Suggestions needed for Hawaii Islands !!!

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
Hello,

I will be visiting Hawaii anytime from May till mid September (any preference of month should I have?), for 12 days. I am browsing tons of posts on tripadvisor and it looks overwhelming to me, as there are so many places. Lot of beaches. So can't figure, what are places I should skip and what I should not miss.
I will be going with family, so no long hikes and we are not fan of water sports.
So far, it looks like Kauai, Maui and Oahu should give better shooting opportunities than Big Island. I browsed some websites and listed some places. Nothing is booked as of now, so I am flexible on it. Please suggest, what can I add/remove/adjust
Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park and later Lanikai Beach, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kaena Point, Ka’a’awa Beach.
Kauai - Wailua Falls/Canyon, Kilauea Point, Hanalei Bay, and Na Pali coast by Helicopter.
Maui - Kaanapali Beach, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, Napali Beach, Road to Hana (Is it worth to take all the way till end, or worth this hype?).

If 12 days are short, then should I skip Oahu and Kaui/Maui should be in preference?

One of the note says - "August and September are usually our hottest and driest months of the year". Will it have any impact on photography? Less lush green?

Please advice.

Thanks
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
4,024
Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Well, it's too bad that you're not considering Big Island, because I think that has excellent photo opportunities.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a lot of trails winding through the park and there is an ongoing Halemaumau Crater eruption that might give a nice glow at night. If you're there on a moonless clear night, you'd probably get some good views of the Milky Way. Lots of reasonably short daytime hikes around the crater, and native birds if you're lucky and patient. Lots of BnBs in the Volcano Village right outside the park or stay in Volcano House in the park at the edge of Kilauea Caldera.

Waipio Valley - not to hike down, but a wonderful view from the overlook.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden - on the Hamakua Coast on the way to Waipio Valley from Hilo.

Akaka Falls - very nice short hike to see the falls. Along Hamakua Coast.

Hilo Open Market - great place to get fresh fruits, huge anthuriums and orchids, vegetables, and goodies to eat. Photo opportunities.

Kailua-Kona for some tourism action. Hulihee Palace is worth seeing.

Kahalu'u Beach Park for snorkeling and swimming with turtles. Great place to use a Tough camera if you have one.

Pacific Tsunami Museum - downtown Hilo, great place to learn about tsunamis. Well worth walking along the waterfront part of Hilo town, visit the Mokupapapa Education Center (free) and see the big aquarium, lots of shops and restaurants.

Waimea (Kamuela) and Kohala - up in the Parker Ranch area. See original King Kamehameha statue.

Drive around the island. Stop in Kona for coffee, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau - City of Refuge.

Enjoy the beautiful white sand Hapuna Beach. Be careful about swimming when the waves are up. Strong currents.

https://www.hawaii-guide.com/images/body_images/Map_of_Big_Island_of_Hawaii_Detailed.jpg

https://www.lovebigisland.com

Hard to tell I love the Big Island, eh?

You could easily spend half your 12 days on Big Island alone.

Please note: rental cars are very scarce and expensive right now. Some ordinary sedans were renting for $700/day on Maui. Visitors were desperately renting box trucks, vans, and pickups from commercial rental businesses. Because of the pandemic, lot of rental car businesses sold off or got rid of cars that had been sitting around unused when tourism was locked down. They haven't been able to keep up with the sudden ramp up in tourism. Check for rental cars before you finalize plans.
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
4,024
Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Hello,

I will be visiting Hawaii anytime from May till mid September (any preference of month should I have?), for 12 days. I am browsing tons of posts on tripadvisor and it looks overwhelming to me, as there are so many places. Lot of beaches. So can't figure, what are places I should skip and what I should not miss.
I will be going with family, so no long hikes and we are not fan of water sports.
So far, it looks like Kauai, Maui and Oahu should give better shooting opportunities than Big Island. I browsed some websites and listed some places. Nothing is booked as of now, so I am flexible on it. Please suggest, what can I add/remove/adjust
Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park and later Lanikai Beach, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kaena Point, Ka’a’awa Beach.
Kauai - Wailua Falls/Canyon, Kilauea Point, Hanalei Bay, and Na Pali coast by Helicopter.
Maui - Kaanapali Beach, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, Napali Beach, Road to Hana (Is it worth to take all the way till end, or worth this hype?).

If 12 days are short, then should I skip Oahu and Kaui/Maui should be in preference?

