Overview of the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaiian Islands are a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean and by some are considered the beginning of the South Pacific. The Hawaiian Island chain is made up of 18 islands. 6 of the islands are considered tourist areas with the majority of the resorts and the Hawaiian population located on 4 islands. Oahu, Maui, the island of Hawaii (the big island), and Kauai. We will focus on the main four. Each Hawaiian Island will provide a very different experience. All of the 4 main islands have major airports flights from the mainland and everything from 1 to 5 star hotels and resorts. There are no true All Inclusive Resorts on any of the islands of Hawaii. There are two types of accommodations on the islands. Standard Hotels and Resorts and 1 – 3 bedroom Condo Resorts.
Let’s look at the islands.
Sometimes called “The Gathering Place,” Oahu certainly lives up to its name. The third largest Hawaiian island is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population, a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. It’s this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oahu — from bustling city life to laid-back surf towns a great experience.
Home to the majority of Oahu’s population, Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and stretches across the southeastern shores of the island, from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu, encompassing world-famous Waikiki Beach along the way.
Central Oahu
The most important landmark in Central Oahu sits to the south in historic Pearl Harbor, the largest natural harbor in Hawaii. Central Oahu is also home to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, an actual working Pineapple Plantation. You have to try the Pineapple Ice Cream.
Leeward Coast
This area on Oahu’s west side is home to rural towns, off-the-beaten-path beaches and one luxurious resort area, Ko Olina, home of the Disney Aulani Resort.
North Shore
Rub shoulders with champion surfers and laid-back locals on Oahu’s North Shore, the big wave surfing capital of the world. This area is a beautiful laid back area where you can experience the old Hawaii.
Windward Coast
It’s only a short drive from Honolulu to enjoy the highlights of Oahu’s lush Windward Coast, including the peaceful Byodo-in Temple and adventurous Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa Ranch is the location where the Jurassic Park movies were filmed, as well as many others, and is an actual working ranch.
I would recommend Oahu to clients who love the beach, shopping, nightlife, fine dining and some day tours to see other parts of the island. It is a heavily populated island and traffic can quite heavy at times. The Waikiki Beach area has a number of very nice hotels and resorts, up-scale shopping, and fine dining.
Maui, known also as “The Valley Isle,” is the second largest Hawaiian island. The island beloved for its World Famous Beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, views of migrating Humpback whales (during winter months), farm-to-table cuisine and the magnificent sunrise and sunset from Mt. Halieakala, the dormant volcano.
Central Maui
Most visitors to the island will begin their vacations in Central Maui, arriving at Kahului Airport. Home to much of the island’s population, this area offers plenty of interesting attractions and off-the-beaten-path treasures to uncover. The top attraction in Central Maui is peaceful Iao Valley State Park.
East Maui
Visitors who brave the Hana Highway’s signature hairpin turns and narrow bridges are rewarded with out-of-this-world views of lush rain forests, gorgeous waterfalls and exotic beaches.
South Maui
Escape to the tropical beaches of Kihei, Makena and Wailea; relax and unwind at a world-class resort or tee off at one of the 13 world-renowned golf courses. Wailea is the more upscale area of Maui.
West Maui
One of Maui’s most famous stretches of coastline, Kaanapali Beach offers three miles of paradise where ocean adventures and total relaxation await. This a a great stretch of beach with the most resorts. Just West of Kaanapali is the Kapalua area home of upscale housing and the Ritz Carlton Resort.
Upcountry Maui
Watch the sunrise from the peak of Mt. Haleakala, see ancient Hawaii’s desert landscapes and discover unique, locally grown food. It is true upcountry and a higher elevation, some of the houses even have fireplaces.
Maui is one of the best islands for first time Hawaii visitors. The Island offers a little bit of everything Hawaii has to offer. It is a little more touristy than some of the islands. It is a great island for families as a number of the resorts cater to families with children of all ages.
Kauai is the northwestern most of Hawaii’s major islands. Nicknamed the Garden Island, it is covered with lush greenery and tropical plants, watered regularly by abundant rainfall. As the oldest of the islands, it has been changed the most by the forces of erosion, and this has resulted in natural wonders such as Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast. As a consequence of its age, Kauai also has more miles of sandy coastline than the other Hawaiian islands. Kauai is the most relaxing island and is known known for its wide variety of outdoor activities. It is the least touristy island and 80% of the island can only be reached by helicopter or hiking.
North Shore
Home to dramatic natural beauty like the cliffs of the Napali Coast, this area is an outdoor lovers paradise. The most stunning feature of Kauai’s North Shore is the magnificent Napali Coast. This 17-mile stretch of coastline is lined with cliffs up to 3,000-ft. tall, accented with lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and sea caves. Inaccessible by car, you can hike or take an air or boat tour to view this breathtaking natural wonder.
Eastside (Royal Coconut Coast)
Kauai’s East Side is sometimes referred to as the Royal Coconut Coast for the groves of coconut palms that grow in its resort areas. The most populated district on the island, about 16,000 of the island’s 71,000 residents reside in the Wailua/Kapaa area
South Shore
Drive through a tunnel of trees to arrive on the warm and beautiful south shore of Kauai. The biggest attractions here are the perfect beaches around the Poipu area and Spouting Horn, a blowhole that releases a spout of water up to 20 feet into the air. Poipu stretches around Makahuena Point and is a spectacle to any onlooker.
The most famous attraction on the West Side is breathtaking Waimea Canyon, also called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Hiking trails and scenic overlooks offer sweeping views of rugged crags and plunging valleys dipping more than 3,600 feet into the earth. There’s nothing else in Hawaii quite like it.
The ideal client for Kaui is one who wants a relaxing Hawaiian experience and loves outdoor activities. A car is a must to explore the island and its hidden gems. This is not the island for those who want a lot of shopping and nightlife. It is not called the “Garden Island” for nothing.
HAWAII ( The Big Island)
The island of Hawaii is the youngest and largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined (hence, its nickname, “Big Island”), its sheer size is awe-inspiring. You can travel through all but four of the world’s different climate zones there, ranging from Wet Tropical to Polar Tundra, a result of the shielding effect and elevations of the massive volcanoes Maunakea and Maunaloa. The island of Hawaii is also the location of Hawaii’s only active volcano.
If you’re driving along the Hamakua Coast be sure to stop to explore some of its hidden gems, including taro farms, black sand beaches, splendid waterfalls and more.
The perfect place to explore local shops, a famous farmers market, beautiful beaches and dramatic waterfalls. Hilo tends to be the commercial town of the island. Hilo used to be the tourist center until the new airport was built on the other side of the island close to Kona which is now the main Tourist area.
South of Hilo on the island of Hawaii’s easternmost tip lies the Puna district and town of Pahoa, known for its free-spirited vibe. Many locals believe that Puna is Pele’s workshop, where the volcano goddess continually creates and recreates the very land we live on. Indeed, this dynamic area stretches from Kilauea’s summit east to the sea, including lava features, black-sand beaches and more natural wonders forged by the power of volcanoes.
Vast, rural and remote, the island of Hawaii’s southernmost region, Kau, is a quiet area free of large hotels, resorts and golf courses. Kau is also home to most of Hawaii’s Volcano National Park and Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
The sunny Kona District stretches almost two-thirds of the entire West side of the island of Hawaii—from just south of Anaehoomalu Bay (Waikoloa Beach Resort) to Manuka Park (Kau). One of Kona’s most memorable experiences is going on a manta ray boat tour to scuba or snorkel with these gentle, graceful sea creatures. Kona is also famous for its deep-sea fishing, and coffee plantations. The Kona area is also home to the main airport and many of the best resorts.
As you drive 20-minutes north of Kona International Airport, you’ll marvel at the rugged lava fields surrounding you. You may not see it from Queen Kaahumanu Highway, but the Kohala Coast is where you’ll find some of the island’s finest resorts. This area is also the top golf area of the island. Inland you have one of the largest ranches in the United States, the Parker Ranch where you can interact with real Paniolo (Hawaiian Cowboys). Did you know that you can actually play in the snow on the island of Hawaii?
The island of Hawaii is ideal for those that want to see an actual live volcano up close and personal, are fans of deep sea fishing, golfers, Cowboys and coffee lovers. The island is very large and requires a car to see all the sights. The island has some very nice beaches but not as many as the other islands.
As you can see, the Hawiian Islands are varied and each island can provide completely different experiences. Contact one of our Hawaiian specialists. They are experts on all of the islands and can provide that perfect experience whether that be one island or multiple islands.


