Hawaii First Trip

Aloha and welcome to a "first timers" guide to travel to and around the Hawaiian Islands.   My family's first Hawaiian vacation took place in March of 2005, taking us from Medford Oregon to Hawaii's big island and the cities of Kona, Hilo and all points on the road around Hawaii in including Kilauea National Park with flowing lava.  Kayaking across Kealaukekua Bay to the Captain Cook monument for fantastic snorkeling and dolphins and toured a coffee plantation in Kona.   We then flew to Honolulu and spent 5 nights in Waikiki.  Visited the Polynesian Cultural Center near Oahu's North Shore which is home to the "Banzaii Pipeline" and world class surfing competitions .

Oahu Pictures    Hawaii Pictures    Pearl Harbor Pictures    
Volcano Pictures    Polynesian Cultural Center

You'd never know I was a web professional from this site, but I don't care about that.  I'll be organizing my notes below and photographs....someday.  In the meantime I'm just posting stuff before I lose interest.

Feel free to link or post these photos but you really should reference the source http://www.usa3.com/hawaii    or you'll forever be considered a jerk by my entire family.  Also Check out the New Orleans Pictures

Key things to note:  For many packaged trips are best because you get the benefit of the travel agency experience.   Generally the cost of making your own trip is comparable to a packaged trip - though an experienced online travel shopper would probably be able to save 5-10% on an identical trip with considerable research and bargain hunting.

Generally you should visit more than one island on your first trip.  I'm happy we chose Hawaii ("The Big Island") and Oahu, which is where Honolulu and Waikiki beach are located and is the place where most tourists are to be found.   The "best island" by most accounts I've heard from very experienced travelers to the state, is Kauai.  For our NEXT trip we'll plan to visit Kauai and Maui.

Aston Hotels is excellent intro site with one page about each island http://www.astonhotels.com/My first stop was: http://www.gohawaii.com Ordered a vacation planner. 4 wks!  Better to head to a travel agency for some brochures.  Combine these with the excellent "Hawaii Revealed" for big island info.

MFR to SFO would leave MFR about 1:20 to SFO for 5:50 flight to HNL....driving down will thus add 4 hours each way...get to Hawaii SAME TIME. Save 1000 minus hotel. Go the DAY BEFORE, visit peeps, Next day setup at La Quinta, Shuttle to airport, fly. No visits on return trip.

Here is a chronicle of my first trip to Hawaii.

My first stop was: http://www.gohawaii.com Ordered a vacation planner. 4 wks!


Polly and George: Groceries expensive. 151% of national average per internet

Bill E: Honolai is charming town on Kauii, with Kalalau hike 11 miles as the definitive Hawaii hike. He'd spend 5 days Hawaii and 7 in Kauii and 1 in Oahu for a 2 week trip....jump off in Oahu

Aloha pass allows cheap interisland transfers - about 80 - if this is OW it's about same as I found on Orbitz with 175 RT ITO to HNL

No rental car in Honolulu
Very true, in fact you don't want one!!! Hard finding parking. If you want to go around the island, which is nice drive, rent one for the day. Pick it up in the morning and return it in the evening. The bus system in Honolulu is fantastic and there are shuttles to other places. We have taken the bus out to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial....By the way, while there, the Missouri tour is fantastic. I enjoyed it more than the Memorial.

Lily 779-2134 / 772 7701 Holiday Travel. Crater Lk ave near safeway
Waikaloa are big island's best beaches. Maui has best beaches, best snorkel and swimming. Kona beaches not as nice but cheaper.
07 nights gives free - note hotel specials common
2.5 hours to Hilo

Joe's SFO package was 412 plus 100 night + 200 rental car + 175 RT. I did not price MFR KOA HNL MFR

Costco: 4875
$721 Air x 4 = 2900
13 nights x 120 =
9 day car
No insurance

Lily Package: 4824
11 nights (saved her 240)
7 day car (saved her 60?)
Insurance (+cost her 100)
Orbitz had the MFR KOA HNL MFR for these dates at $802 using 5am NW flight $848 on the 7:20am or 5:54 FLIGHT on United

Better dates and times and personal service were worth the $200 extra?

Hotels.com appeared to have the hotel for cheaper tho hard to tell -

Orbitz SFO:

March 2 - just before rush...320 rates......up to 412.....up to 600 over main easter week.

