Author Topic: Hawaii worth it?  (Read 28342 times)

Mazzinator

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #50 on: March 16, 2015, 04:54:04 PM »
This would be my advice:  Get the US Airways credit card right now.  After April 12th it will no longer be offered, because they are combining with American Airlines.

1. Get US Airways card, make one purchase and pay a $89 annual fee, get 50,000 US Airways miles that become American Airline miles.
http://www.worldgotbigger.com/us-airways-credit-card/?campaignId=2062&cellNumber=8&referrerid=PTRBA89FEE

2. Get a Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard.  Get 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3000 in 3 months.
https://www.citi.com/credit-cards/credit-card-details/detail.do?ID=citi-aadvantage-platinum-select-credit-card&category=travel-reward-credit-cards&afc=150

With your 100,000 American Airlines miles, you should be able to get a roundtrip flight to Hawaii in First Class or at least Business class.

As far as hotels, a really good value is to get the Chase Hyatt card.  You get 2 nights at any Hyatt hotel after spending $1000 in the first 3 months.  The Andaz Maui hotel is normally $400-700 per night, so you can get 2 nights there for free.

Otherwise the Barclays Arrival gives you $440 to use toward any travel expense (flights, hotels, car rentals) after spending $3000 in 3 months.

You can also stay at the Grand Hyatt on Kauai with the CC ;-)

clifp

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #51 on: March 16, 2015, 05:47:34 PM »
I've lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, and I love the place. I've also traveled to 20 odd islands in my life, traveling to Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima tomorrow. I've never not recommended anyone go to Hawaii, but in your case I am.   Mostly because you've never flown in a plane before its is a long flight from the middle of the country. As other have said it is expensive, and while Costco is a great recommendation if your traveling with a family, you'll miss a large chunk of the experience if you cook meals in your condo or whatever and just too much food for one person for a week or so.

Both the Florida keys, and the Caribbean have some beautiful islands, great beaches etc.  and heck of a lot easier to get to and cheaper.  You might even want to look into a club med type thing depending on what you are looking for relaxation or exploration.

But the other reason not to make Hawaii your first vacation is the place will jade you.  I won't say everyplace is downhill after Hawaii, but overall climate, beauty, water is pretty hard to beat. So make it your second or third vacation you'll appreciate it more.

GizmoTX

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #52 on: March 16, 2015, 07:26:03 PM »
OP, if you can time your trip to avoid summer vacation, you will be rewarded with far fewer tourists & lower cost. Summer & the school breaks are high season for Hawaii.

Miss Prim

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #53 on: March 17, 2015, 06:47:32 AM »
I've been to Hawaii twice and I say save your money and go to Mexico instead.  I don't know why people are so afraid of Mexico!  We have been up and down the coast from Cancun to Tulum and I have never been afraid.  We also were on the other coast in Puerto Vallarta and had a wonderful time.  The Mexican coast is so beautiful and the water is warm (at least on the East coast).  The people are so friendly and warm.  The cost of everything is so much less than Hawaii. 

Honestly, I wish people would quit saying that Mexico is dangerous.  Maybe in Mexico City or border towns, but not in the tourist areas.  I live not far from Detroit and I would rather go to Mexico than Detroit!

                                                                             Miss Prim

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #54 on: March 17, 2015, 07:55:04 AM »

Honestly, I wish people would quit saying that Mexico is dangerous.  Maybe in Mexico City or border towns, but not in the tourist areas.  I live not far from Detroit and I would rather go to Mexico than Detroit!

Some formerly tourist areas aren't really that great anymore. I would no longer go to Acapulco, for example.

But the east cost? Quintana Roo and Yucatan? Those are fabulous and extremely safe. 
It's like not going to New Mexico because of violence in North Carolina.
And there are plenty of places in the US I wouldn't go either, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't go to the US in general.  (Um, I live here.)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 08:24:30 AM by iowajes »

Secretly Saving

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #55 on: March 17, 2015, 10:19:35 AM »
I've lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, and I love the place. I've also traveled to 20 odd islands in my life, traveling to Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima tomorrow.


