Archive for the 'General' Category

HawaiiGaga Staff

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


Cloudy Day in Hawaii

Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of planning a trip to Hawaii is figuring out what the weather will be like during your stay. There are several sources for weather forecasts, and many of them are inaccurate. Weather in Hawaii is very localized, so you need to make sure you’re looking at a point forecast. The best source for forecasts is the National Weather Service Forecast in Honolulu. The worst I’ve seen is the iPhone’s weather forecasting. I’m not sure what data provider it’s utilizing.

More often than not the forecast will call for a mix of sun and clouds and a 40-60% chance of rain. In Hawaii, cloud free skies are uncommon - there are usually puffs of clouds somewhere. Similarly, days when the entire sky is blanketed are also uncommon. The below photo represents what I consider the typical “cloudy” day in Hawaii. The clouds are moving through fairly rapidly, with some localized rainfall, and areas of sun. On a day like this the weather forecast would probably have stated there’s a 50% chance of rain.

A Typically Cloudy Day in Hawaii

A Typically Cloudy Day in Hawaii

Of course the time to worry about weather, if you’re so inclined, is when you’re deciding where to stay. Our Hawaii Weather Guide will give you a good idea of seasonal rainfall in all the different regions of Hawaii.


Movies Filmed in Kauai

In our latest update to the Kauai GPS Tour Guide for the iPhone we added a few additional movie locations, like Jurassic Park, King Kong (1976 remake),  Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides. Directors like to film in remote areas of the island, which means many locations aren’t recognizable or possible to visit. For the movie Tropic Thunder, filmed almost entirely on Kauai, the only location I recognized was the home of the agent Rick Peck (played by Mathew McConaughey), which is somewhere in Kilauea.

Watching movies filmed in Hawaii is a fun way to get excited for an upcoming vacation. If you have a smart phone or laptop consider downloading one of the following movies for your plane trip. For more information about the movies in this list you can visit the Internet Movie Database. For information about the locations listed, take a look at our Kauai Map.

Date Title Kauai Locations
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean Kalalau Valley, Maha’ulepu
2011 Just Go With It Kilauea Falls
2011 The Descendants Hanalei, Princeville
2011 Soul Surfer Tunnels beach, Hanalei Pier, Kalalau Trail
2008 Perfect Getaway Kalalau Trail
2008 Tropic Thunder Wailua Falls, Kauai Sands Beach
2005 Band Of Pirates, Buccaneer Island Kee Beach, Kalaua Trail, …
2002 Dragonfly Wailua Falls
2002 The Time Machine
2001 To End All Wars Hanama’ulu Bay, Koloa Area
1998 Six Days and Seven Nights Shipwreck beach, Aliomanu (Papa’a Bay)
1998 Mighty Joe Young Kalalau Valley, Kahili Jurassic Ranch (Kilauea)
1997 George of the Jungle Olokele Valley
1995 Outbreak Kamokila Village (Wailua), Kipu Ranch
1994 North Lumahai, Ha’ena, Aliomanu (Papa’a Bay)
1993 Jurassic Park I,II,III Valley House, Wailua, Limahuli, Olokele Canyon, Manawaiopuna Falls, Kilauea
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas Lihue, Waimea, Anini, Kapa’a, Kalapaki
1991 Hook Kipu Kai Beach
1990 Flight of the Intruder Wailua, Barking Sands, Hanapepe
1990 Lord of the Flies Ke’e Beach
1987 Throw Momma from the Train Ke’e Beach, Kalihiwai, Kapa’a, Nawiliwili
1986 It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive
1983 The Thorn Birds Ke’e Beach, McBryde Sugar Mill, Koloa, Hanapepe, Lawai-Kai
1983 Uncommon Valor Hanalei Valley, Lumahai Valley, Wahiawa Camp
1981 Body Heat Haena
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Kipu Falls and Ranch
1981 Behold Hawaii Hanalei Bay, Hanalei Town, Koke’e, Ke’e Beach, Wailua Falls
1979 Last Flight of Noah’s Ark Lawaii Kai, Port Allen
1978 Deathmoon Coco Palms
1978 Acapulco Gold Na Pali, Princeville, Hanalei
1977 Fantasy Island Wailua Falls
1977 Islands in the Stream Port Allen, Maha’ulepu, Nawiliwili, Wailua River, Kuku’iula Harbor, Kipu Ranch
1976 King Kong Honopu Beach, Kilauea, Kalalau Valley
1974 Castaway Cowboy Pila’a, Maha’ulepu
1970 The Hawaiians Kipu Ranch, Wailua River, Kapahi
1969 Lost Flight Lumahai Beach, Maniniholo Cave
1966 Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. Poipu Beach, Lawai Kai, Lydgate Park
1965 None but the Brave Pila’a Beach
1965 Paradise Hawaiian Style Princeville
1964 Gilligan’s Island Pilot Moloaa Bay
1963 Donovan’s Reef Nawiliwili, Hanama’ulu Beach, Wailua River, Waipouli, Coco Palms, Lawai Kai, Ko’olau, Waimea Canyon
1962 Diamond Head Kipu Ranch, Lihue, Grove Farm, Nawiliwili
1961 Blue Hawaii Coco Palms, Wailua Beach, Lydgate Park, Opaeka’a Falls, Kipu, Anahola
1961 Seven Women from Hell Wailua
1960 The Wackiest Ship in the Army Hanalei Bay, Kalalau Lookout at Koke’e, Waimea Canyon, Hule’ia Stream, Nawiliwili, Opaeka’a Falls
1958 South Pacific Princeville, Hanalei, Haena, Kilauea, Lawai Kai, Barking Sands near Mana and Polihale
1958 She Gods of Shark Reef Hanalei, Haena
1957 Jungle Heat Coco Palms
1957 Voodoo Island Coco Palms, Valley House
1956 Between Heaven and Hell Wailua
1954 Beachhead Wailua River, Coco Palms, Hanalei
1953 Miss Sadie Thompson Coco Palms, Hanalei, Kalapaki, Wailua Beach, Lihue
1951 Bird of Paradise Hanalei Bay, Coco Palms
1950 Pagan Love Song Ha’ena, Wainiha, Hanalei, Ke’e Beach, Coco Palms, Lydgate Park, Valley House
1934 White Heat Waimea Plantation, Wahiawa Camp