Today we are going to look at some important travel safety tips. In today’s world, a growing concern is travel safety and what can we do to still travel, have a wonderful time, and reduce our travel safety concerns.
Before we travel: When planning your travel, research what areas are safe to travel to. The U.S. Government provides reports showing the different levels of travel safety in all areas of the world. You can view the Gov threat levels for each country in the world at this link There are 4 threat levels, 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.
Remember, take news reports with a grain of salt, as we all know bad news sells better than good news so most travel news tends to be exaggerated. An example is, there may be isolated instances going on in a area of a country that is not close to the area you are looking to go to but, a lot of new stories tend to paint problems with a broad brush indicating the the whole country has problems.
Seek the advice of a professional. As far as our agency is concerned, we get regular updates on travel issues that we pass on to our clients. An example, right now there are some issues in Jamaica but the issues tend to be in Kingston which is not close to the tourist areas of Jamaica.
Use this research to help you decide where you would like to travel.
During travel: One of the biggest tips we can provide is when traveling, use common sense. So many instances we hear about could have been prevented if the travelers just used common sense.
As in any destination we live in or travel to, there are areas we need to stay away from. Most crime will happen in these areas. Chicago is a prime example, people talk about the crime rate in Chicago but the majority of that crime occurs in areas that tourists don’t visit. It is the same thing for most of the tourist areas in the world.
When in the airport, keep you luggage with you at all times until you check your bag. When you pick your bag up at your destination also keep it with you at all times. Not just for theft purposes but it has been known that people will put items in unattended bags to be transported to your final destination.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t need to be paranoid but just be aware of what is going on around you.
When flying, be aware of TSA regulations, it can save you time and grief.
At the resort one of the biggest areas we see problems is people tend to totally change their eating and drinking habits. We have spoken with a number of doctors who say one of the most prevalent reasons people get sick is they change their eating habits. If they go to a tropical region some clients tend to go crazy over the fruit and local cuisine that their systems are not used to. Try to keep your same eating and drinking habits that you would have at home and it will cause less stomach problems.
When traveling limit the amount of valuables like excessive jewelry, a lot of cash, or an over abundance of electronics that you bring with you. When going off the resort do not wear a lot of expensive jewelry or carry a lot of cash. When you leave your room, if only for a few minutes, place your valuables in the safe provided in the room.
Again the two biggest tips are. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t forget to pack your common sense when traveling.
Also we always recommend purchasing trip insurance. It will not only protect you before you travel if you have to cancel for an unforeseen reason, but, it will protect you medically if, God forbid, something happens on your vacation.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that most medical insurance plans, that people have, will not protect you when you are outside of the country.

