Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Planning (no, I'm not obsessive...really!)

Once we've decided where to go, the next step is the planning. This is my favorite part...well, not counting the actual trip! Really, I'm always planning the next trip, even if its not a trip we're going to actually take. I have a couple of itineraries practically ready to go, from trips we thought about but then did not manage to schedule.

The first step is gathering information. I collect maps, and guidebooks, and websites. I read up on the places we may go, and try to figure out what we want to do. Then figure out how many days, and where is a good location to stay. I talk to online friends in several different forums (see the links to the left), and read trip reports, and get more ideas of what to do and how to break it up.

Sometimes I find a place I really want to stay, and then everything falls into place around it. Sometimes its more difficult.

I have to look at the travel arrangements as well as the accomodations at this point too... to figure out the flights, since that can have an impact on how the trip falls out.

This trip is the longest I've ever tried to plan, so its more complex. I actually started out thinking I wanted to focus on Kauai for the scenic beauty, peace, and real tropical feel. And I wanted to go to the Big Island for the Volcano and the snorkelling. Then I knew flights would be easiest to get in and out of Honolulu, so I had to save a couple days on one end or the other so we could see Waikiki Beach and go to Pearl Harbor. Finally, I realized that it was pretty easy to get flights from the mainland to Maui too, so I could fly into Maui and out of Honolulu, and add a few days there as well. Finally, to avoid redeye flights, we would stop for a night or two in San Francisco on the way home. Because it is not possible to get from Hawaii to Boston in one shot without a red-eye, which we just don't do.

We didn't want to spend 4 weeks in hotel rooms. Nobody can eat in restaurants that many days in a row, we would have to have kitchen facilities for at least some of the stops.
Finding places on the beach, with nice views, without spending a fortune...it's not easy.

Maui was a challenge because there are SO many choices. Loads of condo complexes, resort hotels, timeshares. But since this is our first stop, I really wanted something nice. It's a short stay too, so a hotel...something with room service, and a great beach, was what we would like. We ended up booking the Maui Prince, because it seems like a quiet place, but it sits on one of the best beaches on the island. Where we can snorkel right out front, and perhaps even see sea turtles. Yup, that's for me!

Big Island took me a while to wrap my hands around. We would stay here for about 10 days, but since it is so big, I thought two locations would be best...east side for the Volcano, west side for beaches and snorkelling. and I definitely wanted kitchen facilities...condos or houses this time. I found I could save a few bucks if I didn't insist on swimmable waterfront...the resorts on the nice swimming beaches are VERY expensive here. But the condos on rocky coastline are not so bad, and the snorkelling beaches are nearby.
Then we spotted a lovely looking house on VRBO on the east side, and this was definitely the place. Yup, looking at it now, I cannot wait to sit in those lounge chairs and feel the seabreeze. This is our east side location, in Kea'au, south of Hilo.
After that, we'll head to the west side, around Kona. And this coastal condo, Hale Kona Kai, looks great. I'm told we can see turtles on the shoreline right below our lanai.

Choosing a place in Kauai took us forever. I really wanted to be on a swimmable beach, and that's not easy. I also wanted to be on the north shore, which is calmer in the summer months, and also rainier. But its tropical and lush, and more interesting than the south shore to me. So after a lot of googling, and reviews, and searching, we finally found the perfect little house on the beach in Hanalei. Check it out here.

The finally stop, in Waikiki beach, well then I wanted something completely different. Enough with the peace and quiet, in Waikiki I wanted right down in the middle of everything, where we can people watch, and drink mai tais on the beach at sunset, and its crowded and crazy and a little bit like being in Times Square -if Times Square were on a gorgeous crescent of sand. At least that's what I'm expecting. So one of the classic Waikiki hotels, the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach is perfect for us.

And so a plan is born. And all the accomodations are booked, the plane tickets purchase, the rental cars reserved, and we're ready to go. Now, I have to try and stop myself from second guessing and bargain shopping.

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