September is the Best Month to Visit Hawaii

When is the best month to visit Hawaii? It depends on your preferences, but if you take into account prices, crowds and weather, September is the best month to visit Hawaii. In close second place are May and June. For specialized activities, certain months are ideal:

  • May is an excellent month to visit Kauai’s north shore for novice surfers that want a surfing vacation.
  • Whale watching season starts in November and lasts through April.
  • December through February are the best months to see big wave surfing.
  • The summer months have the best snorkeling.

For more information see the best time to visit Hawaii guide which goes into detail and gives a ranking for each month.

ocean temperatures peak in september
ocean temperatures peak in september

Kauai Web Cams

At present there appear to be roughly a dozen web cams in operation around Kauai, mostly on the north and south shores. These cameras are useful for visiting tourists as they give an indication of what the weather is like in different parts of the island. Check out Kauai-webcam.com for a list including a map of the cameras. There’s also a great Kauai web cam that features the popular “PKs” surf break in Poipu. Surfer’s will appreciate being able to check in on the wave conditions from home. That camera is located at the awesome Kuhio Shores condo complex which hovers right on the edge of the ocean.

Kauai web cam picture from Kuhio Shores
Kauai web cam picture from Kuhio Shores

Ahihi Kinau Reserve and La Perouse Bay

After being closed for four years, the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is slated to open again on July 31. The 2000+ acre land and ocean reserve is a popular area for snorkeling, diving and hiking. The area contains the remnants of important archaeological sites (villages, burials, and temples) and is also a habitat for rare and endangered species. Even with the re-opening we expect the Department of Land and Natural Resources to limit access to ensure the Reserve doesn’t deteriorate as it did in the past after being popularized by travel books.

Ahihi Kinau Natural Reserve with La Perouse Bay in the DistanceThe above aerial photo shows a portion of the Reserve which extends from Ahihi Bay to La Perouse Bay. La Perouse Bay is named after the first European credited to set foot on Maui, the French naval officer and Explorer Jean Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse, who arrived 1786. La Perouse had been commissioned by the King of France to sail throughout the Pacific Ocean to discover new lands, establish commercial trade and collect scientific data. His two 500 ton ships, the Boussole and Astrolabe carried botanists, astronomers, oceanographers, zoologists, and soldiers. La Perouse was at first weary of the islanders knowing about Captain Cook’s death on the Big Island 7 years earlier, and landed with 20 soldiers. But the villagers were very interested in La Perouse’s ship and eager to trade.

On land La Perouse surveyed the four villages in the area, each containing about a dozen huts, and traded and exchanged gifts with the residents. The Reserve surely contains the remnants of at least one of these villages.

Relative to other areas of Maui this dry region was very sparsely populated. It’s interesting to note that today the area just north of La Perouse Bay contains some of the most sought after real estate in Maui from luxury condos to the ten million dollar homes of Makena.

There’s more to the story of La Perouse Bay. In 1790 the American trading ship Eleanora anchored near the Bay and traded for supplies with the village. During the night the Eleanora’s support boat, tied to the side of the ship, was stolen and the sailor guarding it killed. The ships Captain, Simon Metcalfe, was outraged and ordered the village bombarded with grape shot. He also sent men to set fire to the village’s huts and temple. This event would eventually lead to the Massacre at Oluwalu, where Metcalfe sought further revenge and killed over 100 Hawaiians.

How Close it Poipu Kai Resort to the Beach?

Poipu Kai Resort in Poipu consists of several individual condominium complexes scattered over a 70 acre property. We sometimes get people asking us how far it is from Poipu Sands or Regency Villas, two popular complexes in the resort, to the beach. We’ve actually measured the walking times. Take a look at the follow aerial photo to get your bearing (you can click on it for a bigger view). In the photo the most central part of Poipu Kai Resort is identified (1) as well as Poipu Sands (8) which is still part of Poipu Kai. Regency is about half way between the 1 and 8 labels. On the right hand side is Shipwreck Beach, and on the left is Brennecke followed by Poipu Beach Park.

Poipu Kai Resort & Poipu Sands
Poipu Kai Resort & Poipu Sands

The walking time from Regency to Brennecke is 6 minutes. It’s an additional 4 minutes to get to Poipu Beach. The walking time from Poipu Sands to Brennecke is 12 minutes when you cut through Poipu Kai Resort. Poipu Sands is located next to Shipwreck beach but the grounds are fairly big, so the average walking time from a unit to the start of the beach will be 3-4 minutes.

