Just back from Easter break with husband & 2 daughters 15 & 10. It was my second trip to hawaii and the first for the kids. We had a great trip but even as a seasoned traveler- i learned a lot of info to share:
Don't over pack- do as they all say- pack your bags and take out half. Esp in Hawaii where you are island hopping and all is so casual.
We flew direct from Newark- very easy, I did the lei greeting at the airport for the kids and to be honest, I couldhave saved $20 and purchased them right at baggage claim and presented them to the girls. I think it happended so fast (and after a 10 hour flight) that they barely noticed the man who had the sign with their name on it.
Rented a full size car which was a tight squeeze with the overpacked luggage. Again- lesson learned!
Since we arrived late, I booked one night at the Resortquest Beach hotel. The hotel was very busy and reminded me of a Disney moderate resort- lots of pople, mall rooms, great location. Loved the breakfast cooler idea- very easy and fun. I was up early and they served at 6am. We were on the beach at 7 am!
Mistake number 3- I should have packed one bag for overnight for the whole family instead of hauling in all of our stuff to the room for just one night.
Spend day 1 hiking Diamond Head- it was hot but we all enjoyed it . We did purchase the t-shirts sold at the mid point which at 2 for $20 was a bargain. They were delivered to the hotel as promised the next day.
We then hiked to Manoa falls (nice but buggy) and aty at the old Treetops which is a Chinese buffet (marginal at best but cheap).
We then moved to the Sheraton Moana-what can I say- greeted with leis, iced towels and juice- it is a very classy place. We had a partial oceanview tower but did not face the pool. Our view was of the HVAC and hotel across the way but the ocean was beautiful. As others have said- request pool side- it is beautiful. The hotel is under construction so there is no real sitting lobby. The verandas are great. Food and drink very expensive but the location could not be beat. Loved the little coffee shop adjacent to the hotel.
The pool and beach situation is insane- you must "reserve" your lounge chairs the night before. We did not use the beach or pool but I can tell you I watched a lot of money exchange hands. That is how one gets a good spot on the beach or pool area.
We ate at the Halekulani for dinner and it was beautiful, great food and expensive. the kid's were exhausted so it was probably a waste for them (lesson learned). the girls loved shopping at the International market and we hit every ABC store (and there are a lot).
Day 2 we drove to the North beahces enroute to the PCC. Stopped at the Dole Plantation (430 for the train ride a waste- kids too old) . A rock slide forced us to turn all the way back and head up to PCC the other way. Got to PCC at 4 pm and had the inexpensive twilight ticket. We were quite rushed so we only goto 2 villages- the IMAX was great as was the show. Much better than I ever expected. Note: the Horizons show starts at 7:30 but vilalges start packingup at 5:45! We ate at one of the fast food places inside- much better than the luau food or so I was told.
Easter Sunday there were options for church on the beach which people said was really special.
We flew to Kauai (very easy) and drove to Princeville area where we rented at Puu Poa. What a wonderful location! From the airport, I panicked like I was on Mars and jumped into the first Foodland supermarket I saw. One mile later, there was a brand new Shop & Save - oh well. Spent about $75 on breakfast & snacks for 3 days. Be sure to get a shopping card (takes one second)- I saved $25 on my order!
Kids loved the Princeville area- laid back sufing towns. We were next to the Princeville Hotel so we had their beach, restaurant etc... at our disposal. Gorgeous place. My husband played the Prince course. Loved it. Condo was stocked- Note: go to the condo first and see what you need. Laundry deterenget, ice packs, extra beds etc... all provided for your use.
The kids & hubby went to surf lessons with hawaiin surfing adventures. About $65 for a 3 hour lesson- wonderful instructors- a true highlight of the trip. For $30 we bought the picture DVD (a somewhat affiliated photogrpaher)- worth every penny.
Found some grreat local eateries in Hanalei. Tunnels beach (easy to miss-check a guide book for mile markers) and snorkeling by the Princeville Hotel - amazing.
Inportant things to pack or buy: aqua shoes/snorkels/rash guards.
Since check out was early and the flight late back to New Jersey, we spent a relaxing day at Poipu beach. The kids got to see a seal relaxing on the sand.
Thinking about next Easter when we can return. Many thanks to my TA friends for all of the great advice!