Hawaii 2021

Hawaii had always been out there as an option, but I had never given it serious thought for a vacation until I had to scramble to plan our fall 2020 vacation.

Why not?  I don’t really know.  It is far and generally not cheap, but that hasn’t stopped us for other destinations.  Maybe it was less exciting and exotic being a US state?

Regardless, it was our leading option for the fall 2020 trip for a while, and it seemed like an fun place to travel.  I wanted to make it work at some point.  I was also confident that James would enjoy it.

I decided to look at it for a late spring trip in 2021.  I was somewhat confident it would be open for travel by spring 2021.  We were hemmed in by James’s kindergarten graduation and trying to make my family’s beach vacation on the other side.  So, we did not have a large window and settled on late May.

I found United Airlines flight awards (only available in economy) and booked three round trips with Turkish miles.  Yes, Turkish miles.  They are a star alliance airline and have an award price of 15,000 miles roundtrip for anywhere in the US (including Hawaii).  That meant all three of our flights to Hawaii were just 45,000 miles.  A ridiculous bargain.

That said, it’s a pain.  You have to email several Turkish centers and wait for a response.  Then you have to submit a form and hope everything goes smoothly while the award space is available.  If you succeed, you prize is an award at about 35% – 40% of the cost of using United Miles.

Hand-in-hand with the flight award was finding award space at the Andaz in Maui.  I had hyatt points and a suite upgrade that I wanted to use, and the Andaz was an excellent hotel by all accounts.  They do play games with award space, but I was able to get a room for the dates we wanted.

That led to picking out the stops.  I knew we wanted to do Maui and Kauai from previous research and feedback.  The only other stop I seriously considered was working in the big island, but 2 stops was good with only 10 nights.

There is a Hyatt in Kauai, but the north side of the island seemed to have a lot of interesting things to see.  I found a cool and reasonably priced vacation rental there, but it did not work out well for our last day – checkout was at 10:00 a.m. and our flight was not until something like 8:00 p.m.  So, we split the stay up and spent the final two nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  That allowed us to take advantage of guaranteed late checkout, and use the Hyatt as a base for the southern part of Kauai.

Lining up a rental car actually turned out to be way more difficult than anticipated.  The Covid downturn in tourism caused many companies to offload cars (apparently) and now there was a travel boom.  Persistent searching and tricks actually allowed us to find cars at standard rates for both Islands, but it was not easy.

The last thing to mention was that the covid requirements were a huge pain to travel to Hawaii.  You had to get a test before coming to Hawaii – regardless of whether you were vaccinated.  That, we could easily live with.

However, Hawaii required a lab test within 72 hours of your flight to Hawaii’s departure.  That is probably unnecessarily burdensome…but still whatever.  The worst part was that it had to be at a pre-approved vendor.  In Louisiana, that meant CVS or Walgreens.  Walgreens had no appointments available at anytime near our departure, so that left CVS.

CVS quit testing at 3:00 and our flight left just after that.  That left us an extremely tight window.  We got our tests two days before our flight left.  CVS indicated most results were available within 24 hours, but that results could take up to 48-72 hours.  I still figured we’d be ok.

And timing was not the only issue.  These tests cost $450.  Ochsner is a giant medical provider, provides testing within minutes of our house, gets results quickly, and does it for pretty much nothing.  They were sufficient for Roatan and literally any other US required testing.  This whole thing was an unnecessary charade.  We’d all gladly get tested (and Alyce and I are vaccinated), but these were unnecessary requirements seemingly for show.

Nonetheless we did our best to comply.  We did not get results the day of testing.  That was mostly expected.  The business day came and went the following day without results as well.  Mind you, this was the day before our flight.  I held out hope that we’d get results after business hours, but Alyce was pretty concerned and dejected. 

Several more hours passed, still without results.  After dinner, I lost control of the crew.  Some were crying, some were unsure what was going on, but it was a mess.  I was trying to wrap up work related items before leaving, but that was not happening.  Alyce eventually went to bed completely dejected and sure we were not going.

This actually gave me time to formulate a backup plan.  I booked award flight on Alaska airlines to Maui via Seattle.  The benefit to this flight was that it did not leave until much later in the day.  It gave us like an extra 7 hours to get results if needed.  Also, Alyce had never been to Seattle, so if we had to cancel Hawaii…at least we could spend some time in a new destination.  I went and told Alyce who was still awake in bed, and she was on board.

