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

Aloha!

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 AirportParkingReservations.com. 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 http://www.hawaii-lisa.com/ or access it directly: http://www.hawaii-lisa.com/books/Island_Hopping.pdf

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: http://coconutroads.com/CampMalaekahana.html ******

——————-

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 Hotels.com

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.

http://www.hawaii.gov/health/dcab/docs/TravelHawaii.pdf

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 http://www.heleonbus.org/

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…

Oahu

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 GoHawaii.com.

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:

Aloha!

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:

http://www.asimplyelegantwedding.com/traditional_hawaii_wedding.htm
http://www.hawaiiwedding.com/hawaiian.html

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 Hotels.com 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

Food

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!

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

Aloha!

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 http://www.iflygo.com/.

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 http://www.hawaii-lisa.com/lavaupdate.html

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 Hotwire.com. 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?

Hotels:

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.

Aloha!

The Complete Maui Vacation Guide

So you are planning a vacation to Maui! This is the Complete Maui Vacation Guide, which is the online version of of my free ebook,
Plan Your Best Vacation to Maui Ever; Where to Stay and What to do on Maui.
plan best vacation to maui ever cover
Topics in this guide

Aloha!

So you’re planning a vacation to Maui –

Congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you’ll be flying in to Kahalui (OGG), 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 Kahalui. 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 http://www.iflygo.com/.

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

My Favorites on Maui

My favorite areas:

Kaanapali, Lahaina and Wailea. Kaanapali is a three mile long golden sand beach north of Lahaina. And Lahaina is a main town on Maui – lots of fun shopping, dining, sights to see and nightlife. Wailea has beautiful white sand beaches in South Maui where it’s almost always sunny and less windy than northward

My favorite hotel:

Hands down, the Wailea Marriott is my top choice because it’s a wonderful place for children, especially with the kids’ pool playground structure and its small and large slides (and I always travel with my little boy and my big (45 year old) boy.

My favorite luau:

Maui has more than a few fantastic luau, but the best is possibly to the Old Lahaina Luau.The multiple award-winning production tells the story of the Hawaiians through chant, music and hula. The food is superb (Emeril hosts shows from here even) and includes traditional luau food as well as modern Hawaiian delights like mango chicken. This is a hands-down favorite luau of locals and visitors. Check out the photos and menu at their site.

My favorite activity:

Viewing and playing at the waterfalls we can hike into from the Road to Hana; A perfect vacation activity because it’s exciting and new and each waterfall is different from the last. The best guide to this drive (and all of Maui) is the Maui Revealed Book.

I also thoroughly enjoy most boating activities, especially big catamarans or cruising boats that will keep an eye out for whales and dolphins.

My favorite guidebook:

I live here, and yet I own a copy of the Hawaii Revealed books for every island. They are the best available guides to the islands in my opinion. The Maui Revealed Book is excellent.

Best Weather on Maui

Maui is an island that offers exceptionally good weather. While the weather changes dramatically depending on the area of the island, it is generally between 75 and 85 degrees F all year long. 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.

The South and West Maui are usually hot and dry, while greener East and North Maui gets more rain and cooling trade winds. In the winter months, you may see snow on the top of Haleakala (the volcanic mountain).

Maui’s coastal waters are inviting year round too. The water temperature averages 75°F, about 10 degrees warmer than Southern California coastal waters in the summer. During Hawaii’s summer, South and West Maui coastal waters often hover around 85°F, the temperature of a heated swimming-pool. Nice!

Best Hotels in Maui

These are the best hotels in all of Maui, 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 Hotwire.com. 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, Oceanfront, and Luxury Hotels on Maui

Best Family Hotels in Maui

Best Budget-Priced Hotels on Maui

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.

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.

Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Maui

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 roundtrip 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?

