The Best Maui Luau; Great Luaus on Maui

May 13, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general 

by Cindy Blankenship,
tourist luau lessons
The two best luaus on Maui have a rich tradition in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. For centuries, the luau has been a traditional way to celebrate and honor milestones, festivals and royalty.

Today in Hawaii the traditions continues – in backyard birthday luaus, in community centers and places of worship for holidays and other special events – and at hotels and special luau venues where visitors to Hawaii are treated to this fun tradition.

To learn more about Hawaiian luau entertainment and foods and how to have your own backyard luau, visit

These commercial luau introduce guests to Hawaiian, local style and Pacific Rim foods and Polynesian culture and they entertain, the best Maui luau entertain with mesmerizing dance, chanting and narration that combine to teach and entertain about the Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures.

Old Lahaina Luau – With Lahaina’s famous sunset view of neighboring islands and ocean craft, the Old Lahaina Luau invites you to relax in the old Hawaiian style, reclining on lauhala mats, or if you prefer a chair.

Appointed with tiki torches and thatched roofs, a grass mound as stage for the luau’s world-class entertainment, this famous luau takes you on a journey through the exciting and romantic history of Hawaii as told through hula, chant, mele (song) and narration.

The luau is known for its cultural sensitivity and attention to authentic Hawaiian detail (for which it has won numerous Ilima awards, based on the state-wide newspaper’s reader polls and food critics).

Combined with the exquisite cuisine, make this luau a favorite among locals, as well as visitors to Hawaii. The Old Lahaina luau has attracted hundreds of celebrities, including Robin Williams and Billy Crystal and Emeril who hosted his Maui show here.

Speaking of Hawaiian food, if you’re not waiting in anticipation to try poi, no worries. The luau’s buffet offers traditional and modern Hawaiian cuisine from imu roasted pig and poi to chicken with mango sauce and Pulehu steak, not to mention a scrumptious dessert tray and gracious open bar with all the favorite tropical drinks.

Feast at Lele – Another top notch luau with a West Maui sunset ocean view. “Lele” is the original Hawaiian name for Lahaina and translates to for the and a setting on the Lahaina beach where the royal family of Maui once held their luau and entertained.

As the authentic dance and music, courtesy of award winning creative director, Robert “Lopaka” Aguiar, takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the island nations of Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti and Samoa, you are also taken on a culinary journey.

Before the performers take you to an island nation, you are served with an exquisitely prepared dish, reflective of the island nation it represents.

Hawaii is introduced with the first course, a delicious dish of imu-baked pig, pohole ferns and heart of palm salad, fresh, island fish with mango sauce, and poi; while the Samoa dish is the fourth course with supasui (grilled steak), palusami (breadfruit with taro leaf and coconut cream), and shrimp and avocado with lilikoi. The fifth course is a Hawaiian dish, and guests enjoy an open bar.

The Hawaiian luau production fittingly begins with the graceful hula of Hawaii, and it concludes with the famous Samoan fire dance dance.

Two of Hawaii’s best luau are found on Maui – one features the Hawaiian heritage and the other takes you on a journey through Polynesia (and Polynesian cuisine).

Plan a Low Cost or Budget Vacation to Hawaii; Cheap Hawaii Vacations

Aloha, if you are looking for cheap Hawaii Vacations, let me help you out. This is the online version of my ebook How to Save Thousands of Dollars on a Hawaii Vacation! Save Money on Hotels, Flights, Food, and Fun Things to Do.

Topics in this guide


Budget-Happy Times of the Year to Vacation in Hawaii

Airline fares fluctuate daily and accommodations prices go up and down, depending on many rooms are empty, but there are two times of the year you can count on saving money on your Hawaii vacation.

These are the travel seasons known as the “low season” and shoulder season.” For Hawaii these travel season are generally…

Low season: November to mid December and January to March Shoulder season: April to May and mid September to October. Peak season (when prices are highest): June to mid September and mid December to January.

As you may have noticed the Hawaii tourism seasons follow traditional school holidays. When the kids are out for summer vacation, spring break or winter holiday, airfare and hotel prices are at their highest.

So to get the best savings, take the children out of school and vacation during a low or shoulder season. They will learn a lot! If you’re not sure about that, take a look at all the cultural activities in my other ebooks, not to mention the science – marine biology at the aquariums and on the boat tours, volcano logy and lots more. If you’re on Oahu, take them to Bishop Museum!

Besides saving you hundreds, traveling during low and shoulder seasons makes it so much easier to book rooms and activities.

Save Hundreds on Airfare

Your biggest expense after lodging is likely to be airfare. Even when flying from the West Coast, most spend around $600 per person, round trip. A family of three could easily spend close to $2,000. From the East Coast, this family would likely spend around $3,000. This chapter shows how you can save over $1,000 just on airfare alone.

Flying during low season or shoulder season is one way to save hundreds on airfare. Here are some more cost cutting strategies…

Be Flexible with your Departure and Arrival Airport

If you are vacationing on one of the Hawaiian Islands other than Oahu, you will often save by booking a flight that takes you first to Honolulu International (HNL) where you’ll transfer to an inter-island flight. Most mainland flights go here first.

Generally you will save much more booking online. And a great deal of money can be saved if you are flexible with your departure airport. If you don’t find good fares from the airport nearest you, check a few others. Then compare the savings in driving to an airport that is farther away or flying from closer to home.

When comparing these costs, check out You can not only get good parking deals here, and you can also get Park/Sleep/Fly deals where you drive to an airport, park your car, get shuttled to a nearby hotel and then shuttled to the airport in time for your flight. This kind of service can save you money and headaches if you’re not flying from a nearby airport. If you just need a one way rental car to the airport, Expedia lets you do this.

The best fares are almost always found from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco Airport (SFO), Portland (PDX), Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), San Diego (SAN) and Las Vegas (LAS). I’ve seen roundtrip fares this past year at my favorite discount sites (I’ll show you them in a sec) as low as $250 from some of these airports.

Booking at Budget-Happy Websites

So to book your fight, here’s what I would do. Hawaii’s own airline, which scores very high in customer satisfaction, flies from the West Coast, Las Vegas and Phoenix, Arizona. They often have good deals, so if flying from one of those locations, I’d check their rates: Hawaiian Air.

I would also search the discount sites and compare. I like to search the discount sites also and compare to find the best possible deals. My favorites are Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire.

The more flexible you can be with your dates and times, the easier it will be to find good deals. Many mistakenly believe that the farther out you book, the better savings. Well, ok, this is true in most cases. But not with Priceline or Hotwire. With these two you can get fantastic last minute deals.

To get the deep discounts with Hotwire, you can choose a general time, but the specific time of the flights and the airline carrier won’t be revealed until after you book. This is also the case when bidding at Priceline, but I find the savings well worth it. At Hotwire you can save up to 40 percent. And at Priceline, using their bidding option, you can save around 50 percent.

Before bidding at Priceline, I look at the average fares for the general time period I want to travel and bid half of that. I also check at the bidding for travel forum to get an idea of accepted and declined bids. If you’re new to Priceline, be sure to read their “New to Priceline” page.

No matter where you are searching for airfare, remember that rates fluctuate from day to day, even from hour to hour. Fortunately, many of the booking sites have flexible search options so you can quickly skim through various fares in a general time frame.

Saving with Flyer Points

Another way to save money on airfare is to use a credit card that offers points for airfare. My husband and I used this strategy and it paid for my round trip ticket from Hawaii to the mainland. We chalked up points by using our credit card for things like our auto insurance and life insurance with the credit card, and then paying the whole thing off each month with a check to the credit card company. The key is paying off that monthly balance and using a credit card that has a good interest rate and low fees.

(Frequent Flyer programs are good money savers also, but if you don’t fly enough the points won’t help with your Hawaii vacation.)

For specific tips on saving money while flying from island to island, check out my free ebooklet, Hawaii Hopping for Fun! – Visiting more than one island in Hawaii the smart way. You can download it at or access it directly:

Get the Best Deals on Accommodations

**** Note, if you really want to save money on accommodations, consider camping. My friend Cindy has a lot of experience camping in tents and in Yurts on Oahu and thinks it’s the very best way to go: ******


Basically, I use the same booking sites for our family’s hotel rooms as I do for our airfare: Priceline, Hotwire, and Expedia. I also use

While you can find nice, 3-star budget hotels and sometimes even decent 2-star ones, why not use a discount site and get a 4-star for the same price? You’ll save hundreds while having an awesome vacation!

The discount sites often place the condos alongside the hotels, so for simplicity’s sake, I’ll just say “hotel.”

Bidding on Hotels

Like with airfare, when you bid on hotels at Priceline,you must be flexible. You can designate the rating level, but the exact hotel you will be buying if you win the auction will be a surprise until you are locked into purchasing it. It works about the same way at Hotwire for their deep discounts, except you’re not bidding. Before I use Priceline’s “Name your Price” or Hotwire’s “Deeper Discounts” I search for hotels I really like, check how they are rated there, and then input that star level when I bid (or purchase at Hotwire).

Also, before bidding at Priceline, I check the going rates for other hotels in the category I’m searching. Then I bid 50% of that. If the bid is rejected, I raise it $50.

I have personally bid and got a $55 room price at the Royal Kona Resort and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. (All of these hotels are on the Big Island.) These are truly mind-blowing deals when you look at the rack rates for these hotels. Even during low season in the recession, the lowest rate a the Waikoloa is $255 and most are over $300.

Finally, here are some good sites for vacation rentals and more condos:

VRBO Vacation Rentals by Owner What I especially appreciate about this site is I can search by the specific areas on an island, using their maps.

Home Away This one lists all kinds of properties – condos, vacation rentals, B&Bs, cottages, and so on. You can search by property type as well as criteria like budget and luxury, oceanfront, etc. Another thing I like here is that you can opt to have images show on your search returns (without needing to click through).

Hawaii’s Best Bed-and-Breakfasts now also offers listings of condos and vacation rentals.

Rental Car or Public Transportation?

There are two practical ways for vacationers to get around Oahu, Maui, Kauai or the Big Island: a rental car and public transportation. Oahu has excellent bikeways, but I wouldn’t advise limiting yourself to a bike for your entire vacation. And bicycling all over Maui, Kauai or the Big Island is just plain dangerous. So we’ll look at car rentals and the various public transportation services in this chapter.

Also if you or someone you’re traveling with has a disability, check out this resource guide, published by the State of Hawaii to help those with disabilities and health conditions to get around the islands. In some cases, their tips can save a great deal of expense.

And for those in need of wheelchairs on Oahu, check out the free to rent, beach going, Landeez wheelchair at the Honolulu County site.

Renting a Car

This isn’t going to be a huge part of your vacation budget, but you can save around hundred bucks by shopping at these discount sites: Hotwire, Priceline (bid to save more, especially if close to your vacation dates) and Expedia.

I’ve consistently found the best rates at Hotwire (but do still compare). Searching on Dec. 17, 2009 for Jan 12, 2010 to Jan 19, 2010, I found: $13.95 daily or $142, weekly for a mid-size ($12.95 for a compact). Last month, searching less than two weeks out I found a compact for $8.95.

Public Transportation by Island

Unless you’re vacationing on Oahu, I recommend you get a rental car, but this section will outline the bus offerings on all four major islands.

Oahu Public Transportation

While you can find really good rates at the discount sites for rental cars, there are a couple other budget things to factor in when you rent a car: gas and parking. Waikiki must have the most expensive, difficult parking in the world.

When our entire family vacations there, we rent a car just because that’s what my husband likes to do. But when my son and I go alone, we take a shuttle to the hotel and use the bus and Waikiki trolley. And then sometimes I will rent a car for the day, just to go places that take too long to get to on the bus.

Oahu has a fantastic public transportation system, called of all things, The Bus. They’ve won several awards for America’s Best Transit System.

The Bus stops at practically every attraction on the island. I can’t think of any it doesn’t take you too except for the Pali lookout In Honolulu, a bus comes along around every 10 minutes, and outside Honolulu, they still stop regularly. I think the longest I waited was 30 minutes. So unless it’s the last bus of the day (for most routes, this is late at night), you needn’t worry about missing the bus.

You can tour the entire island for only a few dollars, or you could buy a monthly pass or a 4 day pass. A $25 four-day visitor’s pass ($10 for ages 6 to 17 and disabled, $5 for seniors).

So let’s say you have two adults and one 9-year old. That’s $120 for eight days. You can get a rental car for this amount, but when you add $10 + each day for parking, and gas at over $3 per gallon, The Bus is clearly going to save you some serious bucks. On the other hand, if there’s say four adults (none seniors), not so much.

My suggestion: add up the bus pass or fare prices for those you are traveling with and then compare to the best rental car rate you rate you fine, then estimate gas and parking (often around $10 per day at the hotels) and add.

In my opinion, The Bus works best for people staying in Waikiki or Honolulu since these are the central hubs – but a visitor staying practically anywhere on Oahu can take advantage of this. It also works well if nobody in your family likes to drive and all want to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Now, a few logistics to consider. You cannot board with luggage. However, it’s really easy to catch a shuttle from the airport to your hotel – many hotels provide this at no charge. If they don’t, you will pay about $8 to $12 per person.

When you get to the airport, just pick up a courtesy phone at baggage claim for a shuttle or go out to the taxi flagger for a taxi. The Taxi will run you $30 to $40 to Waikiki.

If you’re going to utilize The Bus, check their site for a list of things you are allowed to bring on board – probably everything you’ll need to bring with you, unless you have a surfboard.

Waikiki Trolley This is a fun way to get around Waikiki but does cost more than The Bus. We like to ride it around at night, just for fun, but as far as buying a 4-day pass, I’d go with The Bus because it takes you all over the island and for less.

Maui Public Transportation

The Maui County funded bus system is way better than it used to be, but it’s still a far cry from Oahu’s bus. It’s commuter routes were created more with workers in mind than tourists, and to see if they go to places you want to go to and at the right times, you’ll need to download the schedule for each one separately. If you want to check them out, go to Maui County’s bus page.

The fares are good – from $1 each time you board to free, depending on the route. The commuter routes are in operation seven days a week and include: Haiku-Wailea, Makawao-Kapalua, Wailuku-Kapalua, Kihei-Kapalua and Wailuku-Kahului.

Big Island (Hawaii Island) Public Transportation

Because everything is so spread out on the Big Island, I really recommend you rent a car, unless you are going stay at a resort for the entire vacation and maybe take a day tour or two (but then the day tours are no way to save lots of money).

If you’re budget though is really tight, it is possible to see many of the island’s attractions via the bus, provided you plan extremely well. Unlike on Oahu, if you miss the bus here, chances are you are stuck.

In all fairness, the Hele On (means “to go” bus, Big Island’s County Mass Transit service, has come a long way. We now have more than one route! Actually there are 12 routes I think, and sometimes more than one bus per route.

Where can you get to on the Hele On? Many of the beaches, attractions, shopping centers and restaurants. You can even get to the Volcano National Park’s (but once dropped off at the Visitor Center, you’ll need to walk around the rest of the park, and it’s a big park.)

On a positive note the Hele On is free to use. You can check out the schedules, etc. at

If you are using the bus and are visiting Hilo Town and want to get around more efficiently within its urban area, check out the Shared Ride Taxi program at the bus page linked above. You can get door to door service for as little as $2. Not bad, considering the bus is free.

Bottom line though is unless you are really pinching pennies, I’d rent a car on all islands except Oahu.

Kauai Public Transportation

Unlike the other islands, there are many popular attractions on The Garden Isle that you cannot reach by bus, Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali trailhead for two. If you are going with a Na Pali boat tour, there might be a shuttle though. Kauai’s bus system is so small, I suggest you really do your homework on this and plan everything just right or rent a car. You can check out the routes at the Kauai County’s Transportation Agency.

And again the best deals for rental cars, in my opinion, are Hotwire, Priceline and Expedia, generally in that order.

Save Hundreds with Hawaii Vacation Packages

Now that we’ve looked at airfare, hotel and car rental deals…

While you can often get a better deal if you take the time to shop/bid for hotel, air and car separately, there are plenty of exceptions. So when you are on those discount sites, take a few more minutes to check out the vacation packages.

And of course, booking a package is more convenient – you can even include activities and dining, if you like the offerings. Personally, I prefer to leave my activity and dining options open rather than book them ahead of time. For this chapter, we’ll stick to the primary purpose of the ebooklet, which is to show you how you can save thousands on your Hawaii vacation.

Here is where I find the best deals on my vacation packages:

Note: For the best deals on vacation packages be as flexible as possible. For example, select “anytime” for flights and let them choose your car model and airline carrier.

Expedia is a vacation package leader on the Web. They are continually updating Hawaii packages, and when I can’t find a package with a hotel I want, I can almost always find it at Expedia just because they have so many! I always stop here first, check out the prices and then compare at the other sites. Another cool thing about Expedia – they are on the cutting edge of multiple destination vacations, and cutting edge is where it’s at for me.

So far, while Hawaiian Air offers multiple island packages, Expedia is the only major booking site I know of that lets you book more than one destination in a package. To date, you can include two islands.

Pleasant Holidays – They have several types of packages and lots of ways to customize (I like that!).

Hawaiian Air – As mentioned above, Hawaiian Air offers both mainland-Hawaii and inter-island “build your own package” deals. Unlike most airlines, Hawaiian Air also frequently has very competitive fares too.

Priceline – The best savings here are in the “Name your Price” option – bidding on hotels or airfare. You can’t bid on packages, but once in a while you still find a better package deal than elsewhere. Certainly worth checking.

Hotwire – As with Priceline, you’ll find the best deals closer rather than farther from your vacation dates. Still, this is a decent site for packages, and as you’ll see in my examples below can save you hundreds.

It may seem like a huge pain to do all this shopping around, but when you want to save thousands of dollars, you gotta make the effort. It’s well worth it believe me. Once it’s all booked, you get to enjoy Hawaii :-)

Vacation Package Finds

Just to give you some fresh examples, I searched today (Dec. 17 2009) for a hotel/air/car package. I entered the following criteria (just for example): Roundtrip from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL). Two adults, one child. Departing Jan. 12 2010. Returning Jan. 19 2010. 4-star hotel. And to get better deals, I left flight times and car model open.

And these are some of the deals I found…


Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort

Hawaiian Airlines was the winner here: $2760 for the family of three. Expedia wasn’t far behind at $2786. Priceline,which doesn’t include packages in their “Name Your Price” (bidding) was the loser: $3750.

Outrigger on the Beach

Expedia wins with a $2451 package. Priceline was the priciest at $2835.

Waikiki Marriott

Priceline delivered here: $2358! Hotwire loses this one at $2756. Remember, like Priceline, Hotwire’s best discounts normally aren’t found in packages. Their “deep discount” search works best not only closer to departure but only for hotels and flights, each separately.

Turtle Bay Resort (on the North Shore)

That said – surprise. Hotwire had the hands down best rate here: $2809! Expedia wasn’t far behind with a $2826 package. These were $100 less than Pleasant Holidays and hundreds less than Hawaiian Air and Priceline.

Maui – Wailea Beach Marriott Resort

Pleasant Holidays had a waaay better price: $3433 for the family of three package. Expedia and Hotwire: $4076 and $4147.

Kauai – Marriott Kauai Resort

Priceline had the best deal here at $3283. Pleasant Holiday’s price wasn’t quite as pleasant: $3716.

Big Island (Hawaii Island) – Hilton Waikoloa

Priceline offered a really mind blowing deal at $2583! That’s only $123 per night, including air and rental car for my all time favorite Hawaii hotel :-) The total vacation when you add food and activities would be thousands less than a typical Hawaii vacation. Pleasant Holidays bombed at $3726.

So this gives you an idea of the type of prices you can get from package deals that include along with air and car, an amazing luxury hotel/resort (in my opinion).

Still, while you’re on these sites, also look at the hotels, air and car individually. At Priceline use that forum I mentioned earlier to check winning bids. I add these up to see if a package can beat the grand total. You can search for other star ratings too; it just so happens that our family favorites are all 4-star so that was my search criteria.

Saving Money on Fun Things to Do in Hawaii

Hawaii has lots of things to do that don’t cost anything or that cost very little. Take the beaches for example. All have free access to the public (except Hanauma Bay’s nominal fee). It costs nothing to enjoy the beaches, people watch, body surf, swim, relax…

Many of the cultural activities like the festivals are also free. To save big time opt for the more authentic choices. For example, Bishop Museum on Oahu is awesome. My family and I could spend all day in there because it’s that interesting and fun. And the entry fees here are far less than say the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Oahu has the lowest cost activities. Just by vacationing on Oahu instead of one of the other islands, you can save lots.

And here is a list of activities and places to see that are free or low-cost:

Historical/Cultural Places & Events – Each island has lots of places where you can learn about events that have made Hawaii what it is today from heiau (ancient temples) and Iolani Palace to Pearl Harbor (USS Arizona and USS Missouri memorials). And there’s almost always some sort of festival or another in Hawaii. Events are listed at

Outdoors Recreation – Swimming, surfing, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, sunset cruises, dolphin and whale watching, strolling through botanical gardens and hiking can be done on all the islands.

On Oahu, watch the surfing championships on Oahu’s North Shore, take the kids to the Honolulu zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. On Kauai, hike the first (fairly easy) first two miles of the Na Pali Trail and/or checkout Waimea Canyon (Grand Canyon of the Pacific). On Maui, drive the Road to Hana. On the Big Island, visit Volcano National Park.

A&E – Hawaiian music and hula are easy to enjoy for free or the cost of a drink or two in places like Waikiki. On all of the islands, music and hula are performed at many of the parks, shopping centers and resorts’ public areas. If you’re into the visual arts, there are mesmerizing galleries and cool crafts shows on all the islands too.

