OUR thoughts on HAWAII

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It takes around 9 hours to fly between Auckland and Honolulu, Hawaii. Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines each offer 3 flights each week, that’s 6 direct flights each week to this exceptional destination. For travellers interested in combining Hawaii and Fiji, Fiji Airways has 3 flights a week between Nadi and Honolulu, which combine well with their many flights between Auckland and Nadi each week.  

Hawaii shares a Polynesian history with many Pacific Island Countries and States, including New Zealand, that’s one of the many reasons Kiwi travellers have an affinity for Hawaii and its people.  Hawaii offers a huge range of options for a wonderful vacation, from Oahu’s cosmopolitan Waikiki to the beautiful beaches and resorts on Maui, the volcanic activity and the rich heritage of Hawaii, (The Big Island) and the natural environment and seclusion of Kauai, Molokai and Lanai to mention a few. 

OUR OAHU AND WAIKIKI
Waikiki was one of the first tourist locations in the world on which so-called high-rise hotels were built right on the beach and hotels like the 29 floor Sheraton Waikiki was quite controversial at the time it was built.  Attitudes to high-rise hotels have definitely changed in recent times; you only just need to look across the Tasman at Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast where the Q1 tower is 81 floors high - In comparison to that, Waikiki’s beachfront hotels could almost be described as low-rise now! We offer a complete range of accommodation in the Waikiki area from stately, historic beachfront hotels right through to apartment-style accommodation either on the beach or up to a couple of blocks back as well as in other areas of Waikiki and Honolulu. Another feature of Waikiki beachfront hotels is the way they provide direct access for the general public through their lobbies and shopping arcades between the town and the beach so even though they are built right on the beach they don’t block access to the beach. 

Over recent times, there has been something of a renaissance and rejuvenation of Waikiki.  The huge Royal Hawaiian Shopping Centre has been upgraded, the sidewalks throughout the main street Kalakaua Avenue, have been re-paved and many hotels have been refurbished.  Another huge improvement has been the redevelopment of the whole area around Beach Walk with amazing new café, restaurant and shopping precincts and several new hotels, condominiums and suite-style accommodations for visitors – overall the Beach Walk area is now a very pleasant place to be.  One of the many attractions of a holiday around Waikiki is that no matter where you decide to stay, everything is so handy and the beach is open to everyone to enjoy. 

Everywhere you turn; there are great shopping, restaurants and tourist services on offer. The range of food options is huge and covers a complete culinary experience from grab-and-goes to magnificent buffets and fine dining to satisfy every taste – seafood, Asian, Pacific Rim, European and more. Around Waikiki Beach there are various shopping/restaurant/entertainment precincts to enjoy such as Kings Village, Beach Walk, The International Market (currently under a major rebuild and upgrade), The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Centre, Waikiki Shopping Plaza, DFS Galleria to name a few and then a little further out; to the south, the wonderful Ala Moana Shopping Centre, The Ward Warehouse, market and entertainment Centre, the Aloha Tower Marketplace and to the north past Diamond Head the Hawaii Kai Town Centre with its famous Saturday morning farmers market. Ala Moana Shopping Centre has undergone a complete upgrade and now includes many new outlets including Bloomingdale’s, Nitrogenie, Ted Baker London and Zara to name but a few. The many boutique shops (especially those in the vicinity of the International Marketplace) are open late and extra special bargains can be had just before they close for the night.  It’s not at all uncommon for shops to be open late into the evening and shopping after dinner when it is a little cooler, is a novel and pleasant experience. Throughout Waikiki you will find seemingly dozens of ABC Shops, many of which sell wine and liquor as well as food to complement their souvenirs and general store goods.  Everyone holidaying in Waikiki gets to know and appreciate the ABC Stores. 

