Help us plan a trip to Hawaii!
May 4, 2019 8:08 AM   Subscribe

As the title says, planning a Hawaii trip... but we're unsure where specifically we should stay. Advice needed!

My partner and I would like to go to Hawaii at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. We have previously been to Kauai twice, and loved it, but are thinking we will branch out and try something different since Kauai will likely be very rainy at that time. We've read that Southwest Maui has nice weather at that time of year, but don't know much about the island. We would love some suggestions for where might be ideal for us to stay (island and area), based on your experience and the following:

1) We like peaceful and quiet places; not interested in staying in a larger centre
2) We would ideally like to stay somewhere where the weather is on the warmer/drier side that time of year
3) Close to good snorkeling areas would be ideal

Any other tips from people who are more familiar with Hawaii's beautiful islands are welcomed!
posted by DTMFA to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've only stayed in the Ka'anapali area, and the weather is generally perfect. Once you get past Napili heading up towards Kapalua, it seems to get more rain, in my experience. You may get showers in the Ka'anapali area, but they usually move through quickly.

As for places to stay, I'd stay away from the high-rises around Whaler's Village and move a bit north. Napili Shores seems pretty low-key, and I've stayed at Aston Ka'anapali Villas several times and it's quite pleasant.

Snorkeling-wise, I liked Napili and Black Rock/Ka'anapali. Olowalu Beach has some really nice snorkeling as well. I was on Maui last December and did a snorkel trip to Lana'i with the Pacific Whale Foundation and it was really fun; saw lots of fish at the cove in Lana'i and so many dolphins and whales on the trip over and back.
posted by mogget at 8:55 AM on May 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I also recommend the northern end of the Ka'anapali area. Great weather, great beaches, and it's pretty quiet considering the number of resorts that are around. And it's not far from the town of Lahaina, which has some really good restaurants.
posted by neushoorn at 10:25 AM on May 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

All three of your criteria scream Big Island to me. More specifically, the Captain Cook/Kealakekua Bay part of the Big Island. Captain Cook is about a 25 min drive south of Kona town, so you can be close to restaurants and stores if you want them, but it's quiet, out of the way, and both Manini Beach and Two Step are right there, and are some of the best snorkeling in the Western Hemisphere. It rains, but it doesn't rain a ton - the Kona side of the island is the dry side so most of the time it'll be pretty ideal.

As you look into that area, you'll see a lot about Captain Cook snorkeling tours, which are very popular. Where I'm talking about is the opposite (south) end of the bay, and there are very few people who snorkel on that side - and, dirty little secret, it's every bit as good as the overcrowded monument side of the bay. There are any number of airbnb/vrbo lodgings down there, some B&B's if that's more what you're looking for, and there is a small grocery store and a few little restaurants down that way too.

Memail me if you want more info, but based on what you're looking for I really think you'd enjoy Captain Cook.
posted by pdb at 4:04 PM on May 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I lived in Hawai'i for 21 years.

Nutshell answer: Avoid Waikiki.

Go for the Big Island and then Maui; if you can do two islands research those more from online or library.

Kauai is old and creepy to me -- other people love it -- but -- wasn't my vibe, had been six different times and never jibed with me. So I'd say avoid. True, there is some real beauty there but to get to it is arduous.

Bring money. Very expensive, wherever you land.
posted by zenpop at 4:33 PM on May 4, 2019

I've only been to Hawai`i once, and only briefly, for business, but my experience aligns very well with zenpop: The area around Honolulu is super dense, and Waikiki itself just feels like Vegas, except with a beach. Not much fun. I hear from a former coworker who grew up there that the north shore is much less dense/populated/tourist-y, but I haven't been so I can't vouch for it.

I spent some additional time on the Big Island, mostly in Kona, and it was beautiful. Drove across the top of the island from Kona to Hilo, then down around the south shore, and all of it was absolutely beautiful. I'd love to go back and see the rest of the island.
posted by Alterscape at 10:36 PM on May 4, 2019

About weather: All the Hawaiian islands have volcanic mountains. The prevailing winds are from the East, and the mountains tend to extract a lot of moisture from them, which falls on the eastern side of the mountains as rain. The western sides are consequently drier. Here's a website with maps that demonstrate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:54 AM on May 5, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks all for these answers; very helpful to narrow our focus!
posted by DTMFA at 10:09 AM on May 5, 2019

Maui is the way to go if you are choosing something different from Kauai and donʻt want the city bustle of Waikiki. You can stay in an out-of-the-way place while still being close to what you want to do.

There is a bit of contradiction in what you want to do as the warmer, dryer areas are ideal for tourism making them busy. Maui is not busy-busy compared to other locations so staying in a place like Kihei, you wonʻt feel overwhelmed yet there is enough going on not to get bored. There are plenty of great beaches for snorkeling so you donʻt have to spend a lot of time in a car driving to one. That is an issue if you plan to stay in an area that is out-of-the-way.

There are a lot of ways to enjoy some awesome snorkeling. If you havenʻt been to Maui before then doing a Molokini snorkel cruise is a good way to snorkel, get a couple of meals and see the island from a different perspective.

On the Big Island, Kona is the area that is dry, sunny and has great snorkeling. I would look to check out some of the great things to do in Kona and compare that to Kihei in Maui. You will find in most cases, to get to great snorkeling on Kona that you will need to take a boat trip to do it (Captain Cook / Kealekekua Bay).
posted by danonmaui at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2019

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