Ranking the 4 Hawaiian Islands & my vacation takeaways

Oh, it’s that time. My takeaways, my favorite part whenever I finish my trip. It’s not exactly summarizing my trip, but it’s a chance for me to reflect on what I walked away with during this vacation.

1. Blogging while on vacay

This has to be #1. I’ve slacked during our trip to NYC and DC. I chose not to blog at night or early in the morning. I told myself, my friends, and blog followers that I’d blog about the East Coast trip once I got home, but it just never happened. But don’t give up on me yet, I’ll find time to blog about that trip.
United States Capitol (Dec 2017)

2. “We’re not hotel people”

During our hotel stay in Hilo over at the Grand Naniloa DoubleTree, I gave the kids a choice regarding finishing up our stay in Kona. “Do you want to stay at the Hilton Waikoloa or a condo in Kona?” They all replied, “Condo” – and Madison added, “Dad, we’re not hotel people.”
I paused, and nodded. I agreed with her. When it comes to Hawaii, we love having the comforts of feeling like we are at home. A condo or our timeshare allow us to do that. During our stay at our timeshare, Kona Coast Resort, and the condo we rented, Kanaloa at Kona, both units had:
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • Huge lanai (at Kona Coast Resort)
  • 3 lanais and ocean views/pool views (Kanaloa at Kona)
  • Wi-Fi access
  • TV
  • Full kitchen
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Swimming Pool (quite a few pools on site)
  • Other activities (tennis, basketball, table tennis, volleyball courts)
AirBNB on Maui (Kihei – July 2016)
Wailea Beach Marriott Suite (Maui – July 2016)
Carl Smith Beach Park, Big Island March 2018
Onomea Trails, Big Island April 2018

My Hawaii Rankings

If it’s not obvious yet, let me just go on record by saying that Hawaii is home for my family. We feel very much at home whenever we visit the islands. It’s come to a point where I don’t even need the aid of a navigation system anywhere (with the exception of the Big Island). But when it comes to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, I have a very good idea where to go.

Laupahoehoe Point, Big Island April 2018

My rankings are based on my views as a frequent visitor to the islands. I’ve first set foot on Oahu back in 1997, and have since gone back over 10 times. So here goes, DaddyTravelsNow ranks his favorite islands in Hawaii:

#4 – Oahu

Disney Aulani, April 2014

It may be ranked 4, and this is not to say that I am ruling out Oahu. I still call this island as the island where you can do it all – night life, city life, lots of shopping, numerous beaches, and LOTS of good eats. Since we own a timeshare, we do have a place to stay on Oahu at the Ilikai Resort next to Hilton Hawaiian Village, very convenient. We treated ourselves and have stayed at Disney Aulani. If I don’t use our timeshare, I would want to find an AirBNB somewhere in Kailua or the North Shore.

Oahu’s North Shore, April 2014

I prefer the beaches there, and the vibe, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Oahu has lots to offer. I always tell my friends who visit Oahu for the very first time, to make sure and explore the island, and not just stay around Waikiki. Everyone’s got a different way of how to vacation. For my family, we love exploring Oahu and savor all the beauty it offers. It has been awhile since we’ve been on Oahu, a return trip is due, right, Crissy?

Waikiki, August 2010

#3 – Big Island

This used to be #4 and had moved up a notch since this last visit. After the 2004 Big Island visit, I’ve pretty much ruled out the Big Island, as in, I had no interest in returning. Why? I only remembered being in Kona, Waikoloa, and Hapuna Beach – all gorgeous places to visit. Oh and I also remembered our attempt to try to make it to Hilo, at that time, it felt like such a long drive, and I wasn’t thrilled about it at all. But that’s all changed. I have a newfound appreciation for the beauty of the Big Island.

Waipio Valley (Big Island – April 2018)

It’s got unique landscape, the active volcanoes, and the accessibility to all of the highlights that the island offered made it enticing for me. We were able to circle the island (well, let’s say drove around 3/4 of the island) and we didn’t have to go through crazy turns like Hana on Maui (which is really part of Hana’s charm). I didn’t blog back in 2004 so I don’t have any tales to share. But I’ll try to look for the old pics .

