Hawaii hotel suggestions?
November 8, 2004 7:40 PM   Subscribe

After several gray, barely above freezing days I'm looking to spend a week or two in Hawaii this xmas. But SEO spammers have taken over and anything remotely rated to "hawaii hotel" or "kauai house rental" end up with hundreds of pages of crappy stuff. I can't find any hotel guides or designy boutique hotel stuff. Anyone ever have an amazing time on Kauai or the big island? Where should I look?
posted by mathowie to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Travel Channel results

There was a show I watched the other day about the hotels in Hawaii. Some were really beautiful. I'm not sure how helpful the site will be, but it seems a good place to maybe get some names and ideas.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:14 PM on November 8, 2004

Kauai, Wiacoma Stream Villas. However, IMO, look at South America. Its cheaper while feeling less cheap than Hawaii. And really, after that long in the plane landing in America feels like a bit of a rip off.
posted by jmgorman at 8:14 PM on November 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

This might not be exactly what you're looking for, but I had an amazing time at Backpackers on the north shore of Oahu a few years ago. It's rustic and beautiful up there, (read: NOT swanky or touristy), and staying in a cabin with a bunch of other young travelers was ridiculously fun and cheap for $20/night. I see on their website that they also have private cabins for rent.

My only other advice is to bring back a case of pineapples. You just can't get them that fresh over here on the mainland.
posted by bonheur at 8:52 PM on November 8, 2004


My wife and I have been to Kauai three times. I can tell you our feelings, and that I was really skeptical my first time, thinking it would be a disney-fied mess. I can tell you it's a wonderful destination.

We greatly prefer the relative isolation and lushness of the north shore, and any beachfront or near beach house in Hanalei or the north shore is great. Email me if you want to discuss more.

Kauai is possibly the most laid back, lovely place I've ever been, and I've been to a lot of tropical and caribbean areas.
posted by docpops at 8:52 PM on November 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

Kauia Revealed is part of the best series of Hawaii guidebooks. They have one for each of the islands, I think. I used the Maui one on a trip and it was way better than any of the big company guides (I also had Lonely Planet). The hotel section is very extensive too (and has aerial photos of pretty much all of them so you can see the pool).

When we went, we stayed at a condo. It was very reasonable compared to the hotels and way more relaxing. Not right on the beaches though. On the water, but in a rocky area.
posted by smackfu at 9:47 PM on November 8, 2004

I've been going to the North Shore of Kauai whenever I've had the time and the money since 1988. It's a lot more developed than it used to be, but it was still a great place and relatively unspoiled the last time I was there in 2001. Haena is definitely the most beautiful place on the island, but vacation rentals have gotten ridiculously expensive. Hanalei is also great, and although it's cheaper than Haena, it's still pretty expensive. You won't find any condos or hotels in Hanalei and Haena. Kilauea is cheaper, and it has some amazing beaches, but the houses aren't directly on the beach and you'll have to drive 30 minutes or so to get to the tropical jungle hiking.

Avoid Princeville at all costs -- it's a plastic golf-oriented retirement community. The locals call it "Haolewood" (haole is a derogatory word for white people).

Bali Hai has the best selection of houses. Once you find a house you're interested in, Google its name and you're likely to find other sites with more pictures and info. Googling "Kauai vacation rentals" turns up a lot of good stuff as well.

If you're a lot more interested in hiking than in beaches, it might be worth staying near the Volcano National Park or Waipio Valley on the Big Island, or in Hana on Maui.

Prices go up and everything gets crowded over Christmas, so if there's any way you can go in early December or after the New Year, you'll appreciate it a lot more.

Feel free to e-mail me if you want more advice.
posted by fuzz at 10:30 PM on November 8, 2004

If you go to Kauai, and you like hiking, check out Koke'e State Park, and consider staying at the Koke'e Lodge. It's right in the middle of the park, and it's a few simple self contained cabins with hot water and a kitchen. There's also a tiny little general store that serves breakfast. But you're in the middle of the park, you can hike from your door, and I think it's like $30-$45.

