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input on vacation to Hawaii

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I want to plan a surprise trip for my wife and I to Hawaii next year. We have never been and she's always wanted to go. I don't know anything about the place really, but I've heard that there is the nice Hawaii and then there's the tourist/vacation part of Hawaii that one should avoid. Obviously this would be a vacation, but I'd still like to avoid the tourist area. I hate going to places like that. Any advice or input on what to see, do or avoid would be great.
 
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I'm goin in July for 10 days (3 islands) and want to avoid the touristy places too. I plan on doing hiking around the parks, volcanoes, and to the waterfalls. Goin flyin some too. I plan to see Pearl Harbor but that'll be the touristy thing.

I'd like to hear some ideas too cause that's all I have planned so far.
 
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I haven't been for a while, but we would go to Kawai. Stayed out in Princeville. While there we would of course use the beaches, kayak, ride horses and play golf. Like I said, it's been a while. Didn't have any hotels out there. Only private homes.
 
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I personally like the big Island ,Kona area.The people are very nice and there is alot to see.It is amazing the different regions on one Island.
 
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Kauai. Around Poipu, or rent a place on the north side of the Kaumualii highway up in the highlands.

If you like the "resort" feel ( me; not so much) rent in Princeville, especially for golf and "big" views of rugged coast.
 
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I've been to Honolulu twice and while it doesn't get much more 'touristy' than that, I never really felt like it was touristy at all.
 
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Sorry, I should have said this earlier. No golf. I don't golf. Mainly because I suck so bad.:rolleyes: I like the waterfall, volcano, horseback riding ideas though.
 
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I've been to Honolulu twice and while it doesn't get much more 'touristy' than that, I never really felt like it was touristy at all.

I'll second this. Yes, there were lots of tourists around, but I wasn't put off by them. Then again, I was there in October. There is plenty to do on Oahu, like Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay to snorkel, North Shore, hike up Diamond Head, take an outrigger canoe off of Waikiki Beach, drive around the island. I was only there for about 4 days, but my days were filled.
 
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Wow, I am surprised no one has mentioned Maui? I am going there next year. I have heard alot about the drive to Hana being great and you can go to the Seven Sacred Pools with waterfalls. I have heard that Kaanapali is a nice resort area.
 
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I've been to Hawaii a few times, the Big Island & Oahu, and outside of Waikiki, I never really felt it was too touristy. As for the things I'd love to go back for:

Oahu:
Teri Beef @ Zippy's
Shave Ice @ Matsumoto's, North Shore
If you drive from Waikiki to North Shore, you'll see little corn stands & shrimp trucks, you gotta stop at a few of those, they're AWESOME.
Pineapple Bread from Dole Plantation, although I believe they closed the maze
Diamond Head if you like to hike
Hanauma Bay if you want to snorkle
Parasailing, I did this near Waikiki

Big Island:
Kilauea Volcano
Star Gazing near the observatories
Kona side

If you're looking for waterfalls, I heard Kauaii has the most amazing waterfalls, but I haven't been there yet...

I'd also love to check out Maui, that Seven Sacred Pools with waterfalls Big D mentioned sounds awesome...

That's all that comes to mind, man, you guys are going to have a great time...=)
 
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I'll second this. Yes, there were lots of tourists around, but I wasn't put off by them. Then again, I was there in October. There is plenty to do on the big island, like Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay to snorkel, North Shore, hike up Diamond Head, take an outrigger canoe off of Waikiki Beach, drive around the island. I was only there for about 4 days, but my days were filled.

You're thinking of Oahu, not the big island.
Kauai or Maui if you want natural beauty and less crowds. Those 2 are at the top of the list for me. Oahu is nice (see above), but lots of people and traffic is problematic. Big Island if you want to see Kilauea, but no other advantages IMO, and traffic is worse there than on Oahu. Molokai if you want to go mountain goat hunting, heh.
 
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Not sure how long you have been married but around the time of my 21st anniversary we had a trip to maui and I had us set up for a surprise wedding vow renewal on the beach followed by a dinner cooked for us on the beach. The wife loved it. I told her about the dinner on the beach but not the vow renewal. Didn't tell her till we were walking onto the beach where they were set up. Scored big points, did it just before sun down so we could eat while the sun was setting. We stayed at the Grand Walilea resort which was also excellent.
 
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You guys are awesome. Thanks for the input and keep it coming if anyone thinks of anything to add. I just hate going on vacation where there are tons of people. My idea of a vacation is to get away from it all, not to feel like I'm at Wal-mart the day after Thanksgiving.
 
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You guys are awesome. Thanks for the input and keep it coming if anyone thinks of anything to add. I just hate going on vacation where there are tons of people. My idea of a vacation is to get away from it all, not to feel like I'm at Wal-mart the day after Thanksgiving.

If you do end up going to Oahu make sure you go to Sunset beach on the North Shore and watch the sunset - one of the most beautiful sights in the world in my mind.

Also on Oahu you can go Lanikai, its extremely quiet but also extremely beautiful as well.
 
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I love Hawaii...probably one of my favorite places to vacation. Last December was my first time to the Big Island, a real treat...and a reminder there is a lot to see on this chain of islands.

Big Island
Only go here if you plan to spend a good amount of time. The island is larger than all others combined with such an insane range of climate zones (from snow capped peaks to lush tropical forests to stark lava flows to green and black sand beaches) that it would be hard to appreciate if you aren't willing to give it the time. Expect to do a lot of driving. I was only on the Big Island for seven days and, trying to avoid the wettest weather, did not get to some of the sites that originally drew me there in the first place (most notably the volcano park, snorkeling off the Kona Coast, and ascending the Mauna Kea summit). Be sure to visit a Kona Coffee Farm....definitely worth a trip to sample the good stuff!

