One Day Island Hopping – Maui to Oahu

So, you are spending a week or two in Maui and want to go to Oahu for the day to visit the Polynesian Culture Center and/or Pearl Harbor and more.  Maui to Oahu is certainly possible and affordable, and a great time to earn those Hawaiian Miles points that could cover it for you.  Plan in advance because some of the best fares go quickly.  Looking out to August 5th of this year, many of the best fare options were already taken.  You can certainly do both Pearl Harbor and the PCC in the same day.  Go to Pearl Harbor first, that’s the best and least busy time anyway and the PCC doesn’t really open until 12:05pm.

The greatest challenge will be to visit the PCC and see all there is and still make your return flight.  You certainly cannot stay of the evening luau which we think is one of the best luau’s around.  The show and luau end too late and you will miss your return flight.  You can however stay a night on Oahu and then you could catch everything.  In fact, we like doing Pearl Harbor first thing in the morning, and beating the crowds, and after that you could head to the North Shore to visit the PCC.  Stay over night at Turtle Bay or back over at Waikiki and fly back to Maui the next day.

Here is what I found for August 5th, 2013




Maui – Kahului, HI (OGG) to Oahu – Honolulu, HI (HNL)


Hawaiian Saver II
Monday, August 5, 2013 6:12 AM–6:44 AM

Oahu – Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Maui – Kahului, HI (OGG)


Hawaiian Saver II
Monday, August 5, 2013 6:46 PM–7:23 PM

Cost Summary

Original Fare: $118.52
Taxes and Fees: $21.68
Cost Per Traveler: $140.20
# of Travelers X 1
Sub Total: $140.20

Travel Points through Credit Cards

The best way to acquire travel points toward your trip to Hawaii is through credit card sign-up bonuses and spending.  I’ve shared some tips already about how to do this and the cards that will get you the most travel points toward flights and lodging in Hawaii.  In many way I’m just a beginner is this area and there is so much to learn, and many people that have been doing this for years and “churn” many cards each year.

The basic strategy is this, sign-up for credit cards when they offer the most bonus points, typically from 25,000 to 75,000 points.  Usually the bonus points come with a requirement to spend on that card, which may be as simple as making at least one transaction on the card or spending a few thousand within 120 days.  Once that requirement is made the bonus points show up in your account.  Additional travel points can be earned by continuing to spend on that card.  You might receive one travel point for every dollar you spend or even more points for each dollar spent on certain items.

The advanced strategy is to take the basic strategy above, do it with many cards, collecting the points, the cancelling the card and repeating the process again.  Timing things of course in a way that allows you to do this.  There are those who do 20+ credit cards each year earning millions of miles.

Our family is taking it a bit slower, being careful to figure this out and not overdoing it to start with.  We each have applied for a few cards, and our older children have done a couple of cards.  All of them help us in some way or the other to travel to Hawaii, although we have benefited from the points in many other ways as well.  Just as one example, we were able to travel to Los Angeles to support our oldest son at his final MPSF conference swimming championship meet.

In February we were able to fly six of us, round trip, from SLC to LAX for free.  We then stayed three nights, two of which were free, at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles.  All of this made possible by the wonderful bonus points available though sign-up bonuses for South West credit cards and our regular spending habits and patronage of Marriott.

Yes, you do have to have good credit and yes you do have to keep a careful eye on the due dates and make sure you pay-off all your credit cards on time.  That’s why we only actively use a couple of credit cards and we always pay them off in full each month.

This is my new hobby and passion, figuring out how to travel for free or for little money by leveraging bonus points on credit cards and through other methods.  We want to make Hawaii an annual trip!


Marriott Vacation Club & trading to Hawaii

There are many time share options to choose from, but Marriott Vacation Club is a great choice.  The thing our family loves about Marriott, whether it be the hotels or the vacation club, we know it’s always quality and we will be treated well.  My first experience with travel reward points was with Marriott, and we have had a Marriott visa card for many years.  We have been able to take a number of amazing vacations using our points with Marriott, and now that we are Platinum members the vacations are even more amazing.

