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Author: oldbog

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 60
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 1999

May 04, 2012

I know GC and OAT don't "do" Hawaii but wonder if any of you experienced travelers have and could reccomend tours or good ideas.



Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 549
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

May 04, 2012

I just booked a Hawaii cruise-tour for October 2012 with YMT Vacations. There are lots of tour companies operating in Hawaii but YMT has a couple of styles to offer. They are a "budget" tour company so you need to read the literature carefully to see what is actually included. Pay attention to the difference between "see" (meaning a drive-by) and "visit" (meaning a stop and get off the bus). No meals, not even breakfasts, are included (except on the ship or some optional tours) so add in an amount for food, and food is not cheap in Hawaii. But otherwise, nobody that I know of shows you more of an area for a lower cost than YMT. You'll get second or maybe third tier hotels, but the included tours are top notch. The optional tours are very good and not overly expensive. I enjoyed the land (and air) tour of the four main islands that I took with YMT in 2004. So this year I'm going back. The main part of the tour is the cruise on NCL's Pride of America and that's the same regardless of your booking agent. I will say that I got the cruise and four nights in a hotel on Waikiki for less than $100 more than what NCL was charging for just the cruise.

No, I don't work for YMT, and this is the third tour I have taken with them. I compared GCT's Northwest National Parks Tour with a nearly identical tour offered by YMT and I am taking the GCT tour in June 2012. A few years ago I had booked an Alaska cruise-tour with YMT but cancelled and forfeited my deposit when GCT's comparable tour was significantly better. So if GCT and YMT are competing, I would normally choose GCT. And if the prospective YMT amenities are not quite up to your standards, you can look at Perillo or Pleasant Hawaiian, or a myriad of others.

Hawaii is a great place to visit and, were it not for the relative isolation from family and friends, I would consider living there. It's relatively expensive, but probably more affordable for a retiree than for a younger person still "working for a living".

Author: judylee

Joined: 8/19/2011
Posts: 16
GCT Trips Taken: 17
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2000

May 04, 2012

25 years ago for our anniversary we did Hawaii on our own, checked hotels out 1st & booked a week in Honolullo & stayed 1 block from the beach.  They have an excellant bus system & went to Pearl Harbor and several other places by the buses which were well marked.  WE did take a tour to The Polynesian Cultural Center for a reasonable fee.  We did fly to Kuai & spent 3 days & did rent a car there.  I would go back and do on out own in a heartbeat.  Figure the cost of a travel company & then doing on your own, possibly it may be less with a tour company but I doubt it.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 1,057
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

May 05, 2012

I went in October of 1994 a few months after I retired.  It was part of a trip where I was going to decide if I wanted to stay in the Boston area or if I wanted to move to a warm climate.  I ended up not moving.  But I really enjoyed Hawaii, and I've always thought of going back.  I spent about a week on Waikiki and took a city tour which included Pearl Harbor.  Went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and took a day trip to the Big Island.  Then I flew to Maui and rented a car.  Stayed at Kaanapali for another week.  It's really a trip you can do on your own.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 250
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

August 20, 2012

I agree with all the the posters.  We have been to Hawaii Oahu at least 9 times.  We used the bus for a good bit.  We always got our own hotels and some rooms come with a rental car.  Usually the hotels have a tour desk and if you wanted a tour you could book right at the hotel.  Maps are plentiful there. 

Staying in a nice condo is not that expensive.  My son and his wife were married on Maui in 2007, rented a condo for 2 weeks and the per day cost was a lot less than our hotel we stayed for 5 days.  You can at least make toast or light breakfast; there are usually lots of restaurants around; some you may need a car to get to.

You can drive around Maui on your own, it's beautiful scenery.  Go up to the top of that mountain (name I can't remember now), it is much cooler there on top than on the bottom; we hit a rain storm up on top and I only had on a sun dress and it was way too cold.  It is also a beautiful site.  My son and his wife took a bike ride tour--they take ou to the top and you bike down, way down.  They loved it.  Tiring though a little if you aren't in shape

The Big Island Hawaii is also a nice place to visit, drive down to the lava yfields by the beach.  Wear sport shoes as some of the lava may be too hot.  And also can drive to the Kiluaea mountain above the crater.  Museum there, cafe.  Driving you can see a lot of scenery.  I'm sure tours go there as well.

Do some homework as to what you want to do and see.  Then look into the rooms, prices with and without rental car, and proximity to restaurants, shopping if you want to do that..  Waikiki you can exclusively use a bus.  To get to the other side of the island you may want a rental car.  Also look at the other islands, there are tours from Waikiki to all the islands, with air, room and rental car.  Gather all the info and see what works for you.  If you belong to AAA their guidebooks and maps are free and are pretty good.


Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 268
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 12
Countries Visited:

USA, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Japan, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, China, India, Turkey, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Scotland, England, France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Greece, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, Montenegro, Slovenia, Albania, Luxembourg, Croatia, Russia, Finland, Egypt, Jordan, Panama, Colombia, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

Traveler Since: 2005

August 21, 2012

We are in California, so Hawaii is our backyard playground!  We go often, and love each island. If you are able to, do rent a car; it is the best way to see the islands. If you are taking children or teens, a condo is your best choice of lodging, for you can save a lot of money by preparing some of your meals, and there is usually a swimming pool on the premises. Food is quite expensive in the islands.  I love the farmers' markets and swap meets, where there are always new foods to taste and enjoy. Ethnic restaurants are plentiful, and the fresh seafood is fabulous.

 We have used Pleasant Holidays packages several times, with car, hotel or condo, and plane fare, and have been quite happy with them. They have been flexible, allowing us to, for instance, stay in a hotel on one side of the Big Island, but at the same time letting us to make our own reservations at our favorite bed and breakfast on the Hilo side. We also were part owners of a condo on the beautiful green island of Kauai for a time, and have stayed at many hotels and condos on the various islands.

Read Trip Advisor, talk to friends and family, and watch for good deals...There are many out there. Get some guide books from the library, read through them, and think about what is important to you. Air conditioning might be quite high on your lists of "must haves" because it is hot in this tropical climate.

Do you want to snorkel? Do you want to learn about Hawaii's history? Do you want to lie on the beach and do nothing? Do you want to sightsee? How about visiting botanical gardens or seeing whales?  Some islands are better than others for different activities, and some times of the year are better for certain activites such as whale watching.   If it's important to you to see an active volcano, you have to go to the Big Island.  If you would rather see a dormant one, go to Maui. On Oahu, Pearl Harbor , the Bishop Museum, and the Polynesian Cultural Center are must-see attractions. But if you stay only in Honolulu, you have missed an opportunity to experience the laid back lifestyle that is so delightful in Hawaii. Better to divide your trip between Honolulu and a less congested area.

I know people who have liked the "Hawaii Sampler" of the NCL cruise, but we took it with three other couples and were not impressed. The dawns and dusks of this tropical climate are full of wonder, and we missed being on the islands for those. The birds and the trees and flowers kept calling us ashore.  We found it frustrating to have to return to the ship after each shore excursion's hours were up.  If you are into the "cruise" part, the buffets, nightclubs, swimming pools, etc., I expect it is fine, but if experiencing Hawaii is your main goal, my personal opinion is: make another choice.

Don't spread yourself too thin and try to visit every island in one trip. Choose one or two and really explore them, and then next time you can choose a different one. And which island is our favorite?  It's always the one we visited the last time we were there!

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