The Hawaii Entertainment Book Activities Savings

One way I love to save money on activities is with the Hawaii Entertainment Book. If you decide to vacation on the Oahu or Maui, I recommend you get this because there are dozens of activities you can save money on with this coupon book. However, it’s not of too much use on Kauai or the Big Island generally. There are some coupons though. Check out my review where I list them. Using the book on Oahu or Maui for a week or two can save hundreds on activities.

The Go Oahu Card for Active Oahu Vacationers

I like the Go Oahu card available just for Oahu. I have bought it and used it. It is ONLY good for very active travelers though. The way I recommend you to use it is to get it for a portion of your vacation – like if your vacation is a 7 day vacation, get the 3 or 5 day card and do three or more activities on those days you use it, and do your relaxing (lounge around on the beach or snorkel or shop or hike) on days that you are not using it. Here’s my full review on it.

In my experience, it saves you money if you are doing 2-3 activities per day.

Take the Bite out of Hawaii’s Food Expenses

It’s really easy to save money on food in Hawaii if you don’t mind packing sandwiches for your outings and making use of a kitchenette for part of the vacation. Hawaii has a Safeway too, so you can make use of your Safeway card if you have one. Foodland is a good Hawaii based supermarket chain for saving money, and they will give you their discount card.

Some of Hawaii’s food cost 50% more than on the mainland, especially dairy (over $6 for a gallon of milk) and convenience foods like boxed cereals ($7 for a regular size box of Honey Nut Crunch). But the stores have sales on all of these items, and again, you can often save with your Safeway card, Foodland’s Makai card. You can also bring items like cereal and favorite snacks from home, and then use the empty luggage space on the way back for souvenirs.

Then to save money on dining out (you can’t go on vacation and prepare all of your own meals) I like to use the Hawaii Entertainment Book.

As mentioned in the “Activities” chapter, the coupon book works best for Oahu or Maui and can easily save you hundreds in food and activities.

On Oahu alone, there are at least $1000 worth of dining out savings! Pretty cool. See the available coupons here.

You can also save a lot also by eating local style. No poi required. Take the plate lunch for example. This is quite filling and normally costs about $7. Plate lunch wagons and take out restaurants offer many variations, but normally it includes a meat, such as teriyaki beef, one scoop of macaroni salad, and two scoops white rice. Many, like L&L Barbecue offers healthy substitutes, along with traditional fare.

Another way to eat more local style and save money is by shopping at the grower’s markets for island produce, cheeses and meats and fish. Hawaii has many grower’s markets. Kapiolani on Oahu is very popular and good. These are also great places to find souvenirs and gifts to bring home.

Save on Souvenirs

This is really easy if you shop like you would at home to save money. Walmart and Kmart have big souvenir sections, so if you go there and buy all your souvenirs you could save lots of money and time.

Then there are some of the Hawaii based venues where you can save on souvenirs. Hilo Hatties is one. They have really cute low-cost trinkets, plush toys and such. For clothing though, you’ll find Hawaiian wear at lower costs at the big box discount stores. Ross’ is also in Hawaii, and depending on the season, you can find lots of Hawaii tank tops and such here.

Oahu’s International Marketplace and Aloha Swap Meet still have good buys. And that’s about it. Really you can leave Hawaii with sacks full of fun and really nice souvenirs without spending the hundreds or thousands that the typical tourist family spends on shopping!

In Conclusion

Well, that’s a wrap. I think if you follow my tips, you and your family will save thousands on your Hawaii vacation. Remember to check my other free guides for more details on the individual islands. And have a fun vacation! Leave me a comment if you want to share any stories or ask any questions:


Cheap Hawaii Wedding – Do It Yourself Hawaii Weddings

Your Guide to Simple, Low-Cost, and Fun Hawaii Weddings

Hi, I’m Lisa.

How to Get Married in Hawaii On a Dime! Simple, fun, and low-cost Hawaii Weddings

This ebooklet is an answer to all the requests from people asking for my personal advice on getting married in Hawaii and doing so without spending a fortune.

Hawaii is such a beautiful place that it makes it an ideal location for weddings. More than 10,000 couples travel here every year to get married.

The islands are just naturally romantic, and with the great weather and amazing settings, you don’t even need to rent an indoors venue. You will already be in one of world’s favorite honeymoon destinations, and family and friends able to attend will appreciate the great excuse to visit Hawaii.

I have made every effort to ensure that this information was correct when I wrote or updated it, but I do not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by any errors or omissions, regardless of how they occurred. Nothing in this book is guaranteed.

But I think you are going to be surprised when you find out how easy it is to not only get married in Hawaii but to do so within a tight budget.

Most everything in this book is my opinion, based on my preferences and resources and experiences. I hope it helps point you in the direction you most want to take based on your preferences and resources. 🙂 Aloha!

My Experience Getting Married in Hawaii & Coordinating a Wedding Here
In 1996, my husband and I got married in Kona on the Big Island. We had lived in Hilo for about a year so we knew a little bit about the islands. My husband planned the wedding with some help from a coordinator in Kailua-Kona, and we spent less than $600 on it.

The most valuable piece of information to know about getting married in Hawaii is it is legal to get married on almost any beach or public park in the islands. (There is a $20 permit required for beaches now, if you have a coordinator.)

Plus, if you get married on the West side of any island you are practically guaranteed good weather (very little rain falls on the West sides) so you may decide not to have a fallback plan. We didn’t. We just decided the weather would be nice and went for it. The weather was awesome.

We got married at 10 a.m. 10 or before or else after 5 are good times to get married – any other time may be too hot.

Our wedding costs were like this:

coordinator: $80
cake: $40
leis: $30
pastor, photographer, and videographer: about $400
(my husband rented a tux and I made my dress)
The coordinator brought the cake and the leis and found the pastor, photographer, and videographer.

cutting the cake at jameson's

We got married in Pahoehoe Park off of Alii Dr. in Kona. It was actually a wonderful experience. We had a light breeze. A praying mantis climbed up the pastor’s pant leg, climbed out on his bible, and then hopped onto my dress. That was cool. Plus, a van full of hippies stopped when they saw us walking and ran over and gave us all maile leis they had probably been making.

Afterward we walked next door to Jameson’s by the Sea Restaurant for oceanfront dining. They opened up an hour early for us and we had the ocean lanai area to ourselves. What a nice memory 🙂

Then, we drove to the airport and went off to Molokai for our honeymoon.

A few years later I coordinated my brother-in-law’s wedding in Kona also for under $200. Here’s what I did for that one.

We stayed at the then Kona Surf (now Sheraton Keauhou). We used their gardens for wedding grounds for a small fee (i was very inexpensive back then, like $80 or something). I ordered a small wedding cake from KTA (a local grocery store) and went there to pick it up before the wedding. I ordered a Haku lei (very extravagant and pricey and awesome lei) – at least $50) for the bride and a maile lei for the groom and I picked these up from the lei store.

Before the wedding we went to Hilo Hatties and got matching tropical-style clothing for them.

I found a pastor in the phone book and his fee was around $100 I think.

I took the pictures of the event and my husband took the video.

It was small, inexpensive, and perfect – and they are still married 🙂 , as am I and my husband. So that’s the secret to a long and happy marriage. Get married in Hawaii for under $1000. 🙂

The coordinator I hired is no longer in business but here’s a good one for Kona. Their packages start out very reasonably.

You could do it without a coordinator, but I wouldn’t if you don’t have reliable friends in Hawaii. It’s not worth the hassle, in my opinion. I would get a coordinator for the basics (they can help you pick a place and make sure that you have everything done that needs to be done) and then if you want to save money by getting your own leis and your own cake, etc, do that.

How to Get Married in Hawaii

Legal Requirements

(make sure nothing has changed with these -official hawaii gov site here)

While some things have changed since I got married in Hawaii and since I coordinated my brother in law’s wedding here, it is still very easy to get married in Hawaii.

Some mistakenly think that they need to get married “legally” on the mainland if they have a wedding ceremony in Hawaii, but Hawaii is our 50th state and weddings here are as legal as in any of the other states.

All you will need is a marriage license, and in most cases a picture ID or Driver’s License. The marriage license costs $60, is issued on site, and there’s no waiting period before the marriage can take place.

There’s a PDF you can download with the marriage license application. You will both need to sign in the presence of the marriage license agent here in Hawaii.

If you have any questions there’s a number to call (listed on the page)

The second page of this two-page application contains the specific instructions on what you need to bring with you with your license. There is no blood test requirement. If you are under 19, you’ll need a certified copy of your birth certificate. If over 18, you may be asked for a picture ID or driver’s license. If you are under 18, you will need both parents’ or guardians’ consent or consent from the family court, and if 15, you will need these too along with approval from a family court judge. Instructions for the application and what you need to bring are very straight forward and easy to follow.

After much debate Hawaii decided not to legalize gay marriages (so far 2011); however, many coordinators and officiates will help with the ceremony as well as vow renewals and other non-legally binding but meaningful events.

If you’re from a country outside of the United States, chances are they will recognize a United States wedding, and if an Apostil is required, you can get a copy of the license from the State of Hawaii for $1.

Contact information for marriage license agents, along with the marriage license application and everything else you need to know about getting a Hawaii marriage license is on or linked to from this page

The State will mail a certified copy of the marriage certificate to the address you provide on your marriage license application. Many of the wedding packages and coordinators offer personalized copies.

The Ceremony

Before choosing a wedding coordinator or officiate, consider the type of wedding you want. Do you want a traditional ceremony? Or a Hawaiian ceremony? A blend of the two or something unique? Just as with getting married anywhere else in the United States, it’s all up to you and your fiance.

Many like to include both traditional and Hawaiian elements. This may be religious or non-religious. Often in this type of wedding the officiate will speak of the beauty of Hawaii – its waters, mountains and flowers, plus how they symbolize your love and marriage.

Sometimes the ceremony will be announced with the blowing of a conch shell, and there will be a lei exchange between bride and groom. The officiate will talk about the lei and how it encircles in never ending love. The wedding will be completed with the exchange of rings and vows and of course the kiss.

Here are a couple of examples:

Just as with mainland weddings, if you want to write your own vows check with the officiate before hiring. Most will be happy to accommodate.

The Wedding Coordinator

I used a wedding coordinator and my advice is unless you have friends or family in Hawaii you trust to help you, then the money is well worth it. Find one you connect with and follow the coordinators advice – they will know what area blows too much sand, or which minister is the most personable. Often the wedding coordinator is also a marriage license agent.

Likely the coordinator will offer various wedding packages. Choose one you can afford. Most offer packages in varying increments from about $250 to thousands. Ours cost about $80 but that was in 1996. Since we purchased our own leis and cake and all, we just used the coordinator for help finding the minister, photographer and videographer. You can probably do the same today for about $150.

Another advantage, depending on where you want to have your wedding, is that some of the state’s places of historical significance that rent facilities, such as Iolani Palace require a wedding coordinator set things up.

To find a coordinator, I would search online along with the name of the island and maybe also the region or city (Kona’s a long way from Hilo). If you want to marry on the beach, check for coordinators that specialize in beach weddings on the sand. Some will prefer parks near the ocean to avoid the beach permit (more on this later), so do read their sites and ask.

Packages start around $200 for a minister, maybe two leis and some consultation. The most basic packages that include photography will often start at around $500 and will include about an hour’s worth of photography and around a dozen 4×6 prints.

You’re paying mostly for the photographer. I think the photography and videography are worth the extra money, but I would advise avoiding those second or third tier packages that add hundreds for two leis and a bottle of champagne because you can get these things yourself for far less.

Packages with video are found in higher price ranges. This coordinator offers fairly decent prices and this will give you an idea of what to look for:

You can also see what various packages offer by going to the state’s official tourism site’s wedding section These are mostly expensive, but there are some deals.

Many of the packages include something like “processing marriage license,” which seems silly to me since you and your fiance are the ones who must fill it out and then go to the agent to sign there. The lowest price ones are usually selling this service, the marriage performer and a little help finding locations. If you don’t know the area and don’t have someone here to help, again, it’s the consultation that will be of the most value.

The Wedding Performer (Officiate)

As mentioned above, the wedding coordinator will help you find someone to perform the wedding. If you aren’t using a coordinator, you can find an officiate in various ways. One is to ask the marriage license agent for recommendations but do so on the phone – don’t wait till you get here.

Another place to look for marriage performers is to search online. If you wish to have an officiate with a specific religion perform your wedding ceremony, search online for places of worship on the island you wish to be married. Be sure that your marriage performer is licensed by the State of Hawaii.

Also good to know – your officiate will likely be a very good source of information, so if you don’t have a wedding coordinator or others in Hawaii to help, don’t be shy about asking the officiate for suggestions on free and low-cost locations, photographers, etc.

Plan on spending around $100 for the marriage performer.

If you want to marry right on the beach, your officiate may add on to the price the cost of the beach permit fee ($20 minimum and 10 cents per square foot).

The Wedding Photography

The photographs will likely be the most spendy part of your wedding, and if you have video, even more so, but you’ll have them forever as visual memories of your special day. Unless you have a good photographer among your friends or in your family, plan to spend $500 upwards, depending on if your getting video too and and how many prints you want, if you want the DVD with the unedited photos, etc.

The wedding coordinator can arrange for or make recommendations. If you are coordinating, you’ll find several photographers and videographers online. You might also add “budget” or “affordable” to your search terms. If you first find a wedding performer (officiate), ask for recommendations.

Look at the photo galleries, comments and prices, and then call or email the ones on your short list. Ask them questions like what type of wedding photography they specialize in or most enjoy and see if this rings a bell for you. For example, some specialize in fun and spontaneous wedding photos, while others are more formal and traditional. Some do mostly beach weddings, while others church weddings.

Where to Get Married in Hawaii

Oahu is the easiest island for getting married on a dime. Just about everything costs less on Oahu than the outer islands (except groceries in Waikiki!). Oahu also has more venues for weddings. Possibly on the downside, Oahu has lots of people at the beaches and parks.

However, even Oahu has its secret beaches (like the hidden cove in walking distance from Turtle Bay) and Oahu also has venues you can rent for good prices. Actually when you are getting married in an outdoors location such as at the beach or in a park, you are saving hundreds or thousands right there, no matter which of the Hawaiian Islands you choose for your wedding.

Hotel Weddings

Many of the hotels offer wedding packages, but these can be extremely expensive. I would go with an alternative location, and then if you can afford it, save the romantic hotel or resort for your honeymoon (I’ll list some of my favorites in the honeymoon section). You can check with them to see about fees for using their grounds only, but even for just the right to take wedding pictures (with your own photographer), it’s going to cost a few hundred.

When I coordinated by brother in law’s wedding we were able to use the Kona Surf (now Sheraton Keahou Resort & Spa) grounds for $80, but this was over a decade ago and the hotel has changed ownership and undergone renovations.

The Sheraton Keauhou’s lowest cost venue rentals now $500 (sunset cliffs and the small chapel overlooking the sea), and their lowest cost package is $750 (coordinator, officiate, location, lei and a solo musician). Sunset weddings, as at many venues, are extra – in this case, $250 more.

One of the best hotels to get married out these days is also on the Big Island: King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. This is one of the Top 10 – and really the only low cost one – in Destination Weddings and Honeymoons article “Hawaii Weddings on Any Budget.” And their luau is both a a local and visitor favorite on the Big Island $70 per adult, making a great place for a wedding with guests. The King Kam’s wedding packages start at $500 like most of the lower cost wedding packages do. The location here though is what makes this budget wedding special. The grounds are lovely and include the beach overlooking Kailua Bay, the gardens and the sacred grounds once occupied by King Kamehameha himself.

Honestly though, this hotel is starting to show it’s age. The grounds are awesome, but unless they start renovating rooms, you might want to stay elsewhere and just use their accommodations for the wedding itself.

The best value hotel wedding packages in Hawaii start around $500, but quickly jump to a thousand and upwards for very few extras. The basic packages usually include something like this: the officiate, wedding coordinator, location (of course) and two leis. If you really want that particular location, this makes sense, otherwise it doesn’t really when you consider you’ll like pay about about half that for these things and the location could be free or nominal. The photography usually at least doubles the prices of these basic packages, and it will likely be your biggest expense package or no, but a very important item.

You might want to just call though and check with the hotels you like and see what it would cost to hold the ceremony on their grounds and be allowed to take pictures. Alternatively, if you have a beach wedding directly in front of hotel’s landscape, you’ve got the nice background for free.

As for the low cost and free venues…

You can marry on the beach for free. There are also parks and waterfalls that you can use as settings for your ceremony, free of charge.

Tying the Knot on the Beach

Beach Wedding Rules

Perhaps you have heard you need a permit to marry on the beach in Hawaii. You actually don’t, but the vendors now do. As of August 1, 2008, the State of Hawaii requires all commercial service providers to carry a a Right-of-Entry (ROE) Permit. So anyone making a profit from your wedding, such as the officiate, wedding coordinator, musician, must get the permit and give copies to their staff serving at your wedding.

This only applies when the wedding is on the actual sand. It has to do with commercial vendors operating on Hawaii’s free, public beaches.
If you’ll notice, in my pictures, we got married in front of, but not on a beach at Pahoehoe Park in Kona. And it was still perfectly lovely.

Again, the wedding couple does not need a permit nor are they responsible for getting this for the service providers. And don’t worry…Hawaii will not not interrupt your wedding if one of the service providers doesn’t have their permit – they may later fine them but Hawaii will not interfere with your wedding. Hawaii loves weddings (and the visitors they bring to the islands)!

Your officiate and other service providers may add on to the fee the cost of the permit, but unless you need lots of space, this shouldn’t be much. Each service provider is charged .10 cents per square foot with a $20 minimum.

There are some restrictions that the new law brings that you should know about if you don’t have a coordinator to handle it. Alcohol is not allowed. Neither are receptions (although many beaches have pavilions and grassy parks you can use). Two hours is the maximum time allowed. Weddings on the beach aren’t allowed to place chairs (except for elderly, disabled and others who need to sit for health reasons).

Arches and other structures and decorations cannot be used, although you can have loose flowers. For example a petal path can be created with loose flowers and leis can be used for decorative purposes, but vases of flowers could not be set up to mark the path. Acoustic but not amplified music is allowed. I’m not sure if a CD player would count as “amplified” music, but your wedding coordinator or officiate should know.

The permit application lists all of the rules.

Finding the Best Location for your Beach Wedding

To make finding a quiet spot on a beach easier, avoid weekends, major holidays and the high tourism seasons of summer, Christmas vacation and spring break.
You might also want to take a look at Hawaii’s school vacation schedule, although when the parents are at work, you won’t see a great deal of extra people at the beach except maybe more teens who want to catch waves or hang with friends. Hawaii has a year-round school year, with vacations split up throughout. You can get the school’s vacation schedule at the DOE site here.

To make this easier though, just check with your coordinator, officiate or if you have friends or family here that know the beaches. You can find quiet beaches on every island. Usually they are more out of the way. Or if you go during the quieter times as mentioned above, and you don’t go to the busiest beaches, like Waikiki, you can likely find a quiet spot on your beach.

While many of the parks do rent pavilions, keep in mind that alcohol is not allowed at state and county parks. If you want to serve champagne or have an open bar at your reception, there are other venues that will accommodate.

If you do want to look into a pavilion, check the Hawaii State Parks site or the county parks site for your wedding destination island.

A pavilion next to the beach is a good idea to have for a back up should the weather turn bad. If it’s first come first serve basis, don’t plan your wedding on a busy day, like those mentioned above, if you have someone who can arrive early in the morning to set up the decorations, all the better. Again, this is where a coordinator can come in handy. Some parks will be more suitable to your special day than others, and your coordinator can help with this.

Sunset Weddings

Many couples to exchange vows with the sunset as a romantic backdrop. Along with early morning, evening when the sun is setting is another of the more quiet times at the beaches. Choose a leeward (west) side location for the perfect, sun setting over the horizon views, and depending on the beach, south (Waikiki) and north (North Shore’s Sunset Beach) offer some of Hawaii’s most awesome and romantic sunsets. Silhouetted palm trees add lots to the photos.

The view of the sunset will change slightly from day to day, as will the sunset time. If you’re reeealy into sunsets and want the perfect angle, here’s a sunset calculator.

If you are not sure which island you want to get married on, see my other free eBooklets

Hawaii Wedding Weather

Basically the windward (east) sides of the islands are lush and tropical but get lots of rain, while the leeward (west) sides are hot, dry and sunny. Most rain on the
windward side falls at night and in the morning, but sometimes it can rain for weeks straight. Most showers on the leeward side fall in the late afternoon on the upland slopes. If you marry on the leeward side and the weather reports look good you might not even need a back up location. My husband I didn’t use one.

Other Places to Marry in Hawaii on a Dime

Tying the Knot at a State Park

Hawaii State Parks include some of the most beautiful and romantic locations in the islands. Akaka Falls in one of them. Here you can get married in front of a 400 foot waterfall amidst lush tropical gardens on the windward side of the Big Island. There’s always a chance of rain here, but you just need to two volunteers to hold umbrellas 🙂

If you want to get married at a state park, note that you must send in your permit application at least 45 days before the requested date of use.

You can find lists of parks by island here

The permit information is listed here

This is also where you can apply for a group permit to use a pavilion at the state parks that require this.

Tying the Knot at a National Park in Hawaii

Are you and your betrothed outdoorsy types who are looking for a unique wedding location? If there will be no more than 25 people, you can get married in one of Hawaii’s national parks. To preserve the natural and cultural grounds and atmosphere, there are restrictions; for example, only acoustical music if any (depends on the location).

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park – Big Island
Also known as the Place of Refuge, this is a lovely and peaceful park with a lagoon, ancient royal fish ponds and a replica of an ancient Hawaiian village. There
are picnic tables near the ocean. You will need to apply for a permit for your wedding here. They also require permits for group picnicking (over 25).
For information on the permit (I think it’s $50), use the contact info here

Haleakala (House of the Sun) National Park – Maui

As the National Park description reads – “Haleakala volcano is a marriage of light and stone, clouds and forest…” It’s a very unusual place and an unusual place for a wedding, but if if you love it here, it may be just right for your wedding. There’s much majesty and splendor here, and the serenity is quite profound. If you’re both adventurous types, instead of riding off in the limo to your honeymoon, take the downhill bike ride here!