One of the note says - "August and September are usually our hottest and driest months of the year". Will it have any impact on photography? Less lush green?

Please advice.

Thanks

Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park is OK and reasonably scenic, but photographically not hugely interesting. If you want shots of the Koolau Mountains, go early in the morning to Hawaiian Memorial Park and see the morning sun hit the mountains.
Jurassic Park Tour at Kualoa Ranch.
Check the view from the Pali Lookout in mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
Catch the sunrise at Lanikai Beach.
Hike Makapuu Lighthouse. for gorgeous views.
Foster Botanical Garden for flowers.
Hamakua Marsh for native birds.
Go to Kaena Pt if the albatrosses are nesting. Go from the Mokuleia side, not the Waianae side.
Hike to top of Diamond Head crater, take plenty of water. Gorgeous views of south shore.
Watch the bodysurfers at Sandy Beach, but don't go in the water. Dangerous.
Check out the waves at the Blowhole and catch the blow if lucky. Go when the south shore is up.
Go to Ala Moana Beach park/Magic Island for the sunset.
Walk Waikiki Beach in the morning or early evening.
Watch the fireworks show at the Hilton Hawaiian Resort on Friday night.
Visit the Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri, USS Bowfin, and Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
Check out the views of the ocean at Laie Point.
Walk downtown Honolulu/Chinatown - check out the ethnic restaurants, foods, stores, and sights. Don't take pictures of the homeless. They're there too. Don't go there at night.
Want really good dim sum to munch on? Go to Sing Cheong Yuan on Maunakea St. So good. Their baked char siu bao is the best. The pork hash is huge.
https://www.lovebigisland.com/oahu/
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
4,024
Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Hello,

I will be visiting Hawaii anytime from May till mid September (any preference of month should I have?), for 12 days. I am browsing tons of posts on tripadvisor and it looks overwhelming to me, as there are so many places. Lot of beaches. So can't figure, what are places I should skip and what I should not miss.
I will be going with family, so no long hikes and we are not fan of water sports.
So far, it looks like Kauai, Maui and Oahu should give better shooting opportunities than Big Island. I browsed some websites and listed some places. Nothing is booked as of now, so I am flexible on it. Please suggest, what can I add/remove/adjust
Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park and later Lanikai Beach, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kaena Point, Ka’a’awa Beach.
Kauai - Wailua Falls/Canyon, Kilauea Point, Hanalei Bay, and Na Pali coast by Helicopter.
Maui - Kaanapali Beach, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, Napali Beach, Road to Hana (Is it worth to take all the way till end, or worth this hype?).

If 12 days are short, then should I skip Oahu and Kaui/Maui should be in preference?

One of the note says - "August and September are usually our hottest and driest months of the year". Will it have any impact on photography? Less lush green?

Please advice.

Thanks
August and September are the hottest and most humid months of the year. Do you really want to be here for that? I wish I was in Canada for those months. :)
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
4,024
Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Hello,

I will be visiting Hawaii anytime from May till mid September (any preference of month should I have?), for 12 days. I am browsing tons of posts on tripadvisor and it looks overwhelming to me, as there are so many places. Lot of beaches. So can't figure, what are places I should skip and what I should not miss.
I will be going with family, so no long hikes and we are not fan of water sports.
So far, it looks like Kauai, Maui and Oahu should give better shooting opportunities than Big Island. I browsed some websites and listed some places. Nothing is booked as of now, so I am flexible on it. Please suggest, what can I add/remove/adjust
Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park and later Lanikai Beach, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kaena Point, Ka’a’awa Beach.
Kauai - Wailua Falls/Canyon, Kilauea Point, Hanalei Bay, and Na Pali coast by Helicopter.
Maui - Kaanapali Beach, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, Napali Beach, Road to Hana (Is it worth to take all the way till end, or worth this hype?).

If 12 days are short, then should I skip Oahu and Kaui/Maui should be in preference?

One of the note says - "August and September are usually our hottest and driest months of the year". Will it have any impact on photography? Less lush green?

Please advice.