Google Maps has a walking directions feature that appears to be very accurate and allows you to chose walking paths as well as roads. Here is the map showing the walking distance from Poipu Sands to Brennecke beach.

Introducing Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone

Imagine having a local expert to guide you as you drive around Kauai.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone is a virtual tour guide that talks to vacationers as they drive around Kauai. Using the GPS built into the iPhone, the Tour Guide knows exactly where travelers are and alerts them to hidden beaches, scenic lookouts, historic sites, hikes, farmers markets and many other Kauai attractions.

The Kauai GPS Tour Guide is the first App of its kind available to Kauai visitors. It’s like having an island resident drive with you to tell you about the island. Unlike a guide book where you’re constantly flipping through pages trying to figure out where you are and what’s around you, the Tour Guide tells you about hidden places, and guides you to difficult to find attractions.

The Tour Guide includes over 200 points of interest and uses a real human voice – not a computer generated one. The application also includes comprehensive beach and snorkeling guides, weather and surf forecasts, driving directions, Kauai background information for tourists including detailed ocean safety guidelines, and select activity and restaurant recommendations.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide is available for only $7.95 from iTunes or the iPhone app store. It also works with the iPad 3G+Wifi model. Unfortunately we don’t have an Android version yet, but with the popularity of devices like the T-Mobile Galaxy S we may consider adding Android support in the future.

Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone
Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone

President Obama’s Kailua Vacation Home

For the 3rd year in a row President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on Oahu for the Christmas holidays. For the past 2 years the family stayed at Plantation Estate, a 5 bedroom vacation home on Kailua Beach, also dubbed the Winter White House. It hasn’t been announced yet if the family will stay there again, but odds are that they will. The home is on the far end of Kailua beach in a gated community and offers plenty of privacy and security.

President Obama's Kailua Vacation Rental

Hanalei Bay – Hawaii’s Best Beach?

We’ve updated our guide to Hawaii’s best beaches where we list our nominations for Hawaii’s 30 best beaches. This year Hanalei Bay gets top honors, beating out Oahu’s Kailua beach. Hanalei Bay actually has much in common with Kailua – it’s in a residential area with no hotels or condos, mountains provide a beautiful backdrop, and both are uncrowded and offer a range of water activities.

There are some other notable changes in our rankings. Waikiki beach, one of Hawaii’s funnest beaches with all sorts of activities, has moved up 6 positions to #13. This is thanks to the downturn in tourism since we heavily penalize Waikiki for overcrowding. Poipu beach park moves up in the rankings thanks to the return of the Tombolo (a sand bar extending out from the shore) and a great effort by residents who cut away brush that was encroaching on the sand. And making an appearance for the first time in our list (suspiciously absent in the past) is Kauai’s wonderful Maha’ulepu beach.

As noted on our list, all the islands have beautiful beaches including the Big Island. Our island beach guides list over 100 great tourist beaches. Below is a short video of Hanalei Bay to give you a taste of what the beach looks like in the summer months when the ocean is calm.

Bishop Museum Ticket Giveaway

Update: Congratulations to our winners – everybody who entered won! The contest has now ended. No one got every answer exactly right but everyone showed a jolly good effort.

To celebrate our 2 year anniversary we’re giving away Bishop Museum Tickets! Bishop Museum is a wonderful place to visit if you’re traveling to Oahu. To enter just answer the following trivia questions and submit your answer as a blog comment. Remember there’s a limit of 1 winner per household, and the museum tickets expire December 31, 2010. It takes about 10 minutes to figure out the answers to the quiz.

Trivia Questions

Question 1 – What HawaiiGaga.com beach page stars an endangered species monk seal?
[Hint: We’ve photographed 1 in Oahu, 1 on the Big Island, and 2 on Kauai]

Question 2According to our weather guide, what area of Hawaii receives the least amount of rainfall?
[Hint – Hawaii Weather Guide]

Question 3 – What Kauai condo are we describing here:

“_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ is an oceanfront condominium complex about a 5 minute walk from Brennecke beach, or 7 minutes to Poipu Beach park. The complex features a swimming pool hovering just at the edge of the ocean.”

[Hint – See our Kauai condos page]

To Enter

Add your answer as a comment. Winners will be emailed at the email address you specify in the blog comment.  Note: Private information is not shared and used only to administer this giveaway.