Permits are $100 for Haleakala weddings. Here’s the permit info

Hawaii Volcano National Park – Big Island

Getting married on an active volcano – now there’s an opportunity for some powerful symbols. Ceremonies may be held anywhere that is easily accessible with the exception of Halema’uma’u Crater and the hula platform near the Kilauea Visitor Center.

Most couples choose overlooks with a view into Kilauea Caldera or Kilauea Iki Crater, or the pretty, forested areas filled with bird song like Kipukapuaulu. Start your honeymoon with a helicopter tour of the fiery lava or a hike (free) out to see the lava flow to the ocean !

Caution: Have a backup plan because since Halemaumau’s recent eruptions the sulfur dioxide levels have on occasion increased to the point that the park had to close. You can see the changing levels here.

There is a non-refundable $50 application fee for the wedding permit. Park entrance fees also apply.

Tying the Knot at a Garden

Honolulu Botanical Gardens There are five sites in all, each with lovely settings for weddings (ceremonies and photography only, not receptions). The tropical plant collections are home to many rare and endangered plants from around the world. The use of music, chairs and table is decided on a case by case basis. Permits need to be filed at least three weeks in advance. Your photographer/videographer may also need a permit.

Up to five parties (weddings, commercial photography shoots, etc.) are allowed to use a park at one time, and this is on a first come first serve basis, meaning you might have to wait for your turn. On the other hand the gardens are amazing.
Foster Botanical Gardens is located in Honolulu and gets the most visitors, but you’re practically guaranteed sunny, nice weather.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is located in Kaneohe on the Windward side and is very quiet, gets far less visitors than Foster but you do need to be prepared for rain showers, and due to the moisture more mosquitoes. You can read about all five of the gardens in detail here.

Note that while Lili`uokalani Botanical Garden has waterfalls, they are a popular lunch spot with those working in the nearby businesses.

This page provides permit information

Waimea Valley Gardens

Home to Waimea Falls on Oahu’s North Shore, this is what used to be an adventure park and then later was run by the Audubon Society. The park is a cultural and serene place of great beauty now run by a non profit organization. They have facilities for receptions and you can get married here by a waterfall or
in one of their other awesome settings. I don’t know if you can still swim under the waterfalls. If after viewing their site, you are interested, use the contact information there to inquire about fees.

There are many public and private gardens on all of the islands with awesome sites for weddings. Some have wonderful photography settings like gazebos, waterfalls and lily ponds, and many have covered areas you can use if it rains. You’ll find these by searching online for wedding locations on your destination island. Or ask your wedding coordinator, officiate or photographer for recommendations.

Regal Weddings

‘Iolani Palace

For a fairy tale wedding, consider getting married at the only royal palace in the United States. Iolani Palace in Honolulu has sites on its beautiful grounds for weddings and receptions. Since the palace is considered a sacred place and a historical gem, there are restrictions and policies that need to be followed. After exchanging vows in one of the Palace’s gardens, you can have a reception in the private open-air courtyard of the historic ‘Iolani Palace Barracks, a coral block structure of limestone with crenelated parapets and towers.

If you wish to marry here, you will need to apply for a permit from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Permits usually take about two weeks to process.

Receptions require a non refundable $250 deposit, and a wedding professional such as a wedding coordinator must submit the application. Permission for professional photography such as wedding pictures and other special events on the Palace grounds should be obtained through the State Parks Office (808) 587-0300.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

Located just a couple of miles from Honolulu in the lush, Nu’uanu Valley, this was the summer retreat of Queen Emma (1836-1885), wife of one of Hawaii’s favorite kings, King Kamehameha IV, Alexander Liholiho (1834-1863). The lovely palace

(Victorian summer home) and grounds are preserved by the Daughters of Hawai`i in a charming Hawaiian-Victorian setting.

Rental of the separate and less regal Emmalani Hale reception room starts at $100 for less than 25 guests. A $200 security deposit is refundable. For less than 50 guests tables and chairs and parking (valet not required) are available. The open air reception room is over 1,000 square feet and has a kitchen. Weddings are more spendy – $400 for use of the Palace’s Terrace. Admission to the museum palace for everyone is included.

What to Wear for your Hawaii Wedding?

If you will be getting married outside or in a venue without air conditioning, keep in mind Hawaii’s weather is usually warm and humid except in the evening or early morning or higher elevations. The tradewinds help a lot with the humidity, but still a tuxedo might be very uncomfortable. Same goes for a dress made with heavy materials. While the wedding ceremony itself isn’t long, the photo shoot could run an hour to two. You want those pictures to reflect your happiness with smiles not grimaces!

If you do want to rent a tux, there are places you can do that in Hawaii. Check with your coordinator or do an online search.

The Bride’s Attire

Getting married right on the beach with feet in the sand calls for a few special considerations but also opens the door to some really fun options – going barefoot, for example. (I was barefoot)

It can get quite breezy on the beach, no matter what side of the island. With this in mind, it’s probably best to avoid full skirts. A slightly flared dress, if long, is pretty much wind-proof, or if you have the figure for it, something slinky. Short and tea-length dresses, long sundresses, and strapless and halter top gowns are all classic beach wedding attire. Hawaiian sundresses with white on white Hawaiian floral print can be very pretty as well as elegant.

Some brides even wear bikini tops with a sarong tied around as a skirt, although I’d like something a bit more special for my wedding that is fun and memorable for others.

Airy lightweight fabrics and cotton are best. Think cool and relaxed, yet sexy and beautiful. And if you want something fancier than barefoot, consider barefoot sandals.

Here are some examples of dresses for beach weddings

A very formal looking gown with a long train might look out of place on the beach but could be very fitting in a garden sitting or at an Iolani Palace wedding. Some though like going all out with the tux and Cinderella wedding gown on the beach – the contrast is rather fun, and Hawaii doesn’t have much of a fashion police force.
For a Hawaiian wedding dress that is both formal and yet fitting for any wedding location, check out the holoku. This goes back to Victorian times in Hawaii but has many modern variations.

The holoku is a long fitted dress that flares at the bottom. It’s slightly shorter in the front and has a fishtail or short train. It’s what Maile wore when she married Elvis’ character in Blue Hawaii. The holoku can be floral print or elegant white, as tropical or formal as you like.

To save money on a formal gown, check out eBay. At last check today, I saw traditional wedding gowns starting at $200. You can also save money on formal gowns by looking at prom dresses. My sister-in-law got a beautiful white dress for $50 off ebay last year.

The Groom’s Attire

As mentioned above a tux might be uncomfortable at an outdoor or open air venue in Hawaii’s warm and humid climate. Still many do rent tuxes here and wear them for the short ceremony. My husband did – he was fine (if I do say so myself 😉 lol). Places in Hawaii to rent tuxes can be found online or through your coordinator.
The Hawaiian tradition for the groom is a white shirt with maile lei. A lightweight white jacket with maile lei and black slacks looks very elegant and nicely complements a bride wearing a more formal gown.

Many men wear tan slacks and a white shirt or tasteful aloha shirt (Hawaiian print, usually floral) or tan dress shorts. I think the slacks go better with full length wedding gowns and the dressy casual shorts (resort wear) work better when the bride is wearing something more casual, like a sun dress.

Men can go barefoot in the sand too (don’t forget the pedicure!). I like this look much better than flip flops with slacks.

Matching Attire
Another option is to wear matching aloha wear and leis, like my brother in law and his bride did. Hilo Hatties is a good place to find matching shirts and dresses.

And don’t worry, this isn’t tacky. My Hawaiian friend and her local groom did this for her second wedding. They had the whole family (two kids also) in matching outfits. They all looked very nice.

If you are looking for more trendy and don’t mind the additional expence, Macy’s in Hawaii carries very nice Hawaiian lines, including Reyn Spooner and Kahala, two of the trendier aloha wear designers.

Head Adornments and Lei

If you wear a veil on the beach (many don’t) or anywhere that it could get breezy, insert small weights at the bottom to keep the tail from flying and pin it down well to your hair. Some Hawaiian wedding dress sites have veils with silk orchids, but for a more real Hawaiian look, wear a haku lei or a flower/cluster of tropical flowers in your hair.

The haku lei is a crown of flowers and other plant materials and is gorgeous. Many of the haku leis have lots of greenery woven in but you can have one made with flowers to match your wedding colors or even white orchids. You can order these at florist shops. These take much longer to make than neck leis so they are more spendy – around $50 upwards, but a beautiful haku lei will do so much for those photos. Be sure to order in advance (many of the florists are online) or work with your wedding coordinator on this.

If you decide to instead wear loose flowers in your hair…You can find these everywhere – grower’s markets, supermarkets, florists…refrigerate and then if
you are having your hair done bring to the stylist. There are so many lovely flowers here that you will have no problem finding ones you love and that coordinate with your dress: gardenia, Tahitian gardenias, plumeria, orchids, hibiscus of varying colors, and the list goes on.

Saving Money on Airfare and Lodging for your wedding

You can find some really good fares and hotel and car rental rates by using sites like Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire and To learn how and to get lots more money saving tips check out my free ebooklet: How to Save Thousands on a Hawaiian Vacation

If you have guests flying over for the wedding, they can save by sharing vacation house(s) or condo(s). I also talk about these in the above ebooklet.

For my lists of favorite “Most Romantic” hotels on each island, check out my island guides.

These romantic hotels and resorts aren’t budget, but by using my Hawaii budget travel guide linked above you can learn how to find the best rates on them – I’ve often paid 2-star hotel rates for luxury hotels. You might want to spend your entire honeymoon at one or your wedding night.

Just being in Hawaii is romantic, so don’t feel bad if your budget doesn’t allow for one of these luxury hotels. If you both love camping, there’s a beautiful and secure campground on Oahu that also has yurts and beach houses: oahu camping info
Low-Cost & Free Things to do on Your Honeymoon (besides the obvious)

To save money on activities in Hawaii I use the Hawaii Entertainment Book. I recommend this coupon book for Oahu and Maui. While it has some coupons for Kauai and the Big Island, there’s not enough to make it worth your while. If
you’re going to be on Oahu or Maui, you can save hundreds on activities and dining.

Here’s a few of my romantic favorites: Go for a moonlight swim in Hanauma Bay. The famous Oahu snorkeling spot and marine preserve is open for night swims, just like the famous one in Blue Hawaii taken by Elvis’ character and Maile.
Stroll through lovely gardens (all islands). Enjoy a free torch lighting ceremony and hula show at the Hawaiian Hilton or on Prince Kuhio Beach at Waikiki.

Watch the sunset. Anywhere on the west, northwest or southwest sides of any of the Hawaiian islands.

Frolic in the Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch Pools) off Maui’s Hana Highway.
Watch the famous and inspiring Haleakala Sunrise (Maui).

Explore Maui’s Iao Needle Park and picnic by the stream.

Take a sunset sail (any island – best rates on Oahu). Paddle a two-person kayak (any island). Cozy up by the fire that never goes out at Kilauea Lodge on the Big Island’s active volcano. Take the short coastal hike under the stars to view the lava (Big Island). Be enchanted by Akaka Falls – Take the short hike and steal a kiss or two in the tropical gardens that end at the 400-foot waterfall.

Visit a summer palace of Hawaiian kings and queens and learn about their romantic history (Oahu and Big Island).

Behold Spouting Horn on Kauai. Visit the romantic and mystical North shore of Kauai – take the 2 mile hike to a secluded beach cove on the Napali Coast, snorkel holding hands at Ke’e. View the thundering twin falls of Wailua on Kauai (as shown in Fantasy Island TV series). Be serenaded with the Hawaiian Wedding Song in the Fern Grotto. (Kauai – Smith Family’s Wailua boat ride takes you there).

Enjoy an early morning breakfast picnic at Rainbow Falls, the best time of day to see the rainbow (just up the road from Hilo’s Farmers Market where you can pick up some yummy delights).

Stroll through the beautiful grounds of some of Hawaii’s most romantic resorts. Linger by a waterfall, enjoy the entertainment. (Any Island).

Food, Wedding Favors, & Gift Bags


For your Honeymoon

Save something in your budget to splurge on a romantic dinner at one of Hawaii’s really nice oceanfront restaurants or luaus. It’s easy to save when you have a hotel room with a kitchenette, shop at supermarkets and growers markets and use restaurant coupons from the Hawaii Entertainment Book. Hawaii also has many family budget restaurants and the famous plate lunches found around the islands are filling and cheap.

You’ll find romantic picnics and breakfasts on your lanai (balcony or patio) save you bundles too.

Hawaii’s grower’s markets offer wonderful picnic fare including fresh island fruits, gourmet island cheeses, and delicious baked goods, as well as island grown meats and fish. Hawaii has many grower’s markets. Kapiolani on Oahu is very popular and very good.

For your Wedding

As I mentioned, I bought my brother-in-law’s wedding cake at a local supermarket’s bakery and it was lovely. All the supermarkets have bakeries. KTA’s on the Big Island is a favorite. Expect to spend around $50 for a small wedding cake.

If you’re looking for an extravagant, highly customized cake, speak with the wedding coordinator about where to best find one.

Your wedding coordinator can also arrange for catering, but again you save bundles if you and your fiance or a trusted friend or relative takes care of the menu. Again, the supermarkets will save you lots. Just order those platters with cold cuts, cheeses and such, like you do for holiday parties or have someone make those tiny sandwiches and put together nice platters. Better yet, do what we did and go to a restaurant. One of Kona’s nicest oceanfront restaurants, Jameson’s by the Sea, was in walking distance of our park wedding, so we just all walked over there.

Wedding Favors and Gift Bags

It’s really easy in Hawaii to find affordable wedding favors and gifts for your guests. Walmart and Kmart have big souvenir sections that have many items that would be nice for the gift bags and favors. So do Hilo Hatties and the ABC stores. You can also find cute bags in these stores too that have Hawaiian print or words on them that guests will enjoy as souvenirs. Or if you want them personalized with your names, search online.

In Conclusion

Want more information on specific islands or other advice? See my other books. Have a wonderful wedding in Hawaii – and again, congratulations and best wishes!

First Time to Hawaii Vacations the Easy and Fun Way

March 22, 2010 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Big Island, Hawaii - general, Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

So you are going to Hawaii for the first time! How exciting! You are going to have such a wonderful time. This is the online version of my ebook First Time Hawaii Vacations the Easy and Fun Way – How to Get to Hawaii, Where to Stay, and What to Do.

Topics in this guide


So you’re planning your first vacation to Hawaii…how exciting!
Before we get started, here are some Fast Facts about Hawaii.

  • Hawaii has two offiicial languages: English and Hawaiian, but English is primarily spoken. In casual conversation, Pidgin English is spoken among locals. The staff at hotels and most restaurants and activities all speak standard English to visitors (other than “aloha” and “mahalo.”)
  • Hawaii is our 50th state and is also known as “The Aloha State.”
  • The currency here is the U.S. dollar, major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, and there are lots of ATMs. Many businesses also accept traveler’s checks. If you’re a U.S. citizen, you won’t need a passport to visit Hawaii.
  • The average year-round, daytime temperature throughout the islands is 75˚to 88˚ F, with the Leeward (west) side of each island being on the warmer end of this range. Hawaii has but two seasons: summer and winter. Summer is from May to October and winter is from November through April. The only difference between the two seasons – winter is just a few degrees cooler and has more rain. Temperatures in Hawaii rarely drop more than 5 degrees at night. Upland temperatures are cooler, and there’s even snow on some of Hawaii’s mountain peaks, like the Big Island’s Mauna Kea in winter.
  • The Hawaiian Islands are all volcanic in origin and Hawaii is the youngest and most remote island chain on Earth.
  • Broadband Internet service is available at many hotels and Internet cafes.
  • Dress is casual and summery. For resorts and upscale restaurants, wear dressy casual.
  • Beautiful beaches can be found on each island. All beaches are free to use (except for Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve on Oahu). Water temperature averages around 74˚but gets closer to 80° on the Leeward (west) sides during Hawaii’s summer months.
  • Hawaii’s winter is whale watching season on all islands.
  • The time zone is Hawaiian Standard (GMT-10 hours), which is two hours behind Pacific Standard Time. When dawn is breaking here at about 6 a.m., it’s already 8 a.m in California. During Daylight Savings Time, which Hawaii doesn’t have, the islands are three hours behind the West Coast. Hawaii is five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.
  • All of the islands have beautiful beaches, nice hotels, wonderful restaurants (American, island and ethnic cuisine), and fun activities including snorkeling over coral reefs, dolphin and whale watching, golf, shopping, cultural events, sunset sails and more.

If you haven’t yet decided which island you will visit, this ebooklet will help you choose. First we’ll talk about how to get to Hawaii, then where to stay once you get here, and finally what to do when you’re here.

How to Get to Hawaii

Since the Hawaiian Islands are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (2500 miles from Los Angeles) you will need to fly to get here – even if you take a Hawaiian cruise, you will be flying to Hawaii first.

Here are the international airports in Hawaii – these all serve direct flights from the mainland: Honolulu International Airport on Oahu; Kahului Airport on Maui, Lihue Airport on Kauai, and on the Big Island: Kona International Airport at Kehaole and Hilo International Airport (Hilo sometimes has and sometimes does not have direct flights).

Booking Flights and Packages

Chances are when you book your flight or vacation package you will be placed on a flight to Honolulu International where you will transfer to an inter-island flight. Most visitors to Hawaii enter through Honolulu. These reservations are taken care of for you when you book your flight to your destination island(s). All of the United States’ major domestic carriers and 16 international carriers fly to Oahu.

You will almost always find the best fares during the Hawaii tourism industry’s low season: when kids are traditionally in school. In 2009, these fares hovered around $350 from the West Coast and around $700 from the East Coast during low season. During the summer and around the major holidays, fares tend to double.

So to book your fight, here’s what I would do. Hawaii’s own airline, which scores very high in customer satisfaction, flies from the West Coast, Las Vegas and Phoenix, Arizona. They often have good deals, so if flying from one of those locations, I’d check their rates: Hawaiian Air. I would also search the discount sites and compare. My favorites are Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire. Pleasant Holidays often also has good deals.

Booking your airline seats online saves you money. And the more flexible you can be with your dates and times, the easier it will be to find good deals. With the exception of Hotwire, you’ll get the best price breaks at least 2 weeks out, and with Hotwire you’ll do best booking within 2
weeks or less.

Speaking of Hotwire, you can get their regular low rates while specifying your hotel, airline/flight time and car model, but to get the deep discounts, you need to go with general times on flights, star rating on hotels, size of car, etc. And then after you purchase, Hotwire can give you the specifics. This has to do with agreements they have with their vendors.

The same sort of thing applies to bidding at Priceline – Whether booking a flight, hotel or car, you will be given general information but not the exact carrier, hotel name or car make/model. Before I place my bid there, I check the going rates for other hotels, flights, cars in the category I’m searching. Then I bid 50% of that.

The Priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful. And the bidding for travel forum is a big help too because here, people can post their accepted and decline bids. So that gives you an idea of how much to bid. If you’ve never bid at Priceline, be sure to read their “New to Priceline” page.

Sometimes you may want to book interisland flights separately, especially if you’re island hopping and find better deals this way. You can check prices with the following airlines:

Hawaiian Air, Go! and Mokulele airlines are pretty much equal in price (mostly around $60 one way in 2009), but with any given airline, fares can fluctuate widely from day to day and with the time of day.

Island Air is another choice if you don’t mind turboprop planes. These fly lower, offering better views. They fly into most of the islands’ major airports.

Again, you’ll get the best rates by booking online and being flexible with dates and times.

You can generally save more by shopping for your airfare separately from your hotel and car, but sometimes an air/hotel/car package deal is the better value. After you check airfares at discount sites like Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire, and at Hawaiian Air, (if applicable to your departure airport) click on their “vacation packages” tabs and compare.


Hawaiian cruises don’t depart from the mainland. That would be just too much time at sea and with inclement weather. The main port for Hawaii’s cruise ships is located in Honolulu, so if you decide to take a cruise, you’ll be flying there. You can find these cruises by searching at the discount sites like Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire.

If you want to take a cruise, but you don’t want to spend your entire vacation cruising from island to island and taking day tours, you could start or end your vacation by staying at a hotel on Oahu or on the island that interests you most, which brings us to the next chapter…

Where to Stay in Hawaii

Hawaii has seven inhabited islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island (more so known as the Big Island) are the major ones. Molokai and Lanai are small, very rural and mostly visited via Maui’s ferries. Tiny Ni’ihau off Kauai is privately owned and only a few tours (highly supervised) are allowed. We’ll be focusing on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

Which Island?

It can be hard to choose! To help you decide, here’s an overview of each island with its major highlights.

Oahu – The Gathering Place

Oahu, the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands, is home to the state capital and the well developed city of Honolulu with its Waikiki Beach. Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head are here too. So is the famous North Shore with the world championship surfing contests. Oahu has more easily accessible beaches than any of the other islands, and the multitude of attractions, cultural shows, nightclubs, events, activities and people makes Oahu a good bet if you want to do a lot and enjoy the high energy of crowds. If you want a quiet moment or scenic beauty, Oahu also has some nice beaches and waterfall hikes away from it all.

Maui – The Valley Isle

The second most popular island with visitors is well-known for its beautiful beaches, “Heavenly Hana Highway” and Lahaina Town. Maui’s beaches are one of the reasons this island is so often voted among or as the best in the world. Maui has more swimmer-friendly beaches than any of the other islands. Lahaina Harbor is most famous for its whale watching cruises. While the Humpbacks hang out around all of the Hawaiian Islands from December through April, they favor Maui and are easy to see here even from the highway with binoculars. Maui is also famous for its dormant and quite huge and scenic Haleakala Crater and the amazing sunrises up there, and it is second only to Oahu in arts & entertainment.