Understanding airfare classes of service and seat assignments

Today we are going to look at the different classes of service and how they relate to seat assignments. The three main classes of service are Coach, Business Class, and First Class. Since Business and First Class only have 1 type of seating, we are going to focus on Coach which can have many types of seating.

When you purchase a ticket you will be assigned a seat based on the type of ticket that is purchased. A regular ticket will get you a seat in certain rows. There are other rows that you can upgrade to. These seats are called premium seating and include rows of seats that, with most airlines, have wider seats and more legroom. Premium seating also includes the exit rows which, due to the fact that they have an exit door will also have substantially more legroom.

Premium seats will have an additional fee of $25-$40 depending on the airline and the seat.

At the other end of the spectrum a number of the major airlines have implemented low or budget fares at highly reduced rates called “Basic Economy”. These fares come with a number of restrictions. The main restrictions are, you don’t receive a seat assignment until you are at the gate, you board with the last group called for boarding, you cannot board with any carry on luggage but only 1 personal item that fits under your seat. You may check you bag at an additional fee. These discounted seats also do not receive any food or beverage service.

The disadvantage of these seats are that since you are last to receive seat assignments they will almost always be middle seats and it is almost impossible to book seats together. There is also the baggage fees to think about.

The best fits for these seats are business people who may be making a day trip and have no luggage.

I have seen “Basic Economy” Seats go for great fares, one I saw was phoenix to Dallas, one way, for $42 on certain days. Some I have seen were only $10 – $20 less than full fare. Remember fares can vary based on when you fly. This applies to all fares and classes of service.

You just need to be aware what type of ticket you are purchasing and what restrictions apply or what additional fees may be charged for the seat you want.

A disturbing advertising trend

I am seeing a disturbing advertising trend happening on Facebook and other social sites.  That trend is, what I consider misleading information, not by the airlines, but by the third party sites that sell airline tickets.

