Visits to Hawaii
1991 - Maui & the Big Island
- Maui and Big Island
1999 - Maui, Big Island and Kauai
2002 - Big Island and Maui
2005 - Big Island and Maui
2007: Oahu, Big Island and Maui
2008: Big Island
2009: 7 days Big Island and Maui
2010: Maui Grand Wailea - Room 3059) and
Big Island (Hilton Waikoloa - Lagoon Tower 3330)
2011 - 5 nights at Grand Wailea, Maui and 9
nights at Hilton Waikoloa, Big Island
2012 - 6 nights at Disney's Aulani on Oahu
- room 1407, 8 nights at Hilton Waikoloa, Big Island - Lagoon Tower
2013. 4 Days, Grand Wailea, Napua Tower. 4 days Disney's Aulani.
8 Days Hilton Waikoloa, Big Island, Lagoon Tower 2313, Dolphin View
2014 Big Island - 1 day at Marriott King Kam in Kona, 10 days Lagoon
Tower 4313 at Hilton Waikoloa.
2015, Big Island - 1 day at Marriott King Kam in Kona, 8 days Hilton
Waikoloa Ocean Tower oceanfront 4077
2016, 7 days on Big Island at Hilton Waikoloa Lagoon Tower,
ocean side room 5304. 7 days on Maui at Maui Eldorado C103
2017 – Marriott Beach Club, Kauai, 6 days. Hilton Waikoloa, 2 nights
at Volcano House in the Volcanoes National Park, 8 Days, Top floor of
Lagoon Tower, Kona Pool side room 6329.
the State of Hawaii
spent several weeks in the state of Hawaii on several vacations. Here are
a few tips for your next (or first) Hawaiian vacation.
in typical original written form is best written as “Hawai’i”, but for
ease of typing and the web’s keyword search, I’ll use the word “Hawaii”
more frequently in this document; with apologies to my Hawaiian
can be confusing. Of the several inhabited islands in the Hawaiian
Island chain, only one of them is called “Hawaiï”,
also known locally as "the Big Island". So when someone
says “I am going to Hawaii”, they could mean nearly any of several
islands in the state OR might mean the individual island by that name.
you can try to sound like a local by pronouncing the state name and
island name correctly: Try to say: "Ha VEYE ee".
Hawaiian words starting with “W”, do sound the W; otherwise the
"W" is pronounced as a "V" in the Hawaiian language.
Sunscreen - Hawaii is very nearly on the
equator - its daily sun is extremely dangerous in excess. Wear
sunscreen. Too, the islands of Hawaii have lots of sand and constant
breezes. Old-fashioned, oil-based suntan products can make you look
like an animated sand sculpture when blowing sand adheres to your oily
skin. I've had good success with "oil free" tanning products
and sunscreens, and the more recent spray tanning solutions.
Hopping - Many Hawaiian
vacationers staying for more than one week hop from island to island.
This makes a lot of sense, as each island has its own distinctive
character. Options for inter-island transportation have varied over the
years. A state-subsidized water ferry served Oahu and Maui began in
2007 but shut down in 2009. With the 2008 demise of Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Air
became the dominant commercial airline serving the islands of Hawaii.
GO Airlines tried a competitive inter-island jet service, but shut down
in 2014 ostensibly due to the high cost of fuel. Hawaiian Airlines now
faces inter-island pricing competition from two short-distance
Airline and the even smaller IslandAir
provide scheduled service via turboprop aircraft to some of the
Important note: check the baggage limitations charges
for inter-island flights: you may find that travelling with more than
one piece of checked luggage costs less overall if you book higher airfare
types (such as First Class on Hawaiian, because Hawaiian waives some
luggage fees for First Class fares versus Coach fares).
Island Summaries – From personal travel experience
over the years, I can provide tips and impressions of questionable
value for four of the Hawaiian islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and Oahu.
My humble tips for each follow.
The Island of Hawaii
(also known as “the Big Island”)
actual “Island of Hawa’ii” is by far the
largest of the Hawaiian island chain. You can (almost) drive
completely around it, but it will take the better part of a full day at
a fairly breakneck pace to do so. A relatively recent upgrade to a
mid-island highway, Route 200 (aka Saddleback Road), has significantly
reduced travel times for east/west traffic, but be careful to plan gas
and restroom breaks - there are no services for most of its 52 miles. Some
of us, myself included, may get a little altitude sick given the rapid
change in elevation across Route 200.
Island of Hawaii has several distinct climates, making it a very
interesting island to explore.
