Hawaii Part 4 – Island Hopping

 Edited Feb. 2018

Island hopping (visiting more than one  Hawaiian island in a trip) will cost a little more money (unless you’re cruising).  However, for most visitors, the airfare to get to Hawaii is the most expensive part of the trip.  After that investment, you’ll probably want to see and do as much as you can on the islands – to get as much value from that airfare purchase as possible.  That means “island hopping”.

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View of Maui from Mokuele Airlines

Planning transportation for island hopping can be a little over-whelming at first.  However, with just a little time and research, it will all come together and you’ll find it’s DEFINITELY worth the effort.   THEN, en route, it requires patience –as ‘bumps in the plan’ are quite possible.  But…just do the research, make a plan, then stay flexible and you should have a WONDERFUL trip.

 

What Are The Options for Inter-Island Travel?  :

  • By Air:  This is the most common mode of transportation for visitors and residents alike.  Most of this post will be devoted to that…in a moment…..
  • By Ferry:  Ferry service was a wonderful option ‘once upon a time’, however, it has fallen victim to EPA regulations/restrictions – and was discontinued to all but 2 islands in 2009. WORD OF CAUTION TO TRAVEL PLANNERS:   The Ferry Company’s website (Hawaii Superferry) is still up as a tribute and ‘eulogy’ to the company (There seems to be a lot of anger over it’s closing….) to remind people of what the EPA cost them. However, only in the ‘small print’ does the website say that their site is a ‘eulogy’;  their last ‘run’ was in 2008. There are schedules, prices, etc…that could lead unsuspecting readers to conclude they can show up and get on a ferry…  I understand their anger, but the website could really affect visitors’ travel plans…ugh!!  Don’t get caught up in that!!!

The ONLY operational  ferries leave from Lahaina Maui and go to the islands of  Lana’i or Molokai.  The Maui-Lana’i Expeditions ferry operates from Maui to Manele Bay Lana’i.  They also offer tour packages  – just fyi.  🙂    The Maui-Molokai Ferry operates from Maui to Kaunakakai Harbor, Molokai.

Please Note:   The channels between these islands can be pretty rough in the afternoon as the winds across the water strengthen.  Even those not typically prone to sea sickness may have problems – especially on the Maui-Molokai route.  Be prepared with sea sickness remedies or travel in the morning.

  • By Cruise Ship:  This, of course, requires the booking of a Hawaiian cruise.  🙂    I’ve never seen the islands this way, but the advantages are having inter-island transportation, accommodations, and food all planned/arranged.  That’s probably a nice way to see the islands though the disadvantage, as I see it, is the limited amount of time allowed on each island… typically only 1 day/island.   Of course, it’s all a matter of preference.  🙂

Inter-island flights

NOTE AS YOU’RE PLANNING:

  • Some islands have more than one airport. This is pretty important when booking rental cars…and when checking fares.   🙂   On the Big Island (Hawaii),  Kona is almost always cheaper to fly in to than Hilo.  On Maui, Kahului  is typically cheaper than Kapalua and DEFINITELY more convenient than Hana.  While in the past, all flights into Hawaii from the Mainland went through Honolulu, recently, Maui’s OGG (Lahaina),  Kona (KOA) on the Big Island  and Lihui (LIH) on Kauai have become secondary hubs for major airlines flying from the Mainland. (secondary to Honolulu)

IMGP1299Inter-island Air Travel Carriers

Over the years, there have been several airlines that “hop” from island to island.  However, all but Hawaiian Air  and Mokulele Airlines have struggled to maintain a long term presense there. (i.e. they’ve gone under…)  Among those coming and going have been Allegiant Air (leaving Aug. 2016 after only 4 yrs)  Mesa Air/Go! Airlines (operating for 7 yrs until 2014),  Aloha Airlines who filed for bankruptcy in 2008 after 60 yrs flying over Hawaii and Island Air who most recently ceased operations Nov. 2017.  On our trip to the islands, we flew on 3 of these….Hawaiian Air, Go! and Mokulele.  Since Go! is no longer in business, I’ll forgo my evaluation of them (Our first flight with them went perfectly…but they cancelled our second flight with them requiring us to think and act fast in order to not miss our United flight home…).  Since they’re no longer in business, it’s a waste of time to talk any more about them… I’ll just give my ‘take’ on the two still in business – Hawaiian Air and Mokulele.  

