheap toaster oven or grill on the island to do it yourself.

Shelf stable La Briute meals may not be great but they’re nice to have a pinch on a long outing like on the Road to Hana on Maui or during an all-day hike.

Gear:

WalMart sells inexpensive Tabi shoes which are shoes that have a grippy bottom that are great for hiking in stream and waterfalls. They also sell snorkeling gear if the idea of renting old gear grosses you out.

You will sunburn much faster in Hawaii due to its southern location than back home, buy and apply plenty of sunscreen.

If you have a mustache then you’ll want vaseline to stop your snorkel mask from leaking.

Cars:

You’ll definitely want a car on any island to explore its beauty. There’s no need for a 4WD on Oahu and Maui, the ideal car there is a convertible.

On the Big Island you’ll definitely want something with 4WD, more on that in the next installment.

Most of Kauai can be explored in a regular car though a 4WD may be helpful, more on that later as well.

Chabad of Hawaii has passed on a corporate rate for rentals at Enterprise or National in Hawaii that provides better rates, waives underage fees, and waives different location drop-off fees.
The company name is Hawaii Kosher Weddings. The contract number is XZ36016 and the pin is HAW

You can also bid for car rentals on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune!

Buy gas at Costco where’s it’s cheaper than at most stations on the islands.

Shabbos:

Some Rabbinical authorities hold that you must keep 2 days of Shabbos in Hawaii as the exact location of the halachic international dateline is a matter of debate. Be sure to discuss this with your Rabbi before traveling to Hawaii. If you will keep 2 days remember to discuss all potential ramifications regarding candlelighting, warming up food, etc.
The local communities on each island only keep shabbos on Saturday. Consider yourself lucky if you are able to hear the pilpul from Rabbi Aharon Dovid Gancz on the subject, a truly fascinating topic.

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Oahu: Home to Hawaii’s only major city, Honolulu.
Oahu gets a bad rep from people who stay in concrete Honolulu the whole time. The key is leaving the city behind!

Kosher traveler info:

-Chabad of Honolulu is located at 410 Atkinson Drive, adjacent to the Ala Moana Hotel. It has the only daily minyan in all of the Hawaiian islands. There is daily shacharis at 8:30 and mincha/maariv can be arranged for someone who needs to say kaddish. There is a minyan every shabbos and you can join communal meals on Friday night and Shabbos day. The cost for both meals is $70 for adults and $45 for kids and reservations should be made beforehand.

-Yudi Weinbaum lives on Oahu and runs Oahu Kosher, a delivery food service. Orders for Oahu deliveries must be made the day before and orders for other island must be made 48 hours in advance.
Deliveries to Waikiki are $10. Deliveries to Honolulu airport are $30. Shipments via refrigerated cargo for pickup at other Hawaiian airports is about $75 for a box of 10 meals.

-Grocery stores carry the same kosher items you find back home. In Honoulu there is Safeway, Whole Foods, Costco, WalMart, and Sam’s Club. Costco in Hawaii Kai has kosher cold cuts, frozen salmon, empire chicken, etc. Costco prices are very close to prices back home though prices at other stores can be double what it is on the mainland.

-Chabad of Honolulu sells Hawaiian kipot for $8, a neat gift.  If you wear it in Hawaii everyone will want to know where you got it from.

Hotels:

-Most hotels are located in Waikiki. If you’re traveling with a family in Hawaii it’s definitely worth looking into renting a private home or condo from sites like VRBO , Home Away , or airbnb.

-Chabad is located adjacent to the Ala Moana hotel, call Chabad directly for specially discounted rates there at 808-735-8161 or email them at info@chabadofhawaii.com

You can also request the Chabad rate when calling the Hawaii Prince or at the Modern Honolulu. Both are located within half a mile of Chabad.

You can also bid for hotels on Hotwire or Priceline that can save you a fortune.

-The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort costs about 50K Hilton points per night (20K Starpoints transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points. 25K AMEX points with the current Hilton transfer bonus or 25K Chase or AMEX points transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points) Chabad is 0.7 miles away.

-The Sheraton Waikiki is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation). Chabad is 1.2 miles away. Beware for shabbos that most stairwells here had motion activated lights, though when we stayed here 5 years ago there was one service stairwell that didn’t.

-The Royal Hawaiian is neighbors with the Sheraton and is part of the SPG luxury collection and is a category 6 property (20-25K Starpoints per night or 16K-20K points per night on a 5 night redemption). It’s a highly regarded hotel also known as the pink palace of the Pacific. Chabad is 1.2 miles away. People who have stayed here did not have shabbos issues.

-The Westin Moana Surfrider is an SPG category 6 property (20-25K Starpoints per night or 16K-20K points per night on a 5 night redemption). Chabad is 1.4 miles away. Beware for shabbos that stairwells here have motion activated lights. There are a few rooms that can be accessed from interior stairwells, so make those arrangements in advance if needed. This hotel did give us an absolutely incredible suite upgrade when we stayed here several years ago.