Maui
My favorite of the islands to frequent...doesn't hurt that my wife works for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Wide variety of activities and sites to see with not nearly as much driving as the Big Island. I also find it has the best eats of the island chain. Snorkeling off Molokini is definitely a highlight. I'm hoping to run the Maui Marathon this year...not sure if I'm going to try training by running up and down from Haleakala, but the thought seriously crossed my mind when I looked down from the summit last year (unfortunately I missed sunrise). I'm looking forward to checking out the Kapalua Adventure Center on my next visit (more hiking, zip lines, etc).

Oahu
I must have visited here during the perfect time of year because, when I stayed in Waikiki, it wasn't nearly as crowded as I had been told it would be. I consider it a great transition for vacations...the ease and convenience of a city, but the casual atmosphere of the islands. Sure it is the most touristy of the chain, but that can be fun (especially when you're in town because of a friend's wedding).

Kauai
Perfect spot for a honeymoon (first hand experience)...feels a lot less touristy than the bigger islands and it is by far the most beautiful (some really spectacular vistas from the coastline and the canyon). And you'll definitely want to see this one from a helicopter (only way to see the waterfall from Jurassic Park). The north side is very wet, so you'll probably want to stay to the south and drive to see the north.
 
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Big Island - If you go to the Big Island I would recommend renting a 4X if you don't like the guided tour thing. There are a bunch of places you can use the 4X to get into secluded areas. You can hike to some but they can be long. If you go to the top of the volcano you will definitely need a 4X. Lava Flows, this is a great hike. Plan on starting early.

Oahu - Plenty to see and avoid the tourist. U gotta stop at the Shrimp Trucks. Don't forget the North Shore. Diamond Head is a long haul take plenty of water. Go to Leonard's for Malasadas.
 
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Kauai
And you'll definitely want to see this one from a helicopter. The north side is very wet, so you'll probably want to stay to the south and drive to see the north.

I remember doing that in Kauai. That's a great idea. That was a lot of fun.
 
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4x4 is definitely recommended on the Big Island and there are places on Maui that you cannot go without one (actually there are places on Maui where many of the car rental companies discourage you from going).

If you take hikes on the Big Island, make sure to obtain good directions / instructions before you go hiking. My wife, brother-in-law, and I spent a lot of time going the wrong way before finding the right way because many sites and trailheads aren't marked with signs.
 
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I go there once or twice a year for 2 to 3 weeks per visit. I have a timeshare on Kauai, but I think Maui is the best of the best. The best cove on Maui, in my opinion, is Napili Beach.

Here is a link to the area. The Mauian is a small... not romantically place! So I wouldn't stay there. http://www.mauian.com/

There are a few other places in the cove. I have also stayed here.... freakin amazing if you get a room on the water!!! I sat my butt on the lanai for 2 weeks and couldn't get the smile off my face.
http://www.napilisunset.com/

Please note: these places are not 4 star for the amenities, but are 4 star for the location.

If you are going to go to Kauia, Princeville is really pretty, but I like Poipu. Here is where my timeshare is: http://www.lawaibeach.org/

Once again... not 4 star for the amenities, but are 4 star for the location.

Location is EVERYTHING! If you have a place in mind, im me and I will let you know if I have been there or seen the place.
 
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I go there once or twice a year for 2 to 3 weeks per visit. I have a timeshare on Kauai, but I think Maui is the best of the best. The best cove on Maui, in my opinion, is Napili Beach.

Ever eat breakfast at Gazebo? Best banana-pineapple-mac nut pancakes on the Hawaiian Islands!

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If you go to Maui or any of the Islands be prepared to spend your money.I would definatly spend the time to explore Haliakala(sp?) You can get a ride up in a jeep and bike down-all day need to be in descent shape.Take in the sunrise from the top 12000 ft:eek: if you can get up in the middle of night.Road to Hana is a scenic drive esp if you rent a car and just discover it on your own.I would recomend taking a scenic helecopter tour,it is amazing and you get to see the waterfalls and volcano CLOSE up ! Just be prepared for the lonng flights to and from the Islands.Try snorkaling off Molakai or was it molakini?.Do some fishing or whale watching.Try long board surfing ,any shmo can feel like a pro:biggrin:
 
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I live on the windward side of Oahu. There is so much to do here, that you need to know exactly what you want to do. If you want some night life, Oahu, hands down. If you want to do some ATV, oahu has it as well.

The outer Islands shut down rather early, but you will be on mainland time, and that is a 3 hour time difference at the very least, so you may not be staying up late any way.

If you come to Oahu, PM me.
 
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If you decide on Oahu, we stayed at the JW Marriot Ihilani resort...it was incredible. 4 private lagoons to swim, snorkle, paddle boat, relax on the beach. Roy's restaurant just across the street on the golf course, best seared ahi I've ever tasted. And as ss md said, you've got to go to Leonard's for malasadas...the chocolate ones will have you going back for more:biggrin:
 
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Haliakala(sp?) Molakai molakini

ROFL @ haole spelling. ;) At least you got Hana right. :D

Some good recos in here, and I got a couple more for Oahu. For a romantic no-holds-barred dinner in Waikiki, go to the Hanohano room at the top of the Sheraton. Call ahead for reservations and make sure to request a window seat facing the beach. Get a table a little before sunset. If you want a casual Italian joint, Auntie Pastos near Ala Moana has way excellent food. It's usually crowded and noisy, but if the ambience is too much then do a take-out and enjoy it back at the hotel with the killer view.
 
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