Hawaii's central western shore
("Kona-side" to the locals) north along the Kohola coast is normally quite dry, making it an
ideal resort area. This area is known for its stark, dark lava terrain.
Kona (also known as Kailua-Kona) is the big city on the island's west
side (and the largest city on the island). Kona gets a bit more rain
and moderate temperatures than the Kohola
Coast. As you fly into the Kona you will immediately notice the 1800's
era dark lava flows on which the Kona (airport code KOA) airport is
The northern shore – this island’s
geologically oldest section – is best known for dramatic – but often
difficult to access - cliffs with lush vegetation, and waterfalls into
the Pacific. It is at a higher elevation than most of the other
coastlines, though not as high as the center of the island. This
section of the island contains most of the livestock farming on this
island. Most notably, the Parker Ranch (2nd largest range in
the US by acreage) is in this part of the island is usually is
significantly cooler than the rest of the island.
The eastern side - also known as the
"windward side", with Hilo as the major city (airport code:
ITO), has a predominately rainforest climate, along with one of the
main access routes to the volcanic southwest side of the island,
dominated by the Hawa’ii Volcanoes National
The southern coast of the Island of
Hawaii is volcanically active, with Kilauea volcano regularly pouring molten
lava across subdivision roadways and into the ocean. The southeastern
part of the island is home to a significant coffee bean growing
industry, proudly producing the famously strong “Kona” type coffee.
rent a car or not
rental car can be an expensive luxury, especially in the Hawaiian
islands where gas is significantly more than mainland prices and cars
have to be brought in on ships (meaning the car rentals are generally
more expensive than the mainland). However, as a single guy, I covet my
independence. I have always rented a car on the islands (I am
particularly fond of convertibles, although their Hawaiian Island rates
have skyrocketed in recent years).
the Big Island, if you are staying for only 3 or 4 days, you could
easily (and probably more economically) take an airport shuttle to the
Hilton Waikoloa (my recommendation for hotel). You may not want to
leave the Hilton anyway.
to stay: Choosing a Resort
are several beautiful resorts on the Kohola
Coast. Mauna Kea, financed by the Rockefellers, was Hawaii
Island's first modern resort. Built in 1965, it set the architectural
trend for many other Hawaiian hotels in the 70s. Fairmont's Orchid in
the Mauna Lani resort was built on historic
land belonging to a descendent of Hawaiian King Kamehameha's army. The
remarkably expensive Four Seasons Hualalai -
sold to its most recent investor group for more than $1.4 million
dollars (US) per guest room - offers one of Kohola
Coast's best beaches and top notch service.
My recommendation: the Hilton
Waikoloa. Priced in the midrange of Big Island resorts, the
Hilton Waikoloa gives meaning to the term “fantasy destination resort”.
Completed in 1988, it is beginning to show some signs of aging, but
remains a unique destination and is reasonably well maintained. The
most expensive hotel investment in Hawaii when it was built, its
developer went on to build other landmark Hawaii hotels on Maui and
Kauai. It set the standard for pool design and integration of public
art collections that continues to dominate high-end Hawaiian resort
Hilton Waikoloa resort has three separate guest buildings which,
together with the entrance lobby form an ocean-facing semicircle
connected by trams and waterways.
Tower is the furthest away from the oceanfront, but has a good location
and a certain elegance to its high rise public spaces. The tri-ring
"Ocean Tower" is furthest away from the lobby, requiring
either a long walk or use of the resorts boat and tram systems.
Tower is also being converted into Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) condo/accommodations.
HGV is Hilton’s timeshare program, which also owns several other
properties in the Waikoloa complex. When that conversion completes in
2018, hotel bookings in Ocean Tower rooms will be prioritized for use
by HGV members, but may still be available for hotel-only guests.
Hilton’s Lagoon Tower is the closest to the lobby, and commands great
views of ocean and the best view of Dolphin Pool. Lagoon Tower
also offers this property's equivalent of Hilton's concierge level
service, referenced at this property as "Makai". Rooms in
this tower tend to remain the most updated and with the most amenities,
and are usually premium priced.
are no truly "ocean-front" accommodations at this resort as
none of the rooms front directly on the ocean without significant
public space between. Both Ocean Tower and Lagoon Tower have rooms with
ocean views and have often fallen asleep at night to an open window and
the sounds of nearby waves hitting the rocky Kohala
coastline. You won't spend a lot of time in the room anyway - this
resort begs you to be outside in their magnificent grounds when you are
towers connect to each other and to the separate open air lobby either
by a 1.5 mile long walkway with million dollar museum art on exhibit,
or by a Disney-like tram, or by mahogany canal boats (usually only
running afternoons and weekends) - all free. OK, so the locals
call this place the "Hilton Walk-A-Lot" since the property is
so spread out, but it lends itself to a feeling of diversity and
encourages your exploration. Hate to explore? - like everything laid
out in predictable, compact formats? This Hilton is definitely not for
Things to Do At the 65 acre Hilton Waikoloa Resort
Activities within the resort - Basically, if its tropical-themed recreation,
the Hilton Waikoloa has it.
