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Planning a trip to Hawaii for next year -- Where do I start?

Travel Forums North America Planning a trip to Hawaii for next year -- Where do I start?

1. Posted by cruise123 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

We're planning an anniversary trip to Hawaii for next year, but are overwhelmed by the number of options available to us. Does anyone here have any good advice based on experience? Any help would be appreciated!

2. Posted by kathidi (Budding Member 51 posts) 8y

You are right that there are many options for a trip to Hawaii. It would be helpful if you could provide some background on your interests.

For example, do you want active adventures involving hiking, swimming, climbing, etc, or are you more inclined to lie on the beach, reading? Are you interested in shopping, cultural experiences, boat trips to view whales and dolphins? Are you planning to rent a car? How long will you be there? Do you like to stay in luxe hotels, condos, B&B's or cheapo places?

The more details you provide, the better our advice will be. No matter what you do though, you are going to love Hawaii!

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 8y

Consider visiting either 1 or 2 islands in Hawaii (more than two would be difficult). Obviously, this means your first choice would be to decide on which island fits your needs--in line with what kathidi mentions above.

4. Posted by cruise123 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Thanks for responding.

We're more of the "stay on the beach and read" type. We don't really need to be where it's really crowded. But, we do want to do the typical Hawaii things -- like visit a volcano and, possibly, a helicopter tour. We hadn't thought about renting a car. Is that the best option? Are there hotels that offer tours with transportation, or is it better to do things individually? I would say our budget would be mid-range. We don't want super-cheap (and creepy) but we definitely can't afford luxury.

We're only at the beginning of our plans. We're still trying to grasp all of the options. We would love to hear feedback from anyone who has had a good experience and would like to share it with us!

Thank you!

5. Posted by cruise123 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Quoting Calcruzer

Consider visiting either 1 or 2 islands in Hawaii (more than two would be difficult). Obviously, this means your first choice would be to decide on which island fits your needs--in line with what kathidi mentions above.

Thanks, Calcruzer. I'll do some research on the islands to see what might be best for us. That's a good place to start!

6. Posted by kathidi (Budding Member 51 posts) 8y

If you want to see a live volcano in eruption, you have to go to The Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano is quite far from most of the tourist areas, fortunately! It is worthwhile to rent a car for two days, explore the area and spend a night at a B&B in the small town of Volcano, before going back to civilization. The Big Island is definitely less touristy than Oahu and Maui. The Kona Coast, around the town of Kailua, is the sunnier side of the Big Island. There are some nice mid-sized hotels there, as well as many condos. The Big Island is not known for beaches - they have a lot of black volcanic rock right down to the water. So be sure to look into that as you research hotels. The Hilo side of the island is less touristy, greener and often rainy, with beautiful waterfalls.

I think the quintessential Hawaii experience most people are looking for is best found on Maui. The island is formed by two ancient, dead volcanos. Many people like to drive up to the top of the big one, Haleakala, to view the sunrise. You can take a tour where they drive you up and provide bicycles to ride down the mountain. There are many nice beach areas in Maui, Luaus, shopping, many reasonably priced boat trips for snorkling or whale watching, and a variety of hotels and condos. There is a laid-back, fun atmosphere on Maui.

Oahu is also beautiful. It's true that Honolulu is a big city and Waikiki is pure tourist, but there is much to see and do both in and outside those areas. Public transportation is easier there. The Hawaiian Cultural Center is the best introduction to Polynesian culture anywhere. There are many good beaches with famous ones for surfing, and lots of choices in lodging.

I agree with Calcruiser that you should limit each trip to one or two islands. You don't need to rent a car if you are staying in a resort and taking tours. However, there are so many places to see on all the islands that I think you might want to rent a car for a few days. When you decide where you're going, post again and we'll suggest favorite spots and activities.

7. Posted by i c e (Respected Member 326 posts) 8y

Use it is definatly the cheapest. Honolulu was a let down!

Pura vida,


8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 8y

The islands have been over-developed, no question, but there is still much of beauty and wonder about the place.

There are really 2 Hawaii's - the tourist's destination, and the home of the residents of the state. Oahu is the only heavily populated island, but I would not miss it (I lived there for a year). If you are after a South Sea paradise, Oahu is probably not for you, but if you like a city environment it could be ideal. The shopping and food there are the best in the Islands (best Chinese I've ever had). I personally think too many tourist waste their vacations on Waikiki Beach - actually a very poor beach! Oahu has some of the best beaches, but they're not in the city.
(traffic can get heavy on this island at rush hour!)

Everyone seems to prefer Maui (I don't). Maui has many many resort hotels, many golf courses, and some fair beaches. I do enjoy the unspoiled Eastern side of Maui near Hana (pointsettias grow wild there and bloom in late November).

For the South Sea experience, you'll probably find it on Kauai - they've filmed many movies there (South Pacific, Blue Hawaii, etc.) Great beaches, very few people - just paradise!

The Big Island is quite different because it's the youngest - still active volcanoes that have made it so beautiful and rugged. Also many golf course and resorts, but few really good beaches.

A good idea is to start with the State of Hawaii's own website:


9. Posted by cruise123 (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Thanks for all the feedback. We'll definitely be able to use your helpful info as we plan our trip for next year!