Testing Visitors to Hawaii

Hawaii Travel Stories – Yours, Mine and Ours

We need a little relief here, and maybe you do too. It comes right on the heels much discussion of what it will take to reopen Hawaii tourism, and how Hawaii is, or is not, handling things right now. It has been topical, interesting, albeit at times quite heated. There have been well over 700 fascinating comments recently on Hawaii Public Relations Nightmare as Media Frenzy Fuels Unrest, How Do Hawaii Residents Honestly Feel About Tourists and Testing Approved As Hawaii Visitors Demand Essential Information. You’re more than welcome to join in those conversations too.

If, on the other hand, you, like us, yearn for remembering the healing qualities of the islands, the aloha spirit, memorable beaches, tradewinds, Hawaiian rainbows, and more, read on, then get back to us with your thoughts. Here are a few questions we asked ourselves, then turn over to you, our ohana of website visitors.

1. When did you first visit Hawaii?


Rob: The year was 1989, and I was in my early 30’s. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but once I drove away from the airport and saw the beauty of Kauai, I was hooked within minutes and suddenly felt at home. The part of the island that I connected with the most was Hanalei and the North Shore as pictured above. But when I moved to Kauai, it was to South Shore and Kalaheo.

Jeff: I first came to Hawaii in 1970. I had no idea what I was getting into and how much my life was about to change permanently. My heart never returned to the mainland, and my body soon followed. I began as a part-time resident, then bought property, and subsequently moved here full-time. 

2. Why did you come here for the first time?

Hawaiian Airlines Deals | Salt Pond Beach

Rob: It was a vacation. I wasn’t sure what island to visit and talked to a travel agent. I saw the map of Waikiki and its hotels and felt overwhelmed. After talking to me, the travel agent suggested Kauai but told me it would be very quiet. I stayed at the Kauai Beachboy near Kapaa.

Jeff: I’d honestly never given any thought to Hawaii, but loved the ocean, surfing, and warm summer days spent in Santa Monica growing up. So when I was invited to come with a friend to Kauai, I didn’t give it much thought and just did it. Stepping off the plane, something about me changed at that moment. And the rest is history. I knew I was home. That trip was followed in quick succession with countless additional visits. 

3. Which islands have you visited and how many times each?

Hawaii tropical fish

Rob: Between 1989 and moving here in 2004, I was a college admission director. That meant multiple visits each year to Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Big Island. I would do high school visits and college fairs in the fall, and come back later in the year for follow-up. Many times I would add vacation time to stay longer. In the process, I became connected with many families here in the islands. When their son or daughter came to my college, it was a big deal and I was made to feel like part of their ohana.

Jeff: Honestly I do not recall, but here goes. Oahu, at least 200 times over the years. Big Island, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai, perhaps 50 or more times in total. On Oahu, for everything from shopping (when there were very few options on the outer islands, and even Home Depot required a trip to Honolulu, for the culture and nightlife that is uniquely Honolulu, and even to doctor visits. I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad time visiting there. The other islands have been for work, and with family and friends, or just to visit. I am grateful to have friends on all the islands. 

4. What calls you to return?

Unpublished Hawaii Fare Wars

Rob/Jeff: Lucky to both live full-time on Kauai.

5. Have you ever grown tired of Hawaii vacations?

Hawaiian Fruit | Beat of Hawaii

Rob: So now my Hawaii vacation is visiting another island. If I want the big city experience, I go to Honolulu with its pulsating energy that is so different from Kauai. The other place that attracts me is The Big Island. I’ll check into one of the big resorts like the Westin Hapuna Beach which is my favorite oceanfront location. 

6. What are your trips to Hawaii like? Are you a budget traveler?

Rob: I take advantage of Kama’aina rates when possible to get the best price. On Oahu, I like staying on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki which is quieter. My pick is often an oceanfront corner room at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.

Jeff: The first time I visited Honolulu, I had a small Japanese style vacation rental (before they called them that). It was $30 a night, including breakfast, and was steps from the beach. My how times have changed! I’m not opposed to luxury either, and enjoyed the Kahala Resort among other destinations. 