Clifp,  I'm curious since you've been to 20 "odd islands"  --- Which ones have been your favorite?   

boarder42

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #56 on: March 17, 2015, 10:45:16 AM »
I've lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, and I love the place. I've also traveled to 20 odd islands in my life, traveling to Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima tomorrow. I've never not recommended anyone go to Hawaii, but in your case I am.   Mostly because you've never flown in a plane before its is a long flight from the middle of the country. As other have said it is expensive, and while Costco is a great recommendation if your traveling with a family, you'll miss a large chunk of the experience if you cook meals in your condo or whatever and just too much food for one person for a week or so.

Both the Florida keys, and the Caribbean have some beautiful islands, great beaches etc.  and heck of a lot easier to get to and cheaper.  You might even want to look into a club med type thing depending on what you are looking for relaxation or exploration.

But the other reason not to make Hawaii your first vacation is the place will jade you.  I won't say everyplace is downhill after Hawaii, but overall climate, beauty, water is pretty hard to beat. So make it your second or third vacation you'll appreciate it more.

I struggled with going condo and cooking... but since i can book all my hotels with points.  i can splurge and eat out and enjoy the local dives. and save some with the hotel minifridge for beers etc.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #57 on: March 17, 2015, 11:28:53 AM »
I would not go to Bulgaria just because it is a lot cheaper.

I've been to golden sands Bulgaria for two weeks. INCREDIBLE. Just saying =D

lizzzi

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #58 on: March 17, 2015, 02:14:31 PM »
Right, nothing against Bulgaria. One of my friends went there and had only good things to say. I just meant that if I wanted to go to London, I'd go to London…not anywhere else just because it was cheaper.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #59 on: March 17, 2015, 05:00:55 PM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

Will

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #60 on: March 17, 2015, 09:55:49 PM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

As someone living in the Pacific NW and vacationing later this year in the Caribbean, yes, it is going to be a long flight.  BUT.... I was able to book a red eye flight so I can sleep on the plane.  So I don't feel I am losing half a day as I was going to be asleep during that time anyway.

johnny847

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #61 on: March 17, 2015, 11:39:05 PM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

As someone living in the Pacific NW and vacationing later this year in the Caribbean, yes, it is going to be a long flight.  BUT.... I was able to book a red eye flight so I can sleep on the plane.  So I don't feel I am losing half a day as I was going to be asleep during that time anyway.

Are you able to sleep on planes? Even with the help of some melatonin, it's a struggle for me.

Will

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #62 on: March 18, 2015, 12:14:36 AM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

As someone living in the Pacific NW and vacationing later this year in the Caribbean, yes, it is going to be a long flight.  BUT.... I was able to book a red eye flight so I can sleep on the plane.  So I don't feel I am losing half a day as I was going to be asleep during that time anyway.

Are you able to sleep on planes? Even with the help of some melatonin, it's a struggle for me.

I should be able to because it will meet so many of my sleep criteria: I'll be tired; it will be dark; it will be during my usual sleeping time; it will (probably) be a little warm/stuffy (which makes me a little groggy); should be quiet (for a plane anyway, as I am hoping everyone else will be trying to sleep too, plus I will have earplugs and/or headphones on); I have a window seat (so no body climbing over me).  The only problem I foresee is I will be so damn excited for the trip it might keep me up for a little bit, but it will be a long ass flight so I am sure I'll fall asleep for a good portion of it.


johnny847

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #63 on: March 18, 2015, 12:42:48 AM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

As someone living in the Pacific NW and vacationing later this year in the Caribbean, yes, it is going to be a long flight.  BUT.... I was able to book a red eye flight so I can sleep on the plane.  So I don't feel I am losing half a day as I was going to be asleep during that time anyway.

Are you able to sleep on planes? Even with the help of some melatonin, it's a struggle for me.

I should be able to because it will meet so many of my sleep criteria: I'll be tired; it will be dark; it will be during my usual sleeping time; it will (probably) be a little warm/stuffy (which makes me a little groggy); should be quiet (for a plane anyway, as I am hoping everyone else will be trying to sleep too, plus I will have earplugs and/or headphones on); I have a window seat (so no body climbing over me).  The only problem I foresee is I will be so damn excited for the trip it might keep me up for a little bit, but it will be a long ass flight so I am sure I'll fall asleep for a good portion of it.

Lucky. I've never really been able to get restful sleep on planes. I do manage to get some sleep, but I feel like I'm missing REM sleep or something.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #64 on: March 18, 2015, 06:54:43 AM »
Hawaii is a neat place. If you like mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. I lived in California when I went there and thought it was cool but liked California more. Other Californians said the same thing.

