Tag Archives: Kauai

Wrap Up of the Hawaiian Series – My Tips and Suggestions for a Great Trip

Hotels and Points for Hawaii

Update on Flight to Hawaii and Keeping Track of Our Luggage

Planning the Trip with Points and Miles

Timeshare At The Hawaiian Princess

Polynesian Cultural Center

Aloha Stadium Swap, Museum Live, Punch Bowl and Hanauma Bay

Grand Hyatt Kauai

Hilton Waikoloa Beach Resort, North of Kona

Travel Tips and Aids for Hawaii

We found that the book series called “Hawaii Revealed” helped us enormously in getting around the islands, finding shortcuts, knowing where to stop for beaches that have no signs.  We bought ours on Amazon (5 x points with your Chase Freedom card).  We actually bought three of them, one for each island that we visited.  As we were driving up Rt. 19 on the Big Island, we read the narrative and saw sights that we would have missed without these books.

While on the Big Island at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, we found that we did not eat any meals there with the exception of the Luau (which was really good).  Just before  the Hilton is a group of stores on both sides of the road called the Kings Marketplace and the Queens Marketplace.  In the Queens Marketplace, we ate at a Macaroni Grill.  We also picked up snacks, soft drinks, muffins and breakfast goodies at the Island Gourmet.  Yes, it was expensive but much less expensive than purchasing snacks from the hotel snack shop.
In Kauai, we were on the Poipu Coast.  We found a Gourmet Farmers Market in the Shops at Kukui’ula that was held on Wednesday afternoons.  If you have a chance, stop here.  There are also a number of great little shops and restaurants as well.  We came back here on Thursday night for dinner.  From the Grand Hyatt, it is less than 10 minutes away on a straight road which is Poipu Road.
As you are on this road going back to the resort area, you’ll pass another shopping area – Poipu Shopping Village.  Stop here for lunch.  You want to find the Puka Dog take out restaurant.  A Puka Dog  is an island specialty.  They bake sweet Hawaiian bread and impale it on a rod.  Once the hole is made they insert either a sausage or a hot dog and then it is topped off with your choice of fruit relishes and/or Hawaiian mustard.
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At this same shopping center, they have Tahitian Dancing twice a week.
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If you are headed to the Waimea Canyon, stop in Waimea and go into Ishihara’s market and head to the deli.  They have wonderful to go lunches there.  We had Korean chicken wings, a noodle salad and rice.  I believe the lunch was under $10 and there was more than enough for both of us to eat and to have leftovers as well.  Just past the market you take a right to go to the Canyon.
Two tips about the canyon – you will find a couple of vendors selling palm woven baskets for about $20 each.  If you get them when they only have two left, you can bargain because they want to go home.  I suggested $15 for one and instead, since he wanted to go home, he gave me 2 for $20.  In my mind, I’m keeping an island tradition alive and have a nice momento.  The other tip, when you get to the restaurant and museum with cabins keep going because it is not the end of the road.  Go all the way to the end which isn’t that much further.  You might find some fruit vendors at the lookouts – enjoy the fresh pineapple, dragonfruit, papaya, etc.
Finding a great beach on The Big Island – as you go out onto 19 North from the Waikoloa Beach area turn left at the next paved road on the right.  Go down the road till you see the Recycling Center and turn an immediate right.  Continue down for about 3 miles and you will come to a small parking lot on your right.  Pull in.  As you leave the parking lot to go to the beach, you will see a little meter for non-Hawaiian residents to pay.  From our understanding, the machine is broken and no one came by to check on us or it.  This is a nice little beach, large lava rocks in the water, calm water for swimming and snorkeling.
beach 2
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The second public beach that I want to mention is at the Mauna Kea Resort.  Again, continue up Rt 19 North and you will see the sign for the Mauna Kea resort.  Turn in and stop at the gate house and ask for a parking pass for the public beach.  They only have 40 spaces so get there before 10:00 on weekends.  The public beach was there first and the resort was built up around it.  The deal that they made was to keep 40 parking spaces available for the public.  It is a very nice beach and I would recommend it.
looking at the Mauna Kea resort from the public beach
looking at the Mauna Kea resort from the public beach
Those are some of my Hawaiian tips – let me know if you use any of them or have been to some of the places I have recommended.
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Grand Hyatt Kauai

grand hyatt

I had read about this hotel and was very anxious to see what everyone was talking about.  We were able to stay here since we had opened our Chase Hyatt credit card that came with two free nights at any Hyatt anywhere around the world.  The Hyatt that everyone talk about are the Grand Hyatts in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris and Kauai.  Using it in Kauai was the natural choice for us.  With the free nights and since we have the Hyatt card, we did not have to pay the $25 per day resort fee or the wifi for our room.  There is free complimentary parking or a for charge valet service for your car; we chose the free parking.