Thanks

Kauai:
Waimea Canyon for sure.
Boat or helicopter ride to Na Pali Coast.
Kilauea Point for the birds.
Hanalei Beach and Hanalei Overlook (note Kuhio Hwy. to Hanalei was blocked by a landslide recently. check if it has been fully cleared.)
Spouting Horn, better than Halona Blowhole on Oahu
I do not recommend hiking the Kalalau Trail, especially with kids.

https://www.lovebigisland.com/kauai/
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
Thanks for detailed and helpful response.
I have only 12 days, that means 11 days and then hopping between islands will also consume a good half-day I guess. That was the reason, I thought I should pick only 2 islands or if possible, then 3. Many posts favor Kauai, Maui, and then Oahu. The big island is also beautiful, but that would need its own time, being big and lot of places to see. But I will check if I can re-adjust my vacation days.

Yes, rental cars are scarce. I am checking for May and June and it is getting difficult to see. Then July-August-September would be hot and non-ideal?

Is Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens overhyped? At least in pictures, it looks impressive.

Regarding Road to Hana - I have been going through a lot of posts, some say it is overhyped with tiny waterfalls and scenic outlooks, which are common in many other places in the US.
 

ac12

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Joined
Apr 24, 2018
Messages
3,278
Location
SF Bay Area, California, USA
I grew up on Oahu, so I tend to take Oahu for granted.
I prefer visiting Kauai and Hawaii.

Roads:
  • On Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii, the road does NOT go all the way around the island, so you will have to back-track. Check the maps when you plan your trip.
  • Some of the roads are "off limits" to rental cars, due to the BAD condition of "road." Check the rental car maps.
    Some of them are barely jeep trails, and some are worse. When I was in school, parts of the Kaena Point road, had eroded/collapsed down to barely a hiking path.
  • In Hawaii, when they say "narrow bridge," is it a NARROW bridge. Some bridges narrow down to a single lane. So you MUST watch for traffic coming the other way. And you always yield to BIG trucks. Big heavy trucks can't stop fast, nor back up easily.
    Here in Calif, at least where I live, "narrow bridge" just means no sidewalk, the road is the same width.
  • When I grew up, the cops TOLD us, don't even think of running a red. Whereas in Calif running a red and stop sign, the California stop, is too common.
  • On Oahu, watch out and plan for commute traffic, it can be BAD. You want to travel before or after the commute traffic.
Kauai
  • Fern Grotto. Nice boat ride up the river to the grotto.
  • Waimea Canyon. The drive up is is a LONG drive, plan accordingly.
Maui
  • Hana Highway
    • While nice, will take a whole day going to Hana and back.
    • I think it is better now, but when I was in college, "highway" was a joke; narrow, very winding, unpaved in many places, rutted, etc. etc. If you get car sick, like I do, it may not be a pleasant drive.
  • Haleakala sunrise.
    • You need to get up about 2am, for the LONG SLOW drive up the mountain.
    • At 10,000 feet elevation, It is COLD up there before the sun comes up. You NEED cold weather gear and gloves. The hotels do not like you taking their blankets.
    • If the clouds are THICK, you may never break out above clouds, and the trip up the mountain becomes a waste of time (been there, done that :( ). But, you have to stick it out, cuz you never know if the clouds will break, as the sun rises.
Hawaii
  • I second Walter's recommendation.
  • Staying at the Volcano House hotel is a favorite of mine.
  • Sunrise over the crater. At the Volcano Observatory. Really nice, but at 4,000 feet elevation and exposed to the wind it can be COLD.
  • Mauna Kea observatory. Another mountain drive. Up to see the astronomical observatories. If the wind is BLOWING, it can be dangerous. The summit is almost 14,000 feet in elevation, so altitude sickness is a concern. Some cars can't make the drive up, because of the thin air. My car never made it up. This is another all-day trip.
 

mumu

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
782
Hello,

I will be visiting Hawaii anytime from May till mid September (any preference of month should I have?), for 12 days. I am browsing tons of posts on tripadvisor and it looks overwhelming to me, as there are so many places. Lot of beaches. So can't figure, what are places I should skip and what I should not miss.
I will be going with family, so no long hikes and we are not fan of water sports.
Does that mean you don't snorkel?

So far, it looks like Kauai, Maui and Oahu should give better shooting opportunities than Big Island. I browsed some websites and listed some places. Nothing is booked as of now, so I am flexible on it. Please suggest, what can I add/remove/adjust
Oahu - Kualoa Regional Park and later Lanikai Beach, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kaena Point, Ka’a’awa Beach.
Kauai - Wailua Falls/Canyon, Kilauea Point, Hanalei Bay, and Na Pali coast by Helicopter.
Maui - Kaanapali Beach, sunrise at Haleakala Crater, Napali Beach, Road to Hana (Is it worth to take all the way till end, or worth this hype?).