Pools & Lagoons
This place has one of the most exotic pool systems (not pools, pool
systems) I've encountered. At each pool, you can rent hooded
reclining chairs and/or tented cabanas for a daily charge.
Kona Pool (pic on the left) is over an acre in size, with a waterfall
grotto hiding a series of inside and outside swim- up hot tubs and a
medium length water slide. A swinging bridge (nope, no jumping from the
bridge) arching over the main pool area connects two sunning porches. A
sand bottom section at the far end of the formal Kona Pool area is a
favorite of little kiddos. Mom and Dad can play right next door on a
nice sand volleyball court near the poolside bar.
Orchid Marketplace, a nice food-court-like snack bar open only at lunch,
lets you snack while you lounge, but watch for aggressive birdies
awaiting your departure - they absolutely want your food, whether you
are finished with it or not.
In the middle of the
Hilton Waikoloa resort is a large salt water lagoon (pic on right), fed
directly from the ocean but not subject to the strong waves and surges
of this rocky coast. It does, however, have typical Pacific Ocean
wildlife. Green sea turtles, colorful tropical fish, and the occasional
eel can be found in this lagoon, making it heaven for the snorkel set.
This 4-acre sand bottom lagoon offers a variety of rental paddle boats
and snorkel equipment. This a much-loved area of the resort – be warned
that late arrival to its shore likely means you’ll have to fight for
seating, some of which may end up underwater at high tide. That said,
the lagoon is a very nice, safe snorkeling and salt water play area not
usually seen in the Hawaii resorts.
pool system is the Kohala Pool, an
oceanside series of beautifully landscaped pools connected by a
series of gentle waterslides. Of the three described so far, it is
usually the least crowded. Recently, resort employees have taken to
calling this pool a “lazy river”, but I think that’s not accurate.
There is no water movement sufficient to move you around the
interconnected pools and you definitely don’t see a lot of inner tubes
floating in this pool. But I get why it is otherwise hard to describe
the pool is a series of marble animal statues representing Chinese
Just past this area is a seaside walkway with covered lounge chairs (be
sure get up early to get one of these) leading to a small point with a
marble Buddah. Along the flagstone walkway,
watch out - you might get splashed with spatter from strong ocean
waves. This is one of my favorite areas to relax and read in the
mornings or late afternoons. If you are lucky, you may
find the one or two remaining hammocks hung between palm trees, just
right for a lazy afternoon or evening nap.
A quiet adults-only (not
nude bathing, just no kids) pool is also available within the Ocean
Towers complex. This pool is often nearly empty and makes a great
escape for couples just wanting to tan and splash a bit.
The on-site Kohala Spa
is worth a visit if for no other reason than the wonderful Coco Mango
Essence shower gels and shampoo they use here. If you are lucky, they'll
have samples of this wonderful stuff in your room - if not, buy a
little from the Spa gift shop. These uniquely scented shower products
capture the sense of a late afternoon breeze along the Kohala coast.
Spa has grown on me over the years. It isn't as elegant as, say Maui’s
Grand Wailea Spa. But it offers a nice range
of services and is rarely ever crowded - at least on the men's side.
And the men's side is as large square foot-wise as the women's side, a
rarity for spas where most spas cater to - and build for - their
primarily female clients. The men's side has a very clean, modern
locker room with dry and wet saunas, enclosed outdoor clothing-optional
hot tub made from large volcanic rocks, and high end Kohler showers
with rain shower heads and body sprays. Very nice.
Wedged between the Kona pool
and the lagoon are several huge salt water pools containing
trained Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins that are maintained through
a program managed by DolphinQuest. DolphinQuest
is a private company donating a portion of its revenues to marine
education, conservation and research.
