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Hawaii with Kids - Which Island?

Hawaii in November with 4 and 9 year olds

August 2011

i'm asking for a mix of advice and recommendations ...i am thinking of taking my 4 and 9 yr old kids to hawaii in november for 5 days by myself (mom.) my ideal vacation is to relax and hang out at the pool and beach. since i will be the only adult and it will be a short trip, i'm not interested in a bunch of sightseeing and activities. i need advice and recommendations on which island, where to stay, where to eat, etc. i would prefer a mid-priced resort or hotel that offers children's activities so i could have a moment or two alone! i'm also wondering if i will be in over my head as i have never been to hawaii-with or without kids. although, i get the impression that hawaii is a very family-friendly destination which makes the whole thing feel do-able. am i crazy?

In answer to the 'am I crazy' - yes, a little. It is a long(ish) flight to essentially go to a resort pool and maybe a beach during a time of year when you could have five days of rain. It can also be quite expensive to get the kinds of resort experiences you are looking for without any of the benefit of sight-seeing and actually experiencing the island.

I would suggest as an alternative a short flight to palm springs or san diego - stay at a big resort with a kids club and a great pool and really be able to spend the time you want playing and relaxing. The pool experience will be virtually the same, sans tiki torches and someone blowing a conch shell at sundown. With kids that age you won't be missing anything! Aloha! Maggie

Yes! Hawaii is definitely kid friendly and oh, so, relaxing - after just a day or two there, I am breathing more slowly (it's slow-paced, casual, and has such beautiful beaches!). We've taken our 2-year-old there four times and I've also been there with a friend and her two kids (5 and 7 year old boys). We've been to most of the islands but only to Oahu and the Big Island (Kona side) with kids. Both were great but I personally enjoyed Kona because it was less touristy and more relaxing (and, like you, I wasn't interested in a lot of sightseeing, etc.). We bought a package deal for Oahu at pleasant holidays so it was very affordable. In Kona, we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa, which was one of the most kid-friendly places I've ever been to. There were all kinds of activities for kids of all ages and day/night camps for kids 5-12. (Will your 4-year-old be 5 by November?) You don't have to be a guest there to participate so if you're looking for a more affordable hotel, I would look for another place in that area, and use the services the Hilton provides. Here is the info on the day/night camp. http://www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/resort_activities/camp_menehune.cfm Hope you have a nice, relaxing trip! Aloha!

No, you're not crazy...GO! I would recommend Maui or Oahu. Maui, I think, has the best beaches, but the Waikiki area of Oahu would be a close second. Waikiki is quite dense and populated (think downtown Berkeley, not San Francisco, though). Maui is more rural, but still plenty of hotels & restaurants, with amazing beaches. Our favorite hotel is Mana Kai Maui, which has a nice pool, restaurant, general store, & terrific beach with reef for snorkeling as well as sand for jumping in the waves, swimming, hanging out... However, I don't think they have kids' programs, so not sure it would be best for you. Can your kids swim? If possible, get them comfortable with a mask & snorkel before you go. If not, head to the local Wal Mart or Target (yes, they have those) and get floaty toys/ water rings, etc. Have a wonderful time! heidi

Which island is best for a toddler?

July 2010

My husband and I have never been to Hawaii and would love to go. We can go pretty much anytime of year, but don't have the biggest budget. I've heard it best to avoid the high season, from mid-December to mid-April to get better deals on airfare and hotels. Our very active toddler is turning two this month. Any recommendations on which island is best for toddlers and do you have any suggestions on where to stay and toddler-friendly things to do? Among other things, we enjoy hiking, hanging out at the beach and taking in the scenery. On another note, has anyone gone to Hawaii while pregnant? We migth start trying for a second little one soon, and was wondering if it was a good idea to go while pregnant, or if we should push the trip back. Thank you so much! Island dreaming

We went to Maui with our daughter who was almost 3 at the time. We rented a small condo which was directly opposite a nice calm beach. It worked well for us because we could save a bit of money on meals (eating out is expensive in Hawaii) and it gave us flexibility and room for our daughter to have daytime naps and relax/play a bit in the condo. The condo also had a swimming pool. As for places to go, we went to the aquarium, beach, parks and a lot of short hikes. We all had a great time. We will hopefully go back one day. Also, I have been to Hawaii (Kauai and Oahu) while pregnant. I had a great time. If you are feeling well it shouldn't be a problem. Michelle

Having grown up in Hawaii and also having taken our now 7.5 year-old there annually since he was 3 months, I can say with great confidence that Hawaii is a wonderful place for children. I would only recommend that you keep in mind heat and sun since both can be rather intense. That being said, there are a wide range of gentle beaches, a great, though small aqaurium, a charming zoo, lots of parks, and wonderful places to explore. Our short list would be Lanikai Beach, the Zoo, the Aquarium, the Moana Hotel Keiki hula shows, the sunset music and cocktail hour at the Halekulani, Ko'Olina (little lagoons and a shallow man made pond with small sharks patrolling), Manoa Falls, Diamond Head, Lanikai Bunkers, Old Pali Road, and Tantalus for hiking. My website www.kiddiekoncierge.com/TravelKonciergeHNLp1.html has a lot more information about Honolulu/Oahu with children. Make sure to look for the Maui links as well.

As for going when pregnant, I'm not sure what the concern is. Hawaii is a very well developed place and so sanitation should not be a concern. My wife and friends have all gone while pregnant - some VERY pregnant. The President and his family go there regularly and frequent very local places. If you can tool around the Bay Area while pregnant, you can handle Hawaii. Your only concern should be plane travel towards the tail end of your pregnancy, but that will be the same no matter where you go. Kiddie Koncierge

Taking my teen daughter to Hawaii

May 2010

I would like to take my teenage daughter to Hawaii this summer. Any recommendations on vacation packages, airlines, or hotels? I am thinking Oahu for the easy access activities. Mahalo

A lot depends on what you and your daughter like to do, what sort of experience you want, and what your budget is. Oahu has many different levels of depending on your budget. We are pretty active and don't really care about the Waikiki scene so we prefer to rent a house in Kailua and tool around from there. We love Lanikai Beach. Honolulu and all that it has to offer is about ten to fifteen minutes away so even though you have to take a tunnel, it is very convenient. If you don't want to drive and like Waikiki, we like the Hilton Hawaiian Village or the Kaimana Beach Hotel. Good thing is that they are on the far extremes of the strip and therefore less hectic. That being said, you are close enough to walk to things. The Village is good (or bad, depending on your point of view) because everything is there. If you want to go upscale and don't mind being a bit remote, K'Olina and the Kahala Resort are worth checking out. Don't rule out Maui (Wailea or Kihei) or Kauai (Poipu). They both have direct flights and have lots of things to do.

