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  1. #1

    Default Hawaii - August 2008

    As part of my world trip I'm planning to visit Hawaii in August and, as ever, would really rather like any tips and assistance you guys would care to share!

    My inbound flight arrives in Kona at 20:00 on 19th August and my outbound (to Sydney) leaves Honolulu at 10:50 on 27th August. I have yet to book the flights between the Islands but I was thinking of doing something like this:

    Tuesday 19th August Flight: Los Angeles - Kona
    Wednesday 20th August Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
    Thursday 21st August Hawaii
    Friday 22nd August Flight: Kona - Kahului
    Saturday 23rd August Haleakala National Park
    Sunday 24th August Flight: Kahului - Honolulu
    Monday 25th August Honolulu
    Tuesday 26th August USS Arizona Memorial
    Wednesday 27th August Flight: Honolulu - Sydney - Perth

    I know little of Hawaii but I want to see the two National Parks as well as the USS Arizona Memorial for sure. I've been reading cool's excellent Hawaii blog which has really set the scene for me but I am, like cool herself, struggling a little with preparing for the trip. I'd love to hear your suggestions!

    Do you think the flights that I am planning are well timed? I'm not one for sitting on a beach and would rather spend time seeing national parks and other scenery. Would I be best off spending a couple of days in each national park instead of exploring each island? Are there any absolute 'must-see destinations?

    What is the deal with car rental and accomodation? Is it horribly expensive to rent a car? Do I need to prebook accomodation or is it safe to roll up and find something on the day?

    Thanks once again!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Just a Couple

    I was on Maui a little over a year ago and have a couple of things to note. The first is that we did very well renting a car from this local company and I would recommend them. The second is - you have to drive around the northwest coast. Everyone will talk about the Road to Hana, and yes it's beautiful, but if you want true local flavor and a thrill take HI-30 and HI-340 around the island from Lahaina (worth a walk around) through Honokowai and beyond. After Honokowai it gets very interesting. You return to civilization near 'Iao Valley State Park, another place that's definitely worth a visit.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-28-2008 at 10:07 PM. Reason: Correct Town Name

  3. #3


    Big Island. Highlights for me……….

    Captain Cook Monument, Kealakekua Bay. As an intrepid modern day explorer yourself you must admire the marvellous and courageous deeds of this famous English seaman. The best way to his monument (at site of his death) is to hire a kayak and cross the bay, about a mile trip, from the only launch point. Not only a chance to visit the monument but around the monument area is some of the best snorkelling in Hawaii.

    Helicopter flight. When short of time on the island the best way to see the volcanoes, lava, waterfalls, coastal scenery etc is to take a helicopter flight. Personally used Blue Hawaiian Helicopters – truly memorable. They have base just north of Kona Airport.

    Honolulu. Highly commercialised and tourist honey trap. Never seen as many police cars and police activity in US as around the Waikiki Beach area. My highlight was walking up Diamond Head – wonderful view of Honolulu from the top. Found the trip to the USS Arizona Memorial a very interesting tour, professionally organised as you would expect. A very sombre experience, especially for Americans.

    While on the islands looked but didn’t buy the shirt :- )

  4. #4

    Default Thanks guys

    Thanks for the info, guys. That car rental company in particular looks interesting... I never like renting from the majors but, when you're overseas, you usually don't have the facility to use the small local companies which I prefer.

    I wish I had a little more time there now! Do you think I've got the time on each island about right?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time and Airlines

    Other than the fact that you've obviously got too few days overall, there's no good or bad way to split it. I might, given my predilections, spend more time on Maui than Hawai'i. Even though Hawai'i is bigger, I think there's more to see from a RoadTripping perspective on Maui with both the Road To Hana and HI-30/HI-340 definitely worth the drive. But in the end, you really can't go wrong, so just relax and enjoy.

