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It's Happening! - Oahu -> Big Island -> Maui -> Kauai 2023

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Spring 2023:

Currently booking flights on Hawaiian Air for my mother (out in Texas) and myself, flying back to Japan via Japan Airlines. So my mother can hang out with me in Japan and help me buy the house for The Makuhari Club.

First stop will be the Royal Hawaiian for Oahu for four nights, then four nights at properties to be determined on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

Screen Shot 2022-10-11 at 17.33.14

If you have followed previous posts in other threads, this trip was supposed to be this year, but my father passed away right before we were to go and right after my mother's birthday (which the trip was supposed to celebrate), and obviously a trip to Hawaii was about the least important thing imaginable. Still I firmly believe that getting through this trip with an amazing experience is key to my mother's process. Right now this unfinished trip and my father's death are mentally linked.

I'm pulling out all the stops, using a decade's worth of points and miles, calling in favors, and not above using our bereavement to ensure this is the greatest experience of my mother's life, if possible.

Any tips or tricks from my fellow Centralites would be so incredibly appreciated.

[ Edited by SouthSeasKat on 2022-10-11 01:45:39 ]

Some resources on the site: https://ultimatemaitai.com/travel/big-island-of-hawaii/

And updates from this past summer for Oahu and Kauai https://ultimatemaitai.com/tag/honolulu/


[ Edited by kevincrossman on 2022-10-11 10:54:47 ]

[ Edited by kevincrossman on 2022-10-11 10:55:04 ]

Hi Kat, I'm guessing you are looking for things to do with / for your mom. Almost right next door to the Royal Hawaiian is House Without A Key in the Halekulani. Not only do they have great cocktails and food there is a sunset show featuring "distinctive Hawaiian music is paired with graceful dancing of former Miss Hawaii & Miss Hawaii-USA winners." Shows begin at 5:30. I'd get a reservation although the bar is usually open.

[ Edited by rum on the rideau on 2022-10-18 12:51:32 ]

That is indeed what I'm asking for!

My mother wants me to basically be the travel agent. She has a few things she wants to do generally, like "go to a botanical garden" and "go to a luau" but that's about it.

I've got all of our inter-island Hawaiian air tickets booked (was able to pay for it through miles), and got her ticket from Texas. My ticket from Japan will be covered soon (business/first on Hawaiian, just waiting for the miles to post for October). And we're going to probably get a rental/condo on Big Island and Kauai (5 days each, so we can see the natural wonders), maybe another nice resort hotel on Maui between for another rest.

Then I need to figure out where to put my mother back in Makuhari! My studio apartment is much too small for her to stay with me. My mother said "well, we could buy the house on the first day" but obviously she was joking. ...I hope.

Hi, SouthSeas! Sorry for the delay in responding - I saw this thread a little while back but have been so busy I forgot to come back to post.

For the Kauai portion of your trip, this thread has some trip reports from me and other folks - I did update it after my November 2021 visit, so scroll down toward the bottom for more updated info (sadly, some good places have closed since my earlier posts):


I will have more updates after February 2023.

4 nights is quick, but generally for Kauai I'd say the top things to do are a Na Pali Cruise, see the North Shore/Hanalei, and Waimea Canyon. It's a great island for a helicopter tour, if you're up for that, as much of the island can't be viewed any other way.

Since you mentioned your mom wants to see a botanical garden, I recommend Limahuli Gardens. It's a rare chance to get up into the valley a bit and has great views of Makana ("Bali Hai" mountain.) Do use the mosquito repellant if they tend to like you. Kauai also has 2 other National Tropical Botanical Gardens, Allerton & McBryde - all three are detailed on this site: https://ntbg.org/gardens/limahuli/

There's also Na Aina Kai (https://naainakai.org/) , which I haven't been to. The Wai Koa Loop trail goes to a surprisingly nice area with a big stone dam.

