My husband and I were fortunate to have our daughter, Emily, work from our home while we went to Hawaii, so she could be the caregiver for our two daughters, Sara and Amanda. They were born with Down syndrome. We were gone for 13 days. This was our first big trip to be gone for this long since 2011 when we went on a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas. Emily did an awesome taking care of them and worked all day at her computer. She had to get Sara up early for her adult camp program, and Emily also drove Amanda to her volunteer job and Frisch's job. Sara is low-functioning so her daily routine is harder to manage but Amanda helped too. On the weekends, Emily went home to her apartment, and we appreciate our daughter, April and her husband, taking them the first weekend while son, Bart, and his wife, Lea, took them the second weekend.
We went on a YMT tour so we would not have to worry about scheduling flights to the four islands, and there were many advantages to this. However, we were surprised that we always had to have our bags ready to be pulled by the luggage guys anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. and we left soon after to catch flights. Also the scheduled tours were always EARLY in the morning. It was hard adjusting to the 6 hour difference in time. While it was noon in Ohio, it was only six o'clock a.m. in Hawaii! If you are considering going to Hawaii, you might want to go in a cooler month, like January or February. The Big Island was so hot and humid in September. We went during the end of September and beginning of October because we were celebrating our 40th anniversary, which was in August. When I called to check prices, I was actually calling for February, but the travel agent told me about the Sept. tour being $700 cheaper and would be closer to our anniversary. Because of Tom's hip surgery in June, we didn't want to go in August!
I took tons of pictures but will just pick a few from each island. I do wish I would have had an iPhone or iPad to take my pictures instead of using my digital camera. Another traveler on the tour, Wayne, showed us his pictures on his smartphone and the colors were very vibrant! My cell phone is a tiny flip phone.
First day on Kauai Island, we saw Fern Grotto and went on a boat ride along the Wailua River. We learned that this emerald island was the setting for some impressive Hollywood productions: Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Thorn Birds, Avatar, South Pacific, and Fantasy Island.
We did the optional tour for Waimea Canyon (several optional tours that were not included in original cost of YMT tour and cost extra) and saw waterfalls, rain forest and the canyon was beautiful. My pictures really don't show the amazing colors of it very well.
Kauai Beach - I don't have a picture of the sand below but it was a coarse sand that came from Australia. Most of the Hawaiian beaches have sand from other places. The rough and high waves made it hard to enjoy swimming in the ocean because you got knocked down before you got very far. The coarse sand didn't help any and seemed to make it harder to get up - waves remained rough the whole time we were there. At least on this island we were only a few minutes from the ocean and close to a big swimming pool. We had to walk 10 minutes to eat at restaurants but this hotel had continental breakfasts.
Below is a picture of Iao Needle, a rock formation rising over 2,000 feet from the valley floor. During the day we saw lots of waterfalls. The road was not good and curvy and bumpy. We stopped and had a box lunch.
Above is the Wai'anapanapa State Park's black sand beach. Look closely and you will see turtles.
Day 10 - We flew to Hilo on the Island of Hawaii called the Big Island! We traveled across the island of a full day tour from Hilo to Kona. We stopped at a Macadamia nut factory and an orchid nursery, both important exports from Hawaii. Then we went to the Volcanoes National Park and saw a real, smoking and steaming volcano.
DAY 11 - Big Island Sunset Dinner Cruise
Btw, the Big Island was very hot and humid when we were there which was a surprise. The pool water was too warm to be refreshing. You might want to go to it during the winter months. I really liked Maui and the Big Island a lot. We were very close to restaurants while on the Big Island so that was another plus.
The YMT tour was great about taking care of the flights to all 4 islands, but didn't like the scheduled flights home. We checked out on Monday at 11 and had to wait around until 9:30 at night to fly out of Kona. It was a small open-air airport and so HOT. We flew to Los Angeles, then Detroit, Michigan and finally to Cincinnati on Tuesday and got home at 6:30 p.m. Going was much better with leaving Wed. morning and arriving Wed. evening but Hawaii was 6 hrs. behind our time.
Hope you leave comments! (One more pic of the pool at the last hotel.)