Keauhou Bay, Big Island April 2018

#2 – Maui

Who doesn’t love Maui? You have the best of both worlds on Maui – the endless beaches, Haleakala Crater, the Road to Hana, the resort-like feel of Kaanapali Beach, Lahaina and it’s downtown, Wailea for another high-end resort feel, and my favorite, Kihei.

Ethan skimboarding – Kamaole Beach III – Maui – Aug 2014

We’ve stayed in Kihei during our past 2 visits to Maui. Laid-back, beach was right across the street from our condo, it was great. The food choices on Maui also abound. We are big when it comes to local food I plan on writing an entry on my Maui favorites, so wait for it. Here are the links to my blog entries during our Maui visits.

Kamaole Beach III, Kihei on Maui (July 2016)

#1 – Kauai

Caitlin at Poipu Beach, Kauai July 2017

Of course, all roads go back to Kauai. It will always be special for all of us. This is where Nancy and I spent our honeymoon. It’s what I call the island to get away from it all. We have timeshare access in Lawai Beach, Kapaa, and our favorite, Princeville. The Cliffs at Princeville was by far, our favorite of all timeshare properties that we have access to. It’s become the benchmark for us. And I always pray that this resort is available whenever I’m about to make a booking.

The North Shore beaches on Kauai are arguably part of Hawaii’s best beaches. From Ke’e Beach (end of the road), Tunnels Beach, Lumahai and Kahalahala Beach – those were just a few beaches that are permanent must-go-to beaches for us whenever we’re on Kauai’s North Shore. Poipu Beach and Kalapaki Beach are our go-to beaches as well.

Kahalahala Beach, North Shore Kauai (Aug 2011)

I also have handpicked my favorite locals restaurants on the island. Mark’s Place, located in the industrial area of the island, serves a variety of local plates, and their desserts are just to die for. Hamura Saimin, definitely not fancy, no air-conditioning, no fancy decor, but it’s all about the saimin, the skewers, and oh, the Lilikoi Chiffon Pie. Need I say more! I could go on and on – but if you want to read more about our Kauai trips, click here for our:

The Ultimate Takeaway

I used to dread the last days of vacation. Did we get to do everything we could during this vacation? The answer is no. There were many places we didn’t get to, and many places we’d love to go back to. But the best part, I know we’ll be back, someday, this vacation on the Big Island was not going to be the last visit

Every time we go on vacation, there’s always a song or music that we tend to play on repeat. For this vacation, it was all about the new Broadway Cast Recording of Once On This Island. That was the reason why I used this hashtag #OnceOnThisBigIsland – it was quite appropriate since we’ve only been to the BI once prior to this visit.

Ethan and I won lottery tickets to Once on this Island on Broadway, New York City (Dec 2017)

It was the CD that became our go-to music to listen as we drove around the island. Our favorites? We Dance, The Human Heart, Mama Will Provide, Ti Moune, and Why We Tell Our Story….but wait, no, the entire CD. It’s that engaging. It was the perfect music for us to listen to during our vacation.

It all goes back to my new domain name, DaddyTravelsNow.com. I added the word “now” because I’m a believer that if you have the opportunity to travel, do so, do it now, not later. That was the reason why we opted to go on this Spring Breakcation. Our kids are growing and their schedules are just ever so busy. We had an opportunity to take them to Hawaii. We had the means, the points earned with my credit cards and we only paid $11 per person, so we went for it. And now, here we are reminiscing, looking back on this adventure-filled week we had on the Big Island.

So there, that’s a wrap. That was our Spring Break vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. Thanks so much for following our adventures.

If you’d like to know more how to travel for nearly free, just ask me. Here’s also a list of my favorite credit cards that have helped us travel the islands of Hawaii and around the world for nearly free using our miles and points.

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