Hotels:

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 Maui

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

  • Atlantis Submarine Tours, This is the one featured on National Geographic. Maui’s tour takes you down to view a natural coral reef with fish galore, as well as a sunken replica of a 19th century supply vessel. Atlantis Submarine Tour.
  • Haleakala Bike Ride Down a Volcano, Ride up in a van (maybe catch the sunrise too!) and coast down the western 13 slope of the world’s largest resting volcano. Ages 12 and up. I like Maui Downhill.
  • Haleakala Horseback Riding, If you want to tour Haleakala Crater but not on foot and you’re into horseback riding, I recommend Pony Express Tours. They are the favorite Hawaiian stable of Maui Revealed Guide and a nice family business.
  • Whale Watching, The humpbacks congregate around Maui from December through April, playing, mating and nursing their babies. For the most educational and whale-friendly tour, go with Pacific Whale Foundation They’re good fun too!
  • Surf Lessons, Try the Goofy Foot Maui Surf School. You’re guaranteed to stand up and ride a wave or your money back. They also have good rental rates and are adding stand-up paddle lessons. Check out the fun video on their site.
  • Take a Day Cruise to Molokai or Lanai, Take the Molokai Ferry to the “most Hawaiian island” or the Lanai Ferry to Hawaii’s 13-mile-wide “most secluded island.”

My Favorite Inexpensive or Free Activities on Maui

  • Drive the Road to Hana, If you don’t mind narrow winding roads, this is a must-do. Allow plenty time to pull over at scenic view points (the entire road is scenic, but sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy). Hike to a waterfall or two or three…check out the charming old town of Hana and the famous Oheo Gulch Pools (aka Seven Sacred Pools). About.com has a lengthy photo tour of the Hana Hwy. Read Hawaii State’s guide on Hiking Safety.
  • Haleakala National Park, Lots to see and do here – star gazing, hiking, watching the famous sunrise over the crater…
  • Visit Lahaina Town, This is the coolest town on Maui in my opinion. Shops, cultural attractions, Banyan Tree Park, good restaraunts, fun nightlife – and of course, Lahaina Harbor sunsets. Check out my article on Lahaina at my site.
  • Take a Sunset Stroll on Kaanapali Beach’s Boardwalk, Or take the beach walk anytime of the day. This is a gorgeous beach with pristine, golden sands and crystal clear waters. Check out my Kaanapali photos.
  • Explore `Iao Needle Area, First stop at the Kepaniwai Park and Heritage Gardens. Picnic by a stream and learn about Hawaiian plants and culture. Follow the paved path to the `Iao Needle State Monument.
  • Walk Wailea’s Beachside Path, The sunsets here are awesome. This is one of my favorite beaches. Crescent shaped, pristine and almost always sunny.
  • Hike to the Olowalu Petroglyphs, If you’re into this sort of thing, this is an interesting site. You’ll find the trail at Olowalu Beach (next to the private campground of the same name), just south of Lahaina.

And here’s a list on my site of free things to do on Maui.

Best Ways I like to Save Money on Maui

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

For Maui, I always recommend the Hawaii Entertainment book from Entertainment.com.

The book is typically best for Oahu, second best for Maui, and marginal for the Big Island and Kauai.

I review it every year: here’s my review.

Best Maui Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Maui

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 Maui 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.


    Kapalua Beach (West Maui)
    – Year-round calm swimming thanks to the reef and the rock outcroppings. On a clear day, you can see Molokai. Often found on U.S. and world “best beaches” lists.

    Napili Bay Beach (West Maui) – Very pretty white sand beach partially shaded by palm trees. Swimming and snorkeling are good when its calm, most summer days.

    Kama`ole Beach Park (South Maui) – This is divided by rock outcroppings into three separate beaches. Kama`ole l has nice picnic areas and good swimming. Kama`ole ll is smaller but also has good swimming. Kama`ole lll is better for body boarding and popular with locals. All have lots of fun family activities – volleyball, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, more.