I saw an ad on Facebook by one of these sites that while true, was very misleading.  The ad stated “Roundtrip air to Maui for $129 per person.” This is an unbelievable deal until you click on the site and did the research where the actual flights were $129 per person roundtrip from Honolulu to Maui, not roundtrip from the mainland to Maui as the ad would try to lead you to believe.
Continue reading A disturbing advertising trend

Understanding Internet Travel Information

There is a lot of great information on the Internet but there is also a lot of questionable information on the Internet. Can you tell the difference? When it comes to travel, we can and will help you sort through the amount of mind numbing information that is available and we will get you the lowest legitimate price for the vacation, Honeymoon, or Destination Wedding that meets or exceeds your criteria. Continue reading Understanding Internet Travel Information

Take your Hawaii Vacation to the next level

If you want to take your Hawaiian Vacation to the next level, look at doing a multi-island vacation.  Each Hawaiian Island will provide a totally different vacation experience.

Say you want to see Pearl Harbor, experience Waikiki Beach, and do some serious shopping but you also want to drive the road to Hana and visit an extinct volcano you can split your vacation between Oahu and Maui. Two totally different islands and experiences.

Another example would be, say you want to play golf on championship golf courses, hike the Napali Coast, and also see an active volcano, you could split your vacation between Kauai and Hawaii, the big island.

Inter-island flights are relatively inexpensive , most less than $100 a person, and flying time between islands is around 1/2 hr.

Let us take your Hawaiian vacation to the next level and help plan your multi-island vacation.



There has been a lot in the news about the Zika Virus and I just wanted to pass on the facts about it. These facts are from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)and the WHO (World Health Organization).

1. Zika is not a new disease, it has been around for years.

2. There are two levels of people. Threatened people and non-threatened people.

3. Threatened people are people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future.

4. Non-threatened people are the rest of the population.

5. The disease is transmitted by a certain type of mosquito.

6. The symptoms and length of the disease are very mild flu like symptoms and lasts less than a week. Less than 50% of the people who contract the disease will display any symptoms.

7. Pregnant people or those who plan on becoming pregnant in the near future are at risk because it has been thought that the disease may be a cause of birth defects. Both the CDC and the WHO claim that, as of yet there is no medical proof of this.

8. When looking at maps of areas where there are cases of Zika Virus, make sure you look for maps that show contracted cases not just reported cases. An example Hawaii will show up on the map for reported cases because they have 1 person with a reported case of Zika Virus but will not show up on the map of contracted cases because the one case they have was actually contracted in Brazil and the person traveled to Hawaii. Hawaii has no contracted cases of Zika Virus.

9. What I recommend is make your own decision concerning your travel plans but make sure you make those decisions based on the facts not on the news hype.

If anyone has any questions please call us for further information.



This month we are going to discuss something that has confused mankind for years, Airline Pricing and scheduling. I will try to explain these things in layman’s language.

Let’s start with the fact that airline pricing can and often does change every day. You can price a particular flight one day and the next day that same flight will be a completely different price. Airline ticket Prices, legally, can change multiple times a day.

The main reason air prices change is the fact that there can be multiple classes of service on every flight. This means that the airline may have have a class of service that provides 15 seats at a certain price. Once those 15 seats are sold out the price moves to the next highest class of service and price. In the next class of service the airline may have another 15 seats at a higher price. Once those seats are sold out it moves to the next higher class of service and price. You get the idea. There can be 15 or 20 different seat prices for the same flight depending on when the ticket was purchased and what class of service it was in. Prices do occasionally do go down when the flight is not selling but this has become a rare situation.

Airlines have come up with a method to insure flights remain full therefore prices do not come down. They have figured out how many flights they need to a particular destination and they regulate the number of flights to insure all their flights remain full. The day of discounted flights are all but gone.

Next we will explain the myth of using websites to find the cheapest flights. You can use websites to find cheaper flights but you cannot find the exact same flights at different prices. Flight A has a certain schedule. Flight A will have the same price regardless of the website. What the website will do is give you a flight option with a different schedule for a lower price. Flight A for $350 may leave at 9:00 AM and arrive at 1:00 PM non-stop. The flight they give you for less money, $275, may leave at 8:30 AM and arrive at 3:00 PM with 1 connection. When comparing flights, make sure you pay particular attention to the schedule of the flights you see. If you see a +1, it means you will not arrive until the next day.