32 thoughts on “Hawaii Travel Stories – Yours, Mine and Ours”

  1. I have been reading and following you for a few years. I recommend your site frequently. Thank you so much for all your work! I have found several great deals because of the information you have provided and so we have been to your beautiful islands every year (twice in 2019!) for the last 6 years or so. Kauai is our favorite but we also visit Maui and Oahu. We have a trip booked for both Kauai and Maui in late September and early October. We are so hoping to be able to come and enjoy “paradise” as we have in the past. I read many of the comments on your earlier post and was very discouraged. I will say that if there are many restrictions in place, we will postpone. We usually enjoy staying at a beachfront resort with a beautiful pool and spend most of our time hiking, eating and at the beach. Mahalo again! Keep up the good work!

  2. I first came to Hawaii aboard the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in 1962 and still remember Waikiki’s very tropical and uncrowded atmosphere. Returned as a civilian in 1965 and then on our honeymoon in 1967, visiting Oahu, Kauai, and the big island. What wonderful memories. We returned to Oahu and Maui in 1980 with four kids in tow. Thereafter, visited the islands, mostly Kauai, almost every year. Our last trip was this February to Waikoloa. Looking forward to the time when we can return and enjoy the wonderful hospitality that we have always experienced from the gracious people of Hawaii. Not a bad memory or experience in all of those years, nothing but a very friendly welcome from all of those we met. Thanks so much for all of the great information and insight you provide on a regular basis to those of us who love your islands so much. Aloha!

  3. Aloha Jeff and Rob and all your contributors.
    It is so lovely to hear everyone’s trips to the Islands. They, like me, have fallen in love with this tropical Paradise. Though the Pandemic has ruined many a visit for this year, I long for the ability to get back there.
    My first visit was with my mom to the Big Island. She was in her 80’s, but it didn’t stop her getting a helicopter ride over the Volcano. We loved every moment of that trip, so much so we had to do it all over again. For some years until her death in 2011 we visited Oah’u, Kaua’i and Maui as well as the Big Island. I fell so much in love with Hawai’i that I wanted to stay. While that was not possible, I did buy some timeshare weeks just to ensure my return! I love the people who were so kind to mom and myself and still are to me. ‘Aloha’ speaks of kindness and welcome and like some of your readers have said before me, getting off the plane at Honolulu you feel you’re at home.
    Here’s to the mai-tais and lupus, the fun and the enjoyment I so look forward to.
    Mahalo to everyone.

  4. Aloha, Our first visit was in 1995 for our honeymoon. We visited Oahu, Kauai and Maui that year. We have visited Oahu 16 times, Kauai 7 , Big Island 6 and Maui 3. We love to hike and that draws us to Oahu and Kauai. I am a budget traveler – the best deal I found on airfare was $199 round trip from MSP to HNL back in 2000. We find there are so many activities you can do for free on the islands. We’ve done some of the tourist tours (helicopter, luau, etc.) but find we enjoy the beach and hiking the most. Our most memorable trip was when we brought our family (3 teenagers & Grandma) to Kauai in January 2018. Our first morning we were walking along the Ke Ala Hele Makalae path when we received the missile alert on our phones. That wasn’t the way we wanted to begin our vacation however we found that we appreciated each other more and had the most amazing time together (which is sometimes hard to do with teenagers). Hawaii has a special place in my heart – it’s where we spent our honeymoon, babymoon, family vacations and many birthdays. We love the aloha spirit and look forward to many more return trips. Mahalo for sharing your experiences and allowing us to share ours. Stay safe and be well. Aloha 🌺🌈🤙

  5. The first time I went to Hawaii was with my family to Oahu when I was 14. I fell in love, and it was my dream to go to BYU-Hawaii in Laie (just East of north shore). I was able to spend a short spring semester at BYU-hawaii when I was in college, and I was totally at home. Whenever I return and get off the plan at the Honolulu airport I get the beautiful feeling of being home (that many others have described in their comments). Since my summer in Hawaii I’ve been back to Oahu a handful of times, and I’ve been to the Big Island twice, and Kauai twice. I’ve loved it all!! At teaching my family (husband and 3 kids) to love Hawaii too. We got to spend almost 3 weeks in the Laie area last summer! I call that trip the time I got to pretend I live in Hawaii!! 🙂 planning that trip is also when I found your website!! And the airline info you shared probably saved me a few hundred dollars, thank you! We missed out on a trip to Kauai last month (my parents have a time share at the Marriott poipu), would have been my kids first time to Kauai, and I haven’t been there since 2014.
    I loved reading other people’s experiences and love of Hawaii!! Sending much love & aloha!

