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).
FOOOOOOOOOOD 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.
LUAU 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.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS 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.
GOLF I hate the game. I don't play it. I hear the courses are nice, though.
SEX 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).]
ENlightened did a pretty nice job on the Hawaii run down, but I thought I would follow it up with a few opinions of my own.
My Mom grew up there and I went a couple times as a kid, but I don't remember a lot of specifics (and my criteria have changed a bit since I was 15).
I have been to Maui a number of times, most recently for my honeymoon about 15 months ago. I am a huge fan of the island and would recommend it for almost anyone. Mr. ENlightened is correct that it ain't cheap though.
I would concur with his recommendation of Mama's Fish House. It served one of the best (and most expensive) meals I have ever had anywhere. It's location is also stunning, although the Gilligan's island decor struck me as a little cheezy.
In terms of places to stay, Maui really has three big clusters of hotels and resorts. The first is Kappalua, which is on the southeast (?) end of the island. Kappalua is a very nice resort, with top notch golf, but is a bit isolated for my taste.
Kanapaali is near the historic and heavily commercial whaling town of Lahaina. Kanapaali has a very densely developed feel, which I don't care for, but is probably not a bad choice if you are single because there is always a lot going on. I think of it as the Cancun of Maui.
The last major cluster of resorts is near the southwest (?) tip of the island. It includes the town of Kihei and the Wailea/Makena resort complexes. This is my favorite part of the island. Kihei still has a slightly funky beach town feel with some local flavor. Wailea and Makena are decidely high end resort areas with world class golf (5 courses) and awesome beaches. And the whole area is in the rain shadow of Haleakala (the big volcano). As a result, it only receives like 6" of rain a year, making it very reliable for travelers who don't want to spend their trips to Maui inside watching TV.
I could go on and on about Maui and have lots of recommendations for those that are interested. Email me if you want or just respond on this thread.
My understanding is that the whales are out September through early May. There are several places to watch for them, including a gorgeous scenic overlook about midway between the Maui airport and the Lahaina/Kaanapali west coast stretch.
Damn you, XYZ Our red-beach timing must have been bad.
And, yes, the black-sand beach looked like it was worth the stop. We missed the turn for it on the way, didn't feel like doubling back, then were too tired to stop on the return trip. But we saw it from another overlook, and I got some video of it.
Enlightened did an excellent job on his guide. We missed the red sand beach but did do the black sand one. I can't add anything on Maui except that I know a golfer who goes there at least annually and its one of his favorite places to golf. There are some spectacular courses.
We took our honeymoon to Hawaii. We spent 4 days in Maui and wondered why we didn't spend the whole time there. Then we spent 3 days in Kauai and liked it even better. We had about a 10 hour layover in Oahu and managed in about 8 hours to do Pearl Harbor, the Dole factory tour, Diamond Head and Waikiki. And then were totally wiped out.
Kauai is beautiful. Highlight was the helicopter trip over the inaccessible central & western part of the island. Indescribable!
We went by the beach on the north side where South Pacific was filmed. Did sunset (unplanned) at the end of the road at the Na Poli coast also on the north side (you park and walk about a hundred yards and get a spectacular view of the coast). Also went by Wailua Falls, a large waterfall just at the edge of development. But it is nothing compared to the waterfalls we saw in the helicopter.
Hurricane wiped out some of the hotels shortly after our visit, so I can't be of much help there. We stayed near Wailua and Wailua falls on the east side where there were a couple of hotels, just a little north of Lihue and the main airport. Big clusters in the south (Poipu?) and then a nice area at Princeville on the north side. Princeville is very manicured while most of the island is in more of a natural state. The Sheraton's luau was rated the best at the time, was fun and most of the food was good.
Beaches in the north are more secluded while the Poipu area is livlier.
How could I forget the sunset? Oh, man. The first day we were on Maui, I videotaped a brilliant sunset that, with all due respect to our friends at the Oasis, put any I'd ever seen before to shame. And a few minutes before that, we had a bright rainbow on the other side.
Thanks, bullet, for filling in the Kauai blanks. That's definitely on the "next time" agenda.
Yes, it's Capt Horn, travel agent for the stars or at least the ENlightened ones....
So you missed the black sand beach on the road to Hana? It is the best beach in MHO Hawaii except for Lil' Beach. (West side of Maui and next to Big Beach) It is a morning beach. Don't go in the afternoon as the sun hides behind the cliffs and water is a bit cool. Damn fine beach.
Glad y'all had a great time. I'll see you at the gym.
------------------ When you say TEXAS, you've said it all!
[This message has been edited by Capt Horn (edited 06-07-2000).]
The whales come down there during the winter from Alaska and other points north.
