Notes from our trip to Hawaii - things we're really happy we did...
We looked at a bunch of Hawaii books, and settled on the "Revealed" series by Andrew Doughtry. This was after two of the three people we rented from encouraged us to buy the books. We found them invaluable – from finding places to stay (although I read about the coffee farm in the NY Times travel section…under the Frugal Traveler column) - to figuring out where to park when going to the black or red sand beaches, to where to eat on our way to Hana. You ARE going to Hana, right? PLEASE DON'T GO BACK THE SAME WAY – instead, throw caution to the wind and continue on around the mountain. I know, all the travel books say it's virtually impassible – but we found that description to be laughable. The road is not only passable – but there were only a couple of places that it could have even been remotely considered dangerous. You do NOT need a four wheel drive to continue on around the mountain. Do it. Do it. Do it. Okay, getting back to planning - in the event that you need help on what to pack - check this list out...it's on the fantastic site Go Visit Hawaii.
Here are a list of other things you should absolutely do while on the Big Island or Kauai. I don't have nearly as an exhaustive of a list for the Big Island or Kauai – but if you end up going to either, there are a couple of things you should do. You simply MUST find out where the lava is flowing into the ocean – and then go there. You'll find lots of (government) signs warning you that the road is closed, off-limits, etc. Then, when you finally get there, you'll find county employees directing you into (free) parking lots. We found that very humorous. If you go to Kauai, you must visit Waimea Canyon. The drive is spectacular – as is the canyon (although not nearly on scale with the Grand Canyon…not even remotely the same). We also did Smith's Luau on Kauai – we read that it was much more economical than the ones offered on Maui…and we did not go away unhappy. If you go to Kauai, do yourself a favor and check out the Waipouli Beach Resort – we found it to be superb on every level. Here is a link to the home we stayed in. The owners were fantastic too - ensuring that we knew what to see and do on the island long before our trip. And, because the unit wasn't rented out on the day of our departure, they graciously allowed us to check out very late...which allowed us to shower and change before our long flight home. Excellent! When you pull the website up, we were in the building to the right of the (incredible) pool – but our room overlooked the ocean, not the pool.
OK, on to Maui: I'll just give you a list of what we found to be the highlights – and NOT in any particular order. But, if we were to go back, we'd try and hit all of these again. Keep in mind that we were there in July – and as I understand it, the weather will be somewhat different in the fall and winter (but, it was not hot in July…quite comfortable as a matter of fact). I believe, though, that the rainier weather occurs in the fall and winter – which means the waterfalls should look great (some were totally dry when we were there).
I think that's about it for Maui. Everyone we talked to said to not take the helicopter ride on this island – that they are much more spectacular from Kauai. But, several people also said that the all day "cruises" out of Maui are worth it. They are basically HUGE catamarans that take visitors to one of the nearby islands, with a stop or two for snorkeling. It wasn't in our budget – as we (very wisely) spent extra money getting to the Big Island Volcanoes National Park and a wonderful B&B on a coffee planation (really, more like a HUGE yard) and Kauai (the garden island).
If you've made it this far, and landed directly on this page by means of a search, you might want to watch our short video - it's only about two and a half minutes long and packs a lot of cool pictures of the places above into it. If you like music, then turn your speakers up and enjoy the pictures set to Hawaii Five-0.
Cheers – or as they say in Hawaii….Mahalo!