If 12 days are short, then should I skip Oahu and Kaui/Maui should be in preference?

3 islands in 12 days seems like a lot of time wasted packing/unpacking/traveling. I could keep myself busy for 12 days on just the Big Island and I've been to Hawaii around 8 times. Of the islands you mentioned, I'd skip Oahu and do Maui and Kauai. Hmm...actually, if you don't hike at all then maybe Kauai is not a good choice for you. It had gorgeous hikes through verdant forests which is why I liked it so much. Ok, my suggestion for you if you're not into hiking or going in the water would be the Big Island and Maui, or just the Big Island. Maui has nice long drives around the north and south ends. The Big Island has lots of big hotel grounds you can visit plus a variety of ecosystems to see and Hilo is a nice change of pace from the more touristy areas around Kona.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when going to a tropical location? That might net you some more specific suggestions.
 

mumu

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
782
Regarding Road to Hana - I have been going through a lot of posts, some say it is overhyped with tiny waterfalls and scenic outlooks, which are common in many other places in the US.
It's an incredibly twisty and lush road and, IMO, well worth the drive. We don't even stop at the waterfalls; we do the drive for the scenery. But I'd try to get an early start to avoid traffic...that's the only thing I don't like about the north road to Hana; getting stuck behind slow drivers. The south road is similar but at least there's usually fewer cars. I guess it also depends if you like driving on twisty roads. Plus the Black Sand Beach north of Hana is quite pretty and might have impressive waves rolling in. And southwest of Hana you have the Pipiwai Trail that goes through a bamboo forest and takes you to a beautiful waterfall...although I don't know if that counts as a hike or not.
Hmm...when you say you're not going to do any hiking, what does that mean exactly? The Pipiwai Trail is about 2.5 hrs round trip and is quite beautiful.
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
I grew up on Oahu, so I tend to take Oahu for granted.
I prefer visiting Kauai and Hawaii.

Roads:
  • On Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii, the road does NOT go all the way around the island, so you will have to back-track. Check the maps when you plan your trip.
  • Some of the roads are "off limits" to rental cars, due to the BAD condition of "road." Check the rental car maps.
    Some of them are barely jeep trails, and some are worse. When I was in school, parts of the Kaena Point road, had eroded/collapsed down to barely a hiking path.
  • In Hawaii, when they say "narrow bridge," is it a NARROW bridge. Some bridges narrow down to a single lane. So you MUST watch for traffic coming the other way. And you always yield to BIG trucks. Big heavy trucks can't stop fast, nor back up easily.
    Here in Calif, at least where I live, "narrow bridge" just means no sidewalk, the road is the same width.
  • When I grew up, the cops TOLD us, don't even think of running a red. Whereas in Calif running a red and stop sign, the California stop, is too common.
  • On Oahu, watch out and plan for commute traffic, it can be BAD. You want to travel before or after the commute traffic.
Kauai
  • Fern Grotto. Nice boat ride up the river to the grotto.
  • Waimea Canyon. The drive up is is a LONG drive, plan accordingly.
Maui
  • Hana Highway
    • While nice, will take a whole day going to Hana and back.
    • I think it is better now, but when I was in college, "highway" was a joke; narrow, very winding, unpaved in many places, rutted, etc. etc. If you get car sick, like I do, it may not be a pleasant drive.
  • Haleakala sunrise.
    • You need to get up about 2am, for the LONG SLOW drive up the mountain.
    • At 10,000 feet elevation, It is COLD up there before the sun comes up. You NEED cold weather gear and gloves. The hotels do not like you taking their blankets.
    • If the clouds are THICK, you may never break out above clouds, and the trip up the mountain becomes a waste of time (been there, done that :( ). But, you have to stick it out, cuz you never know if the clouds will break, as the sun rises.
Hawaii
  • I second Walter's recommendation.
  • Staying at the Volcano House hotel is a favorite of mine.
  • Sunrise over the crater. At the Volcano Observatory. Really nice, but at 4,000 feet elevation and exposed to the wind it can be COLD.
  • Mauna Kea observatory. Another mountain drive. Up to see the astronomical observatories. If the wind is BLOWING, it can be dangerous. The summit is almost 14,000 feet in elevation, so altitude sickness is a concern. Some cars can't make the drive up, because of the thin air. My car never made it up. This is another all-day trip.
@ac12 : Fern Grotto looks great and I would love do it and thanks for other suggestions.
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
Does that mean you don't snorkel?



