Hi...I am planning a vacation for myself and a pal of mine over New Year's, 2014. So far, all we know is we are going to Hawaii . I have one room booked in Honolulu, and another at the Wailea Resort on Maui. We have been friends for 15+ years, and since we live on opposite ends of the country, this will be a bit of a "best friends reunion" and we can't wait!! We are trying to decide whether to fly into Oahu or Maui, and are hoping for some advice. Honolulu is appealing because of the many options for nightlife, but seems a bit unappealing from the "mass tourist attraction" perspective. Maui seems like the better option (neither of us have kids) but we want to make sure that there is plenty to do. Neither of us has ever been to Hawaii, so I think there will be LOTS to see and do, but neither of us is interested in just hanging out in the hotel in the evenings watching tv...so nightlife options are a must....especially on New Year's! Will we be bored in Maui, or overcome with too many tourists in Oahu? All comments/suggestions appreciated. Thanks!!
Allow me to pass this along to our resident expert on all that is Hawaii none other than kharada46. He will be able to give the very best information and others will chime in for sure. You can start here:
It really depends on what you want to do/experience in Hawaii. I live on Oahu, but do like Maui as well. Maui, over the past decade, has been developing at an ever quickening pace and become more and more like Oahu all the time. But it's still no match for Oahu despite being the second busiest island and the most expensive of the main four islands. Might I ask where you're planning on staying? Reason is, while Oahu does have a lot of night life, it really depends where you stay. Waikiki is definitely where it's at, but if you want more seclusion, then it's hard to beat Ko Olina. Ko Olina also happens to have a HUGE fireworks display every New Year's Eve. I like Ko Olina because it isn't all that crowded and has more options in terms of resorts and dining than Kahala, but it's also far from Honolulu. Having a rental car will be pretty much a necessity. Anyhow, please do let me know what you'd like to experience. In the meantime, here's a couple of things that might help you as well:
Oahu is one of my family's most beloved travels over the years time and time again. For night life, you have to go to Duke's on Waikiki. Any place on Waikiki should be hopping. Things to 'must see' on Oahu include the Arizona, the Missouri, and Diamond Head. For the most incredible breakfast you will ever find, go to Boots & Kimo's Homestyle Kitchen in Kailua. It is quite worth the scenic drive. Just arrive early as there is most always a wait. Things to avoid - the Dole Plantation (ho hum) and the Paradise Cove Luau (an overpriced "McLuau" in Kapolei - run from it like the plague and find a dinner luau cruise instead). TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding the best on the island. The other choice you may want to consider is Kauai. It is not the nightlife scene that you will find on the south side of Oahu, but it is beyond question the most beautiful place I have yet to see in this world.
Hi. I've been to Hawaii 5 times. We stay 3-5 weeks each stay, mostly Marriotts, of course. If you are staying first at Oahu, fly to Ohau, then hop to Maui and fly home from Maui. Don't need to rent a car at Waikiki, Oahu. The city bus is an easy and inexpensive way to get around! You can circle the island on Citybus for $3. Waikiki has safe places to swim and enjoy the beautiful ocean in the winter time. I recommend that you make an itinerary for things which you would like to see and do. Can research in advance on the internet or hotels have flyers everyvhere. It realy depends on what you would like to do. Hiking, surfing, snorkling, swiming, shopping .... Definitelly Honolulu has great night life and it is busy place. Maui is more intimate, but a great place as well. Much to do on either island. Just be careful where you swim, water can be rough and the undertow currents, deadly. All of Hawaii is beautiful, just get there. Enjoy .
I agree with these great comments from other MRI!
The only thing I would like to add is, if you do rent a car, (And I wouldn't again), make sure you obey all traffic laws and signs! I was parked one night in a zone that you had to have your car out of that area by 6 AM, I was five minutes late, and the tow truck was there. I got my car "Un-towed", but still had to pay the fine. Never again, cars are not worth it!
Good luck, and I hope you get many more wonderful comments!
Just to be clear you are most likely referring to the Waikiki area, correct?
If so then I'd completely agree, otherwise if you're headed out west of town on Oahu to Ko Olina or to another island you will be needing a vehicle to sight see the beauty of each island.
Thanks, everyone for the great replies!! Keep them coming!!