Personally, I love walking around Smith's Tropical Paradise (https://www.smithskauai.com/) It's not as fancy a garden, but I love the setting. They also do a luau here; I haven't been to the luau in ages, but enjoyed it many years ago. Now we usually just go during the day to walk around and feed the birds. Another Kauai luau that I've heard recommended a lot is the Luau Kalamaku at Kilohana Plantation. Although, for luaus, the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui tends to the most highly recommended overall, so you may want to do that activity there (again, I haven't done it in close to 30 years, but it was impressive.)

If you're interested in the old Coco Palms hotel, you can still arrange a tour with Bob Jasper - the grounds are sadly in ruins, but Bob is full of stories and I'll always go to the tour again. https://www.facebook.com/groups/98320760038/

As of our last trip, Mamahune's was still our best "Tiki" experience - hopefully you'll be there when Tom is working, it makes a big difference. Tahiti Nui is a must see and the food is decent - and go ahead and have a "mai tai" even though it's not a Vic or Donn version. Tiki Iniki is there, so you may as well stop, but ask them in advance not to top off your drink with soda or just stick with rum, neat. The Mahiko Lounge at Kilohana Plantation does a decent Mai Tai using Koloa rum (who also have a tasting room on site) and fresh pressed sugar cane juice. There's a "rum safari" here too, it's OK - you get to see more of the plantation and try rum drinks, with a side of cheesy jokes. Oh - an unexpected place where we found decent drinks is The Cabana at the Poipu Beach Club - it's not far from KÄ€NEIOLOUMA (https://www.kaneiolouma.org/about) hopefully the Ki'i will be back in place by the time you arrive.

Oh - and if you can swing it, contact Bill Collins and arrange to pick up a custom Tiki from him! Not sure if he checks in over here anymore, but he's on facebook.

Let me know if you have any specific questions; we go as often as possible, so happy to help. I'll try to remember to come back and post anything else I think of.

Oh - you'll definitely want to visit the Havaiki shop in Hanalei https://www.havaikiart.com/

More of a museum than a store but full of things to admire.

Oh thanks, Bamalamalu, this is really helpful.

So, we have actually decided to spend 5 days in Kauai, not counting the inter-island flight days which seem to be mid-day for nearly every island.

Our activity list so far:

Luau Kalamaku, Zip Lining, Lydgate Farms Chocolate Tour

We talked about the helicopter tour, but my mother really isn't into the idea.

[ Edited by SouthSeasKat on 2022-11-06 05:41:48 ]

Yay, more days is better!

Helicopter tour isn't for everyone, I understand.

The main/unique thing to see on Kauai is Na Pali, so don't miss it.

The boat tours are great - it's the one paid activity I'll do every trip. If the boat or helicopter trips don't work for you, be sur to at least get a glimpse of the Kalalau Valley from the lookouts. When you visit Waimea Canyon, be sure to go all the way to the very end of the road - to the Puu o Kila lookout - FIRST (it's just PAST the actual "Kalalau Valley Lookout, which you should still stop at on the way back.) Clouds tend to develop in the valley as the day warms up, so it's best to do these lookouts first, then go back and stop at Kokee Lodge & museum and the the Waimea Canyon lookouts on your way back down. If you get to the Kalalau lookouts too late, you may see nothing but clouds/fog -- still pretty cool in an other-worldly way, but it's best to see the actual view.

And be sure to see as much of the North Shore mountains from the Hanalei side - do go over to the Pier for great views.

Enjoy your planning and reading all the previous trip reports here from various islands - I'm always making new notes based on people's reports!

Kat we spent 7 days on Maui in March and had a blast! If you will be driving on the islands download the GyPSy app for your phone. We paid about $15 for the single island, it's a little more multiple islands but still very inexpensive. Audio tour that uses GPS to direct you and tell you about points of interest, local history, etc. Uses bluetooth to pair to your car's speakers so you can hear it well. The info was always interesting and the directions were spot-on every time. It was the ONLY thing we got on that trip that was reasonably priced LOL

We're only on Maui for a few days, and I don't think we'll be renting a car. My mother isn't comfortable with it (she's a horrible backseat driver at the best of times, unless the driver is a "professional"). I think we may only be renting a car for one day on Big Island and one day on Kauai to get to things we haven't found shuttles, tours, or public transportation for.

