To celebrate Tami’s birthday and our anniversary, we spent most of April in Hawaii. We had never been before, and it was actually our 49th state to travel to together. (Alaska will be the big 5-0 this summer when we go to celebrate Eric’s 50th birthday!) Since it was our first time in Hawaii, we weren’t sure which island to visit, so we made plans to visit them all over the course of the 3 weeks we were there. Now that we’ve spent time in all of them, the question to answer is which was our favorite? That’s so hard to answer since they are all very different, but we did our best to think about the real differences.
Tami and I started our trip in Oahu, and this was our least favorite island. We stayed in Honolulu at the Waikiki Resort Hotel for a few days, and the busyness of the area was not our idea of Hawaii. Now, we did go to the North Shore one day and absolutely loved the laid-back feel of that area. We also went to Pearl Harbor one day and really learned a lot about the history of that day, and while I loved going to Pearl Harbor, it was a bit upsetting to learn of the details of how we were attacked. We skipped the Dole Pineapple Plantation tour but feel like we saw enough to get a good feel of the island. The water was beautiful, but you really had to be careful where you tried to wade in as the crashing waves were deceiving because the water depth got pretty deep close to the shoreline. We only stayed on Oahu for 3 days, but that was plenty for us. Oahu is where we were introduced to the state bird of Hawaii – the chicken! Just kidding, but seriously, there are chickens everywhere in Hawaii! From outdoor restaurants to pool areas to the side of the road. Everywhere!
Next, we went to Kauai and really loved this island. It felt like the most laid-back island of them all. We stayed at the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy for about 5 days and loved it! We had an oceanfront room, and the view was incredible. It also had a washer/dryer in the room which was nice since we only brought enough clothes for about a week or so. We actually celebrated Tami’s birthday on this island by attending our first luau. While the island of Kauai is 70% uninhabited, we did take a helicopter tour of the island to see it all: the rain forests, the Na Pali coast, and incredible 2,000 ft waterfalls. The Na Pali coast was spectacular. I fully expected to see King Kong swinging around the rocks at any moment! Although we saw the Na Pali coast by air, we also took the time to see it by sailboat while we were there too. We also visited Waimea Canyon which was very impressive and surprising. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the sun while sipping Mai Tais, but this island was mostly about adventure. The weather was crazy on Kauai because it would go from sunny to rainy and back to sunny in less than 20 minutes; thank goodness we packed our rain jackets! I was told that Kauai is one of the wettest places on the planet, and I have to agree. We would rate Kauai very high on our list of the islands though and would love to go back.
BIG ISLAND, HAWAII
From Kauai, we went to the Big Island. We stayed at the Royal Kona Resort for about 5 days and had a great oceanfront corner balcony with perfect sunset views. (The resort itself was pretty, but we weren’t too impressed with the room, so don’t take our visit as a recommendation to book there.) We had a lagoon area outside our room that had a precious sea turtle in it every afternoon and we made friends with tons of birds who visited us in the morning for their Goldfish snack. It was crazy how different each island was though! The Big Island was visibly showing signs of the massive volcanic eruption last year. We visited the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but there is no active lava flow on the island anymore. A lot of the coast line that we saw had the hardened lava rock piled up right along the crashing waves. While it was beautiful, much of it made it difficult to actually get into the water. Of course, there were many places to access the water, but much of it was not like walking in from a beach. We did do some snorkeling on this island and the water clarity was amazing. Our favorite snorkeling location on this island was a place called Two Steps. The Big Island also ranked very high in the restaurant department, and our favorite was probably the poke Tuna and the fried fish tacos, yum!
After the Big Island, we flew to Maui in our first “puddle jumper” which was interesting. We were 2 of only 5 passengers, and it looked like our pilot was 12, but we made it! We stayed at the Westin Resort and Spa for about 9 days and our oceanfront room was newly renovated and beautiful! The resort itself was pretty and we were walking distance from some great food, which always makes us happy. Maui had the best beach feel of all the islands. Most of the water was accessible by the beaches and the snorkeling was the best to us as well. The restaurants in the area were spectacular, and I really can’t think of anything on Maui that we did not like. Maui was all about beaches and water activities, and that is really what me and Tami like the most. We did take the opportunity to go snorkel Molokini which is a submerged volcano that is a haven for live coral and sea life. We swam with so many sea turtles! Back at the resort, we spent several days just relaxing by the beach and even got our first couple’s massage the day before we left. We rented stand-up paddle boards (which are a lot harder to stand on than we thought) and snorkeled right outside our beach with sea turtles several times. One of our favorite days was spent driving the Road to Hana. It took us an entire day to get to Hana and back, and the road was long and winding, but it was so worth it. We saw more waterfalls in one day than we had the entire trip! Maui ended up being the island that we relaxed the most at and I think that is because is felt more like the beaches we are used to back home, with much prettier water.
So that is the highly condensed run down of our journey to Hawaii. This was our 49th state to visit, and we absolutely loved it all. Now that we have had time to digest it all we ranked them from our favorite to least favorite.
- Maui is our favorite island because of the incredible beaches, waterfalls, and the access to the water almost everywhere you go.
- Kauai was our 2nd favorite because of the laid-back feel, the Na Pali coast, and for the best poke tuna of our trip (Many thanks to Sam’s for 2 incredible meals)
- The Big Island was our third favorite for its beautiful water, volcanic scenery, and food!
- Oahu was our 4th favorite because of the great tour of Pearl Harbor, the North Shore,
To see more pics from our Hawaii trip, click here to check out our Hawaii Google Photo Album