To clarify...I currently have duplicated reservations. One at the Waikiki Beach Marriott in Honolulu, and the other one in Maui at the Wailea Beach Marriott. Neither my friend nor I have ever been to Hawaii before...it's a "bucket-list" trip for both of us. We are going for 8 nights over the New Year's holiday. We both shun the over-crowded/touristy stuff, but recognize we will of course have to deal with some of that do everything we want to do.
Right now, the reservations are for an upgraded room in Maui and for a non-upgraded room in Waikiki. I am starting to think the chances of getting an upgrade in Waikiki may be a possibility...which could turn the tables in that direction. What I don't want to have happen is pay a premium (250k points) for an upgraded in Maui, and then end up not liking it. Some of the comments on TripAdvisor are not particularly favorable regarding the hotel, indicating it is in need of being upgraded, etc. I certainly don't need to be in the lap of luxury (nor does my friend...one of the reasons she and I have been such good friends these past 10 years!) but if I am paying premium, I'd like to at least think it was worth it?
Waikiki sounds more and more crowded, and the thought of not having an upgrade is NOT appealing. However...we probably won't spend that much time in our room anyway. We both like to get out and do things, so proximity to the beach/pool/activities is a must. Visiting the Pearl Harbor site would be nice, but not a necessity. Whale-watching excursion is a must. Watching surfers would be awesome. Snorkeling/water activities would be nice but not required. Access to local food markets (we are both organic/healthy foodies) is a must.
Sounds like Maui would require a rental car, Oahu would not. Either way is fine as that is not a deal-breaker.
Especially appreciated the comments about potential ideas for how/where to spend New Year's Eve. There must be a listing somewhere on line of what's available, right?
Thanks again for all the help...this forum is fantastic!
You have a wonderful choice, and both of them are winners!
Would not let the "Crowd" issue in Oahu bother you, it is not that much of a problem, if you don't mind doing a little walking.
Both places are lovely!
Good luck with you potential upgrade! You may want to consider calling the hotel directly and discussing that issue!
I've been to Oahu about a dozen times over the past year for work. I've stayed every time at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. I've heard some people say that it's not "first class" but I have more than enjoyed it and it has a great location. You are literally across the street from the beach. If you can, rent a car and take a drive around the island. It will take you less than a day even with stops at the North Shore for shrimp and to check out Sunset beach. You will appreciate that Oahu is a lot more than Honolulu and Waikiki. I can't say much about Maui but I will be using points with my wife to stay at the Ritz-Carlton there for a long weekend in September. Getting back to Waikiki, ask the valets (they are very helpful) for directions to walk to Uncle Bo's for dinner. It's about a 15 minute walk from the hotel but well worth it and off the beaten path of the Waikiki strip. Also, the hotel has a very good sushi restaurant if that's something you like.
weekly travel warrior! you are in for a treat. No matter what you do, you can't go wrong. If you go to Maui, one thing hubby and I loved was the Road to Hana. The drive is breathtaking along the coast. There is a hike up the mountain to one of the most secluded and gorgeous waterfalls. Not sure of your ages from your posts but unless you are physically unfit for walking/hiking, this is one of the things we enjoyed most if you like scenic fun. We took the trails and barely made it back before sunset which was not a good idea as the trail is dark (surrounded by bamboo) and not exactly smooth. Other than that, it was the best. If you want the best in a hotel, I would suggest Ko Olina on Oahu. Of course getting there you might think you have made a mistake as you travel through volcano country that looks like it has been on fire. Then all of a sudden, there is an oasis in front of you. Disney is next to it now I believe which was not there when we stayed, so I'm sure much more crowded. However, it has its own secluded beach area and there is a fairly large grocery in the marina area.
I have been to Maui, Oahu and also Kauai, and loved every one of them, all for different reasons but no matter what you do or where you go, you should have a fabulous time. We stayed at the Rennaissance in Maui as the Marriott was closed for repairs (did not like the location of Marriott Waikiki due to congestion and people but that may be your thing); JW Marriott, Ko Olina in Oahu (probably best hotel ever stayed at) ; Kauai Marriott Resort Kalapaki Beach (awesome pool)
All islands have wonderful scenery and gorgeous beaches. Oahu is too fast and crowded for my tastes but it has the nightlife. My favorite island is the Big Island [ for scenery and relaxation] A rental car will be needed on the Big Island or Maui if you want to explore the islands.