    Makena Beach (South Maui) – Makena Beach – Soft, white sand and amazing blue-green waters make this an incredibly beautiful. When it’s calm, snorkeling and swimming are as fantastic as the view. It’s 2/3 of a mile long but can get crowded. Makena is also called “Big Beach” because just over a small hill (there’s a trail) rests a smaller section of the beach, which is calld “Little Beach.” Watch out for strong currents and high surf. Molokini Crater is just 3 miles off shore.

    Honokalani Black Sand Beach (East Maui) – Not save for swimming, but if you are driving the Road to Hana and want to see a beautiful black sand, do stop here. Located in the Wai’anapanapa State Park, this is a gorgeous area with sea caves and arches, blue-green water that has inspired many an artist, and there are fresh water caves to explore. Watch your footing on the trails if you hike around.

    Kaanapali (Upper West Maui) – Resorts and hotels line this beach, and it is very popular with locals as well. A long stretch of golden sands with crystal clear waters and just about every ocean activiity you can think of make it worth a visit. Beautiful sunsets too.

    Wailea Beach (South Maui) – Very pretty, this almost always sunny white sand beach has a paved path that meanders by the resorts, restaurants and sandy coves. Fun activities here like snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, etc. but can be crowded.

    Maui’s beaches are one of the reasons this island is so often voted among or as the best in the world. It has more swimmer-friendly beaches than any other Hawaiian island and many of its beaches have made the national and world “best beach” lists. In all, Maui has 81 accessible beaches and 40 of these have public facilities. 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 Maui’s coastline.

    In Conclusion

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

    Aloha!

    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

    Aloha!

    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 http://www.iflygo.com/.

    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?

    Hotels:

    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 http://www.hawaiiweb.com/kauai/sites_to_see/QueensBath.htm
    • 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 Entertainment.com . 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.

    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. 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.

    The Complete Oahu Vacation Guide

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

    This is the Complete Oahu Vacation Guide, which is just about everything I know about Oahu that I think a first time oahu visitor wants to know at one time. This is the online version of my ebook, Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever, so if you’d rather read this in ebook form or be able to download it to your computer, you can right-click on the ebook link and save it.

    Topics in this guide

    Aloha!
    So you’re planning a vacation to Oahu – congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you‟ll be flying in to Honolulu Airport (HNL). You may not need a rental car because the public and activity transportation is so good (and because parking fees are sometimes pretty high).

    Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

    This is all my opinion, based on my preferences and resources. I hope my opinions help point you in the direction you most want to take based on your preferences and resources.

    My Favorites on Oahu

    Honestly, I like Waikiki the best. Probably because I live in Hilo (which is slow and quiet with not too much to do) so I like to visit the high energy with tons to do area of Waikiki. We always stay in Waikiki, we love Waikiki Beach, and we like to walk around downtown and ride the trolley around at night.

    My favorite hotel: We generally stay in a different hotel every time we go but if I had to pick an absolute favorite, maybe it would be the Hilton Hawaiian Village (typical best price: $171 on expedia).

    Rental Car or not.
    My husband likes to get a car because that’s how he is, but if just my son and I go, we don’t. We take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel ($11 per person) and avoid the parking fees and headache.

    Activities Outside of Waikiki:

    If we want to do something outside of Waikiki, we consider the bus, a shuttle, or renting a car for the day in Waikiki. Don’t worry, this will all be incredibly easy to figure out once you get here. People will be falling over themselves to get you to take their shuttle or rent their car.

    Availability of transportation: In the busy season (when we’re not in a recession ) availability might be an issue, but not usually. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Staying outside of Waikiki:

    If I wasn’t going to stay in Waikiki, I would stay on the North Shore (turtle bay resort – best price I’ve found: $218 at Priceline) or maybe in a vacation rental on or near Lanikai Beach (Kailua area).

    West Side? I’m not a big fan of the West side, probably because there are minimal tradewinds and I just get too hot, but there are some wonderfully inexpensive beachfront, long-term rentals out that way (Makaha Beach Cabanas, Hawaiian Princess).