you are more likely to get a 'real' hawaii experience (with just as much ease) on the big island: amazing snorkeling, dolphin trips, volcano etc... oahu is ok, but more like regular life with a tropical backdrop. the big island (kona side) is magical have fun! Kendra

Travel to Hawaii with 3.5 mo old

Feb 2010

hello -- we are taking a last minute trip to the Big Island in a little over a week. This is the first time traveling by plane with our 3.5 month old. Any tips on 1) traveling with the infant and 2) anything I should definitely have in the warm weather for the baby? I'm a little overwhelmed with the planning, so any advice/words of wisdom are very much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Congrats on planning a vacation with an infant! In a year you'll be amazed that you were worried at all, because traveling with a 3.5 month old is a piece of cake compared to traveling with a crawler, walker, or toddler. I know that's not what you want to hear right now, though. :) We took our baby to Europe at 4.5 months and it was fantastic because she was so portable, slept a lot, and only drank breastmilk! Easy as pie. However, jet lag was a problem the first couple of nights. Be prepared for that, although at least Hawaii is only 3 hours different. Also, when we went to Hawaii ours was 8.5 months old and it wasn't that fun because the sand, wind, and sun were in her eyes. I would invest in a big umbrella or windbreak if you're going to spend a lot of time on the beach. Easier than constantly reapplying sunscreen & keeping the hat on her head.

There are lots of good tips at http://travelswithbaby.blogspot.com/. Good luck! Wish I had an infant instead of a toddler to travel with

Hi, hope you have a great trip to the Big Island...

Air travel: in my opinion this is one of the easiest ages for children to travel. Try to breastfeed during take off and landing to helf equalize the baby's ears. The plain can get cold but when you arrive to HI it'd probably be very warm, so dress your baby in layers. Bring your carseat with you in case there is an extra seat... if not, the crew will check it for you right before landing. New baby toys will entretain your little one.

Hawaii: for sun prevention, I suggest you get an infant rash guard and hat, maybe also an umbrella for the family, and tons of baby sun lotion (buy in Hawaii or put in check-in baggage, they will take out of carry-on unless it's 4oz or less).

HI has amazing snorkling sites, if you have snorkling gear you like or it's special (e.g., corrective snorkling mask) bring it with you or rent at Bob Snorkel or any other of the snorkling/diving stores.

If you plan to go visit the volcano (check Vog reports) many spots are accesible with a stroller, and there are also many hiking places, in which case a baby bjorn or other carrier would help. (Driving distances are significant...)

If you plan to go up to the observatory, it gets cold, so bring extra layers for your kid. Enjoy Hawa'i!

I took my son to Hawaii at the same age, and it was fine. At that point he ate and slept a lot, so he just nursed and slept a lot. When he got fussy I just went to the back and bounced (he liked turbulance). The flight turned out to not be a big deal at all. It gets harder as they get older.

I had a good time on our trip, but we spent a lot of time in our hotel room because he was such a big eater and sleeper. We'd just go out for short excursions. You just have to pack light clothes, a sunhat and sunscreen for the baby, maybe some swim diapers if you'll take the baby in the water. Easy squeezy. Have fun! Anon

How fun! That is an easy age to travel with. My daughter was that age the first time we flew across the country. We had the carseat (and the stroller thingy that you put the seat on to make a stroller) and the Moby wrap (which we were using at the time to wear her). We lucked out in getting an empty seat for the carseat. You should ask at the gate if there is an empty seat, and they will usually try to arrange it so that you can sit next to it.

You can't have the baby in a moby wrap (or other carrier) during take-off and landing, but it was handy to have if she didn't want to sleep in the carseat (or if you have to check the carseat.)

We didn't have any trouble traveling with her, and it was always easy to just nurse her if she became fussy.

As for the question about heat....You aren't supposed to put sunscreen on a child that young, so you will want to bring some sort of shelter to protect Baby from the sun at the beach, even if it's just an umbrella and a sarong. You will also want a wide-brimmed hat and some lightweight, long-sleeved clothing for sun protection.

Have a great time! Teri

The best piece of gear for us when we took our infant boy to Hawaii was the pack n play; at the time (6 years ago), they made a model with a shade cover that extended over the whole thing, although they seem to cycle through new models with depressing regularity.

A bit counterintuitive at first blush, but it worked great; better than an umbrella for a day at the beach with an infant - we could set his carrier within and keep him shaded, or let him have some tummy time in the gentle ocean breeze, all comparatively sand-free. Doubles as a crib, of course, and while it was one more thing to carry down to the beach, it did prepare us for the life of schlepping gear that lay ahead...

While 3.5 months is too young for your child to eat the requisite pound of sand that he would at 8 months, it is surely not too soon for some parental r'n'r; everyone naps better in the aforementioned ocean breeze.

Watch out for the heat, of course; mother and baby were both a little torpid our first couple of days, requiring plenty of water all around - orally for mom, a little spray bottle for the bambino. Enjoy! - Ian

Trip to Hawaii with two 12-year-olds

Jan 2010

We're planning our first trip to Hawaii and have 12 year olds. Any suggestions as to which island to visit, and which sites we want to make sure we see (besides the beaches of course)? We'd like a variety of things to do over 8-10 days. Thanks! Pat

While all islands have beach/outdoor activities, Oahu has the most cultural activities. Honolulu has an interesting old downtown to explore with a Chinatown, the Pearl Harbor memorial, the Bishop Museum (amazing collection of Polynesian/Oceanic artifacts) and on the North Shore the Polynesian Cultural Center, pineapple farms & big waves in the winter to name a few.

That said, some people new to Hawaii are bummed to first see the traffic & development of the over 1 million population of Honolulu rather than unspoiled beaches. The other islands are currently less developed, but don't have the cultural amenities. The one thing Oahu doesn't have is a volcanic park like Maui or the Big Island to explore the not so distant volcanic past.

Depending on your budget and style of vacationing, it's easy to visit more than one island during an 8-10 day stay as flights are only 30-50 minutes between each. But rental car costs & gasoline (often $1 more/gal than Bay Area) can add up. I definitely recommend a car to get around, as getting off the beaten path gives access to great beaches and hiking, regardless of island.

A few good guidebooks: ''Oahu Revealed'' & ''The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook''

Have fun! barry

I've been to Oahu, Kauaii, and the Big Island, and with 12 year olds, I think the active volcano on the Big Island would trump all. Volcanos National Park is fabulous, with great hikes like Kilauea Iki, across a volcanic crater with steam vents and otherworldly views. You might have a chance to hike out to see lava, which is amazing. Elsewhere on the island, the west side has some of the clearest water and best snorkeling in the islands and fabulous beaches. The east side has more history and culture (most of the population historically was on the east side, since the west side has no surface water). Because of the distances, I recommend splitting your time between the east and west sides.