One thing you may be wondering was why not just push everything back a day…that would have put us outside the 72 hour testing window with anything I could find.  So we would not have valid tests.  It was that day or never.

What a mess…

I finished up my work stuff, packed just in case, and went to bed around 2:00 a.m.  Alyce, woke up around 3:30 and saw that she had an email with test results.  Hallelujah!  And we were all negative!  Hawaii was on.  I printed out everything and made whatever uploads were needed, then went back to bed.  I’d be surprised if I got two hours of sleep that night.

Oh well – we were going.  Though it would not be the last time this charade caused us issues.

On Hawaii, it is the most recently admitted state to the United States (1959).  There’s a lot more to it, but 94.3% of the citizens of Hawaii voted in favor of joining the United States as a state.  Travelling there, you can definitely tell it has US infrastructure and is way more developed than many of the other island locales we’ve been to.

Size wise, it is not as small as you may expect.  There are 7 states smaller than Hawaii by total area.  Likewise, Hawaii is #41 in terms of population. 

On to the trip report.  We were all very happy to have a trip to report on.

Day 1 (flight and Maui)

We were up early to catch our first flight to Denver.  But everyone was in good spirits given that things looked bleak when we went to bed.

After an Uber to the airport, we checked out the new priority pass lounge at the NOLA airport.  This was our first time to visit it, and it was a welcome stop prior to our flight.  We got some coffee, and James ate breakfast. 

Our flight to Denver was delayed by 45 minutes due to weather after boarding.  This was not a big deal because we had some time between flights, but there was concern that we’d have substantial delays because of weather if we did not take off within a 15 minute window.  I never want to miss a flight, but we would have been back in the “outside the 72 hour” dilemma if we missed our flight to Maui.  Thank god we were able to take off in the break in the weather.  I don’t know that I’d ever been so happy to get off the ground.  To have gone through everything in the previous 24 hours only to have to cancel the trip because of a weather delay would have pushed everyone over the edge.

The flight was fine, and we got in line to verify our documents in Denver.  The line moved at an ok pace and we got everything checked before leaving.  This saved us from having to deal with it in Hawaii (we just had to show the app).

Our flight to Maui was pretty long – especially in economy.  But it was fine.  I think we all dozed off a little bit….James more than Alyce and I.  We went through all the covid checks upon landing and were happy to have made it. 

There were more waits and covid checks required to pick up the rental, but we made it through that and were on our way to the hotel.  We did get a free upgraded convertible.

Upon arrival at the Andaz, we were greeted with leis.  We went to the front desk and checked in while our bags were brought to our room.  As mentioned, we booked this room with points and applied a suite upgrade.  It would have been way too pricey with cash, but the hotel and suite were great.  Plus, the extra room in the suite was most appreciated.

After getting settled we rode to Paia Fish market nearby for dinner (or we may have gone before checking in…I can’t remember).  We were hungry and loaded up.  Everything was very good and reasonably priced.  Lots of fish tacos and ahi tuna.  We also picked up some essentials at the store next door.

Back at the hotel, we tried to stay awake a little longer to fight jetlag, but we were all pooped. We walked around the beach for a bit then everyone got a long night’s sleep and did not have much jetlag.

Day 2 (Maui Day #2)

My Globalist status got us breakfast for free.  This was a great perk as the breakfast was good and in a nice spot with a lot of outdoor seating.  We enjoyed it every day.

Following breakfast, we attended the lei making class offered by the Andaz.  It was actually pretty interesting as we got to learn some of the meaning behind leis.  Traditionally they were made for special occasions because they were labor intensive and used valuable material.  You do not make a lei for yourself, but instead you make it to give to someone.  And when you give someone a lei you made, you give them a part of yourself – showing that you really care for them.  Also, you wear a lei partially draped over your back, so anyone behind you gets to see it as opposed to just staring at your back.

Everyone enjoyed it – especially James.  We took some pictures and went back to the room.  At this point, Alyce and James went and did the hula class and Hawaiian games event.  They enjoyed both activities, which were a nice touch as included options.

Me…I was back on covid testing.  You needed the same lab test to fly between islands.  Fortunately, there were more Hawaii approved options.  Unfortunately, our timing was brutal.  Our flight between islands left at 12:15 on Tuesday.  72 hours before that was 12:15 on Saturday.  All labs were closed by noon on Saturday.  Do the math…we could not test until 12:15 on Saturday by the rule, but no lab would be available until Monday.

