Reinvigorate Your Love For The Island

September 10, 2012 by  
Filed under family activities, hotels, informative, Life in Hawaii

The rigors of a routine can certainly catch up with you. With work, family, and bills presenting challenges on a daily basis, it can be difficult to find a moment to take for yourself. Despite the stresses that add up, Oahu never loses its splendor, and while you may have grown used to it over the years of living there, it is important to take a step back and unwind for a weekend. Whether it be for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or just a weekend you and that special someone agree upon, Oahu is teeming with spots that are perfect for a quick getaway. Taking a deep breath, sitting on the sand, and staring out at the Pacific is the best way to reconnect with what’s important in life. Here are a few ways to make your weekend unforgettable.

Book A Hotel

Even if it’s just down the road, booking at one of the luxurious island hotels is a great way to get yourself into that carefree-mode. Whether it be one of the many Waikiki hotels, such as the Lotus Honolulu, the Windward side in Kailua, or a bed and breakfast on the North Shore, packing a bag and letting go of household responsibilities will have an immediate effect on your demeanor. There isn’t anything quite like finding your bed turned down and ordering room service!

Go On A Tourist Excursion

Some people go their entire lives without exploring some of the tourist hotspots in their hometown. While this goes against the local mentality, grabbing a bit of culture–especially some as vibrant and eccentric as that of Hawaii–can help boost your pride in your area even further. Once you set your stuff down at the hotel, pick and choose from the huge host of cultural options available to you, such as the Bishop Museum, or the Honolulu Academy of Art. Living in an area that millions visit a year, it’s important to understand and appreciate the rich history of what surrounds you.

A Genuine Adrenaline Rush

Even if you feel completely familiar with the island, there are several activities that will help define your weekend tremendously: going skydiving is one of them. With you and your loved one hurtling towards the ground, the rush that you’ll experience is unlike any other. It is sharing experiences like this that strengthen relationships–and the 360 degree views of the island are pretty nice to boot!

Living on Oahu is a joy that shouldn’t be taken for granted. If your daily routine has you missing the beauty of your surrounding environment, or you just need a weekend to take a break with someone special, make it a weekend that will keep you going for a good, long time!

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Hawaii Misconceptions

With all the publicity Hawaii receives on TV and in the movies it’s easy to get a skewed picture of what the islands are really like. Hawaii’s diversity and varied geography allow for many different experiences; even stories you’ve heard from friends may paint a skewed picture. This article looks at some common misconceptions and will hopefully give you some ideas to plan a perfect trip.

Oahu and Waikiki

Waikiki, a suburb of Honolulu, is the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. Dozens of inexpensive hotels, the bright lights of a beautiful, active and modern city, and the allure of Waikiki Beach combine to form an intoxicating cocktail that many tourists can’t resist.

But Oahu’s real beauty is found outside Honolulu. The scenic H3 freeway cuts through razor edged volcanic ridges and takes one from the west to east side of the island, revealing miles of beautiful beaches. You won’t find hotels or condos here, rather several nice residential towns like Kailua where President Obama and his family vacation over winter holidays. Oahu’s north shore is much less developed, and out in the “country” is where one finds a few of the most famous surf breaks in the world – the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.

So although Waikiki wins the prize for being the most popular destination in Hawaii, it represents only a fraction of what Hawaii or even Oahu has to offer.

Crowds

Based on the popularity of Waikiki Beach one may expect the rest of Hawaii to be similarly crowded. Fortunately that’s not the case. Hawaii has over 100 great tourist beaches and on any island it’s possible to find one that’s virtually empty. This is especially true for Kauai’s north shore where you can count on many great beaches being visited by only a handful of people on weekdays. Every Hawaiian Island including Oahu can accommodate those who want to get away from big tourist crowds.

Cost

Hawaii caters to everyone including those on a tight budget. The best vacation value can be found in vacation rentals which allow for the possibility of inexpensive home cooked meals. Even on Maui, sometimes referred to as the playground of the wealthy, you’ll find condo rentals on the beach for less than $100/night at complexes like at Waiohuli Beach Hale, or from $150/night at places like Poipu Sands on Kauai.

Car rental prices fluctuate depending on demand. Rates of $30/day are common. Given how much there is to see and explore renting a car is highly recommended. Only Oahu has a good public transportation system.