    I hope you're booked a major airline for your inter-island flights. I had booked a few on a local puddle jumper called, I think, Pacific Wings because as a small plane pilot I wanted to see the islands from much closer to the ground than 30,000 feet. Each time I got to their terminal/hanger I was informed that the flight had been canceled, probably because I was their only paying passenger, leading to mad dashes back to the main terminal to try to get a seat on one of the Big Boys. Also, Aloha Airlines just announced that it was closing up shop. Good Luck.


  6. #6

    Default The Big Island

    Hello Craig,

    I had the great good fortune to spend 10 days on the Big Island (BI) in early November 2005. You're going to love it. Here are some observations you'll want to keep in mind:

    It seems that half the rentals on the BI are Jeep Wranglers and the other half are Chrysler Sebring convertibles. We used a Wrangler, for reasons discussed further herein.

    This island is HUGE. It's the size of the Mainland US State of Connecticut, and parts of it are as densely populated. Hilo and Kona come to mind there.

    By all means, obtain a copy of "The Big Island Revealed", by far the best guidebook I found. In fact, I think I have two copies of the 2005 edition. PM me for arrangement for me to send one to you.

    Within the cited guidebook, the highway which circumnavigates the BI is called the Ring Road, and the highway which bisects it is called the Saddle Road inasmuch as it rises to around 6,600' of elevation in the pass, or saddle, between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. More on this later.

    The BI is essentially two islands--the wet side (Hilo and Volcano Village) and the dry side (Kona). The dry side is quite arid--it's a desert climate and only grasses and scrub vegetation exist. At Kona, there's the beginning of a transition to the wetter side, as the coffee plantations flourish along the mountainsides south of Kona towards South Point. North of Kona, however, pure desert until you get to Waimaia (sp?).

    Resist all urges to travel to Volcano Village (the NP) and back to Kona in the same day. The Ring Road is all 2 lane, very curvy, and on the wet side of the island, it's likely to be raining much of the way (but, perhaps August is not in the peak of the wet season as November was). Offhand, I'd say you're looking at 2-2.5 hours from Kona to Volcano Village, perhaps more if you go through Hilo at rush hour in one direction or the other. It's a long, tough day's drive, even though the distance is modest.

    At HVNP, there are at least three things you must do: 1) Take the drive down to the ocean (I forget the name of the drive, but it's obvious from the guidebook). The main crater and Volcano Village are at about 4,000' elevation, so the road to the ocean loses all of that and is some 20 miles in length. Several incredible views of the ocean from way above along the way. If clouds permit, you'll get an unreal view of the steam plume where the lava stream hits the ocean (where, of course, the volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983). It's a long and very difficult hike over fresh lava to get close enough to see the actual stream, but the steam plume from several miles away is awesome. 2) You must complete the drive around the crater up top and see the Observatory/Museum up there. The road down to the ocean spurs off of the crater circle drive. 3) I highly recommend the hike part way around the Kilauwea Iki crater, which then descends INTO and ACROSS the crater floor (complete with steam vents) before rising back up to the circle drive parking area. It's a good 2-2.5 hour hike in and of itself, so there again, tough to get in if you've got to go back to Kona the same night.

    Three other strong recommendations: 1) the road to South Point. Take the Ring Road south from Kona to the southern end of the island, thence a smaller marked road, past the eerie wind generator farm, to the Southernmost point in the US. Next stop, Antarctica, so don't fall in. 2) The Mana Road. This road is for 4WD only as it's wet and muddy for about 1/3 of its 44 mile length. It nearly completely circumnavigates Mauna Kea, departing Wiamaia (sp?) and connecting to the Mauna Kea access road. 3) The top of Mauna Kea itself. The road goes up to the observatories at just a hair under 14,000' elevation. Our group of two couples took the Jeep around the Mana Road, thence up to the observatories, where the Jeep's low range transfer case came in handy on the gravel sections and 10% grade both up and downhill. There are trips available from Kona which leave in the afternoon, stop at a small museum part way up the access road, then go up top for sunset. Following sunset, the provided telescopes come out and stargazing follows for a while. I think the fee is around $200 per person. If you don't want to drive your rental up there, book the trip and do it. How many chances do you get to swim in a tropical ocean in the morning and see the sunset from 14,000' in the evening?

