Hi, I have not had a true family vacation in a long time. I would like to take my wife and 3 kids 13, 11 and 6 yrs old somewhere near the end of Feb using points. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. If near beach that is an added bonus. If outside US like Caribbean looking for low crime areas.
Thanks for any feedback.
@kharada46 can you help crazyhouse out here? He lives in Oahu and can give you many tips.Also @merb can you chime in with what you have learned since living there in Hawaii? I have stayed on Oahu, Maui and Kauai and loved every bit of each one. The flight isn't too bad. We had ours broken up a bit but 5 hours can be worked out with a movie and snacks for the kiddos. I definitely recommend Hawaii for the beauty if nothing else and there is plenty of beach that's for sure
Aloha! Please let me know what you'd like help with and I'll do my best to answer all your questions. A little bit of general information to start though..
If you choose to come to Hawaii, you'll need to choose an island or two. Oahu (my home) is the capitol & commercial center of the state. Oahu is definitely a big city and has the best public transportation (there's also a lot of cabs & shuttles). There are 2 Marriott properties, one being a Marriott and the other being a Courtyard. See here for my comparison of the two: Marriott Waikiki v.s. Courtyard Waikiki
Of course, on Oahu, there's a second resort area called Ko Olina on Oahu's west coast (about 30-60 minutes from Waikiki in light traffic). A newer development than Waikiki, the resort consists of 4 beautiful (but man made) lagoons. There are two Marriotts in this property, one being the JW Marriott Ihilani and the other being a Marriott Vacation Club. I've never stayed at the MVC, but here's my take on the JW: JW Marriott Ihilani, Ko'olina Resort
Ko Olina is much quieter than Waikiki and there isn't much in the way of shopping or night life in the area, but it's great for relaxing. The JW sharers it's lagoon with the similarly priced, but more family oriented Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. But enough with the properties. Oahu is home to the state's largest & best shopping centers, the state's best restaurants, and natural attractions like the Banzai Pipeline. There's also hiking to waterfalls, dolphin encounters, hiking up mountains (e.g. Diamond Head), and more! And while there's still natural beauty, Oahu is quite developed.
Maui is the second largest and second most developed island. It's been a while since I've been there, but it's my favorite island next to Oahu. There's 3 resort areas on the island (Wailea, Ka'anapali, and Kapalua) each with a Marriott property (Marriott, MVC, Ritz; respectively). The island definitely has more natural beauty with Haleakala National Park (10,000ft above sea level w/an amazing sunrise) I'ao Valley, Road to Hana, etc. There's also attractions such as the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm; Maui Ocean Center; the Sugar Cane Train (steam); a winery; and more.
Hawaii Island (or the Big Island) is the largest of the main Hawaiian islands. It's world famous for the Kilauea Volcano (Volcano National Park) and the 13,000ft Mauna Kea with it's observatories. The volcanoes are on the Hilo side of the island, which has no Marriott (or other global brand hotels) at all. The Kona side of the island is an arid, volcanic desert and home to the Waikoloa resort area. There's 1 Marriott here, as well as 1 Marriott in the town of Kona. There are cultural sights to see on this side of the island such as the Place of Refuge, but driving to Hilo (if desired) takes 2 hours. Hawaii Island is also known for its natural beauty ranging from sunny beaches to arctic tundra and everything in-between!
Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands and is home to numerous Marriott properties. It is a really quiet island with relatively little development (similar to Hawaii Island). The two major resort areas here are near the capitol of Lihue and out at Princeville, though Marriott has no properties in Princeville. There really isn't much in the way of shopping or nightlife here, much like Hawaii Island, and like Hawaii Island, many businesses close early. However, Kauai has stunning natural beauty including the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" and stunning beaches and rain forests.
As you can see, each island offers something different. Being your first time to Hawaii, I'd highly recommend going to Oahu and/or Maui. The other two islands will be a little more difficult to get around on if you're relying on taxis and/or public transportation. Oahu & Maui also offer a better balance of things to do than the other 2.
As far as flights go, Hawaiian serves most islands directly from the West Coast. However, being in Boston, you could head down to NY and hop onto a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu. Either way you go, I'd recommend Hawaiian, as they do offer complimentary meal service in economy with seat back entertainment at every seat (including USB ports to charge your mobile device). And for the parents, a free alcoholic beverage is offered with your meal in economy as well. Their fleet also consists of brand new, modern Airbus A330 aircraft.
If you'd prefer to fly another airline, then that's ok too. However, just about all other airlines do not offer free meal service. I'm actually an American Airlines person myself. They're good, but no free meals in economy & no seat back in-flight entertainment systems.
Anyhow, hope this helps you with your initial decision making! Like I said, do let me know if you have any questions and/or need more information on just about anything
you're the bomb kharada46. I knew you would give crazyhouse143 a good start on planning if he decides to go this route. I would add that we rented a car each time we went to Hawaii and you can actually spend a day exploring Oahu and Maui and the drive to Hana in Maui is scenic and waterfalls at the end for the kiddos. Pearl Harbor in Oahu is a good sight for the kids as well as being able to board the USS Missouri to get a feel of a battle ship. I believe the 70th anniversary of the USS Missouri launch is Feb. 1st and would be a site to see if you were there at that time https://www.google.com/url?
Another bit of fun could be visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center
As you can see, there are plenty of activities for adults as well as kids so I feel it is a great vacation area. Hawaii is a place you will want to go back after visiting.
A few places come to mind on the Southwest Coast of Florida, fly into Ft. Myers (RSW). The beaches are very nice, the weather is almost always great at the end of February unless you get the very strong cold front that makes it that far south in the state. Often you'll find the nations high temperature in Southwest Florida during the winter months.
Take a look at some of these places, not sure if any have reward night available during your desired times, but worth a look:
Fort Myers, Florida Resorts | Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa located just before the Sanibel/Captiva Island Bridge.
Florida Resorts | Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa a beautiful property located in Marco Island which is about a 45 minute drive from RSW. Huge beach and gentle surf for the kids.
There are a number of other Marriott properties in the area as well however; they are not on the water, but a short drive to the beaches. I'm partial to the southwest coast Gulf Coast of Florida as it is much less hectic than the Atlantic coast, yet there will be plenty of "snowbirds" on either coast.
As for the travel, I'm pretty sure JetBlue has non-stop flights from BOS to RSW a couple of times each day.
Keep us all posted on your plans as there are plenty of experienced travelers on Insiders with incredible ideas to share.
If you find that Hawaii is too far I would have to agree with IAHFLYR with looking at places in Florida. There are lots and lots of nice beach resorts and vacation club properties on both sides of the state. And since you live in Boston where JetBlue is king there are lot of non-stop flight destinations to Florida. Looks like you have plenty of points to burn so Enjoy!!