We were the opposite of you. 4 days on both Maui and Kauai but we liked Maui better(although Kauai was great). The Southern part of the islands are pretty much guaranteed good weather. Poipu on Kauai, Waikiki on Oahu, Kaanapali/Lahaina on Maui(Damn, spelling these names is giving me a headache). The Helicopter ride on Kauai was cool over Waimea canyon and the Na Pali coast. You can also take a boat to the Na Pali coast that looked really cool but we couldn't go. No boats allowed due to heavy surf.
One thing I heard was cool if you just want to hang out at the beach one day. On the North shore of Maui there is a beach that is supposed to be the home of the best wind surfers in the world.
Molokini is aquarium clear and ENlightened is right, swimming with the giant turtles is outstanding.
The Maui windsurfing is at Hookipa Beach Park, and it is all it is cracked up to be. We saw regular surfers in the morning, then windsurfers in the afternoon on the way to Mama's for dinner (the two are about a mile apart). The windsurfers looked like little racecars gliding across the water. There also are some overlooks that make for (what else?) great views.
My wife and I just spent a week on Oahu in May. I'd agree with most of what's being said, but I'd also advise those of you visiting to find your way off the beaten path a bit. There are some "touristy" sights that are worth seeing, but try to balance it out with a something a little less popular. IMO, popular doesn't always mean best when it comes to travel destinations.
Diamond Head is worth hiking up on, but go in the morning or else it gets both hot and crowded. The park opens early. Incidently, I was wearing a Longhorn t-shirt while hiking up. This elderly guy sees the shirt and says, "Hey a Texas Longhorn! Just want you to know that we saw an Aggie up there and threw him over the edge!".
IMO, if you only have a short time and want a good place to swim, I'd skip Waikiki and head to Hanauma Bay (another popular tourist spot). Again, get there early...before the crowds and just as the fish come out. There, you have great snorkeling and some great marine life to see. I swam right up next to a huge sea turtle (not allowed to pet them, though), saw all kinds of colorful fish. The water is so calm I almost thought I was on a lake. If you do have more time, Waikiki may be worth experiencing, provided that you like the see-and-be-seen crowd. If you enjoy a crowded beach scene, it's right up your alley. The Gordon Biersch restaurant in Aloha Tower Market was a great place to have lunch. It's right on the waterfront, just outside of Waikiki. Good food, beer, and not crowded. Dinner, on the other hand, requires reservations to be safe.
The best view of the island that we saw was off the Pali Lookout, right on the Pali Hwy. It's a great view of the mountains and the ocean and it's just as good as Diamond Head w/o the 45 min hike because you can drive right up.
I agree with ENlightened about Lanikai. Another off the beaten path beach that we enjoyed was Waimanalo Beach Park and Bellows Beach. They're right next to each other. Waimanalo is the longest beach on the island and it's a great place to go to get away from the crowd.
On the North Shore, we enjoyed Waimea Bay, which had calm surf and a nice beach. Just remember, though, that it's calm on the North Shore only in the summer. In the winter, it's very rough and is a favorite for surfers. We enjoyed a nice (and expensive) dinner at Jameson's on the Beach in Haleiwa. On a good day, you can enjoy a nice sunset on their deck while you wait for your table. The sunsets in Hawaii, incidently, are better than I've seen anywhere, but I've seen a couple of gorgeous ones while at the Oasis on Lake Travis. If you can't catch one in Hawaii, The Oasis is not a bad alternative.
If you're going to Hawaii, then I'm jealous because you're going to have a great time. The people are very friendly there, much like Texas. If you live in California or the Northeast, you'll notice the difference. (I've lived in both, so I have some experience.)
[This message has been edited by denchen (edited 06-10-2000).]
[This message has been edited by denchen (edited 06-10-2000).]
By the way, Hawaii has a well-deserved reputation as a vacation spot for the those with money. Being a cash-strapped guy myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see that one CAN have a great vacation without breaking the bank. I think the key is to get great VALUE out the big dollar expenditures. An expensive, but also very nice meal at a restaurant goes a long ways towards your overall enjoyment. On the other hand, if you drop serious coin on a lousy meal...
That was a great complete* guide!! It makes me want to go back so bad I can taste it. I went to Maui and spent 9 days there in April of this year. It was like nothing I can describe. I have been to beaches in Florida and Mexico, and wasn't really a fan. Hawaii is different. It is in the 80's daily for the high and it cools off at night. I chose to wear pants at night because the trade winds can make it pretty chilly. It is more beautiful than I could have imagined. I am surprised I did not get into a wreck while driving around. While driving on Maui, if you look to one side you are 100 yards from the ocean and if you look to the other, you see a 10,000 ft tall mountain (volcano). It is amazing.