Getting around is so easy.  Waikiki is a reasonably compact area so most services and attractions like the Honolulu Zoo are easily accessed on foot.  However, there is a great deal more of Oahu to be seen and enjoyed beyond Waikiki and there is a great public transport system to assist you to get around.  Of course, there are many excellent Day and Half-Day Tours on offer and Our Specialists will happily assist with suggestions and reservations for all tours.  There are two main forms of Public Transport “The Bus”, which runs services throughout Waikiki, Honolulu and all around Oahu and the “Waikiki Trolley” which runs 3 distinct routes for visitors between Waikiki and a whole range of tourist points of interest in the vicinity of Waikiki. On “TheBus” a one-way journey costs US$2.50 and you can purchase a 4 day pass for US$25.00 from ABC Stores. You can also purchase a monthly pass but that can be a problem as the monthly pass must be used within a particular month (it’s not a 30 days pass) “The Bus” is great for getting out to Pearl Harbour, Hawaii Kai and to and from Ala Moana and to the other side of Oahu (if you’re game to try) but it’s wise to remember that it is basically a service for locals so it doesn’t always take you right to a tourist point of interest.  An example of this is a trip to Diamond Head Crater. We thoroughly recommend this as a great place to go, climb up the track inside the crater and be rewarded with stunning views and photos of Waikiki Beach etc.  However, “TheBus” doesn’t drop you at the entrance to the track; you must walk up a side street from the bus stop.  The Trolley, on the other hand, drops you right at the entrance to the track. The Trolley runs 5 different “lines” The Pink Line runs every 10 minutes and does a loop of the shopping centres including Waikiki, The Hilton Hawaiian Village and Ala Moana. The Red Line takes in Waikiki, Ala Moana, downtown Honolulu (don’t miss the museums there) and The Aloha Tower Marketplace and runs every 40 minutes. The Green Line takes in Diamond Head, The Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Kahala Mall and King Kalakaua Plaza and runs every 35 minutes. The Blue Line takes you to Sea Life Park, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai Lookout and Kahala Mall and a new line, The Purple Line, commencing services on 01 April 2016 takes in Downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbour and the Pearlridge Centre. 

You can pre-purchase Waikiki Trolley passes on-line and for around US$49 you get unlimited access to all three lines for a week.  This is not only cheaper but does away with having to queue up to buy passes in Waikiki. Of course, you can just jump on a Trolley and pay US$2 per ride. 

Keeping a supply of small notes in your pocket or purse is a very good idea when visiting Hawaii.  On a recent visit to Hawaii one of Our Specialists noted that it is wise to have plenty of small notes, not only to pay for The Bus and the Waikiki Trolley, but for tips for all sorts of service rendered. In Hawaii customers having a coffee will leave a tip in cash on the table or counter and not having small notes can be a bit embarrassing!   

If you are not into a Day Tour or “TheBus” on a long day trip to the other side of Oahu, do consider hiring a car, even just for a day.  Our Specialists can help with this, or you can pick up a rental car while you are in Hawaii.  We have experienced this and it’s a great day out driving up to the legendary surfing beaches of Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay, stopping off to see Sea Life Park, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and dropping in at Haleiwa Town to sample the restaurants and shops as well as The Surf Museum. It’s a great day and don’t be daunted by driving on the right-hand side of the road, it’s easily mastered in laid-back Hawaii. 

As well as the Polynesian Cultural aspects of a visit to Hawaii, you can’t overlook the part that Pearl Harbour played and continues to play in the life of the people.  You can spend a very interesting day out at Pearl Harbour visiting the many points of interest there.  Take a  cruise from Waikiki which circles the Arizona Memorial or take The Bus which gives you time to go out to the Memorial, then visit the USS Missouri, a battleship berthed within sight of the Arizona Memorial and which is being restored by volunteers.  Walking around the “Mighty Mo” as she is known is a very interesting experience.  There is also the opportunity to visit a submarine nearby. 

Summing up Waikiki and Oahu; it’s a wonderful holiday destination.  You are holidaying in a relaxed Polynesian/American atmosphere with great beaches to relax on, great shopping, super-friendly people, great climate year-round, a huge number of attractions to visit and experiences to enjoy, excellent restaurants and food options, superb entertainment on offer, a huge range of accommodation – the list goes on and on.  What really sums up Waikiki and Oahu is the fact that everyone is made to feel so welcome there and don’t be surprised if the guy waiting your table at breakfast or lunch wants to talk Rugby in depth, once he finds out you’re from New Zealand.

OAHU New Electronic Devices Pedestrian Safety Law
On 25 October 2017, covering the island of Oahu, it will be illegal for pedestrians to “cross the street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device.”

The law includes smart phones, laptops, pagers and video games.  Fines will be $15 to $35 for the first offence, $35 to $75 for the second offence and $75 to $99 for the third.  It will still be legal to talk on your phone while crossing the street, or to look at your phone on the sidewalk.