You can hike to a high elevation swamp, you can hike along the coast, it's pretty cool. They don't seem to have much web presence, but it's really easy to arrange over the phone. Here's a link to a Frommer's review, for what that's worth - but they do give the phone number.
posted by freebird at 10:57 PM on November 8, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips all! I'm thinking north shore for a week after new years will do. That Bali Hai site looks great and exactly what I was looking for.
posted by mathowie at 11:29 PM on November 8, 2004

I spent a couple weeks in Kauai a couple years ago. I stayed in a yurt which is basically a hut on stilts. In fact, this is the < ahref=http://www.aloha.net/~debs/>yurt I stayed at. I was there in late January and the nights were mild and breezy, perfect sleeping weather. For me the yurt was great, I only used the yurt to sleep. I spent the rest of my time hiking, snorkeling or scuba diving.

There is a lot of spectacular hiking available. On that trip I went to Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. If you go to the big island I recommend doing the night time Manta Ray dive with these folks.

I'm not much for high class motels so I'm not a good person to ask about it. I only spend 5 or 6 hours per day in a hotel room unless it's for business.
posted by substrate at 5:07 AM on November 9, 2004

I've only been to Hawaii twice in my life but I feel homesick for specific places I visited. Generally speaking my wife and I avoided the crowds as we travelled around the Big Island and Maui. We've stayed at a total of nine places in seven towns, from treehouse to lodge to bed and breakfast. Our first trip was more or less a grand tour of the two islands. On our second trip we stayed in one town: Kona (more properly Kailua-Kona) on the western side of the Big Island.

Each island has features that are not offered by the others. Maui, for instance, offers the stunning road to Hana and the bizarre moonscape of the Haleakala summit. But it's the charms of the Big Island which have proven to be the most compelling to me. Only there can you go from the warm waters of the shore to the 14,000 foot summit of Mauna Kea, buying leis from a plumeria farm outside of town and wearing them up to the desert of the mountaintop where you watch the sun set in a sea of clouds and the stars shine out in the perfect blackness of the sky. Only there can you hike across the steaming floor of a dormant volcano, then drive to the coast where glowing lava pours into the sea.

If you're planning to see much of the island then Kailua-Kona offers a fine location from which to start your journeys. It's an hour or less from the fine beaches of Kohala, and you can take day trips to Volcano National Park, to the summit of Mauna Kea, to the incredible Waipio Valley, to the coffee farms of South Kona, and to a black sand beach where you can bask with sea turtles. Kona is also a fine town with many good restaurants, excellent coffee, and somewhat too many touristy stores. If you're willing to stay in more than one town over the course of your trip then I'd be glad to recommend other charming and convenient places.

I have a number of photographs from my trips to Hawaii in my terribly neglected photoblog if you care to see some of the places I've mentioned.

I am always always always glad to talk about Hawaii; please do not hesitate to pick my brain. It makes me happy just to think about this stuff.

Oh - the "Revealed" books already mentioned are by far the best I've seen, quite unlike most other guidebooks. Get these for whichever islands you're planning to visit, and then log in at their website for inter-edition updates.
posted by Songdog at 6:45 AM on November 9, 2004

One of the most memorable things we did on Kauai was take a catamaran tour of the Na Pali coast. It's absolutely beautiful and only accessible by sea, air or foot. We saw whales and dolphins on the way out and the snorkeling was great. Highly recommended.
posted by turbodog at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2004

Sadly, the Coco Palms was closed down. I stayed there as a kid and it was amazing.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:47 AM on November 9, 2004

My wife and I love the Hanalei Colony Resort. They have 2-3 bedroom condos for nightly rental. Even the "garden view" ones are close enough to the ocean to hear it. The entire area is beautiful, and the prices are very good.

It's in ha'ena, nearly as far north you can go into the north shore. The one downside is that you have to drive a few miles (the nearest town is Hanalei, about 5 miles south) to get food or groceries or anything. Crossing the 6-7 one-lane bridges to get there the first time was quite an experience too, but after a few days it felt like home.

If you like something nice and remote, this is it. You could go more remote (one of Bali Hai Realty's rental houses) but we liked at least having a few human beings nearby. It's about half residents and half rentals, and everyone there was friendly.

The only unpleasant part was packing up and leaving...
posted by mmoncur at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2004

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