    Best Weather on Oahu

    Oahu is an island full of great weather – you really can’t go wrong, winter or summer. Waikiki is great weather; the best you really need. The West Side has the least rain and the most sun, but it is far from everything. The East side has a bit cooler weather and not TOO much rain, especially close to the ocean.

    Best Hotels in Oahu

    These are the best hotels in all of Oahu, in my opinion. Generally, in Oahu you will find small pools with minimal extras at the hotels, because the great swimming beaches and extras are so easily available scattered around the island. Expect *not* to spend your whole vacation at the hotel.

    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, and Luxury Hotels On Oahu

    This is my opinion – the prices given are the best price that I could find based on a search of Priceline, Expedia, hotels.com, and the hotel website for the same time period. Prices could change, I just wanted to give you an idea of what the hotel rooms cost for each hotel.

    You can click through to expedia for a review, or download my book for a very short blurb on each hotel.

    Best Family Hotels on Oahu

    Best Budget-Priced Hotels On Oahu

    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. Most of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like the Waikiki Prince Hotel, which is a nice hotel. I have seen bids accepted for $75 there.

    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. When the hotels are hurting for visitors, I would even bid $95 or so on 4 star hotels. According to the Bidding for travel, the 4 star Hawaii Prince Marina has accepted bids at $75 in September of 2009 (last minute bids).

    Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Oahu

    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. 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?

    Hotels: 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 Oahu

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

    Wild Side Specialty Tours – small group, eco-minded, really cool, wild-dolphin swims. One of the most awesome things you‟ll ever do.

    • Atlantis Submarines tour. Good fun for kids and adults, very interesting, not scary. We had dolphins circle us when I went. That was really cool.
    • Learn to surf on Waikiki Beach, just show up and look for signs
    • Bodysurf at any beach with some wave action
    • Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Resort is good fun
    • The Arizona memorial is interesting to some, but my family enjoys the USS Bowfin Submarine museum and the Mighty Mo more.
    • Sea Life Park is cool if you have kids or are interested
    • The Polynesian Cultural Center is well-done with plenty of interesting shows and exhibits
    • The Bishop Museum is interesting to people who have an interest in Hawaiian culture and history
    • Charter Boat Fishing
    • Glider rides, sky-diving, or hang-gliding if you‟re brave
    • Helicopter or airplane tours of the island
    • Hiking Diamond Head, Manoa Falls, or Kapena Falls
    • Kayak Kailua Bay
    • Stand-up Paddleboarding, the newest craze around the world and in Hawaii. Easy, and good fun, but you may be sore the next day. If balancing is hard or if you have a wiggly child on the front, just paddle on your knees. Easiest for beginners with flat water and no wind. Go in the morning.
    • Sunset Sails in Waikiki. Just walk up to the boat on the beach and ask about it. Amazing sunsets every night and in your face
    • Whale Watching December to May – Whale watching is actually better on the other islands for some reason, but if you do manage to find a boat you like and see some whales it‟s an awesome experience
    • Hanauma Bay is cool for many – snorkeling with TONS of fish in a protected cove, and on 2nd and 4th Saturdays you can do it at night. Cool.

    Inexpensive or Free Activities on Oahu

    • If you have kids, the Waikiki aquarium is worth a look and fairly inexpensive.
    • A Hanauma Bay snorkeling trip – this is the only beach in Hawaii you’ll have to pay to visit, but it’s not expensive at all
    • Rent snorkel gear, a paddle board, surfboard, boogie board, or kayak
    • Body surf at any beach with mild wave action, except Sandy’s, or anything with big waves. You want to enjoy your vacation, not see what the inside of Hawaii’s hospitals look like.
    • Hike anywhere. The hiking is really good and sometimes quite easy on Oahu, with great rewards (think waterfalls)
    • Honestly, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park is a fun day at a decent price. My family likes it.
    • In the winter, head out to the north shore to watch the big wave action. You‟ve never seen anything like it.
    • Dole Pineapple maze – a hedge maze in the Guinness Book of World Records. It‟s cool and only $5.
    • Chinatown – authentic! And interesting
    • Hawaii‟s Plantation Village
    • Sea life park admission is relatively inexpensive if you don‟t do anything extra
    • Waimea Valley Audobon Center – used to be adventure park but now it‟s more of a garden. If there’s a lifeguard you can swim in the pool under the waterfall at the end of the park.
    • Beach-hopping – Just drive, walk, or take the bus until you find a beach and hang out. It’s really that easy on Oahu.
    • Catch the free torch lighting hula show every other evening in Waikiki. Just ask your hotel staff. It’s a great show.
    • I like to walk through the lobbys of the grander hotels on Waikiki beach to see what’s going on there. They don’t mind. No one questions you, but if someone ever did, you could just say you are scoping out the hotel for your next trip.
    • The Marriott Waikiki Beach has a mini-version of the Halona blowhole that goes off in their lobby every once in a while. Some places have cultural demonstrations, live music, or hula shows.