Guests at the resort may walk by the pool (24 hours a day) and watch
them surface with a huffing sound and frequently jump out of the water
in their characteristic powerful arch.
there are children or teenagers in your party (or adults who SHOULD be
teenagers) then beg, threaten, or buy your way into a “Dolphin
Encounter”. You can call up to twelve months ahead and reserve a
time for your kids; adults take last priority but generally can get
slots in the early fall (Sept & October). This is not some
uncontrolled dolphin ride (in fact, you are not allowed to sit on or
ride the dolphins). However, it is fairly serious edutainment. Even if
you don’t purchase your own encounter, you can get a schedule of times
when the schools run and then sit at the Lagoon
Grill beside the dolphin lagoon and watch other guests interact
with these amazing mammals.
are several versions of “Dolphin Encounters”, including programs for
kids as young as 2 with accompanying adult. Kids must be at least 5;
teenagers 13 and older are probably the best students and get the most
out of it. But I have seen grandmothers participate and have a great
time. Group reservations are available.
Things to Do on the Big
Flying Tours -
Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where you really MUST fly
over the landscape to understand the majesty of the place. On the Big
Island, I suggest Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. From the west
side of the island (conveniently near the Hilton Waikoloa), I'd suggest
the three hour tour covering the volcanoes, a rest stop, and a
breathtaking tour over the unpopulated north coast into the valleys of
towering waterfalls. Pricey, but memorable. Similar trips are available
by some competitive helicopter companies.
Listen to Local Music -
Hawaii has its own distinct musical flavor, so tune it in on your radio
as you drive around. On the Big Island, I like to listen to 99.1fm (kona/west side) or 100.3 fm
(hilo/east side). Or if you are back on the
mainland and want a taste of Hawaiian tunes, take your web browser to kaparadio.com
Hike - I
highly recommend a guided nature adventure from Hawaii
Forest And Trail. This outfit is one of Hawaii's "green
companies" arranging environmental tours that promote ecological
awareness and often pay private landowners to maintain private property
without commercial development. I took their Valley Waterfall hike and
was not only impressed with the highly qualified tour guide (a marine
biologist), but with the whole planned trip. Custom built 4 wheel drive
vans delivered us to the edge of a cow pasture for a walk up a shady path
to a 500 foot tall waterfall you can walk behind. The company provided us
with nice raingear, walking sticks, and water bottles. We returned to a
healthy fruit and fresh baked goods snack before returning to the hotel.
through a rainforest - Hawaii Forest and Trail also operates
a great Zipline (Kohola Zipline)
safely getting you through a subtropical tree canopy with some of the
best guides I've experienced.
an active volcano- Of course, you can't miss the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park,
home of Kilauea - the world's most active volcano - while on the Big
Island. If you are staying at the Hilton on the Kohala
Coast, the National Park makes a great full day trip whether you take a
tour or drive there yourself.
Stargaze - A
great event - with or without the kids - is to visit the Mauna Kea Observatories.
The world's largest observatory park sits on the world's tallest (as
measured from its start on the seafloor) mountain, Mauna Kea, right here
on the Big Island.
Hit the Water - Hawaii
has lots of local water sport provisioners.
Most hotels contract with outfits like Ocean
Sports Waikoloa so you can get a leg up and book reservations
early if you check out their web sites. Snorkel, SCUBA and "snuba" (a sort of snorkeling-on-a-leash) are
popular throughout Hawaii. The clear water and abundance of marine life
(including neon tropical fish and the occasional menacing Moray Eel) make
underwater viewing a must-do anywhere in Hawaii.
Where to Eat on the Big Island
In or Near the Hilton Waikoloa
Plan to be at dinner at sunset at the
Hilton Waikoloa's Kamuela Provision Company (KPC) at
the Hilton Waikoloa. Make reservations for 30 to 60 minutes before
sunset, arrive early and ask to sit on the oceanfront patio/lanai facing
the sunset. The view and gentle prevailing breeze
is unforgettable. Just before sunset on weekends, a young man dressed as
an Hawaiian warrior comes to the terrace, blows a conch shell, and begins
his tiki torch lighting run (literally) through
the property. After dinner, take your own slow seaside walk through the
middle of the property under the dancing lights of tiki
Tip: What time is sunset in Hawaii? Or
sunrise? Check out www.sunrisesunset.com and select
Honolulu, Hawaii for a current chart.
On selected days (generally Tuesdays, Fridays
and Sundays), book yourself for the Hilton Waikoloa's Legends
of Hawaii Luau. Nice high energy show with less
"cornball" than some other local luaus, above average buffet
meal, and complimentary drinks (including fresh juices).