  6. I first visited Hawaii in 96 or 97 – can’t quite remember. I was actually invited on a Hawaii cruise with my sister-in-law and cousins. It was a little bit of whirlwind since you don’t get to spend much time on any one island. However, the following year, my cousin invited me to go with her to help her find a condo – she was going to purchase a place. We visited both Kauai and Maui and that’s when I fell in love. Back then I would visit Maui for a week every summer – then life happened and I didn’t get the opportunity to visit for a few years. God willing, I will be coming back this September.
    I am drawn to this amazing place because of the people, the atmosphere, the beauty and the overall spiritual lift it gives me. I see God’s creation all around me, everyday, but there is something about Hawaii that is different. My heart has a desire for it. When I’m there, my favorite thing to do is just be still and take it all in. The colors, the sounds, the smells. All of it. There is no place like it.
    Maui is my island of choice. There is so much diversity there. I have gotten familiar with Kihei and spend a lot of time there. I’ve traveled the road to Hana a few times – now only when a new to Hawaii visitor joins me, but it takes my breath away every time. I will also take a day (or two) and hop over to Kauai. It’s such a great island as well and I like to spend a little time there every so often! I could say so much more, but I’ll stop there!
    I am looking so forward to my trip in September and truly hope I’m able to make it back then!!

  7. The first time my wife and I visited Hawaii was 1973 on our honeymoon. We visited 4 islands–Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and The Big Island. We saw Don Ho’s show and he gave every honeymooni9ng couple a bottle of champaign. Thought that was pretty cool. We have since returned to Hawaii, I would guess about 12-15 times. This includes 3 time with our son, his wife, and our grandchildren. Always have had great vacations in Hawaii and hope to return soon. We most like Kauai as it is so green and quiet. Liked Honolulu in 1973, but now it seems to be just another big city. Thanks for all your great posts. Aloha.

  8. My first trip was to Kauai in 1969 where we met my dad who was serving in Vietnam. That’s probably why I still love to watch “Blue Hawaii”. We had a wonderful family vacation at the Coco Palms. In the 80’s I lived on Oahu for a year and my stay ended with an unhappy divorce. I remarried 3 years later and came to Maui with my husband for our honeymoon. Vacations have been to Maui and the Big Island over the years, but Maui holds a special place for us. We hope to return next year – we love the people and the aloha spirit!

  9. Aloha!

    We first came to the islands in the early 80’s. We have been to the Big island, Maui, Molikai and then Kauai. Kauai has become our spiritual home. The scenery, people, water, weather and the smell of the flowers keep bringing us back. You just can’t beat a relaxing sunset on Hanalei Bay. We traveled outside the United States and tell everyone, Hawaiin vacations are the most affordable vacations you can take, a real value. Eat where the locals eat, go to the farmers markets, buy some local fish, it doesnt get any better. get up in the morning to birds singing, have some island coffee, walk in the rain. Your stress will melt away.

  10. First trip was with my Grandma, Grandpa and brother in 1971, I was 11. They were born on the islands and we went to visit their son and family. I am Hapa, it was such a great and memorable time to learn more about my culture and where we came from. I love Hawaii and look forward to returning soon I hope!!

  11. I first traveled to Hawaii as a teen in 1975. Our high school basketball team and many families made the journey to play/watch a few games against some local high schools in the Honolulu area. We stayed on Waikiki and I fell in love with Hawaii. I returned to Oahu 4 more times over the next 10 years. Work and children kept me away for a few years and then a trip to Maui in 1991 was all it took to have the whole family hooked. What started with 1 week vacations every year (then 2 weeks, then 3 weeks) is now a place of our own to stay in 12 weeks of the year. (We can’t leave the grandkids longer than that). I know that we will always be considered by the locals as “tourists”, but after 40+ years we don’t feel that way. We love the islands and treat them like the treasure they are. We are from Oregon and understand that the beauty around us is a gift not to be taken advantage of.
    We have visited Lanai several times, Big Island and Molokai. Some day we’ll venture up to Kauai

  12. Thanks for changing the subject Jeff and Rob! We needed that.🤣

    Our first visit to the islands was in 2004. We spent five days on Maui. We stayed at the Renaissance – now the Andaz. It was a short, but sweet, vacation. We were hooked! From then on it was 2 weeks at a time. One time 3 weeks. My sister practically gave us her timeshare and we have enjoyed it for years.

    Hawaii is our favorite place to vacation – Big Island is our favorite island. 2021 will be our 10th trip. We have visited Kauai twice, Maui twice, and the Big Island six times. The math doesn’t add up because on one trip we visited two islands on the same trip.