Thank you for the update! If your experience is at all like mine, you shouldn't have any trouble being upgraded, especially since you are a platinum. However, if the recency of room renovation is important to you, I'd call up the reservation line and let them know you prefer a room in the Kealohilani Tower. The rooms in this tower are more up-to-date than those in the Paoakalani Tower. Here's a photo album of the rooms in both the Kealohilani Tower and the Paoakalani Tower ranging from partial ocean view standard rooms up to a city view Jr suite:
For food markets, Oahu will be hard to beat. I know you want to avoid crowded/touristy stuff, but the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market is a must if you want the best local market possible. Yes there will be a lot of tourists, but locals go here for good bargains and local products not readily available in stores. We're talking about fresh heart of palm and live abalone from the Big Island, Taro Delight dips & spreads from Oahu, tons of local produce, local honey, Ono Pops with their all natural local only popsicles, flowers, and more! KCC | Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
Alternatively, there's a smaller setup that still has good selection and some vendors (like Naked Cow Dairy) that don't go to the KCC Farmers' Market every Wednesday in downtown Honolulu: Honolulu @ Night | Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
If you plan on coming to Oahu and plan to arrive in December, every last Friday of the month we have a food truck rally called Eat the Street in downtown Honolulu as well. A crowded event that's mostly locals, it's a great way to experience our more creative foods. Like how about a malasadas burger? Eat The Street: Spicy Did I mention that every month has a new theme?
Since whale watching is a goal for you, I'm glad to say that you will be here during whale watching season. That being said, you aren't guaranteed to see anything, but chances are you should be able to see at least something. For this, might I suggest the Star of Honolulu for whale watching cruises? Don't need to get that close? Then might I suggest taking the short, easy Makapu'u Lighthouse trail hike? Great ocean views on a paved trail, which is actually a popular land-based whale watching spot: Makapu`u Lighthouse, Hawaii at Lighthousefriends.com
Winter is also the time for our STRONG North Shore swells. Though you can catch the bus, I'd recommend renting a car for this trek. The North Shore is over an hour drive outside of Waikiki, though you can rent a car directly from the Hertz location right inside the hotel. The surf, like the whales, aren't very predicable, so actually seeing epic surf is a gamble. But, if there are huge waves rolling in, expect traffic jams in Haleiwa and roads leading in and out of it. My advice? GO EARLY! And while you're at it, don't forget to sample one of the many shrimp trucks out there and visit the old Waialua Sugar Mill for more local products, including natural, handmade local soaps! Waialua Sugar Mill
Speaking of transportation, Oahu has a very extensive bus network simply called TheBus: TheBus It's a pretty easy to navigate system, and like a previous poster said, you can circle the island for just $3.
So onto snorkeling, you should definitely check out Hanauma Bay on Oahu. There is a nominal fee to get in, but it is a sheltered bay with lots of fish and protected reefs. hanaumabay, Official Web Site for The City and County of Honolulu
Though I'm partial to Oahu since it is my home, I feel that your list will be best served by our State Capital. We hit everything you want and more! And like I said, if there's something specific you want to do or have general questions, need advice, etc. by all means ask! I'm always willing to help
Oh, I will
I've got till November for that one though. Pretty much everything is set with the exception for a two night stay at Disneyland Paris.... for some reason, Disney isn't releasing the nights for reservation has paid stays or for DVC point redemptions. But I do have your Paris recommendations handy! And I'll be sure to contact you for anything else I can think of!
Passport: check! Global Entry: check!
I knew you'd come through with a splendid review from the perspective of a local which is perfect. Well done, gotta get to those shrimp trucks on the North Shore for sure!! We did visit the Dole Store on the way back from the North Shore to the JW, wasn't too impressed, but the pineapple was all Dole.
I try my best
You know, I've been to Dole Plantation twice in my entire life! Can't remember why I went the first time, but the second time was because the other half has never been there and wanted to try Dole Whip... ironic because she doesn't like pineapple! haha. But true, most of the pineapple here is Dole, but the really good stuff isn't...
Just to update everyone....our stay in Oahu was FANTASTIC!!! The crowds were a little more than I liked, but we stayed busy with excursions out of town (North Shore, and even the Big Island!!). Have to give a shout out to the concierges at the Waikiki Beach Marriott...Laurie and Gina. They are the BEST. We arrived with NO present plans/itineraries/reservations and they worked their tails off making dinner reservations, tour reservations, and even setting us up for pedicures. I knocked *6* items off my bucket list in ONE TRIP. Unbelievable. Thanks, Marriott for an unforgettable experience!!