Nearby Kings’ Shops and adjacent Queens Marketplace
shopping centers offer several lunch and dinner dining opportunities from
Italian (Macaroni Gril) to sushi to bar-b-que
(surprising popular on this island).
Roy’s Waikoloa is
probably my favorite dinner venue at Kings Shops.
And hidden behind the center section of
Kings Shoppes is “Island Fish and Chips”, a very nice counter service place
for a cheap, quick lunch. Both shopping areas are walking distance from
the Hilton Waikoloa, but a cheap shuttle usually also runs if you want to
stay out of the tropical sun.
Distance from the Hilton Waikoloa: If you have a rental car
(or want to rent from the resort's own fleet) ask the Hilton Concierge or
Burgers – Given that the Big Island is home to
the second largest cattle ranch in the USA, it shouldn’t surprise you
that the island has some very nice gourmet burger places. I’ve found two
that are frequented by locals and are quite good.
Burger - 74-5450 Makala
Blvd., Suite 112, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (40 minutes from
the Hilton Waikoloa near the Target Store in Kona) – Lunch and Dinner. Great
burgers of various sizes with an array of custom addons that might shock
a mainlander, including pickled Jalapenos, pineapple slices, and avocado.
Usually they have a fresh fish burger which I’ve found quite good. Awesome
fresh cut shoestring fries– forget the ketchup, try the house made Aioli sauce
with your fries.
Burger – 67-1185 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela (also known as Waimea), Hawaii
96743 – located right smack in the middle of the town the Parker Ranch
built, you know their beef has got to be good. They tend to go in and out
of stock of various entrees and ingredients, but that makes you
appreciate the freshness of everything. They usually have both beef and
veal burgers, fresh fish of some kind, and usually several very nice vegetarian
burger selections. They offer several unusual choices for condiments with
their fresh cut fries, so try several.
High End Dining - Beware: none of the below
are cheap. But it is dining in Hawaii...how often do you get to enjoy
dinner in Hawaii? Splurge a little/a lot.
Merriman’s Restaurant, Hwy 19 & Opelo Rd, Opelo Plaza,
minutes from the Hilton Waikoloa) - Lunch
& Dinner - Gourmet dining in a cowboy town. I regularly
enjoy lunch and dinner there and both are very good, if a little pricy.
Menu is seasonal Hawaiian cuisine and focuses on locally grown and
organic, where possible. Emphasis on "fresh" was dramatically
reinforced when a large, freshly caught ono slung over the fisherman’s
shoulder was whisked through the small dining room back to the kitchen
during my lunch visit a few years back. I asked my server about it; she
said the kitchen manager frowned on deliveries during serving times,
but when the fish just won’t wait and if it’s a quality catch, he will buy
it as soon as its landed. The dining room is simple, understated.
Probably seats about 80 diners. Herb garden and fountain adjacent
recently turned into a gravel overflow dining area; smell of rosemary
wafts through the open windows at dusk when light misty rains often. Take
a jacket – its much cooler in this area (called
Waimea by the locals but officially named Kamuela by the Post Office). Excellent
homemade rolls. Multiple locally grown & freshly ground coffees
served in a French-style presspot (normally
served in a presspot for two diners , I
mentioned I likely couldn’t drink all that and they brought me a
handsome, small presspot just right for dining
Canoe House at the
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel (15 minutes from the
Hilton Waikoloa) – Dinner Only - An understated but elegant (yes, and pricey)
beachfront restaurant featuring a seasonal, Pacific Rim menu and
delivered with excellent thoughtful, attentive service. Has both open air
and under shelter dining; unless the weather is bad, be sure to get there
early for a table in the open near the beach for sunset. And try the
rolls...my grandmother made rolls like this and I think of her when I
dine at Canoe House.
Beach House at the Fairmont Orchid (15 minutes from
the Hilton Waikoloa) – Dinner Only - An odd but very successful
combination: kid friendly (rare for Hawaii fine dining), great food, and
beachfront setting. The menu focuses on locally grown items. The dining
venue uses white tablecloths on an open air patio fronting the Fairmont's
private beach with beautiful sunset views and, often, low key live music
from an local guest performer.
Ocean Grill and Sushi Lounge at the Four Seasons Hualalai (25 minutes from the Hilton Waikoloa) – Dinner
Only - I can't afford the room rates at the Four Seasons, but I'll
splurge on a meal on this beautiful property. Both the signature 'Ulu
Ocean Grill and the smaller, Mediterranean-focused Beach Tree have
dramatic views of the beach and its spotlighted waves after sunset.