There is another issue you will have to contend with and that is schedule changes. I have seen up to 10 schedule changes for a particular flight. Schedule changes can incorporate many things such as flight number changes, schedule changes, and equipment changes. You have to make sure when you receive a schedule change from the airline you understand what type of change it is and what you need to do about it. If in doubt call the airline. Also realize that when it is an equipment change it can have an impact on your seat assignment. We automatically handle schedule changes for our clients.

There really are no discounted flights any more other than charter flights that a number of travel agent suppliers offer.

Bottom line is the sooner you purchase flights the better price you are going to receive. If you are within 2 weeks of travel be prepared to pay a premium price in today’s world of airlines tickets. Airlines have scheduled their flights to insure they are all full so they do not have to offer discounted tickets.

When shopping for airline tickets, if you are not ready to purchase right away, be prepared for the price to change. It can change the same day of the next day but sooner than later it will change.

Last point to remember is make sure, when you are looking at flights and prices, you look closely at the schedules of the flights you are researching. A low price usually indicates the worst flight times.

Be sure, when you receive a schedule change for a flight you purchased, you understand what the change is and what you need to do about it.

When we research flights for our clients we try to balance the schedule and the price.

Travel Tip


This months travel tip is a discussion of something we have covered before. It is determining how the actual rating of a resort is developed. I want to re-discuss this because I am seeing an alarming number of 1 and 2 star resorts being rated at 4 & 5 star resorts. This can have a huge impact on the type and quality of your vacation and resort choices.

In the U.S. we have standard rating systems like AAA 1-5 ratings. These ratings are determined by AAA through a book or books of requirements and goals that a particular hotel or resort has to follow in order to be rated. AAA then performs inspections to rate the resort based on how well a hotel or resort is following the book or books of requirements and qualifications. There are a separate set of qualifications for each rating level 1 – 5 and these are strictly adhered to.

Having said that, when you get outside of the U.S., for the most part, these ratings do not apply. Europe has it’s own rating system that is much more relaxed than in the U.S. When going to Mexico or the Caribbean there really are not any organized rating systems. Most of the ratings you see are given by the owners of the hotel or resort.

When you think about it, if you owned a resort and rated it 1 star, you probably would not generate a lot of interest for your resort so, why not give it a 5 star rating. You may ask, how can they do this? It is because there really is not any governing body that controls ratings of resorts or hotels in Mexico or the Caribbean. When you look at a rating online, the rating you see is the rating the resort told the online company to publish.

An example of this is there is a well known resort chain in Mexico and the Caribbean that has 3 different quality levels of resorts yet they rate all their resorts 5 stars. If there are 3 different levels of quality how can they all be 5 stars.

The message is be very careful with resort ratings you may see during your research. The largest complaints I see for resorts are on the review websites where a review will say, “this resort was OK but it certainly was not a 5 star resort as they advertised”.

A good knowledgeable travel agent, such as ourselves, will base the rating of a resort on them visiting the resort and the feedback they receive from the clients they send to a particular resort, not on what the published rating is

There certainly is a market for all resorts 1 star – 5 star but you need to make sure whichever one you select meets your criteria for your vacation.

Some of the major differences between 1 star and 5 star are, the service level and the amenities provided. At a true 1,2,3, star resort you will get alcoholic drinks but only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will they be top shelve alcohol, only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get 24 hour room service, Only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get unlimited dining at all their restaurants. So, it is not necessarily the facilities as much as it is the service and amenities you receive.

The way to be sure is to speak with an experienced knowledgeable travel agent who has visited the resorts and has first hand experience and can get you the vacation you are looking for at the best price available. Most knowledgeable travel agents do not charge a fee and can provide a payment plan.

Make sure you get the Vacation, Honeymoon, or Destination Wedding you want rather than wondering if you got what you want.

Beware of sales

When you see a sale, Cybersale or any other type of sale be careful.  The retail industry has learned that if they put the words sale or deal in front of everything, a large portion of the public will believe it even if it is not true. There are no rules or laws to control this.

We have had people who call us with this fantastic travel sale or deal they found and when we check it against our regular pricing we found that in most cases our regular prices were less that the sale or deal price.

There are some sales out there but make sure you check a number of sources to make sure they are real sales or deals. Keep in mind that in most cases the vacations or products for sale will be the ones they are having a hard time selling.

Another thing to be aware of is, if a deal appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.