3 islands in 12 days seems like a lot of time wasted packing/unpacking/traveling. I could keep myself busy for 12 days on just the Big Island and I've been to Hawaii around 8 times. Of the islands you mentioned, I'd skip Oahu and do Maui and Kauai. Hmm...actually, if you don't hike at all then maybe Kauai is not a good choice for you. It had gorgeous hikes through verdant forests which is why I liked it so much. Ok, my suggestion for you if you're not into hiking or going in the water would be the Big Island and Maui, or just the Big Island. Maui has nice long drives around the north and south ends. The Big Island has lots of big hotel grounds you can visit plus a variety of ecosystems to see and Hilo is a nice change of pace from the more touristy areas around Kona.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when going to a tropical location? That might net you some more specific suggestions.
@mumu : Correct, I don't do snorkel? Instead of beaches and water sports, my focus will be on landscapes and scenery.
My initial thought was from other posts was, Maui and Kauai should be most beautiful. Then in Oahu also I see some spots, I saw in movies and they are beautiful. That's why I thought, if not all Oahu and I can just see few places in Oahu. But you may be right, it may be too much packing/unpacking/flights and all.
I do hike, but I am going with my family this time. So I guess 2 miles should not be tough.
What kind of places I like - I loved Banff and Jasper, Black Forest of Germany, Switzerland, Highway-1 of California.
That was another reason, I was comparing Road to Hana, with my other experiences :)
 
Joined
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Messages
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Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
@dipan000, I did the Hana Highway only once and that was enough. It was an all-day trip, and it's narrow and very windy. The scenery is very beautiful, but after a couple of hours, it may seem to be a little repetitive. It's a lot of work for the driver, and hard on the passengers if they are prone to carsickness. The kids, sounds like you have young ones, might not appreciate it.

As far as the 12 days are concerned, I'd agree that you'd want to limit yourself to two islands. Frequent air hops and hotel transitions really eat up a lot of time. After all, sometimes, you'd just want to kick back at the beach or someplace and relax. :)

If it were me, I'd go for Big Island and Oahu. Big Island has a wide variety of scenery and environments, and there is the Volcano. Don't see that every day. I'd spend most of the time there. Oahu is urbanized, but there are great spots around where the natural beauty is abundant and beautiful. Avoiding rush hour traffic is a good idea. It's mostly bad from East Honolulu to Kapolei, which is a good stretch of southern Oahu. Traffic on the Pali Hwy and Likelike can also be heavy during rush hour. Still a lot of nice things to see on Oahu.

Since your family will be with you, you'd want to visit some of the family oriented things on Oahu.
Waikiki Aquarium is always good and if you're not going to go snorkeling, this is a good way to see some of our ocean life.
Nearby Honolulu Zoo is OK if the kids like animals, but they don't have a lot of native animals.
For flora, Foster Botanical Garden, Hoomaluhia, and Lyon Arboretum are good.
The Diamond Head hike is fairly short, but there are two points where there are a lot of steps to climb. The view is worth it.
Makapuu Lighthouse hike is well worth the short hike. Tremendous and dramatic views. I like packing a light lunch and sitting down for a little picnic at the top.
Are your kids boys? They'd probably like USS Missouri, USS Bowfin, and Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

I'm not as familiar with Maui. Maui Ocean Center is a great place for family. The drive to Hana might be a bit much. Going to Haleakala is definitely worth it, even if you don't do the sunrise. Please note that you have to make reservations for Haleakala. Maui has some beautiful beaches.
https://www.lovebigisland.com/maui/
https://www.lovebigisland.com/maui/road-to-hana/

Don't forget that if you aren't all fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you may need to be tested before you go and after you come back.

Mask wearing is still required inside and outside.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
917
Location
Tasmania
Kauaii. There is plenty to see there without walking strenuous distances.
We had a week there and I'd go again.
Waimea Canyon a must.
The drive up the east coast (no other way to the north) is beautiful and the
Kīlauea Lighthouse and coast spectacular
Stayed 2 extended stays on Oahu with family so they knew the places to go.
Local knowledge invaluable.

It's (Kauaii) a tiny place but I would easily absorb myself there for 2 weeks, but I love poking about in odd places and seeing things many miss due to rushing to the next place of interest.

