What to do with free time (Jan. 14, 2015 Hawaii)

It appears that there is a lot of free time on the Best of Hawaii trip, and I'm wondering whether we should plan to rent cars on the various islands, or book tours in advance. I'm accustomed to pre-booking things for ocean cruises, but not really sure what to do in this case. I have had enough skin cancers that I will not be hanging about the beach, soaking up sun, but we would enjoy some active things to do.

I have heard about a popular kakaying trip up a river in Kauai. Has anyone done this, and what can you tell me about booking in advance vs from the hotel? Is the kayaking river anywhere near where we'll be staying? Sorry I don't have more information on it.

Any other suggestions for free time activities would be appreciated. Happy New Year!


  • Hi kidfixer,

    We are not on this Tauck tour, although we have been to several of the Hawaiin islands many times.

    If you are going to Haleakala (Maui) at dawn (and its worth it) it will be very cold (30's or lower). Hotels usually encourage you to "borrow" their blankets and your winter coat, hat and gloves will be helpful. By the time you ready to leave the mountain it will probably be warmer. Why not change in the restroom before your board the return bus.

    If your Tauck tour doesn't include Hana and you are willing to drive all day (50 miles really does take 3 hours on this road!) this is a worthwhile activity. The last gas station before the Hana highway sells a CD which give you a road by road/turn by turn travel guide of the things to see there and on the way. If you wish, you can drive past Hana and see /swim, the seven sacred pools. Paia (on the way) is a tiny, cute small town that's fun to walk if you need a change of pace. If you have a car, and have a free evening for dinner I recommend the Star Noodle House (in Lahaina) and/or Warren and Annabel magic show (dinner/appetizers can be included or not). As hokey as this sounds, the magician is wonderful and the narrative is always hilarious. (Check this out on Trip Advisor)

    On Kauai, again, depending on your time, interest and the availability of transportation: The Allerton Botanic Garden, the Chocolate Plantation tour (the one owned by the Lydgate family), the botanic garden near the Kiluea lighthouse and of course the lighthouse itself, and a tube/float along the old irrigation canals.

    Hawaii, the big island, is fun to drive around because of all the lava fields and the active volcano itself. If Tauck omits this, its worth a drive.

    Oahu is our least favorite island, but there a still a great many things of interest to do: The Royal Palace, the Bishop Museum. the Polynesian Cultural Center. Friend of ours have recently visited the renovated parts of the Old Chinatown and highly recommend this.

    All in all, if you want to drive these islands are small enough to see most sights in a relatively short time. Of course, most people are relaxing on the beach or in the water. Whatever you do you are sure to have a great time.
  • edited January 2015
    If you are adventurous and young at heart-

    Kauai Back Country Zip Lines (along with other companies) provides tube trips on the irrigation canals (and through hand dug tunnels!) and zip line adventures in the hills/canyons of a private ranch north of Lihue, Kauai. My wife and I had a great time doing the zip lines. Also, if Tauck no longer offers it, a helo tour over central Kauai, Waimeia Canyon, and the Na Pali coast, was breathtaking and a MUST! We did ours with Inter Island Helicopters located at Port Allen Airport south of Hanapepe. We flew in a small helo with doors-off- the ONLY way to go!!!!. It was absolutely fantastic, the highlight of our (non-Tauck) trip to Kauai and Maui.

    We booked in advance. Due to the season, and late date, you may have trouble getting reservations.
  • We came into Honolulu one day early two years ago. We took a taxi to the entrance of the park inside of Diamond Head. In warm weather it is a little strenuous to walk up all the way to the top of Diamond Head. Up there all of Waikiki beach is in front of you. You can also walk (or maybe just see) into the bunkers that housed anti-aircraft guns that were installed in WWII. It is not the first thing you think of when visiting the island but we were glad we climbed up there.
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