If you dont live on the west coast be prepared for some long travel to get there.
Living in the SE US, it's much easier (and cheaper) to go to the Caribbean.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #65 on: March 18, 2015, 06:58:54 AM »

Lucky. I've never really been able to get restful sleep on planes. I do manage to get some sleep, but I feel like I'm missing REM sleep or something.

I can only sleep if I am able to lay down. Otherwise it is just awful.
Luckily, if I can get a row to myself, I am small enough I can lay down on that, but it is so rare now to be able to find a mostly empty plane.  I had one going to New York the other day- what a treat.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #66 on: March 18, 2015, 08:29:00 AM »
I'm in North Carolina, so it's a very long flight across the US then a longer flight from west coast to HI if we go that routing.  I have reservations about ever going to Hawaii since it's so far away (unless we stop by for a while on the way to Asia or something).  Mexico and Central America offer some similar scenery (beaches, water, mountainous terrain, volcanoes, etc).  The upside is they are only a few hours away from much of middle America (5-6 hrs instead of 12 hours to HI). 

The Caribbean islands might also fit what you want.  Under 5 hrs to some from Ohio.  English is spoken on most islands. 

johnny847

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #67 on: March 18, 2015, 11:59:18 AM »

Lucky. I've never really been able to get restful sleep on planes. I do manage to get some sleep, but I feel like I'm missing REM sleep or something.

I can only sleep if I am able to lay down. Otherwise it is just awful.
Luckily, if I can get a row to myself, I am small enough I can lay down on that, but it is so rare now to be able to find a mostly empty plane.  I had one going to New York the other day- what a treat.
Lucky bastard ;)

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #68 on: March 19, 2015, 06:36:25 AM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

This is a very good point and one I haven't really thought of. I think for one of my first flying vacations I might try the Caribbean islands any recommendations on which one or are they all pretty much the same? I'll probably go to Hawaii sometime but maybe wait until I either have more vacation time or retired so I can stay longer than a week or two.

Will

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2015, 08:37:43 AM »
If anyone else was planning on getting the US Airways card for the 50k miles for making one purchase and paying the AF, TODAY is the last day you can apply, and here is a link to it that was still working as of this morning:  http://www.milevalue.com/a-working-link-to-the-50k-us-airways-card-today-at-least/

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2015, 08:42:25 AM »
I think that you must consider geography when making the decision on where to go on vacation. While it may be true that airline miles or points can reduce the $$ cost of the flight, you are still going to 'waste' time getting to your vacation destination.

I live in the Southeast, so if I want a beach & sun vacation that is more exotic than Florida I have the choice of spending 10 hours on plane to get to Hawaii, or 2-3 hours to get to Cancun, Jamaica, the Dominican, etc.. The Caribbean islands are also cheaper than Hawaii when you consider hotel, food and drink (lots of drinks!) costs.

If I lived on the west coast, Hawaii becomes much more attractive especially since many of the pacific resort areas of Mexico have seen better days. Someday my wife and I will go to Hawaii, but we will probably wait until after retirement so that we can spend more time there and and not mind 'losing' the two days spent traveling to and from.

This is a very good point and one I haven't really thought of. I think for one of my first flying vacations I might try the Caribbean islands any recommendations on which one or are they all pretty much the same? I'll probably go to Hawaii sometime but maybe wait until I either have more vacation time or retired so I can stay longer than a week or two.
The Caribbean islands that I've visited are all beautiful and for the most part share a lot of characteristics in terms of their geography.  Most of them have wonderful beaches with big hills and mountains rising quickly as you move inland a little ways.  The one exception to this is Aruba, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone on a fairly tight budget.  Aruba doesn't have any big hills and is more arid (almost desert-like on one side of the island), but it has amazing beaches and is more protected from hurricanes than most of the other Caribbean islands.  The Virgin Islands and Jamaica are beautiful and hilly (much like Hawaii), but can be fairly expensive depending on which island you're on and where you're staying.  From what I've heard, the best values in the Caribbean are the Dominican Republic and Mexico.  I haven't visited either of those places, but I feel sure they're beautiful like the rest of the Caribbean. 