Kauai – The Garden Isle

The oldest of the inhabited islands, Kauai offers the most scenic wonders including the deeply sculpted, towering cliffs of the Na Pali Coast and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon. Kauai’s scenery is featured in many movies and television shows – South Pacific, Blue Hawaii (Coco Palms scenes), Gilligan’s Island, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lilo and Stich, and about 95 more. Kauai also has more white sand beaches than the other islands. The Garden Isle is the smallest of the four main Hawaiian Islands (only 550 square miles) and there is one main road, so to stay out of gridlock, you need to avoid before and after work traffic. Other than this, it is easy to get away from the crowds on beautiful Kauai. If you’re looking for mostly outdoors fun and a laid back atmosphere, Kauai just might be the perfect island for you.

Hawaii Island (Big Island) – Volcano Isle

Hawaii Island is larger than all of the other inhabited Hawaiian Islands put together, so to avoid confusion with its namesake, the state of Hawaii, it is called the Big Island. While each of the main Hawaiian Islands is quite diverse, the Big Island has 11 of the 13 world’s climate zones (it’s only missing the arctic and sahara).

The Big Island is best known for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with its active Kilauea Volcano. When conditions are right you can see the lava from a land viewing site, and the rest of the time there’s almost always viewing by helicopter or boat. It is the youngest of the islands and the volcano continues to create new land. This is why the Big Island has so many black sand beaches. Other famous attractions include Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (counting from beneath the sea to its snow capped peak) with the largest telescopes in the world, a green sand beach, Kona’s world class deep sea fishing and the famous Kohala resorts.

Where on the Island?

Climate – Leeward & Windward

Each island has a Leeward and Windward side. In Hawaii, the prevailing winds blow east to west (trade winds), and the mountain ranges prevent the Leeward sides (that face west) from getting the full results of these winds. So the Leeward sides are sunny and dry, while the Windward sides get more rain, are lusher and a bit cooler. Along with the Leeward side, the southern ends of the islands are also sunny and dry. Conversely, the northern ends are greener and slightly cooler.

Main Areas for Hotels & Condos

Oahu – The best place to stay in my opinion is Waikiki. This could be that being from Hilo where that’s not a lot to do, I really appreciate the high energy and offerings of Waikiki. This is the major hotel area of Oahu also. The weather’s almost always perfect, and if you don’t plan on leaving Waikiki much, you don’t even need a car. If you more interested in the North Shore, there’s the Turtle Bay Resort and lots of nice condos and vacation rentals.

Maui – One of my favorite areas to stay on Maui is at Kaanapali, just a few minutes north of Lahaina. Here luxury hotels line a long stretch of golden sand beaches on Maui’s upper Leeward side. South of Lahaina, Kihei offers lots of choices in condos as well as pretty, white sand beaches. Kihei is also quite crowded. Some of the best bed and breakfasts are found in upcountry Maui, which is very picturesque with its rolling green hills, flower and produce farms and awesome views of the coast. Hana isn’t a place to go to for hotels, but it’s a beautiful drive.

Kauai – The Garden Isle has three major places to stay: Princeville, which is secluded on the lush and incredibly beautiful North Shore near the Na Pali; Poipu on the beach lined sunny and arid South Shore, close to Waimea Canyon; and the Coconut Coast on the Windward side with its coconut lined roads, golden sand beaches, and the popular Coconut Marketplace.

Big Island – The Kona and Kohala areas on the Leeward side are where you’ll find the most and best hotels. Kona has more budget hotels and condos than Kohala, and Kohala as the most awesome luxury resorts, including the Four Seasons and the Waikoloa Hilton. Both of these areas have mostly sunny days. Kohala is the driest area on the island and has the best beach on the island, Hapuna Beach. Kona beaches are small pockets of sand and rock, but Kona has the most things to do on the island. Hilo on the Windward side is closer to the volcano and has beautiful gardens, but it’s lacking in hotel choices (my favorites are listed in the Big Island guide).

Which Hotel

Once you’ve decided on the island you want to visit and what part of the island you’d like to stay on, you can search for accomodations in these areas. Types of accomodations you can easily find include hotels, resorts, condos, vacation rentals and B&Bs.

Here are some good sites for conducting vacation rental and condo searches:

VRBO Vacation Rentals by Owner What I especially appreciate about this site is I can search by the specific areas on an island, using their maps.

Home Away This one lists all kinds of properties – condos, vacation rentals, B&Bs, cottages, and so on. You can search by property type as well as criteria like budget and luxury, oceanfront, etc. Another thing I like here is that you can opt to have images show on your search returns (without needing to click through).

You’ll also find condos at the air/hotel/car discount sites like Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire. And you can find B&B’s as well as condos at

Besides browsing the results at these sites, you can search by specific hotel or property if you know what to look for. For the best properites I have found in Hawaii and organized into categories, like “best for families,” “most romantic,” and so forth, check my ebooklet guide to the island you want to visit. If you haven’t done so yet, you can download them (these are free also) from my Hawaii Guide Books page.

Another way to search for hotel deals is to start with a hotel brand that sounds really good to you. And then check both the hotel chain’s site for deals and enter it into the search at the discount sites to compare.

My favorite hotels in Hawaii almost all happen to be part of chains. On the Big Island: it’s the Hilton Waikoloa. On Oahu: the Waikiki Hyatt, the Hilton Hawaiian Village and for family/budget: the Waikiki Banyan. On Maui, it’s the Wailea Marriott, and on Kauai, the Kauai Beach Resort and the Grand Hyatt.

Hawaii’s Most Popular Brand Name Hotels

Note:(Don’t pay rack rates – use this list to look for specials and when searching the discount sites):

Outrigger Hotels, This classic Hawaiian chain has both hotels and condos on Oahu and the Big Island, and it has condos on Maui and Kauai. Voted by Travel & Leisure magazine to be among the top family-friendly hotels in the United States. Budget to luxury.

Hilton Hotels and Resorts, grand and luxurious. The Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island with its Dolphin Quest program is my favorite hotel of all time. And there’s two on Oahu.

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, The Hyatts are also quite grand – large pools, expansive beaches, and big price tags. There’s one on Oahu, one on Kauai, and one on Maui.

Seaside Hotels, These are all close to the ocean, and *very* inexpensive. Of course, you will give up some amenities, but if you are looking for cheap on Maui, Kauai and/or the Big Island, you’ve found it.

Aston Hotels, These range from budget to luxury and are on Oahu, Maui, Kauai on the Big Island. Be aware that some of the Astons in Waikiki are just barely still in Waikiki – but these are still only about four blocks from the beach, and can save you big money.

Marriott Hotels and Resorts, These are all luxury hotels. There are three on Oahu, two on Kauai, one on the Big Island, and one on Maui.

What to Do in Hawaii

No matter which island you visit, you can expect to find many interesting and fun things to do. Here are activities popular on all the islands, followed by activities specific to each island.

Historical Sites & Cultural Events

History – Hawaii is steeped in history and legend from when centuries ago the first Hawaiians landed their canoes at South Point on the Big Island, to Captain Cook’s discovery of the islands and later the formation of the Hawaiia Kingdom by King Kamemehameha, the missionary era, the overthrowing of the Hawaiian monarchy, Hawaii’s statehood and Pearl Harbor. Each island has historical sites and tours that give insight into the many events that make Hawaii what it is today from heiau (ancient temples) to Iolani Palace on Oahu.

Cultural Events – Traditionally the Hawaiian people love festivals and so does the state of Hawaii. The most popular and significant of these events are the state-side Aloha Festivals and the Big Island’s Merrie Monarch Hula Competition and Festival. You’ll find events listed by island at, the State’s official website.

More Fun – The following activities are popular on all four of the main islands: surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, golf, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, sunset cruises, dolphin and whale watching, cultural/historical tours, relaxing on a beach, going to luau and last but not least sight seeing. You’ll also find Hawaiian music everywhere (lots of free concerts), nightclubs, fantastic restaurants, craft festivals, great shops and lots more to do.

Most Awesome Things to Do on Each Island

Note: See the individual guides (again free at for lots more recommendations – this is just to give you an introduction.

If you decide to vacation on the Oahu or Maui, I recommend you get the Hawaii Entertainment book. However, if you will just be on Kauai or the Big Island, it won’t be much good for you.

You also might be interested in the Go Oahu card if you are staying on Oahu.

Oahu – As mentioned previously, Oahu has tons to do! For starters there’s the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace for those interested in Hawaiian culture and history. Also there’s Pearl Harbor (USS Arizona and USS Missouri memorials), the Polynesian Cultural Center, Wild Side Specialty Tours (swim with dolphins), learning to surf at Waikiki, watching the pros surf 20 foot waves on the North Shore, taking a sunset Waikiki sail, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve, kayaking at Kailua Bay, hiking Diamond Head and strolling through gorgeous botanical gardens. And also just walking around Waikiki and taking the trolley at night is good fun!

Maui – Drive the Hana Highway and stop along the way to hike into waterfalls, taking the downhill bike ride from Haleakala (woohoo!). Better yet, take the downhill bike ride after catching the sunrise at the crater! More awesome things to do: stroll through historical Lahaina, attend the really fantastic Old Lahaina Luau, watch the whales, watch the kids play in the fantasy pool at the Grand Wailea Marriot, take a snorkel tour at Molokini Crater, take the short ferry ride to Molokai or Lanai… On Molokai, ride a mule to the Kalaupapa Peninsula. On Lanai, scuba dive n the cathedrals or four wheel up the Munro Trail. Back on Maui, explore the Iao Needle area and its Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens. Save time for Maui’s beaches!

Kauai – Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Na Pali from a boat, helicopter or hiking trail. Take a look at Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Play at Poipu Beach with the kids. Go snorkeling at Ke`e. Take the cheesy but fun and scenic Smith Family boat ride up the Wailuku river to the Fern Grotto, a natural amphitheater where the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is performed. Dozens of movies have been filmed amidst Kauai’s stunning scenery, so the Hawaii Movie Tours are pretty popular. And if you’ve always wanted to learn how to stand up paddle (a combination of surfing and paddling) you can learn on the calm waters of the Wailuku River.

Big Island – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the number one Big Island attraction and one on my favorites list too. It’s got history, culture, a science museum, an active volcano and wonderful hiking. Outside the park, watch lava flow into the sea from the Kalapana viewing area or from a helicopter or boat. Go to a green sand beach. Check out the turtles at Punalu`u Black Sand Beach. In Hilo view lovely botanical gardens and drive up the Hamakua Coast, stopping at Akaka Falls State Park to view the 400-foot falls. Head on to Waimea and the sprawling Parker Ranch. In Kohala, enjoy two of the world’s most beautiful beaches: Hapuna and the Mauna Kea Beach, and check out the dolphins at the Waikoloa Hilton. In Kona, take a snorkeling cruise at Kealakekua Bay and have a world-class deep sea fishing adventure.

In Conclusion

Now that you have an overview of what to expect on your Hawaii vacation, remember to check my other free guides for more details on each island and specialty topics like “Saving Thousands on your Hawaii Vacation” and “Island Hopping.”
And have a fun vacation!



Hawaii; How to Get From One Island to Another


(short answer: take an inter-island flight. I recommend Hawaiian airlines. There are no boats between the islands except for between maui and lanai and maui and molokai. for long answer, see below).

So you’re planning a vacation to Hawaii that will take you to more than one island – good decision. I’m really excited for you!

island hopping cover If you already know exactly what islands you want to visit, this is the perfect guide for you because it provides the “How.” This is the online version of my ebook Hawaii Hopping for Fun! Visiting More than One Island in Hawaii the Smart Way

If you haven’t yet decided on your destination islands, you can learn more about each island and saving money on them by reading my free guides to Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

Topics in this guide

Brief info about each island: Oahu (Waikiki island) has the most things to do, Kauai is known for its amazing scenery and endless, pristine white sand beaches, Maui has the Hana Highway and the best whale watching, and the Big Island is most known for its active volcano and its Kohala resorts.

The two tiny islands of Molokai and Lanai are quiet, mostly rural and have their own treasures – Molokai is best known for its mule rides to Kalaupapa and Lanai for its excellent diving. These two islands are typically visited for day or overnight tours via boat excursions from nearby Maui.

All of the Hawaiian Islands have wonderful beaches and climate. Most visited in order: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai.

How to Visit the Other Hawaiian Islands Overview

There are many ways to visit more than one island:

  • Book each leg of your journey yourself: airline reservations from mainland from island to island, lodging, car rentals, and activities.
  • Book a hotel/air/car vacation package.
  • Book only air/car through a discount site, and reserve your accommodations with the hotel itself or a timeshare, etc.
  • Use one or more of the above methods and then a tour company for day or overnight island tours.
  • Use the services of a travel agency company to book everything from air to activities.
  • Stay on Oahu and spend part of your vacation on a 7-day Island to Island Cruise out of Honolulu.
  • Combine some of the above into a package that you create.

Lots of choices! To help you plan the best Hawaiian vacation ever, I’ve broken all this down into the following chapters.

Remember when planning your island hopping that it takes time to pack, unpack, and wait at airports (the flights themselves are pretty short – most around 30 minutes). I don’t like to recommend more than one island for every 5 to 7 days in Hawaii, because that is too much packing and being at airports for my taste within that time period.

I do outline some options in this guide for those who can’t/don’t want to spend this long on a given island. Either way…The bottom line is if you make your priority having plenty time to relax and enjoy your vacation (rather than checking off a “things to see and do list” as fast as you can), you can make this your best Hawaii vacation ever!

I frequently do the research and the math, and normally, on a Hawaii vacation you save money when booking a package that includes your flight, car, and hotel compared to booking each of these separately.

But sometimes for various reasons it works out better to book separately. You may want to customize more. Some own a timeshare on one island or want to stay at places that the packages don’t include. Or you could just end up finding better deals through specials offered by the hotels, airline (most likely Hawaiian), etc.

So we’ll start by looking at the individual booking options and then move on
to tours and packages.

Booking Your Flight, Hotel and Car Independently

Booking your Flight – General Information

Which Airports are Best?

Oahu – Easy. There’s one major airport: Honolulu International HNL.

Maui – For flying directly from the mainland, there’s one choice: Kahului (OGG). You can also island hop to Kahului. This is located in Central Maui and is just a few minutes from the beginning of the Hana Highway. It’s about an hour Lahaina and Kaanapali. Kapalua (JHM) is located near Lahaina and Kaanapali, is closer to Kihei and serves inter-island flights. If you’re planning on visiting various areas of Maui, go with the best airfare prices, otherwise take into account time and gas.

Big Island – Whether just island hopping here or flying direct from the mainland you have two choices: Kona Keahole International Airport (KOA) and Hilo International (ITO). If the Volcano National Park is the epicenter of your Big Island visit, know that Hilo’s much closer (about 45 minutes opposed to 2 1/2 hours from KOA).

Airfare Prices

Generally, you’ll get the best fares for times when the kids are in school: from the West Coast around $350 and East Coast around $700. Prices almost double in the summer and around the major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and spring break.

With the exception of Hotwire, you’ll get the best price breaks at least 2 weeks out, and with Hotwire you’ll do best booking within 2 weeks or less.

You’ll almost never save buying directly from the airlines, except for Hawaiian Air. They serve several West Coast airports, as well as Phoenix Arizona and Las Vegas. They also have inter-island services and often have special deals.

If you’re staying on Oahu for part of your vacation, you will usually save by making this the destination for your mainland flight, although increasingly there are very good fares to be found to and from Maui. Flying direct to the Big Island and Kauai often costs the same as if you flew to Oahu and then took an inter-island flight.

Booking Your Island Hopping Flights

When you book your own inter-island flights, you can choose from major airlines, Hawaiian Air (I recommend Hawaiian) and Go!, as well as Mokulele (now a partner of Go!) and airlines with smaller planes.

Hawaiian Air and Go! airlines are pretty much equal in prices. Their fares have been running around $60 one way when you book online. Hawaiian Air has a more user friendly site (I think), and they do consistently earn high marks for their customer service. My general opinion about these two is to book with whichever one is most convenient for you (but I do like Hawaiian a bit more).

Keep in mind that fares can fluctuate widely with the time of day. For example, searching Hawaiian Air for Dec. 3, 2009, Honolulu to Hilo, I found $58 one way fares for early morning, late morning and some afternoon and evening, while a few of the other flights in the afternoon, evening and around 8 a.m. were $104 one way. Big difference there! Seats generally cost less during the times of day that local commuters are least likely to travel.

Inter-island fares don’t go up as much around holidays as mainland fares – unless you’re traveling on the holiday or the day before or after. For example, searching for fares on Dec. 21, 2009 for Honolulu to Kahului, Maui at Go! Airlines, I found several $64 ones, but fares for Dec. 24, 2009, except for two in the evening were $84 to $220. Note, when using Go! In order to get varying times and their fares, you need to check “flexible dates.”

Mokulele which entered a partnership with Go! in October provides a more user-friendly site. Here you can search by date and get varying hours, like at Hawaiian. Checking fares for the same day and flight from Honolulu to Maui on Mokulele, fares varied from $58 to $79, and morning flights were still available (searching on Nov. 20) for December 24 at $58.

When you’re island hopping you don’t necessarily need a round-trip ticket, and none of these three airlines require that for these one-way prices.

Island Air has a fleet of 37-seat turboprop planes. I flew with them to Molokai and the plane was *small* and the views are awesome because they fly lower than the jets used by Go!, Hawaiian and Mokulele. Island Air has an outstanding reputation for reliability and safety, and their fares are comparable. The only drawbacks I see are that they don’t fly into Hilo and they don’t have as many flights.

Checking fares from Honolulu to Kona for Dec. 21, 2009 (the same day I checked for Hawaiian Air above), the search returned a 1 p.m. flight for $64, which is about where their regular fares generally start and is the same as some of those for the Dec. 21 HNL to Hilo Hawaiian Air flight. That was the only flight with empty seats. Island Air compared well to the others for holidays, with a morning and afternoon Christmas Eve day flight, each at $64. Like its competitors, Island Air offers specials from time to time.

When booking your flights with any of these airlines, you will save by booking online.

Booking Your Mainland – Hawaii Flight

If you’re flying from the West Coast you will often find the best deals with Hawaiian Air. I just checked and found some December $259 roundtrip fares for LAX – HNL. Since they fly inter-island too, you could book all your flights with them if the price and times are right.

I like to search the discount sites also and compare to find the best possible deals. My favorites are Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire. This year, I’ve seen fares as low as $250 – roundtrip. Remember the best deals at Hotwire are found within a couple weeks of departure, just the opposite of the other sites. My free island guides go into a lot more detail on mainland flights.

Booking Your Rental Cars

Again I like to search at Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire.

When I bid on rental cars (or anything) at Priceline I usually start at about 50% of the normal low rates for that time of year. That could mean bidding at $8 to $15 per day.

Sometimes you’ll find a good deal with the actual car rental company because they often run specials. All of the major car rentals are in Hawaii and can quickly be found online.

Booking Your Hotel

Booking Your Hotels through Discount Sites

Shopping for travel reservations through Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire is a fantastic way to save money on hotels! I detail this in my free island guides and include in these the best deals I found for specific hotels and condos.

Hotel Chains

Usually a chain’s hotels will be pretty consistent in their offerings, and you will only need to deal with one company for all your island accommodations.

You can often find good deals when the hotels are most hurting for visitors. Here are a few to get you started:

Outrigger Hotels, This classic Hawaiian chain has both hotels and condos on Oahu and the Big Island, and it has condos on Maui and Kauai. Check for specials like “4th night free.”

Hilton Hotels and Resorts, grand and luxurious. The Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island is my favorite hotel of all time. And there’s two have two on Oahu.

Seaside Hotels, These are all close to the ocean, and *very* inexpensive. Of course, you will give up some amenities, but if you are looking for cheap on Maui, Kauai and/or the Big Island, you’ve found it.

Aston Hotels, These range from budget to luxury and are on Oahu, Maui, Kauai on the Big Island. Be aware that some of the Astons in Waikiki are just barely still in Waikiki – but these are still only about 4 blocks from the beach, and can save you big money.

Note that many of the Hawaii hotels offer room/car and even room/car/flight packages, but do compare to see if the deal is really a good one.

Island Hopping Fun By Boat

Inter-Island Cruising

Honolulu is the main port for Hawaii cruises. A popular and lower cost one is the 7-day “Pride of Aloha” offered by Norwegian Cruise Line. Check the discount booking sites too. The lowest fares I found today were in January: about $600 for inside cabins and $700 for ocean view. I found these prices at the NCL site, Hotwire and Expedia. Bidding on Priceline, you might even do better.

While taking a cruise doesn’t follow my “no less than 5 days per island” preference, the advantage here is that you’re not packing and unpacking and waiting at airports with each new island you visit. You stay in the same room and go on day trip tours. The drawback may be (considering on your preferences) that you spend more time at sea than on the islands. Too see more of the islands, I recommend spending the rest of your vacation on a favorite island or two – even more convenient if Oahu is one of them!

Tip – If you’re not into the tour/activity add-ons offered by the cruise, check out one of tour companies listed later or tour coordinators like Shore Trips.

Maui Cruises

Because Maui is so close to its sister islands of Molokai and Lanai (all one county too), you can easily find one-day and overnight cruises. Many of these are specialized: snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching and fishing are all very popular. You can find these by searching online, but they are too small to be offered through the large discount sites.

From Maui – Molokai and Lanai Ferries

Lahaina Cruises has ferries to Molokai, Monday through Saturday. It’s about 90 minutes to Molokai on their Maui Princess, a 100-ft yacht, and depending on which cruise you take you’ll arrive around 7 or 9 a.m. The ships back to Maui depart at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., so you’ll have an entire day on Molokai. You only have to check in about 15 minutes ahead of time. So what do you do when you get off the boat? Well Lahaina Cruises offers rental car packages, but these are pretty spendy at $207 for driver, $90 each additional adult and $45 for each child, and they also offer guided tours ($207 per adult and $144 per child).

