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Aussie travel advice for
Maui – Hawaii

Hawaii is a chunk of paradise. No doubt about it. It is all there. Just a few words of advice for Aussie travelers.

Hawaii is an American experience, not to be confused with Samoa, Bali or Phuket.

Our holiday was in Maui, where we had free accommodation! We purchased a Qantas ticket to Honolulu and the travel agent arranged the inter island flight to Maui. Thinking we could use our bicycles there, and Qantas allowed our packaged bikes for free, we brought them with us.

 As you land in Honolulu at around midnight you need to stay there for one night to catch your connecting flights. Hotels for the night are all about US$100, and to get to a Waikiki hotel (about 15 minutes from the airport) costs about US$25-30 each way. We were charged an additional US$10 each way for the bikes.

The inter-island flight to Maui incurred us an additional US$20 per bike, each way – US$80. Similar when we arrived at the Maui airport, and had to catch a bus to our hotel. Another $35 plus US$10 extra for the bikes….

Once you are in your hotel you find there are a million things to do on Maui (anywhere in Hawaii) but there are few activities where you get picked up from your hotel. Most activities require you to drive for 30-60 minutes to get to.

The roads are all very busy, as everybody needs a car. Cycling is not exactly recommended. We ended up renting a car. It was US$200 for a week of unlimited mileage (NO insurance), and considering the bus to and from the airport already cost us about US$90 I would advise everybody to get one… They will try and sell you insurance for the rental car at about US$40 per day. I always decline it, hoping that my travel insurance and credit card somehow cover me… but be prepared for a huge struggle and cost if something does happen… You might just get sued!

Snorkeling equipment and boogy boards can be rented almost everywhere. We rented a snorkel, mask and fins (US$40 each) for the week, and on return were charged an extra US$20 each for some reason. Advice: Buy your own in Australia and bring them with you. In the USA the cost of snorkeling equipment seems high, but you could buy it there too…

Because the USA has a high rate of suing everything is done low risk. This means that when you SCUBA dive there is little room for adventure. You will not get far from the anchor line, you will not be exposed to danger! Hawaii has volcanoes and rainforests, lots of waterfalls, cliffs and beaches. Walking and snorkeling are excellent! The weather is great!

The hotel beaches did not have life-guards, and no flags to swim between. During the week I was there I saw nothing to worry me, except for the red flags everywhere alerting us of underwater coral, heavy surf, and other dangers lurking out there for us. These are ‘disclaimers’ for us, we were warned that the sea can be dangerous and that we swim at our own risk.

Sports to do with water are all available, but if you want to go windsurfing you need to be near ‘the windsurf spots’ – although many other beaches seem great too, it appears there are particular spots you need to go to for certain activities. Check to see if where you will stay has the activities you are after, or you may need to drive for an hour to get to your activity!

Our beach had parasailing, snorkeling, sunset sails, little catamarans for hire, kayaking and surfing rentals, snorkeling and boogy boards. Lots of nice places with music to hang out for the sunset, and shops and restaurants…

Riding 38 miles down the Haleakala volcano is particularly fun, all downhill, from the top down to the beach! There are many different options for this. We choose a guided ride. This meant we all rode in line at the speed of the slowest and came down with the brakes on practically the whole way. Great if you are 64, not so great if you are 24. Look for an unguided tour, and see if any will send you down the rough trail – there is an alternative to the road, but like many of the walking trails, they are not easy to locate!

The average dinner in Hawaii is perhaps US$25 per person, especially if you include even one drink. Beers and cocktails are all about US$5-US$7. I drank colorful drinks with umbrellas and straws… Beer we can get in OZ.

You can rent Harley Davidsons, Scooters, Ferraris, mountain bikes,…. Everything and anything. A Harley for 3 hours may only be US$40, compared to a 4 hour dive trip at US$125 this seems good value! Instead of diving, think about taking a helicopter trip over the island. Not exactly adrenalin stuff, but it is a really cool activity to do for US$100!

Being in America the sales pitch can be overwhelming. One big pitch is on the timeshare condominiums. You will see many island activities advertised at very low prices. The trick is you need to be ‘eligible’ (earn US$50K p.a. and own a house in USA….) and sit through a ‘time-share presentation’ for an entire morning, and then you (and your friend) can do one of the activities for the really low price. After that you can come back to them and do other activities at ‘wholesale’ price. Wholesale price is cheaper then anywhere else, but not as low as the very low prices they advertise…

It appears many people lie about their eligibility, get the activity at a saving of something like US$100 and then save on some additional activities later…. They do take your credit card imprint for the full price in case it turns out you were not eligible… So be careful!

Everything you want is available at a price. Hawaii is not a cheap state in the USA, so be prepared for extra spending! Don’t forget to tip as well! It seems customary to tip about 10% for activities, and 15% at least for dinner and drinks. Tipping is calculated on total cost, this means that if you receive a US$50 restaurant voucher, and the bill for you two is US$100, still tip US$15-$20. Aussies find this hard sometimes! Be prepared to tip in lots of US$3-5 at every opportunity! US$1-2 tips are a little embarrassing.

All up, when looking for ‘packages’ try and make sure it includes island and hotel transfers and preferably a rental car with insurance! Make sure that the hotel’s nearest beach has the right activities!

Forrest Gump photo opportunity at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company!

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