    Last comment: The Saddle Road is supposedly off-limits to most car rental companies. It is of 1940s layout and design, is very rough and potholed (albeit paved), and has considerable military vehicle traffic (US Army trainng grounds on both sides coming up from Kona). But, it is a HI state highway, and given the stern warning to stay off of it, I couldn't get on it fast enough. It remains a fairly poor substitute route to Hilo, however, due to slowness of travel, rough surface, and steep grades approaching and leaving the Saddle.

    Well, did I persuade you to spend more time on the Big Island?


  7. #7

    Default Excellent info

    Once again this forum - more precisely its participants - comes up trumps and provides a wealth of invaluable information. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! I particularly like the sound of the Saddle Road. Like you, if I'm told NOT to do something, I tend to wanna find out why... ;)

  8. #8

    Default My pleasure, sir


    Be advised that the Saddle Road is not a particularly interesting find in and of itself. It provides, however, the sole access to the road up Mauna Kea, other than the half-day ride through mud and forest and the grasslands of the 300,000 acre Parker Ranch along the Mana Road! That said, the late afternoon we returned from Mauna Kea towards Kona along the Saddle Road, clouds were pouring through the saddle and showers were among the clouds, just over top of our heads as we descended. We enjoyed breathtaking views of the Haleakala Volcano on Maui, some 50 miles away, the sun-drenched Pacific along the Kona-Kohala Coast, some 20 miles away and 6,000' below, and the most spectacular rainbows I've ever seen. We pulled the Jeep off the road and stood out in the rain for 15 minutes, in silence, taking it all in.

    Lastly, for WWII history buffs, there's a large knoll near where the Saddle Road joins the Ring Road, and this hill, several hundred feet high and practically barren, is where the US Marines practice the assault on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi in the months preceding the February 1945 assault.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default 9 days? Oy!

    Gosh, Craig...I think that's a short time for such a wonderful place.

    You're not stopping at all in Kauai? It's called the Garden Island and that's well deserved, imho.

    I lived in Hawaii for about a year...luring tourists to time-share presentations and then, later, selling jewelry (including the "open the oyster to find the pearl" routine) in Waikiki. Fun times for a young'un!! But I haven't been back there for 25 years so my memories have faded a bit and things may have changed a bit since then. Anyway, a few random thoughts....

    While there, I never got a chance to visit the BI or Molokai. I did get to Kauai and Maui.

    I think Molokai would be fascinating for a couple reasons. First, it is less touristy so I think it would be a nice experience because of that. Second, the leper colony settlement there fascinates me. It's also the land of Hawaiian-style cowboys with mule rudes to various parts of the island and such. Anyway, I think it's worth a few days.

    Back to things I know about:

    While you may not be a sunbather and want to spend a bunch of time laying on the beach, don't neglect the opportunity to go for a swim, a snorkel, or even a try on a surfboard. There's definitely something to be said for taking a swim in an ocean warm as a nice, warm bath and in weater so clear that you can see for what seems like forever. It's an experienced not to be missed. And the people watching! Wow...some of the funnest people watching I've ever done was on the beach at Waikiki. It's worth doing! And take some quick surfing lessons. You may not get up or catch a wave but you'll have fun trying.

    Arizona Memorial - I tear up just thinking about it. A very profound experience.

    Punchbowl - In a punchbowl created by a defunct volcano above Honolulu where many of the dead from Pearl Harbor plus others who have served in the military...historical spiritual grounds

    Haunama Bay (sp?) - Wow, this is the coolest place. It's a natural marine life preserve covered with coral and protected by a coral reef. I'm told you can no longer do this but we used to buy bags of frozen peas and carrots and go swimming there and throw out a handful of frozen veggies for the fish. You would be surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands?, of bright tropical fish. It was surreal being engulfed in a cloud of them with their little fins tickling you. If you held the pea in your fingers, they would munch on it right in your hand. So cool. It's probably worth doing a websearch for more info about this place.