Otherwise, one way it’s about $52 per adult and $26.20 per child.

If you want to save money, you could book a car yourself (or four-wheel)and if you wanted to stay overnight, a hotel, and then plan your own activities (maybe one of those famous Molokai mule rides). The Molokai Visitors Association site can help with all this.

The Maui – Lanai ferry operates seven days a week with five departure times from Lahaina Harbor, and it takes about 45 minutes. Rates are one way $30 per adult and $20 per child. They also offer a variety of packages. Lanai is most popular with scuba divers and hunters. For more information about Lanai and possible day adventures, here’s their official visitors site.

And here’s my portal page to my Molokai and Lanai reviews and articles.

Best Tours for Island Hoppers

While I do recommend staying at least 5 days on each island you visit, if you really want to make more island hops than this allows, there are day-tour providers that will book your flight, pick you up at the airport, whisk you off for the tour and get you back on time for your return flight. Many also offer the same service only for overnight tours in which they also book your hotel. Generally, you will spend more this way then booking your own flight and activities with smaller businesses.

For example, Polynesian Adventures is offering a one-day Big Island Volcano tour on the Big Island for $252 per adult. If you booked your own inter-island flight, you’d spend about $130 air fare, and about $30 for a one-day rental car (without the weekly rate discount), plus gas, but you’d not be paying extra for each person in the car. I found one for $25 at Expedia when checking for a return time late enough to allow for after dark lava viewing.

So in this case the tour prices don’t really justify themselves, not if you’re just looking for lower cost. However, sometimes you do find good deals with these tour companies. I’ve often seen activities such as luau for less than at the venue. And if you want to relax and let the tour guide take care of everything (and the departure time works for you – some leave reeealy early as in pre-dawn), this may be the way to go for those short island hops.

The following tour companies can arrange your tour/activities, air, car (if you’re staying longer and want to do some of your own exploring) and hotel if you’re staying overnight.

  • Roberts Hawaii, One of the biggest and oldest tour companies in the islands offering day tours and overnighters to Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. Check out their “island hopping” tours, like the Hana one (not everyone wants to drive that road!).
  • Polynesian Adventure Tours, Another large tour company, offering two different tours on each of the outer islands, plus options from each of the outer islands to another island. Check their “One Day Fly Away Tours’ and their “Overnighter Packagers.

Best Island-Hopping Package Deals

As with individually booked hotels, air and car rentals, it pays to be flexible. If for example, the search has an option under times of day for “anytime,” selecting this can make a huge difference in prices you see.

Hawaiian Air has inter-island “build your own package” deals. After clicking on “vacation packages” scroll down to the bottom of the form where it has an “options” link. Just to check current deals and offer you an example, I built one for two persons that included 7 nights in Waikiki and 5 in Kona on the Big Island. The search returned the Hilton Hawaiian Village for Waikiki and my favorite hotel, the Waikoloa Hilton, for Kona (It’s on the Kohala Coast just above Kona).

The total was $2167 per person (including tax). There are links under the hotel room rate charts to click for alternative hotels. So I tried the newly renovated, 3-star Waikiki Aqua Wave and kept the Waikoloa on the Big Island. This brought my grand total down to $1798 per person (taxes included) for the 2 week island hopping vacation, including all air fare, hotels and rental cars. They also offer activities to add if you wish, such as a volcano helicopter tour for $211, but I found a special at the Blue Hawaiian site for $183 (They’ve been featured in National Geographic and have an excellent safety record).

Be sure to select “multiple destinations” for these island-hopping packages and after you add your last destination click to add “return flight” information, inserting your mainland airport so that it makes it a round trip.

Panda searching with the same dates, general locations and the two adults as at Hawaiian, I was offered a $1784 package; however the hotels were both 2-star only and one of the two was in Hilo, about a 2-hour drive from the Kona airport.

So, underneath each hotel, there’s a link to view alternatives. While it reads “view others in Hilo” it did return several for Kona. I upgraded to the 3 1/2 star Outrigger Keahou Beach Resort in Kona and to the Outrigger’s Ohana Waikiki West on Oahu. Grand total: $2079 per person (taxes included), so almost $300 more than the Hawaiian package and no Waikoloa Hilton or any 4-star hotels offered this time for that matter . Do compare though because prices change with dates your checking.

Pleasant Holidays – On the good side, they have lots of customizing options. For example, next to each hotel there are alternative hotels and the savings or increased spending for each one is listed and you can click through to detailed descriptions. This all makes comparing and customizing your package easier. A major drawback though is they don’t have an “anytime” search option, and if a flight time isn’t available, they don’t give alternatives.

You have to guess, changing your search each time. The site was very slow and kept crashing my Firefox. After several attempts, I lost patience.

Expedia – So far, this is the only major discount site I know of that lets you book more than one destination in a package. They allow two. For the best deals, select “anytime” for flights. This isn’t the default. So comparing to what I found with Hawaiian Air and Panda packages, Expedia gave me a 3-star hotel in Waikiki and the 4-star Waikoloa Hilton on the Big Island Expedia with air and cars for the grand total: $3870 per person (taxes included). So, you’re paying more for the good hotels and you’re getting the good hotels.

The Complete Big Island Vacation Guide

big island cover Aloha! So you are planning a vacation to the Big Island – you are going to have such fun! This is the complete Big Island vacation guide, which is the online version of my ebook Plan Your Best Vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii Ever! Where to Stay and What to Do on the Big Island.

Topics in this guide


So you’re planning a vacation to the Big Island (Hawaii Island) –

Congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you’ll be flying in to either Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) or Hilo International Airport (ITO). You may find a direct flight, but if not, your airline will probably schedule your connecting flight from Honolulu for you.

If you have to do it yourself, you can do so with either Hawaiian Airlines or Go! Airlines

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

My Favorites on The Big Island

My favorite area:

Tough one on this really big island, but I’ll say the Kohala Coast. This has two of my favorite beaches, Hapuna and the Mauna Kea Beach, and it’s also got my favorite resort, the Hilton Waikoloa – a beautiful and fun place to visit whether you stay there or not!

My favorite hotel:

This is easy – the Hilton Waikoloa. They’ve got Dolphin Quest, a great program for learning about dolphins – and if you want to spend the bucks, close encounters with them 🙂 The rooms are very nice, the pools with their slides and waterfalls are fantastic, there are several restaurants and lounges, tons to do, and you can ride around the place on the Disneyland-like free tram and boat shuttles. Also, they have a pretty lagoon and a cool art collection displayed around the pools, walkways and gardens.

My favorite luau:

Island Breeze. This is held on the historical royal grounds at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. The pre-luau activities begin when the royal court paddles in from Kailua Bay and the conch shell is blow. You can learn fun Hawaiian crafts and get a Hawaiian “tattoo.” The show features various dances of Polynesia, including hula of course, and concludes with the Samoan fire dance. The menu is traditional Hawaiian featuring the underground baked pig, fresh catch of the day and chicken.

My favorite activity:

Really hard to choose just one, but I’ve narrowed it down to the Fair Wind Snorkel Cruise at Kealakekua Bay (where I got to swim with dolphins!) and the lava flow view hike when the lava’s pouring over the cliff into the sea. For up to the minute lava updates, call the Kalapana Lava Viewing Hotline at (808) 961-8093 or the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at (808) 985-6000.

For more general lava updates see here

Best Weather on the Big Island

Like all of Hawaii, the Big Island offers exceptionally good weather, especially on the west side.

Hawaii has two seasons: summer (May through October) and winter (November through April), and the temperatures change very little between these two seasons. Average daytime temperatures at sea level in the summer are 85°F and in the winter, 78°F. When the sun goes down temperatures at sea level rarely drop more than 5 to 10 degrees.

The weather does change quite a lot from region to region (the island has all but two of the world’s eco-climates), especially when you travel upland. Bring a sweater if you go up to Volcano. You can even find snow here in the winter at the top of Mauna Kea!

Like all of the Hawaiian Islands, the Windward side (here, that is the Hilo and Puna side) gets most of the rain. Hilo is the rainiest city on Earth in fact. The Windward side is very lush and tropical, and most of the rain falls at night and early morning, although sometimes in the winter the rain will fall for days on end. The Leeward side (Kona and Kohala) is usually sunny at sea level, and when it rains, it is usually in the late afternoon. Kohala is desert like in its dryness, which makes for lots of sunny beach days!

The ocean waters here aren’t too cold either. Surface temperatures average 74° to 77°F in the winter and 78° to 83°F, with the warmer temperatures found on the Kohala Coast – at Hapuna, you’ll feel like you are in a heated swimming pool.

Best Hotels on the Big Island

These are the best hotels in all of Hawaii Island, in my opinion.

If you consistently find higher prices than what I have found, maybe prices are up due to high season or some other reason. You find the best fares during the off-peak season, late September through the first week of June. And exception to this is fares go up around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, as well the days closely surrounding them and Spring Break.

You may find lower prices by bidding at Priceline and using This is all detailed below the tables. All listed prices are based on double occupancy. If you find lower prices than I’ve listed here, don’t question it, just book it!

Best Overall and Beachfront Hotels on the Big Island

Note that all with the exception of the Chalet Kilauea are beach front.

  • Chalet Kilauea featuring the Inn at Volcano, At website: $107 for a room at the deluxe Inn at Volcano. Less for some of the other properties.
  • Fairmont Orchid, $199 at Expedia.
  • Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, $495 at Expedia.
  • Hilton Waikoloa, $189 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, $296 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, $274 at Expedia.

Best Family Hotels on the Big Island

  • Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, $274 at Expedia.
  • Sheraton Keauhou, $159 at Expedia.

Best Budget-Priced Hotels on the Big Island

Many of the following hotels don’t list with Expedia and Priceline. If you call them directly for reservations, be sure to ask “Do you have any discounts that could bring my rate down?” You could get a “Yes” and a better rate off the bat.

I also highly recommend bidding on Priceline. Many of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to Priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like a resort or a 2 to 4 star hotel. Remember, you can’t pick your hotel if you bid, just your desired star level.

You’ll have the most luck with getting low bids accepted on Priceline when the hotels are hurting for visitors, but try anytime. You could really get some good deals.

Most of the following are condos and include full kitchens, private washer/dryer, pool and barbecue. The “Best Prices” are based on Expedia, Priceline (lowest prices without bidding) and the hotel’s site.

  • Hale Kona Kai, $140 at website, $10 extra per person after first two.
  • Kona Isle, $99 (2009) and many rent 5 nights get two free specials for 2010 with rates starting at $105.
  • Sea Village, $96 for 1 bedroom, $112 for 2 bedrooms at Expedia.
  • Dolphin Bay Hotel, $99 (one queen bed), $149 (one bedroom) and more options. Weekly rates discussed on request.
  • Hilton Waikoloa, $189 at Expedia.
  • Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort, $159 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, $296 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, $274 at Expedia.
  • Fairmont Orchid, $199 at Expedia.

Best Hotels for Romance and Weddings on the Big Island

  • Hilton Waikoloa, $189 at Expedia.
  • Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort, $159 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, $296 at Expedia.
  • Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, $274 at Expedia.
  • Fairmont Orchid, $199 at Expedia.

Bidding on Hawaii Travel at Priceline and Shopping at Deep Discount Sites, Expedia and Hotwire

Shopping for travel reservations through Expedia, Priceline, and Hotwire is a great way to save money on hotels and sometimes even flights to Hawaii. You can often get even better prices than ones in the charts. I have personally bid and got $55 at the Royal Kona Resort and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. (All of these hotels are on the Big Island.) And I know someone who bid and received a round trip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu for $250. These are good deals!

Oh, and don’t forget car rentals. You can get great deals on car rentals by bidding.

The only issue with bidding for hotels is that you won’t know what hotel you get until you are locked in to paying for it. You just specify a certain star level or class of hotel.

And the only issue with bidding for flights is that you won’t be able to specify an exact time, but they do tell you it will be sometime between x morning hour and x evening hour, so not too bad. I have a friend who got a round trip flight Los Angeles to Honolulu for $179 through Hotwire.

At Hotwire you can get their regular low rates while specifying your hotel, airline/flight time and car model, but to give you the deep discounts Hotwire gets from their partners that they’re not allowed to publicize, you won’t know the names until after you reserve. As mentioned above though, you can choose general times, star rating on hotels, size of car, etc.

So How Should I Bid on Hawaii Travel?


I like to decide on a hotel I like, then find out what its star level is. Then on Priceline, I go directly to naming my own price, and during the process Priceline will tell you what the average price is for that star level. I then bid half of that.

The Priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful.

An awesome resource is the bidding for travel forum. If you scroll down on the home page you’ll see three Hawaii forums, based on which islands you are planning to visit. People bid, and then come here and post their accepted and rejected rates.

I have heard that the posted “median retail prices” at Priceline are sometimes inaccurate. I don’t worry about this in Hawaii because I am so familiar with what the hotels cost here. You, however, may want to check prices on the website of a few hotels that are the same star level as you want. You can then try to bid 50% of that.

Rental Cars –

$15 a day is generally a good place to start, and check the recent winning bids on Priceline.

Flights –

I like to bid 50% of whatever the going rate is and then bid up in $50 increments if that is refused.

Most Fun, Must-Do, Activities and Things to Do on the Big Island

This is my personal favorites list of the most exciting and fun things to do on the Big Island:

  • Atlantis Submarine Kona,Featured on National Geographic. The Big Island’s tour takes you down to visit underwater gardens of coral teeming with schools of tropical fish. You may also see manta rays and sharks.
  • Take the Fair Wind Snorkel Cruise at Kealakekua Bay. This is a must-do, in my opinion. You will snorkel in a pristine marine preserve and if you in the morning, chances are you will see dolphins. They also offer whale watch cruises.
  • Play with and pet a dolphin at Dolphin Quest. You do not need to be staying at the Waikoloa Hilton to enjoy this wonderful (and educational) experience, but slots fill up fast so sign up as early as you can. They book up to a year in advance.
  • See Waipio Valley from Horseback, Combine fun horseback riding with a tour of this legendary and beautiful valley. You might even see some of the wild horse herd!

My Favorite Inexpensive/Free Activities on the Big Island

  • View the Lava! When it’s flowing into the sea, you can, from the Kalapana Viewing area, safely view the red hot molten lava pouring over the cliffs. The view point is about 1/2 mile away from the lava, so binoculars or a camera with good telephoto for optimal viewing. This is best viewed at night so also bring a flashlight (and good walking shoes!). For lava updates, call the Kalapana Lava Viewing Hotline at (808) 961-8093 or the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at (808) 985-6000.
  • If you aren’t staying at the Hilton Waikoloan, you can still tour the hotel and see the dolphins. Just park nearby, walk in through the gate and start looking around. People come in for just the restaurants and dolphin quest all the time.
  • Explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, This is the island’s main attraction, and there’s lots to do and see up here – steaming craters, a walk-through lave tube cave, rainforests and moonscapes, a volcanic science and cultural museum, the famous Kilauea Lodge, a fantastic visitor’s center, lots of hiking trails and more. Most of the National Park activities are wheelchair accessible. It can get chilly up here so bring a sweater. Warm up at the lodge’s lounge with hot cocoa while you look out at the now active Halema`uma`u crater (spewing ash and steam but occasionally lava) and enjoy the big lava rock, fireplace (grab a free brochure on its history).
  • Kayak Kealakekua Bay,Take a guided kayak tour to the pristine marine preserve and snorkel the coral reefs. Ocean Safari Kayak Adventures offers “Early Riser Dolphin Quest Tours.” Or check out the sea caves of Keauhou Bay.
  • Visit Rainbow Falls in Hilo, For the best chance of seeing a rainbow over the 80-foot falls, go early when the sun and morning mist make their magic.
  • Puakō Petroglyph Archeological Preserve, This contains over 3,000 pertroglyphs. It’s a short hike from Mauna Lani Resort, which also has some to view. Non-guests can also access via the resort and pick up a map and brochure.
  • Akaka Falls State Park, On the Hamakua Coast (the Big Island’s answer to Maui’s Hana Highway), this includes a very pretty hike through lush gardens and over a stream with the famous 400-foot waterfall waiting for you at the end. Because it’s a big visitor attraction with an unguarded parking lot, don’t leave valuables in your car.
  • Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Also located near Hilo on the Hamakua Coast, this well maintained nature preserve is a must see if you’re into flowers and walking paths that meander among waterfalls and provide sweeping ocean vistas. Over 2,000 species including orchids (Hilo is the “orchid capital” of the world.
  • Parker Ranch, One of the largest and most historical ranches in the United States, Parker is home to the paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy, and has a variety of visitors attractions including their Historic Homes Tour.
  • Hulilee Palace, Large, elegant museum in Kailua-Kona that was once the vacation home of King David Kalakaua (the Merrie Monarch), Queen Liliuokalani and other Hawaiian royalty.

Best Big Island Beaches

Many visitors who don’t leave Kona are disappointed in the small pockets of sand they find there. A good deal of the island’s coast is is rocky. The “Volcano Island” being so much newer than its neighbor islands doesn’t have as many of the kind of beaches you’d expect from Hawaii. Why? Beaches and their sand are made by hundreds of thousands of years of ocean surf pounding against shells, coral and rock. The Big Island is the youngest of the islands, so beaches haven’t had that much time to develop. Many parts of the coast is younger than 1,000 years old, while Kilauea Volcano still adds hundreds of acres of new land a year. The Big Island has many other incredible attributes that more than make up for this lack of beaches, but hey, we have a few really nice beaches too, including ones that make national and world wide “Best Beach” lists!

Don’t hit all of these unless you are really into beaches. Just pick a few and take your time.

Note: In Hawaii, all beaches are public. Anywhere that there is water, there must be public access to the shoreline. If you are in a residential neighborhood and want to check out the beach, just look for the blue signs that say “shoreline access” and follow the path, even if it’s directly between two houses. Sometimes, though, residential beaches do not have restrooms or showers.

Don’t worry about directions too much. You can see the ocean from almost everywhere, and there are signs designating the beaches. Here’s a link to Google’s Big Island Map. And here’s the Hawaii Ocean Safety Map.

The surf conditions in Hawaii somewhat follow the seasons. During Hawaii’s summer (May – October), surf from the south occasionally has high surf conditions. During Hawaii’s winter, surf from the north has higher surf.

Hapuna (Kohala) – About 30 miles north of Kona on Highway 19 just before the Hapuna Prince Hotel.

Papakolea Beach (Green Sands Beach) – South Point, Kau – Green Sand – Take Highway 11 to Ka Lae (South Point) and drive about 12 miles to the end of the road. Then hike the 2 1/2 miles to the beach. For more details: Green Sand Beach.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach – Kau – Black Sand – South of Kona near the 63 mile marker of Highway 11 (and about 20 miles south of Volcano National Park).

Ahalanui Park (The Hot Pond) – Puna – Near Kapoho. Directions are a little complicated, and there are two popular routes. Here’s a Google map from Hilo to Ahalanui. We travel the more scenic route: Take 132 and just past the Lava Tree Park where the road forks, stay to the right. This will be Pohohiki Road. Take it all the way to the ocean where it ends at Isaac Hale Park and Pohohiki Boat Ramp. Turn left and you’re there in just a couple minutes.

Kauna’oa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach) – Kohala – Take the Mauna Kea Beach hotel turnoff from Highway 19, about 31 miles north of Kona. They may not let you in if all the spaces have filled up. Try early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Richardson’s Ocean Park – Hilo – Black Sand – Take Kalanianaola (Hwy 120) out of Hilo, heading towards Volcano Hwy and Banyan Drive. Cross Volcano Hwy and drive on about 5 miles past the fish ponds. Look for the sign just past Leleiwi Park.

While the “Volcano Island” isn’t known for its beaches there are some beauties here, including some of the best in Hawaii and even the world. The beaches above are just a short list of my favorites, but you may find many more that strike your fancy as you drive along the Big Island’s coastline.

Best Big Island Guidebook

The Big Island Revealed is my favorite guidebook. Absolutely straight talk and real opinions from 2 people who have done everything they review. The aerial photos of the hotels are awesome for choosing a hotel. I love this guidebook.

In Conclusion

So that’s it – have a wonderful, wonderful vacation! The Big Island is an awesome place, and you really can’t go wrong here.


The Complete Kauai Vacation Guide

So, you’re planning a vacation to Kauai. This is the complete Kauai Vacation Guide based on my experiences, opinions, and preferences. I hope it helps you plan your trip. It is the online version of my ebook, Plan Your Best Vacation to Kauai Ever, Where to Stay and What to Do on Kauai. If you’d rather save it to your computer and read it there, right click on the link and download it.

Topics in this guide


So you’re planning a vacation to Kauai –

Congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you’ll be flying in to Lihue (airport code LIH) and you may be able to find a direct flight from your city or at least the west coast of the U.S. Mainland into Lihue. A few airlines do this these days. If not, your airline will probably schedule your connecting flight from Honolulu for you.

If you have to do it yourself, you can do so with either Hawaiian Airlines or Go! Airlines

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

My Favorites on Kauai

My Favorite area is either Poipu (or Koloa) or Princeville.

They both have their own charm. Princeville gets a bit more rain than Poipu, but not too much.

My favorite hotel:

Hands down, the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Koloa (near Poipu). This is one of those places that I just love. Lots to do, they’ll watch your kids or help you get married. The grounds are awesome. Nice place. $299 a night at expedia.

And, if you are military or GS and have access to them – I also *really* enjoyed the beach cabins on barking sands beach within the Navy’s Pacific missile range facility. This was in 1996 (on my honeymoon), and I haven’t stayed since, so I don’t know the current condition, but they were so fun and isolated and on the most awesome, empty beach you’ve ever seen.

