by Sheila Beal
Everyone wants to escape the cold of winter, and Hawaii is a popular choice. With that in mind, FatWallet reached out to the Hawaii expert to help us out on finding you quality accommodations within all budget levels, along with what to expect when visiting during the winter months.
Sheila Beal from Go Visit Hawaii tells us what to expect, and shows us where to stay!
What to Expect
Hawaii’s rainiest months are winter months. That being said, visitors shouldn’t worry too much about experiencing heavy downpours day after day. That would be unlikely. We’ve visited Hawaii numerous times over winter months and have enjoyed glorious weather. Some areas of each island are prone to get more rain than others. My recommendations are in the areas that tend to be drier. (See more about this pattern on my post about leeward and windward Hawaii)
Hawaii’s tourism economy is definitely on the upswing and rates are reflecting that trend. December 2012 data hasn’t been analyzed though the Hawaii Tourism Authority, but data through November reflected that Hawaii was on pace for a record year. With that in mind many times, the best deals can be found via Online Travel Agencies like Expedia, or Priceline. I recommend folks shop around both on the hotel’s own booking engine and on the OTAs like Hotels.com.
Where to Stay
- Cheap Hawaii Hotels: Budget – under $200Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is a great location for the budget-minded for relatively inexpensive rooms and Hawaii’s best public transportation via TheBus. Waikiki is Hawaii’s liveliest tourist destination with excellent beachside walks, sunsets and people watching galore. It’s relatively easy to find a two or three-star hotel for under $150 per night. In our opinion, one of the best deals is at the newly refurbished Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel on Waikiki’s located directly across Waikiki Beach on Kalakaua Avenue. Rates start at $123 per night (plus $15 resort fee) for partial ocean view based on a seven-night stay.
Another Aston Waikiki property worth considering is the 3.5-star Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel with partial ocean view rooms starting at $182 plus an $18 resort fee. An ocean view room is only $9 more per night. The room rate includes a to-go breakfast that you can take to the beach or enjoy from your private lanai (balcony). Though technically not “ocean front” because it’s across Waikiki’s famous Kalakaua Avenue , it feels very ocean front.
Accommodations in Kapaa on Kauai tend to offer great value as well with a couple of three-star hotels consistently offering rates under $200. Kapaa is centrally located to all the major attractions on the island. One of the best deals this winter is at the Courtyard Kauai Coconut Beach. Their rates start at $189, but it’s worth highlighting that their “Kauai Adventure Overdrive Jeep Experience” deal is a particularly good value with an ocean view room, $100 resort credit and daily jeep rental for $240 per night. Considering that jeeps rentals cost around $60 or more per day, that’s an effective rate of $180 per night.
- Mid-range Hawaii HotelsThe Kohala Coast on Hawaii’s Big Island offers lots of luxury without having to pay a bundle. During winter months, this coast line can mesmerize you as you watch humpback whales breaching from the beautiful blue Pacific. This coastline only receives about 10 inches of rainfall per year which makes it a relatively safe bet for sunny days. Also worth mentioning is that Kilauea Volcano has really been putting on a show recently with great lava and volcano viewing opportunities.
The resort area of Waikoloa along the Kohala Coast has a couple of oceanfront, four-star hotels (Hilton and Marriott) plus many condominium vacation rental properties well within the mid-range cost. Some of the Big Island’s best restaurants are in the Waikoloa Resort and within walking distance of hotels and condos. The Marriott offers rates starting at about $240 with a $26 resort fee. The Hilton property is particularly popular with families with their protected lagoon, lazy river and waterslides. Golf, garden or mountain view room rates start at about $240 with an additional $25 daily resort fee. It should be noted that some rooms at this Hilton property have been renovated while others need renovating. We highly recommend you seek out a renovated room and if you have the budget, splurge on the ocean front/view rooms with their outstanding views.
Another good Kohala Coast value is at the four-star Hapuna Prince. This resort is located on one of the Big Island’s most beautiful white sand beaches. Rooms are spacious rooms and include all the regular amenities plus a bit of luxury with bathrobes and slippers. Rates start at about $225 per night and there’s no resort fee.
Maui is an island that everyone loves, in fact Maui is almost always chosen as the US’s best island by luxury travel magazines. Maui is arguably the best island for humpback whale watching in winter and the four-star Sheraton Maui Resort offers a prime whale watching location on Kaanapali’s famous Black Rock. The snorkeling at Black Rock is some of the island’s best without taking a catamaran tour. Rates start at around $340 per night with a $30 resort fee.
- High End Luxury Hawaii HotelsOne of Hawaii’s least visited islands is also one of Hawaii’s best kept secrets. Lanai is loaded with adventure and luxury. Top-rated golf, horseback riding, hiking, excellent snorkeling, off-road driving, and archery are just some of the fun adventures you can experience on Lanai. Whale watching during winter months is also quite good from Lanai. Though the island only offers two major hotels, they consistently rank as two of Hawaii’s top rated luxury hotels managed by the luxury Four Seasons brand. While many Hawaii resorts charge pricy rental fees for beach chairs and umbrellas, the Four Seasons resorts on Lanai not only provide this amenity at no charge, the friendly beach staff also serve guests ice water, chilled pineapple slices and spritzes of chilled Evian spring water. They’ll even clean your sunglasses.
While you might expect a hefty room rate, you might be surprised that rates at the upcountry Four Seasons Lodge at Koele start at $286 per night with their third night free offer. (Note that guests at the Koele resort also have access to the beach amenities at Manele) At the ocean side Four Seasons Manele resort, rates start at $367 for a spacious garden view room. If your budget allows, the Ocean Terrace rooms are worth the splurge and start at $543 per night with the fifth night free. Neither of these five-star resort charges a resort fee.
On the Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, the five-star Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows sits along a sandy beach where Hawaiian sea turtles often come to rest. Beach cabanas are plentiful and offered at no additional charge to guests, in fact, there’s no resort fee at Mauna Lani. This resort embraces Hawaiian culture with an onsite Hawaiian culture center staffed with a full-time director. Here you can learn to play the ukulele, hula, and the art of lei making as just a few examples of complimentary activities. Rooms are spacious and well-appointed with luxurious tropical toiletries, and robes. Rates start at $330 per night for garden view rooms, but if your budget allows, the ocean view/front rooms are worth the splurge – especially during winter months when you can watch the humpback whales play.
Did we miss your favorite Hawaiian getaway? Feel free to let others know about it in our comments section below!
Photo provided by GoVisitHawaii.com