That got your attention didn’t it! And I mean every word of it…just not how you think. This post is for the two types of people out there in the world, those who have been to Hawai’i, and those who have not. You see, if you have only dreamed about going to Hawai’i but haven’t been there yet, there are some things you need to know beforehand. And, if you have been to one of the Hawaiian Islands, there is not a chance in the world that you do not want to go back…but when you do go back, you want to do it better!
First, let me get these have not babies up to speed. Hawai’i is not just Hawai’i. Hawai’i is a group of islands. To be super specific, the Hawaiian Islands are part of the Hawaiian Archipelago that is made up of 130 islands that stretch 1,600 miles. That little tidbit was a trivia question that Thing 3 answered correctly when we were on a snorkeling excursion this summer. This kid knows geography like nobody’s business. Anyway, The Hawaiian Islands are made up of 8 islands…most people visit 1 of the 4 major ones. I’m gonna try to educate you at least a tad on each, and I’ll go into more detail on the big 4. Let’s do the big 4 first. One last tidbit before we dive in…there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and every vowel makes the long sound and every vowel is pronounced…if you thought towns and cities that are of Native American decent were hard to pronounce, wait until you try to start pronouncing town and street names in Hawai’i. It can be done, but…Ok, back to islands.
Oahu. Pronounced Oh-ah-who. Oahu is the most populated and probably what you have seen the most of on TV and movies. Oahu is where Honolulu, Waikiki, and Pearl Harbor are. It is easily the most over crowded of all the islands. And, I like to refer to it as the concrete jungle. It’s my least favorite, although I tell everyone that Pearl Harbor is a must! You can work a Pearl Harbor day or day trip into any visit you make to Hawai’i without actually staying on Oahu for more than one day.
Maui. Pronounced Mow-wee. Maui is my favorite island, and the one that I recommend for people to visit the first time they “go to Hawai’i”. Maui is populated without being over crowded. However, there are a couple of crowded spots on the island. Maui offers the best of all worlds, rugged beauty, amazing food, good shopping, and is consistently rated the #1 island to visit…not just of the Hawaiian Islands…of all islands…anywhere in the world. You have the English language, American currency, and American infrastructure…it’s just hard to beat! Maui is home to Haleakala, the dormant volcano and National Park, and Maui has two very popular resort areas on the island…Ka’anapali and Kihei. Both are spectacular in their own right, and both offer the same types of amenities and each offers something different as well. I’ll have several posts devoted to all things Maui coming out soon!
Kauai. Pronounce Ka-Why-Ee. Kauai is the most northern of the Hawaiian Islands. Of the big 4 it is the smallest and least populated. It’s easily the most rugged and it is home to what I believe is the most beautiful place ever…Hanalei. Now, that is just my opinion, but it has to rank on some list somewhere…it’s pretty spectacular. Kauai is best known for hiking, outdoor activities, and just enjoying the beauty and the wander that is Hawai’i. It’s a sleepy little island that basically shuts down at 9pm, has very few national chains, and is perfect for the outdoorsman or couple that just wants to relax and take in the good life! Two separate resort areas on this island as well…they are on opposite sides of the island and are completely different. On the north side of the island is Princeville…think sea cliffs, rainforest jungle, and glorious green mountains galore, and on the south side is Poipu. Poipu has been under a lot of development in the last few years and is growing as a vacation destination. More shopping and restaurants are in the Poipu area than Princeville, and Poipu is on the dry side of the island with more beach access.
Hawai’i. Proper pronunciation…Ha-Vi-Ee. That’s right…that W makes the V sound. Hawai’i is also known as The Big Island. It is still growing in size, as it is the island with the active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. I have not yet visited the Big Island. It is the largest and most southern of the islands. It is home to Kona (think coffee) and Volcanoes National Park. I hope to visit one day…there are only two things that I really know about the Big Island. One, real estate is the cheapest on this island, and Maui locals gripe when vog (volcanic fog) drifts over and settles on their island.
Ok, now for the other 4 lesser known or visited islands in the group. Lanai is probably the most visited of the 4 in this group. You can take a ferry ride over to Lanai from Maui. There is one hotel on the island…it’s a Four Seasons. You can golf, rent a jeep to go off-roading, and snorkel there. Molokai is also visible from Maui. Lots of people take helicopter rides over to Molokai to see it’s dramatic sea cliffs. Kahoolawe is also visible from Maui…no one lives there as this island used to be a target practice island for the military. And lastly, Niihau. It’s visible from the south side of Kauai. This island is off limits to all but the descendants of the original owner Elizabeth Sinclair.
So, there you have it “Hawai’i” in a nut shell. Hopefully that shed some light for my Have Not followers.