Activities :

The hiking on Kauai is amazing, if you are into that kind of thing, and the Na Pali Coast boat trips are also a must-do in my opinion. Every time we have gone out on the rafts, we have seen dolphins. The rafts can’t leave from the North Shore anymore, so these days I mostly recommend so these days I mostly recommend Na Pali Catamaran.

Best Weather on Kauai

Kauai is an island full of great weather

Sure, there’s a bit more rain on Kauai than some of the other islands, but there’s never much on the south and west shores (so you can always find sun) and there’s still not a whole lot. Passing showers means 5 minutes of (warm!) rain and then 1 to 5 hours of Sun. We never give up on what we are doing for a passing shower.

Sunniest weather is in Waimea (20 rain inches per YEAR) and second sunniest is in Poipu or Koloa.

Kauai in the winter is still warmer than California much of the year, and the ocean is still 72 degrees. Oh yeah.

Best Hotels in Kauai

These are the best hotels in all of Kauai, in my opinion.

If you consistently find higher prices than what I have found, maybe prices are up due to season high season or some other reason. If you find lower, don’t question it, just book it!

Best Overall, Beach-Locations, or Luxury Hotels On Kauai

Best Family Hotels in Kauai

  • Aloha Beach Resort Kauai, $84 at priceline
  • Lae Nani, $147.00 at website, $158 at priceline
  • Hyatt Regency Kauai, $299.00 at expedia
  • Sheraton Kauai Resort, $189.00 at expedia
  • Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, $199.00 at expedia

Best Budget-Priced Hotels on Kauai

Many of these hotels don’t list with expedia and priceline. If you call them directly for reservations, be sure to ask “do you have any discounts that could bring my rate down?” You could get a yes and a better rate off the bat.

I also highly recommend bidding on priceline. Many of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like a resort or a 2 to 4 star hotel. Remember, you can’t pick your hotel if you bid, just your desired star level.

You’ll have the most luck with getting low bids accepted on priceline when the hotels are hurting for visitors, but try anytime. You could really get some good deals.

As an example, if you visit bidding for travel you’ll see the Kauai Marriott has accepted bids around $110 to $125 in the past. Compare this with the best price I could find at $199 a night, and the savings are substantial.

Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Kauai

Bidding on Hawaii Travel at Priceline and Hotwire

Bidding on Priceline and hotwire is a great way to save money on hotels and sometimes even flights to Hawaii. I have personally bid and gotten $55 at the Royal Kona Resort, and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton, and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. All of these hotels are on the Big Island.

I know someone who bid and received a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu for $250. These are good deals!

Oh, and don’t forget car rentals. You can get great deals on car rentals by bidding.

The only issue with bidding for hotels is that you won’t know what hotel you get until you are locked in to paying for it. You just specify a certain star level or class of hotel.

The only issue with bidding for flights is that you won’t be able to specify an exact time, but they do tell you it will be sometime between x morning hour and x evening hour, so not too bad.

So How Should I Bid on Hawaii Travel?


I like to decide on a hotel I like, then find out what its star level is. Then on Priceline, I go directly to naming my own price, and during the process priceline will tell you what the average price is for that star level. I then bid half of that.

The priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful.

An awesome resource is the bidding for travel forum. If you scroll down on the home page you’ll see three Hawaii forums, based on which islands you are planning to visit. People bid, and then come here and post their accepted and rejected rates.

I have heard that the posted ‘median retail prices’ at priceline are sometimes inaccurate. I don’t worry about this in Hawaii because I am so familiar with what the hotels cost here. You, however, may want to check prices on the website of a few hotels that are the same star level as you want. You can then try to bid 50% of that.

Rental Cars –

$15 a day is a good place to start, and check the recent winning bids on Priceline.

Flights –

I like to bid 50% of whatever the going rate is and then bid up in $50 increments if that is refused.

Most Fun, Must-Do, Activities and Things to Do on Kauai

This is my list of the most exciting and fun things to do on Kauai in my opinion.

Inexpensive or Free Activities on Kauai

  • Queen’s bath – mostly cool because it looks so idyllic. Only good in the summer months when the surf is not high
  • Check out Waimea Canyon. Looks out of place in Hawaii but is pretty darn cool to look at.
  • Hiking – the hiking on Kauai is the best in the state. If you are into hiking, you are in for a good time.

Best Ways I like to Save Money on Kauai

Bidding for travel

I like bidding at priceline for hotels and rental cars and airfare. This can save a lot of money right away.

Hawaii Entertainment Book

Normally here, I would recommend the Hawaii Entertainment book from . However, if you will just be on Kauai, it won’t be much good for you. If you will be island hopping to Maui or Oahu, then think about it.

The book is typically best for Oahu, second best for Maui, and marginal for the Big Island and Kauai. I can’t recommend it for Kauai or the Big Island, really. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if that changed in the near future.

Best Kauai Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Kauai

Don’t hit all of these unless you are really into beaches. Just pick a few and take your time.


In Hawaii, all beaches are public. Anywhere that there is water, there must be public access to the shoreline. If you are in a residential neighborhood and want to check out the beach, just look for the blue signs that say “shoreline access” and follow the path, even if it’s directly between two houses.

Sometimes, though, residential beaches do not have restrooms or showers.

Don’t worry about directions too much. Kauai is a small island and you can see the ocean from almost everywhere. If you can see the ocean, you can find your way.

  • Kee Beach (north shore) – Calm with good snorkeling and swimming in the summer, a famous movie filming location
  • Tunnels – Large beach with good snorkeling and deep water caverns for scuba, no facilities
  • Hideways (north shore) – Amazing beach, 10 minute hike from parking area. Secluded but accessible. No facilities. Calm in summer.
  • Anini Beach (north shore) – Huge, protective reef, easy to get there, great snorkeling and swimming
  • Moloaa Beach – Protected, beautiful cove with good swimming
  • Lydgate State Park (east shore) – Awesome for families, very protected area, nearby playground
  • Poipu Beach Park – Excellent facilities, excellent swimming and snorkeling. Great beach
    Kauai really is an island of awesome beach after awesome beach and much of the shoreline is beach around the entire island. You can‟t go wrong, so I just listed some of my favorites here.

Hilton Waikoloa Village Hotel Questions

My husband and I have booked a 6 night stay at Hilton Waikoloa Village (end of July – over my birthday!!!).

A few questions:

1) Can we get snorkeling gear at the hotel and simply snorkel off the beach at the hotel….will we get to see much? We are just looking to see some colorful fish and a turtle would be nice! (We usually pay for a snorkeling trip on other vacations) –we also plan to enjoy watching the dolphins on site – we will likely not pay the $$$ to swim with them though!

2) We plan to rent a car for at least 1 day (if not 2). If you could only pick 2 destinations (day trips) on the big island which would they be? (Is there a rental place nearby?)

a. We would be willing to drive up to 2 (maybe 3 hours) from the hotel, enjoy nature, and would be open to moderate to light hiking if it meant we ended up somewhere worth it (waterfalls…etc)

b. We don’t want to cram too much into each day (especially if driving a far distance to and from)

c. Things that spark our interest from our research. Akaka Falls, the black beach, the volcano (especially the idea of seeing molten lava at the waters edge), Coffee Plantation Tour.

d. We see the Hilton has a Luau on site and were planning to go to that, but you mentioned another Luau on the big island as being your favorite. I am guessing we would need to rent a car to get to this. How far away is it from the Hotel and worth renting a car to go off site too? Have you been to the one at Hilton Waikoloa – how does it compare?

e. Please include any great stops for a good lunch along the way (relatively inexpensive to moderate cost)

3) Are there shuttles from Waikoloa Hilton to other area attractions and/or grocery stores (We would like to stock the room fridge with lunch snacks)?

4) What price range should we be looking at for meals at the restaurant options at the Hotel – just trying to determine budget?

5) Is there a special place that you would recommend on the Hilton Property that is relatively private and is great for viewing the sun set?

Well thank you 🙂

and how fun! wonderful! Ok …

snorkeling gear, you know, we always brought our own so I am not 100% sure about this, but it seems like a really good bet that they will have something – you will have to rent it though. The Hilton employs an onsite company called red sail sports to provide all the boats and stuff for people who want them. If rental prices seem too much you will probably be able to buy snorkels at the gift shop.

There is no real beach outside of the hotels grounds, only a lagoon with a beach inside, and snorkeling in the lagoon is pretty good. We see turtles, eels, and fish all the time. The turtles like to eat the leaves of the trees that around the lagoon between the waterfall and the steps.

Some people go out into the cove, and snorkeling is probably good there too.

For the car … well, maybe you could plan a trip to the Volcano, and hit the coffee plantation and the Black sand beach (punaluu) at the same time – they are on the way. You’ll want to check the current status of the volcano to see if it’s worth a trip the day before you plan to go – what’s going on down there changes daily.

Here’s my blog about it, but I only do general updates about once a month if nothing crazy is going on.

I think there is a budget rent a car on property at the Hilton.

The luau at the Hilton is also very good. I would just stick with it.

There is a trolley from the Hilton to the nearby Queens shops where there is a grocery store.

The hilton restaurants range from expensive to outrageous (but with really good food :). The grill by the pool may be your most inexpensive bet – $8 or so for a burger if I remember correctly.

as for the sunset walks – you can see the most awesome sunsets from anywhere on the grounds. There are a few hammocks here and there and many beach cabanas. There’s a point by the ocean tower that juts out and walking down there is good at night.

Check prices here

Have a great time! Lisa

Beach Color in Hawaii and Beaches Quality in Kona

I’m planning a trip and have read your q&a on doing so. My question that I can’t seem to figure out is, on what island/beach will I find the ocean water to be that crystal blue/green so clear that you can see through. I know it may sound silly but that’s what I’m looking for, I prefer white sandy beaches with that aqua turquoise color. I’ve done some searches on “what color is the ocean in hawaii” etc but haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I’d like to visit waterfalls, do some snorkeling, visit a volcano (not the highest priority) I’m thinking that I’ll take two weeks. I’m traveling with a friend who is providing me with free airline passes to get there, he said something about going to the big island first, then on to kona, he’ll be with me the first few days and then he’ll be leaving me on my own. I’d like a place to relax, enjoy the water, snorkel, do some sight seeing.

Ok, that crystal blue-green you are looking for, I think that comes from a play of the sunlight through the water, and only happens with very shallow, long, open beaches (meaning not coves) where the bottom is all white sand.

Hawaii is not the best place for these types of beaches, in my opinion, because of how quickly the water becomes deep almost everywhere.

You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of it when the sun is right on most any island, for example, look at the second to the last picture here on Kauanoa beach on the big island – and the last picture of Abay on the big island here – and look at the last couple pictures of Kailua beach on Oahu here – and then a pic of anini beach on Kauai here.

Now, although I have two examples on the Big Island, the Big Island will really be the hardest island to see something like this on – only beaches on the west side would even have a chance.

Here’s one more thing to kind of get you thinking. See my pictures here from a boat tour we did in the Kealakekua Bay. Notice the difference in the colors of the water in the pictures. we were in 50 to 75 foot deep, perfectly clear water, and all those pics were taken within 10 minutes and 20 feet or so of each other – to this day I don’t know why the extremem difference in the color of the water.

The beaches right in Kona are interesting, but not spectacular. The little beach to the left of the Kailua pier sometimes has the pretty green color, but it’s not a beach to hang out on – more like a tiny strip of sand that sometimes gets swallowed by the ocean when the tide is high. Kids like it.

There’s a few more beaches along Alii Drive like Magic Sands and Kahaluu, but none of them will wow you that much. Kahaluu has lots of turtles which is cool.

Many places on the west side of the Big Island, which will be up north of Kona 15-30 miles, will make you happy.
… hmm, rereading I see you are going to be at the Marriott – if so, that would possibly be the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, which is on the West side and right on Anaehoomalu Bay (or A-Bay) and you willl probably like it, especially if you can make a trip to the Hapuna beach and maybe even the Kauanaoa Beach.

anyway, have an awesome time! Lisa

Military or MWR hotel on Maui?

January 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Maui, Vacation Planning 

I am in the military based in Oahu and traveling to Maui this weekend. Is there a military-friendly hotel there you would recommend?

Well, there’s no military hotels and no MWR facilities on Maui – it’s the only major Hawaii island that doesn’t have at least something.

I like the Kaanapali Beach Hotel as a military-friendly hotel. In the past, I know, they have given some decent military service discounts. They appreciate the military. The hotel is in a great spot and is definitely an authentic Hawaiian hotel.

The Best Hawaii Guidebooks in My Opinion; Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Big Island

Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do On Oahu

Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do On Oahu - one of my guide books

I have an absolute favorite Hawaii GuideBook series and it is the Hawaii Revealed Series (link is to the Hawaii Revealed books at Amazon). I like these guidebooks because the author’s pull no punches. There is no vague, travel magazine-speak about nothing. The books are filled with their honest opinions based on their actual experiences. I love that. That’s what I try to do with my websites.

One of the best things about the books is the aerial pictures of the hotels, which you can see at their website. Another awesome things about their books is that the authors have actually eaten at every restaurant, done every activity, and stayed at every hotel they review. It’s 100% evident in the way they talk in the book. Not too many guidebooks can say that.

I have each of these books for each island. If I am going traveling around Hawaii, I take these books – and I’ve lived in Hawaii for 14 years. I’ve written a review for each of the individual Hawaii Revealed Guidebooks here, if you are interested.

I also like to recommend my books of course. Mine are free, only digital, and are more like mini guides or ebooklets. They are all available here: There is one for The Big Island, Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and then four general books, one about saving money, one about getting married in Hawaii, one for first timers, and one about Island Hopping.

I do have a second favorite paper book, and that is the Hawaii Trailblazer Books . I have personally spoken with the authors. They are nice people and they write solid books with good information. If you are an active person who likes to hike, swim, snorkel, and surf (or take lessons), these books are a good choice for you.

I’d love to know your favorites or which books you have bought and like the best. Leave me a comment. thanks!

Hawaii Honeymoon Booking Questions

January 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Maui, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

Hi Lisa: Wanted to get your input on some things.

We are planning our honeymoon and would like to stay in Oahu for 7 nights. We are looking at July 26 – Aug 2. I understand that flying on a workday is cheaper, than the weekends. It is so hard to find the best package and know which one to trust. There are so many sites to choose from, but it worries me to use one of these 3rd party on line websites, such as “Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc” .

I have personally used expedia, priceline, travelocity, and orbitz and they are all reputable businesses that provide valid services. really 🙂

I found yet another website that took me to “Great Hawaiian Vacations”. They are a travel agent who will help you choose your best package. Are they trustworthy?

I have not personally used great hawaii vacations, but it looks they are members of the better business bureau. I also found this post at tripadvisor where many people like them

Do any of these 3rd party websites get any commission if you use there services/website?

Yes, anybody who does booking for you will get some sort of a commission.

We are wanting to stay on the beach in Waikiki. I found that the “Outrigger Reef on the Beach” has the options we want. Do you recommend that hotel? If I go through a 3rd party to make the reservations, how would I communicate to the hotel that it is our honeymoon and what kind of special deals can we expect?

Yes, I recommend the Outrigger Reef on the Beach- I like all the Outriggers and this one is a nice one.

The booking party may be able to input notes that it is your honeymoon, if not you can let them know when you get there. You will not get any special deals probably, unless you specifically book a honeymoon deal and that is normally through the hotel itself. You may get a bottle of wine or champagne though.

When talking to an agent from “Great Hawaiian Vacations”, he mentioned that instead of renting a car from the airport and paying that price everyday + a $25 parking fee at the hotel, he recommends just renting on a daily basis. We can usually go through the hotel to rent a car and not have to pay that parking fee. What do you recommend?

This is a valid idea, especially if you won’t need the car everyday. If it’s important to you, you could actually do the math, confirm with the hotel that their parking fee is $25, then add up the car rental fee, then see how much it would be to just rent it per day.

There are certain activities that we would like to do while we are there. Do you recommend that we reserve ahead of time or wait until we arrive?

Activities consisting of:
go to a dinner luau (the one that has flame dancers). What is the best to go to?
rent a Harley Davidson for one day.
take a Pearl Harbor tour.

You are going during the busy season, so I would recommend prebooking your harley davidson rental and your luau. They are all good in Oahu but I recommend the paradise cove luau. There’s nothing to book for snorkeling unless you take a boat tour, for which case I would recommend prebooking, and for pearl harbor you are not able to prebook – you have to do it onsite.

When should we book our vacation/honeymoon to get the best price?

Well, I would ask the great hawaii vacation guys what they think, but generally, if you aren’t going to book last minute then you will want to book as early as possible. 2 months out is smart if you can do it.

Congratulations, and have a wonderful time!

Hawaii For the First Time

January 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

Planning to visit Hawaii for the first time can start out as a an exciting adventure that quickly becomes overwhelming. There are just so many choices! Where to stay, what to do, which island or islands to visit…Plus, visiting the “Aloha State” is not like visiting any of the other 50 states. For extra help, see my first timer ebook here with my other free hawaii guidebooks.

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that has its culture and language. But don’t worry, English is the primary language spoken here, meaning English will be spoken at the places you stay, shop, visit, etc. Many of the locals speak Hawaiian Pidgin, mostly to each other at home, at play, etc. It’s much like slang but with a melodic rhythm and is based on English with influences from other languages, especially Hawaiian.

Of all the tropical places to vacation, Hawaii is the easiest for Americans to visit because, well, it’s part of the United States. There’s no currency exchange or passports to hassle with, but you still get the warm tropical weather (average 82 highs and 67 lows near the shores) and beautiful beaches.

If you are flying from the West Coast, jet lag won’t be much of an issue because Hawaii is only 2 hours behind Pacific Standard Time. When it’s 7 a.m. in the islands, it’s 9 a.m. in California. We don’t have daylight saving time, so add another hour during the summer. It’s about a 5-hour flight from LAX to Honolulu.

As far as what island to visit…if I could only visit one island, I think it would be Oahu.

I know Waikiki is crowded and all, but there’s so much to do here and I love all the energy (maybe that comes from living on the laid back Big Island). Oahu has lots of beaches too that aren’t crowded. And it’s got the royal palace, Bishop Museum, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor…

Maui, the second most visited Hawaiian Island, has the famous Hana Highway and more humpbacks than the other islands all put together. Kauai, the Garden Isle’ lives up to its name and is where you’ll find the legendary Na Pali Coast, and the Big Island (Hawaii Island) is home to an active volcano.

To help you plan your first visit to Hawaii, I have a free first timers ebooklet available for download (no strings) at:

The most visited islands in Hawaii are Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. It is impossible to see them all in only 8 days. A good vacation would involve staying all 8 days on one island. Even if you want to see 2 islands in 8 days, you will spend too much time and energy getting from one island to another. The Big Island has the only active volcano. Pearl Harbor is on Oahu. All islands have luaus. I would recommend getting a Hawaii travel guide that describes the sights on each island and after reading that, you will get an idea of which island seems to draw you the most. First Time to Hawaii Adult Kids and Parents

Punaluu on Oahu, Windy? Nice Place?

January 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

Hi, Lisa. I have found your site very helpful. My husband and I have some questions, and I hope you can offer some help.

We are planning a trip to Oahu the end of June, beginning of July for 7 days to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We are trying to decide on which area of the island will suit us best for lodging. This is our first trip to Hawaii, so we are fairly clueless about the various areas of Oahu.

We plan for this trip to primarily be a laidback, romantic trip rather than a very active one, so we are thinking the North Shore area would suit our needs better. We are not shoppers, but we do plan to spend a day or 2 in the Honolulu/Waikiki area at Pearl Harbor, the zoo, the aquarium and Diamond Head. Other activities we are interested in are the Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole plantation, and hiking around some waterfalls. We are looking at a condo – Pat’s on Punalu’u – and are wondering if this would be a good location for us. We like that it is directly beachfront, so that we can spend some time on a quiet, peaceful beach, maybe do a little snorkeling, and also see the beach from the lanai/condo. We have read some reviews of this location that mention that this is a windy location. Is Punalu’u a terribly windy area, and is it noticeably more windy than other locations? Would you think that this location is a good place to base ourselves in consideration of the activities we are plannning and interests we have, or do you have a different suggestion? Also, if you have any input about Pat’s (or anything else) that would be welcome as well.

There may be some confusion here about the name Punaluu. There is a Punaluu Beach on the Big Island that is on a south shore and frequently can get very windy. I wonder if some of what you read was about this place. Pat’s at Punaluu is in a town called Punaluu on Oahu, which is on the North-East side of the island. This side of the island will get tradewinds and more weather than the west and some the south sides of Oahu, but I wouldn’t be worried about the wind. You might run into some weather, but most likely it will be sunny and beautiful and the tradewinds will just cool you down 🙂

I can recommend Pat’s and I don’t think it’s too far from what you want to do. Just try to avoid going into the Honolulu area during morning commute and out of Honolulu during evening commute – try a late morning drive in and stay in Honolulu for dinner and you should be good.

Punaluu on Dwellable

Kona to Hilo Bus Schedule

I will be visiting Hawaii later this month and will be travelling to the Big Island. I have two nights accommodation booked in Kona and then two nights in Hilo. I very much want to experience everything that both towns have to offer including diving with the Manta Rays and seeing active lava flow. I will be travelling on my own and I have heard that car hire in Hawaii is very expensive when you take all the extras into consideration. I was thinking of taking the bus from Kona to Hilo but I am not sure where I would need to catch it from. I will be staying at the Keauhou Beach Resort, would appreciate your advice on what would be the best option.

Hi Robyn, the hele on bus schedule is here: – as you can see, the bus stops at the Sheraton Keauhou at 6:20 am, every day but sunday. The Sheraton Keauhou is just down the road from the Keauhou beach resort – maybe 15 minutes or so walk. If I were you, as soon as you check in, I would tell the front desk your plans to take the bus and see what they suggest – maybe they could even call the sheraton keauhou and find out exactly where the bus picks up at over there.