I did find one lab that was open until noon on Saturday, we decided to show up at the last moment, and delay to get within the 72 hour window.  Figuring this out was not how I planned on spending several of my vacation hours, and it was still a stressor.  A rapid test would have done the job.

Oh…and it would cost us another $450 if it worked out.

We finished the day with snorkeling at the nearby beach, but it was cloudy and rougher being later in the day.  Earlier was definitely the better option.

For dinner, we rode to the nearby Maui Brewing Co.  It was a large place with a lot of options and was mostly outdoor seating.  They did have a bit of an odd system whereby they give you a can, which you put on your table to indicate that it is occupied when your number is called.  We did so and went and ordered food.  However, some older crew just upright stole our table with our drinks on it and everything.  Alyce came up and told me while I was paying.  They heard, apologized and gave us new drinks. Wasn’t a big deal, but some people have some nerve…

Everyone had a good dinner, and I think James was worn out by the end.  We went back and called it a day.  James watched a movie on TV – that turned out to be a pay per view…Fortunately we figured out what he was doing before the damage was too bad.

Day 3 (Maui Day #3)

Alyce and James got up early to go Kayak.  I probably would have joined them, but they only had signed up for two people.  This was another included activity.

Afterwards, we ate breakfast then prepared to go get our tests.  We wanted to arrive before it closed, but not too early.  I called to confirm again that no appointment was required. 

We got there and took a number about 10 minutes before noon.  At this point there were 5 people ahead of us.  This was one of the few times I’d be happy to have a long wait.  We made it (and got to write down the time ourself).  This clinic was much better than CVS.  They would turn the tests around much quicker as well – I think it was within 24 hours.   Negative again.  Thankfully, we were done with covid testing.

We stopped at a food truck for a late lunch.  Alyce and I got fish tacos; James got a quesadilla.  They were good.  We needed to fuel up for our afternoon/evening at Haleakala.

Haleakala is a national park about an hour drive away.  It is best known for its sunrises, but you have to leave at 3:00 a.m. for that.  No thanks.  We’ll do the sunset.  They are pretty much the same.

While it is known for the sunrise/sunsets, the park had a lot of other interesting things to see.  It is located about 10,000 feet above sea level and has huge colorful craters.  Also, there are a lot of different plants/species up there.  We enjoyed walking around as much as the sunset.  Mostly…

James is not a big trail guy.  He did ok the first one, then lost interest on the second one.  Unfortunately for James, we had no option but to persist.  We made it, but there were definitely tears.

It gets dark with the sunset – and very cold.  The elevation really makes it cooler, especially after the sun goes down.  I don’t think Alyce and James were as clothed as they should have been.  Otherwise, I would have liked to have hung out after and looked at the stars more.  The elevation and isolation make it an excellent astronomy site.  There is an observatory located in the park.

Most of the crew crashed on the ride home, but we made it back to the hotel without issue.

Day 4 (Maui Day#4)

No rest for the weary.  This would be another full day, as we were doing the road to Hana.  Following an early breakfast, we hit the road.

Hana is a town on the Eastern part of the island, and this road/HWY was built to connect it to the main portion of Maui.  Construction of it began in the 1870s and everything was not fully completed and paved until the 1960s.

The road is about 65 miles of lots of twists and turns and takes about 2.5 hours to drive without stopping in each direction.  But you will stop plenty if you drive the Road to Hana…that the whole idea of it.

On the way out, we made several cool stops…Twin Falls, Rainbow Trees, several waterfalls, banana bread, beaches, and ended at Ohe’o Gulch (which is also within Haleakala national park…and our tickets were still valid from the previous day as a bonus).

There were plenty more options of places to stop.  It would take days to hit them all.  We would have stopped at the black sand beach, but tickets are now required.  They were booked solid several days ahead of time.

On the way back, we only had one stop planned – ice cream.  We passed it on the way out and told James he could get ice cream if he did got on the trails we did.  He powered through like a champ…confirming my suspicion that the previous day was just a question of motivation.

Following a long day, we just got some food by the pool.  It was good and just what was needed after a long day.

Day 5 (Maui Day #5)

After a couple busy days, we didn’t have much activities on the agenda.  That said, Alyce and James made the early morning paddle board resort activity.  James had really wanted to do it and had a good time.  We went and ate breakfast when they got back.

We made sure to go snorkel much earlier today and were rewarded.  The water was calmer and much more clear.  We had a nice time and saw a lot of interesting sea life.

The only remaining plan was to relax at the beach.  As part of the resort, they set up chairs with towels for you.  It was really nice to have everything done for you.  They even had bogey boards…which James convinced his mom to go try with him. 