Learning Curve:

Island to island?! No boats - only via flights on aloha or others. Rates from MFR were high. Cheaper was MFR to SFO, then sfo to HNL seems MUCH cheapter than others.
Car? Not needed in HONOLULU?, important on hawaii Hotels: not clear but 100 per night seems to provide good one. the 600 room one near the big market at Waiki is top so far for cheap but nice and interesting. Pool on roof.

ATA seems to be the cheap air. Hawaiian air nicer, better web. Aloha?

How to save on the 125 Polynesian center?

http://www2.nature.nps.gov/geology/geologic_wonders/1_6list.htm#1 Kiluea

How is Hawaii perceived by visitors? First at the "Hawaii Experience" level e.g. tropical breezes. Second as ISLANDS - people like Maui for snorkels, Hawaii for , Kauii for unspoiled beauty, etc.... But it's the NEXT level that would be of web interest. Beaches? Activities? Golf? Probably all those. thematic vs geographic cuz you can get anywhere quickly. Hilo vs Kona vs Volcanoville...

We've learned that with a week we should spend at least a night, probably two, at Volcano and Hilo side.
BUT hotels have free night specials that are messing with this issue...
Questions: Getting to Hilo from Kona -can we in a day? Driving is OK but break it up with beaches?

Barbara comes through with 2 nights at Hawaii Hilo, preserved our free night at Kona (cool!) and 55 less on the big package....wow

---- From Hawaiitravelbureau.com (i think it's NOT official site)
Volcano House's own restaurant, Ka Ohelo Dining Room, may be the world's only restaurant overlooking an active volcano! The view of crater is unbelieavable and will make your dining experience a real pleasure. The food served is traditional American and Continental, priced very reasonably.

Breakfast buffet: 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Luncheon buffet: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
A la carte dinner: 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Snack bar: sandwiches and chili 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

4. Things to do

* Crater Rim Drive
This 11-mile drive circles Kilauea's summit caldera and craters, passes through rainforest and desert, and takes you to well-marked scenic stops and short walks. You will see sulphur banks, steam vents, pit craters, recent lava flows, and a walk-through lava tube. A "must" stop is the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It exhibits the resuts of scientific studies of Kilauea.

* Chain of Craters Road
This 40-mile drives takes about 3 hours from Kilauea Visitor Center. You will cross lava flows that came from Mauna Ulu ("Growing Mountain") from 1969 to 1974 and see short sections of the old roa not covered by the flows. You can hike to the Pu'u Loa Petroglyph Area. You will marvel at the rugged seacoast with its occasional sea arch, see the island's newest black sand beaches scattered along the coast, and stop where the current eruption has effectively blocked the road. Nearly 9 miles of the road east of this point have been covered since 1986. Just beyong this point, approximately 4 miles away, is the site of the Waha'ula Heiau (ancient temple), covered by lava in August 1997.

* Trails
There are more than 150 of trails in the park. If you have only one day to explore, we highly recommend Kilauea Iki Trail, a 4-mile (2-hour) hike, descending 400 feet through native rainforest into a crater and across lava flows still streaming from the 1959 eruption.

Polly and George: Luaus everwhere, best on Kauii "Cooks? Poly center 3 days for same price, north shore is surfing. Eat at BYU Hawaii which is near the Poly CC and north shore area? They say rent a car for Oahu.

Miramar: Rental car cheaper than Shuttle = 4x $8?...Does the hotel have shuttle service? YES per voucher. Website says catch a Waikiki/Airport shuttle or taxicab right outside of the baggage claim area. The cost for shuttle service is about $8.00 one-way.
The cost for taxi fare is about $25 one-way.
Before I moved to Hawaii I took a day trip to Hilo to see what I could find. The drive to the falls is out of the way and you can feel like you are going to the middle of nowhere. On the road to the Falls is a quaint little town that you should save time to stop in on the way back from the falls.

When you pull into the parking lot you have no idea what is in store for you after a short steep hike. The trail is a circle trail and it is clearly marked that one direction is much more difficult than the other. You would be very wise to follow the easy trail.

Lock your car, take your camera, and follow the trail to my fovorite spot in the world. I can still remember the waves of peace and contentment that came over me as I viewed the falls for the first time. I felt like I had found the womb of paradise and I settled in to regenerate my spirit. The vision of the falls haunts my mind and I plan to visit it often now that I reside in Hawaii.