    Best Ways I like to Save Money on Oahu

    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

    Entertainment.com sells coupons books for dozens of locations across the country. The Hawaii book is pretty good if there are two of you, especially for fine dining deals. The Buy One Get One free Entrees are phenomenal.

    There are also activity and casual dining coupons, national coupons (like free upgrade or free day car rentals, six flags coupons, and hotwire coupons) and supposed hotel savings. In my experience, the hotel savings are not any better than what you can find on the internet, and so I don’t recommend them. If you have a different experience I’d love to hear 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. Check to see if the book works for your trip.

    Go Oahu Card
    The Go Oahu Card is a discount card that you pay a one-time fee for and then you can do whatever activities covered under the card at any time. I really like it for a certain class of vacationer: The type that consistently gets out and GOES to activity after activity. If you plan on lounging on the beach most of the day, this is not for you.

    I also really like this for a gift to honeymooners or vacationers. What a great gift! (and I like the entertainment book as a gift too). Check to see if the card works for you.

    Best Oahu Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Oahu

    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. Oahu is a small island and you can see the ocean from almost everywhere. If you can see the ocean, you can find your way.

    Waikiki Beach – This is where all the action is. Instant surfing lessons, paddle an outrigger canoe, walk up to a catamaran and be riding it over the open ocean an hour later … Waikiki Beach is an awesome whirlwind of activity and people with consistently awesome weather and mellow surf.

    There’s a protected area for babies to play, plus wide spots and perfectly sandy spots. It’s like a giant, beautifully clean bathtub that you are sharing with the world. I love Waikiki Beach. A must-see beach.

    Ala Moana Beach – This is a locals beach, and it’s very close to Waikiki Beach. It fringes Ala Moana Park, which is a great place to walk or picnic. It’s well protected and wonderful for kids.

    Kahala Beach – A pretty beach in a very rich, residential area. Shallow reef with good snorkeling in some areas.

    Hanauma Bay – The value here isn’t so much in the beach as it is in the snorkeling. The fish are everywhere, and they don’t run from people too much. They are used to us.

    Kailua Beach – Awesome beach with tons to do. Rent kayaks right at the park and head out to the offshore islands.

    Lanikai Beach – One of my favorite beaches ever. Really what a Hawaiian beach that is not a cove should look like. Lazy, gorgeous, relaxation beach.

    Laie or Hukilau Beach – Really cool beach with one awesome off-shore island. Mostly calm and swimmable.

    Sunset Beach – In the summer (may – September) this is an awesome, fun beach to play at. In the winter, the waves will scare you out of the water, but drop your jaw when they are rocking. It’s fun either way.

    Sharks cove – An amazing snorkeling cove in the summer. In the winter the waves get too big.

    Waimea Bay Beach Park – Awesome, awesome beach. Beautiful and fun. Turtles like it, people like it, definitely check it out for swimming in the summer. In the winter, you want to check it out but for the WAVES. Waimea Bay is where some of the biggest and wildest surfing waves in the WORLD are.

