Trip Coach: November 25, 2008
Sheila Beal, editor of GoVisitHawaii.com, answered your questions on Hawaii.
Sheila Beal: Aloha fellow Hawaii travelers. I'm Sheila Beal, the editor of Go Visit Hawaii and I'm a big Hawaii travel enthusiast! I'm excited to be here with you today because I really want to help you make the most of your Hawaii vacation. So, let's get started with answering your questions.
Acworth, Ga.: When is the best time to book a resort, and how much lead time should I allow to begin planning my trip?
Sheila Beal: Aloha Acworth, Georgia–Let's answer your question about when is the best time to book a resort in Hawaii first. To get the best rates and fares, try to avoid holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
Generally, you'll find the best weather combined with the best hotel rates in the months of April, May, September (after Labor Day), and October.
I should mention that with the economy being a bit topsy-turvy at the moment, that some of the typical cost patterns we normally see are thrown out the window. For example, January, February and March are typically in the high (cost) season, but I'm seeing some pretty enticing deals for those months.
As for your question about how much lead time for planning your trip, if this is your first trip, you
might want to allow two weeks to a month for your planning. Here's a link to the steps I normally take when I plan my own vacations to Hawaii.
Arlington, Va.: My husband and I are expecting our first baby in July, and would like to take a vacation—our last alone together for awhile!—in March or April. Hawaii is high on the list of possible destinations. We're normally very active and adventurous, though I'll need to take it a bit easier than normal at that point. What Hawaii destinations and activities would you most recommend for us at this special time? (As a side note, we don't scuba dive or surf.) Many thanks!
Sheila Beal: Hi Arlington—Congratulations on expecting your first baby! Here are my thoughts on where to go for a pre-baby retreat in Hawaii in March or April:
- I think both Maui and Kauai have an abundance of great scenery and allow you to be as relaxed or as active as you want. In March and April, I'd recommend that you try to stay towards the drier, southern end of either Maui or Kauai to avoid rain.
- Ko'Olina resort area on the southwest side of Oahu might be a good fit as well. Oahu has more museums than any other island.
As far as activities beyond the excellent sight-seeing, I'm sure you'll probably want to be careful with the little one on the way. With that in mind, consider a luau, whale watching (from the shore, Maui is a particularly good island for whale watching), star gazing, and spa treatments (Hawaii has world class spas).
Boston, Mass.: What is the best (and worst) time of day to visit the USS Arizona site?
Sheila Beal: Aloha Boston–Aim to visit the USS Arizona very soon after it opens at 7:30am to avoid crowds and reduce/prevent your waiting time. For that very reason, I'd also avoid late afternoon arrivals. The National Park Service's Web site has quite a bit of useful information about planning your visit. I do recommend that you check it out and particularly note the strict security guidelines.
Dunellen, N.J.: My husband and I will be traveling to Hawaii for 10 days next September/October. We are in our late 20s and are more budget/adventure-oriented travelers, though we are willing to splurge on this trip a bit because it will be our five-year wedding anniversary. We plan to spend some time on the beach, but we would also like to do plenty of activities like hiking. How many islands should we try to cover, and which ones? I am leaning towards Maui, Oahu and Kauai, but I feel like that may be too much. Please advise.
Sheila Beal: Hello Dunellen, NJ–Your question is a very good one and I think you are on the right track in feeling that three islands in 10 days may be a bit much. My advice is to pick two islands to reduce your transit time and get the most out of your vacation. Now the next challenge is picking two out of the three that you've selected. That is a challenge, indeed! You can't go wrong with any of them. If you love hiking, I definitely recommend that you keep Kauai in your plans. I love hiking too, and Kauai is one of my favorites for hiking. Now the tough part is choosing between Oahu and Maui. Again, you can't go wrong. It's really a toss up. Maui is less built up than Oahu, but Oahu has quite a bit of budget friendly things to do. I suggest that you have a look at the island visitor bureaus Web sites and order their free vacation guides and see if that helps you narrow down your selection. Here are links to their sites:
Kauai Visitors Bureau
Oahu Visitors Bureau
Maui Visitors Bureau
Another tool that might help you decide is that Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has a very nice series of virtual helicopter tours online. You'll be able to virtually visit the islands and compare them and see what catches your eye. You can access all their virtual tours from here
I hope this helps. Good luck in choosing your islands. Remember that you can't make a bad choice and chances are you'll fall in love with Hawaii and return to the other islands in the future.