You'd have to jump on there from Oahu though so could have a week on both islands.

Personally, living on a small island myself, I know how tourists think they can "see it all in a week" stuff and miss the real island experience and what is on offer.

Enjoy your trip.
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
@dipan000, I did the Hana Highway only once and that was enough. It was an all-day trip, and it's narrow and very windy. The scenery is very beautiful, but after a couple of hours, it may seem to be a little repetitive. It's a lot of work for the driver, and hard on the passengers if they are prone to carsickness. The kids, sounds like you have young ones, might not appreciate it.

As far as the 12 days are concerned, I'd agree that you'd want to limit yourself to two islands. Frequent air hops and hotel transitions really eat up a lot of time. After all, sometimes, you'd just want to kick back at the beach or someplace and relax. :)

If it were me, I'd go for Big Island and Oahu. Big Island has a wide variety of scenery and environments, and there is the Volcano. Don't see that every day. I'd spend most of the time there. Oahu is urbanized, but there are great spots around where the natural beauty is abundant and beautiful. Avoiding rush hour traffic is a good idea. It's mostly bad from East Honolulu to Kapolei, which is a good stretch of southern Oahu. Traffic on the Pali Hwy and Likelike can also be heavy during rush hour. Still a lot of nice things to see on Oahu.

Since your family will be with you, you'd want to visit some of the family oriented things on Oahu.
Waikiki Aquarium is always good and if you're not going to go snorkeling, this is a good way to see some of our ocean life.
Nearby Honolulu Zoo is OK if the kids like animals, but they don't have a lot of native animals.
For flora, Foster Botanical Garden, Hoomaluhia, and Lyon Arboretum are good.
The Diamond Head hike is fairly short, but there are two points where there are a lot of steps to climb. The view is worth it.
Makapuu Lighthouse hike is well worth the short hike. Tremendous and dramatic views. I like packing a light lunch and sitting down for a little picnic at the top.
Are your kids boys? They'd probably like USS Missouri, USS Bowfin, and Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

I'm not as familiar with Maui. Maui Ocean Center is a great place for family. The drive to Hana might be a bit much. Going to Haleakala is definitely worth it, even if you don't do the sunrise. Please note that you have to make reservations for Haleakala. Maui has some beautiful beaches.
https://www.lovebigisland.com/maui/
https://www.lovebigisland.com/maui/road-to-hana/

Don't forget that if you aren't all fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you may need to be tested before you go and after you come back.

Mask wearing is still required inside and outside.
Thank you. I will search on these places and will see how can I fit them in my days and will come back if I have more questions
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
Kauaii. There is plenty to see there without walking strenuous distances.
We had a week there and I'd go again.
Waimea Canyon a must.
The drive up the east coast (no other way to the north) is beautiful and the
Kīlauea Lighthouse and coast spectacular
Stayed 2 extended stays on Oahu with family so they knew the places to go.
Local knowledge invaluable.

It's (Kauaii) a tiny place but I would easily absorb myself there for 2 weeks, but I love poking about in odd places and seeing things many miss due to rushing to the next place of interest.

You'd have to jump on there from Oahu though so could have a week on both islands.

Personally, living on a small island myself, I know how tourists think they can "see it all in a week" stuff and miss the real island experience and what is on offer.

Enjoy your trip.
Kauai is my recommended as per lot of posts I read. Thanks for your suggestions, I will work out more on my plan.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Thanks for detailed and helpful response.
I have only 12 days, that means 11 days and then hopping between islands will also consume a good half-day I guess. That was the reason, I thought I should pick only 2 islands or if possible, then 3. Many posts favor Kauai, Maui, and then Oahu. The big island is also beautiful, but that would need its own time, being big and lot of places to see. But I will check if I can re-adjust my vacation days.

Yes, rental cars are scarce. I am checking for May and June and it is getting difficult to see. Then July-August-September would be hot and non-ideal?

Is Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens overhyped? At least in pictures, it looks impressive.

Regarding Road to Hana - I have been going through a lot of posts, some say it is overhyped with tiny waterfalls and scenic outlooks, which are common in many other places in the US.

My responses.

Just keep checking on rental cars. I tried Tripadvisor and cars on Maui in early June were quoted at $100+ a day. Which isn't bad compared to what it was earlier.