One important thing to keep in mind about the Caribbean is that you're not in the USA (though technically you could be on US soil depending on the island), and they can be dangerous if you wander too far off the beaten path.  Jamaica and Mexico in particular have bad reputations if you stray too far from your hotel/resort.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2015, 09:39:03 AM »
If anyone else was planning on getting the US Airways card for the 50k miles for making one purchase and paying the AF, TODAY is the last day you can apply, and here is a link to it that was still working as of this morning:  http://www.milevalue.com/a-working-link-to-the-50k-us-airways-card-today-at-least/

My wife and I did it.  A very sweet deal!  We also did the AA card at the same time.  200000 points total.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #72 on: March 19, 2015, 09:41:35 AM »
One important thing to keep in mind about the Caribbean is that you're not in the USA (though technically you could be on US soil depending on the island), and they can be dangerous if you wander too far off the beaten path.  Jamaica and Mexico in particular have bad reputations if you stray too far from your hotel/resort.

The US can be dangerous too.  This is a warning you should keep in mind ANYWHERE you go.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #73 on: March 19, 2015, 09:55:43 AM »
Hawaii is okay (been there twice) and can get expensive if you don't have a deal to subsidize your trip. I wouldn't have gone the last time except the Hyatt on Maui offered 5 nights for $50 per night plus 10,000 points to sit through a condo sales pitch. What a gorgeous pool, I was in heaven. I turned around those points for a free trip to another Hyatt a few months later. The food isn't really anymore expensive than any other big city tourist destination spot. You can mitigate eating out by buying breakfast items and a few lunches by picking stuff up at Safeway. Don't rent a car, the buses go all over the place.

There's plenty to do and worth it to go at least once in your life.

Bob W

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #74 on: March 19, 2015, 10:09:26 AM »
Numbers man is on to something with the time share deal.

Also to fly there for free check this out -- http://www.richmondsavers.com/the-best-ways-to-get-to-hawaii-with-miles/

I also saw some really cool places on airanb for $50 a night on Kauai.   If you like to hike and camp that is an option as well. 

So the bottom line is that if you want to do Hawaii and are willing to do a bit of work and haggling,  you can do it way cheap.   I would say with the free air travel,  discounted hotels, cheap car rental and reasonable meals you would be at around $100 a day.   

    http://kauaiscooter.com/   ($25 a day car rental)
« Last Edit: March 19, 2015, 10:16:00 AM by Bob W »

boarder42

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #75 on: March 19, 2015, 10:27:17 AM »
Numbers man is on to something with the time share deal.

Also to fly there for free check this out -- http://www.richmondsavers.com/the-best-ways-to-get-to-hawaii-with-miles/

I also saw some really cool places on airanb for $50 a night on Kauai.   If you like to hike and camp that is an option as well. 

So the bottom line is that if you want to do Hawaii and are willing to do a bit of work and haggling,  you can do it way cheap.   I would say with the free air travel,  discounted hotels, cheap car rental and reasonable meals you would be at around $100 a day.   

    http://kauaiscooter.com/   ($25 a day car rental)

for 2 people maybe... for one person you should be able to get enough rewards points to make it 50 a day... or really if you want to get into serious MS you can make it completely free.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #76 on: March 19, 2015, 10:52:54 AM »
If anyone else was planning on getting the US Airways card for the 50k miles for making one purchase and paying the AF, TODAY is the last day you can apply, and here is a link to it that was still working as of this morning:  http://www.milevalue.com/a-working-link-to-the-50k-us-airways-card-today-at-least/

My wife just got approved and I'm about to apply. If you have a Chase Sapphire card, are you able to transfer your Chase points to this card 1:1? Sorry if this is a stupid question... just getting into and learning about travel hacking.

Bob W

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #77 on: March 19, 2015, 11:03:33 AM »
Numbers man is on to something with the time share deal.

Also to fly there for free check this out -- http://www.richmondsavers.com/the-best-ways-to-get-to-hawaii-with-miles/

I also saw some really cool places on airanb for $50 a night on Kauai.   If you like to hike and camp that is an option as well. 

So the bottom line is that if you want to do Hawaii and are willing to do a bit of work and haggling,  you can do it way cheap.   I would say with the free air travel,  discounted hotels, cheap car rental and reasonable meals you would be at around $100 a day.   

    http://kauaiscooter.com/   ($25 a day car rental)

for 2 people maybe... for one person you should be able to get enough rewards points to make it 50 a day... or really if you want to get into serious MS you can make it completely free.