-The Hyatt Place Waikiki is a category 3 hotel (12K Hyatt or Chase points or 6K points+$75 per night). Chabad is 1.8 miles away.

-The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort is a category 5 hotel (18K Hyatt or Chase points per night if you lock it in by 01/06, otherwise 20K points/night or 10K points+$125 per night). Chabad is 1.5 miles away.

-Turtle Bay Resort is a North Shore hotel far away from the city hustle and bustle.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 10K bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and 15K bonus Starpoints for $5,000 in 6 months which would give you a total of 30,000 Starpoints.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points for spending $3,000 plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user.  It offers 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses and has no foreign exchange fees. The Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold each earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, offer up to 5 points per dollar spent, have no foreign exchange fees, and come with free lounge passes. Chase points can transfer into Hyatt points instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you or your spouse holds a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Card card.  Chase also has a Hyatt card which gives 2 free nights for spending $1,000 though the bonus categories on the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like Sapphire, Freedom, and Ink are generally much more lucrative than the Hyatt card.  Bear in mind that Ultimate Rewards points don’t expire and are transferable while the Hyatt nights must be completed within 1 year and are officially non-transferrable.

Activities:
-Venture out of touristy and overcrowded Honolulu, there are plenty of stunning views, private beaches, and fantastic hikes on Oahu but you need to leave the city behind and explore.
Hike Diamond Head, Manoa Falls, or dozens of other hikes that you can read about in Oahu Revealed.
Snorkel at crowded but beautiful Hanauma Bay or find your own secluded spot.
-Drive the stunning H3.
-Watch surfers wipeout on the Banzai Pipeline.
Kayaking to a “sunken island” off the leeward (east) coast is very neat (See Oahu revealed for full info on this and many other activities)
Jetskiing up north on wild waves is a real treat.
-If you go to Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona Memorial, go early. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Be there at 8am and you won’t have to wait around for hours. Also don’t bring any bags with you.
-Kids may enjoy the Dole Plantation.
-Count how many ABC stores are in Waikiki 😀
-Helicopter tours are breathtaking, but they are better taken on other islands if possible.

Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

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DansMeals: Los Angeles For The Kosher Traveler

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Trip Notes: Pesach in Palm Springs (2010)
-Trip Notes: Our SoCal Quasi-Mileage Run (2011) (Also includes Orange County and San Diego)
Trip Notes: SoCal Luscious Spring (2012) (Includes Palm Springs)
Trip Notes: Los Angeles (2013)
-And I still owe you guys a trip report from my trip last week…stay tuned 🙂

DDF forum threads:
Los Angeles Master Thread (With Wiki)
San Diego Master Thread (With Wiki)
-California Coast/PCH Master Thread
San Francisco/No Cal Master Thread (With Wiki)
Palm Springs, CA Master Thread (With Wiki)
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The number one destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Los Angeles.  If people enjoy this post I can make similar quick guides to other places that people bought tickets to as well.  There’s more detail that can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.

If you’re flying to LA on Delta glitch with your family you should look into the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express which gets a free checked bag (a $50 round-trip value per person per trip) for up to 9 people on an itinerary with the primary cardholder!

Here are some quick facts about LA for kosher travelers:

The LA jewish community has 2 main areas in the city itself, the Pico/Robertson neighborhood and the Beverly/La Brea neighborhood.  Traffic between the 2 can be heavy at times-it can take 5 minutes without traffic but up to 25 minutes with traffic.  Then there are tons of other communities spread throughout the Valley and beyond.

-Where to eat, LA kosher edition:
Meat:
-Tierra Sur At Herzog Winery (Oxnard): It’s well worth the shlep out to the finest kosher dining experience in North America.  The menu is constantly changing but just about everything they concoct will rock your world.  Buy this $40 Groupon and you’ll also get free wine tasting for 2.  While you’re out in Oxnard look into water activities or dive into retail therapy at the gargantuan Camarillo Premium Outlets (and don’t forget to signup here for a coupon for a free VIP coupon book).  You can take the 101 out here or drive up the ocean-hugging PCH for great views. If you take the PCH you can stop by the Getty Villa and Fish Grill along with hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains.
-La Gondola is an LA classic that lives up to the hype. It would be criminal to go without getting the Avocado Eggrolls. Duck eggrolls are also very good. The lunch special is a great deal for a Gondola Burger topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions or Steak Wrap with a soup or pasta included. Otherwise the ribs and Chai steak are famous as well.
-Beverly Hills Thai has lots of unique food that you won’t find elsewhere.
-Jeff’s has a cult following for their relatively inexpensive high quality fast food like a homemade polish dog, the off-menu wild western burger, and their delicious onion rings.
Mexikosher is another relatively inexpensive eatery with a cult following. Definitely worth a try, flavors that you’ll either love or hate.
-PKD (Pico Kosher Deli) has a classic deli menu with a hot pastrami and cole slaw that’s worthwhile for any deli fan.  The onion rings here are great as well.
-Shiloh’s and Pat’s are upscale steakhouses with mixed reviews, some people love ’em, others hate ’em.  At any rate the bread pudding dessert at Pat’s is famous.
Ditmas is brand new from the chef of La Seine. I was there on opening night so I’m hesitant to judge it based on the chaos of that night, but expect small portions and good flavors. Will review it further in my upcoming trip report.
-26 has converted over to a meat restaurant with a menu inspired by Todd Aarons of Tierra Sur fame. Decor is phenomenal but I was unimpressed by the food, full review to follow.
-Got Kosher? has got a mouth-watering Memphis style pulled BBQ beef sandwich that may just rock your world, full review to follow.