Hawaiian Airlines This airline is the flag carrier for Hawaii and has frequent flights to all the major islands.  They are more expensive than the smaller companies, (perhaps why they’re still in business??) and their baggage fees are higher than the smaller lines ($25/bag vs. $15-17/bag).  However, their more frequent flights, larger planes and more reliable aircraft makes them the preferred airline of many.

 

Mokulele AirlinesMokulele Airlines  

http://www.mokuleleairlines.com/

Mokuele is operared by Mesa and is  the one small airline that has managed to compete with Hawaiian Air and stay in business.  Their smaller aircraft (Cessnas) allow them to fly into the smaller airports –  Oahu (2 airports), Maui (3 airports), Molokai (2 airports), Lana’i and The Big Island (2 airports) which may be what has sustained them.  ?? At this time, Mokulele does not service Kauai…

Do NOT let the size of these aircraft deter you.   Flying with them was actually a pleasant experience for us.  Their terminal is outdoors…It’s a pre-fab building covered by an awning.  There’s a restroom, vending machines and 15 chairs for passengers as they wait for their flight.  ha!! Mokulele Airlines Kona (When we arrived, I HAD to take this picture.:) )  We knocked on the door and someone came out of the office to check us in….  We not only weighed our checked bags, but we weighed ourselves while holding our carry ons to get a total weight on the aircraft.  (NOTE:  Their policy doesn’t allow passengers over 350 lbs to fly – it’s not a ‘discrimination’ thing…it’s a weight issue on the aircraft…)  The pilot checked our boarding pass and gave us our seat number before we walked across the runway to board.  He then boarded the plane with us and went over safety procedures. Everyone gets a window seat (wonderful when flying over the islands) because there are single seats on each side of the aircraft.  When we got off the plane, we walked around to wait for our luggage, then I took a quick picture with the pilot before we rolled our luggage off the runway.  I didn’t have a problem with any of that.  It was an “experience”.   🙂

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Here are some of the wonderful pics I got while flying over Maui…and into Kona:

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I would fly with them again!!!

 

 

Southwest Airlines….coming soon???  Possibly….

Southwest is considering joining the list of airlines flying inter-island flights….  We’ll see how they do…Perhaps they will have a better chance than some of the smaller companies that have attempted this.  I KNOW their ‘no baggage fees’ will make them competitive…  We’ll see…

 

Until then…..

Don’t immediately shy away from booking on Mokulele to save some money…  As long as you’re not booking too far in advance you should be fine.  We actually really ENJOYED our flight on that little Cessna.  🙂  But….if we HAD had a problem, it would have been fairly easy to book a last minute ticket on Hawaiian Air.

Finding the Cheapest and Shortest Flights:   As I’ve said many times on this blog, explore all your options before making a decision. We flew from Oahu to Kona to Maui, then back to Oahu for our flight home– on 3 different inter-island airlines. (one of those on Mesa Go!  🙂 )   I checked fares and flight times and made the decisions that were best for us on that day…   There’s no one ‘right answer’…  You just have to find what works best for you.

Just Consider these things before making that decision…..

 My Thoughts: 

  • Don’t be afraid of Mokulele and their Cessna’s.  They ARE a savings over Hawaiian Air.  Do your research and be flexible and you can save some money.   
  • These inter-island flights don’t have to be booked MONTHS in advance…but as with anything, the price is affected by the Law of Supply and Demand – meaning, as their inventory shrinks, the rates go up. We found that booking 3-5 weeks in advance in the Spring secured fairly good rates… My assumption would be that 6-8 wks in advance would probably be best during the busier summer season.

 

Editor Note: On our last trip to Hawaii, ticket to and from the Islands were either round trip (from the same airport) OR one way tickets allowing you to fly into one island and home from another.  That, of course, was VERY expensive.  So…we made the choice to fly in and out of Oahu.  That meant that after completing our island hopping, we had to get back to Honolulu for our return flight…involving an interisland flight from Kona to Honolulu that last day.  The multi-city ticket now being offered negates most of the rest of what I ahve to say as it centers around do’s and don’t’s of purchasing that ticket to get ‘back’ before your return flight to Mainland.  But just in case you find yourself in a situation like we were, I’ve put this information here.  If this doesn’t interest you, scroll down to the bottom of the page for other articles in the Hawaii series.