    The south side and the west side have some very nice beaches that I have not mentioned (Ko Olina Lagoons, Makaha Beach Park, Papaoneone Beach …) but I am not going to go into them. If you are staying out there, you‟ll find them. If you are not staying out there, in my opinion it‟s not worth a trip because the beaches in the areas where you will be already are just as good. The only difference on the west side will be less people for the most part.

    Oahu Areas, Weather, and Seasons

    Waikiki/Honolulu Overview

    Waikiki is where most people who visit Oahu stay. It is essentially the beachfront area of the large city Honolulu. It is incredibly safe for a large city. In fact, all of Hawaii is very safe. There are some thefts from cars, but person on person crime is very rare. There are over 80 hotels in Waikiki alone. The beach is packed every day – but it’s a good and fun kind of packed; lots to do and lots of happy people running around doing it.

    The water is clear and refreshing (72 degrees year round) and the beach is clean. I like Waikiki. Some people will shun it because of the rampant commercialization and the skyscrapers and the buildings packed on top of each other, but as long as you know this is what it will be like, you can still enjoy Waikiki. The beach is phenomenal and makes up for all of that, plus the “country” of Oahu is a short ride away by car or bus. Good deal. Waikiki Hotels will offer the best deals in all of Hawaii and Waikiki activities such as surfing lessons and sunset or dinner cruises will also offer the most competitive prices in the islands.

    Waikiki Weather and Waves

    Average Temperature in Summer (May – September): High: 87 to 89 degrees F Low: 72 degrees F
    Average Temperature in Winter (October –April) High: 80 to 84 Low: 68 to 70
    Avg Rainfall per month in Summer ½ inch Avg Rainfall per month in winter 2 inches Waves in Winter Generally small waves in winter – still usually big enough for a beginner to learn to surf, but almost never so big your babies can’t play on the shore.

    Waves in SummerHawaii gets South Swells in the summer, which means that occasionally, the waves will be so big on Waikiki Beach that you won’t feel comfortable being in the water unless you are an expert swimmer. There is an area in the center called Kuhio beach or Baby beach where there is a wall blocking the waves, so people can still get in the water. I wouldn’t try first-ever surfing lessons during a south swell though.

    The Rest of Oahu Overview

    Outside of Waikiki and Honolulu, you can find one Hotel on the North Shore, the Turtle Bay Hilton, and a few hotels on the West Side of the island like Makaha Bay Towers and Ko Olina Resort. All of these hotels are at least a half hour drive from Honolulu and the airport. There are also countless vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts scattered around the island.

    Ewa Beach area

    Location: South side on the other side of Pearl Harbor from Waikiki

    Weather: Hot and sunny all the time, even at night this area will be slow to cool down Rain: very little – 20 inches or less a year

    Waves: occasional big waves in the summer Beach: Ewa beach is long and pretty, with houses lining it. This is a residential area, and some of the beach leads to clear water, some is full of coral, rocks, and seaweed. We still swim in it but this may not be what you are looking for. Activities: Nothing really except hanging out on the beach. You‟ll have to go elsewhere for boats and attractions.

    Hotels: None. There are plenty of vacation rentals.

    West Side of Oahu This is Ko Olina, Nankuli, Waianae, and Makaha.

    Safety Issue?
    You may have heard that Makaha and Waianae are not safe areas. Well, it’s true that they are considered a poorer areas but that image of being not safe is outdated. Don’t leave valuables in your car and you’ll be fine out here.

    Weather:
    Hot and sunny all the time, even at night this area will be slow to cool down Rain: very little – 20 inches or less a year Beach: There are many awesome beaches in this area.

    Activities: The Ko Olina Hotel has some ocean activities, and Wild Side Specialty Tours: operates a wild dolphin swim in the area too.

    Hotels: Ko Olina Resort , Hawaiian Princess, Makaha Beach Cabanas, and Makaha Valley Towers. You‟ll also find vacation rentals. Some of the places in Makaha offer great long term rental opportunities.