Service here is always impeccable. Its getting harder
to make a reservation at these particular restaurants, apparently due to
high demand. Check Open Table 10-14 days before your desired dining date
I have explored 4 major areas of Maui:
1. The northwest side
of the island, comprising the resort areas of Kaanapali,
Napili, and Kapalua
and the former whaling community-turned-tourist trap of Lahaina. Kaanapoli is the featured public beach and resort,
but Kapalua seems to be developing very nicely.
Where To Stay:
In a resort hotel: The Hyatt Regency Maui
In a condo: The Mahana
- A VERY oceanfront yet secluded getaway with washer/dryer, nice
fully equipped kitchen and wonderful lanai. The complex has a
mix of both corporate and private owners. I've had nice visits using
both, but recommend booking through stayonmaui.com
southwest side of the island, comprising the locals' residential
community and moderately priced lodging of Kihei
and the high-end resort developments of Wailea
and Makena. The Wailea resort is basically one
continuous ribbon of beach.
Where To Stay:
In a resort hotel: The Hilton Grande Wailea Hotel and Spa (among the most
expensive hotels in the world, it cost over a billion dollars to
build). I'm not sure its worth it to stay
there, but at least visit the hotel if you are on the island, even if
you don't stay there. The Spa in this hotel is a must-visit.
In a condo: Wailea Ekahi
or Elua Villages.
general center of the island, comprised of the north-central island
business center named Kahului (which includes the island’s primary
airport) and the lower central area of the island dominated by
agricultural concerns and the huge, dormant Haleakala volcano.
westernmost side of the island with a nausea-inducing winding road and
tropical forest environment terminating in the small community of Hana.
cannot drive completely around the island in your typical rental car (at
least legally). The southernmost coast has a poorly developed road that
rental car companies contractually require you to avoid.
to Do on Maui
a Show: Ulalena at the Maui Theater,
Lahaina, Maui. Produced
by Arra of Montreal, creators of Cirque Du
Soleil in Las Vegas,
this 90-minute show (no intermission, but drinks, popcorn and candy are
sold before the show and allowed in the theater)
is well done and energetic. Arra was
invited to create a show depicting the culture and mythology of Hawaii,
in a format that breaks away from the luaus and Polynesian reviews,
Based loosely on one year of research with native Hawaiian elders,
composers and historians, they created a powerful story of transition,
myth, reality and change. The small 25ish person cast (or at least
small by Cirque du Soleil standards) fits the rather intimate venue,
and is not of the svelte, trim, muscular variety often associated with
Cirque shows. Rather, the cast is a talented, young, largely native
Hawaiian group that performs professionally and with deep personality.
I have seen several of Cirque du Soleil’s permanent venue shows in
Vegas and Orlando, and was impressed by the charm and talent of this
small cast and the clarity and passion of the story line. Cirque’s
recent shows have sometimes lacked lucidity, sacrificing story line for
the acrobatic act being showcased. In Ulalena,
the narrator gives brief but very helpful context between acts (in
English), and the cast members make the production memorable and lively
in a performance whose sung and spoken parts are in Hawaiian.
Maui Ocean Center - strategically situated between
Lahaina and Kiehei, this attraction is
relatively new and nicely done. A series of walk-through aquariums and
displays, the Ocean Center will interest adults and especially kids. ~
Haleakala Volcano National Park. OK, Haleakala is dormant. No hot
lava gushing anywhere. But it is very unusual. At least drive to the
summit visitor center and experience the dormant moonscape-like crater
and the remarkable view of the beaches far below. Check out the rare silversword plants found only at Haleakala that
bloom once and then die. Or consider making a day of it with an
all-downhill bike experience on specially equipped bikes or horseback
ride right down into the crater. The bike ride takes about 5 hours
start to finish. Take a jacket! The temperatures at the
summit are 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the beaches below,
and it is almost always windy. Beware: the drive up the crater highway
might trigger altitude sickness or nausea from the hairpin turns in the
Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Hotel. You may get an occasional massage or
whirlpool bath at a place you call “spa”, but you have never been to
anything like this place. Rated the #1 spa in the world several years
in a row by Conde Naste magazine, this
incredible facility on the lower floor of an equally incredible resort
hotel is worth your time. Here’s a little-known fact: if you are not
staying at the Grand Wailea Hotel (a nice but
VERY expensive hotel), you can still schedule any service in their spa.