ENlightened, you HAVE to go biking down that volcano (Haleakala)! That was definitely one of my favorite things. There is an option where a van comes to your hotel and picks you up at something like 2:30 in the morning and takes you up to see the sun rise over the clouds, which is a completely amazing sight, quite religeous. We did that and I would recommend it, but only once due to the early hours. Next time I am in Maui, I will choose the later option that misses the sunrise because I do not function that early. The views on the bike ride were amazing. It was extremely cold on top of the volcano, we're talking full body suits and gloves (provided by the tour). About halfway down, we stopped in a little town whose name escapes me right now and had breakfast, took off some clothes (it was warming up as we dropped in elevation) and continued on our way down. The ride is something like 36 miles long and you only have to pedal about 400 yards the entire time! A definite must for anyone lucky enough to be in Maui.
Cheeseburger in Paradise was one of my favorite restaurants, I think I ate there 3 times during my stay. Some other excellent restaurants are: Kimos, Hula Grill, and Bubba Gumps. Kimos is a nicer restaurant in Lahaina. Hula Grill (my personal favorite) has two options. You can choose a light meal where they sit you in the more casual part of the restaurant. The tables are in sand and you are right near the beach. Or you can choose the full meal area (recommended) where you have a fuller menu to choose from. This is where they serve bread before the meal with the OUTSTANDING Chili Pepper Water to dip your bread in. I bought 4 bottles and have only 2 left. I suggest you visit this restaurant. Bubba Gumps is a theme restaurant from the movie "Forrest Gump". A great place for lunch with a great atmosphere.
That is about all I could add to your guide, hope this helps someone!
Great post. I spent most of 99 in Hawaii and met my wife there. We are going back for two weeks in May. Spending half in Maui and half in Oahu. Can't wait to bike down Haleakala volcano.
Going Maui for a friends wedding. They live on Maui. Her soon to be husband is taking me boar hunting. Should be a blast. Going to get in some diving and surfing on both islands.
Here's bit of insight from my trips to Oahu:
Stuff to Do - Go to North Shore the old village of Hale Eva is great. Its just a small town with some cool shops and small eateries. But its worth spending some time there. In the winter all the world's best surfers are there waiting for the big waves to come in. From Hale Eva you continue around the coast (ther's only one road) and stop first a Waimea. It is the prime big wave surfing beach. There is no way you can get in the water unless you are vastly experienced . The waves break way close to the beach. It is awesome to sit and watch the pros. You can continue along the coast to see all the other Pipeline surfing beaches. Stop at Shark's Cove and snorkel. Continue along and you will get to Turtle Bay Hilton. They have a great bar out by the pool and beach. Its a great place to watch the sunset. Keep driving and go on around the island there are sites along the beach road that are beautiful. Many times my wife and I just stop at the secluded beaches for hours and never have anyone bother us. Keep going and you will run into Kanehoe. At that point you can take the tunnel back to Honolulu or keep going on around the end of the island. If you have time drive on around the scenery is beautiful. You will pass Hanama Bay. It is a state run area that you can snorkel at. Be warned that they limit the number of people in the park. The snorkling is pretty nice. Not as nice as Maui or Sharks' Cove. When you continue on you come up behind Diamond Head and on back into Honolulu.
Honolulu is OK, but extremely crowded, especially with Japanese tourists. May be a culture shock for some Texans to see advertisments in Japanese. There are some good points in Honolulu to visit.
Pearl Harbor. You got to see the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri.
Diamond Head Crater - walk on up
Punch Bowl National cemetary
Duke's Bar and restuarant on Waikiki. Its named after the world famous surfer Duke, don't ask me to spell his last name. The bar is touristy, but fun. Its on the beach and a fun place to have some drinks and stick your toes in the sand.
Waikiki Beach. When compared to beaches in the mainland Waikiki is awesome, but compared to other Hawaii beaches it is about at the bottom. The one redeeming factor about Waikiki is it is a great place for a beginner surfer to learn. You can rent a board and get a lesson rather cheaply. I learned to surf there by a guy who was a world class surfer from the 60's who now just lives by the beach and hangs - what a life. Actulaly he's my wife's godfather. Anyway, check out the stretch of Waikiki down by the Hilton Village. You will notice that a big chunck of Waikiki is actually Fort DeRussy, an Army owned recreation area called the Hale Koa resort. If you are military of a DOD civilian you can use their facilities.
Saturday's there is a swap meet at Aloha Stadium. Don't spend your money paying tourist prices for stuff elsewhere. Go to the swap meet for t-shirts, aloha shirts, bathing suits etc..
Food: I second the bit about Sam Choy's. The food is great. It is also a micro brewery.
Here's a couple small places that I can't remember the names to, but you should be able to find. Japanese restuarant, behind Club Femme Nu. Vietnamese restuarant in a small strip mall close to the convention center. The area around the convention center is sort of seedy, read - strip clubs. That's for a different post. But there are lots of small eateries that are awesome.
That's about all I can think of now. WIll post after we return in May.
'That [state] which separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools.' — Thucydides, 'The Peloponnesian Wars'"