Remember to stop and enjoy a bowl of ice crean and shave ice on the way back.

Finding Hawai`i Volcanoes
Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawai`i. From Hilo: 30 miles southwest on Highway 11 (a 45 minute drive); from Kailua-Kona: 96 miles southeast on Highway 11 (2 to 2 1/2 hour drive), or 125 miles through Waimea and Hilo via highways 19 and 11 (2 1/2 to 3 hours).


We are here! Finally relaxing on 3rd day. Kona to Hilo drive at night was just under 2 hours. Hilo neat, park area neat. Uncle billy's between big hotels. Hilo Hawaiin seemed to be 2nd fanciest with (nanui) just past Uncle Billies as the fanciest. Recommend more hawaii home town places? Trip to Kiluaea great but missed hot lava - will hopefully return for this myself.....PUNA was highlight of that side of island - first to hot spring aHANI. Mostly natives hanging around the warm pool - interesting more than great swimming. Pretty beach right over the lava knoll.....small inlet splashes water in from sea. Nice talk with Waipio valley lady who walked on lava, etc. drove to Verna's for Oni plate, out to black sand, coconuts for cancer lady, devastation of lava that killed the beach and town in 1990, etc. Very hawaiian feeling over there.

Back to Kona area via Akaka and Kahuna falls. At end hippy lady selling block art - odd. Nice but missable. Tiny japanese feeling town Hunaloa? interesting but did not stop there.

Keauhou resort. fancy, nice OK, better rooms are UP on north side. probably 4th floor or more fine... we were in 239 with ugly roof view tho some ocean , then 635 with GREAT view of Kona coast...

To Puo hu nau nau NHP - great, interesting, 30 minutes only needed for fine intro to Kapu system and refuge. Next door is good snorkeling at beach but watch for urchins and .... put in at only the one spot said local but I think around the boat area is best. Saw many turtles here close up plus many fish....

GREENVIEW Coffee tour - fantastic. Avocado, Bannana, oranges, great samples, tour. 100 year old coffee trees. Kona on slopes of volcano - only a small microclimate. 300k pounds processed? 20percent of all Kona is them but under diff labels. 100k from that farm? .40 per pound to pickers, 1.35 purchasing from other farms....

For the Eruption Update recorded message, phone (808) 985-6000 and press 1 for eruption update. This message is recorded at about 8:00 p.m. Hawai`i time when the park rangers return from their shift at the lava flow. Incorporate this text box into my own page? Or just link within a frame to park info. There's so much junk a framed approach may be best for Hawaii first time web.

LONG pants, binocs, water, 3 pair socks, specs

Cpt Cook Monument snorkeling - incredible...kayaks, dolphins 10-2 sleep time, go in morning. Spinner dolphins. Kayaks are about 47. Consider 1pm so you can go TWO days. Snorkel problems.

Thrifty in Keauhou as cheap source of many items. Wal Mart for Souvenirs. Hilo Hatties fun but more than Wal Mart but not by much.

DON'T bring food - just buy it at thrifty and safeway, etc.

LAVA. Hard hike as of March 2005, but worth it. Alternatives (use Parks 3 things - easy, walk a bit, walk a LOT. The view of the bay was OK from the end of road after the short walk IF you have binocs - park had set up scope. Walking there was worth if for me.

Night lava?

HAUNAMA bay, OAHU: is THE BEST protected cove if you are new to scuba diving or snorkeling with a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef. Advanced snorkelers and divers can also enjoy the beauty of this bay as the reef extends throughout the cove into deeper water. The bay floor is actually the crater of an ancient volcano that flooded when the exterior wall collapsed and the ocean rushed in.

Pearl Harbor Link to Destination , Link to Destination
(Arizona Memorial/1 Arizona Memorial Dr/808-422-0561)
(USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Pk/11 Arizona Mem.Dr/808-423-1341
(USS Missouri/501 Main St/808-423-2263)

Bus to Pearl Harbor:

* 20 Airport-Pearlridge
* 40 Makaha Beach
* 40A Makaha Towers
* 42 Ewa Beach
* 62 Wahiawa Heights

On Kuhio Avenue, Saratoga Road or Kalia Road heading away from Diamond Head, board 20 Airport-Pearlridge or 42 Ewa Beach (directly to Pearl Harbor), or take 8, 19 or 58 to the Ala Moana Shopping Center and transfer to 40 Makaha Beach, 40A Makaha Towers or 62 Wahiawa Heights. Alight on Kamehameha Hwy opposite the Arizona Memorial.

