I am currently planning our trip to Hawaii in September. We want to stay for a total of three weeks. I was thinking 3 islands in three weeks - Big Island (mainly because of the Volcaneos National Park), Maui and Kaua´i. We would like to visit them in that order. In the last week we would mainly like to chill and enjoy the scenery.
Do you think three weeks are enough time to visit three islands ? The thing is, we´re from Germany, so it will likely be our only visit to Hawaii as it is very expensive. So the goal is too relax but also see as much as we can in a relaxed fashion. We would also have no problem with only doing 2 Islands.
I also have 3 other questions:
Where would you recommend staying? I would like to go high budget on the last week in Kaua´i and low budget for the first 2/3 of the stay. Do you have any recommendations?
Which beaches would you recommend? For surfing and relaxing/swimming.
Would you stick with the 3 islands i proposed? Or would you suggest others instead?
Thanks for reading my awfully long text :D I had hoped for it to be shorter.
Thanks for your replies in advance :-)
It's easy to pass time in Hawaii. 3 weeks is longer than most folks allow for. With that being said don't discount O'ahu. It is one of the most expensive cities in America and like Las Vegas has some of the best deals for accommodations and at resorts. Shop on-line for super promotional bargains and you might be surprised how inexpensive O'ahu is! If it were me I'd take a couple of days there to lay on beach and drink foufou drinks and go to a luao at night for a traditional Hawaiian feast. Great night life there too (the best out of all the Islands). In the The Big Island consider renting a minivan, cheap, and tour around the whole island (3-4 days). I also recommend the helicopter tours for the volcanos (deals go for under $100 per person) and get on the wait list to go at prime time- a clear night with volcano flows. If you go to Hilo, make sure to check out the falls (can't remember the name) just a mile east of town. The falls are worth seeing but what is more miraculous is the span of the giant old growth banyon trees. Unbelievable that they walk!! The Saturday market in Hilo is famous and not only the best in the State but maybe the country. Very worth while to visit and stock up on local exotic fruits. Kaua'i, hike the Kalalau Trail for sure. 11 miles on a steep switch back trail that empty out on a secluded beach with caves. Do you like to camp? A cooking over camp fire on the beach, and sleeping under the stars with the surf lulling you to sleep is unforgettable. Happy trails.
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Hawaii is fantastic! We honeymooned on Kona, and vacationed in Maui last year. Before your trip, if you can grab the Hawaii Revealed books, they are fantastic at lining out the places to stop in each area of the islands.
For Kona, I would recommend (like others) to stay in the Kailua Kona area, and potentially the Hilo area if you want to divide up longer island drives. We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and although nice, it was too far from everything. Some things we liked:
If you like coffee, take a coffee tour - we stopped at Greenwell Farms Inc for a tour.
We hiked out to the Green Sand Beach Mahana Beach, which is one of two in the world. For this, I would also recommend a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Take a tour of the Kona Brewing Co & Brewpub, and grab a pizza there too!
And of course, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Maui was our favorite, and we really enjoyed the Road to Hana; it was a long day from Lahaina, but we set out at 6:30am, and the waterfalls, hikes, and scenery were stunning! If you think you want to attempt this drive, the Road to Hana Gypsy Driving Tour app is amazing. It tells you the best stops, and gives some history along the way. We went to the Pools at Ohe'o (HIGHLY recommend) then turned around and headed back). You do not need a 4 wheel drive for this excursion.
We stayed at The Royal Lahaina Resort, in an Ocean View tower room, and I highly recommend it. It is not a huge resort, but that is more our speed.
Another great excursion was with Sea Mauihttp://seamaui.com/; we took the Discovering Lanai tour. We were lucky to see a blue whale (it was November) and a sea turtle. This is a great tour company.
You can also consider Maui Brewing Co.
Visit the Nakalele Blowhole if you want a picture with the heart shaped rock (fun honeymoon pic)
Eating at Mama's Fish House Restaurant
Shaved ice at a Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice shop
And the Old Lahaina Lu'au is the best we've seen
And just taking a visit to the cool town of Paia; lots of local art and restaurants to enjoy!
I hope this is helpful! You will love it!
Kauai is on my list next!
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Three islands in three weeks is good. I've traveled to the islands several times and I'm extremely biased in favor of Kauai. I can never spend enough time there.
That being sad, on the big Island, I've stayed at the Royal Kona Resort, which was moderately priced and thought it was a nice place. Great location. I also stayed at the Volcano Bed & Breakfast for one night. I wanted see the volcano at night and that made it very convenient. I recommend the observatory tour Mauna Kea Observatory. Spectacular sunset views at 14,000 feet.