I highly recommend the book, ''Hawaii: the Big Island Revealed,'' which points out a lot of out-of-the-way, off- the-beatesn-track places. Kiholo Bay and Pu'uhonua O Honaunau are can't miss. Carrie

We've taken our kids to Kauai and the Big Island several times and once to Oahu. The first thing you need to know is to buy the Ultimate Kauai Guide or The Big Island Revealed, Oahu Revealed, the ''Revealed'' Guide for the island you choose. The books are fantastic.

On our most recent trip to Kauai in October we stayed in Poipu near Brennecke's Beach, which was a great location. We walked to Brennecke's almost every day to body surf. It was hard to drag the kids out of the water.

We also went on a Na Pali Coast/snorkeling trip by power Catamaran which was definitely a highlight. If your kids are strong and adventurous you can kayak the Na Pali coast from top to bottom. I think it is 9 miles. We've done it twice without kids and it is fantastic. You get to paddle into sea caves and stop at Milolii beach which the power boats can't do (actually, they do sometimes go into the caves).

We brought white T shirts with us and made our own red dirt shirts. If you try it the key is to fix the stain with vinegar.

Another adventure is Queen's Bath on the north side of the island. You don't want to swim here in winter.

There are many fantastic hikes on Kauai. Some of the best are in Kokee park, home of Waimea Canyon. The Ditch Trail is fantastic, but I couldn't bear to take my 5 year old there. Too many 1000 foot plunges. We did the Pihea Trail to Alakai Swamp. Leave plenty of time for this often very muddy hike. We didn't quite make it to the swamp, but loved it anyway. The boardwalks, steps and beautiful strange forest kept the kids running and there is a lovely stream to explore before you begin the climb into the swamp proper.

The Big Island is also a fantastic place with lots of things to do, which you will find in The Big Island Revealed.

My kids love the 4 mile Kilauea Iki hike across the black caldera of this little sister to the big Kilauea. You go down through jungle and emerge onto this barren, black plain with fumaroles, hike across, and then up the far side. It is fabulous.

Bring flashlights and you can hike through Thurston Lava Tube. If you are feeling super adventurous you can find an unmarked lava tube and hike in it (how to find it is in The Big Island Revealed). We did this and I did not love it. I liked the adventure but the freshly caved in sections of roof made me feel that we would all be trapped in there. It is definitely an at your own risk activity.

The Big Island is big, and you'll probably want to split your time between the volcano side and the beach side. The volcano side is really lacking in good beaches. Mokolea tidepools is worth a visit. Weird big tidepools you can snorkel in.

Our favorite beach on the Kona side is called 69 beach in the book, and something else, can't remember, because you have to look for signpost 69. The beach is beautiful, the snorkeling is good. There is shade almost right up to the water's edge.

We had a great time on Oahu, too. Pearl Harbor tour, Waikiki beach, a cool hike, good food. I liked it much more than I expected. But we were only there 3 days.

Have a great trip. It is hard to go wrong in Hawaii. susan

I'd recommend either Maui or the Big Island. Maui--the best beaches (especially the Kam beaches around Kihei), the road to Hana (twisty, scenic, and tons of places to jump in pools with tall waterfalls), the Maui Ocean Center, sunrise viewing or a bike ride down the volcano... Big Island--2 distinct sides--Kona, the beachy, touristy side, and Hilo, the wet, tropical side (stay in KAPOHO and request a house with your own private, volcanically heated ocean swimming pool). Volcanos in between, takes 3 hours to drive from one side to the other. Plenty to see and visit. Aloha, and have a great time! heidi

All the islands are wonderful, and each is unique. With 12-year olds I'd be tempted to go to the Big Island. It is the newest of the islands, and the least lush and green. Some of it -- especially the main road on the west side -- looks more like a moonscape than a tropical island. But the island's youth also makes it alive; Kilauea is still erupting. Volcanoes National Park is really fun, and there are some great hikes. Don't miss the hike across the Kilauea Iki crater: you go down through a rain forest, then across the crater, past steam vents and sulfur pools -- and then back up the other side through another rain forest. Also on the southside of the Big Island you can go to where the lava is flowing, and watch it meet the sea -- great color and steam. Go at night with a flashlight for a great show.

Maui is also fun. The beaches are wonderful, and it is the best whalewatching (in season). Haleakala has some good hiking, and the more adventurous can rent bikes and ride down the mountain (on the road).

Kauai is lush and green, with a fantastic canyon (always shrouded in deep mist). On the north shore, at the Pali at the end of the road, is the Kalalau trail -- 15-20 mile hike, several days worth. The hike to the first beach, then in to the waterfall, and back, is a full day but wonderful (if hard). Don't wear anything you ever want to wear again; you will slip in the mud, and the red clay never comes out.

Have fun. I Love Hawaii

Hi, The libraries have many great guide books on Hawaii for all sorts of travelers -- campers to those seeking luxury hotels. And the books describe each island and mention the highlights that are not to be missed. anon

Celbrating my 50th with the kids

Dec 2009

I will be celebrating my 50th birthday in August and also celebrating 20th wedding anniversary this year. We are thinking of taking our 2 daughters to Hawaii. I need some advice about how to plan our trip. Are their travel agents or websites that can help us line up a good package? I hope to have some beach, scenery and hiking time during our visit. Maybe a condo with a kitchen? Is it possible to enjoy an island, and get to trails and scenery without a rental car? Thanks!

There are plenty of packages available if you go to Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays or the Hawaii Visitors Bureau website www.gohawaii.com. With tourism depressed, there will be great deals. Personally, with 2 kids, we recommend that you look into a vacation rental. You will have more space and a kitchen. Sure beats having to head to a restaurant at every meal time. Logistically, we do not recommend trying to get around by bus. They DO have a great mass transit system but you really are better off driving. Our favorite beaches are Kaimana beach just Diamond Head of Waikiki, Kailua and Lanikai over on the other side of the island and Hanauma Bay. The waters are gentle and the beaches are good. There are others of course, but these are good starting points.

For a good combination of beach, diverse scenery, and hiking, I'd suggest Lana'i. In August, stay on the north side of the island for the best weather. There are lots of condo rentals available. You really need a rental car to get around... but Kauai has a lot to offer. anon

6 adults and two young kids

Feb 2009

I am planning a trip to Hawaii for 6 adults and 2 young kids (1.5 & 3.5 yrs old) next December. I am looking for recommendations on a location that is off the beaten track (no classic resorts), has less rain, calm beaches for the kids, adult activities (hiking, fishing, scuba diving, etc). We've been to Oahu a few times and would like something more adventurous. Thank you!

We just took a similar trip this year (6 adults, 1 kid) and went to Kauai. So fun, stayed in a house we found on VRBO.com in Kilauea, pretty rainy in December, but we had a great time. Feel free to e-mail for more details about the rental. Jill

It sounds like you want the Big Island's Kona or Kohala coast. The shoreline is protected by reefs, and, barring storms, is extremely calm and clear. There are lots of resorts, but they're not the only option, and with a group your size you would probably do well to rent a house or condo.