We really enjoyed the beach and called it a day after a couple hours to get to Monkeypod for dinner and happy hour.  We had to wait for about an hour, but there was a store that sold wine/drinks and had tables…so not bad.

We had another nice dinner then made our way back to the hotel to pack and get some rest.

Day 6 (Kauai Day #1)

We did most of the packing in the morning then went and ate our final breakfast.  We were excited to get to Kauai but had really enjoyed Maui and the Andaz.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare…which was good because it was very disorganized and inefficient – both for regular operations and all things covid related.  We made it through, but it was a mess and took longer than necessary/expected.

The flight, on the other hand, was quick and without issue.  Also, we found things for more organized upon arrival in Kauai for showing covid documentation.

The Avis rental place was very backed-up…but they had the Avis preferred line, which was much shorter.  We were in and out in less than 10 minutes.  Most were not so fortunate.

The drive to our vacation rental was about an hour.  We stopped to pick up our keys, then bought a bunch of groceries.

We stayed at Pali ke Kau, which is a group of condos.  The view was amazing and our place was in really good shape (some are reportedly in need of updating).  The space and having groceries was nice too.

At this point, we planned to go ride into the nearby town.  But, we were turned around as the literal one road in/out was closed.  Back at the condo, we saw that it was open at certain times (in alternating one way turns).  Wasn’t a huge deal, but you had to plan around it for sure.

Once the road opened back up, we made the drive in to Hanalei.  Hanalei is a neat town with restaurants and shops.  It also has a beautiful beach, which we walked to while waiting for our table at Kalypso Island Bar and Grill.  We had a good dinner there and then made our way home for the night.

Day 7 (Kauai Day #2)

We planned a beach day planned for the day.  We were up and moving early in order to make the road to Tunnels Beach.  Getting there early, we found a parking spot without much trouble. 

We had a bit of a hike with our stuff (most of which was very conveniently provided with the rental), but eventually we settled at a great, shaded spot.

The beach is beautiful, but the scenery above the water is what makes it so different.  We also all went snorkeling and really enjoyed it.  There is a reef close to the shore that everyone swims around, but there are for more interesting things at a reef farther out.  We snorkeled for a long time and had a great time.

Alyce and I took a break, and James played in the water.  I eventually went out alone for a little more snorkeling.  After that, we packed up and made the hike back to the car to not miss our window back to the condo.

Back at the condo, we had a leisurely afternoon.  I booked our helicopter tour while Alyce and I drank margarita’s on the porch.  James got to rest and watch some shows.

I didn’t make dinner plans for the night, but we decided to try a BBQ place in Hanalei.  It was called Chicken in a Barrel BBQ.  It was quick and easy…and ok.  Not bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there.

Dessert was definitely more of a hit.  We had shaved ice from Jojo’s, and everyone liked it – especially James. 

Day 8 (Kauai Day #3)

The only thing planned for the morning was hanging around and taking it easy…really most of the day.  We drank coffee and relaxed on the porch. 

There was a beach a walk down the hill from the condo that is not easy to get to from the main roads.  We decided to try it out for the day.  A couple people were already at the beach when we walked down, but it was mostly empty.

It was somewhat rough, but decided to try snorkeling.  Alyce and James made it out, but they had to go back after a short snorkel with the current.  That was definitely for the best for safety, as the current was strong in some areas.

That was too bad because there were turtles all over the place.  I think I saw at least 15.  They were just swimming there not concerned about you at all.  Another bummer was that I forgot the camera, so I didn’t get any pictures.

We hung at the beach for a little while after snorkeling before making the trek back up.  We had to get ready for our nice dinner of the trip…and get James som food beforehand.

Hanalei has several options for walking up and eating, but they still had waits even at 3:00 in the afternoon.  We eventually made it into Hanalei Gourmet to get James some food up his alley.  I had a drink then took off to go wait in line.

Bar Acuda had a really good reputation, and we wanted to try it out.  Problem is that they were booked for reservations, but they do have limited space for walk-ups.  All reports were that you had to get there an hour-plus ahead of time to guarantee a spot.

The restaurant opened 5:30, and I got there around 4:15.  I was number 1 in line, but people started arriving not too long after me.  James and Alyce made it with 45 minutes left to wait. 

Really, the wait wasn’t bad.  I talked to the other people waiting and the hung with Alyce and James when the arrived.  Being first, they had three seats for us at the bar.