You are correct sir!  Free is the best price.   With hotel rewards and cash back on car/bike/scooter rental free would be a worthy goal.  I suppose meals bought at hotels could slide in on the cash back rewards cards?    But yeah, very close to free is possible.   

Funny story - my niece ended up on Kauai about 20 years ago.  She was a traveling dive instructor.  She had zero money and ended up sleeping on the beaches.  (which is nice to do in Hawaii).   She has never left.   Met a nice guy, got married and is a lettuce farmer supplying local restaurants.     She lives the life everyday.   No heaters,  no AC,  no coats, shorts, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.  Her husband surfs every morning.      She complains the most about food costs.  She eats an organic whaamo shammo diet and estimates for 3 she spends $300 per week on groceries.   (yeah, I know, crazy!)   

This thread has stoked me to plan a visit next winter.   Hoping I can spend several weeks to make it worth the airtime. 

boarder42

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #78 on: March 19, 2015, 11:48:03 AM »
also depends on how you count Cash back.  if you churned the card for the purpose of travel b/c it was the best value are we counting that as money spent or are we going to put that under the rewards category.   b/c technically it could just be cash in your pocket.

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #79 on: March 19, 2015, 12:26:27 PM »
One important thing to keep in mind about the Caribbean is that you're not in the USA (though technically you could be on US soil depending on the island), and they can be dangerous if you wander too far off the beaten path.  Jamaica and Mexico in particular have bad reputations if you stray too far from your hotel/resort.

The US can be dangerous too.  This is a warning you should keep in mind ANYWHERE you go.
Very true.  The difference to me is that some of the islands seem to have more dangerous places than you would typically encounter in the US.  In other words, a higher percentage of the area seems to be on the "wrong side of the tracks".  But I wouldn't let that keep me from visiting most of the islands.

RootofGood

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #80 on: March 19, 2015, 12:30:53 PM »
Just got a pair of the US Air 50k pts cards.  $178 for a couple of international airfares worth $2000+?  Don't mind if I do!  :) 

It's hard travel hacking for a family of 5...

use2betrix

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #81 on: March 19, 2015, 04:03:08 PM »
Safety really depends on where you go in Mexico & it's getting more dangerous -- Americans are targeted, especially solo. You're safer in the big resort areas, but that kind of vacation has never appealed much to us.

You can just get a passport card for Mexico & Canada, but I'd get the full passport since it is good for 10 years. You won't need a passport for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, & these are nice alternatives.

The passport card is only good for land or sea travel, not air travel.  Get the full passport book. 

Puerto Rico is nice, fun, inexpensive, and has the protections of being an American territory.  Though it definitely feels almost as foreign as Mexico, and there are safety issues in San Juan.  It's like a 3.5 hour flight from the NYC area, so it's going to be closer than Hawaii. 

I've been to Mexico between 10-15 times, both to border areas (Matamoros, Reynosa, Juarez, Tijuana), tourist areas (Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Nayarit), big cities (DF, Monterrey), and non-tourist rural areas (San Luis Potosi state, etc.).  If you have a reasonable head on your shoulders, Mexico is no more dangerous than visiting New York, Washington, or Philadelphia.  Especially if you're looking at Tulum, Playa del Carmen, etc.  Don't vacation in Michoacán or Guerrero.  Stick to the well-trod tourist paths as a travel newbie.  Learn a few Spanish phrases.  You'll be fine and will have a lot of fun.  Mexico is dirt cheap right now with the strong dollar. 

Also, Hawaii is great, but super expensive.  Others have spoken about that already.   

I'm in Guerrero right now (Zihuatanejo) and it feels very safe. I've been here about a week. The scenery is beautiful, people are friendly, and it's cheap. We're in a beautiful resort with a hot tub on our massive balcony overlooking the ocean for about $200/night. Way cheaper than you'd find many other places. Excellent breakfast is included as well. Most of my family has been here more than once. We see a good amount of Americans walking all over, even after dark. It is less touristy and more laid back than places like cancun and Acapulco, which I didn't have much of a desire to see.

Like others mentioned, from the sounds of it and what you want Hawaii sounds like a no brainier. Going somewhere that's not English speaking can be confusing ESPECIALLY if you've never flown and aren't familiar with airports.

kpd905

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #82 on: March 19, 2015, 04:50:10 PM »
If anyone else was planning on getting the US Airways card for the 50k miles for making one purchase and paying the AF, TODAY is the last day you can apply, and here is a link to it that was still working as of this morning:  http://www.milevalue.com/a-working-link-to-the-50k-us-airways-card-today-at-least/

Thanks for the heads up, I thought we have another couple weeks.  Just grabbed one for myself.  I got my first one about 2 years ago.