In preparation for our stay in Kauai, I emailed the concierge at the Hyatt for a list of suggestions and ideas of what we should do and see.  One of the suggestions was a dinner cruise along the Na Pali Coast.  That sounded like something we would do and since he didn’t say that reservations were important to make ahead of time, we decided to wait since they were having heavy rain and flash floods in Kauai.  More about this later.

We were able to catch an earlier flight out of Honolulu and arrived on Kauai about an hour earlier than planned at 9:00 AM.  As Blogger Hubby was getting our rental car, I called the hotel and inquired if we could have an earlier check-in.   After a few minutes on hold, I was told that we could drive over to the hotel and they would accommodate us.  Before we drove to the airport, we took the rental car shuttle driver’s advice and had breakfast in Lihue at the Tip Top Cafe.  I had macadamian nuts pancakes and Blogger Hubby had oxtail soup.

Hyatt

The hotel is about 20 minutes from the Lihue airport on Kauai.  Very easy to get to.  As were pulled up to the front of the hotel in our rental car, the doorman greeted us, put a beautiful orchid lei around my neck and a black beaded lei around Blogger Hubby’s neck.

Check-in was easy and before we knew it, a bellman had our luggage and as he walked us to our room, he told us a bit about the resort and showed us around.  We were on the first floor with a pool view on the Shipwreck Beach side.  We had two queen size beds, 2 refrigerators and a microwave in our room.  The common bathroom area was quite large with two sinks.  To the left was the bathtub and shower and on the right was the toilet.  Our balcony had two chairs and an eating size round glass table.  Close to our door, was a swimming pool and the pool cabanas.  The grounds were beautiful, multi-level with bridges across the water and pools on different levels.  They even had a lagoon with a sandy beach so you felt like you were in the ocean of which I didn’t see anyone in it.  There is what I call a lazy river that you can float a long way in and even go on a water slide (yes, I went on the slide).  It was a fun way to spend a day.  The hot tub is in a lava rock pool.  I really liked this hotel.

bathroom
                                        bathroom
view from our room
                                                                 view from our room

The Hyatt also has the Anara Spa but it is so much more than just massages.  It is a place to go that is quiet and peaceful with a multi lane lap pool, cushioned lounges around, jacuzzis, lava rock showers, a locker room with a vanity with products so you don’t have to bring your own.  Along the “bar” by the pool they have fruit infused water for he taking as well as a few tables so you can order a meal to eat.  Soft relaxing music compliment the spa.  This is where we hung out after we checked out of our room and didn’t have to be to the airport till 4 hours later.

spa
spa
lava rock shower in the spa
         lava rock shower in the spa

We never made it to the NaPali Coast because when we went to the concierge desk after arrival we were told that we had to pre-reserve the tickets of which nothing was said in the emails that I had received.   We were very disappointed in not having the information early enough to know to make reservations in advance of our trip. Also, when I asked about different luaus on the island, I was only directed to the one sponsored by the Hyatt.  Turns out the concierges are not Hyatt employees but are employeed by Travelocity.  Not sure if this is good thing or not but it is what it is.

I was very pleased with our stay.  They do a lot of little things to make me want to spread the word at how good it is and to come back.  In our room, we had a recycle trash container; nightly turn down service with chocolates and orchids on our bed; our refrigerator had complimentary water and it was restocked twice a day; all the water that was in the pool complex was for our recreation and swimming and not just for show; our room was easily accessible to the main lobby; their beach towels are a very good size, and there was a guitarist each evening that we listened to.  There is so much more about this facility that I could go on and on. Oh, and did I mention that they have a wonderful Camp Hyatt for children.  The ONLY negative that I would say is that there were not enough outlets for me to sit in the very comfortable chair and plug in my computer while using it.

I do want to acknowledge an employee who always had a smile on her face and always seemed to be working at the front desk – Malaika.  I would see her in the

Malaika  -my favorite hotel employee of all time
Malaika -my favorite hotel employee of all time

mornings, afternoons and even the evenings.  She was never bothered with me asking questions and generally wanted me to have a wonderful vacation.  She certainly personifies the hospitality that Hyatt is know for.  If you are looking for a hotel in Kauai, look no further because you should spend your vacation here.

Hawaiian Babymoon using UAL and Marriott points

This post is written by Blogger Daughter:

My husband and I travelled to Hawaii for our first time in February 2012. It was so stunning, and such a special time for us. We truly had a blast. The entire time we promised ourselves that we would go back. At the time we thought it would be in  10 years when our kids are old enough to appreciate the trip and the beauty that is Hawaii.