Bus to Waikiki:

* 20 or 42 Waikiki Beach and Hotels
* 40 or 62 Honolulu-Ala Moana

To return, board 20 or 42 Waikiki Beach and Hotels. You could also board 40, 40A or 62 Honolulu-Ala Moana and transfer to 8, 19 or 20 Waikiki Beach and Hotels on Kona Street in Ala Moana Center. Buses to Pearl Harbor run between 10 to 20 minutes apart.

Approximate travel time is 1 hour 15 minutes.

Hanauma Bay Link to Destination
Bus to Board:

* 22 Hawaii Kai-Sea Life Park

On Kuhio Avenue in the Diamond Head direction, board the 22 Hawaii Kai-Sea Life Park and ride to Hanauma Bay.

Bus to Return:

* 22 Waikiki Beach and Hotels

To return, board the 22 Waikiki Beach and Hotels bus. The 22 runs once an hour on weekdays, twice an hour on weekends.

Approximate travel time is 40 minutes.

Japan - what a great culture polite. Miramar tourists seem to be about 1/2 from Japan - japanese writing, rest. everywhere here in Waikiki. Some locals but I think this is tourism central for middle class america and (upper class?) japan.

The japan/US continuum in WWII is very interesting and sociologically profound. Again, losing to USA is teh BEST thing that can happen to you. (Write op ed to Iraq - "Dudes, you are blowing your chance!"

Oahu busses even go to PCC - 2 hrs vs about 1 hr 15? via the PCC shuttle for 15. But if you take the bus you can get off at the North shore and watch surfing for awhile....use the busses as your tours...

Pali is so. of Hono, about ... via bus. Use this link to bus schedules for attraactions: http://www.thebus.org/Pop/attracti.asp

Wed morning and we are prep to go to PCC and wind up the trip tomorrow. I'm not exactly understanding my feelings about the trip - I think it's a combination of the challenges of family travel combined with slightly less than expected quality of hotels, service, scenery, culture. In fact it may explain why people choose the fake Kohala resorts over the real Kona cityscape - they are steeped in more of the regal traditions of hospitality, fanfare, and luxury rather than the real cultural traditions of poverty and fast food.

Big favorable memories are the drop off to 100' deptch or so around Cpt Cook kayak inlet - suddenly I "got" why snorkeling is neat tho gear was not working well (Ben broke both snorkels in 30 secs but we refashioned one out of 2 and I used Julia's. Julia's fear of urchins kept her from enjoying cooks swimming but she liked Kayaking and we DID see dolphins albeit briefly.

went to eat poo but it was not yummy, ben biught a set if samurai daisho letter openers from the international marketplace

Intl Marketplace: Rumor was that it may close soon to m It's a very neat place with cheap junky souvenirs for sale, fun fast ethnic food, occasional shows, pearls in Oysters,

Waikiki appears to be basically the 2 mile beach, fancy beachfront hotels, modest to fancy hotels in a few streets. At night the beach is quiet and dark but the 2 streets out from Beach, Ahi? and Kuhio? come alive with street performers, shopping, and tens of thousands of visitors.

Top of Waikiki was a very nice experience deserts were VERY pretty and served nicely. Go to top level for coffee and desert and rotate once around or perhaps better is lunch with the daylight view. 18th floor observation deck. Good FIRST thing to do in Waikiki. Glass elevators at Miramar, ....

What's a Luau?
What's Hawaii?
What is snorkeling?


TWO ways to spend your $10,000 (Actually use the 30k Mary told us for the NICER place).

Give to Timeshare people along with maintenance fee of 300 annual and you can pend 3.5 days per year in nice room on Maui.
Your 10k investment has reduced your room cost to $300 per year.
After 10 years your 10k investment will be worth....(see historicals).

Invest your 10k at 6%. 600 per year. This will pay for 3.5 nice room days. Cost ZERO.
After 10 years your 10k is worth...10k