The History of Surfing

Surfing originated in Polynesian and was first described in 1769 when Captain James Cook arrived in Tahiti. In Hawaii, surfing was considered an art form as much as it was a sport and recreational activity. Temples were dedicated to surfing and Hawaiians would call upon their Priests to pray for good waves.

Everybody surfed in Hawaii including women and children, but the best waves and beaches were open only to the ruling class. When missionaries arrived in the 1820s they sought to transform Hawaiian culture including getting rid of surfing where nearly naked men and women mingled freely instead of working. Surfing went into decline until the early 20th century when it was revived by Alexander Hume Ford and Jack London. Ford was living in Waikiki trying to promote Hawaii as a tourist destination and realized that surfing could become a selling point. When Jack London arrived in Waikiki he was already a famous author. Ford introduced the sport to London and he immediately fell in love. In 1907 London wrote “A Royal Sport: Surfing in Waikiki” which was published in several magazines and garnered much attention. In 1908 Ford petitioned the trustees of the Queen Emma Estate to set aside a parcel of land next to the Moana Hotel in Waikiki for a surfing and canoeing club. In Ford’s fund-raising manifesto he described a club that would “give an added and permanent attraction to Hawaii and make Waikiki always the Home of the Surfer, with perhaps an annual Surfboard and Outrigger Canoe Carnival which will do much to spread abroad the attractions of Hawaii, the only islands in the world where men and boys ride upright upon the crests of waves.” Ford’s petition worked and the trustees of Queen Emma’s Estate founded the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Club, the first modern club dedicated to the perpetuation of wave-riding.

A few years later Hawaii’s most famous waterman and Olympic swimming champion, Duke Kahanamoku, spread the sport abroad by giving demonstrations as he traveled the globe. Kahanamoku is widely credited with surfing the longest wave in history, a wave near Waikiki that carried him for more than a mile.

There are many great surf breaks in Hawaii. Our Hawaii iPhone app’s point these out as you drive around the island.

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

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.

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’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.


Hawaii Travel Tips

Here are ten travel tips for your next Hawaii vacation:

  • Renting a car is a must. There’s too much to see and do.
  • Look toward the NE to see what the weather will be like for the next hour. The trade winds blow consistently from this direction.
  • Check the surf report before you head to the beaches or ocean so you know what to expect.
  • Don’t swim in fresh water (streams, rivers, ponds). They are contaminated with Leptospirosis.
  • If you plan on renting a surf board, make sure you can fit in on the roof of your rental car (where is the radio antenna?)
  • Coral is living organism. Don’t touch or damage the coral. They also have a lot of bacteria on them, so be careful not to get scratched.
  • Invest in good snorkel equipment. Bad equipment can ruin the experience.
  • Big waves hit the north shores in the winter, and south shores in the summer. This may affect your snorkeling plans.
  • The sting from a blue bottle (portuguese man of war) can be very painful. If you see them on the beach it’s a sign to stay out of the water.
  • Surf swap meets are a great place to buy equipment.
  • Consider buying an inexpensive camera for the kids so they can capture the vacation from their perspective.

For a 110 more travel tips, try our free Hawaii Google gadget. It’s a fun tool that you place on your Google home page and has all sorts of Hawaii related stuff.


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 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.


Finding Cheap Airfare to Hawaii

If you’ve been using our Hawaii Google Gadget to keep an eye on airfare to Hawaii you’ll notice it also reports what airline is offering the low price:

Hawaii Airfare

The gadget actually uses’s flight search technology to discover those low fares. is an excellent web site for researching airfare, but there are many more. So how do they stack up? Recently, we took a look at airfare from Seattle to Lihue, and compared the major players: - $321 - $321 - $322 - $330 - $574

Incidentally, the airfare found was with Alaska Airlines, whose own web site also quoted a price of $321.

These results are quite interesting. First, CheapOAir, a major player in the market, couldn’t find the discounted Alaska Airlines rate. As a result it found a much higher rate with a different carrier., another relatively new but big player in the market, quoted a rate that was slightly higher. Unlike the other web sites, uses coupon codes to give people discounted rates. If you know about the coupon, you can get the $321 rate.

Finally, expedia, orbitz and kayak all discovered the lowest possible rate.

What differentiates these web sites is the way they search for low airfare. If you have exact dates, either expedia, orbitz or kayak will do the job. However, if you have flexible dates, is the web site to use as it can search a range of dates, which is extremely useful.

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