The Big Island is, well, big. There are fabulous things to do all over the island (the volcano, lava tubes, lava tree forests, waterfalls, fabulous beaches, historic sites) but they aren't necessarily close together. The waterfalls and lush forests are on the east side, the lovely beaches on the west (the east side is the windward side and the water is neither calm nor clear). The volcano is awesome and not to be missed, but far away from beaches and population centers.

If you are mostly interested in doing the beach thing, the west side is great. If you want more variety, I suggest splitting your time between bases on the east and west side.

Oh, and I recommend the book ''Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed.'' It has a pretty good adventure/cultural/off the beaten track perspective. Can I come too? Carrie

I recommend The Big Island. Lots to do. Volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, good scuba and snorkeling. You say No Resorts, but check out Kona Village. Might be suitable. if no resort, you might consider seeking out accommodation in Waimea and then you can drive to Hapuna State Beach (about 1/2 hour) or Kona ( 1 hour). Waimea is NOT a resort. Maybe you could find housing on VRBO. - My Favorite One

How about the Big Island? Plenty to do for grown-ups in terms of outdoor activities, plenty of beaches for kids. I would find a good vacation rental that's near a beach and enjoy. I recommend this house, privately owned, always lovely. http://mykona.com/ I also would recommend picking a good guidebook, like the Frommer's ''Hawaii with Kids'' (new edition this year) or the Moon Handbook for the Big Island. On a white sandy beach...

My personal preference w/ little kids is beach beach beach. Forget the tourist stuff. You'll have a great time watching your little one in the sand, or at the pool of your condo.

I know some people love Kauai and Poipu beach. I've never been there so can't compare, but I love Maui & the big island. Generally speaking you want the southwestern edge of the islands for less rain. (''south Maui'' and ''Kona coast'' on the big island, though Kohala/Hapuna on big island is also reasonable.) Maui has terrific beaches and long stretches of walks in the south (Wailea, south Kihei). There are nice condos in Wailea, depending on what you want to spend, either low-rise Wailea, low-rise above Wailea (drive to beach but cheaper) or low-rise/high rise Kihei (don't go too far north for best beaches--Wailea, Ka... (name escapes me at the moment, but north Wailea/south Kihei-between the Mana Kai and Wailea Ekahi),Kam I II III are good beaches, flatish, fairly calm). Stay away from windy Sugar Beach and windy north shore. Napili is cheaper but rainier.

On big island, Hapuna is the nicest beach in my humble opinion, but the one in Kona is nice too--just know that some! times it disappears in winter/early spring, depending on the storms. (that's why it's called ''magic sands!''). Big island is much slower paced, and more going on besides the beaches-e.g., the volcano, Hilo, coffee farms, interesting museums, botanical gardens--but people are not spread out much. You can get away from heat in Captain Cook, but there's a traffic jam there from Kona every night, and you have to drive back for the decent beaches.

Snorkeling is good either island, scuba possibly better on the big island at captain cook (kealakakua bay) though West Maui also has a great area in the far northern area (a marine refuge), and Maui has more of the tourist things like the submarine ride that you can take the kids on for a rather high fee, but they'll probably like it.) You can arrange boat snorkeleing from either island, but probably more to choose from on Maui,(and more beaches) and Maui has a terrific aquarium that you can buy a week-long ticket to and go back several times.

hiking maybe a little better on the big island, but your kids aren't going to want to do much of that. Good kayaking on Big Island, Good windsurfing/watching/surfing on Maui. Possibly more good food on Maui, but you can find good stuff either place (maybe more upscale places on Maui). Maui has Hana on the rainy side, an interesting though long windy road day w/ two little kids. janet

Having grown up in Hawaii and having spent a considerable amount of time on all islands, I would have to give you an unequivocal ''it depends!''. It depends on what kind of experience you want and the sorts of things that you and your family want to do. For the best variety of outdoors, culture, infrastructure, etc., Oahu is your best bet. If you want more quiet and nature, Kauai or Hawaii are better (although you can get that on Oahu as well). If you want a little in between, Maui is your island. Stephen

Sorry for the late response, but I wanted to toss in my two cents, as many responses recommended the Big Island. I LOVE the Big Island, and have been many many times, but only once with a kid (13 mo), and I wouldn't go again until my kids are a bit older. Here's why:

I, too, shun resorts, but LOVE the beach, and everything that it comes with. On the Big Island, the best kid-friendly beaches are on the Kohala Coast (Spencer, Mauna Kea, Hapuna - though surf can get big, A-Bay), where all the resorts are. You can access them all, but if you stay in Waimea (which I recommend for it's real town feel, not too touristy, groceries geared toward families cooking real meals, tasty restaurants...), you're driving 15-30 min to the Kohala Coast. You'll be packing lunch, snacks, diapers, everything you need for the whole day and still driving back for nap time (my kids don't just sleep anywhere. If yours is different, maybe could work).

If you want to see all the amazing diversity of the island, you'll be driving for many hours with your child. For example, a trip to the volcano from Waimea or Kohala, or even Kona/Captain Cook, is going to be 2-3 hours of driving EACH WAY. Puna is another hour beyond, and the roads can be tricky in the rain. Don't underestimate the traffic, especially between 4 and 6pm - the prime ''witching hour'' for my kids. This means, after nap, if we drive back to the beach, we stay for dinner there or nearby. Not a bad thing, but again logistically challenging (bring a cooler with hot dogs, charcoal, etc to BBQ at beach park, or go to a restaurant with a kid that's maxed out from a day of play in the sun and sand...)

If you're going to attempt Volcano, Puna, Hilo, Waipio Valley, or the stunning and fairly desolate south side, it'll be a LONG day trip. Before kids, we camped around the island, which was brilliant. I wouldn't try it with my kids, but if you think it could work for your family, this is the way to see the Big Island.

The widward side of Oahu is lovely, not resorty at all, but windy. We stayed there when my daughter was 8 mo, and had a great time. Check VRBO for listings. I haven't been to Kauai in a long time (since we fell in love with the Big Island), but I think there may be many more kid friendly, not resorty options there. Maui is not my fav, but lots of people won't go anywhere else. It will be a lovely vaca, no matter. Hawaii Dreaming

Just tell me where to go!! Me, husband and 8-month-old

Nov 2007

I know this question has been posted before but I keep getting lost in the w.w.w. so, please, JUST TELL ME WHERE TO GO, and I'll listen to you!! My husband, 8 month old baby and I want to go to hawaii--any island!!- in February. We are looking for somewhere to stay that is on the ''rustic,'' ''off the beaten path'' end of things and not too far from a beach where the baby can go into the ocean for the first time and where we might see some outrageous fish. If you have an idea for us--the more specific the suggestion the better!-- I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. Thanks!!