Gonna call recon right now and try to get the 2nd one approved for my fiance.  Denied, Barclays is pretty strict when they see a bunch of hard pulls.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2015, 05:58:00 PM by kpd905 »

jexy103

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #83 on: March 20, 2015, 05:09:51 PM »
I only read the first 10-15 comments, so I apologize if any of this is redundant. I live in Hawaii (moved here 2.5 years ago), so wanted to chime in.

Only you can determine if Hawaii is worth it to you, but I agree with everyone who said it is expensive here. Travel hacking helps, but you're still looking at a few hundred just in airfare. I recommend any island other than Oahu, unless you're really into history and want to do the Pearl Harbor thing. Traffic is so bad here, you'll spend half your vacation either in traffic or not going to where you'd rather go because you know the traffic would be bad. I've been to Kauai and Maui and both are beautiful and much less developed than Oahu. Read MMM's blog post about his Hawaiian vacation (on Oahu)- he talks about eating like a local (fresh fruits, farmer's markets, etc instead of restaurants) which is true everywhere, but especially here. Remember that almost every single thing on the islands was shipped here from somewhere; the more fresh the ingredient is (such as milk), the more expensive it's going to be.

Lodging will probably be your largest on-island expense. Hotels can easily be $200+ a night. I recommend looking at vrbo.com for weekly rates or searching for hostels.

clifp

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #84 on: March 27, 2015, 12:29:51 AM »
I've lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, and I love the place. I've also traveled to 20 odd islands in my life, traveling to Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima tomorrow.


Clifp,  I'm curious since you've been to 20 "odd islands"  --- Which ones have been your favorite?

I just got back from Guam, Iwo Jima, and Saipan which brings my count to 21 I think.  For pure beauty, I think Bora Bora, Saipan, and Kauai.  For most variety of unique things to do the Big Island of Hawaii, most exotic Bali. Best place to get exotic tropic diseases, Guadalcanal. Best place to go scuba diving, while hiding money from Uncle Sam Cayman islands.   Best places for WWII buffs to get a sense of history, Iwo Jima.

arebelspy

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #85 on: March 27, 2015, 11:36:16 AM »
Two questions: Have you been to the Greek Isles?  What is it with you and islands?  :)
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clifp

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #86 on: March 28, 2015, 03:27:35 PM »
Yes but only Crete right after college. Mostly cause they have very mild climates, but also because I have really bad sense of direction and its harder to get badly lost on a small island :D


a1smith

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #87 on: March 28, 2015, 04:39:27 PM »
I'm not up on all the deals but it is definitely worth going there.  I lived there for two years in the early 80's; I was on a sub in Pearl Harbor.  I really enjoyed the scuba diving out there!  It's amazing when you roll off the zodiac in Pokai Bay and the water is over 100 feet deep and crystal clear!  I could see conchs crawling on the bottom!

I also went to Maui and the big island.  All three islands are nice and have many things to do.  Since I lived there for two years I was able to do things that someone on vacation would never have time to do -- such as some of us on the boat made friends with locals and got a great lesson on how to luau a pig including how to pick the best rocks from the stream, etc.

I went back in 2000 on a business trip for a conference and it was much more crowded; a lot more development in downtown Waikiki.  I managed to get a few dives in on the weekend before the conference started.  It was funny, one of the other people on the dive boat and I were discussing mayor Eileen Anderson's efforts to halt excessive development back then.  From the posts above, it sounds like the development continues.

If you are into scuba diving here are the places I dove at.  These are all places you can go to on your own (at least back then).  Make sure you check on all the latest rules and follow all safe dive practices.

Hanauma Bay - very nice, lots of coral to look at, max dive around 60 feet or so.  You can see moray eels; they won't bother you unless you bother them.  Don't put your hand inside a hole in the coral; it might be a Moray eels "house".  Don't go past the end of the bay; the Molokai Express current is along the coast there and will take you out to sea.  I don't care how strong a swimmer you are; you can't make any progress swimming against it.  Follow these simple rules (and any new ones you might hear about) and Hanauma Bay is a very nice beginner's dive spot.