My biggest recommendation for Maui is the sunrise at Haleakala Summit Parking. There are a lot of great beaches in Maui.
On Kauai, I would try to find a place in Hanalei. Hanalei Bay is beautiful and if you can find a place close by, you'll really love it. I tend to rent condos or townhomes through VRBO. There are a lot in Princeville, which is located on the bluff overlooking Hanalei Bay. For hotels, I think Kapaa, Lihue and Koloa are the best bets. There are beautiful beaches all over Kauai. My favorites are Polihale State Park, Ke'e Beach, Kekaha Beach Park and Hanalei Beach Park.
In Kauai, you can hike, kayak up two rivers, sea kayak, ride a bike along bike trail, see waterfalls and see a canyon. If you like to hike, you'll have easy access to some amazing trails in Kauai. Great way to spend the day, see some sights, no cost and great exercise. You could do some morning hikes and relax in the afternoon at a nearby beach, then dinner and a sunset. Have fun!
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Since you are coming from such a far distance I would suggest you plan for three islands. One week on each island is enough to get a good experience of seeing what those three islands have to offer. Good order of islands. The Island of Hawaii is the youngest of the islands and Kaua'iis the oldest so you will start to see how the islands change with time! You might think of staying 3 nights in Hilo and 4 nights in Kailua Kona. There are a few hotels in the Hilo side and many hotels in Kona. In Hilo I recommend the Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. It sits on Hilo Bay and get an ocean view room. The view of Hilo Bay with Mauna Kea Mountain in the back ground is spectacular! Hotel is 3 stars and is very nice and affordably priced! In Kona I recommend two hotels for best value and quality. Royal Kona Resortat the edge of town so you can walk right into town or on the other side of town is the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. Both are 3 star hotels and are also nice hotels. Courtyard is on a small white sand beach and Royal Kona resort does not have a beach but you can swim from its shore. The Hapuna Beach is a four star hotel that sits on one of the islands longest white sand beach. It's more luxurious and cost more but is a beautiful hotel that is worth the price difference! So if you don't mind paying more you will enjoy this amazing beach. Mornings the water is usually calm and in the afternoons the waves pick up and you can body surf and play in the waves.
The Hilo side of the island is not necessarily a destination for swimming, waters are cooler because of the fresh water rivers that run into the ocean. The Kona side is better for swimming and snorkeling as well as water activities. For activities, Hilo, do the helicopter tour do the fire and waterfall tour. A bit pricy but well worth doing. Talk to the rangers to find out about the volcano activity and how close you can go to see the molten lava. It's about a 45 minute drive from Hilo. Also be sure to go to Akaka Falls as well as explore its only city on the island. Lots of great eating places, local style so you can experience what the islands like to eat.
On the Kona side be sure to do Fairwind II deluxe morning snorkeling tour. Kona is the best place to snorkel of all the islands and Fairwind is the best company to go with to Kealakekua Bay. Crystal clear waters and abundance of marine life and living coral. Stargazing on Mauna Keais also one of the top activities to do. Be sure to go with Hawaii Forest & Trail!
On Maui there are two hotels that offer good value. Kaanapali Beach Hotel or The Royal Lahaina Resort. Both are three star hotels and are nice resorts. Ka'anapali Beach Hotel is known to be a very "Hawaiian" hotel. Lots of daily free cultural activities. Both are a short drive to historical Lahaina town.
Be sure to drive the road to Hana. Crazy road but very beautiful! Stop and hiike up to beautiful waterfalls and swim in it's mountain pools. Get up early and drive up Haleakala Crater to see the sunrise. Reservations required to do the early drive. Explore Lahaina town and see the second largest banyan tree in the world (one whole city block).
This island is best seen by helicopter since a good portion of the island is not accessible by car! The Waimea Canyon State Park, the Na'Pali Coast State Park and
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3 weeks seems like a good amount of time. Are you flying into Honolulu International Airport? If so, you might as well spend at least a little time on O'ahu if you don't think you'll be back for a long time. Then you can do the short flights to island hop.
I think on both The Big Island and Maui, a lot of people say you end up trying to see two different sides of each island, so that makes a difference for where you stay. Hopefully you'll get good advice from other more experienced travelers here.
Kaua'i is smaller so you'll be able to cover it depending on how much hiking, boating or waterfall scenery you want. Since you're saying you have more budget here, if you want to see a lot of scenery at once, do the helicopter tour. It's a little extra for the ones without doors, but it gives you an unobstructed view.
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