    Other beaches - the beaches aren't all the same. One in particular (Sunset Beach, if I recall correctly) was an amazing place to body-surf. You don't even need a boogie board to catch the waves there. It would be fun to take a day and just drive around the island stopping at different beaches to check out the different types of sand, wave conditions, swimming, etc. I loved doing that.

    Polynesian Cultural Center - located near the opposite end of the island from Honolulu and a wonderful place to spend the day. I went there several times, spending an entire day there each time. It was find to learn about all the different cultures of both Hawaii and the other tropical islands of the Pacific.

    Royal Hawaiian Hotel - I think that's the name. Can't remember for sure. Bright, bright pink on Waikiki. One of the first, if not the first, modern hotels built there back in the 30's or so. Wonderful architecture. It's a must to walk through this place.

    When I was there, the road down the center of the island and around the western shore was far less traveled, less touristy, and took you to the real Hawaii. I think it's worth the drive but I don't remember specifics. Just beautiful and interesting to see the homes, etc. At that time, these were mainly either lower-income or middle-class people and I appreciated the contrast between the real life vs. the more opulent touristy areas.

    Haleakala Crater - there are bike-rental services that will drive you up to the top of the crater before the crack of dawn so you can be there to watch the sunrise and then bike ride down the "mountain" along the twisty road. One of the coolest things I've ever done. Don't miss it.

    I don't remember where we drove but it was amazing driving past acres upon acres of pineapples and sugar cane.

    Besides going on a really fun horseback ride through trails and out onto the beach up near Kapaluia (sp?), the rest of our time was spent in Lahaina. Cool town and worth a walk-around. And lots of fun bars and parties (which was really my focus back then).

    The "mountain"'s really hard for me to call these hills the wettest spot on earth. Mt. Waelaila (sp?) This rain is what makes this island the Garden Island. Lush was just a word until I saw the plant life here. It's really incredible. I recall enjoying visiting an old fort (I believe it was Russian) while on my way into Waimea (OK, just figure I may be mispelling all these Hawaiian words) Canyon. You can drive to the end to a lookout into an amazing valley and, from there, hike down to a beach that is mostly deserved, or was then anyway.

    Just a cost-saving tidbit of advice that may no longer be true...the entire time I lived in Waikiki, I never had to cook dinner. Many of the bars and lounges had pupus (cocktail snacks) which were pretty amazing. For the price of a beer, you could sit down to a mini-buffet of seafoods, fruits, veggies, etc. If that is still the deal, look for 'em.

    We got to the point where we knew which bar to go to which night as some nights had their best pupus on different nights of the week. We made our rounds every week and were very well-fed for a drink or two and, at that wild and crazier time of my life, I would have had the drinks anyway so why not get some free goodies to eat while you're at it?

    If anything else pops into my mind, I'll come on back and share a bit.

  10. #10

    Default Thank for all the tips

    Some excellent feedback, once again, thanks Judy!

    I would love to see more of islands but it's all a balancing act, isn't it? I also liked the idea of spending a little time visiting the area between Las Vegas and Los Angeles again and, with my other commitments along the way, I was left with just a few days in Hawaii.

    I'll be doing an awful lot of flying (Anchorage - Juneau - Gustavus - Juneau, Bellingham - Las Vegas and Los Angeles - Kona - Kahului - Honolulu - Sydney - Perth) in the weeks immediately surrounding my stop in Hawaii so I am keen to spend as little time stuck in a plane as possible. In fact I originally planned to only visit Hawaii and Oahu islands until I realised there was a national park on Maui and decided to add that. Whilst I'd love to visit Kauai and Molokai I really don't think I can spread my time there any thinner.

    I very much appreciate the other tips - especially things such as the bike rental at Haleakala Crater - that sounds real good fun.

    What is it like to find accomodation on Hawaii, Maui and Oahu? Is it similar to the 'mainland' US or am I best advised to book before arrival?

    I cannot wait to visit the islands and, if they are how I hope they are, I am sure that I will be back at some point to see what I missed this time around.

    Thanks once again - will update you when I have booked my flights!

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