I am not yet a wizard at timeshare trading, but I’m learning and have had some good success.  We own a silver Marriott Vacation Club week, in Park City and have had success trading to Ko Olina on Oahu, one of our favorite resorts ever.

For this summer’s trip to Kauai, we put in a request 13 months in advance.  No luck so far  and finally I got too nervous and went online and rented from a Marriott Vacation Club owner at about 1/2 the price of renting directly from the Marriott on Kauai.  I looked on vacation rental sites such as vrbo, flipkey and redweek where owners either rent their weeks or their homes.

I’ve used these sites before and find them to be very helpful.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate, don’t offer the price they have put start lower and see where you end up.  Then just follow the “safety rules” the sites suggest and you should be fine.  I have left my “Kauai trade” in on the Marriott Vacation Club and if it goes through I’m going to turn-around and try to rent it at MORE than I’m paying………….that would be cool, but who knows.

Oahu or Maui for families?

A lot of people ask, it’s our first time to Hawaii what’s the best choice Oahu or Maui for families?  My first response is typically………….go to the North Shore, which is on Oahu, and is definitely NOT  Waikiki.  When we go to Hawaii we seldom go anywhere near Waikiki…………it’s crowded with tons of hotels, and what feels like millions of people.  The North Shore is about an hour drive to the other side of the island, and in all reality a completely different experience.  Fewer people, more laid back and just feels more Hawaiian.  Maui in fact has a reputation now of being the most busy of the islands, so if you want a bit more quiet and a bit more Hawaii try the North Shore.

You do have to be more adventurous on the housing side of things because there few hotels on that side of the island.  Turtle Bay Resort is about all their is, but there are plenty of homes to rent.  Another option we like is to stay at the Marriott Ko’ Olina which is away from Waikiki, and then drive to the North Shore.

The North Shore is where the LDS community of Laie is, the LDS temple, BYU Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).  We also think the best beach, Hukilau Beach and the best cafe, Hukilau Cafe, are on on that side of the island.  In addition there are the  famous beaches, Sunset Beach, Pipeline and Waimea.  There is also great snorkeling at Shark’s Cove (no Shark’s to be seen).

I love all the islands, but I have been to Oahu the most, and never tire of visiting there.  The flights to Oahu are typically less expensive, there is so much to do and buying food at the local Costco helps to save on costs.  If someone was only going to Hawaii once in their life time I would recommend the North Shore on Oahu.

Family lodging in Hawaii

Getting to Hawaii isn’t cheap but can be surprising reasonable if you shop carefully and are flexible on travel dates. Scott has shared a number of great ideas on how to figure out this part of the Hawaii trip.  However, once you are there you can spend a small fortune on housing, especially if you are travelling with a family and need more than one hotel room.

Our idea for this blog was driven more by the dilemma of finding family lodging in Hawaii   than anything else. So, we want to share our thoughts on housing and how you can minimize the expense and maximize the vacation experience.

As this site is directed to LDS families, it will come as no surprise we are recommending Laie as your “base camp” while in Hawaii. We have found that for a family on a budget Oahu Island makes the most sense. Honolulu and Waikiki (cities on Oahu) aren’t our favorite places (we only do Honolulu for the historic sites and shopping portions of our trip), but Oahu usually means the cheapest airfare as you avoid the additional cost of outer island travel, amazing historical sites (Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl, Waikiki, Diamond Head, Bishop Museum, and others), and some great festivals, sporting events, shows,
etc. It is out on the North Shore of Oahu were we want to be with our family. The North Shore beaches are amazing and, if you know the right ones, often uncrowded. We love the Polynesian Cultural Center and can easily spend a full day there, if not two. Brigham Young University-Hawaii has interesting events going on that occupy our evenings and cater to our children as well. In addition, you have the Laie Temple, amazing hikes that range from easy to challenging, and world class golf at Turtle Bay or the
standard public course at Kahuku (very reasonably priced and yet fantastic views and location).