OK, here are two specific recommendations. Go to the Big Island (Hawaii). In the Puna district (definitely off the beaten path) there is a house to rent called ''Champagne cove'' it is a house with a pool and its located on a cove that has volcanically heated lagoons. One of these lagoons is steps from the house. The lagoons have lots of cool fish and are heated to about 80 degrees, so very nice for kids. Its a good spot for short day trips as well to some state parks and cool little Hawaiian towns. The closest town is Pahoa. Its nice to stay here for about 3 days and then move to a more ''resorty'' area with a more typical beach. Last trip we split our time between Champagne cove and the Fairmont Orchid, which is a great kid friendly resort on the North West side of the Island. Here is a link to the Champagne Cove house. http://www.us.totaltravel.com/travel/hawaii/hawaii/hilo/accommodation/holidayhomes/champagne-cove have fun

You want rustic? Go to Kauai, the Garden Isle (or as it should be called, the Isle of Stoopid Chickens). It's my favorite. There are a couple of touristy areas to stay, Poipu (very touristy) on the southernish end, and Hanalei on the north (moderately touristy, but private and quaint), with Kapaa (mod. touristy) somewhere near the middle. I sometimes stay in Kapaa, close to many relatively reasonably priced restaurants, grocery and other shopping and a public beach (Lydgate), which is great to take children b/c it has a bathrooms, children's play structures, picnic areas and a keiki pool (a rocked in pool on the beach). However, it's not the most beautiful beach on the Island. If you want to get a little more out of the way, go up north and find a place in Hanalei, it's a bit twi, a bit local, and very well known, with a bit of night-life, readily available groceries, etc. It's also near really spectacular beaches, like non-other you will visit. The prices of groceries etc. ! are higher as it is more isolated, but you can drive 40 minutes or so into Kapaa if you want to stock up on groceries for less. A bit north of Hanalei is Ke's beach -- BREATHTAKING. You've probably seen it in several movies. North of Kapaa is Secret Beach -- another amazing beach, with a coral shelf that drops off about 15 ft out, into the deep blue, snorkeling is wonderful here. One thing you do risk if you stay way Local (like in Anahola) is that there are roosters everywhere (thanks to hurrican Iniki) and they have no sense of time, thus they crow at all hours of the day and night. It's hard to get used to. My but I could go on. I've been visiting Kauai almost exclusively for many years, and I love it. I've also visited Maui, which is also nice, but more touristy. I have much more to impart and ideas of places to visit. Feel free to email me if you want more input. hez

go to Kauai - and rent a house at Anini Beach. you won't be disappointed - it sounds like exactly what you are looking for - and it is an extremely special place. spend your time online browsing at rental homes in Anini Beach/Kilahuea area. kauai lover

The Mauian on Maui - its got kitchenettes, is RIGHT on the beach, you can walk to resturants, has a decent breakfast. Get a ground floor room so you are not lugging stuff up the stairs. we loved it. super kid/baby/toddler friendly. but book now. and its pretty reasonable, by hawaii standards. you do need a car tho - but what you save by not eating out makes up for it. been there

I haven't traveled to Hawaii with kids yet, but I've been to every major island except Maui, and I think what you're looking for (rustic and relaxed) can be found on the North Shore of Kauai. We stayed last year for a few days at the Hanalei Colony Resort (www.hcr.com), which is almost at the end of the road (where the very tough 11-mile Na Pali Coast trail starts and where you can see some fantastic sunsets). It's very quiet, other than the wind, and you're near Hanalei, a small town with a great farmer's market, cafes, kid-friendly restaurants, snorkel-gear shops, etc. The beaches up there are not as crowded as those on the east and south sides of the island. And we had great snorkeling on a beach just down the road from our hotel. Fish were great! And if you get bored, Kauai is a small enough island that you can see other parts if you feel like driving a bit. There are also vacation rentals by owner around there that are low-key and nice.

Another possibility is Poipu, which is the southern end of Kauai (it's the sunny desert end, whereas the North Shore is tropical and can be prone to rain). Poipu isn't rustic or secluded, but there are tons of reasonably priced hotel rooms and apartments down there and a calm beach even in the season when the North Shore would have big waves. (Be sure and check this kind of thing in a guidebook.) Feel free to email me for more info. Alexandra

I would highly recommend Oahu for a family vacation. There's sooo much to do and everything is so easily accessible. Since 11/07 - Hawaii adopted the no smoking in public places law so that's super great for the family. It was funny because when my husband and I started our vacation, we arrived at the airport and you could smell cigarette smoke lingering in the air, 5 days later when we were leaving, we saw all the no smoking signs posted at the airport and were pretty thankful. I digress, Waikiki is a great beach and it is the main drag but it's so close to other family friendly attractions like the zoo (in Waikiki/Honolulu area), there's the Dole plantation where you can ride the train and feed the koi (on the North side), visit with Dolphins at Sea Life Park, of course there's Pearl Harbor which is essentially a free museum, great tide pools in the Northerly/windward part of the island and lots of beautiful, calm and often desolate beaches on the eastern side of the island. I would go back in a heartbeat! I can refer you to a really helpful travel guide which we used to navigate our through our vacation on Oahu. The best part is that the island is fairly small, you could literally drive the perimeter of the island twice in one day...Good luck!

Hawaii with a 15 month old

Nov 2007

We are planning to go to Hawaii with our daughter (she'll be 15 months old when we go). We were wondering if Kauai or Oahu is better with this age of baby. What is there for families to do on both of these islands? Is it easy to get around? What would kids enjoy seeing/doing? Hoping for a Vacation

We went to Kauai when my eldest was 20 months old and to Maui when my second daughter was 2 (eldest turned 4).

Hawaii is perfect for kids. Kauai has a nice protective jetty cove called Baby Beach (near Poipu) where your baby will love to spend the WHOLE DAY playing in that beautiful blue water with other kids. You can rent a snorkeling boogie board so little ones can see gorgeous tropical fish.

I haven't been to Oahu, but really, once you are in Hawaii there really isn't a rush to see everything. Just beaches, little hikes and relax! Carrie

We liked Oahu with a 2 year old. We actually stayed in waikiki. It's a very urban experience, but for a short stay for example, you don't need a car. the pacific sunset and the pacific monarch are high rises w/ pools. the sunset is great if you have a child b/c it is in walking distance of the aquarium and the zoo. when we were there both accepted our oakland zoo membership,but check reciprocity. the hotels were close to bus stops and we took the bus to the big mall which has a good food court. toddlers love bus rides. there is a break water on waikiki so the ocean front is very safe there and every abc store sells floaties and pails/shovels. there are tons of asian restaurants and a food pantry grocery store in the neighborhood. both hotels have kitchens and pools. there are great beaches within a short drive or even a bus ride away. if you can deal with the urbanity and want activities w/ kids this can be a fun vacation. it is not an 'island paradise' experience. Jessica

Things to do with todler in Oahu: Honolulu: Waikiki Aquarium, Children's Discovery Museum, Bishop Museum (science pavilion & planetarium), Zoo, and the beach, of course! ;-)

Outside of Hololulu: Windward side: Sea Life Park. Cool shows, a little pricey. Leeward side: Aqua Park-can't remember full name (but I think of this as a place for older children). The Northshore has amazing beaches, some of them really ''family friendly'' (and the adults can do some amazing snorkling!). Dole plantation (north of honolulu, on the way to the north shore): mace, train, fish pond, great pinapple icecream. and... Shave ice places on Waikiki or North shore!!

