We visited the
in 2004 and are going again this year. We loved it. It was great to visit the towns/cities when we wanted, but also easy to get away and enjoy solitude on many quiet beaches. The rainy, jungled, Hilo side had dramatic thunder storms -- very cool! Kona was definitely more touristy, but interesting and was closer to the best snorkeling areas. The Big Island has a little bit of everything. Avoid Issac Hale and Puna, as these are the areas where local Hawaiians are especially territorial about their land and not all that friendly to tourists. We stayed in hostels and a VW camper van and had no problem getting around. A rental car of some sort is a must if you want to see all of the island.
is a beautiful Island. Many beautiful places to stay. But I stress that you should venture out of Waikiki. Haleiwa and the North Shore are the places to be. Such a wonderful part of the Island even if you are not a surfer. Book accommodation early though on the North Shore if you intend to go December through to February. So many travellers I've spoken to only do Honolulu and this is not what I believe Hawaii is about. East Coast is great too. Have fun.
The racial tension is also from the white folks too. I did live in
, and I am not Caucasian, I am Asian, but raised culturally by Caucasians. I speak perfect English. The first time I lived there, I was constantly being yelled at, called a stupid Hawaiian. I do suggest if you are traveling to Maui, that you do not be a belligerent, obnoxious person, as there is only one road in Maui, and a lot of jungle. Hitchhiking is definitely not even for the boys. The worst thing about Maui is that it has the highest concentration of wealthly drug dealers, and not too many other rich legitimate people live, as it also is an easy escape out of the country.
is packed with adventures and it's easy to fall in love with the scenery. It's a small island without much in the way of nightlife or shopping, so I recommend coming here for farm work or camping. I worked on a small farm in Kilauea it was beautiful but don't expect the bus to get you unless you are in a very well traveled area, instead hitchhiking works fine. You are going to want to do the Kalalau trail for sure, it's intense and a bit intimidating. Make sure to give the trail plenty of time, you don't want to have to rush out from poor planning. I think Kauai isn't the best for clear waters of snorkeling or surfing, but hiking is your best bet. The many local farmers markets make cheap and healthy eating easy.
Beware of "work trade" scams on
. A "work trade" on Maui typically is labor, babysitting, housecleaning, or other job (like at a hostel or private residences) in exchange for a room. I was on Maui for 6 months: For 3 months, I babysat at a hostel for the owners' child, gave the child daily art lessons, worked in the garden with the child, and did part-time managing at the hostel. I got ripped off by the hostel's owners for one month's worth of managing work I did at this hostel. They didn't want me to leave (they wanted to keep me as a "serf") so they took 3 days to return to me my passport & car title that they kept for me in their locked safe that they have for their guests' valuables. In 6 months, I met dozens of people who got lied to and/or riped off by various "work trade" employers. If you are a US citizen, demand minimum wage, a work contract in writing, and get a receipt for your rent paid or for the amount of hours you worked when rent is due. Don't rent a room…
is great because there is so much to do, and most spots are not more than an hour or two away from Waikiki (if that is where you are staying). I recommend staying away from there as it is so busy, but each to their own. Kailua is beautiful and quaint. Everyone should go to Hanauma Bay at least once -- the snorkeling is fantastic! And the North shore is very quaint and beautiful (this is where you will see expert surfers, waves are massive here). I'm going back to Oahu for my fourth time, and plan on returning to this wonderful island as many times as I possibly can!
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