  • If booking an inter-island flight to catch a connecting flight back to the Mainland,  either allow a LOT of time for delays/cancellations…or better yet, book with  Hawaiian Air.  Their frequent flight schedule will get you where you need to be…even if you encounter delays.  
  • If you’re booking an inter-island flight to connect for your flight back to the Mainland, allow enough time for possible delays.  OUR EXPERIENCE:  We were due to arrive in Honolulu at 6:30 on Mesa Go! Airlines then fly out at 10 pm (on United).  With the delays/cancellations we encountered and having to race to purchase a ticket on Hawaiian Air, we barely made our connection.  Had we been more “squeezed” for time, we probably would not have made it. Give yourself time to deal with unexpected situations.
  • If booking your flights this way, be aware that certain Inter-island airlines have “agreements” with the LARGE airlines (American, United, Delta, etc…)  to transfer your luggage from the smaller carrier to their aircraft FOR YOU. It’s So nice to not have to pick up bags at baggage claim, then recheck them for your flight to the Mainland…and go through security again.     

Other articles in this series

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The Souvenir You’ll Keep (and LOVE) Forever

IMG_4403It’s Christmas time!!  Our tree is up and decorated….and while everyone else is sharing pictures of their Christmas trees on Facebook, I’m sharing ours here, on my vacation blog.

Why?  Because our tree is a compilation and remembrance of all our vacations.  THIS is the very place my pictures ‘fit’.  🙂

Most everyone likes to bring home a souvenir from their travels – that one item (or two…or three…) to remind us of our vacation. We may shop and shop for that  ‘perfect’ item.   The souvenir or curio shops will offer you many MANY options – from t-shirts to trinkets of all types…   How do you choose???  

 

The questions that go through my head as I browse are: 

  • Is this item ‘timeless’?
  • Will I still want it in my house in 10 years?  25 years? 
  • Will it even LAST 10 or 25 years? 
  • Do I want to dust it for the next 10 years?  or 25 years? 🙂 🙂 
  • Do I have room for (and want)  25 more of these as we continue to vacation?  

Perhaps you’ve made souvenir purchases and KNOW that these things can begin to pile up over time.   When an item gets old or out-dated – it stops being treasured and becomes something we no longer want (and something our kids ridicule…ugh!!!)  We may even begin to see it as ‘clutter’…. Then, that ‘memory’ finds its way into the attic…or a garage sale…or worse…the trash bin. Where’s the ‘memory’ in that?  😦

For a while, our family bought t-shirts. However, even that ‘useful’ item had it’s drawbacks. It wasn’t timeless. The children outgrew theirs. They become faded and eventually, the drawers got FULL.  Maybe we could store them in the attic until we have time to make a quilt, but even that plan can get overwhelming with everyone having their own t-shirts…  It’s just difficult to keep up with that.

Photo of the tree WITHOUT the lights so you can possibly see the collection of ornaments from our travels.

I came up with an alternative – on our very first vacation -without even meaning to.  ha!!

It all began on our very first vacation after we got married.  We went to St. Louis, MO and while shopping that that ‘perfect souvenir’ I saw a Christmas ornament of the Arch over the St. Louis skyline. What A Wonderful Idea!!  – Being newly married, we didn’t have a lot of Christmas ornaments, so I bought it.  Our ‘tradition’ had begun…quite by ‘chance’…  🙂   That Christmas, our St. Louis ornament got a prized position on our first Christmas tree.  🙂 🙂  We were hooked!!!   From there came Walt Disney World…and Yellowstone, Tetons, Florida Keys, Grand Canyon, Boston,  and the list goes on and on over the last 26 years.  We’ve purchased an ornament (or several) on every vacation and our tree has ‘filled up’ quickly.

Old North Church, Boston, MA

 

 

In fact, there’s even 2 ornaments our children purchased on their vacations with their grandparents WITHOUT us.  🙂   (ON THEIR OWN, without prompting from us, they made the decision to buy an ornament…  🙂  )  Our oldest has already taken her ornament to her new home (and tree).  Our 2nd will do the same in a few years.  Those are THEIR memories.

WHY do I love this idea?  It’s a ‘remembrance that will NEVER become outdated.  It doesn’t gather dust because it’s not out year round.  It comes out once a year and we ‘delight’ in that time. If you could hear our conversations during our tree decorating evening, you would hear things like  “Do you remember that day when so-n-so  did such-n-such on that vacation?”  or “Oh My, do you remember what Dad said when we walked into _____?”  and the conversations go on and on.  Decorating the tree is always fun for every family – but these ornaments add a whole other dimension to OUR evening.