So, if we have convinced you to consider Laie, then you will naturally wonder about where to stay. The closest hotel to Laie is Turtle Bay Resort. This is an amazing property, one of the finest resorts in Hawaii,and yes, it is expensive. Other than Turtle Bay Resort, there are very few options for lodging until you back in Waikiki. Therefore, we suggest a “Vacation Rental” as not only an alternative to a hotel…but BETTER than a hotel. Vacation Rentals are often the smartest choice for a family. Instead of kids
sleeping all over on a hotel room floor or renting additional rooms, you can often rent a vacation home for less and have as much or more comfort than a hotel. You get the added bonus of a kitchen which can save hundreds of dollars on a families meal budget. We have attached links to several properties in the Laie area that you can consider. These have come recommended from recent vacationers. With a little snooping around you will be able to find other options as well. Please let us know about places you
find and can recommend so we can add them to this site.

A family vacation to Hawaii is truly an amazing “never to be forgotten” event. Many families don’t even consider it however due to the expense. Hopefully, this site will provide enough cost saving techniques and ideas to help you make your Hawaii trip a reality. or contact Sara Roberts at [email protected] (also 323670 and 313564) or contact Sue Keliiliki at [email protected]

The North Shore of Oahu is an ideal Hawaii vacation for families

I’m a little nervous writing this post because I’m afraid I am giving away one of our favorite secrets about Hawaii…………and that is the North Shore.  The North Shore is a reference to the North side of the island of Oahu.  It is opposite side of the island from Waikiki and Honolulu, and we love it because it’s nothing like the South Shore.  There are fewer people, fewer tourist traps and it’s just beautiful.

I think many visitors believe they have to visit the islands of Kauai or Maui to experience the “real” Hawaii, but in reality I don’t think you have to leave the island of Oahu…… simply have to drive to the other side.

The North Shore is about a one hour drive from Waikiki.  It is home to the three of the most famous surf beaches for big wave surfing Waimea Bay, Pipeline and Sunset Beach.  From November to February these beaches are home to big waves and experienced surfers.

Surprisingly the North Shore does not have many hotels.  The Turtle Bay is the primary hotel on that side of the island.  Renting condos or homes on the North Shore is usually the best way to go if you wish to stay there (highly recommended).

For families the North Shore boasts, good beaches and waves (during the summer), fewer people, great hiking, Hukilau Beach, Hukilau Cafe, BYU Hawaii, the LDS Temple, the Polynesian Culture Center, snorkeling, shrimp trucks and much more.


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Oahu Lodging

Oahu lodging can be challenging, but also rewarding when you find the right location for your family.  My first few visits to Hawaii were with a sales group and a bunch of single guys.  We stayed in hotels on Waikiki, and I thought that was really the only option on Oahu.  In fact, most people that haven’t been to Hawaii or haven’t been more than a few times, might believe that.  Granted, for Oahu lodging there are a lot of hotels on Waikiki, but there are many other options to consider, especially for families.  The hotel rooms typically don’t hold more than four, they don’t like to allow or even provide rollaways and they put heavy emphasis around putting more than the approved number of people in a room.  So, with a family of five or more you are pretty much stuck with two hotel rooms no matter what you do, and no matter how good the price that usually ends up being pretty expensive.

Condos and rental homes are a great option and really your only option if you want to stay on the North Shore.  There are not many hotel choices on the North Shore, in fact Turtle Bay is about your only choice, but there are many rental homes and condos.  Choose VRBO or another rental site to find homes to rent.  We have had luck on the North Shore near Laie including renting from one of the BYU professors while they were here on the mainland.  We have also had luck trading our Marriot Timeshare from Park City to Ko’Olina.  That may be my children’s most favorite resort.  It’s somewhat on the West & South shore, away from Waikiki.  It takes 45min to drive to the North Shore but our children think it’s worth it.