They charge a flat extra fee for non-hotel guests, but this fee is
often waived if you select a series of treatments (a strategy I
note for guys: O.K., I know. Spas are for women, right? But HEY, you
are on vacation and don’t know anyone here anyway. Do yourself a
favor and take half a day in the Grande Spa. Their separate men’s
program and facility is excellent; the facility is huge and rarely
ever crowded (so no one will ever know… and you will never have felt
better. I suggest the hydrotherapy circuit, a massage sampler (your
choice of male or female masseuse), a foot reflexology and scalp
massage, and a men’s facial (I know, but TRY it before you write it
off). I also generally take an hour with a personal trainer and work
on some body trouble spots or schedule a few minutes with a
nutritional or back consultant. And guys, those fingernails and
toenails could use some work, too. When was the last time they saw a
real nail clipper?
a resort: OK,
it sounds radical, but its perfectly legal.
The really big resorts on the island (especially the Wailea and Kaanapali
complexes) have ï¿½public spacesï¿½ like the lobby, shops and garden
areas that are dramatic destinations in themselves. Think of it as a
trip to a theme park where wandering around the grounds is free. At
the Kaanapoli resort, I recommend parking in
the Whaler’s Village (plan to buy something in the village to get your three-hour
parking validated for free). Walk through that (nice but pricey)
shopping area to the sidewalk along the beachfront and from it wander
through the various resort hotel spaces. The major resorts in Kaanapali are strung together along this common
sidewalk. Check out the flamingo flock on the hill behind the Westin
Maui. Find the roast pig pit at the Maui Marriott (it might have a pig
in process for the evening luau). The lobby and grounds at the Hyatt Regency Maui are my favorite “free
destination” in Kaanapali. The grounds at the
Sheraton Maui are also very nice; check out the big black lava rock on
which the hotel sits.
a helicopter ride. As
with the Big Island, I suggest Blue
a tour, don't drive it yourself unless you have a good stomach for
curvy, often-one lane, roads.
to Eat on Maui
just call it “Humu”) at the Grand Wailea Hotel
"floating" restaurant, named after Hawaii's state fish, this
dinner-only restaurant is a
cluster of thatched-roof Polynesian huts linked by walkways trimmed
with rare ohia wood railings. The floors
are teak. And the whole complex sits atop a salt water preserve
filled with hundreds of lobster and fish. The setting is casual,
colorful and a step back in Hawaiian time. There are sculptures of
dolphins in mid-jump; a fisherman at the water's edge and his
outrigger canoe. A huge semi-circular aquarium envelopes the back of
the bar. The menu features simple, tasty preparations, reflecting the
styles and flavors of Hawaii, the South Pacific and Asia. Lobsters
and local fishes may be steamed, grilled, broiled, or sauted. Humu has been known
to allow guests to "catch" their own dinner from one of the
lobster tanks in the complex.
the View -
House Restaurant, Kapalua, West side of Maui
808-669-6299 - Upscale breakfast/lunch/dinner place with open air
dining overlooking golf course with sweeping vistas down to the ocean.
Great sunsets. Excellent food.
first visited Kauai in Fall, 1999. Having been to the Big Island and
Maui, in previous years, I was initially disappointed by Kauai. Less
upscale than Maui and less diverse geologically than Hawaii, I was
immediately confronted with something I'd never encountered in trips to
Hawaii - a full parking lot at my Lihue-based hotel, the Marriott Kauai Beach
Club Resort. Bad start. Kauai is also famous for wild chickens, that tend
to start crowing well before dawn. Farm families will love this… most
people, less so. But it can be an endearing memory. When I returned to
Kauai in 2017, I found that the island had grown on me over time, and now
felt comfortably laid back and relaxing.
Kauai Beach Club was nice. Not overwhelming. Not even elegant. But
nice. Situated on a nice bay, I had a tower room overlooking the odd
shaped formal pool.
enjoyed the adjacent second level dining room at "Dukes Canoe
Club", an open-air restaurant at the beach edge with great fresh
have more money to spend on hotels, consider the Grand Hyatt Kauai or the St. Regis Princeville Resort.
A stateside colleague and I had an unforgettable sunset dinner on the Makana
Terrace of the St. Regis (shown in the picture to the right)
overlooking the pristine bay that served as backdrop for the movie
What To Do on Kauai
to plain a trip to Waimea
Canyon - a remarkable Grand Canyon-like wilderness.
