Category Archives: hawaii

Hawaii 2010 trip recap: Maui and Kauai

This post recaps the second part of Alli and my trip to Hawaii last June: Maui and Kauai.  You probably want to read the first part Oahu recap first.

Before leaving Oahu, we made a day-trip to Kauai, a smaller island nearby.  We didn’t have a lot of time, and didn’t want to spend a big chunk of it in Kauai.  Have I mentioned that we’re not that good at relaxing? 😉
So, a quick flight later, and some meandering around the airport, we got on the helicopter for our Kauai tour.  We went for the longest tour possible on a helicopter with its doors removed.  That’s right, we asked for it, no doors 😉  So you’re just sitting there in the helicopter, reaching out, hanging out, buffeted by strong winds.  It’s scary at first but a lot of fun.

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Kauai was beautiful.  There’s some good ocean kayaking and boating to be had, too: maybe next time.  But we flew back to Oahu instead.
The next day, we left Oahu for good, on our way to Maui.  Maui is also nearby, but (like Kauai) it’s much quieter and less busy than Oahu.  The airport is tiny, but our hotel (Westin Maui in Ka’napali) was relatively big and somewhat louder.  It was beautiful, though, with a lot of great amenities and good service.
Aside: I was overall very disappointed in the hotel selection in Maui.  They are all big resorts with about the same claims to fame.  I was looking for a boutique hotel, something romantic, and failed to find it.  It’s probably user error, but I looked for a long time, and I’m not that bad at research.
the drive to Hana is way, way over-rated.  Yes, it’s pretty.  Yes, the corkscrew tiny road is fun to drive.  But to make a whole day of it?  Not needed at all.  My recommendation: drive 10-15 miles in, maybe hike to one of the waterfalls, drive back, and grab a sunset dinner at Mama’s Fish House.
Mama’s Fish House, on the other hand, is UNDER-rated, if that’s possible.  It’s an awesome restaurant with a great view.  Everything we had there was delicious, as was the service.  We even saw a TV celebrity 😉  Do not miss this place!
Another highlight of our Maui visit was the sunrise trip to Haleakala, the volcano.  We saw sunrise there, and then biked down.  It’s an easy bike ride, just coasting for about ten miles, and stopping for breakfast along the way.  Highly recommended.

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Lahaina was OK: a nice town with some shopping and walking around.  We saw a very nice sunset there, and chatted with an Israel store-owner.  We did go to the very touristy Luau, and I think it was barely OK, better described as “mediocre.”  Probably not worth your time, but you’ll go anyways, because everyone does.  Meh.
Finally, one of the best parts of our entire trip was Scuba diving. We went with an instructor, Ben Pettit, since we were not certified at the time.  (More on our certification coming up shortly in another post.)  Ben took us on two dives, and his girlfriend Anna joined too.  They were great, and we had a blast.
We saw sharks!!!  Live, in the water, with no cage or anything.  They were white-tipped reef sharks, unlikely to attack us.  We saw a bunch of turtles and many other fish on the very colorful reef.  Diving was awesome.
Overall, I don’t think I’d live on Maui.  It’s a beautiful island with great nature and a bunch of activities.  But not enough going on, people-wise.  Oahu, maybe, but even that is kind of remote from the rest of the world.
Our trip to Hawaii was a great success.  We had a blast.  If you have any questions, post them in the comments, and I’ll gladly answer.
Some photos are available on Flickr, but they’re most private for family.

Hawaii 2010 trip recap: Oahu

This past June, Alli and I traveled to Hawaii.  We had always wanted to go, and this was a double celebration: both our five-year anniversary and Alli’s graduation from the Harvard Kennedy School.

I’m not going to recap every single event or activity here.  That would take too long and be too boring, even for me 😉  But I want to capture the highlights for future reference and for several interested people.

We had about 10 days in Hawaii, and we split the time roughly equally between Oahu and Maui, two great but very different islands.  Before the trip we asked a lot of friends for advice, and several said Oahu was too busy and loud, but we loved it.  Neither Alli nor myself can relax for too long 😉

We flew with US Airways via Phoenix, which splits the flight about in half.  That worked out very well.  No flight troubles at all.  On one leg we were even upgraded to Business Class which was nice, but not amazing.

We started in Oahu.  We rented a car, which was also necessary on Maui, as public transportation is slim or none.  We checked in to our hotel, the Halekulani.  The hotel was great the whole way: excellent service, great location, great food, great room.  Really nothing to complain about, which is good, because it was very expensive.  We had breakfast at one of the hotel restaurants, House without a Key, most mornings, and it was awesome.

Also while in Oahu, we hiked up Diamond Head, which was awesome and highly-recommended.  We drove to the North Shore, swam a bit, and saw the waves at Pipeline, Banzai, and Waimea, all legendary places I’d always wanted to check out.

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Pearl Harbor both emotional and really interesting.  I really liked the USS Bowfin submarine tour, seeing the equipment setup and cabin sizes, etc.  Although we’re not big history buffs, Pearl Harbor is such a famous place with so many stories that it was fascinating to see the real thing.

Dinner at Alan Wong‘s was OK, but not amazing (again).  The food was fresh and well-prepared, but I found it lacking inspiration.  Nothing that made you go “wow!” or want to come back.  At least not among the dishes we had.  Both the service and (especially) the wine list were just OK — nothing to write home about.

We also did some walking around Honolulu (not bad), some shopping (way over-priced, except beach wear which was great), and Alli took surfing lessons at Waikiki (amazing).

Next up: Maui and Kauai.