The wait was worth it.  The food was all very good.  It was easily our best meal of the trip.  James hung in there and tried a couple things, but he played on his kindle for the most part.  That was fine.  This was the only nicer place we did the whole trip.

Following dinner, we started packing and gathering things because we had a 10:00 a.m. checkout the following morning.

Day 9 (Kauai Day #4)

While 10:00 comes at you fast (especially when you have to clean up a rental), we made it out on time.  The drive to the Hyatt was a little over an hour. 

Not surprisingly, our room was not quite ready when we checked in since it was not even noon.  They did give us club access and held our bags.  The front agent lady was very friendly and even got a stuffed animal of their parrot for him – which James loved.

The wait for our room was brief.  I don’t think we had been in the lounge for much over 30 minutes when we got the call that our room was ready.  No suite upgrades were available here, so we were in a regular room.  We did get an upgrade to a nice sized room with an ocean view.

The Grand Hyatt Kauai is a very large property – much larger than the Andaz Maui.  There was a lot to do there, and the staff was very friendly.  That said, I think the Andaz was more of our speed.

We settled in the room, then walked down to check out the beach and pools.  The beach at the hotel is more of a walking beach than a swimming beach.  I do not recall the resort having chairs out there (I could be wrong).  Either way, James wanted to check out the water slide and pools.

James got a kick out of the water slide.  We all went down it at least once.  We also went and swam around the big lagoon pool.  James eventually made friends with a family from California at the pool by the slide (as he seems to always do).  They all got a kick out of him, and he loved hanging with other kids, even if they were a little older.  There were no chairs available nearby, so were sitting by the lagoon pool and checking in.

We spent most of the afternoon out by the pools then made our way back to the room to shower.  The plan was to walk up to the hotel restaurant – Tidepools – and put our name down.  We figured there would be a wait, but we could go walk to the club while we waited.

The club had an ok selection for the evening, and you had to buy drinks.  We were there for 15 minutes or so, then I went to put our name down.  The restaurant said they could take us right then.  I hustled across the property to get the crew and make the open table.

Tidepools is a nicer restaurant, and we enjoyed our meal.  However, it was not in the same league as Bar Acadia from the night before.  That said, it definitely gets bonus points for being onsite.  A quick walk back to the room before bed is always welcomed.

Day 10 (Kauai Day #5)

The last full day…We had breakfast in the lounge.  There were a couple hot options, but the Andaz breakfast was far superior.  We got moving pretty early because we wanted to make it to Waimea Canyon before it gets foggy.

Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  It really is quite impressive.  There a several scenic lookouts.  I don’t know how it compares to the actual Grand Canyon, but this one is worth the trip on its own.

Back at the hotel, James was determined to find his friends.  We explained that at a big property like this, it may not happen.  He didn’t at first, but – sure enough – he eventually found them.

Alyce and I hung out in any chairs we could find (most of them are occupied). Eventually, we had collect James and grabbed a bite at the restaurant by the pool.  It was nothing to write home about, but it was easy and convenient. 

W made it back to the room and hung out on the porch.  There was a wedding reception going on below us, which was interesting.  With a late flight the next day, we didn’t have to worry about packing.

Day 11 – Return Home

We had a full day to fill before our flight.  First thing up was a helicopter ride.  Many of the helicopters were booked.  We had one that cancelled on us.  Also, a lot of them were only doing doors off for covid reason…which was fine other than the fact that James was several years to young to do a doors off tour.  I eventually found a tour for the three of us with Mauna Loa.  This actually worked out great, as it was just for the three of us – so we all had windows.  And they put a door on for just James; Alyce and I got to do doorless (where many were all one or the other if you had the option).

There was a quick safety video, a weigh in, and some signings at the office.  Afterwards, we headed to the helicopter.  James wanted to sit with his mom in the back, and that’s what we did.

Shortly after taking off, James was saying how cool everything was.  He kept his chatter within reason at first, but he had a lot to say by the end.

There really is a lot to see by helicopter here.  The coast is beautiful, and you get a different perspective on Waimea Canyon from the air.  There is a whole lot of green and waterfalls all over – including the Jurassic Park waterfall. The pictures really don’t do it justice.

Everyone had a great time on the helicopter ride.  Alyce and I had done this before, but it was James’s first.  He got a kick out of it.

Following the helicopter ride, we packed and got everything ready to leave.  James wanted to head down to the pool one last time.  He did, but we were unable to find his friends this time. 