If she's not a good backseat driver she WOULD NOT be happy with the Road to Hana on Maui. 40 miles of hair pin turns, single lane bridges, fog & rain, driving on the edges of cliffs, local drivers in big trucks that pass on blind corners LOL

Ah...OK. Unfortunately not having a car will limit you, especially on Kauai and the Big Island, so I'm glad you're already looking into tours and transportation.

I should rephrase, she's a horrible backseat driver when I'M the one driving. Professional drivers she trusts. I've been driving for over 25 years and she still acts like I'm 15 with a learner's permit.

Gotta love our parents LOL And we have to be careful we don't do the same to our kids

Well Kat, looks like you will have a great time. We just got back from Kauai and Oahu little while ago and can confirm, from what we saw while there, these are great suggestions.

Would add, don't know how nimble your mom is, so if you are planning a Na Pali boat tour, the tours out of the north tend to be more snorkel oriented requiring a degree of mobility. The sunset / dinner cruises are out of the south.

I would add IF you have a car, and if you are in the south of Kauai, and if you like artisan shops (pottery, art, jewelry etc), check out the small town Hanapepe. If you are a Disney freak, Hanapepe is the inspiration for some of the art in Lilo and Stitch. Fri night is art night. http://www.hanapepe.org/art-night. And.. for a coffee and or ice cream head down the road just a bit to Kauai Coffee. Get the Affogato.

Here's a pic of a Bill Collins carving from Havaiki Tribal Arts which fit neither in our carry-on nor the wallet.


and here's pic from the fore-mentioned House Without a Key sunset show. Great cocktails there.


Ooh, thank you.

Yeah, I'd love to take a larger tiki back to Japan with me, since I've started the house search officially (spoke with my real estate agent a couple days ago, so he can do the prelim on the market research), but I think it's gonna be a while before large tikis show up at the (New) Makuhari Club.

Just a few updates. I'm on Big Island right now, roughly 1/3rd of the way through the trip.

Started with a first class flight from HND to HNL:

Mix your own drinks at the JAL lounge, so I made a jungle bird (came out a bit oranger than expected):


First class on Hawaiian. The crew and the food was amazing. The Mai Tais were plentiful but... a bit caustic. Pre-mixed and low-shelf rum. I had to ask for POG juice to make them drinkable.

IMG_20230309_193020 IMG_20230309_193932IMG_20230309_204900IMG_20230309_211014

On account of my status, The Royal Hawaiian upgraded to an Ocean View room, and for my mother, they gave us chocolates, strawberries, and coconut cake. The breakfasts were all huge enough (and included) to basically serve us as two meals.

And I cannot begin to rave adequately about the staff. Just top notch. Was not prepared for the Japanese style service, but on account of my travel origin, I was assigned to the Asian Management Team and it was about 50% English/50% Japanese. My stay also included a credit, so we probably spent more money on tips given to the staff than we did outside of what I prepaid! I hate tipping culture in the US though, we don't do it in Japan. Just pay people a living wage! I'll gladly pay the higher rate.


I had a few different Hawaiian Mai Tais, but I started with the Vic's 44:


We did Pearl Harbor, and only did the newly reopened control tower and the Pacific Aviation Museum, I failed multiple times to get Arizona reservations. That was frankly enough. That and the grounds took us like five or six hours.


Today is Day 2 of the Big Island, and on Day 1 we did the full circuit. Kona Coffee, Volcanoes, Waterfalls, and lots of rolling pasture cattle ranch land. 12 hours. For the next couple of days, we're probably just going to chill in Kona. I'm headed to the Cheeky Tiki tonight maybe?


Then it's off to Maui!

Looks like you're off to a great start!

Quick tip for Kauai, in case you hadn't seen my updates in the travel/locating forums: If possible, try to plan your Mamahune's visit to Friday daytime (Noon til about 4 pm) or any time Saturday, when Tom is working. It's a much better experience when he's there than when he's not.


Noted! And I think we will be there on at least one of those two days. Maybe both.

Love Cheeky Tiki in Kona. Great new bar.

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