Best Price for Inexpensive Maui Surfing Lessons

We want to learn to surf in maui. Can you turn us on to the cheapest lessons available. Anywhere on the island is fine

Generally, the best prices are going to be for group lessons. I have found group lessons as low as $60. Rates may be better for larger groups. You’ll get a free board rental with your lesson – and you could ride a wave on your first ty 🙂

One good company is maui waveriders.

Semi private lessons – for couples or groups of three are good too, maybe $85 to $90 is the best price available.

Do you have a business with rates around here or better than this? Add it in the comments. Or, have you had an experience with surfing on Maui? I’d love to hear from you. Lisa

Hilo and Kona and Honolulu Cruise Port of Call Help

I’ve come across your website while researching our trip (boyfriend and I). We are planning a cruise in September and wanted to know how accessible shuttle services are from the ports.

1. Hilo cruise ports to Akaka falls. Should we take a taxi or is there a shuttle, what are the costs?
2. Honolulu port to HNL international airport. We want to be at the airport by 630-7am, how much would a taxi cost, I see that the airport is fairly close by.
3. In Kona we plan to follow your advice and visit Kahaluu Beach, is this difficult to get to? How much would a jet ski/ boat be?

We were just wondering how close attractions are from the ports, and what to expect if we took cabs or if public transit was easy/reliable (we don’t want to miss our departure at each ports).

Honolulu port to the airport would be about $20 to $30.

Hilo to Akaka falls, you probably will need to take a taxi, although sometimes shuttles are offered. You may have to wait till your are on the ship or even till you get off at port to know about the shuttle. Taxi is $3.20 a mile, so it could cost you $64 one way. Many times the taxis are vans, so if you could fit three couples in a van you could split it three ways.

In Kona, Kahaluu Beach is around the 5 mm, while the cruise ship is around the 0 mm, so that will be much more reasonable by taxi. – less than $20 one way.

Jet ski is $100 something for the hour but it’s just on a circular track. To rent a boat is going to be $370+ for a half day. Renting a scooter or bikes is easy too and not too much money.

Each port is different, and each port will have a different amount of resources trying to help you see what you want to see. Hilo and Kona are generally the hardest to figure out because the island is so big and in Hilo not as many tourists come in, so there’s not as many companies catering to them.

Don’t worry, I’m sure it will all come together nicely for you and you’ll have a great time 🙂 Lisa

Shopping Locations in Hawaii

January 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Prices, Vacation Planning 

Now Lisa, Can you say on which Island the Shopping is the best? Such items as Shoes, clothing, perfumes?. Can you give an address or location to make it easier to access them?
If we can know that answer then it may pay us to stay on that Island for the last 4 nites prior to flying back to Aussie and means we do not need to “Carry” all the shopping with us!!

Shopping is the best on Oahu, in Waikiki – this is high end and low end shopping both. whatever you want. All the islands also have a Hilo Hatties that will have all the Hawaiian-themed stuff you want, especially clothing. Here’s the locations of all the hilo hattie’s

also, Walmart and Kmart are both on all the major islands and both will have a souvenir section with much of the stuff you would buy other places for usually better prices. They will also have stuff like mac nuts and Hawaiian sweet bread.

Have fun!

Where to Rent Camping Equipment In Hawaii; Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, or Big Island

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
Image by Jeff Kubina via Flickr

I am coming to Hawaii in Feb 2010 and would like to do some camping. Can you tell me if there are places on Molokai, Maui or the Big Island that rent camping equipment?

** update 2011, there are now some places to rent camping equipment – check the comments below this text for multiple links.

Sorry, but there really is no where to rent camping equipment on any of the islands. You’ll need to bring it or buy it when you get here – on Maui or the Big Island – molokai and Kauai will have the least buying options. Oahu will have the most buying options.

You may be able to rent camping stoves or larger things of that nature, but you will be limited on where you can use such a thing. No one rents tents or sleeping bags that I know of.

New rental places and stores do open up all the time though, so if anyone knows of anything or has a rental company website, please leave a comment. 🙂 thanks!

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Hawaii; Should I Visit One Island or Two or More?

Hi Lisa
i happened upon your site while doing research on Hawaii vacations..
here is my dilemna…my husband and two daughters (13 & 16) will be coming to Hawaii in July. I am trying to book a nice vacation and at the same time trying to control costs…
Since this is a once in a lifetime trip for us I am trying to decide if we should do 2 islands or just enjoy one. We want to have some down time to relax and some time to explore. I am definetly staying on the big island. By staying on just one island will we get to see all Hawaii has to offer?

You didn’t say how long your trip will be. I like to recommend no more than one island for every 5-7 days in Hawaii, for just that reason. Relaxing is important. Packing and unpacking and flying and renting a car all over again is not relaxing, typically.

The other islands are quite different than the Big Island, but the Big Island definitely has something to offer for everyone, and it’s the only island with the volcano and an awesome black sand beach (punaluu) and it’s best beaches (Hapuna and Mauna Kea) can rival the best anywhere in the islands.

I don’t think you will be missing out on anything by staying on the Big Island, unless someone else in your party has their heart set on something specific like Pearl Harbor. There is always the option of a day trip too – meaning you could just fly over for a day and fly back that evening, but that could the priciest way to island hop if you go with a predestined tour.

So, don’t worry if you just stay on the Big Island. Others may tell you that you were missing something, but I don’t think you will be.

Aloha, Lisa

Big Island MWR Army and Air Force Facilities

I stumbled upon your site while Googling military vacations on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am familiar with the military beaches and cottages on Oahu as I lived there for several years. I’ve also been to the one at Kiluea (she means Kilauea Military Camp or KMC) on the Big Island.

I have received an invitation to the Big Island in January. However, the location is unfamiliar to me. There is supposed to be cottages and/or tent camping on the BI at Bellows AFB. Is there such a place? I know Bellows on Oahu very well. Can you please tell me what military beaches/accommodations are available on the Big Island? I searched for it on the net, but came up empty. My friend may have her info wrong!

As far as I know there is no Bellows on the Big Island. There is a Bradshaw Army Airfield on Saddle road, and nearby there is Mauna Kea State park, where you can do tent camping or cottage camping. That is probably what she is thinking of. KMC is the only other Military MWR facility I know of on the Big Island, and there are no military beaches. There is not currently a large military presence on the Big Island. good luck! Have fun! Lisa

8 Free Hawaii Guide Books

I have written a Hawaii Guide Book as a gift to you! Actually, I’ve written 8 Hawaii guide books and they are all free to help you plan your trips. There’s one for each major island and then 4 special topics.

Available Now

Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do On Oahu

Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do On Oahu

Download the Oahu book here – right click the link and download the book to your computer, or read it at the online version, The Complete Oahu Vacation Guide. They are a little different but not too much.

This guide book describes Oahu areas, what hotels are best for budget trips, romantic trips, best overall beach locations, and best family hotels. I also talk about the best beaches I like and my favorite activities. Or, see the online version here The Complete Oahu Vacation Guide

Plan your Best Vacation to Kauai Ever! Where to Stay and What to Do in Kauai

Plan your Best Vacation to Kauai Ever! Where to Stay and What to Do in Kauai

Download the Kauai book here – right click the link and download the book to your computer.

This guide book outlines all my favorite things about Kauai, plus what hotels are best for budget trips, romantic trips, best overall beach locations, and best family hotels. Or see the online version here,The Complete Kauai Vacation Guide

Plan Your Best Vacation to Maui Ever! Where to Stay and What to Do on Maui

Plan Your Best Vacation to Maui Ever! Where to Stay and What to Do on Maui

Download the Maui book here – right click the link and download the book to your computer.

This guide book outlines all my favorite things about Maui, plus what hotels are best for budget trips, romantic trips, best overall beach locations, and best family hotels. Or see the online version here: The Complete Maui Vacation Guide

Plan your Best Vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do on the Big Island

Plan your Best Vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do on the Big Island

Download the Big Island book here – right click the link and download the book to your computer.

This guide book outlines all my favorite things about the Big Island, plus my favorite family, beach-front, and budget hotels. Or, see the online version here: The Complete Big Island Vacation Guide

Hawaii Hopping for Fun! Visiting More than One Island in Hawaii the Smart Way

Hawaii Hopping for Fun! Visiting More than One Island in Hawaii the Smart Way

Get the Hawaii Hopping For Fun; Visiting More than One Island In Hawaii The Smart Way Book here to discover all the ways there are to get around between the Hawaii Islands. Inter-Island Hawaii Travel explained in depth! Or see the online version How to Get from One Hawaii Island to Another

First Time Hawaii Vacations the Easy and Fun Way; How to Get to Hawaii, Where to Stay, and What to Do

First Time Hawaii Vacations the Easy and Fun Way; How to Get to Hawaii, Where to Stay, and What to Do

Get the First Time Hawaii Vacations Ebook Here Right click and choose save target as. So, if you’ve never been to Hawaii before, get out your pen and take notes. This book will give you a basic overview of Hawaii, and tell you the popular and best places to stay and what to do on each island, where to fly into, and where to look for packages. Get an idea of what sounds good to you and then follow it up. Or see the online version First Time to Hawaii Guide

How to Save Thousands of Dollars on a Hawaii Vacation! Saving Money on Hotels, Flights, Food, and Fun things to Do.

How to Save Thousands of Dollars on a Hawaii Vacation! Saving Money on Hotels, Flights, Food, and Fun things to Do.

Save Thousands on a Hawaii Vacation! right click and choose save target as. Dozens of strategies and website recommendations to save you money. Spend less on the flight and have more for the fun stuff!
Or, see the online version here Cheap Hawaii Vacation Guide

How to Get Married in Hawaii On a Dime! Simple, fun, and low-cost Hawaii Weddings

How to Get Married in Hawaii On a Dime! Simple, fun, and low-cost Hawaii Weddings

How to Get Married in Hawaii on a Dime – I recount my experiences with getting married in Hawaii and coordinating a wedding in Hawaii, plus I talk about what you need to get married in Hawaii, and cool places to do it. Congratulations, by the way! Or, see the online version here: Cheap Hawaii Wedding Guide

Turtle Watching and Marine Biology in Hawaii

Hey, just found your website because i was watching one of your videos on youtube, i’m a 17 year old biology and geography student from england and i’m hoping to become a marine biologist who specialises in sea turtles. and i want to come to hawaii in summer 2010, to get some great diving experiance, and to see alot of sea turtles and other marine life in their natural habitats. it seems like you know alot about hawaii, and you seem better then all my local travel reps and i was wondering which island would be best to stay at? where are sea turtles most common? and what good marine experiances are out there? your help would really help me to achieve my lifetime ambition thanks

I know there are marine biology programs at our local colleges here – have you contacted anyone at UH Hilo or UH Manoa?

Well, there are turtles on every island and you can see them easily anywhere in Hawaii – really. go down to the beach and there they are – just about any beach with rocks around somewhere. I think I will suggest the Big Island for you though, because the big island has many opportunites to see many turtles. There’s a little pool to the left of Onekehakaha beach where they come in to sleep at night and I’ve seen 12 or more at a time there. You can almost always see them at punaluu and kahaluu beaches.

Look into the big island – Hilo or Kona, I think it’s what you are looking for. Aloha! Lisa

i have just contacted both colleges that you told me about and i’m waiting for a reply id love to move over to hawaii and go to university their. but i dont quite understand how my qualifications will transfer into credits. i was wondering if their are any conservation scemes i can book myself on for the summer of 2010? preferably sea turtle ones. and if you know any good diving schools where i can get a qualification in diving? thankyou, been a great help. Aloha !

you’re welcome!

why don’t you look into positions at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I know they have summer intern positions and they have seasonal openings. I also have heard that they sometimes hike out into the backcountry and camp on the beach to protect the turtles that come in to lay their eggs.

As for diving schools, there are tons. I wouldn’t look into this until you get here since you don’t know exactly where you’ll be.

Remote and Secret Waterfalls on Maui, Hawaii – Waterfalls off the Beaten Path

I’m planning a trip to Maui in March and was wondering if you could suggest some waterfalls to visit? We were hoping to find some with swimmable pools and maybe (if we’re really lucky) somewhere off the beaten path – remote!?

Well – Maui is a GREAT island to see waterfalls on. Many of them have swimmable pools – most *were* off the beaten path and then the guide book Maui Revealed revealed them all and gave great directions how to find them … because before noone could find them. I would suggest getting the book. You also can check out these pages for some fantastic descriptions.
Adventure Maui Waterfall Descriptions
Hawaiiweb waterfall pictures

Personally, I would stick with Oheo Gulch (aka the seven sacred pools) or the ones on the Hana Highway. They are remote, even if they are no longer secret. Many of them have swimmable pools. They won’t be that private but they’ll still be cool. Plus, there are short hikes out to most of them that are just really fun.

Honestly, many locals have gotten a bit peeved that some of their favorite spots have been overrun by visitors and that’s why I would suggest Hana Highway and Hana. You are less likely to run into that.

Have a GREAT time! Lisa

Value of Hawaii All Inclusive – All Included Vacation Packages

December 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Oahu, Oahu Activities 

I’m in the process of planning my honeymoon and would love to visit Hawaii. I read some of the articles on your site and you seem to have a lot of knowledge about Hawaii. There’s a deal that I found on the internet, but my fiancé and I are unsure whether it IS really a good deal, like they claim. I copied and pasted it below. I would really appreciate it if you give me your feedback as to whether we should go ahead and book w/ them, or if we should book everything separately? (i.e. flight, hotel, activities, food, etc. to be separate) In other words, is the quoted price really worth it? Also, how much money should we plan to spend on top of this quoted price? (that is, for additional activities, food, etc.) We are trying to make it as affordable as possible. Thanks a lot!

**** Note. I was asked to remove the copied and pasted all inclusive waikiki vacation itinerary and I did. The itinerary included 1 to 2 activities per day, plus some meals, airfare and hotel, shuttle, transportation, tips, and trolley for a day.

So, I took your email and got the VALUE of what you are being offered as this: $1418.5 per person low-end, $1868.5 high end. Now, this is not a figure that can really be locked down, because I am figuring my values based on a low-moderate of what prices I know are available. For example, I did not determine the price of the Breakfast Buffet, but since I know breakfast buffets can be had in Waikiki for as little as $6 and as much as $30+ I decided on a low-moderate value of $12. The meal you may be booking could cost significantly more.

You also could go to Subway and get a breakfast Burrito and drink a bottle of water you got from the supermarket for $.60 and pay about $4 for breakfast .. it’s all relative.

That being said – here’s how I arrived at my figure:

I looked on Expedia fare tracker, and although most flights cost $900+ when you want to fly, there was one to be booked for $450.

Outrigger Waikiki West has an Internet Special at $89 per night. add taxes and fees and take this up to $105 or so. They also have higher priced rooms so I averaged $700 and $1050 and divided by 2 (per person) for 437.5 per person for 7 nights.

Lei greeting one person – $20
food plus tips: $200
activities: $300
airport shuttle each way plus tip $11

So, in terms of absolute money, I don’t think you are getting the best deal you could get. However, to have everything done for you and someone else worry about all the details and barely even have to bring a wallet? That may be worth it to you. Some people who work for themselves know the value of their time – and someone whose value per hour is $60+ or so would definitely find value in this trip.

Hawaii Rv Rental; Oahu RV or Camper Van Rental;

October 23, 2008 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Camping, Hawaii - general, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

Hi Lisa – Thanks for your website info! My question is that I am planning a trip to Hawaii for me and my son, who turns 16 in March. He’s a keen surfer/bodyboarder/golfer and we are both active types. I am wondering if it is poss to rent an rv or campervan on oahu from the airport and then explore the island like that, rather than book into a hotel. Or, is it better to stay in one place and hire a car etc. He particularly wants to spend time around Pipeline.

Well, the problem with Oahu, and Hawaii in general as it pertains to RV’s, is that there are no hookups. No one rents RVs because there is nowhere really to park and hook one up. A Camper van would work, but you would need advice on where you are allowed, or will get by with parking for the night. Contact these people: and see what they say. Have a great time! Lisa

p.s. Here’s another Oahu camper rental site, Hawaii Campers and as you can see by the comment below, they will help you with permits AND pick you up from the airport!

And for big island camper van rental or tent and camping rental, see Happy Campers Hawaii

Cheapest Budget Way to Travel Between Hawaii Islands – Interisland Hopping, Flights, and Ferries

September 12, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

What are the cheapest ways to island hop from Oahu? I heard of a hydrofoil boat that takes you to the other islands. Do you know about this and what the cost is? Thanks

I think the boat you have heard of is the Superferry, and it seems rates are about $49 one way now – compared with $69 one way which is the lowest you’ll occasionally find at Hawaiian Airlines and Go Airlines, it is indeed the cheapest. However, it only goes to Maui and back right now. It won’t come to the Big Island till sometime in 2009 and Kauai is having a legal battle about it right now – so who knows when it will go there.

Sometimes prices are higher, and sometimes they are lower. During high travel seasons things sell out quickly and what you can get goes at a premium, so maybe $104 each way is the best you’ll get at the airlines. Sometimes the airlines get into pricing wars for various reasons and their prices drop drastically. When Go! first entered the scene prices were dropping as low as $19 one way, but then one airline went bankrupt and all those deals disappeared.

The superferry hasn’t been around long enough for me to draw any conclusions about what it will or won’t do, but their prices have mostly held steady since they started.

Fly or take a Ferry in Hawaii – Maui, Lanai, and Kauai.

July 14, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Lanai, Maui, Vacation Planning 

My husband, sister, and I will be in Hawaii to attend a wedding in mid-October. The wedding takes place on Lanai. We thought we would stay there 3 days, then travel to Kauai for a few days. Is ferry travel the most affordable way to go? Are there direct routes, or would we travel through Maui?

Would you suggest flying to Maui then taking the ferry to Lanai for the first stage?

There is no ferry from Lanai to Kauai. You’ll have to fly. You may have to go through Maui or Oahu, depending on which carrier you fly on – Hawaiian, Go!, or Island air. To get to Lanai in the first place, I would do whichever is most convenient to your flight in from the mainland. If they offer a connection to Lanai, I would take it. If you tried to fly into Maui and then take the ferry to Lanai you could end up having to spend the night on Maui first, plus, you won’t have to struggle with your bags – the airline will send them all the way through.

Kailua-Kona Airport Taxis and Shuttles – Cost and Availability

June 10, 2008 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Big Island, Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

Our flight arrives in Kona after all the car rental companies are closed (I was told they all close at 10:00 p.m.)

My questions is – would it be best to take a cab from the airport to Keauhou – if so, roughly what wouild be the cost? Should it be reserved in advance? I’m concerned because 300+ people may be looking for transportation to their hotels as they cannot pick up ther rental cars that evening.

Any information on the best way to get to our condo would be appreciated.

I called a couple of taxi companies, and the airport to Keauhou will cost $36 to $39. It doesn’t seem like they take advanced reservations but one company gave me a number of the closest company to the airport if you find yourself unable to get a cab – she said call 329-1977 Mel’s Taxi and they’ll come right down. I can understand your concern, but if the taxi companies know the flight is coming in and they know the car rental companies are closed I am sure they’ll all be ready and waiting.

You also could reserve with speedishuttle– their phone message says they operate every day of the year, from the first flight in the morning to the last flight in the evening.

Have a wonderful vacation! Lisa

Hawaii With Kids and Babies – The Best Hawaii Island and Stuff in Hawaii for Kids

March 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

We are planning to visit Hawaii. I’ve never been to Hawaii before. My husband has been to Honululu and Kauai once. We are not quite sure which island will be a good choice for us and our 10 months old baby. And what kind of activities and attractions are “infant-friendly” there?

We have been traveling around the islands with our son since he was 1 month old, and really the only thing I can think of that is infant friendly is the beach – any beach really, but there are beaches on every island that are calmer or have a spot rocked off for young kids. However, most things are not really child unfriendly either.

When my son was 4 months old we had family visiting and we did a few things with him. We took him on a large catamaran out to a snorkeling spot and sometimes he cried but everyone was fine with it. I don’t think there is any one island that is going to accommodate a baby any more than the others, so you should pick an island based on what you want to do.

You may want to make sure your hotel has a kiddy pool – some of them are really nice for the kids. The Hilton Waikoloa Village on the big island is fantastic and has a protected ocean lagoon, a huge kiddie pool, another pool with very mellow slides for kids, and boats and a tram that takes you to your room. Oh, and dolphins. That was our favorite hotel before kids, and is still our favorite hotel after kids. My son has loved it since 4 months old and *really* loves it now at 3.5 years.

Another place my son enjoyed was the Wailea Marriott on Maui – they had a great kiddie pool plus a big slide for the bigger kids and adults.

As for older children – anything that keeps them active or interested is good. Snorkeling trips, atlantis submarine, jet skiing, horseback riding – there are atv tours and zip lines on some of the islands. Surfing lessons are good if they are interested. Dolphin Quest and Sea life park are good ideas. There are aquariums on most of the islands. Hawaii doesn’t ‘cater’ to children the way, say, Disney does – but if your kids are active and interested in life there is oh-so-much here to enjoy.

Suggested Hawaii Itinerary – Plan my Trip for Me!

January 24, 2008 by · 14 Comments
Filed under: Big Island, Hawaii - general, Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

If you had to recommend a two week itinerary in Hawaii, what would you recommend and why (13 full days)? Don’t give me some cop out answer like “every island has something to offer for each person”. We were thinking of visiting 2-3 islands. Which islands should I visit and for how many days.