Blowhole - around the bend from Hanauma Bay.  Great shore dive.  See the blowhole from underneath!  If you go into the cavern under the blowhole make sure you are qualified for and have the gear for cavern diving.  Also, you need to stay on the cavern floor (sand) so that when the waves come in you don't get smashed against the ceiling.  Also, we did night dives there, one guy from the boat would come along and read a book while standing watch next to our lantern on shore.  One of the best dive I've ever made was a night dive there; we were about 1/4 mile offshore and were in bioluminescent sea life.  We turned off our lights and waved our hands around while green trails of light followed our arms through the water.  All while we could hear the whales offshore "talking" to each other!  :-)  They were probably laughing at us!

Electric Beach - just offshore of Hawaiian Electric's Kahe Power Plant.  Just google "electric beach Oahu" to find location, etc. Nice diving and snorkeling location.  Caught a spiny lobster there.  The lobster in Hawaii are like the lobster in Florida; they don't have claws.  They have two really long "spines".  So, if the restaurant serves you lobsters with claws and tells you they were caught fresh locally . . . . .

Pokai Bay - we left on a zodiac from the marina so this one isn't a shore dive.  But if you can dive there it is amazing.  Crystal clear water, max depth about 100 feet.  Many, many moray eels!  Just remember not to bother them!  If you do, they will bite!  If you don't bother them, you can get within several feet without any problems.  The huge conch shells I saw from the surface had seaweed, etc growing on them so when I saw them moving from the surface it looked like the plants were moving.

Shoreline near Pipeline - lots of places along the North shore where you dive on the coral heads.  Most of these are shallow dives close to shore.

On Maui the road to Hana is very scenic.  Really nice road along the coast with lots of one lane bridges.  However, I heard from someone at work that it is so busy now you have to miss the "rush hours" in the morning and evening due to the daytrippers to Hana.  Also, going up to the observatory on Mount Haleakala (all short vowels, pronounce them all) is fun.  You can go bike ride back down (up if you can), hike in the crater, and so on.  It was cold and foggy when I went up there, if you can believe that.

On the big island the Volcanos National Park is fun if you like lava and the smell of sulfur!  :-D  There were active vents when I was there.

There are many more things to do on all the islands.  There are also lots of other dive spots.  I didn't get to them all, unfortunately I was doing more diving on the sub than I was with my scuba gear!  :-D

fkampere

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #88 on: March 29, 2015, 08:47:51 AM »
There are many more things to do on all the islands.  There are also lots of other dive spots.  I didn't get to them all, unfortunately I was doing more diving on the sub than I was with my scuba gear!  :-D

I've never dived before but your post makes me want to try it. I think I made my mind up on probably going to the Bahamas first and then Hawaii next

a1smith

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #89 on: March 29, 2015, 09:18:28 AM »
If you decide to scuba dive while on vacation PLEASE do not get your scuba training at the resort.  Take a scuba class before you go on vacation.  The training will be much better.  The resorts do what is called "dip them and rip them!"  :-D  The class is short and expensive.  In my opinion, you won't be qualified to safely dive if all you have had is a resort class; you will only know enough for a dive where nothing goes wrong.

Also, bring your certification and dive log with you.  Many dive shops with dive charters want to make sure you have performed a dive within the last 30 days.  If you haven't, then they want to charge you extra for a "checkout dive."  I can see their safety concern for someone going on vacation who hasn't been diving for a while but I think the 30 day requirement is a bit stringent.

If you think you will dive long term it is also better to bring your own gear.  You can bring everything with you except tanks.  You can rent the tanks and have everything else.  That way, you have gear that fits you well and that you are familiar with.  If you do rent all of the scuba gear at the resort inspect the equipment closely to make sure everything is OK; it gets a lot of wear and tear from constant use.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Hawaii worth it?
« Reply #90 on: March 29, 2015, 01:26:06 PM »
Re: Hawaii vs Carribean:
Normally, I would say a matter of personal preference and expense. But right now there's an enormous outbreak of Chikungunya virus in the Carribean (a bit like dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes). It's not in Hawaii yet, as best I can tell. That alone is a reason to choose Hawaii.

(Why haven't you heard about Chikungunya on the news?  Because Ebola is even scarier and we Americans seldom care to hear about anything that doesn't affect us yet.  It's been spreading like wildfire throughout the Caribbean and tropical South America in the last year. Nasty stuff).