(* — except for the parts we didn't visit)
OK, this is here because I know a lot of you still have Hawaii plans. You won't regret a minute of it, and you frankly will have more fun without the game getting in the way.
Sincere thanks to such HornFans users as Capt Horn (for the advice on what order to take this trip: Oahu first, Maui last) and BigDLonghorn and ninerhorn (for further advice on things to do and places to eat).
We were there about a week, splitting time equally between Oahu and Maui. I can honestly say that we enjoyed everything we did, and that my only complaint is about the cost of ... well, everything. Be prepared to spend.
Anyway, some highlights:
THINGS TO DO
For me, the best part was snorkeling for the first time. We went to Molokini (a crater off Maui) and Turtle Bay (just off the southwest coastline). The views were clearer and more spectacular off Molokini, but there's no describing the feeling of swimming with the big sea turtles at Turtle Bay. We used Maui-Molokai Sea Cruises on the Prince Kuhio charter. It's $75 per person (a little more than most), but it was a nice, big charter with two good meals and the opportunity to snorkel at two sites. They even sold a video of the trip for $30, which was nice, since most camcorders don't work too well under water. Absolutely do not forget to take an underwater camera for still shots.
The Hana Highway (aka, the Road to Hana) was another highlight. From our hotel on the west coast of Maui, this 75-mile one-way drive took about 8 hours ... and was worth it. If you just make this drive for the sake of driving, you'll hate it — it has 617 turns and more than 50 one-lane bridges. It demands complete concentration from the driver. But it's the stops along the way that add to the time and the enjoyment. We swam at three different waterfall pools, and that wasn't even close to the maximum we could have visited. We also hiked a rain forest and stopped at some breathtaking overlooks. And here's a tip most day-trippers miss. When you get to the town of Hana, go as far south as you can go on Ua Kea Road. You can't park in the hotel's lot, so just park on the street. Anyway, to the far left (looking toward the ocean) of the cottage properties, there's a barbed-wire fence. It says NO TRESPASSING. Trespass. You will follow a narrow, beaten path past an old Japanese cemetery, some headstones from which appear to have slid down the hillside, probably from erosion. After curving around the hill, you will discover Kaihalulu Beach (not marked), one of only two red beaches in the world. Erosion from the side of the dormant volcano creates a beach that is brick-red and rocky rather than sandy. The ocean is untamed and crashes against high, numerous black volcanic rocks. There are reports that it often is utilized as a nude beach; sadly, I cannot verify this from first-hand experience. But the "normal" views are priceless.
On Oahu, we hiked Diamond Head (a must), visited Pearl Harbor (ditto) and swam at Waikiki Beach (overrated, but still fun). But our best Oahu time was spent at another off-the-beaten-path beach: Lanikai. Don't confuse this with nearby Kailua Beach Park; the stretch we visited was tucked in behind a residential neighborhood and is not easily found. For the best directions — and indispensable information about all the Hawaiian islands, and then some — consult Frommer's "Hawaii On $70 A Day" travel guide. Needless to say, we didn't come close to sticking to $70 a day, but the tips on everything were on the nose every time.
WHERE WE STAYED
We went through John Steadman, who handles the HornFans travel packages. We figured he might want to recoup some lost bidness after the cancellation, and he came through with flying colors. He saved us roughly $1,500 from what we were looking at spending if we'd gone by Internet prices for hotels and airfare.
On Oahu, we stayed at the Pacific Beach Hotel, where the staff was kind enough to upgrade us to a room with an ocean view. Nice amenities, including Internet access in the room through the TV, and a very attentive staff. It has its own multi-store shopping facility, too, including the ubiquitous ABC Store. Trust me ... they are EVERYwhere, but they come in quite handy. One anecdote will do: We found out that, by saving receipts, you can get a free coffee mug with $100 in ABC purchases. Ha ha, thought we. Then we returned with a free coffee mug.
On Maui, we stayed at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, part of the resort string on the west coast. It's the oldest hotel in that area, but it would be insulting to call it "quaint"; it really is a nice facility. It has a great restaurant, nightly music and hula show and great beach access. It also is right next to Whalers Village, which has a nice museum and extensive shopping center (including, of course, an ABC Store).
From what we could tell, it's all at worst very good, and is all very expensive. Here are some highlights.
• Cheeseburger in Paradise. There's on at Waikiki and one at Lahaina, just south of Kaanapali. Excellent logo wear, pretty good burgers, tremendous fries.
• Oceanarium Restaurant. One of three in the Pacific Beach Hotel, its selling point is the two-story oceanarium in the middle with more than 1,000 tropical fish. Better-than-average hotel restaurant food, good drinks.
• Sam Choy's. We went to the Honolulu location for breakfast, and it was great, so I have to believe the lunch and dinner menus are as well. There also are two Sam Choy locations on Maui. Not particularly easy to find, but worth the drive.
• Pizza Paradiso. In the Whalers Village food court, we had what could be the best pizza we ever tasted. Huge slices, interesting combinations (MsENlightened had the ham and pineapple).
• Leilani's. Also in Whalers Village. Excellent seafood-dominated menu and very attentive service. Also stays open past 10 p.m., which can be said of surprisingly few restaurants on Maui.
• Tiki Terrace. Had dinner and two breakfasts at the Kaanapali Beach's main restaurant, and all three were very good. The breakfast buffet is huge. For dinner, I had a spicy pasta with shrimp that was terrific. And they had the best dessert we had in our stay — a hot brownie with ice cream and caramel and macadamia nuts and bananas and about 12 million calories.
• Mama's Fish House. Saving the best (and most expensive) for last. This place on Maui's north coast served, bar none, the best fish I've ever eaten. Its menu is set up for three-course dinners, but they provide small complimentary appetizers and desserts even if you don't order 'em. Be forewarned: One entree and two cocktails apiece totaled about $116. But, man, was it worth it.
Touristy? You bet. But also a load of fun. We went to Germaine's Luau on Oahu. It was less expensive (about $49 per person) than most, and very entertaining. The food was so-so.
I never want to hear another Texan complain about high gas prices. On Oahu, the cheapest regular unleaded we saw was $1.759. On Maui: $1.999.
The best place to shop for Hawaiian apparel is Hilo Hattie's, which has locations on both islands. Great stuff in all price ranges.
It's far easier to get around on Maui than in Honolulu, the road system for which appears to have been designed by some sort of twisted, drug-addled madman. Once you figure your way around, it's time to leave.
I hate the game. I don't play it. I hear the courses are nice, though.
I will say only this: If you can't get some in Hawaii, give it up. Join a monastery/convent. No soup for you.
We have about 7 jillion photos and videos and whatnot (not regarding the previous topic heading, of course ... sorry), and would be glad to answer any questions as best we can. And we already are talking about the countless things (cycling down Haleakala, visiting Oahu's north shore, island hopping, etc.) we plan to do "next time".
Aloha, and mahalo.
"Bush ... Gore. Bush ... Gore. Isn't that what they use to decide whether a movie is NC-17 or R?"
— Dennis Miller
[This message has been edited by ENlightened (edited 06-05-2000).]