    Our 2021 trip has a big “?” behind it. We are fearful that the Hawaiian experience is forever changed. We won’t go into the reasons why. Everyone is aware of the current issues and challenges and I certainly don’t want to bring that into this discussion. ENOUGH ALREADY. 😉

    We just love the whole Hawaiian experience. We appreciate the history/culture, the people, the location, the pace and the weather. What’s not to love?

    We are definitely more budget Travelers – although we do splurge on nice meals. We come to escape the cold winters of the Midwest. We have a few friends who live there. It’s always nice to reconnect.

  13. Aloha! We first visited on our honeymoon over 20 years ago and have been coming back almost yearly with our 4 kids. Last summer finding blue bananas was on our kid’s bucket list. The elusive blue banana remained elusive. We did however run to the top of those crazy stairs on Oahu, paddle and climb china man’s hat, visit black and green sand beaches, swim with sharks, and night dive with the manta rays on Kona. Will hopefully be back in a few years, once things calm down…in search of the blue banana! The last item on our kid’s bucket list.

  14. I miss the beautiful rainbows after quick rain showers, walking to the beach, eating papaya every day for breakfast, mangoes galore, lychee in the summer, gigantic avocados, dragon fruit, li hing everything, plate lunches, shave ice, poke anytime you want, the freshest sashimi, Friday nite fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, crack seed, portuguese sausage, big waves crashing, gorgeous sunsets, I think I have an addiction to Hawaii and now having withdraws!!

    1. I’ve been watching this blog on the outskirts for the better part of a year, and have appreciated the forum for dialogue. Mahalo for offering this up. I came to Oahu for our honeymoon in 2015, and was turned off by the commercial vibe. When Southern added Hilo to their destinations, I had to try it out, and in January we spent a week on the Big Island. I fell in love almost instantly, and now daydream of returning. Looking forward to seeing the new opportunities to redefine what tourism can look like on the islands.

  15. Aloha! My husband and I have been coming to Hawaii since 1968. I have seen many changes through the years. I was sad when I came back after a few years and the majestic lawn of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel had become another shopping mall. And don’t get me started talking about Haleiwa on the north shore. That said we love Hawaii and give up other things so we are able to come back each year. Our experiences with the people who live in Hawaii have been very wonderful. I like to think we are the perfect tourist-we come and stay for a month, spend our money we have saved, behave ourselves and then go home and hopefully come back the next year! This will pass and the aloha spirit will live on.
    Stay safe!

  16. The first time I visited Hawaii was in 1983 with my husband. It was our honeymoon. We spent a week in Kauai at the Coco Palms loved every second of it.Then a week on Maui.

    We didn’t return until 1998 and with our three son’s. We fell in love again with Maui and actually bought a two week time share at the Sands of Kahana that trip! We have stayed on the Big Island once and Kauai once. I love the three that I’ve been to. They all have their own charm, but I love Maui the most.
    Friend’s ask why we don’t trade our timeshare and go somewhere else, I tell them.” Because I love going”

    I have gone there for 22 years and Have met some amazing people over the years and some have become friends. It feels like my home away from home. I’m at peace there, and it’s the only place my ever busy husband would truly relax.

    My husband passed away about five years ago but I continue to go every year. I never get tired of going there.

    I wouldn’t say I’m a budget traveler when on Maui especially when our three boys were with us $$$ lol. Lots and lots of excursions. But now I pick a few old favorites and always seem to find another new favorite. I still manage to spend a fair amount of money there though. lol

    I had to cancel my trip in May and rebooked for mid August. But sadly that doesn’t look like it will happen this year either. To many unknowns and restrictions.( Which I understand). But I’m looking forward to next year.❤️


  17. I came to Oahu to visit my sister who was a flight attendant for United in the late 70’s and never went back. Lived with her at first. I knew I was home right away. Then when I went to Kauai, and from the time I was in the airport I knew this place was magic and I was home.
    I love Kauai with all my heart. I’m awestruck every day. And I’ve been on Kauai about 30 years.

    If we come off as protective, it’s because we are, this place is special and needs to be honored with respect and compassion. Aloha is in our hearts. It’s a privilege to be here… and especially to live here. Much Love Jeff and Rob for all you do and for caring so much about our islands!

  18. My first trip is schedule for July 2020. Here’s hoping they don’t extend the quar antine so that we can go as planned.

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