Honolulu is the first major city in the United States to enact a law for pedestrians who use hand-held devices.

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OUR MAUI
A 30 minute flight away from Honolulu on one of around 30 jet flights each day on a Hawaiian Airlines jet brings you to Kahului Airport on Maui’s eastern side. From 18 January 2017, Hawaiian Airlines is also operating a twice daily service by ATR42 to Kapalua Airport which is closer to Ka'anapali.   As you descend into either airport you will note that Maui is an island comprising 2 mountains joined by a wide green valley.  The road to the western side of the island runs through this valley and it’s on this side of Maui that you find the fabled Ka’anapali Beach on the north-western coast and Wailea Beach on the south-western coast. The cross-island trip from Kahului to Ka’anapali or Wailea takes around 40 minutes.  

Maui is a beach holiday destination and what amazing beaches they are – clean, clear water, wonderful surf and blazingly white sand and great dive and snorkelling spots. Ka’anapali and Wailea are by no means the only beaches on Maui, there is something over 150 kilometres of beautiful beaches to be enjoyed, but they are the best known and both are surrounded by a whole range of top-notch facilities such as shopping/restaurant villages, world-class golf courses, water-sports facilities and a whole range of hotels and condos. We have the whole range to offer, so ask Our Specialists to recommend the one that best suits your particular requirements.  It will also be helpful for you to browse through “Our Resorts” on this website where we provide a complete breakdown of the resorts we offer, their facilities and specials as well as our personal thoughts on each one.  We hope you find it helpful, we’re sure you will. 

Whalers Village Shopping Centre is right on Ka’anapali Beach and a great spot for restaurants and shops.  The Ka’anapali Trolley operates a free shuttle between Ka’anapali Hotels and Condos and Whalers Village, the Ka’anapali Golf Course and Fairway Shops between 10.00am and 10.00pm daily. The Maui Public Transit Shuttle runs a regular service between Whalers Village Shopping Centre in Ka’anapali and Lahaina Town (with stops at Lahaina Cannery and Wharf Cinema Centre Lahaina), Kapalua, and Walmart/Kmart in Kahului. The cost is a minimal US$1.00 - $2.00 between each point.

South of Ka’anapali Beach you find Lahaina, a former Royal Capital and whaling town, which is now heritage listed.  It’s fun to stroll old-fashioned Front St & Wharf St where you will find well-known outlets such as Hilo Hattie’s, Bubba Gump’s Seafood Company and a Hard Rock Café. It’s worth making the effort to attend the “Old Lahaina Luau’ which is held every night behind the Cannery Mall – it’s recognised as one of the best Luaus in Maui.  Lahaina is also known for its night life!

In recent years the first neighbor-island Outlet Mall opened in Lahaina, Maui. The “Outlets of Maui, Lahaina” is the only outlet center in the world on the oceanfront in a historic location. Retailers include Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers, Adidas, Guess, Calvin Klein, Carter's Babies & Kids, Izod, Lucky Brand, Gap, Banana Republic, Michael Kors, Crocs, Kay Jewelers, Perfumania, Skechers, The Luggage Factory, Wilson's Leather, Hilo Hatties, Hard Rock Café and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Many people visiting Maui hire a car for a day or two, a car opens a whole additional range of attractions to visit and enjoy; such things as the many beautiful Botanical Gardens, historic towns and museums scattered around Maui and the scenic road to Hana.  On the road north to Hana you travel along the winding lava coast road passing through old plantation towns and lovely beaches and forests. The drive is around 80km one way and well worth doing.  A drive to the summit of Mt Haleakala is also well worthwhile, indeed the further you venture around the northern coast of Maui the more scenic gems there are to experience.

Don’t miss the nightly Sunset Cliff Diving Ceremony of the northern headland of Ka’anapali Beach and do try to make time for a sunset dinner cruise too.

Depending on your holiday needs, a visit to Hawaii that includes Maui is a very rewarding experience and so relaxing.  People who have visited Hawaii more than once often spend the majority of their stay on Maui, so we recommend you go over for a few days to check it out – Our Specialists can organise it all for you, and here’s another tip – if your itinerary allows a night flight back from Maui or any of the other Hawaiian Islands to Honolulu, as you come in to land at Honolulu you will be delighted with the display of night lights not only from Waikiki and Honolulu City, but also from the residential areas that lace up the mountain valleys behind – it’s an incredible sight.