Visitor Destination Areas

Hawaii has strict zoning regulations and it’s illegal to offer vacation rentals in many areas without the proper permits (permits are hard to get). Unfortunately this means you can’t rent an apartment or home in any residential area you want, particularly areas that are less touristy.

Fortunately several resort areas offer a nice selection of rentals including homes, condos and cottages and some resorts have a mix of residents and vacationers, particularly on Kauai which has a nice selection of condos.

Weather

Hawaii arguably has the best climate in the world. Winter time highs average about 78 degrees (25 Celsius), summer time highs around 86 (30 Celsius). Consistent winds prevent suffocating heat from ever taking hold. The ocean is always warm enough to swim in.

As wonderful as Hawaii’s weather is, from the perspective of a tourist who’s visiting for a week and expects the best, the weather can be frustrating. The same winds that make Hawaii one of the premier windsurfing destinations can also create unpleasant beach conditions, especially on east facing shores. Although the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii doesn’t see much rainfall, the topography of each island creates its own weather system, collecting and bunching up clouds. The result is a huge difference in weather in very short distances. For example, the wettest recorded spot on earth is on Kauai, but only 20 miles away it’s very dry, almost desert like.

The bottom line, residents of Hawaii are extremely lucky, but vacationers going for short trips need to plan winter vacations more carefully, selecting the driest region of an island to get the best possible weather.

Scenery

Whatever you imagine Hawaii to contain in terms of scenery, you’re probably right. What other region of the world contains such a variety of landscapes stuffed into such a small land mass? Jungles, forests, canyons, jagged cliffs, meadows, deserts, baron fields of lava rock, red dirt, palm fringed beaches, snow capped mountains, volcanic craters, moonscapes, and waterfalls. No wonder so many movies are filmed in Hawaii.

To see the contrasting scenes you have to leave the comfort of your resort and do some driving. For example, flying into Maui you’re not going to see any evidence of lush tropical scenery. But drive the road to Hana on the south east coast and you’ll be treated to waterfalls and a million shades of green.

Volcano

If you’ve seen anything on TV about Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island your impression of this area will be completely skewed. TV programs show a portion of the volcano up close at times when it’s spewing lava. Normally the volcano is simmering out of sight in a remote area of the park, and lava flow is below ground except where it enters the ocean.

Volcanoes National Park is an amazing area that should be visited. There are miles of hikes and interesting geology to explore. Just don’t go expecting to see lava. You may get lucky, but if you really want to see flowing lava you’ll need to take an air tour.

Sharks

Traveling to Hawaii is probably the least stressful vacation you can take. You don’t have to worry about terrible weather, tropical diseases, crime, or contaminated food. Perhaps because there’s so little to worry about, some people start fixating on Shark attacks. There are sharks in Hawaii, but attacks are rarer than other beach destinations. Hawaii averages about 3 attacks per year making the odds of an attack more than 1 in a million. Instead of worrying about sharks, worry about dangerous ocean conditions. About 50 people drown every year in Hawaii.

Length of Stay

The islands of Hawaii are relatively small. Maui is 727 square miles, while Kauai and Oahu are less than 600. As such many people try to see several islands in one short trip. That’s a mistake because each island has so many attractions to explore, and although only separated by a half an hour plane ride, the reality of modern day airport travel means that jumping islands wastes a full day.

So although it’s technically possible to see all the islands in a couple weeks, the experience won’t be as deep or meaningful. The rule of thumb is to budget at least one week per island, if you’re a goal oriented sight seeing type. Feel free to spend several weeks on one island – you won’t regret it.

Partying

Unlike Mexico, the Caribbean or Florida, Hawaii doesn’t have a reputation as a party destination even during spring break. Most tourists are families, couples, and honeymooners. The time zone difference (PST – 3 hours, but no daylight savings) results in earlier bed times for most people including residents who sometimes have to sync up with mainland businesses. Lahaina on Maui does offer some after-hours entertainment but only Honolulu has any significant night life.

Surfing

Hawaii has the most famous surf breaks in the world. Perhaps you’d like to see crazed surfers tackle Waimea Bay, the Banzai Pipeline, or Jaws. Or maybe you’re thinking of taking up surfing yourself, or at least, doing some righteous boogie boarding.