Ok Have’s, y’all know the real deal. Now that you know that the flight is crazy expensive, crazy long, and that the time change is a formidable enemy of your vacation (at least it is if your from the midwest or east coast)…let me try to give you some ideas to make your next trip even more enjoyable..and shed some light on how we make the trip from Oklahoma to either Maui or Kauai once or twice a year. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I’m a fan of points, both airline points and hotel points! Because the flight is soooo long, often we buy a coach airline ticket and just use points to upgrade to first class. This flight is one of the few times that having a first class seat can make a huge difference in your vacation. Most of the planes that fly to Hawai’i have the new first class seats that lay out completely flat…giving you the ability to actually sleep or at least nap and get you ready for being on Hawai’i Standard Time. We started doing this a few years back and it has made a huge difference in adjusting quicker to the time change once you are there. And, if you buy the actual coach ticket, you accumulate those miles on the trip as opposed to using all of your points and not collecting one mile of the 3, 757-ish mile trip. Also, we get picky about our actual flight plan. We often try to fly through Houston or Denver to get a direct flight from one of those 2 locations, as opposed to having a flight plan that might be a tad cheaper, but has you switching planes at 3 or more locations. Not everyone has this goal, but our goal is to get there in comfort and with as much ease as possible…it just sets you up for a smoother transition into the first couple of days of your vacation.
The other big thing that we do when we go to Hawai’i is that we stay in condos…also known as villas. I’m briefly going to use the word timeshare, and just use it to give you a sort of frame of reference…but then it will be vanished from my lips. We own condos in a handful of locations, in a network that is now called Vistana, it used to be called Starwood. Some of you will be more familiar with Starwood Properties…as The Westin, The Sheraton, St. Regis, Le Meridian, The W, Aloft, Element…I’m sure I’m missing a few more, but you get my point…all of those hotel properties are Starwood properties. The villas that we own are Westin Villas…they are 1 or 2 bedroom condos with full kitchens, huge bathrooms, and washers and dryers are in every unit. Now, these villas are timeshare like in nature, but they are not traditional timeshares. We own them…we have mortgaged them, as you would mortgage a house…therefore, we have written off the mortgage insurance on our taxes…when hubs and I kick the bucket, Things 1-4 will have oceanfront property on Maui, which is no longer being built on by the way, they will have a ski-in/ski-out properly in Colorado…out list goes on and on quite a ways, but I think you catch the concept.
When hubs and I first started visiting Maui 8 years ago…the average price of a hotel room was about $300 a night. When we went just last week (Jan 2018) the average price was $700 a night and occupancy of rooms on the island was sitting at about 80% full. These were statistics that I heard on the morning news while on our trip. Hubs and I have our Maui property paid off. We paid $0 for our stay in a 1 bedroom villa (condo) with a full kitchen, washer and dryer and way more room than we needed, plus we had amazing views. Now we did pay on this property for I think seven years before it was paid off…think of it like a car payment…but in that time…the amount that we paid never went up! We paid the same rate every year, got the same value every year…the same value as someone who would have easily paid around $1000 a night at our home resort. Is this making sense to anyone? Any bells going off in your head right now? The reason that we can do this year in/year out is because it’s already paid for…or, for some of those years we paid as we went, as an investment…an investment in family time…an investment in time to relax and be together without all the busyness of life. Now, I will be totally transparent and tell you that if you don’t have or do not want to have a lifestyle of travel, then this way of travel is not for you…you’ll be paying on something that you will never use and that will be a total waste! But this fully works for us! The vacation ownership program that we bought into years ago…is more fun for us to use now than ever…most of our properties are paid off and now we just get to use the system. Our particular system has the most flexibility of anything that we have looked at.
So, that is what has been working for us…for my Have’s…just make sure you book a condo somewhere with a kitchen and washer and dryer! Everything in Hawai’i is expensive no matter what island you go to. Having a kitchen can really cut those food costs way down. We grocery shop and grill out or cook in our room more than half of the nights that we stay on the island. And, having laundry access in your room, means you can pack less, pack more efficiently and maybe save on baggage fees by bringing one less piece of luggage with you!
Lastly, you should rent a car. Get with one car rental company and stick with it. All car rental companies have loyalty programs and you’ll start accumulating status and/or points immediately. Often times we book a particular car online, and when we get to our destination we have been automatically upgraded to a bigger or better car at no extra charge. Perks are good!
I will have several more posts coming out on Hawai’i in the coming days. If you have specific questions you would like answered or are curious about the vacation ownership stuff I’m happy to talk about it…I’m not sponsored and I do not receive any promotions from any companies at this time. I’m just passionate about my favorite vacation spot and always happy to share a good product that adds value and works! Leave me a comment and tell me which island is your favorite and what your favorite thing about it is!