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Hawaiian islands with a large family group

Hi, I am planning a trip with a total oh 8, 3 grandparents, 3 mid aged and 2 grandkids 11 and 13. We like to snorkel, see volcanos, sea life, hike waterfalls and explore in general. No fancy hotels or resorts, but near the ocean is a plus. Also near a small snorkeling, paddle board area a plus. Hoping not to spend a fortune but could spend up to $4000 - not including air travel. February
Thanks, Barbara

Posted by
1428 posts

hey hey bbjeletich
when are you planning this trip, the dates, and where are you flying from? are you planning to stay on one island, and does the $4000 included your airfare or not? more info needed.

Posted by
338 posts

Aloha Barbara,

Your best bet is to figure out viable sleeping arrangements and then consequently how many bedrooms you need. For example, let's say you could have one couple in the master bedroom, another couple and their two kids in the second bedroom and a third couple or siblings on the pull-out couch in the living room. That would mean you could rent a two bedroom condo a block or so from the ocean on Maui. From the numbers you gave, you might rather need three bedrooms, which would mean renting two separate (nearby) condos.

The cost depends on whether or not you're going in high season and whether you need a unit that's been renovated to the max. South Maui is cheaper than the rest of the island, and it has great beaches.

We see loads of three-generation family groups on Maui, and usually they get all the activities they want just staying on that one island.

In any event, you're in for a lot of family fun!

Marcia (part-time Maui resident)

Posted by
1701 posts

Per Marcia, South Maui (around Kihei) has a number of reasonably priced condos near the ocean. Lots to do in the area too.
Personally, I'd stay on the Kona side of the Big Island - has a more rural or "country" feel than the other islands, with consistently good weather and calm waters. Also has reasonably priced vacation homes and condos, and frankly the best snorkeling in the state at Honaunau Bay near the National Historic Park. Some nice hikes there too. There are a number of inviting little beach parks up and down the coast, and a day trip up to the volcano would be something everyone could enjoy. The flower farms over on the Hilo side might also make for a pleasant day out if you have the interest.
I think that staying in a self-catering place (with cooking facilities) would be a great cost savings for a group as large as yours.
Whichever island you decide on you'd be well advised to lock something in pretty quickly - the nicer places do book early.

Posted by
5486 posts

Start looking for condos. On Maui we like the Kihei area. Note that February is high season and some folks will rent condos for multiple weeks. Book early.

Maui's volcanoes are not active. If you want active volcanoes, you should book some time on the Big Island (Hawaii).

A $4000 budget for 8 will not go very far. Plan on condos, buying groceries at Costco and eating in.

Posted by
664 posts

You're going to have to go to the Big Island (Hawaii) to find everything on your list. As noted previously that's the only island with active volcano's. I prefer the Hilo side of the island as that's less touristy. It may also be cheaper for you because of that. Don't worry though, it's only an hour or so to get to Kona from Hilo.

You need to start looking at AirBnB and VRBO, as anyplace big enough for all of you is going to run $300-$600/night even in the off-season. That's not going to leave a lot in your budget for activities.

Any chance you have active or retired military in the Group? If so you have some good options most folks can't take advantage of.

Posted by
704 posts

I agree with BI as the option to consider. Look at the homes in KaMilo within Mauna Lani Resort complex. A home there would meet all your needs. Look at Paradise in Hawaii management company they manage a few in there but there are other agencies to work with as well to avoid the VRBO fees and stay away from AirBNB (sadly most of there rentals are not sanctioned rentals in Hawaii) Head over to the TA Hawaii forum - TONS of knowledge there.

Posted by
859 posts

The only thing about Hilo vs. Kona on the Big Island is Hilo is considered the "rainy" side. As others have said, the Big Island is where you will see the volcano. However, Oahu is where you're going to find the most restaurants, etc. Kauai is more waterfall friendly. Regarding snorkeling, be VERY careful in Hawaii, especially with children or the grandparents who may not be strong swimmers. The undertows are strong, the waves are huge, there are rocks that bang against your ankles...the beaches are not like Florida. I seriously almost broke my neck due to a rogue wave in Maui; I was standing about waist-deep and it grabbed me and flung me down to the ocean floor. The best places to swim are outside of resorts, because most have artificial wave breakers/artificial reefs installed to make the water smoother for guests. Waikiki Beach does this and many resorts in Maui do it (I was at a state park in Maui).

Posted by
859 posts

Also something you may want to consider is a Hawaiian cruise. Norwegian has one that is $824/pp (assuming 4 people per room), 7 nights, visits 4 different islands. While the $6500 price tag for a party of 8 is higher than your price range, it does include all lodging, food, entertainment, and transportation, and you can see the 4 major islands and each of their unique sights.

Posted by
338 posts

The best places to swim are outside of resorts,

[In context, what's meant by "best" is safest, in Kelly’d Rather Be Traveling's post above.]

I strongly disagree with the above for Maui, where I have spent four months a year for 9 years, swimming for almost an hour a day and paying very close attention to ocean conditions and lifeguards on the various beaches. I also follow news of drownings and other water mishaps in Maui.

You should not swim or snorkel at a beach without a lifeguard. Resorts do not have lifeguards in Maui. Most of the state beach parks do. Most of the drownings happen at beaches without lifeguards. Many involve people in their 50s and 60s who were physically in poor condition yet who had been told that snorkeling is easy. "Anyone can do it!" In fact, it's rather strenuous.

If there's a red flag out, do not go in the water, regardless of what you see other people doing. The red flag means that conditions are dangerous - especially for people who are not accustomed to the ocean.

And whether there's a red flag out or not, never ever turn your back to the waves.

Apart from all this, have fun!

Posted by
704 posts

The best places to swim are outside of resorts -

I guess define resorts... some of the best snorkeling on Maui is Kapalua Bay and on BI it's the beach club at Mauna Lani - I would consider both those spots a part of resorts.

Posted by
6128 posts

How many nights are you aiming for?

Does the $4k cover just the lodging or lodging AND everything else ( food, car rental, snorkel trip etc) excluding the airfare?

How many bedrooms do you need?

Posted by
73 posts

As others have mentioned, if you want volcanoes, you’ll have to do the Big Island. For everything else on your list, Maui would be a good option. I love on Maui. Kihei would best fit your requirements and has lots of options. VRBO is a good site. Hale Pau Hana is my favorite condo - one of the few right on the beach. They have at least one larger, ground floor unit. There are also a few houses for rent in that area. Best book soon though as February is a very busy month here.

Posted by
74 posts

Aloha - I have lived on Maui for 36 years and you will find we have the largest amount of beaches compared to all other islands. We do not have an active volcano, but Haleakala is magnificent at 10K feet above sea level. We also have our humpback whale migration during the winter months. February is the absolute BUSIEST time of the year for all of the Islands (December to March is the most expensive time of the year to visit.) The wintertime brings the North swells and the summer brings the South swells - keep this in mind when scouting a location. If you can tell us how much time you wish to spend, it would help. You may be able to find a house or condo to rent but with that large of a group, you may have to get two condos. Contact the management directly; do not look on Craigslist! If you are lucky enough to find something for February you will need to secure a rental car quickly. Let me know if I can help.