Milk/Parve:
-Fish Grill is a classic and has locations on the main jewish drags of Beverly and Pico and as far out as picturesque Mailbu. My go to dish is the Grilled Salmon with Angel Hair Pasta and fries.
-Milky Way is run by Steven Spielberg’s mother. They make a great mix of food from mexican dishes like chimichangas and classic kosher foods like incredible homemade cheese blintzes. The restaurant hasn’t changed in decades. Luckily neither has their pricing which is now a bargain. Steven can often be found dining here and his mom loves to chat with everyone and show off his movie posters in back.
-Pizza Mayven has great plain pizza, the best in LA.
-Pizza Nosh is out in Agoura Hills, you can stop here for lunch when going out to Oxnard. Very good pizza and pasta dishes.
-Holy Cow is a new dairy place with ice cream sandwiched between delicious homemade cookies, onion soup in a bread bowl, and excellent paninis. More on this place when I write up a trip report from last week.
-Nagila Pizza has good stuffed-crust pizza.
-Meshuga for Sushi: Sushi has never been LA’s strong spot, only short-lived La Seine really excelled at it. It’s decent here but can’t compare to the goodies that can be found in Chicago, Miami, or Montreal.
Trattoria Natalie has the old menu from the dairy 26. I haven’t made it here yet, but reviews seem promising.

Breakfast/Bakery:
-Cafe Elite: Crumb ring cake donuts: ‘Nuff said.
-Schwartz Bakery/Circa NY: Don’t miss the crumb cheese danishes and try a personal sized caramel cake. The Circa location on Pico serves breakfast.
-Delice Bakery: French pastry heaven.
-La Brea Bagel has the best bagels in town.
-Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s only Cholov Yisroel location in the world is on Beverly. The Iced Vanilla Espresso is something to behold.

Shabbos Food:
-Abba’s on LaBrea offers good heimish shabbos food.
-PKD has decent shabbos take-out as well.
-Ralph’s supermarket on La Brea and 3rd has a massive kosher section with ready made food for sale like incredible succulent ribs you can buy over the counter. Wine is sold here as well.  (Ralph’s down south in La Jolla also has an amazing kosher setup)
-The new Western Kosher on Pico near La Brea has a shabbos menu that you can even order from online.
-Schwartz Bakery has lots of great varieties of Challah, from plain to chocolate chip to pretzel dough.
-La Break Bakery sells good challah as well.

Hotels:

-The SLS Beverly Hills is an SPG category 6 hotel (20-25K Starpoints per night or 16K-20K points per night on a 5 night redemption) and is fantastic with modern rooms and a rooftop pool. It’s within walking distance of shuls and is perfectly located within a few minutes drive to all of the kosher restaurants in Los Angeles.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express earns 10K bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and 15K bonus Starpoints for $5,000 in 6 months which would give you a total of 30,000 Starpoints.

-The Hyatt Andaz West Hollywood is currently a category 4 hotel (15K Hyatt or Chase points per night) if you book it by 01/06. Category 4 hotels can be had on the cheap thanks to anniversary nights. On 01/07 it shifts to category 5 and will cost 20K points/night or 10K points+$125 per night. It’s a hike to get to a shul though it’s just a short drive to them and kosher restaurants.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 40,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points for spending $3,000 plus 5,000 points for adding a free additional user.  It offers 2.14 points per dollar on all travel and dining expenses and has no foreign exchange fees. The Chase Ink Plus and Ink Bold each earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months, offer up to 5 points per dollar spent, have no foreign exchange fees, and come with free lounge passes . The Chase Freedom earns 20,000 points for spending $500 though that bonus will end very soon and go back down to 10,000.  It offers 5 point rotating categories and 10% more points if you also have a Chase checking account.  The Ink Cash card earns 20,000 points for spending $3,000.  Chase points can transfer into Hyatt points instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you or your spouse holds a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Card card.  Chase also has a Hyatt card which gives 2 free nights for spending $1,000 though the bonus categories on the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like Sapphire, Freedom, and Ink are generally much more lucrative than the Hyatt card.  Bear in mind that Ultimate Rewards points don’t expire and are transferable while the Hyatt nights must be completed within 1 year and are officially non-transferrable.