    East Side of Oahu

    This is Waimanalo, Kailua, Lanikai, Kaneohe, Kaaawa, Waimea, and Laie, although Laie is practically on the North Shore.

    Weather:
    A bit cooler than the South and west sides thanks to constant onshore winds. Rain: A bit more rain, than other areas too, but not too much if you are on or near the beach. Between 30 and 60 inches a year.

    Beach: Tons and tons of blow-your-mind-awesome beaches.

    Activities:
    Lots of stuff to do: hike, windsurf, kayak, shop, sightsee, snorkel, lounge on the beach, and tons more. Hotels: None. Many phenomenal vacation rentals. I like Waimanalo area, Kailua, and Lanikai area – especially Lanikai for the beach.

    North Shore of Oahu

    This is Waimea, Kahuku, and Haleiwa. Small, laid-back, surfing towns.

    Weather: Hot and sunny Rain: Between 20 and 40 inches a year.

    Waves: Waves big enough to shake the ground in the winter months. People come from every country just to look at these waves. No waves in the summer months.

    Beach: Great beaches and snorkeling coves. Swim in the summer, come just to look in the winter, unless you are an expert surfer.

    Activities: Lots of stuff to do: hike, shark dive, gliding, kayak, shop, sightsee, snorkel, jet ski, lounge on the beach, and tons more.

    Hotels: Only the Turtle Bay Hilton. Lots of right-on the-beach vacation rentals.

    Summary

    So that’s it, have a wonderful, wonderful vacation. Hawaii is a great place and you really can’t go wrong here. Leave me a comment if you want to share any stories or ask any questions.

    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

    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

    Oahu Day Trip – One or Two Days on Oahu

    I am planning to be in Kona, Hawaii from May 17 to May 24 and would like to take in some
    of the sights on Ohau such as Pearl harbor and the Cultural Center. Any ideas on the best
    way to do this? I know each of these are at least a day in themselves. Maybe 2 trips or
    an overnight stay to catch both? What might you suggest?

    I would do an overnight stay in Oahu – otherwise you eat up too much of your day on the airplane, getting the car, etc. Plus that way you get to enjoy Oahu a bit – it really is very pretty. Have a great time!

    Big Island Itinerary

    Itinerary

  • Fri PM leave Oakland 3:30pm
    EVE arrive Hilo 7:05; drive to Honaka’a
    Hotel Hotel Honaka’a
  • Sat AM Mamane Bakery; HAWAIIAN MACADAMIA PLANTATION, INC., Waipi’o Valley; drive down Valley Rd, Kahuahine Falls & Waiulili Falls
    PM take Rt 19 west to Kawaihae; Pu’ukohola Heiau; Hapuna Beach swimming and snorkeling; Malama Petrograph Trail
    EVE check in at hotel and relax (die) or go to ukulele entertainers, Kings Shops at the Waikoloa Resort. Call (808) 886-8811
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Sun AM Hulihe’e Palace; Mokuaikauna Church; Cloud Forest
    PM Kahalu’u Beach, snorkeling
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Mon AM snorkeling/whalewatching
    PM open
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Tues AM Keauhou Sea Cave Adventure (kayaking/snorkeling)
    PM open
    EVE open
    Hotel Kona Seaside Hotel
  • Wed AM check out; Captain Cook; Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden; Holualoa Kona Coffee Company tour; Ho’okena, Green Sand Beach; Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
    PM continue drive to Volcanos National Park
    EVE open
    Hotel Volcano Cabins
  • Thurs AM Visitor Center, Jagger Museum, Crater Rim Drive, walk Devastation Trail and Thurston Lava Tube walk
    PM Chain of Craters Road
    EVE picnic lunch at End of Chain of Craters Road
    Hotel Volcano Cabins
  • Fri AM check out, leave park 5:30am, depart Hilo Airport 8:30am
    PM arrive Chicago
  • is this reasonable? I’m I getting at the good stuff or did I miss alot?