In summary; Maui is a laid-back beach destination which is full of natural beauty and has a very interesting historical side as well.  Days on Maui are filled with relaxation, if that’s what you are looking for, but there are plenty of things to do as well for those wishing to be active.  Golf, Scuba Diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, parasailing, surfing, scenic touring and exploring by car, museum and botanic garden visits, relaxed shopping, sunset cruises, sunrise viewing, Hawaiian Luaus and so on.   For a first time Hawaii visitor on a 14 day trip to Hawaii, spending 4 or 5 days of your time on Maui will add something extra special to your Hawaii experience.

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OUR KAUAI
Kauai is the northernmost main island in the Hawaiian Islands, it’s also recognised as the oldest land mass in the chain.  The lifestyle on Kauai is even more laid-back than on Oahu or Maui.  Kauai is around half the size of Oahu and a third the size of Maui.  The main airport is at Lihue on the east side of the island and Hawaiian Airlines have around 20 flights each day between Honolulu and Lihue Kauai.  The fight time is only 36 minutes each way.  For those interested in island-hopping, Hawaiian Airlines has 3 direct flights each day between Lihue Kauai and Maui although there is a huge number of connecting flights via Honolulu.  All Hawaiian Airlines flights between Hawaii (The Big Island) and Kauai make connections at Honolulu. 

Kauai is a terrifically interesting island to visit; it has some amazing natural features. Kauai used to be known as “The Garden Island” and once you start exploring you will know why.  These days Kauai is known as “Hawaii’s Island of Discovery” and that’s another excellent description as there is so much to discover and enjoy on this remarkable island. If you are adding Kauai on to a visit to Oahu/Waikiki, we recommend you give yourself at least 3 full days (4 nights) just to scratch the surface of what Kauai has to offer.  When contemplating a stay on Kauai, the first thing you need to understand is that you can’t drive right around the island.  There is no road around the Napali Coast so a certain amount of backtracking needs to be done, no matter where you are staying. The main town is Lihue and there are three main areas to stay; The North Shore/Princeville, The Coconut Coast on the eastern side of the island and the South Shore/Poipu Beach Park district. Let us try to give you some pointers on each one.

The North Shore/Princeville
is the departure point for boat trips of all sorts to the wonderful Napali Coast.  Napali Coast must simply be seen to be believed with its huge mountainous cliffs meeting the sea, its wild valleys and beaches, caves and coastlands.  The landscape is like an oil painting with its amazing colours which change as the day progresses from dawn to dusk.  Whatever you do, don’t miss a visit to the Napali Coast.  You can look down on it from a land lookout point, but far, far better is viewing this phenomenon from the sea.  Hanalei Town is the historic centre of this region and it is known for its contemporary art galleries as well as many historic buildings. The distance between Lihue and Princeville, the resort area near Hanalei is 50 kilometres and the drive takes approximately 60 minutes from Lihue.

The Coconut Coast
is only about 15 minutes drive north of Lihue.  The whole region in this vicinity which includes Lihue and its port at Nawiliwili where the cruise ships berth, is the most densely populated on Kauai. Kapaa town is Kauai’s biggest town and Lihue is the second biggest, although you don’t get a feeling that the region is overrun with people as the populace is spread over a wide area.  Lihue is where you find the Big Box Retailers such as Walmart, Sears, Costco, K-Mart and Home Depot. There are lots of small, inland historic towns as well as a beach culture around The Coconut Coast which makes this region very close to what might be described as the “real” Kauai.  This is a good location to stay if you have limited time and plan to take in as much of Kauai’s features as you can; The Coconut Coast is virtually half way between Napali and Kauai’s other main attraction, the Waimea Canyon which is approximately 1½ hours away by road from here.

The South Shore/Poipu Beach Park
area is a favourite location for holidaymakers and it is the home of several major Resorts. This region is approximately 30 minutes from Lihue Airport and an hour or so by road from Waimea Canyon.  The South Coast is known for its dryer, sunny climate and is a delightful place to spend your holiday time.  The big Resorts hug the coastline with its sandy bays and delightful swimming spots.  Here you are surrounded by small shopping villages, golf courses and natural tourist attractions.  There is an historic town up the valley behind.  Heading west by road from the Poipu area to Waimea Canyon you pass by the Botanical Gardens which includes the Allerton and McBryde Gardens which are well worth a visit.  Waimea Canyon is an hour away and should not be missed whether you take a bus tour or self-drive by rental car.  Waimea Canyon is known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and it’s a terrific sight from the high lookout.  From the lookout you can see way up the canyon and actually look down on the helicopters and light ‘planes taking sightseeing flights.