Ok, 13 full days – never been to Hawaii before – I would do Oahu for 4 to 5 days. On Oahu I would visit Waikiki beach, because it really is the beach that started it all even if it is completely packed with people and commercialized these days.. I would visit Pearl Harbor and maybe hike to some waterfalls. I would consider Hanauma Bay. I would check out Kailua and Lanikai beaches and the North Shore. For the rest of the trip *I* would decide which out of the following was my favorite must-see and choose my island(s) around that:

an active volcano (big island)
black sand beaches (big island)
the Na Pali Coast (Kauai)
tons of waterfalls (Kauai or Maui)
zip line (maui and kauai)
downhill bike adventure (maui)
ferries to smaller islands (maui)
rivers (kauai)
hana and the road to hana (maui)
mauna kea (big island)
green sand beach (big island)
waimea canyon (kauai)
sport fishing (all islands, but big island – kona side is considered best)
waipio valley (big island)

Anything else you would want to do in Hawaii could be done on any island – so figure out what appeals to you and focus your activities around that. That is the most specific advice I will offer. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful time! Lisa

…. BIG TRIP for us all. Most of us do not like tons of crowds for a long time. average crowds are fine. we have planned 11 days or more. Quoted 4,500 for all inclusive flight hopper to 3 islands. Does this allow you to see the greatest of hawaii by moving about?

Three islands is a personal choice – if you guys want to move around that much, great! Of course staying in one place is good too. The only island I sometimes really advise people to not stay on for a long time is Oahu – sometimes visitors get disenchanted with the amount of traffic and people there. Lisa

Latest on planning is … talked to an agent that suggested a cruise to the three islands instead of flights. After thinking about it, we think it sounds easier than packing and unpacking. We would fly to Honolulu and get on a cruise ship that moves about three different islands. At least there are stay overs for more than one day.

We have been on cruises… the frustrating part for us has been we find a place we really like however, we can’t stay any longer than the time they allow. :

If you had say 11 days to see hawaii, knowing this could be your 1st and last trip, what would YOU do? Teens will need activity. Parents and grandma like activities such as hiking, snorkeling, ATV rides, beaches, FOOD of course. Any suggestions??

I have a really hard time when people ask ne what would YOU do becaue I have been here for so long and have seen so much and I can’t seem to get myself back to a place of being a fresh newbie to Hawaii. 🙂

The cool thing about a cruise is all the people are right there when you get off the boat trying to talk you into their activity – but the not so cool thing is you are stuck in this one geographical area for this finite period of time.

I won’t say – do the cruise or don’t do the cruise. I’m sure it could be awesome, and I’m sure it could be awful 🙂

What’s Up With Hawaii’s Wet Side and Dry Side Weather?

January 9, 2008 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

Also I read that there is a dry side and wet side. That sounds real weird but is it that different on the sides of the island, and why?


There is a dry side and a wet side of every island – generally east and north shores tend to be wet while south and west tend to be dry. It has to do with the way the wind comes in off the ocean (trade winds, usually comes in from the east). The clouds blow in, get pushed up the mountains that are in the center of every island, and dump all their rain before getting light enough to head to the other side of the island – something like that. If you are really interested read more here at wikipedia.

Generally the more popular destination spots like Waikiki, Kailua-Kona, Poipu, and Kaanapali get very little rain because they are on the dry sides. Puako on the Big Island can get 7 inches or less rain a YEAR – that’s like desert. Great for vacationers cuz they are not looking for rain usually 🙂 Compare that with Hilo (where I live) where it seems like sometimes we can get 7 inches in a day and still not cancel soccer practice. lol.

I Know Nothing about Hawaii and Want to Plan a Vacation – Tell Me Everything

January 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

Our family is considering taking a vacation in Hawaii. Maybe in the next year or so. Being pretty clueless when it comes to Hawaii, what would you suggest? It would be for 6 adult and 1 child. Is one place cheaper to fly into than another? What about hotels and such?

Many people start with Oahu on their first trip, and it is generally the easiest to fly into and cheapest because it is the most popular – of course being the most popular it has really gotten developed and a lot of people complain there are more buildings than trees, but it’s still a beautiful island and has fantastic, easy-to-get-to beaches (that you’ll be sharing with a million other people 🙂 ) but that’s ok, they are big. You might want to look into Oahu and see if it’s what you want.

Don’t think about hotels till you decide on an island – do you have rewards with anybody like Hilton or Marriott? That might also be a good way to decide where you want to go – you could find the hotel that would get you the best deal and then see what you think of the island it’s on.

my husband and l had some interest some day of traveling to hawaii, he has been reading the lonely planet book about and sounds very beautiful. just wondering if you had any suggestions for me not sure what time of year we would go, but we were thinking of three weeks. we do know someone that lives in kihei – how would we go about setting up an itinerary, where would we start and where would we end? is it best to stay in b&b’s any suggestions for hotels, renting vehicles, what would you suggest to budget yourself per day, any suggestions would be great

Wow, this is a huge question and I’m just not sure I can do it justice – it’s huge and broad and usually I do best with very specific questions, but I’ll try to point you in the right direction here:

  1. Decide what island you will visit – if you know someone in Kihei and want to go to that island then start looking into Maui.
  2. Decide what area – if, for your first trip, you stick to the very touristy areas you will be ‘safe’ meaning you will find great beaches and great weather typically – so on Maui that would be Wailea, Lahaina/Kaanapali, and Kihei.
  3. Decide what hotel you will stay at – alternatively, this could be your second item on your list, because if you prefer say, Hilton hotels because you like them or have rewards with them and there is only one Hilton on the island, well then what area choice is pretty much made for you. easy 🙂
  4. As for should you stay in a hotel, vacation rental, condo, or bed and breadkfast — this is all personal preference. Do YOU prefer hotels or bed and breakfasts. Do you want to eat out every meal or cook your own food? Do you want to have your vacation in a place that feels like home or do you prefer a hotel where everything is done and provided for you? see what I’m getting at here? Me, I like condos because you can save money and eat healthier stuff but I like hotels because you can forget about all that cooking and cleaning cr– and concentrate on playing. I like vacation rentals because you are hanging out by yourself away from all the other visitors but I like hotels because there are lots of other people around 😉
  5. As for budgeting yourself per day – well, what is your budget? Do you have $10,000+ to spend on this trip, or only $4500? This will make a big difference. There are books that will show you how to make the most of a budget – Frommer’s Hawaii on $80 a Day is one of them. I don’t know how relevant it is to today since it was written in 2005, but it will get you started I think.
  6. As for what to do – you could out your daily itinerary before you go down to the very last activity (this is what my husband does) by doing a google search for Maui activities (if that’s the island you’ll be staying on) and seeing what comes up or you could just fly to Maui and see what looks fun to you (this is what I do)

I hope this helps get you started, write me again if you have more questions. Aloha, Lisa

Should we Visit more than One Island in Hawaii?

November 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

My husband and i are planning a mini-vacation to Maui this december for 6 days. We are being advised to extend our vacation for a few more days and add another island to our itinerary. Do you have any recommendations?

advised by who? this is your vacation – you do what you want! 🙂 I don’t think a ‘few days’ will do another island much justice and I don’t see any need for you to do another island unless there is something *you* want to see. Hawaii is Hawaii, and although all the islands are different, the general idea of nice beaches, local culture, warm weather, and a vacation atmosphere within the United states are still the same on all the islands.

Do you really want to go to another island and have the stress of packing, checking out, turning in your car, flying, getting another car, unpacking etc on your mini-vacation? If so, what do you want in another island – more laid back? more people? different climates? more hiking? more shopping? different color beaches? If you could answer some of these questions I could maybe help you pick another island.

Maybe this article can help you decide if you feel you need help.

Do I need a Travel Agent to help plan my Hawaii Vacation?

November 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

I am planning a trip to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary and feel very overwhelmed with where to begin? Should I seek out a travel agent for this? Would it be better if I find the deals online? What’s your advice?

That depends – are you comfortable planning your own travel or would you rather have someone do it for you? Do you enjoy researching on the Internet or are you already busy enough? Do you want to plan every detail or just tell someone what you want and hopefully enjoy the result? Do you want to personally look for opportunities to save money on your vacation or is money not really an object for this trip?

I would start by deciding what island you want to visit, then deciding what kinds of things you want to do on that island, then read the above questions and decide how much personal input you feel you need to have. Your own answer should then be clear to you.

Nature Hikes on Oahu and Kauai for a Short Vacation

October 5, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Kauai, Oahu, Vacation Planning 

We will be going to Kauai for 2 days and Oahu for 5 days beginning 10/13. We’d like to focus on flora–the beautiful flowers, mountains, etc. What would you recommend as the best use of limited time? We have considered a hike through Manoa Valley. We’re not adventurous hikers, but can handle a couple miles of walking. Appreciate any insights you have.

Hi! Manoa Valley is a nice place to hike. Have you seen this page on the Manoa Falls hike? There is also the Oahu Hiking Trails main page that will give you more information than you can handle on available hiking trails, along with what to expect, plus how easy and long they are.

As for limited time, I would look on the afore-mentioned page for all the hikes that are near where you will be staying. You can waste a lot of time on Oahu sitting in traffic but if you stay in one area most of that can be alleviated. Other than that, I don’t have any major recommendations.

As for Kauai, you don’t have a lot of time there. I like Waimea Canyon – a really unique place, especially in Hawaii. there’s nowhere else like it in the islands as far as I know. It’s beautiful.

Getting a Teaching Job in Hawaii

September 23, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Jobs in Hawaii 


I’m considering moving to Hawaii to teach. Do you know what areas have a high need for teachers? Do you know of any particularly good districts? Ones to avoid? Or, do you know of any online resources with this kind of information? Thanks for any help you can offer.


Well, I’m actually supremely unqualified to answer this question. I really know nothing about teaching in Hawaii, as I didn’t grow up here and my son is currently homeschooled. I will look around though and see what I can find. As for good districts and ones to avoid – I’m not sure what the qualifiers would be. There are what I would consider ‘more dangerous’ districts to jump right into – knowing nothing about them and the people who live there, in general in Hawaii, especially for a ‘fresh off the boat’ haole (white person) (if that’s what you are). One is Pahoa on the Big Island and another is Waianae on Oahu.

According to the Hawaii Department of Education teachers are most in need on the neighbor islands and outside of Honolulu on Oahu. The DOE also apparently does consistent recruiting to the mainland to try to bring teachers here. So it would seem that this would be your first line of attack – contact the DOE and see what they can do for you.

Your e-mail addy seems to indicate you currently work at a christian school. You can find a pretty good listing of Hawaii Christian Schools here. I have friends who go to Christian Liberty in Keaau. It’s a growing school and they like it.

Just as a side note, I have a good friend who moved here about two years ago because her husband was going to teach here. I know nothing about his skills as a teacher but I do know that he was a very kind and smart man. They moved back to the mainland a couple of months ago because he was unable to keep a teaching job, according to him. She said he had a job in the public school system and was pushed out of it because of some sort of discrimination. I have never experienced this discrimination myself, and neither has my husband when it comes to jobs here in Hilo, but I have heard a lot of people talk about it, especially recently. My husband and I moved here in 1995 and I don’t think the issues were as strong then, but recently mainlanders have been moving here in droves and driving up the cost of housing and sometimes making locals angry. Just something to be aware of. People moving here are not always welcomed with open arms by everyone.

If you moved near me, I’d welcome you, or anyone though! 🙂

Hawaii Travel Companions

July 15, 2007 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

Ok, I posted a question here from a young woman looking to stay in Hawaii for a few months – I got some great advice for her in comments, but now people keep e-mailing me wanting me to give her their e-mail address or get hers because they want to go with her or are thinking the same thing as her – so here is your OWN page to look for companions to go to Hawaii with.

I will not be able to remove e-mail addresses in the future, so only post it if you don’t mind it up here for everyone to see forever. Please, be safe – I am not responsible in any way if you meet up with someone dangerous or give them your personal information. If you are under 18, you are not allowed to post comments here.

Here’s the first post – taken from a comment I didn’t post on the other page – it was intendended for the original question asker.

My name is Mat and im 24 from Ontario and I am also travelling to Hawaii at that same time. I am also looking for the same opportunity so if you want to figure out maybe a plan together or are looking for someone to travel with email me back.

Which Hawaiian Islands are off-limits to Non-Hawaiians?

February 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

Cindy from Ontario, Canada asks

I heard someone say before that some of the Hawaiian islands are off limits to non-Hawaiians. Is this true or false? If this is true, can you explain briefly or direct me to information about the island or islands and why it or they are off limits?

Hi Cindy,

There is one island that is mostly off-limits to the general public but still populated. That island is Niihau, a small island just North of Kauai. Basically, it was bought in 1864 by a private landowner from the then Kingdom of Hawaii, and her family still owns it. There are about 160 people living on the island and most are Hawaiian. They intentionally maintain their isolation and perpetuate Hawaiian culture and traditions. More detailed information anout the history and people of Niihau is available at and at Wikipedia.

There are companies who have rights to do some minor tours on and around the island of Niihau. Here’s a good listing of them at Hawaii Travel Newsletter.

There is another island that is visitor-restricted but no one lives there. It is called Kahoolawe and is located just off the South shore of Maui. Maybe someday we’ll be able to visit it, but for now it is off-limits to just about everyone. It was used by the military for training and target practice for decades, but now it is being cleaned up. Extensive information is available at Wikipedia.

Finding Short-Term Work and Cheap Places to Stay in Hawaii

January 7, 2007 by · 28 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Jobs in Hawaii 

Dear Lisa

I was surfing the web for info on Hawaii when I came across your great website. I’m a 19 year old girl currently living in Brussels, who’s planning on going to Hawaii from september ’07 and staying for approx two or three months (90 days is maximum on a travel visa). My plan is to buy a plane ticket, book an acommondation for a week or two and then figure out what to do next.. My question is; how difficult is it to get a job on Hawaii? Thinking of jobs like bartender, lifeguard, waitress – basically whatever to get some cash. And is it absolutely necessary with a U.S work permit (which is kinda stressfull to get in my country), or is it possible to get work, and get paid in cash, and work – well, you get the picture.. “illegaly”.

My other question; is it possible to find a place to stay for 2-3 months? Obviously I can’t stay in an hotel or something pricey for such a long period of time. Is it possible to live somewhere for free if you help about, work for them etc ? Do you have any helpful advice?

I would really appreciate it if you would take time to answer my questions.
Thanks for a great site and happy new year by the way!

Well, especially right now, it’s pretty darn easy to get a job. Employees are *desperate* to hire because there are many more jobs than people right now. I don’t think you’ll have a problem. Unfortunately, I know NOTHING about getting a job under the table :).

Update! Now, in 2009, unemployment is going up a bit, so employers are probably not quite so desperate to hire anyone … but the rest of this post still stands, and in a few years employers will be desperate to hire again 🙂

I’ve never done it and I just don’t even know where one would start. I think that what you need is to get in on the Hawaii hostel scene. Hostels are places where people can stay for a while for free or cheap and they probably would be able to give you advice on where to get work. Start here: (hawaii hostels search at google) if you don’t know anything about hostels, and look for a forum where maybe you can get a contact before you come. Good luck! Have a great time! Lisa

I am a 21 year old college student who is considering moving to Hawaii to live for the summer 09 May-August. I just got back to Vermont, where I study and grew up, from a 5 month exchange in Sweden. While I was in Sweden I fell in love with a student who lives in Mexico. The distance is killing us and we both want to move some where new for the summer just to be together and work. I need some advice as to where to start looking.

I have a lot of waitressing experience in the US and a job of this manner would be fine for both of us. Mostly we just want to be together and experience a new place. Which island would you recommend we consider moving to? Do you think it pertinent that he apply for a working visa? Do many people move there just for the summer? Are there any local websites we could check for job listings and, most importantly, housing?

Well, I would say anyplace on Oahu, most places on Maui, or maybe even Kailua-Kona on the Big Island – although Honolulu-Waikiki, Oahu is your most obvious choice. I don’t want to advise on the visa – I don’t know anything about visas. People move here just for a few months all the time.

Craigslist is getting pretty big here – so check the Hawaii craigslist listings and the newspaper classifieds of whichever island you decide. Best of luck to you! Lisa

Honolulu advertiser classifieds

Are Bonfires allowed on Hawaii Beaches?

November 13, 2006 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

My fiance and I are planning a wedding at the Mauni Lani in February. We’ve scoured the web to see if we can host an informal bonfire on a beach one of the nights we are there? Do you know or can you point us to anyone that would know how to accomplish this? thanks!

Well, I’ve been calling the local DLNR and state parks departments and have gotten quite the runaround. No one seems to know or wants to tell me. I do know I’ve never seen a bonfire on any beach ever. I did find a reference on the Internet from the fire department that says they are prohibited, and I also found another reference from the state parks department that says you have to have a camping permit. My advice is for you to contact the Mauna Lani. Their beach is private in places, I believe, so maybe they can give you permission. If that doesn’t work, check with the concierge. He or she should be able to give you a definite answer, or maybe make arrangements for you. Just be aware that some beaches fall under the state, and some under the county, so who you need to get permission from will change from beach to beach. Good luck and congratulations!

Current Gas Prices in Hawaii

October 22, 2006 by · Comments Off on Current Gas Prices in Hawaii
Filed under: Hawaii - general 

December 22, 2008 – $2.40 a gallon!! I heard Costco on Oahu has gas under $2.00 for the first time since they opened in the 90s! crazy! It was really fun watching the gas prices fall like a brick .. . and even more fun filling up at $40 for a full tank instead of $70 🙂

September 8th, 08 – prices held at $4.48 a gallon for a month but are now falling slowly. Today, I filled up at $4.35.

July 1, 08 – prices go up a few cents every day it seems. Here in Hilo we are sitting at $4.48 a gallon for the cheapest.

I live on the Big Island and will try to remember to post the current gas price here every time I fill my tank. Prices on Oahu will normally be a few pennies less than on the Big Island. Prices on Maui and Kauai will normally be a bit more, while prices for gas on Lanai and Molokai could be up to $.50 more.

Just as a historical reference so you can compare prices with wherever you are from, I think I remember prices hovering around $2.00 a gallon in 1998. Prices of $2.70 were normal between September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, and after Katrina, the highest price I remember is $3.70ish a gallon.

December 10th, 2007: $3.35 a gallon – well, just before thanksgiving prices shot up to here and they are holding steady.

September 18th, 2007: $3.17 a gallon – OK, summer prices are coming down slowly.

June 12th, 2007: $3.40 a gallon 🙁 Prices were fine until about April, and then WHAM, they’ve been sitting at 3.40 for a while now.

December 20th, 2006: $2.909 a gallon 🙂

November 5th, 2006: $2.959 a gallon (wow!)

October 21st, 2006: $3.059 a gallon (lowest I’ve seen in a long time)

Which Island and Areas for Romantic Hawaii Vacation?

October 12, 2006 by · Comments Off on Which Island and Areas for Romantic Hawaii Vacation?
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Vacation Planning 

My husband and I would like to take a trip to Hawaii next summer. We’ve never been and there’s a good chance we might not go again. We are looking for a romantic trip (it’s our last vacation before we start having kids 😉 ) with a nice mix of beaches, being pampered at a resort, and activities like scuba diving (a must), hiking to waterfalls, and just getting out and enjoying the beauty of Hawaii.

We’ll most likely have 10 days and are flying from New York. Do you think we should do two islands? Which two would you recommend and which areas (not necessarily hotels) of those islands would you recommend we stay?

Well, congrats! on getting one more trip in before you have kids. I have a 3.5 year old and the trips are even better now because he is so incredibly enthusiastic and loving of everything – much more than we old people are anymore. It’s just magical to watch him on a waterslide or playing in the waves – it sometimes seems my heart will just burst from too much love but, of course there is that long period where it is hard to go anywhere and then when you do go somewhere YOU don’t get to do what YOU want to do – everything becomes for the child(ren). So, you have the right idea getting in a fabulous vacation for you while you still can!

Ok, in 10 days, lots of people do squeeze in two islands. Personally, I would be against this, but then I am more of a lover of getting settled in, relaxing, hanging out, reading, sitting still, etc. I find travel time to be a big drag. We live on the Big Island and last December we spent 7 days in Waikiki. We’ve been there dozens of times – my husband even lived there for several years, and we still found that we only had ONE day of relax on the beach and don’t do much of anything time. We had a bunch of things we wanted to do, and we found that 7 days just was not enough time — that’s another reason I wouldn’t want to do two islands. However, if you two are more like my husband – move, move, move, and move faster type of people, and you really want to see two islands, well, you’ll have to make that decision. 🙂

Ok, now onto WHICH island(s). The Big Island is probably out because there are only a few real waterfalls and they are all on the Hilo side (and you’d probably want to stay on the Kona side) and most of them aren’t really “hike to” types of waterfalls. We do have really fantastic scuba diving, but you can find that other islands too. Plus, the big drag about the Big Island is it’s just so BIG. You do a lot of driving here.

Well, there really is no one BEST island .. so this is pretty hard to tell someone. I’m getting an idea that you would like Maui best. If you decide on Maui I like the Wailea area for the best pamper-you resorts. Kaanapali and north of Kaanapali is also nice (napili, kahana). Maui has this fantastic “drive to Hana” where you can literally hike to a different fantastic waterfall every 20 miles or so. If you did Hana, staying overnight is good – then you can do the waterfalls in Hana too. For really good waterfall information, get the maui revealed book.

Oahu is nice too. A lot of people are really down on Oahu because Waikiki is soooo commercialized and the traffic sucks and there are literally a million people crammed onto this one little island. However, I like Waikiki, I like Waikiki beach, I like the North shore (which is NOT commercialized – very old Hawaii) and I like that Oahu is very big-city party all night kinda place. Not that I party all night, but Waikiki is literally the only place in Hawaii that is like this, so if that is what you want, there is your only option. Most of the rest of the state shuts down at 10pm and never even starts up on Sundays.

Kauai is also very nice. Much quieter than Oahu and Maui. Great hiking. The island is practically one humongous beach that just wraps around it with very sculpted and green mountains in the middle. Dry and hot in the south, wet and lush in the north. Windy and a bit more rainy on the east side, West side is uninhabitable – but the boat rides and hiking are great.

So, I don’t know how helpful this will really be for you. I don’t think you can go wrong with Maui, so maybe start thinking about it first unless something I said about Oahu and Kauai grabs you.