Island of Oahu
a bit too cosmopolitan for my taste. As the banking and commerce center
of Hawaii and the main airport for the island chain, Oahu dominates the
business and commercial life of Hawaii. However, when I invest the time
and money to go to Hawaii, I generally want to be away from the city and
throngs of people ï¿½ Oahu strikes me as a very large population and much
too much city for me to relax in.
But clearly it has its vacation draws: the iconic Waikiki Beach, the
touching Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor, and
the educational Polynesian Cultural Center are all great destinations.
Beach in the City of Honolulu on the Island of Oahu
Waikiki Beach is likely Hawaii’s most
recognized destination. Now a blend of towering high rise hotels,
shopping and dining opportunities and park-like public beaches, Waikiki
Beach works hard to remain Hawaii’s signature vacation spot. For those of
us with latent introvert tendencies, you will find relatively fewer
people on the beach at dusk and most mornings between sunrise and 9 or 10
am. After that, daylight hours feel like a busy theme park, with people
everywhere. The crowd is energetic, multi-ethnic and multigenerational, but
surprisingly well behaved. Part of this good behavior clearly is
attributable to a very significant and visible police patrol, but there
also seems to be a culture of low key, laid back relaxation that guides
both the locals and tourists.
Surfrider Hotel, on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu,
Completed in 1901, this hotel was the
first built on Waikiki Beach, and enjoys arguably the best stretch of
developed Hawaiian beachfront. During its long history, it has
played host to Lord Mountbatten, Amelia Earhart and Edward, Prince of
Wales to name only a few.
Renovated numerous times since its
construction, the center of the current structure, its lobby area, greets
you with a unique Old Hawaii style architectureï¿½rocking chairs on
the front porch overlooking the business main drag on Waikiki, and a walk
thru to a terrace and small (very small) pool shaded by a giant Banyan
tree. The terrace leads directly to the ocean; the hotel is positioned in
a gentle curve of the beach allowing an extraordinary view of the Waikiki
waterfront and adjacent modern architecture high rises.
Two separate room wings connect to the
lobby area: one a low-rise Diamond wing with standard, if a bit small and
plainly decorated, hotel rooms. A more modern high rise Tower Wing also houses
a small internal restaurant with some seating along the beach.
Harbor Memorial, near Honolulu
While maintaining its continuing role as
a key US Armed Forces base in the Pacific, Pearl Harbor is also the
reason the US became directly involved in World War II after the
December, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor's Battleship Row. Today,
that historic moment and others for World War II are remembered by the
recently dedicated WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The
National Monument is located about 2 miles west of the Honolulu Airport
in Pearl Harbor on the west side of Oahu. Access to the USS Arizona
Memorial is coordinated by the US National Park Service (NPS) and
consists of a shore side Visitor Center, where the tours begin, and the
floating Memorial itself, located in Pearl Harbor. The other National
Monument sites are only accessible via tours going to the Battleship
Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Tickets are available
for these sites within the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
The Arizona Memorial is a touching
tribute to the start of WWII for the US. The architecturally striking USS
Memorial floats over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona,
the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December
7, 1941 when their ship was bombed by Japanese Naval Forces. A visit to
the Arizona Memorial is a solemn, stirring occasion.
The USS Missouri hosted
the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces on
Sept. 2, 1945, ending World War II. After several other tours of duty,
"Mighty Mo" the last active US battleship, decommissioned for
the final time in 1992.
Cultural Center, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Associated with the Brigham Young
University (BYU) campus immediately beside the Cultural Center, this
property is a 1 hour drive from Oahu (No rental car? Cultural Center
buses pickup from all over Oahu; ask your hotel concierge). The Center is
a for-profit way of both showcasing Polynesian (not just Hawaiian)
culture and providing BYU students a way to earn money towards their
college work. The Cultural Center takes its edutainment focus seriously
with language, cooking, music and architecture integrated into the
facility. There is a full day of sightseeing in and around the Center.
One of the best ways to see the center
is to opt for a ticket package which includes a guided tour. I recommend
the Ambassador Ticket Package, which includes a guided tour by a BYU
student hitting the highlights of the Center, a nice meal (your choice of
an American style buffet with Prime Rib or a high-end luau-style buffet
with dinner show) and preferred seating to the evening show, Ha: Breath
of Life. "Ha" is a Cirque Du Soleil-style performance
professionally done in native language (mercifully with English summaries
between acts). The performers are a diverse group and a very talented
team. The show itself is well worth the cost of admission. The ticket
package also allows you to return the next day and continue walking around
the Center, in case you didn't get to see everything you'd like.