Is Hoomaluhia overhyped? I dunno. It's different from Foster Garden, which is smaller but packed with flowers. I go to Foster often because it's so close to my home. Hoomaluhia has a decent amount of flowers and native plants, but it's much larger and spread out and the landscape is more scenic, being nestled up near the Koolau mountains. You can see damselflies there if you look carefully. It's different.

There are other noteworthy botanical gardens on Oahu, run by the City. There is Koko Crater Botanical Garden, which is bursting with plumeria flowers right now, and specializes in dry land plants. There is a nice loop trail that you folks can probably handle. Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Gardens is right in town, not far from Foster Garden, that has native plants and a stream with a little waterfall that is good for flowing water shots and a large grassy area shaded by huge monkeypod trees. Very peaceful little garden. There's also Wahiawa Botanical Garden which has different plants and has a gulch that you can walk through. Make sure you use insect repellent before going into the gulch. Lyon Arboretum up in Manoa Valley is run by the University of Hawaii and has a lot of native plants and a nice trail up to a small waterfall. Most of these are open every day, except Lyon which is closed on Sunday. There is also the private Moanalua Gardens which is known for their big trees. It is open to the public. BTW, I would use insect repellent any time you go to a botanical garden because there probably would be mosquitoes, which would torment the kids (and adults).

Road to Hana? It is a special place. You're driving a narrow path between the mountain and the ocean and the scenery is breathtaking. No question about that. But, it's a long drive and after a while, it starts looking kinda similar to other parts of the road. Along the way, there are places where you can pull off and enjoy the scenery. Hana is a nice quiet town. I'd like to check out the Pipiwai Trail someday. But, I'm thinking that with young kids along, it may just end up being a long, boring drive to them.

If you go to the Big Island, the drive up the Hamakua Coast from Hilo to Waipio Valley is a picturesque drive with a lot of varied scenery. And, along the way, you have Akaka Falls (in Honomu), Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, old plantation towns (Papaaloa Store, near where I used to live when I was a kid, has been restored and still open for meals and supplies, etc.). There's also the Hawaii Plantation Museum in Papaikou, right outside Hilo, that is worth a visit to get a feel for what life was like on the sugar plantations. Part of my childhood was on sugar plantations on the Big Island. You can drive around the Big Island, which by itself would take a whole day, but you could stay in a BnB or hotel along the way and stay overnight before continuing.

I would stay in the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook which is an old, inexpensive, and somewhat rustic place that serves a delicious fried fresh opelu or akule (fish when in season) or pork chops if you go early for dinner or lunch (they close the restaurant at 7:30). The rooms don't even have television, which is fine with me. A real locals place. If you reserve early, you might be able to get the Japanese room with the ofuro (the precursor to the hot tub). Ofuro etiquette is that you wash and rinse thoroughly before getting into the tub. The tub is for soaking, not washing. Just make sure the kids don't go in alone. :) BTW, when we traveled in Japan in 2013, we three slept on business-class hotel beds to luxury hotel beds. But, my son said that the best sleep he had on the whole trip was on a futon (thick comforter) in a tatami mat room for one rainy night on Miyajima Island. I concur. The next time I have to stay overnight on the Kona side, we're going for that Japanese room.
 
Last edited:

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
My responses.

Just keep checking on rental cars. I tried Tripadvisor and cars on Maui in early June were quoted at $100+ a day. Which isn't bad compared to what it was earlier.

Is Hoomaluhia overhyped? I dunno. It's different from Foster Garden, which is smaller but packed with flowers. I go to Foster often because it's so close to my home. Hoomaluhia has a decent amount of flowers and native plants, but it's much larger and spread out and the landscape is more scenic, being nestled up near the Koolau mountains. You can see damselflies there if you look carefully. It's different.

There are other noteworthy botanical gardens on Oahu, run by the City. There is Koko Crater Botanical Garden, which is bursting with plumeria flowers right now, and specializes in dry land plants. There is a nice loop trail that you folks can probably handle. Queen Liliuokalani Botanical Gardens is right in town, not far from Foster Garden, that has native plants and a stream with a little waterfall that is good for flowing water shots and a large grassy area shaded by huge monkeypod trees. Very peaceful little garden. There's also Wahiawa Botanical Garden which has different plants and has a gulch that you can walk through. Make sure you use insect repellent before going into the gulch. Lyon Arboretum up in Manoa Valley is run by the University of Hawaii and has a lot of native plants and a nice trail up to a small waterfall. Most of these are open every day, except Lyon which is closed on Sunday. There is also the private Moanalua Gardens which is known for their big trees. It is open to the public. BTW, I would use insect repellent any time you go to a botanical garden because there probably would be mosquitoes, which would torment the kids (and adults).