Rules

-Limit of 1 entry per household.
-Tickets must be used by December 31, 2010.
-We reserve the right to judge incorrect answers as correct when a good effort is shown.
-Employees, family, friends, and associates of HawaiiGaga.com not eligible.
-Only open to residents of the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
-Void where prohibited by law.
-No purchase necessary to win.
-HawaiiGaga.com is not responsible for lost or undelivered entries or winner notifications including those that are flagged as spam by our or your spam blocking software. Winners have to send mailing information within a week of being notified.

Negotiating Hawaii Vacation Rental Deals

Hawaii’s vacation rentals offer outstanding value compared to hotel rooms, including the islands’ 5 star accommodations which are comparable to luxury rentals found around the world. Since vacation rentals are essentially homes they offer all the amenities you would expect – fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities (most often in-suite), high speed internet, and so on. Many even have things like beach equipment, books and other accessories that vacationers find useful.

So by deciding on a vacation rental compared to a hotel you’re already on your way to saving money on your vacation. Another nice aspect about vacation rentals is that the price is often negotiable. All you have to do is ask. Here are some tips when asking for a discount:

  • Let them know if you’re not going to use all the bedrooms in the rental
  • Are your dates flexible? Can you squeeze into a vacant time slot that would otherwise go un-booked?
  • Tell them if you’re a senior or in the military.
  • Tell them what your budget is and see what they can do to work with your budget.

The greatest opportunity for discounts is when doing a last minute booking as owners are more eager to fill a rental that would otherwise stand empty. Here however you risk losing out on a great place and you may even struggle to find something in an area you like. If you find yourself scrambling to find a place, remember to also check RedWeek.com’s Hawaii Timeshares. Timeshare’s are rentals that have multiple owners, and the owners often trade or rent out their week of ownership when they can’t travel them self. Like rentals, time shares offer deeper discounts on last minute bookings.

Given how the quality of rentals vary, if you see a place that you like it’s best not to wait. Rather, book as soon as possible and use the above tips to try and manage something within your budget. But if you do find yourself planning a last minute trip you could find some great savings. HawaiiGaga’s Hawaii deals page shows many discounts on last minute travel.

Cheap Hawaii Car Rentals

Just like flights to Hawaii, car rental prices fluctuate dramatically. The average price of an economy sized car is in the $30/per day range during regular season. When the supply is low, typically high season times, the price goes into the high $40 range. The highest we’ve seen is $100/day! That was when the car companies, seeing a huge down turn in tourism, shipped off their inventories. Demand was higher than expected, and prices went up to the extreme. On the other hand, prices in the teens are possible.

Despite assurances otherwise, car rental company web sites do not offer the best deals. Dollar rental car is the prime example.

Dollar Rental Car Guarantee

Dollar has this logo placed at the top of their web site. Isn’t it reassuring? Read the details and you’ll see there are a dozen exceptions, including:

  • Does not apply to discounts, coupons, upgrade offers
  • Does not apply to pre-negotiated rates
  • Does not apply to promotional rates
  • Does not apply to member rates such as government, AAA, corporate etc.
  • Does not apply to rates found on auction sites, or sites that don’t publish the name of the rental company.

And so on..

Dollar acknowledges that web sites with pre-negotiated rates, auction sites, and sites that don’t publish a brand have the lowest rates. So that’s where you should go to find the best deal.

One of the best “auction” style web sites is Priceline.com. On priceline, you bid on a car by saying how much you want to pay. If priceline accepts the bid, your credit card is charged immediately and they tell you what company you got. If the bid is not accepted, you have to wait a day to place a new bid, or change the type of car you want to rent to bid again immediately.

An alternative to Priceline is to use a web site that has pre-negotiated discount rates. There are some benefits to this approach:

  1. No deposit and your credit card isn’t charged until you return the car.
  2. You can cancel at any time.
  3. The rates are still very competitive, usually much better than what the car rental company’s offer directly.
  4. They sometimes include an additional driver for free! Car rental companies typically charge an extra $10-$15/day for additional drivers!

Two great web sites to check for low pre-negotiated rates are Discount Hawaii Car Rental and Summit Pacific’s Hawaii Car Rentals.

Remember when you rent a car, you will get fined for 1) early pick up 2) early return 3) late return. The fines are ugly so be careful. Also, always get all your insurance from your local insurance company as the rental company insurance policies are expensive. Finally, use the gas option that requires you to return the car with a full tank of gas, as opposed to the option that lets you return it empty (you prepay for the tank). Drifting into the rental lot on fumes is impossible – you’ll likely have at least $15 of gas left in the tank, if not more.