    It looks good to me – let me talk about a few things here:

    To drive down in Waipio Valley you need a four wheel drive. It’s not an easy drive. Have you found directions to the falls? Doing all this plus swimming at Hapuna beach will be quite a packed day.

    You’ll need a 4 wheel drive to get to the green sand beach too unless you plan on hiking a couple of miles each way.

    Don’t stress if you aren’t at the Hilo airport 2 hours before you fly out. ATA is the only airlines that goes to the mainland from Hilo. We just flew that flight to Oakland last week. We left our house at 7 am, got there at 7:15, and had NO problems. There were no lines – nothing. That’s just how the Hilo airport is usually. I’m not saying to plan to get there with only 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare like we did, but don’t stress about it.

    I think you covered about as much as possible in the time you have. Cool.

    Have fun! Lisa

    Flight departure to Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

    Monday

    Flight departure to Kona, Big Island of Hawaii

  • Drive: for 3 to 4hrs to the Town of Volcano (See map) and stop at supermarket for groceries for the Bungalow
  • Check-in: Kate’s Bungalow Address: 19-4039 Hapu Ln, Volcano Ph: (877) 967-7990
  • Evening: At leisure (Pack lunches for tomorrow’s Volcano National Park excursion)
  • Tuesday

  • Morning: Hawaii Volcano National Park
  • Visit: The Visitor Center and obtain information about Volcano and the latest info and location of lava flow also ask about directions in and around the park. (There are two scenic drives with a wealth of volcano views An 11-mile drive, called Crater Rim, passes by many rising steam vents)
  • Visit: Steam Sulphur Banks Vents, Kilauea Overlook, Jaggar Museum, Halemaumau Crater, Devastation Trail (45min hike)
  • Afternoon: Thurston Lava Tube (20min hike), Kilauea Iki Overlook, Kilauea Iki Trail (Little Kilauea), Hilina Pali Overlook, Holei Sea Arch (end of road where lava flowed)
  • Evening: Return to see the lava flow after dark, (take a flashlight, water bottle, and jacket)
  • Wednesday

  • Morning: (Check-out) Wake up early and drive to Hilo Airport (1hour drive-See map to Hilo Airport)
  • Tour: (1010hrs) Blue Hawaiian Helicopter (Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls Tour) #1963497799 Ph: (800) 786-2583
  • Afternoon/Lunch: Lunch at Kuhio Grille 111 East Puainako Street, #A106, Hilo (Located at Prince Kuhio Shopping Plaza)
  • Drive: Richardson Beach Park (walk around and take a look at the black sand beach and scenery), Rainbow Falls State Park (at the edge of Hilo town and view the falls), North to scenic drive detour at Onomea Bay along the Hamakua Coast,
  • Visit: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens and Onomea Bay Trail (Stop at What’s Shakin Smoothie Stand near the Botanical Gardens for refreshments)
  • Drive: north to Akaka Falls State Park (Hike short trail-loop and view Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls)
  • Drive: North to the Waipio Valley Overlook,
  • Drive: from Waimea, descending down to Kona
  • Check-in: Surf & Racquet Club Address: 78-6800 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona Ph: (808) 331-8878
  • Evening: At Leisure
  • Morning: At Leisure
  • Afternoon/Evening: (1320hrs) Mauna Kea Summit Adventures Tour (tour pick-up: Buns in the Sun 75-5675 Palani RD) Ph: (808) 322-2366
  • regarding the Big Island – which way are you driving to Volcano? The southern route or the northern route? The southern route may be your best bet, and it should only take 2 to 2.5 hours unless you stop a lot, which you may.

    And groceries? There are no major grocery stores along the southern route. It’d be best to stop in Kona. There is one in Naalehu but it’s small with very high prices.

    There’s a lot of things to do in Kona – go to Kahaluu Beach to snorkel and see turtles. Go to the Puuhonua National Park – I think your pass from the Volcanoes National Park might get you in. Check with them. Go on the Fairwinds boat tour – go on a glass bottom boat and or the atlantis submarine.

    related: Multiple island itinerary