In Kauai, we did mostly ''nature things'' -we went there pre-children: Na Pali coast (hike and kayak), Hanalei river (kayak), Kilauea point (bird watching), etc. Last time we went there with children we went to the beach in the Kappa area--a very easy, child friendly beach. ''Turtle beach'' -as we call it- (Ke'e beach) is beautiful: on a nice day snorkling is great (but our kids are older). The wet caves right before ke'e beach are also pretty fun (again, we have older boys).

All Islands are great! Maui also has a lot to offer (aquarium, steam train, etc. Love Hawaii!

Which island with a baby and toddler?

Sept 2007

We want to take a vacation in Hawaii this winter. I'm finding the options a bit overwhelming - which island, where to stay, condo vs. hotel vs. ??. The recommendations in the archives are old, so any new information would be welcome. How do I find a condo to rent? Which beaches/areas are suitable for toddlers? Any advice for visiting Hawaii with a toddler in tow?

We will have an almost 3-yr. old and a 9-month old. Our 3 yr. old loves the water but is otherwise on the timid side. We would like to spend time on the beach but also be able to go hiking and have other activities available to us within short distances from where we stay. Need help planning

I would highly recommend a condo over a hotel with kids for several reasons: first, you'll be able to put the kids down for naps or bed in their own room without having to turn off the lights and sit in the dark yourself like you would if you were sharing one hotel room; having a kitchen is great with little ones so that you can make and store all the inevitable snacks, little meals, milk, etc plus you'll save a lot of money by eating some of your own meals in, and you'll likely enjoy having the feeling of a home away from home that condos offer more than hotels. We've had great luck finding fantastic condos on greatrentals.com and vrbo.com (vaction rentals by owner) and also craigslist.

The downside of condos of course are that the services and facilities won't be anywhere close to what you get at a hotel (you'll have no cleaning service, the pool will be smaller, you'll have to wash your own towels, etc) - but well worth it. Just be sure to find out what your condo complex DOES have. For a first time Hawaii trip, I'd recommend Maui - it's great for kids because there's so much to see and do and in my experience has some of the most reliable weather. I'd highly recommend the Wailea area - the price is higher than other areas but worth it. The beaches near Wailea are great, there's wonderful snorkling, and just a very relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. Kihei, which is nearby, isn't nearly as nice...avoid if possible even though there are loads of condos there. Good luck with your research and have fun. Oh, I'd recommend checking out ''Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook'' or any of the authors other Hawaii guidebooks. They give great info on the various condos! and will definitely steer you in the right direction. Julie

I don't think you can go wrong w/ Hawaii, Kaui, or Maui. I'd highly recommend one of the later two. Check out vrbo.com for vacation rentals. I just went to Maui and stayed in a condo w/ my 2.5 yo old. It made it very convenient. Conditions change different times of the year so I can't recommend one beach over another. I would pick an island then focus on an area then focus on a beach. I ended up driving to each beach, none in walking distance. Kind of a pain but ok. The Maui & Kaui Revealed books are very good. While we were in Maui we went to the beach every day and got some very easy hikes in. Please email me if you want more details. jahl

I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years and have visited there yearly over the past decade. I think that Oahu is very crowded and touristy. You don't get a feel for the real Hawaii for the most part on Oahu. Waikiki is the Fisherman's Wharf of Hawaii. The North Shore of Oahu, however, is great if you want to watch pro-surfers at Pipeline and then eat a shave ice cone or bbq chicken in Waimea. Also, the Bishop Museum on Oahu has some amazing exhibits of ancient Hawaiian costumes and tiki stuff. I would recommend Maui or Kauai for visiting with a toddler if you want to feel relaxed. Kauai is the most beautiful and lush island. The speed limit for the entire island of Kauai is only 35 mph so it feels very safe and laid back. Kauai is great for hiking and enjoying majestic natural splendor. Maui has some great beaches and wonderful little towns like Paia which is full of rich hippie boutiques, reggae stores, cool cowboy boot shops (Maui is the famous ranch island) and good restaurants. Hilo on the Big Island is the most 'Bezerkely' feeling town of all the islands. My sister lives there and all of her friends are yoga/dead heads or astronomy observatory intellectuals who work at Mauna Kea. Hilo is great if you go around Easter for the Merry Monarch Hula Dancing festival which is a world class cultural event. Kona is boring unless you like to play golf. I just thought I'd throw out a hodgepodge of some of my knowledge about the islands to help you decide. Rebecca

I'm a travel consultant in Berkeley, and fortunately it's very easy to put together a package to Hawaii ... air + car + hotel/condo. Flying from the West Coast, it's also possible to get a package that gives you a free rental car. My recommendation would be in the Napili area of Maui. It has a beautiful crescent of beach that is protected from the waves by the reef. It's a very family friendly area with low-rise buildings and lots of kids. David

We took our 1.5 year old twins to Maui, and although you have a different age spread, I still strongly recommend renting a house (or condo) with a kitchen. Three meals a day in restaurants with two little ones could be very frustrating! We rented a tiny little one bedroom house on the north shore of Maui, that had nice access to the outside (though it did not have an ocean view, and the beach within walking distance wasn't a very nice one). Having a small place was actually very relaxing because it meant monitoring the kids was easy, and we enjoyed cooking delicious fresh fish and drinking homemade mai tais while the kids played. Best of luck! ...But Hawaii was more fun before kids!

Hi - I went to the Big Island (Kona) when my son was 18 mos, and Maui (So. Kihei) this summer when he was 2.5. They were both great, but because you say you want to drive less & have stuff nearby, I would rec. Maui; it has more sandy beaches (Big Is. has lots of lava), more non-beach stuff to do (shopping, aquarium, walking to resorts, boats, etc). The Big Is. is less developed and very beautiful, but it is BIG - lots of driving to get to beaches & hiking. I greatly prefer condos to hotels with kids - the kitchen is a life saver -- eating out every meal gets tiring and very expensive & condos give you room to spread out. I've always found good condos on vrbo.com (we stayed at Maui Kamaole and it was very nice). Just be sure to ask about any construction and get a unit away from major roads, so you have a peaceful vacation -- much of Maui seems to be under construction! Have fun - you will enjoy no matter where you end up. The only trauma for me on the trips was the lo! ng plane ride and the tough time my son had w/changing time zones! (p.s. - the Hawaii ''Revealed'' books are great). Aloha

Which island with kids 3 and 5?