Before getting stoked about the surfing possibilities, there a few points to keep in mind. First, surf breaks are seasonal. The biggest breaks reach over 30ft in winter months, but struggle to top 2ft mid summer. And a number of beaches, especially on Maui, are situated such that they’re never really subject to any sizeable surf, even for boogie boarding. Finally, the best surf breaks are rarely suitable for novice surfers.

So if you’re considering a surfing or wave watching vacation you’ll want to research surf breaks and locations and time your trip. Kauai and Oahu have the best surf breaks for beginners although Maui does have several very mellow breaks. Spring is generally a good time for surfing with greater odds for nice sized waves that aren’t overwhelming.

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It’s Goodies and Good Times for Families at Hawaii’s Outrigger Reef on the Beach

July 2, 2012 by  
Filed under columns, hotels, Life in Hawaii

Families ready for a Hawaii vacation of fun in the sun along Oahu’s Waikiki Beach can stay and play comfortably at Outrigger Reef on the Beach with a new family getaway package. Available through September 30, 2012, the property’s family package starts at $429 per night and includes a spacious suite with enchanting city and ocean views coupled with a souvenir bag filled with Hawaiian-style tasty treats and activities.

Sure to top the charts of all-time favorite family vacations, the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Family Package offers the ultimate combination of landscapes with a city view room adjoined to a partial ocean view room that can comfortably accommodate a family or group up to six. Additionally, Outrigger Reef on the Beach provides each family with a welcome gift valued at $50 including a Kani Ka Pila Grille logo bag brimming with an assortment of local goodies, such as a six-pack of juice, assorted local snacks and a family-friendly book, titled “Akua Hawaii” (Hawaiian Gods and their Stories) by Kimo Armitage.

“At Outrigger Reef on the Beach, we believe that vacations — or any time spent with your family — are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to create lasting memories and unforgettable experiences,” said Patsy Narimatsu, director of sales and marketing for Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Reef on the Beach. “Ohana, or family in the Hawaiian language, is an important value in our culture and the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Family Package offers guests the perfect medley of a relaxing getaway and quality family time.”

Outrigger Reef on the Beach makes getting away with the “fam” a truly relaxing experience with all-new and upgraded rooms, each featuring a 32-inch flat screen LCD television, enlarged bathrooms and full-size bathtubs, complimentary high-speed internet access and Nintendo capabilities for the entire family to enjoy.

Additionally, as one of Waikiki’s most family-friendly properties, Outrigger Reef on the Beach offers a variety of on-site activities ranging from the traditional lei making and hula dancing classes to brief tutorials for families to learn to play the ukulele. For families ready to jump right into Hawaii’s bright blue waters, surfing, stand up paddling and more can be arranged through the hotel’s beach activities desk. The hotel also offers a Na Ali‘i Walking Tour, educating keiki and adults on the local legends and history of the surrounding area of Waikiki. Families can also stroll down the street to Waikiki Beach Walk® to shop, dine and play at some of Hawaii’s premier stores and restaurants. And at the end of a long day, the hotel’s poolside restaurant, Kani Ka Pila Grille, offers a selection of local and established favorites for every taste bud and is host to live nightly Hawaiian music from renowned and up-and-coming artists.

“What truly sets Outrigger Reef on the Beach apart is not just the accommodations — which gives families the space to spread out while remaining close to one another — but the added amenities and perfect location, which puts everyone close to all the action and experiences that Waikiki has to offer,” added Narimatsu.

Hotel reservations can be made by contacting the toll free number 1-800-OUTRIGGER (1-800-688-7444) within the United States, Guam and Canada. Or, visit www.outriggerreef.com or e-mail bf.orf@outrigger.com.

Information & photos courtesy of Outrigger Hotels

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Where to Stay on your Hawaii Vacation

June 2, 2012 by  
Filed under columns, hotels, Life in Hawaii

The first step in planning a vacation to Hawaii is to decide which island you’d like to visit. There are six islands to choose from: Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai. Most first time travelers will choose from the four largest islands, leaving Molokai and Lanai for later trips.