Road to Hana? It is a special place. You're driving a narrow path between the mountain and the ocean and the scenery is breathtaking. No question about that. But, it's a long drive and after a while, it starts looking kinda similar to other parts of the road. Along the way, there are places where you can pull off and enjoy the scenery. Hana is a nice quiet town. I'd like to check out the Pipiwai Trail someday. But, I'm thinking that with young kids along, it may just end up being a long, boring drive to them.

If you go to the Big Island, the drive up the Hamakua Coast from Hilo to Waipio Valley is a picturesque drive with a lot of varied scenery. And, along the way, you have Akaka Falls (in Honomu), Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, old plantation towns (Papaaloa Store, near where I used to live when I was a kid, has been restored and still open for meals and supplies, etc.). There's also the Hawaii Plantation Museum in Papaikou, right outside Hilo, that is worth a visit to get a feel for what life was like on the sugar plantations. Part of my childhood was on sugar plantations on the Big Island. You can drive around the Big Island, which by itself would take a whole day, but you could stay in a BnB or hotel along the way and stay overnight before continuing.

I would stay in the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook which is an old, inexpensive, and somewhat rustic place that serves a delicious fried fresh opelu or akule (fish when in season) or pork chops if you go early for dinner or lunch (they close the restaurant at 7:30). The rooms don't even have television, which is fine with me. A real locals place. If you reserve early, you might be able to get the Japanese room with the ofuro (the precursor to the hot tub). Ofuro etiquette is that you wash and rinse thoroughly before getting into the tub. The tub is for soaking, not washing. Just make sure the kids don't go in alone. :) BTW, when we traveled in Japan in 2013, we three slept on business-class hotel beds to luxury hotel beds. But, my son said that the best sleep he had on the whole trip was on a futon (thick comforter) in a tatami mat room for one rainy night on Miyajima Island. I concur. The next time I have to stay overnight on the Kona side, we're going for that Japanese room.
This is really helpful. Appreciate your efforts
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
917
Location
Tasmania
Just to add to your studies :)
We're not into cities etc, prefer countryside so temper any comments by that.

Koko Crater Railway Trailhead
Steep climb, not very comfortable. On old rail tracks.
take water and sun protection!
Beautiful views, but Diamond Head more accessible and still excellent views.
Water again, and mind your head in tunnel! Diamond Head ie.
Quite safe place

Lanai Lookout along south coast

Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout
Beautiful scenery. Sad history

Ko Olina Beach Park
Private area but tourists welcome when we were there.
Great safe place for swimming with kids. Turtles. Wow!

Up north
Waimea Valley
Beautiful garden area to stroll about.
I'd go again.

Haleiwa
I loved it. Older style of buildings, streetscape, shops, very casual

Pearl harbour. Some sad places, but I found plenty of interesting things.
There's some beautiful old planes.

Polynesian cultural centre
This was awesome IMO.
Not overdone, definitely for the tourists but didn't feel you were just there for a spectacle
https://www.polynesia.com/
 

dipan000

Mu-43 Rookie
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
17
Location
Los Angeles
Just to add to your studies :)
We're not into cities etc, prefer countryside so temper any comments by that.

Koko Crater Railway Trailhead
Steep climb, not very comfortable. On old rail tracks.
take water and sun protection!
Beautiful views, but Diamond Head more accessible and still excellent views.
Water again, and mind your head in tunnel! Diamond Head ie.
Quite safe place

Lanai Lookout along south coast

Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout
Beautiful scenery. Sad history

Ko Olina Beach Park
Private area but tourists welcome when we were there.
Great safe place for swimming with kids. Turtles. Wow!

Up north
Waimea Valley
Beautiful garden area to stroll about.
I'd go again.

Haleiwa
I loved it. Older style of buildings, streetscape, shops, very casual

Pearl harbour. Some sad places, but I found plenty of interesting things.
There's some beautiful old planes.

Polynesian cultural centre
This was awesome IMO.
Not overdone, definitely for the tourists but didn't feel you were just there for a spectacle
https://www.polynesia.com/
polnesia looks very interesting. I was looking for a smaller version at other places, but this looks nice.
 
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