-The Sheraton Gateway LAX is a better than average airport hotel and is an SPG category 3 property (7K Starpoints per night or 5.6K per night on a 5 night reservation). Figure on a 20 to 30 minute drive to most shuls and kosher restaurants. Nice perk: You can often find free street parking behind the hotel on 98th street.
-The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza is a category 5 hotel (18K Hyatt or Chase points per night if you lock it in by 01/06, otherwise 20K points/night or 10K points+$125 per night) It’s walkable to the Westwood Kehilla shul and a short drive to kosher restaurants.
-The W Westwood is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation). It’s walkable to Chabad of Westwood and is a short drive to kosher restaurants.
-The W Hollywood is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation). It’s a hike to get to a shul though it’s just a short drive to them and kosher restaurants.
-Other hotels near shuls and kosher restaurants include Mr. C , Residence Inn by Marriott , Crowne Plaza, Best Western Plus Carlyle Inn, and Intercontinental Century City.
-The Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica is an SPG category 5 property (12K-16K Starpoints per night or 9.6K-12.8K per night on a 5 night reservation). It’s located near the beach and Santa Monica activities. It’s also walkable to Chabad of Simcha Monica. Without traffic it’s not too bad to kosher eateries though with traffic it can be a shlep.
-You can always use Hotwire or Priceline to bid on hotels in areas like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, or the airport.  I’ve nabbed the Sheraton Gateway LAX, Westin LAX, and Crowne Plaza LAX for $50 or less in the past.

Activities:
-Theme parks (Universal Studios, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, etc)
-The Grove is a fantastic outdoor mall with great shopping, celebrity spotting, and a train ride that runs through it. Parking is free for an hour even if you don’t buy anything or for 2 hours with FlashPark.
-The Beverly Center is an indoor shopping mall located next to the SLS Hotel.
-Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade, the pier offers ocean-front rides, arcades, and walking paths. The Promenade offers pedestrian only streets of shopping.
-Hollywood & Highland is LA’s answer to Times Square. Doesn’t quite compare but you’ll bump into lots of characters and be able to follow the stars on the street.
-The Getty Center offers grand views of LA even if you’re not an art buff.
-The Getty Villa is equally impressive in its grandeur and architecture.
-There are lots of TV show filmings that you can be a part of, check out www.tvtix.com
-Beaches (Not really my thing in LA, but via the DDF Wiki: Malibu and Santa Monica are very popular, Hermosa and Manhattan are the prettiest, Marina del Rey is the emptiest as it’s in a residential area.  Further south are great beaches in Orange county like Laguna Beach among many others).
-There are a plethora of hikes and drives you can take up the mountain for stunning views of the city.
-There are lots of Sporting events to attend even though LA has no NFL team. The Clippers, Lakers, and Kings all play in the Staples Center downtown. Have a Platinum Card® from American Express? You can even get free lounge access at a game!
-Taking the PCH down from San Francisco to LA is recommended because you get to hug the coast, but it’s still an amazing experience to drive up as well. Or you can use just 4,500 BA Avios to fly one-way from LA to San Francisco and drive down one-way. There are hotels like the highly regarded category 6 Hyatt Carmel Highlands that you can stay in along the way.

Of course you don’t have to stay in smog-filled LA:
-Serene Palm Springs is 2 hours east.  Breathtaking mountains surround you and Joshua Tree national park is nearby.  The Hyatt Palm Springs is just a category 3 hotel and the Hyatt Indian Wells Resort is a category 5 property. The Westin Mission Hills Resort is an SPG category 5 hotel. Every Thursday night is a lively street fair.  There are also lots of fantastic homes with amazing pools for rent that can be found on sites like VRBO.com If you’re staying for shabbos stay in the Twin Palms or Deepwell sections of Palm Springs and you’ll be able to walk to the local Chabad house.
-The Hyatt Huntington Beach drops from a category 6 to category 5 on 01/07 and is on the beach in Orange County an hour south of LA.
-Further south is the category 5 Park Hyatt Aviara about 2 hours of LA and 30 minutes north of San Diego.
-San Diego is about 2 hours south of LA and has tons of hotels, SeaWorld, LegoLand, their famous zoo, and have a couple kosher options as well.
-Santa Barbara is about 2 hours north of LA.
-Big Bear skiing is 2 hours east.
-Las Vegas is a 4 hour drive.
-Santa Catalina and the Channel Islands can be reached by ferry.

With thanks to Yehoshua for his contributions to the DDF Wiki on LA.

Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!

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