The Biltmore

The Biltmore

 

Walt Disney World 1990

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve found recently that dated ornaments are best for us as we have ‘repeated’ several vacations.  My husband and I went to Yellowstone in 1991 as a young couple then we took the whole family back in 2011.  We have ornaments from both trips.   We went to Walt Disney World before we had kids  in 1990, then took our children in 2006.  The dated  ornaments differentiate between these ‘repeated’ trips.  Same destinations…VERY different memories!!!    🙂

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta  2014

 

As you’re beginning to think about your next vacation – (it’s never too early…)  give this idea some consideration.  🙂

Merry Christmas To All and To All a Good Night!  🙂

 

Cruises: Part 5 Clothes/Personal Items to Pack

Kona sunsetNormally, I wouldn’t post a list of clothes to take on a vacation.  That seems ‘insulting’ to the intelligent reader.  However, for those new to cruising packing can be a little intimidating…. formal wear, smart casual wear, ports and excursions, etc…  So, just this once, I’m posting a packing list of clothes.  🙂  Note:  This pertains mainly to warm weather cruises.  I plan to write an entire group of posts on Alaskan cruises as they break many of the rules for almost everything ‘cruising’.

 

CLOTHING:

  • Formal Night – The ‘level of formality’ on formal nights seems to be decreasing on many cruise lines (luxury lines excluded).  Cocktail dresses or elegant pant suits for women work well. For the men, a jacket/blazer with dress shirt and tie are adequate. You’ll also see some suits on the men. The general rule is to dress as you would for a nice wedding.   Elegant gowns and tuxedos may be expected on luxury cruise lines, and you will see a few of these on the more casual cruises, but it is not a ‘requirement’.  Most ships have formal wear rentals if you don’t want to pack these items.
  • Non-formal nights in the dining room are typically business or ‘smart’ casual, though you may see some cocktail dresses then too.  The little black dress is so versatile that it’s always an EXCELLENT choice.  Accessorize it ‘up’ or ‘down’ for formal or informal nights and certainly wear it more than once.  Also working well are maxi dresses, sun dresses, pantsuits, slacks and blouses.  Carnival has recently begun allowing jeans in the Dining room on casual nights.  For the men, dress slacks and a collared shirt with or without a tie works fine.   Jackets optional.  🙂   In the interest of packing light, we wear pants/skirts several nights with a different shirt/blouse/top each night. We’re usually changing clothes after dinner, so they’re only worn about 2 hours each night.

  • Days in Port:  Dress is determined by what you’re doing so follow the instructions given by the excursion vendor.  Note:  Do some research on the norms for the port areas.  In some areas of Europe, Asia and a few Caribbean ports, modest apparel is socially ‘required’ to avoid offending the locals.  (i.e. cover ups or shorts/t-shirt over swimsuits)  Modest apparel is necessary for admittance to religious sites.  Remember your Feet:  If you’ll be doing significant walking, ‘comfort’ trumps ‘fashion’….except in European ports where sneakers are considered taboo.   🙂

NOTE:  Do NOT wear camo on Caribbean islands.  It’s actually illegal and can get you some pretty hefty fines. (Their military wears it and civilians are prohibited from doing so…  )  

  • Sea Days:  Obviously, this is determined by climate and temps, but ‘casual’ is the mode here.  Shoes and a cover up over swimwear are required in the dining areas (buffet and dining rooms) on most cruise lines. (Norwegian allows swimsuits in the buffet area.)
  • Swimwear – many recommend bringing 2 – 3 swimsuits for back-to-back pool or beach days.  Swimwear is only appropriate at the pool areas.  (typically a requirement)  A swimsuit coverup is also culturally required in many ports as noted above.  Most cruise lines provide beach/pool towels (ship AND port use) so don’t be concerned with packing your own.
  • Shoes:
    • Low-heel rubber sole shoes for sea days
    • Comfortable walking shoes for excursions/port days
    • Gym/workout shoes ??
    • Shoes for dinner attire
    • Excursion-specific shoes??  consult information about your chosen excursions

NOTE:  Though many people wear flip flops on a cruise, I will never take them again.  We purposely take the stairs around the ship as much as possible and they were difficult to climb stairs/walk in.   Just a personal opinion….   🙂

  • Workout clothing  if you plan to work out on board….or walk the open air decks in the mornings.

    walking deck

    wrap-around deck where everyone walks in the mornings

  • Sweater/light jacket for cool evenings on deck or in the dining room where the a/c can be chilly.