We checked out and wanted to get some food before the flight.  I read good things about Coconut’s Fish Café.  It was not too far from the airport so we gave it a shot.  And we really enjoyed it.  It was not Bar Acadia, but it was probably the best casual food we had in Kauai. 

An added bonus was that there was a Wailua Shaved Ice in the same area.  We finished off dining for the trip with a shaved ice dessert.  Not a bad way to wrap it up.

I don’t recall having any issues at the airport, and the flight was generally without issue as well.  James slept like a champ almost the entire time.  Alyce and I did not sleep near as much.  Overall, a day of travel without issues – which is what you hope for.

Concluding Thoughts

This trip simultaneously involved many huge pains in the ass, while being a trip we really enjoyed at the same time.  The covid requirements were unnecessarily costly and difficult.  I’m all for safety, but at a certain point things become excessive.  Don’t think so?  If not, do you drive?  That is a dangerous activity that most people because the benefits outweigh the risks.  Everything is a cost benefit analysis.

Having done it, I will not plan another trip that has such burdensome covid requirements.  Want a rapid covid test?  Sure thing.  Vaccination/booster?  We got you covered.  A health pass app?  Can do that too.

The worst part of the covid requirements were that they left absolutely zero room for error.  Wait too late to test (i.e. a day or two beforehand) and you risk not getting your results.  Test three days beforehand, and you have to cancel your trip if you have any sort of flight delays.  Also, you have extremely limited options for testing in many states.

Traveling to Europe was substantially easier – both getting in and returning to the US.  Hawaii has since scaled back their requirements, but they are still goofy.  US citizens have more burdensome requirements than international visitors (as of when this was typed). 

Bottom line: we chose to go to Hawaii, so we complied with whatever was required.  But, we also learned a lesson and will not do anything along those lines again.

If not for the covid requirements, travelling to Hawaii would have been very easy.  It’s a domestic destination.  No passport needed.  No immigrations/customs in either direction.  No worrying about international cell phones.  English is the spoken language, and the islands have US infrastructure/roads. 

I liked our timing – 5 nights each in Maui and Kauai.  I considered adding the big island, but that would have been a little too much moving with our crew considering that every move required a flight…especially in light of the covid requirements.

We liked both islands a lot.  Going into it, I probably would have expected we’d spend more time on the beach in Maui and more time doing activities in Kauai.  It actually ended up being the opposite.  Don’t get me wrong…there are plenty activities in Kauai, and you’d be happy to spend a week at a beach in Maui.

Both islands had more impressive and dramatic topside scenery than I was expecting.  Being remote Pacific islands, you’d expect beautiful water and beaches – and there was.  I also knew they were not flat islands but was still surprised and impressed with the scenery.

Kauai was the more “wild” of the two islands.  There just seemed to be a whole lot of green all over the place.  Maui had plenty green, but it seemed to be more well kept in many of the places we went.

Maui probably had the more resort, dining, and shopping options.  Not too surprising given that it over twice the population of Kauai (and about 165% the population density).

They were different, but we enjoyed them both.  I think most people would be happy with these two islands for sure.

On the lodging, we really enjoyed the Andaz Maui.  The location was good; the hotel was beautiful and well maintained.  Many activities were included.  Perhaps the biggest perks were that we got to take advantage of Hyatt status perks – suite upgrade, free breakfast, and free parking.

Plus, the stay was booked entirely with points and did not cost us a cent out of pocket.

On Kauai, we liked our vacation rental and the North side of the island better than the Grand Hyatt.

The vacation rental was really nice and well located.  That area puts you close to some of the best beaches on the island, and the crowds did not seem as big on that side.

The Grand Hyatt Kauai was enjoyable, and the staff were great.  I don’t have bad things to say about it, but the Andaz was definitely more laid back, a slower pace, and a quieter/less crowded resort.  The Grand Hyatt was huge, had tons of pools, people all over scheming for chairs, etc.  Cruise ship-like is too harsh a description, but it had more of that feel compared to the first couple stops. 

Additionally, the Andaz had the better beach setup – both for lounging and snorkeling.  That’s a big plus, as we are not big lounge by the pool people.

I could definitely see us returning to Hawaii – though certainly after they have done away with any excessive covid requirements.  We really liked our time there.  Although it was not cheap, there are plenty of ways to save.  Other than the long flights, it was pretty easy travel.

I’m not sure why it took us so long to make it to Hawaii, but I doubt it will take us another 37 years to make it back.

All is well that ends well.  Despite the bumps along the way, we had great trip.

Aloha, Hawaii.

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