Feb 2006

We are looking for suggestions about where to go in Hawaii (any island) with small children -- ages 3 & 5. Something relaxing on/near beach with great pool for kids, maybe a playground, maybe kid activities, and calmer waves so they can swim or play in ocean. Your experiences? amy

We just spent our vacation on the Big Island - and had a wonderful time. 3 kids (9, 6, and 20 months). We rented an amazing house over on the Hilo side, and could not have been happier. It was in the Kapaho Tidal pools area, and actually we had a 3 bed/2 bath house with our own thermally heated lagoon. It was adjacent to Champagne Pond, which is like snorkeling in a warm bath! AMAZING! And the sea turtles come there each night to hang out, so in the morning, we'd snorkel with up to 10 turtles. My kids loved it, and it was so safe and secluded, that often there was no one else there but us. Plus, you are only an hour away from the volcano, and that's an amazing trip too. (Not to mention Hilo's Farmer Market, etc.) The owners (house next door), have a 50 year old sea turtle that the kids got to feed, living in the pond outside your back lanai. It is on the other side of the island, so you are enjoying black sand beaches, not Kona white, and it's more like a rainforest jungle. But, we're so glad we chose to stay here - and get a true Hawaiian paradise experience, and not the cookie cutter resort. Plus, the benefits of having our own house? Washing machine, cooking, etc. Please email me with more questions. Here is the website for the house www.hawaiiwego.com. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you might have! Mahalo! Melissa

Kiahuna Plantations on the island of Kauai. 1- or 2-bedroom condos. Full kitchen. Beautiful swimming pool. Very nice tennis courts. Across the street from a convenience store. Short walk through beautiful gardens to friendly beach. Two-minute drive or longer walk to small public beach that is a protected cove - tiny waves - perfect for little ones. Snorkling equipment for rent right there. Small grocery store just five minutes away. You've got to do it. Just writing this makes me want to go! Happy in Kauai

Romantic Hawaii Vacation

May 2007

My husband and I are looking to take a romantic trip to Hawaii and would love recommendations on where to stay. We're looking for something quiet, on the beach, romantic. Romantic to us is simple/natural decor, beautiful linens, natural setting, understated but impeccable service, privacy. (Something like Ventana in Big Sur). We don't want a golf course-style setting, we'd love to find a unique hotel/lodge. Don't need lots of amenities, just a pool + beach. Any suggestions? anon

I don't have a specific hotel in mind, but I think the town of Hana on Maui is such a gorgeous, quiet, luscious magical place- I would compare it in ways to Ventana area of Big Sur (but you can go in the ocean!). There are only a few places to stay, and I believe they would be what you are looking for- unique, beautiful, romantic, not chain-hotel style; but I was there camping so can't recommend one specifically. chris

Check out The Hotel Hana-Maui for just such a place. www.hotelhanamaui.com It is beautiful, very remote, has a beautiful pool & beaches, and is not on the beaten tourist path for Hawaii. Another idea is the Lodge at Koele on Lanai. Its sister property is the hotel at Manele Bay (beach side - Koele is up the mountain a bit, but has shuttles to the beach). The lanai properties have amazing restaurants and beautiful beaches. All three will have the ventana-like feel. island girl

I would HIGHLY recommend Kona Village Resort on the big island of Hawaii. It is positively magical...no tv, radios, phones. There are thatched huts (no high rises here) and the grounds are covered with fragrant flowers and trees. The black sand beach is private, clean and visited by sea turtles. And the food is amazing (some of the freshest seafood I have ever had). Please go! KVR junkie

Hawaii in the Winter?

Feb 2010

Does Hawaii (especially Kawaii) in December work if the goal is to be in the water a lot? Or are the seas too rough and cool to snorkel without a wetsuit? Is August overall a better month to visit? Thanks! 1st timer

I went to Hawaii once in December and had a great time. Was in the water every day - don't recall it being rough at all. In fact the week before xmas is one of the quie test weeks tourist wise there of the year.

GO! Hawaii in winter is lovely! In Kawaii, though, we found more rain than other islands when we went in the winter. I'd highly recommend Maui, the Kona side of the Big Island, or Oahu instead. The surf on the north side of Maui and Oahu can get choppy in winter, but the Kihei area of Maui (halfway down the island) is calm year-round. I recommend buying a guide book about Hawaii; Fodor's is good, and can give you specific advice about the best times to visit which areas, for best snorkeling, scuba, etc. You won't need a wetsuit. Hawaii is warm year- round. Have a great time! heidi

Hawaii (and Kauai) are pretty darn nice to visit anytime :)

- there is a lot more rain in the winter months (not necessarily *cold*, but very *wet*) - especially on the North side of Kauai
- in general, Kauai has rougher waters than other islands - again, esp. the N shore
- #2 means that snorkeling is not the best in Kauai - the Big Island - oh yeah!

I've been to Hawaii - both Kauai & the Big Island several times, and, although we had a great time - I was a little disappointed by our Christmas trip. It was colder, wetter, no dolphins, etc... We went swimming & surfing w/o wetsuits, but did buy wetsuit-type shirts, which made it fun to stay in the water quite a bit longer - I suggest trying to buy them before you get to Hawaii, b/c everything is more expensive there...

Enjoy - whenever you go - it is so beautiful! Kendra

Actually, the exact opposite is true in Hawaii. Winter is the best time to go. The sea isn't rough (certainly not by Calif standards, especially at a good sheltered swimming beach), the temperature is perfect (by the ocean 78-82 and lower humidity seems accurate for Feb. Hawaii is much closer to the equator than the Bay Area, more in line with Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja). The problem is Winter is the HIGH season so the prices are pricier. My family is in Hawaii and for budget reasons and school schedules often visit in summer when the afternoon sun is scorching for kids and the stickiness is annoying. Go now, if you can afford it (airline prices are way down from last year's crazy price spike). Aloha. Rebecca

Hawaii in the Summer?

Jan 2007

Hello, Anyone could share some information on Hawaii? We are planning a family vacation with two young boys (2 and 5) and grandparents, and have some questions: 1. Is July or August a good time to visit, or are winter months better? 2. Which island would be a good choice for young children and grandparents? 3. Is there a rental or a hotel you would recommend? Any advice is greatly appreciate. Novice mom on Hawaii

Hi, I think anytime is a good time to visit Hawaii; yes, the summer months might be a bit warmer (maybe 10 degrees), but you'll also miss the rain, which falls mostly in winter (Nov-Jan). According to CNN, this will be the hottest year the earth has ever experienced, too, thanks to El Nino. But go, it will be warm and wonderful, and the water will be blue and welcoming and refreshing.