Try not to scrimp your time on Kauai; it’s really a destination in its own right.  If you have limited time or want to experience Kauai in a way you will never forget, do consider a 50 minute helicopter tour which will take in all the sights of Kauai including, but by no means limited to Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast while giving you access to places you would never see from the ground.  Weather permitting a helicopter tour may include a visit to the interior crater of the island where you fly between 5000 foot mountain walls and see 3000 foot waterfalls.  It’s an amazing experience and not over-the-top as far as price goes.

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OUR HAWAII – THE BIG ISLAND
Forty minutes or so away from Honolulu and you’re in another world.  A world of towering mountains, active volcanoes, barren dry plains and black rocky cliffs as well as major Beach and Golf Resorts, cattle ranches, beautiful waterfalls and lush green tropical forests. Hawaii supports two airports, one at Hilo which is the commercial centre on the east side of the island and the other at Kailua-Kona which services the tourism centre on the west side. Hawaiian Airlines has up to 20 flights each day between Honolulu and Kona and 15 flights each day between Honolulu and Hilo.

For a great holiday, it is probably best to use Kona as your arrival point as it is closest to the majority of the resorts.  There are 2 broad choices to make regarding the best place for your personal holiday needs and these are in the general area of Kailua-Kona south of the airport and the Kohala Coast north of the airport. Choose the Kailua-Kona area if you like the idea of being close to shopping as well as the historic Kailua-Kona town and the spectacular black lava cliffs and views forever. This region is also closest on the west cost to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which is around 2½ hours away by road.

The Kohala Coast is north of the airport and extends 80 kms up the west coast.  There are many lava-rock promontories which encircle beautiful little beaches, many of which are the home of Resorts and condominiums, each with at least 1 international-class golf course and an up-market shopping village.  Probably the best known is Waikoloa Beach in the centre of the Kohala Coast, around 50 kms from Kailua-Kona.  Choose the Kohala Coast for superb International Resorts, golf courses and up-scale shopping.

The main road circles the whole island and it is a very big day out to drive the whole circle as well as giving you time to stop off at the many places of interest along the way, so start early.  Heading up the west coast from Kailua-Kona the sea is on your left and the major mountains on your right.  North of the airport the road follows a very barren desert-like volcanic landscape until you arrive at the northern Kohala Coast Resorts and settlements.  Once you reach the northern point of the island the landscape changes to pasture land and this is “Hawaiian Cowboy Country”.  Around the northern point you soon enter the eastern side of the island and the Hamakua Coast; it’s in this region that the island scenery becomes that of tropical forests, wonderful waterfalls (don’t miss the famous Akaka Falls), rivers and beautiful botanical gardens. The town of Hilo is the commercial centre of The Big Island and 45 minutes south of Hilo you enter The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Just before you enter the park make sure you stop at the new Kalapana Viewing Area to watch as the flowing lava enters the sea in a mountain of steam from the Puu Oo vent of the erupting Mount Kilauea.  Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy what this area has to offer – Volcano House, The Chain of Craters Road, Thurston Lava Tube etc. It’s a big day, but a good drive and well worth the effort.

There is so much to experience and enjoy on The Big Island and we have barely scraped the surface for you, so, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy a visit to The Big Island, Hawaii, you will be pleased you did.


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Currency: 
US Dollars (USD)

Most major credit cards are accepted.

Flying time: approx. 9 hours from Auckland, New Zealand (dependant on airline) to Honolulu, Oahu.

Local Time: 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Weather:
May to October average 29.4 degrees celcius, whilst November to April averages 25.6 degrees celcius. Evening temperatures drop approx. 12 degrees. November to March are the wettest months.


Entry requirements:
* Valid passport for at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay (NZ passport holders)..

* A valid return or onward air ticket and sufficient funds.
*An ESTA Visa of approx. US$14 must be paid by New Zealand or Australian passport holders, visit www.cbp.gov/esta

Tipping:
15-20% on meals
US$1 per bag for porters
US$1 per night for housekeeping
US$2-US$5 for car valets

Check out Hawaii Tourism's Travel Safety Tips here

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