PERSONAL ITEMS:

  • Sunscreen, sunblock and/or after-sun lotion.  This is very expensive on the ship.
  • Personal Products in TRAVEL SIZES:travel size bottlesI buy travel size containers and put my favorite products in them.  Your cruise line may put a few personal items  (toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, etc…) in the stateroom but there’s no guarantee of what will be there.
  • Jewelry:  Keep security in mind as you make your choices of jewelry to bring. Expensive pieces are probably best left at home, however, if you DO choose to travel with them, bring it on board in your carry on and put it in the safe when not wearing it. The cabins have room safes, but only valuables locked in the purser’s safe are covered under the ship’s insurance (check your cruise contract).  I also bring a watch as I turn data off on our phones when we leave port – to avoid roaming charges.
  • Lip balm (with sunscreen)  The sea air can be very drying!
  • Insect repellant with DEET
  • Hat and/or sunglasses
  • Umbrella or poncho  — depends on itinerary
  • Medicine:  These are VERY expensive on board.  The pill organizers from Dollar Tree are great for either daily medication regiments…or to keep a supply of Over the Counter meds in (different med in each compartment) medication containers
    • prescription medications (obviously….)
    • pain killer of choice – Tylenol, Advil, etc…  Travel sizes!!
    • antacid  (your diet may be quite different from when you’re home)
    • anti-diarrheal
    • cortisone cream
    • antihistamine
    • motion sickness remedy –  Bring more than  one option as you don’t know what will work for you)  For detailed information on medicines and homeopathic/natural remedies.  Dealing with Motion Sickness
    • antibiotic cream
    • stool softener (diet changes affect digestion…..)  🙂20170613_142858
    • Band-Aids/bandages
    • germicidal hand cleaner  (You can get this at Dollar Tree – for $1)

Though the ships have irons and ironing boards, they will be in a laundry room, NOT in your cabin. I try to just bring items that don’t require ironing. If you DO need to iron on formal night, do it early in the day to avoid long lines.

A Word About the Luggage Tags:

Cruise lines provide these.  Most cruise lines put them online for you to print – in an effort to go “green” (I’m not sure that saves much paper ha!  but it DOES save the cruise line money.)   That leaves you to figure out how to attach them to your luggage so that they STAY THERE during travel.

If you are flying and handling YOUR OWN bags at the airport, I recommend NOT attaching the cruise tags until after your flight to ensure they are not lost en route. When you pick up luggage at baggage claim, remove the airline tags and attach the cruise tags.

If you are flying and have purchased transfers from the cruiseline (they’re picking up your bags at the airport) you’ll need to attach those tags BEFORE LEAVING HOME.  I suggest putting TWO tags on each piece of luggage, securely attached,  as they need to STAY attached through all the handling your bags will go through.  (It’s a LOT – airport, transfer and cruise terminal…)

OPTIONS FOR MAKING SURE THOSE TAGS STAY ON:  🙂

  • Print and “laminate” the tags using clear plastic packing tape or contact paper.  Punch a hole  and attach to the bag with a zip tie  OR duct tape
  • Make a luggage tag protector (pocket) from plexi glass. Cut 2 – to size – and tape together with clear packing tape.  Punch a hole in the top and attach with zip tie.
  • Make a protector from a plastic page protector cut down to size, folded, stapled, and taped with clear packing tape over the ends and staples.  Attach with zip tie or staples.

zip tiesZip ties are available at the Dollar Tree – for $1.

Remember… 2 tags/bag is a good idea to keep things attached through much handling.

  • ONE MORE OPTION:  Several years ago,  I ordered vinyl luggage tag covers from Favors by Serendipity   These run around $2.50-$3 each.  – with an extra charge of .25 for the 9″ loops –which I recommend as the 6″ loops are challenging to attach to the suitcase. I’ve used them for all our travels – cruises AND flights.  I really like them!  Similar ones are available from Amazon for a little cheaper, but only in quantities of 4 or 8 and they don’t carry the 9″ loops.  I personally think the 9″ loops are worth the extra $1-2 it costs to order from this company.

Here’s hoping this list takes a bit of the mystery out of packing for that first (or possibly subsequent) cruise.

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