We were wrong. We went back this past February for a “babymoon”. For those who may not be familiar with that term, a “babymoon” is a newer trend where expectant parents take a last vacation before the little one arrives. That is a lisa and natetrend that I am more than happy to jump on the bandwagon for.  The funny thing is, we went there  at the exact same time as we went last year. It worked out this way because I would be in my second trimester in February (which is a great time to travel for pregnant women) and I would also get a day off from work from President’s Day.   Besides, this way we can say we’ve gone to Hawaii twice in the same year. We like to pretend we’re ballers.

In actuality, it didn’t cost us that much. We had enough Ultimate Reward point that we transferred to United Airline miles to pay for one ticket and we had enough Marriott points to pay for 10 nights. But more on that later.

So why Hawaii again? We did think about all our options. We wanted somewhere where we could use our Marriott points to keep the expenses way down. We also wanted somewhere we couldn’t go easily once we have kids…you know, as a getaway for the two of us. We knew once we have children we won’t want to fly 11 hours away. Also, you can’t do Hawaii in a long weekend or even a week from the East Coast where we live, you need longer. If you bring the kids with you,  you want them to be old enough to remember it. We also photo: alohatopten.comwanted a location where there were fun activities to do but also relaxing, Remember I was pregnant.   That took Europe out. So Hawaii it was! The first time we visited the Big Island and Maui. We loved them both. Since there was so much to do and experience on the Big Island that we didn’t do the first time, we decided to visit that island again and Kauai.

The decision was made. Then it was time to actually book the travel. We have been Marriott credit card holders for about six or seven years now. My husband’s work allows him to put his hotel stays for business on a personal card and they partner with Marriott.  It made sense for us to get a Marriott credit card. We’ve been loyal to them since we got the card. They were definitely our first-in-wallet credit card. Well, we were loyal until my mom started learning about all these points and rewards and passing down some of the information to her kids. Now we have multiple credit cards but still use our Marriott a lot. Toblack sand us, it was more beneficial to have our hotel nights free when we travel versus a free flight. Free flights are great however they require more rewards so you don’t get to redeem as often. We redeem for free nights fairly often with Marriott. With Marriott, if you stay four nights you get the fifth night free. It was a no brainer that we would stay on each island for five nights with a total of ten nights in Hawaii, for the “cost” of eight.

The resort we stayed on the Big Island was the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Marriott recently changed the levels of the hotels but this in February it cost us 100,000 points at this hotel ( I believe it is now 120,000). The resort on Kauai was the Kaua’I Marriott Resort and when we stayed it was 120,000 points, now 140,000 points.

This year we reached Platinum level with Marriott (the highest level) which made my husband very happy. I wasn’t aware that this was apparently a goal of his. With that comes automatic room upgrade if available. Unfortunately both resorts were at full capacity so we didn’t a room upgrade at either. We did however get a room upgrade the first time we went and it was great. We had a corner room so it was massive, just so much space. Even without the room upgrade the rooms are very spacious and very well decorated. We didn’t pay for an ocean view for either of them but could see the water at both.

We really love the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Big Island because it’s not too large and between the resort/pool area and the ocean is a waikoloawildlife refuge of sorts -this larger area has tidal ponds, lava rocks and paths to explore. Once you get to the ocean you can walk along the beach in either direction for a peaceful, secluded walk. The area does not have other resorts next door like they often do. Some of our favorite mornings were just talking a walk on the lava rocks watching surfers and keeping an eye out for whales while ogling at gorgeous houses we would see. Another plus was that we were within walking distance of an outdoor mall complete with a high end grocery store, shops and restaurants.

The resort on Kauai was also very nice. The view was spectacular and like the resort on the Big Island, it did not have resorts right next door. They had a good number of restaurants in walking distance. The beach was good with plenty of kauai marriottsand and we were protected in a bit of a cove. The pool area had a bit of a Grecian feel to it. Overall you could tell that this was a higher level resort. It was much larger and just more upscale. Even with the nicer feel, I’m partial to the resort on the Big Island.

As I mentioned earlier, we used points to “pay” for one of our flights. We had signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card after talking to my mom about it. With the sign up bonus and our usage, we had enough to cover one of our tickets. We transferred the points to United and redeemed  40,000 for a non-stop round trip ticket from Washington Dulles to Honolulu. This vacation was barely costing us anything. Okay well maybe that’s not true. We still had food, rental car, spending money, and resort fees to pay for (yes, Marriott charges those).

Our time on both islands was an absolute blast. We spent our time exploring photo:aloha-hawaii.comremote beaches, going on some picturesque hikes, visiting a volcano and numerous waterfalls, sea turtle and whale watching, visiting the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, taking a helicopter tour, and enjoying some great food. Overall, a perfect vacation with my sweet husband.

To read more about their babymoon, head on over to their blog “Life as a Liberati

UPDATE:  Blogger Daughter and her husband welcomed a son the beginning of June.  Here is a photo of the little guy:

nolan