Choosing an island is both fun and easy. It’s impossible to make a mistake because all the islands offer those special qualities Hawaii is famous for: great weather, beautiful scenery, wonderful beaches and friendly people. Many people fall in love with the islands and visit them all eventually. Just don’t make the mistake of visiting too many islands in a single trip. The rule of thumb is that you need at least a week to get a taste of each island because there is so much to see and explore.

Once you’ve selected an island, a more difficult question arises: where to stay on the island? Below is an overview of the most popular regions of each island to give you some ideas.

Oahu

Waikiki is the most popular destination in Hawaii. The convenience of direct flights from many cities in North America and Asia to Oahu, a large selection of inexpensive hotels and condos, great beaches, and all the excitement and activities of Honolulu make it an easy choice for visitors. Most people are already familiar with Waikiki and Honolulu due to all the publicity it gets on TV.

17 Miles north of Honolulu on Oahu’s west coast is the Ko Olina resort. Here you’ll find four hotels: Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa, the Marriott Ihilani, Ko Olina Beach Villas, and the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. The hotels are built around four man made lagoon style beaches.

On Oahu’s north shore about an hour from Waikiki is the 880 acre Turtle Bay Resort. The resort includes a hotel, villas, and condos. This is a more remote area of the island, famous for its surf breaks. You won’t find any malls or large developments, but there are plenty of nice beaches.

Maui

Maui’s resorts are located along its dry western coast. Starting in the southwest is Maui’s flagship resort, Wailea. Here you’ll find three 5 star hotels and several condominium developments including Wailea Beach Villas, one of Hawaii’s most luxurious. Although the region is very dry the finely manicured resort is always green. This area of the island has more than half a dozen wonderful beaches.

Just north of Wailea is the busy town of Kihei which runs for 6 miles along the coast. Kihei offers many affordable condo developments on or near the ocean. There are three nice swimming beaches here.

On Maui’s west coast is Kaanapali, Hawaii’s first planned resort whose development began in the 1960′s. Built along the fabulous Kaanapali beach which stretches for over 2 miles (in two sections), the resort features many hotels and a handful of condo developments. Kaanapali is located 2 miles north of Lahaina, an energetic town with a rich history that has become a tourist magnet. Here you’ll find many dining options, luau’s and magic shows, historic buildings, plenty of tourist shops, and whale watching boat trips departing from the harbor.

About 10 miles north of Lahaina is Kapalua resort. This is home to the 5 star Ritz Carlton Kapalua as well as several luxury town home developments. Between Kaanapali and Kapalua are the communities of Honokowai, Kahana, and Napili, all featuring many oceanfront condo developments. There are several popular beaches and snorkel spots in and around Kapalua.

Big Island

As with Maui, the most popular tourist areas of the Big Island are along its dry west coast. Many visitors stay in the Kona region which has a large selection of affordable condos and several hotels. You’ll find many dining options and a variety of tourist shops in Kona. The coastal waters here are among the clearest in Hawaii and this is a popular area for scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing.

North of Kona is the Kohala coast where you’ll find the Waikoloa Beach Resort, Mauna Lani Resort, and Mauna Kea Resort areas. This is one of the driest regions in all of Hawaii and much of the region is barren lava field. The greenery of the resorts with their golf courses provide a stark contrast. For accommodations expect a great selection of modern condos and town homes and an interesting selection of hotels, including the Hilton Waikoloa Village which is set on 62 acres. Most of the Big Island’s beaches are located along the coast here.

Volcano Nationals Park is a highlight of the Big Island. Most visitors take a long day trip from Kona to visit the Park, but it is possible to stay in Volcano Village, a small community beside the Park which has a handful of bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals.

On the east coast is Hilo, the largest community on the island and famous for being the wettest town in the United States. Lush vegetation and waterfalls highlight the region. There are a few hotels and condos in Hilo, but many people chose a vacation rental in the region. One benefit of staying on the east coast is that one is closer to Volcanoes National Park. The Park really deserves a full day or more of exploration, so staying nearby is a good idea. For that reason consider a split stay with a few days spent on the east side of the island.

Kauai

Visitors to Kauai have three regions to choose from: the north, east or south shores. The decision of where to stay can be difficult because each region is very different and there are many factors to consider. You can read the following in depth guide of where to stay on Kauai to help make an informed decision.

For further reading, here’s another page that discusses the Hawaiian Islands.

Courtesy of HawaiiGaga.com

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