One of the most common questions I get when asked about Hawaii is, “which island should I go to?” Very good question, but like most questions, the answer really does depend on what you are looking for. Do you want fine dining and shopping? Do you want breathtaking scenery? or maybe you just want to chill on a beautiful beach?
I have had the pleasure of visiting the islands 3 times, and all were very different experiences. The first trip was with a friend in the 90’s where we stayed in Oahu and did the beach, shopping and nightlife thing, the second was a solo trip, (I know you will never guess….for an Aerosmith concert – yes, I flew to Hawaii for a concert and had the time of my life!), and for the third trip, Baby Bug and I did a 15 day cruise from Los Angeles to all of the islands and then back. Weather was perfect all 3 times (May, October and January), but a great benefit of Hawaii is, if the weather isn’t good, give it a few minutes and the sun will probably be back out.
I would have to say that my third trip (the cruise), was probably my favourite for several reasons. 1.Being with Baby Bug always makes things more fun, 2. we had the opportunity to see all of the islands, and 3. being on a cruise ship is our idea of perfection – our favourite way to travel.
*Note: Though the Lucky Bugs are “cruise fanatics,” we highly recommend that a 15 day Hawaiian cruise not be your first experience at cruising. Because of the distance, there are 9 or 10 “sea days” which the Bugs love but not everyone is a fan of. We enjoy all of the shipboard activities and the downtime, while others may feel that it is too much time to spend at sea. Another cruise option is flying to Hawaii and Norwegian Cruise Line offers an itinerary that does all of the islands and then returns you back to Honolulu, and you can then fly home – this might be a great option for those who are undecided, (and also for those hoping not to gain 10 pounds on all of those sea days!). The biggest disadvantage to cruising the islands is that you really don’t get a lot of time to spend at each one – but us “Bugs” are always determined to get the most out of a trip.
There are actually several Hawaiian islands, but really just 4 are most often visited – Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.
OAHU – this is probably the most popular island, and also where most people fly into (Honolulu). This island is also home to Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and the Pearl Harbor memorial. Huge selection of shopping and dining options. Another fun thing to do (if you have a car) is drive to the North Shore (lots of surfers and not as commercialized as Waikiki Beach), and on the way a fun stop would be the Dole Plantation. Fun fact: you probably already know this but pineapples grow on the ground (not on trees!). Here are some of the things we did while in Oahu (besides shop at Ala Moana Center – fabulous mall, btw.)
Picking a Pearl – this wasn’t my idea, but for some reason Baby Bug insisted on using her own souvenir money to pick a pearl. Much to her delight, not only did she pick one that had 2 pearls inside, but they were both black (told you we were “Lucky Bugs”), so she had earrings made – and still wears them today.
“Touristy” or not, in my opinion, no visit to Hawaii is complete without going to a luau. There are several to choose from but after doing much research we decided on Paradise Cove – and we loved it! It is quite a distance from the Waikiki Beach area (and the cruise port) so we arranged for a car to get us there and back.
There were different packages to choose from but we chose the least expensive one and the price was approx. $85 p.p. at the time. There were so many activities to do ( learning to hula, arts & crafts, games, great entertainment and a tasty buffet). Would definitely do this again, LOVED it!
KAUAI (aka as the “Garden Isle”) – this is the island you think of when you think of Hawaii, it’s green and lush with waterfalls and gorgeous scenery. Here you will find Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast.
This seemed to be the perfect location for a helicopter tour. Spectacular scenery. We were able to purchase the dvd of our tour (and if I ever find it and figure out how to get it on YouTube, I will add it here).
HAWAII (the big island)
We did a ship excursion that took us by bus to Volcano National Park and the Jaggar Museum in Hilo (check out Kilauea Caldera behind Baby Bug).
Very cool experience walking through a lava tube!
MAUI – this was our favourite island, I think mainly because of it’s absolute beauty but also because we loved the quaintness of Lahaina, with it’s little shops and restaurants. It just seemed to us to be a nice mixture of natural beauty with things to do – not as commercialized as Oahu.
We have done a lot of whale watching in many different places, but I don’t think we have ever seen so many whales. It seemed like everywhere we looked there was another spectacular whale posing for our camera, unfortunately this was before I had video on my phone and I always seemed to just miss the perfect photo.
“DON’T WANNA MISS A THINGS”
- Shaved ice – this “deliciousness” in a cup can be found all over Hawaii, and it is much more than a snow cone – think smooth, dense snow jam packed with every flavour syrup you can imagine!