We like Maui, the southern, western shore, especially since we've had kids. The waves are gentle, and the weather is sunny. Our favorite place to stay is the Mana Kai Maui, in S. Kihei, a condo development right on one of the best beaches in Hawaii,-- a perfect sandy beach for kids, and a reef for snorkeling. The condo is run like a hotel, with daily maid service, a little store, and a great restaurant downstairs. Aloha! heidi

Summer is actually a great time to visit Hawaii. The water is warmer, and the trade winds help keep temperatures comfortable. I think Maui is a good choice for a first visit, but there's no one ''right'' answer. You have a choice of staying in a hotel or renting a condo. Condos can be more economical and offer the possibility of cooking some of your meals. There are also some fabulous ''destination resorts'' as well as very nice 3 and 4 star hotels. It depends on what kind of family vacation experience you are hoping to have!

I have been to Hawaii many times in the summer with young children, and it's a GREAT time to be there. Although it's expensive in Hawaii whenever you go, rates are cheaper and it's a bit less crowded in the summer. The weather is beautiful.

What might change in the summer is which side of an island has the calmest waters in summer versus winter.

I have been to Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, and love them all. The north shore of Kauai is a good bet if you want to have a fairly quiet experience. The island is small and really, you can stay right near the beaches on the north shore and have a blast. If you are a family who likes to move around a lot, hiking and exploring, then the Big Island might be more ideal. I don't have specific recommendations of places to stay (can't remember), but we always stay in condos - good deal for your money. Good luck and have a great time! Nanu

Packaged Trips to Hawaii

June 2005

Looking for recommendations for packaged trips to Hawaii. I'd also like to hear about any tour providers (including airlines) to avoid.

We've travelled to Hawaii both with Sun Trips and Pleasant Holidays and we were very pleased with both. I prefer Sun Trips because they fly out of Oakland, but they both provided a wide range of accomodations from basic to luxury hotels & condos in a can't-beat-the-price package with a car and airfare. The only time we saw others from our chartered flight was the ''orientation breakfast'' (which you can definitely skip because they just try to sell bus, submarine, boat tours) and the plane flights, which was fine with us! I've found these packages a great, easy way to travel. Constance

Flying Hawaiian Air

August 2002

I'm interested in hearing comments (good and bad) from people who have flown Hawaiian Air from the Bay Area to Honolulu. I've only flown with them on short inter-island flights in Hawaii. Our family is planning a trip to Hawaii. The fact that they fly out of Oakland or Sacramento instead of SFO intrigues me (I really dislike SFO). Clarisse

I haven't flown Hawaiian Air out of Oakland, but I have flown Aloha Air from Oakland to Maui. Aloha Air also flies from Oakland to Honolulu. The attendants are pretty much the most pleasant I have encountered on any airline. You can use United Mileage Plus miles to fly on Aloha Air (or earn United Mileage Plus miles), as they are partners. This definitely beats making the trek to SFO and dealing with the craziness there!! Yearly traveler to Maui

My husband and I had a bad experience traveling on Hawaiian Air about 18 months ago. There were mechanical problems and the company seemed to be really unorganized in terms of getting all the passengers on other flights and in terms of keeping passengers posted as to the status of the mechanics working on the plane. They also failed to announce that there were free vouchers available for food at the airport during the long wait. Once we made it on the flight, I found out from a seatmate that if you ASKED for vouchers they were given out and my husband and I had just spent about $35 of our own money on meals. It seemed rather unfair. We sat in the airport for about 20 hours. It was horrible and I don't think we would fly them again. The one thing they did handle well was that they gave everyone free round trip tickets (on Hawaiian Air) to fly to Hawaii again in the next 12 months. Good luck. Julie

We flew Hawaiian from SFO - HNL several times and will not use them in the future. We had one flight where all the attendents were fighting with each other. On another flight, where we used our free mileage, they totally messed up our reservation. On the other hand, we most recently used Aloha from OAK - HNL and we were very pleased with the customer service and professionalism. I think they do fly a smaller plane than other airlines, and my partner felt quite cramped. Nonetheless, we plan to use Aloha again. Regards, Michele

How to find a timeshare in Hawaii

Dec 2004

I'm inquiring about any timesharing in Hawaii, in general, what may be available in November 2004. With such short notice - anything out there for around 7-10 days? (For one person initially - young child and another adult to follow). El Bee

A great place to look for timeshares (even last minute ones) is Ebay. Good luck. Anon

try skyauction.com. It's a great place to look for something last minute because you may be able to get it dirt cheap since I think they figure some amount of money is better than none. erin

Family Reunions & Trips with Grandparents

March 2010

We are looking to meet in Hawaii (Oahu, to be exact) for a family reunion. There's the matriarch and 5 of us sibs and our kids, ranging in age from 8-17. There will be a total of 23 of us if everyone can come. Anyone have recommendations for accommodations for this number of people? We want to be able to get around easily to beaches, sights, outings for the grown ups, some independence for the teens. Am I dreaming, or can this be done? Thanks for any suggestions! Aloha Amy

With that many people, I would try to rent a couple of houses in the Lanikai/Kailua area through Vacation Rental by Owner. You will be near beautiful beaches and out of the craziness of Waikiki (but maybe you want that!). Good luck...sounds fun! anon

Hi Amy - My extended family (my mom, me and my 3 siblings, our 7 kids ages 1 - 12 years) are going to Maui in July. We're staying at Aston Kaanapali Shores in Honokawai, on Maui. They have a camp for the kids ($25 day, including meals) and special deals for families. The Expedia reviews are great. http://www.expedia.com/pub/agent.dll/qscr=dspv/htid=1284

The packaging company our travel agent used is Classic Vacations. We rented three mid-size cars and a minivan (7 passengers). I undersatnd that you want to go to Maui but I thought I'd share this info for comparison. Have fun! Katy

I cannot make any specific property recommendations for Hawaii, but you could probably find a property (or properties) on www.vrbo.com that would meet your family's needs. I have friends who have held family reunions and rented houses off of VRBO. We are vacation home owners who also advertise on VRBO, and I believe it is a safe website to research properties (vs. Craigslist). anon

April 2002

Any recommendations for good spots in Hawaii to take a senior citizen who's always wanted to see Hawaii, but isn't very active (can't do a lot of walking)? Accomodations can't be rustic, but we're also not looking for ultra-luxury (finances are an issue). Some historical spots, some shopping would be good, but don't need a lot of either. Probably most important is that it be a beautiful setting (since she's probably got some classic Hawaiian image--crystal blue water, palm trees, sunsets, etc.--in her mind). Nice beaches are important, too, to keep the grandkids happy. Plan is to go around Thanksgiving. Thanks in advance for any recommendations. (Yes, I've looked at the Hawaii recommendations already, but nothing struck me as the perfect place to meet these needs. Hoping my request will spark a response from folks in a similar position, or who see their favorite Hawaiian spot as perfect for taking both a senior and kids...) Judy

Recommendations received: