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Couple is in Israel...Guests are from the US, Australia and the UK.
Is there any wedding registry that will allow cash gifts to be deposited for the couple and with minimum fees?
Saw something about Zola.com looking for any feedback.

Also what registries are there in Israel for Gifts.

Much appreciated.

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Trip Reports / Mechaymom hops from Kauai to the Big Island
« on: November 12, 2015, 02:40:11 AM »
So checked out of Kauai early Sunday morning.
Again lesson learned...the airport opens at 5:30 AM on Sunday.  Don't listen to the be there 2 hours before the flight.  We sat in an empty airport.

Second Lesson Learned.  Book Hawaiian Air tickets from JJ.  Thought I would be smart and use points. 
They weighed our bags, and they weighed our carryons.  Turned out to be overweight so we ended up paying $35 overweight fee.
Plus we paid $15 for each checked bag (cuz we joined Hawaiian Program).  And had I booked with JJ I could have gotten on one flight earlier.

The reason I didnt was because when I checked it was about $167 per person, so I used United points.  Right before the flight it went down to $100  .  Oh well...next time book with JJ.

So there is no direct flight from Kauai to the Big Island.  You have to fly LIH-HNL  and HNL-KOA or HNL-ITO (Hilo).
We decided to fly into Hilo for two reasons.
1) We wanted to do the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter right away and then move on to the Kona side and stay there.
2) When we went to book the Jeep Wrangler (which by the way I absolutely LOVE), for a short period of time it was like $250 to rent in Hilo and Return in Kona.  Then I blinked and it was gone.  After that it was $667 YES $667 to rent the Wrangler in Hilo and return to Kona.  That was with Costco.  All other deals were even more ridiculously priced.

I had an epiphany.  Why not rent just one day from ITO to KOA.  Then return it in Kona and take it out again returning to Kona before we flew home.  That turned out much better.  I think it was $75 from Alamo for the one day.  And it was supposed to be $262 from Enterprise for the remaining 3 days..turned out a bit cheaper, maybe because I returned it an hour or so earlier.


DAY 1

Ok so with rental car and airlines set we were on our way.
Took a 6:20 AM fight so we would get an early start.

I kinda like Hawaiian Air.  They run like clockwork.  Their seats are not uncomfortable...very short flights..didnt really mind the two segments.
I couldnt believe they actually made me move 1 pound of stuff out of my carryon..but we combined all our overweight into one bag and paid the fee.

Landed in HNL no problem.  There actually was an earlier flight to ITO but our flight was only an hour later and boarding was fast so no big deal.
We had scheduled a 10:00 AM Helicopter ride.  So here is what we had done.  Originally, I had scheduled an A Star looking to save a few bucks since we did the EcoStar on Kauai.

Having flown the EcoStar on Kauai and having such a smooth ride, the Kauai Blue Hawaiian convinced us to change our choice in Hilo to the EcoStar.  They made some changes on the computer and said we were all set.

We literally got off the plane from HNL and Blue Hawaiian is in the airport.  Grabbed our bags and stashed them in the Blue Hawaiian office.
Had a few minutes till checkin so we ran across to Alamo and got the paperwork to pick up the Wrangler.  We did not physically take the Wrangler just got the keys.

When we get the safety briefing for the helicopter they put the AStar briefing on.  I was a bit tired from getting up so early and the flights so didnt even notice.  My husband did notice though but we figured they put on the wrong Video.  I politely asked for the front seats but there was another couple going and they ended up getting it.  When the helicopter arrived it was an AStar.  I start telling them that is not what we signed up for and we want the EcoStar.  They tried telling me, oh it is the same, you will never know the difference. Lies  Lies Lies...:) 

I told them I flew Blue Hawaiian in Kauai and flew the Ecostar.  The windows are bigger, the back seat is more comfortable it is much quieter.
They said, well, you can go on the Astar or you can come back at 2 PM.  I was not coming back at 2 PM as we had plans to go to Mauna Kea after.  So we decided we might as well take the Astar.

There is a BIG difference in the Astar...or maybe it is the Astar combined with the pilots driving.  We had an older guy...not too much talking..not too much telling us what we were seeing.  So we flew over the greenery and on to the lava fields.  he explained what Pahoehoe Lava and A'A lave was and then flew over the crater.  We saw a breakout of lava and a few breakouts in the crater.  Then he drove us over a series of waterfalls which were quite nice and back to the heliport.  He did alot of turning the helicopter so both front and back got to see the sights.  All that turning made me a little green and I was not a happy camper when I got off the helicopter.  I ended up getting some decent pictures which I will try to upload. I was Underwhelmed with this helicopter ride.  Maybe I am just underwhelmed with lava.  After a while it just looked like a pile of Mud.  But you do get a feeling of the desolation of the land along with the rebirth of the greenery.

I got to the counter and had words with them.  They said they would charge me for the Astar..well that is nice..because that is what I rode.
I ended up telling people walking by that if they had the chance they should never fly an Astar only the Ecostar and that is not what they promised.  Then the manager came over and said she would see what she could do.  I told her I wasnt feeling well and the flight was really not comfortable.  Long Story short...she gave us one Helicopter flight FREE.  And I was going for more so I asked her to throw in the DVD also.  So they did.  Picture quality on the DVD is awful but it was free so fine.

Funny thing is while I was arguing about not wanting to take the Astar the pilot was on video talking to the other couple.  They said Oh I think that couple wanted the front seat and didnt get it so thats why they dont want to go.  The pilot said if we werent coming they would cancel the flight.  All not known to us..but on video..ha.

So the flight was okay.  Not nearly as beautiful or exciting as Kauai but Big Island is a different ballpark altogether.

So I had read the revealed books until it was coming out of my ears. I had so much info overload that I didnt end up writing my itinerary till 2 days before we left.  I am one of those people who has to have an itinerary.  Whether we follow it all or not is irrelevant.  But if I dont have one we dont head out till 12 oclock and have no idea what we are doing.  Also it gives options to swap out different things.  And it helps to prioritize the things I wanted to see.

We were only going to be here from Sunday to Thursday at 12:45 PM so it would be a short few days.

So now we pick up our luggage from Blue Hawaiian and fill up all of our water bottles there before we head out.  We didnt want to waste time picking up anything in Walmart as we had planned to get to Mauna Kea by 1:00 PM for the guided Summit Tour.

Went back to Alamo to pick up our Beautiful Cobalt Blue Wrangler.  Much to my husbands credit he decided to try the gears out before we left the parking lot.  Really Good idea..and I highly recommend it...BECAUSE the car was stuck in 4WD and wouldnt come out.  The mechanic couldnt get it out either.  Which is good because 1) sure is nice not to find that out in the middle of Mauna Kea and 2) I dont want to be responsbile to pay for it.

So they gave us a silver one that was functioning well and off we start racing to Mauna Kea.  I think it was like 12:00 PM now and you have to be there by 1:00 PM.

We took the saddle road and got there at 12:45 PM and run into the visitors center and say  "Here we are for the summit tour"....and THEY SAY...Oh they cancelled those...havent been doing that for a bit now...I'm like...HUH?  They said oh...somewhere else somebody shot at one of the telescopes and the people here realized what a security risk it is to have the telescopes wide open like that so they cancelled the tours.

Well what are we supposed to do now? We cant wait around here till 5:30 PM for sunset...But there is not much around here to do. Two options go over an hour to Waimea but not much to see except grab a Starbucks.  Or go back to Hilo also about an hour and stop in Walmart and pick up some groceries.  We hung around a bit and spoke to the ranger and figured we would acclimate to the height a little.  Truth be told I was a bit dizzy.  We were careful to drink alot of fluids but I think I was a bit dehydrated from the flights, the nauseous helicopter etc.

We go back towards Hilo and stop at Walmart and Target for some stuff...Case of water..Some Fruit, Yogurt, and Eggs so we can have omelets the next morning.  And then we find Baskin Robbins.   Wow that was good. I think we woke up after that.

We could have gone to some caves but we just werent into it at this point.  So we start heading back to Mauna Kea get to the visitors center about 4:30...hang around for about 1/2 an hour.   Feeling much better now.  Changed into our winter stuff.  Seriously I packed my packable down jacket, hat, gloves, thermals and my hiking boots.

Even though there is no guided tour, the ranger comes up to the summit too.  There are a bunch of tour buses...lots of Oriental folks.  The tour bus gives them parkas..its kinda funny.
The ranger told us most people hightail it down after sunset but if you stay past that, that is when most of the colors come out and really light the sky.  He showed my husband near which telescopes to stand.

So we drive up the mountain.  I do not do 4L so it is up to my husband.  He is an excellent driver and has done 4L before so up we go.  The first 5.5 miles are not paved going up the mountain.  There are cars in front of us and kicking up dust so you almost cant see.  We tried to keep a car in sight..easier to follow.  I forget, I think about Mile 2 it gets kinda washboardy but the rest of the way the Wrangler was good.  Scary to look down..you are climbing higher and higher above the clouds.   We get to the top before sunset and it is pretty cold.
I think it was in the 40s but the wind was pretty strong.  After a few minutes my fingers were numb...had to put them back in my pockets.
We walked around the outside of the telescopes and stayed for sunset.  Then for nightfall and the oranges and reds were great.  My pictures are from my iphone but they are not bad.

So all the buses go down the mountain and we decide to head down.  It is now pitch dark.  We go down slowly and get to the visitor center.
I will tell you , I still think the worst drive we had was trying to get to the Maha'lepu Beaches on Kauai with a Mustang.  This road with a Wrangler was not bad if you know what you are doing;

At night, the visitor center breaks out the telescopes and gives a 2 hour lecture on what stars you see in the sky.  Not really my cup of tea, a little interesting...but my husband is a sponge of knowledge and he loves this stuff.  He ate it up.  He saw Saturn, the Space Shuttle various constellations.  They have free hot water and paper cups and I knew to bring hot cocoa with us...so we went thru 4 hot cocoas up there.

Again, a suggestion I made on the Kauai trip is to make various bags of articles of clothing and stuff you need for different activities.  Since we knew that we would be doing Mauna Kea, we packed a bag of winter clothes in our carryon and had it ready to pull out and change.

K so now it is like 8:00 oclock or so and we have to drive to Kona and check in to the condo we reserved on VRBO or Homeaway.
We take the Saddle road towards Kona and 190 to 11 I think. 

This is the place we stayed http://www.vrbo.com/132090
It advertises A/C included..but if you look at the fine print it says it is on a 4 hour timer.  Ok not a big deal it is not the heat of the summer.

We get here and there is a lockbox to get the key.  We rented from Kona Coast Vacations.
Get in at 9:30 PM and are pretty tired because of the long day.  It has a washer/dryer, kitchen , TV in living room...not bad. Great Location directly across from Kahalu'u Beach Park where the snorkeling is supposed to be really good.

First thing I notice is it is quite warm. I go to turn down the thermostat...and there is a LOCKBOX on it.  Seriously.  It says do not set below 70..well you cant set it to anything because it is locked.  We turn it on and put on all the fans.  Then I see little ants crawling on the kitchen counter and see gnats in the bathroom sink.  I am pretty grossed out now...and see that the patio door does not shut and I can see daylight which is probably where the bugs are coming from.  I feel pretty icky but we are wiped out.  We decide not to unpack and just crash.  We called the 24 hour service and the guy said he cant reach the property owners so it has to wait until the morning. I told him my complaints.

Other than that it is not a bad place.  We go to sleep and wake up the next morning and decide we really dont want to stay here.  Dont even want to shower here.  I did my laundry the night before..that worked well :).  So I call the Sheraton to see if they had any availability and decide to do a Cash and Points stay for the remainder of our stay and decide to check out. You gotta read the contract from this place it is about 20 pages long and basically says no refunds for anything.  In the morning my husband found a hawaiian centipede crawling on the floor.  Those things have a nasty bite.

DAY 2

So we decide to check out and then call the property manager once we are out.  We pack our stuff before 11 AM and get on out.  Then call the property manager and start the process to see if we could get refunds.  They said they would refund partially and charge for cancellation fee of $150 which is fair.  In the end they charged me the cleaning fee too which was like $140.   When I complained they said they would refund it if I signed a release form and I said no thanks.  I would rather write a review.  When we got up in the morning there were gnats on the linens and my husband was bitten up.  We took pix of the lockbox , the gnats and the centipede.  I realized why they had no negative reviews is because if there are any issues they ask you to sign a release.

Anyway we check into the Sheraton and get upgraded to an ocean view because of Gold.  I asked them for a microwave and they already had a fridge in the room so we are good to go.  Got early check in...dumped our stuff ...unloaded our food and tried to figure out what to do with our day since we killed more than 1/2 a day doing this transition.  First things first...get a shower and then we head out.

We decide since we have the Wrangler to do a different off road adventure every day.
Day 1 was Mauna Kea Summit   Day 2 is going to be Waimea Canyon.

We decide to drive through the town of Waimea towards Waipio Valley and then we would go down into the canyon.
The road to Waimea is really nice.  There are alot of farms and ranches...horses and cows.  We stop in Waimea for a Starbucks and walk around the shopping center.  Then drive toward Waipio Canyon.
We stop at the overlook and it is just breathtaking.  The Cliffs and the ocean and the black sand beach.  Lots of signs indicating danger only 4WD to go down into the canyon. 
We drive down the windy road..it really isnt that bad..like I said Mahalepu still the worst drive we had.
You have to go really slowly and stop for upcoming traffic..and try not to hit the hikers who walk on both sides of the road and dont seem to move to the side.  We get to the bottom and there is a pretty river.  Then we drive to the left to the waterfalls.  They are really gorgeous.  We cant hike or drive into the paths closer as the locals dont like it.  We met some interesting characters.  There is a cabin..more of a shack..yet it has satellite dishes on it.  The valley is plush and green. There is a stable down there with horses.  To get to that you had to cross a river in the road.  Didnt think we could drive through it but the strange hippies said..sure you can.  Thought they were just waiting for us to get stuck...guess we are a bit timid driving the Wrangler.  On the way back there is a loose horse just roaming the road.  We go down the road towards the black sand beach.  That road is now pitted and has large puddles where you dont know what is in the bottom  and then....it starts to rain.  We get to the black sand beach and it is pretty.  All kinds of people camping out and there is a river that runs right into the ocean.  We head back up in the rain before it gets more slippery and climb out of the canyon.  It was a really beautiful drive.  Glad we got to see that.
On the way back it is pouring and we drive the road to Kukuihaele Park.  There are several bridges over the road with water flowing beneath. We pass thru some local stores.  The sun starts to come out and we decide to head to Hapuna Beach for Sunset.
Picture Perfect Sunset.  Then we stop in Waikoloa and the shops to browse and hit up another Starbucks.  There is a local hula keiki (kids) demonstration.  We walk around and head back to the Sheraton.

Time to heat up our meals and relax.  Went downstairs to Ray on the Bay to see if we could see any Mantas.  There are boats that go out for Manta Ray Sightings and they all gather just a bit off shore.  I didnt really see anything.

DAY 3
This is going to be a long long day.  Got the omelets cooked...breakfast served and cooler packed for the day.

Get up early and head to the bay that has the spinner dolphins...starts with a K.  Drove down Napoopoo Road..that is some long winding road with no shoulders and dropoffs on the side of the road.  We get to the bottom and you can see Captain Cooks Monument but no dolphins as it is already like 9:30. There are locals renting beatup kayaks and a guy hacking coconuts.  We take a different road towards Place of Refuge and go there for a visit.  Honaunau has a place where people are snorkeling supposed to be very nice.  Maybe another day.
Walk around...its okay..We decide our offroading today will be Road to the Sea to the Black Sand Beach.  Didnt realize it was like 5 miles in and 5 miles out on a miserable road.  Still not as pitted as Mahalepu...that place really traumatized me.

We had the revealed App downloaded to our phone which was very important as there are no signs and roads coming in from different directions at times.  We followed the blue dot to make sure we were headed in the right direction.  At the end we headed to the left to that black sand beach.  The other black sand beach was on an even worse road..and one black sand beach was enough for today.  You just drive through barren lava fields for miles and miles.  And then there is a house in the middle...and then more lava.

This took longer than I expected so it is taking time off from the Volcano park which is where we are heading.
Back on the road we are going to stop now at South Point.  Again, that is about 12 miles in.  But the road is at least PAVED and very picturesque.  Barns and farms and the magnificent Wind Turbines.  When you get to South Point and the Boat Hoists, the water is the most incredible blue and clear as can be.  There is a grotto there that again, reminds me of Rosh Hanikra, where the water is crashing through the grotto.  Okay nice place to stop and very pretty.

Back to the main road and one more stop before Volcano.  Punalu'u Black Sand Beach.  Okay that one is fairly right off the road and it has to be my favorite black sand beach.  It is fine black sand against the crashing blue ocean.  Across from it is a lily pond kind of lake..with palm trees growing on the black sand beach.  I thought it was lovely.

So it is now like 2:00 PM def later than I thought we would go to Volcanoes.

We get to Volcanoes and stop at the visitor center and talk to the ranger.  He says for this short time, go to Thurston Lava Tube, the Steam Vents, Kileaua Iki (i spelled it wrong) overlook, Jagger Museum and Volcano House to see the Caldera.  My goal is to stay till dark to see the Crater glow at night.  So of course we will attempt more than that.
First Volcano House and you can see the steam emanating from the Caldera.

We start at Thurston Lava Tube and walk through it.  SHows how the lava flowed.  You walk through a rain forest to get to it..It is nice.
We go to Kileau Iki Overlook and it is a lava lake.  Originally planned to do that hike..bummed we didnt get to it...but another time.
We did run ahead a bit to see some other vistas of the crater. Interesting to see the different textures.

Then we went to Devastation Trail and hiked a bit of it.  I got the feeling of devastation mixed with grennery.  Ran across the lava field and saw another view of the Caldera.

Decided to take a drive down part of Chain of Craters road.  so we drove for a few miles to see the various types of lava flows.  I stopped at a place that had picnic tables and the wind was really ripping almost knocked me right off my feet.  Sun starting to go down...so head back to the main road and go to the Steam Vents...a little stinky.  And you can see steam coming out of other vents in other parts of the field.  Decided not to go for the sulphur banks.  But decided to fill up with gas at the military barracks.  It takes Visa by the way,  no Amex.

Then off to the Jagger Museum to watch the sun go down on the crater..and then to watch it turn pitch black and the crater glow RED.  Amazing.  Went inside to the museum and read up on the volcano and other assorted info.  That night they had an author give a talk in the auditorium.  We stayed for a few minutes...got bored and left because it is a really long drive back to Kona.  The road is very winding and at most places 35 MPH.  I gotta say the Wrangler handles really well and handles turns amazing.  I drove down from Kona and my husband drove back.  I have driven stick shifts before but I love that you get to do that without hitting a clutch.  I down shifted all the way there and then upshifted when needed..so easy and smooth.

My husband drove back to Kona and I passed out...got up at a small store to get a Hershey bar.  again...never too much chocolate.
Back to the Sheraton and Good night.

Day 4

My husband is going Scuba Diving with Jacks Diving Locker Today.  Thanks PBaruch and all the others for your suggestons. I forgot who told me about Jacks but they are a class operation.  I didnt get my act together and would have felt more comfortable with a refresher class but missed that.  My husband is a more confident diver and he just went without it.  SO I decided to drop him off and go snorkeling while he went diving.  He went for a two tank dive and had a great time.  Dove the Golden Arches and Suck me Up Lava Tubes.  In between the two dives they went and found pods of dolphins.  He said the clarity of the water is unbelievable and he saw beautiful reefs and great fish life.  They saw octopus, rays, fish...etc.

I decided to snorkel Kahalu'u Beach. As I had only snorkeled in Poipu in Kauai for the first time i wanted to be someplace that I felt kinda safe by myself.  The water entry is rocky .  I had brought my scuba gloves and those proved quite helpful in not getting scratched on the rocks.
The visibility is not the best but the fish life was quite amazing.  i saw turtles, angelfish, wrasse, damsel fish and all kind of other colorful stuff.  They have like a water ranger in the water with fish identification cards and they tell you where to swim to see the fish and how far to go out.  I stayed for about an hour or so.  Was thinking of going to Honaunau to snorkel but after speaking with the reef lady and another guy who had done it the day before decided against it.  They have a place called two step because it is a two step lava bench that you go off and into the water.  Off is not the problem...getting back up and out is. You are coming from 10 feet of water and you need somebody to haul you up.  Figured not a place to go myself.  So went to pick up hubby instead.

Not far from there we found Falafel in Paradise.  Counter guy Meir is adorable and so upbeat.  Food was delicious. They were out of falafel so we had meat kebobs and the most amazing french fries.  We ate the first batch while we were standing there and saved the meat kabobs for dinner.  I think we found another Baskin Robbins too.  Then headed to A- Bay for Sunset.  Watched a beautiful sunset while scarfing down our meat kebabs and salad.  First fresh food that I didnt have to prepare...mighty yummy.

Went back to pack for our trip home.
Way too short.

Day 5
Flight at 12:45..Take it easy in the morning..hang around the hotel and then check out.  Fill up at Costco and head to the airport.
Didnt learn our lesson from Kauai.  The airport only opens at 11:00 AM for the 12:45 flight.  Counters open at 10:30.  No air conditioning.  No inside terminal  you sit on benches outside.  Okay...just enjoy the experience.

So they open up..no problem checking in..no overweight because our food is done.
Go through agriculture inspection twice.  and get ready to board. 
There are a million elderly people today using the forklift to get onto the plane.  There must have been 6 trips that they put people on that.
And you walk across the tarmac and walk up the steps to your plane.

Flight is KOA-SFO  and then SFO-EWR Red eye.
Entertainment on both segments were great.  Flight to SFO uneventful..Stopped in the United Club this time as my passes were going to expire in two days.  Hung out a bit and checked onto the red eye

Went coach on these flights window seats..I dont mind.  We dont even sit together...married 35 years...we both like window seats.
Flight was fine...landed at like 6:00 AM on EWR...got our car...oh yeah we went to the wrong parking lot.  Thought we parked in Self Park but ended up we parked in McLellan.  That was a first.

Drove home...cooked for Shabbos...and slept most of shabbos.  Jet lag hit me at home.  Didnt have any jet lag in Hawaii.
Was a great trip.

I owe everybody on this forum, and many who extended themselves and offered guidance and advice a debt of gratitude.
It was really a fabulous trip.
Something to check off the bucket list.

Eventually I will get my pictures off my phone and upload some select ones.




3
Day 1
Flew United coach from EWR - SFO   and then SFO-LIH.
Did this on purpose so I could break up the trip.
Did this on the deal where United had a discount on points for booking flights to Hawaii.

Full flight from EWR - SFO.  Non eventful flight. I always bring my own food and of course plenty of chocolate. Stopped in the Centurion Lounge compliments of my Amex Platinum in SFO.  Nice place to recharge phones.  Nice buffet of non kosher food.  Had some juice and fruit and relaxed a bit. They have a bar, but since I am not a drinker, didn't really interest me. Was only a 2 hour layover so it was time to board.
We got Global Entry with our Platinum cards so TSA Pre for all flights.  Nice little bonus. Priority boarding with United Explorer card.

Flight to LIH was half empty middle seat empty.  Flight arrived about 7:30 PM.
Picked up our Mustang at Alamo, very quick no issues.  Used Costco Rates found those to be the best.  It was about $282 for 6 days.
It is quite small so we had to put our luggage in the back seat as well as the trunk.

Stopped in Walmart to pick up a few items, water, eggs, milk, peanut butter and jelly, fruit.  Then raced to Costco before they closed at 8:30 to pick up Blue Hawaiian Gift cards for my helicopter flight on day 2.

Checked into the Grand Hyatt  Got upgraded to a partial ocean front room  It ended up working perfectly for us. It was really a full pool view which is really nice, and it was at the end of the hallway so a nice quiet room.
People have posted pictures of the hotel.  It really is gorgeous.  Has a salt water lagoon, an adult pool, a water slide, two other pools, a koi pond, gorgeous grounds.  The room was nice.  Had great bath products and the crazy toilet that is a bidet, and dryer and heated toilet seats.
Small balcony outside overlooking the pool.  All good.

Something about this island made me lose track of what day and time it was.  Didnt really feel that sensation on the Big Island as much.
I had brought my own food in 3 packages.  Food for the week in Kauai, food for Shabbos, and food for the Big Island.  I called the sous chef from the front desk and gave him the box of food that was going to go to the Big Island and a cooler packed with food for shabbos.
The rest of the food I took up to my room.  I had requested a microwave and an additional fridge and they provided those to me.

So unpacked food and clothes and crashed after a long day of flying.
Left NYC about 11:00 AM and got to Kauai at 7:30 PM .

Day 2
Got up early.  Actually I got up early every morning the entire time.  Just couldn't sleep that long.
Brought Cereal and a 1 burner element with me.  Had picked up eggs, PAM spray, cottage cheese and yogurts in Walmart.
So had a good breakfast of Omelets, cheese, coffee..etc.  Packed lunches to go.  Tended to be things like almonds, fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, baby carrots, salad, tuna patties.sometimes tuna packets.  We were on the go all day.  Night time I heated up the mains I brought from home and we had plenty of food.  I was planning on grilling hot dogs, but went to every store on the island and there were no portable grills to be found.  I actually located one on the last night on the Big Island but at that point we werent in the mood.

Walmart, and Costco had a nice selection of stuff.  There even was a local grocery not far from the GH in Koloa that had a decent selection of stuff. 

We were planning on the 8:30 AM helicopter flight but woke up to rain.  Drove the tree tunnel road to Lihue.  There actually is traffic on that road, so it takes about 1/2 an hour.  They ended up cancelling the helicopter flight and rescheduling for Day 3.  My plan was to book the helicopter early, so in case of inclement weather we would have flexibility to do it another day and to swap out some other itinerary items.

Since we were already in Lihue, we decided to do the waterfalls.  Drove to Opaeka'a Falls.  Across the street is the Wailua River so stopped and took a photo there too.  I get what people say about those chickens...they are everywhere.
Then Drove to Wailua Falls, really nice falls.  We decided to drive north and check out the beaches and end up in Ke'e Beach for sunset.
Since it was cloudy and overcast we started our drive up North.  We stopped at a Longs drugs for some soda and chocolate.  One can never have enough chocolate.  There was a pop up farmers market.  They give out free samples of some of the fruit.  Bought some of those little apple bananas..they are quite interesting.

First stop Lydgate Beach and Kealia Beach.  Just took a look see as it was still raining.  Drove past the sleeping giant.  Anini beach next.  By then the sun was starting to come out.  We stopped at Kilauea Lighthouse and Nature Reserve.  The overlook over the black sand cliffs and which may be Hideaways below is really beautiful.  My husband enjoyed the information about the lighthouse original light system..he loves that stuff.
We drove through Princeville but couldn't find a place to park to go down to the Hideaways Beach nor to go explore the St Regis.  Drove around the entrance a few times and drove on.  Would have been nice to go in and explore.

Stopped in Hanalei Beach to watch the surfers.  The drive up is so green and lush, every shade of green imaginable.  Drove top down with the Mustang ...ahhh that is so nice. You know how many old people I saw driving Mustangs and Corvettes..it is quite funny.  Well I guess I am one of those old people too...just not THAT old.

Headed to Tunnels Beach.  Surf was too rough to do any swimming or snorkeling.  And Haena Beach Park.
Onwards up North over the one way bridges.  Most weren't too bad to cross.  But the DOUBLE one way bridge...that was a bit freaky.
You hope nobody is coming as you cross over one bridge and then the other.
Stopped at the Hanalei Valley Lookout and to the Wet Caves and the Dry Caves.
Finally ended up at Ke'e Beach.  Took a picture of myself at the Kalaulau Trail sign as that is as close as I am going to get to that hike.  Maybe another time I will attempt the first 2 miles in.  People who came out were saying the trail was extremely wet and slippery due to the rains.

There is one of the one way bridges that was slightly flooded..think it is called dip in the road near Mile 8.  You just never know what is underneath those puddles...but it was fine.
Stayed at Ke'e Beach and saw a most beautiful sunset.  The colors are just magnificent.
Then drove back to the Grand Hyatt in the dark.  Stopped in some grocery store picked up some fruit
Heated up one of our meals, watched some TV and end of night.

Day 3
Let's try Blue Hawaiian again.  Oh good..today's weather is much nicer.  Board our EcoStar flight , I forget the pilots name but he was really nice, and friendly and funny.  We got the front seats as per request and it is breathtaking.  I haven't watched the video yet but the audio cuts in and out of it, but the picture quality is good.  He took us over Jurassic Falls, explained how all the land is owned by the Robinsons...wide swath over Waimea Canyon, with the Waipo'o Falls.  Went up North and saw the beautiful Napali Coast.  Unimaginable blues of the water.  Then into Mount Waialeale.  The helicopter sits inside the mountain and lets you take photo ops of the humongous waterfalls.  Quite an amazing site.  Then he jokes about Julia Roberts owning a home there and her being on the island.  He had a fun banter going.  Great personality.
I tried not to focus on the pictures and just enjoy the ride as I knew I would have the video to watch...which I havent seen yet.  It comes on a USB stick in 5 parts.  This was my first helicopter flight.  The EcoStar is as advertised a really quiet smooth ride.  They give you Bose Headphones and you can talk to the pilot.  Loved the Ecostar experience so much, that I changed my reservation for the Big Island from the A-Star to the Ecostar..but more about that in the Big Island trip report.
The first day we went I was wearing a baseball hat and they werent happy about head coverings.  Next day I just wore a mitpachat scarf and told them it was for religious purposes.  So they gave me a headset to wear on my head until we got to the helicopter to keep my scarf on and then I swapped it for the Bose inside.  The people in Kauai at Blue Hawaiian were exceptionally nice.
After the flight you give them your camera and they take pictures of you in front of the helicopter.  By the way used the Blue Hawaiian Gift Cards for this.

So figured we would drive back towards the Grand Hyatt and do some local things and part of my West Side itinerary.
Stopped in Koloa Landing. It is a small town on the way to Poipu.  It was very quaint, had a monkeypod tree, small shops, a grocery store, Tshirt store, some old style things like old barber shop.  Again, the husband loves that stuff.  We also wanted to talk to the scuba store Fathom Five to see if they had shore dives going out.  We never did end up doing the dive there because it was at 8:00 AM Friday and we didnt make a reservation, and by the time we called they had left already.  The second dive was the afternoon which is more rough and closer to Shabbos so didnt do that.

Thought it would be nice to drive to the Maha'ulepu Beaches on the South Side.  We had the Mustang so started driving down it.  The road is massively pitted and the ground clearance on the Mustang is quite low.  We were swerving left and right to avoid gaping potholes. The road was not that bad until just after the CJM Stables.  At which point we continued on and bottomed out on one of the craters.   Got pretty scared at that point and turned around.  So did not get to Maha'ulepu today.  Would have been fine with a 4WD.

Headed towards the West side.
First stop Spouting Horn.  Nice spurt of water along crashing waves on the rocks.  Very Picturesque.  Continued Driving and
Stopped at Hanapepe Overlook.  Wanted to see the Glass Beach, so drove there.  There are some very old industrial buildings, interesting to see mixed among the beauty of Kauai.  I dont know what I was expecting but if I looked hard I was able to see pieces of glass in the sand.  If you drive up the hill, you can see an overlook where the waves are crashing and there are old pieces of motor parts stuck in the cliff side.  Guess I just wanted to see that.
Started driving to Polihale thinking that would be a perfect Sunset Location.  I planned my itinerary to take advantage of the sunsets. 
I got up in the morning to catch sunrise as DH slept away. 
The most magnificent sunrise was on Shabbos, of course, no camera just etched in my brain.  I got to to see the ball of the sun rise from below the horizon and move upwards into the sky.  The other sunrises were kind of just a glowing sun over clouds.  But Shabbos was just spectacular.

Back to my west driving.  Passed the Pacific Missile Facility and hit the road to Polihale. Another dirt road.  Also pitted and very rough.
After our experience with Maha'ulepu and the bottoming out, my Husband had enough and we turned around, so no sunset at Queens Pond or Polihale.  Stopped at Kekaha State Park Beach.  The Beach is soft sand and beautiful.  Wild surf but very very pretty.  Stayed a bit and decided to go to Salt Pond Beach Park for Sunset.  We actually liked that beach alot.

Bought ourselves those Bamboo Mats at Walmart for $2.00 each.  They work wonders on the sand as the sand rolls right off.  Actually brought them home with me.  Stopped in some of the little malls to walk around Shops at kukui ula.
Then back to GH for supper.

Day 4  Waimea Canyon Day
Still getting up early.  Got up for Sunrise at Shipwreck Beach.  Waves are quite tumultuous here.  GH has wooden bench swings that you can sit on and watch the sunrise/sunset.  After sunrise went for an early morning swim..tried out the lagoon and the other pools.  Went around snapping pictures of the grounds.  Back to the room to cook breakfast and head out to Waimea.  Guess it was about 10:00 or so when we headed out.

Got our daily 2 cold water bottles each and towels from the valet...very nice touch.  On the way up to Waimea, stopped at Menihune Ditch and the Swinging Bridge.  The Ditch is just that....a ditch where water used to filter to the fields.  My husband picks up on some sort of lever that keeps the water out during a flood.  I was standing very quietly on the swinging bridge...and it is moving..till I realize there is a guy walking towards me.  Spoke to a lady who was parked there waiting for somebody to come over the bridge. She said the roads had been washed out during one of the rains, so she picked up her friend from the bridge instead of driving around.

Waimea River below the bridge is pretty...little bit red...was worried all my clothes would be stained from the dye...that never happened.
Start driving up Waimea Canyon Drive and stop at the lookouts.
First Waimea Canyon Lookout.  There is a half dressed Hawaiian guy there with his sword and wreath of flowers for the tourists...ok..so I took a picture of him..why not.
Stop at various places on the way up and jump out and look at the canyon.  We get a good view of Waipo'o Falls. 

Next the Nihau Viewpoint.. the day is clear enough that we can see Nihau in the distance. 
So here is where the Canyon Trail starts for Waipo'o Falls.  We are doing that hike today.  My husband was smart and carried a lightweight Eddie Bauer backpack.  Don't know what I was thinking lugging my Costco Backpack but had quite a few bottles of water, snacks etc.
I bought hiking boots for this trip and glad I wore them for the footing.  It is about 1.6 or 1.8 miles each way...but it is alot of down hill followed by uphill..coming back is alot of uphill.  You climb to the top of the canyon, then down to the falls.  First to a little falls and if you walk around the ginger fields you come to the top of the Big Falls.  We are picking our way gingerly down  the mountain, and there are these local teenagers, in flipflops jumping down the mountain.  Parts were slippery, not from mud...just slippery sandy stuff.  Turns out the hikes were the highlight of my trip I think and wish I had done more. The vistas was like being in the Grand Canyon. There are no guardrails, you are at the edge of the cliff..with nice signs like cliff edge...danger. Got down to the waterfalls took a short break, walked to the other side of the falls and headed back up.  Oh, my husband has a date with my son every day learning Mishnayos with him.  They have been doing this for quite some time.  They decided when they complete all of the mishnayos, to keep track of all the crazy places that they have learned together.  So we stopped along the hike for 10 minutes as my husband sat on a rock and learned Mishnayos with my son.   Dan, think of the list of places you can come up with for your son.....
In all the hike took a little over 3 hours.  Then drove up to the upper lookouts.  First went to the Pu'u O Kila Lookout.  Got there and snapped a picture of the Napali coastline. Within 30 seconds the clouds rolled in as it was late afternoon and the entire place was covered in white.  You could not see anything..not mountains..not water.
So drove down to the Kalaulau Lookout and the clouds were clear over there.  Very beautiful overlook of the valleys and coast line.
There is some sort of white dome building there..Geological something maybe...forgot what the sign said
As this was afternoon lighting, the canyon and mountains were very pretty. 
Was getting late..drove down the other road Kokee maybe?, not Waimea Canyon Drive for another flavor. That road is very country like alot of greenery and fields.  Drove to Salt Pond Beach Park for another Sunset.  Got there just as the sun was setting.
Back to GH

Day 5
Took it a bit easy.  Sunrise at the beach, got more pictures of the hotel.  Got breakfast together and decided to Hike to the Maha'ulepu Lithified Cliffs.   Originally my itinerary was to walk on it on Shabbos...boy am I glad I didnt do that.  It is really hot up there.  And the walk to the Beaches we clocked at just over 5 miles round trip.
We took plenty of water and we went through more here than in Waipo'o Falls.  You are in the open so the sun beats on you.
One thing I was very careful about was sunscreen.  I made sure to put enough on so I didnt get burned.  One day there was one spot that was missed and in 5 minutes I was roasted.  Good thing it was only a small patch...but put that sunscreen on.
We got a map from the concierge but I wasnt paying much attention to it.
Seems there are two loops, an inner loop and an outer loop.  The outer loop you walk on the outer edge of the cliffs and the inner loop you walk on higher ground. I didnt know this.  We ended up taking the outer loop first.  I am afraid of heights..so not the best option for me.  and the sand was quite slippery...just soft sand up there.  I got halfway around the loop and realized I wasnt going further.  Actually got down on my butt and went down one of the ways I had gone up and figured...there has to be higher ground.  At that point we did find the inner loop and continued on.  Both loops meet up shortly afterwards anyway.  The walk is stunning.  There is alot here that reminds me of Israel.
This reminded me a bit of Rosh Hanikra..There are these white lithified cliffs overlooking crashing blue waters below.
You walk up on the top of the cliffs and pass through brush and then you cross onto a Golf course before you get back on the path.
Again, I was happy for my hiking boots.  You pass the CJM stables and from there you can see the beach.  The stretch of sand against the Blue ocean is amazing.  Somebody said there was a cave around there.  My DH was tired..so he sat on the beach and got to see the horses from CJM on their trail rides.  There was a strange dude who was giving a tour of the Makawehi Caves so I went. You have to crawl on your knees to get into the cave but once you get in it is big.  Then it opens onto an oasis with palm trees growing. it was a cave that caved in..was interesting.
Told us how the pool of water in there is so old that archeologists use it to determine the different types of lava flows.
Then we headed back.  My husband asked the horse riders if he could hitch a ride...they offered me a ride...but said he was on his own.  Anyway, I didnt go with the creepy horse dudes.
Beautiful hike...really enjoyed. It is fairly flat not much up and down...just open to the elements.
There is actually a rock with a red bench cushion on it.  I thought my husband was kidding when he wouldnt get up from it.  Oh yeah, he was learning with my son from there...sure enough there really is a cushion.

Stopped in Poipu Beach State Park to Snorkel.  Saw a turtle, a monk seal and some pretty cool fish.  First time snorkeling.  Visibility not great but good enough.

Got back to the hotel got my food from the freezer and heated it up for shabbos.
Thank you Dan for the list of items that need to be turned off for shabbos.   We came prepared with tape and cardboard.  Since we just had a standard room, much less sensors than the suites.
We had a great shabbos....total relaxation...best Shabbos ever.   I had brought grape juice, challos, chicken, cold cuts, salad, grill for friday night of lamb chops and skirt steak...we were eating very well.

After Shabbos there was a kids hula show in the lobby.  Had to go to bed early flight the next day to the Big Island.  Had the sous chef bring my food up from the freezer at 3:45 AM so I could pack it in my suitcase and head to the airport.

One NOTE:  Hawaiian Air says arrive 2-3 hours before the flight.  I asked the front desk what time I should be there..they said yeah...2 hours before...DONT LISTEN TO THEM IF YOU ARE TAKING THE FIRST FLIGHT OUT.  We were taking a 6:20 AM flight.  The Airport DOES NOT OPEN until 5:30 AM and Alamo didnt open until 5:15 AM.  So we rushed out at 4:00 AM to get to a closed and shuttered airport.
Lessons Learned:
1) Check what time the airport opens..we found the same thing on the Big Island
2) Something we thought would be handy is to have separate bags together for the different types of activities you are plannng to do.  That way you dont have to rummage though everything every day.  Like snorkeling things, beach things, hiking things...etc.

Those were the two things for this island.  Had a blast.. Very fun trip.
Thanks to all on this forum for contributing tips and helpful advice
Next trip report will be on the Big Island

There were a couple of things I noticed and complained about a bit.  Got 5000 points back.
One thing was my DH noticed the door jamb was kicked in...nails actually protruding..somebody must have broken in at an earlier time.  And the guy at the front desk who told me to be at the airport two hours earlier...whatever..you live you learn.

4
Up In The Air / Ewr to chicago cancelled. What to do
« on: August 10, 2015, 08:30:03 PM »
Hi due to weather in chicago american airlines cancelled their flights to chicago tonight.
What are options?  This was a ticket booked with british airways miles.
Can they book another airline?  Agent saw it was BA and said she couldnt
They booked me for tomorrow night. Trip was only 2 days would make it one
Any ideas?  Luckily never had this. Should i just go home?

5
I tried using code HUGS30 for the 30% discount. Had keurig kcups in my cart and some food network item. It would not apply the discount to keurig. Clicking on a link it now shows a whole bunch of things  that no longer qualify for the discount. Is this a new thing?

6
If I didnt purchase medical insurance, is there any card that covers a doctors visit and meds while on vacation in Israel?

7
Just Shmooze / Suggestions for Shalosh Seudot before the fast
« on: July 26, 2012, 04:16:02 PM »
Any ideas for what you will serve this Shabbos before the fast?

We have one person who can't have dairy and another who is celiac.
Fun FUn Fun.
So far I have fruit, lukshen kugel (for the ones who can have it)
Pasta salad (again for the non celiac)
Leftover Grilled chicken if anybody wants fleishigs

What are you serving?

8
General Discussion / How can I buy Israeli Groupons?
« on: July 25, 2012, 11:10:46 PM »
I have a regular Groupon account, but I can't seem to get it to work when I click on other countries and select Israel.  i can see the groupons but when I type in my credit card info it doesn't take it.

Any ideas?
Thanks.

9
General Discussion / Dr Clue's Treasure Hunt in Yerushalayim
« on: July 22, 2012, 02:26:52 PM »
Anybody interested in creating a group of 15 or more to do Dr. Clue's Treasure Hunt in Yerushalayim on August 15?
It is like the scavenger hunt but more with puzzles and riddles similar to a Da Vinci code kind of game.

http://drclue.com/jerusalem-israel-old-city/

http://www.funinjerusalem.com/en/just-fun/329-jerusalem-treasure-hunt.html


10
I have two teenagers who are looking to go rappelling in Yerushalayim or up North.  Only places I have been able to find are with groups of 15 or more.
If anybody knows of a place that has rappelling as an attraction (Manara no longer does), I would appreciate any info.
If anybody is interested in creating a group of 15 to join Challenge Tours during the dates of August 16-20 please let me know.

Thanks

11
Does anybody know the Minyanim schedule in Rechovot?
Is there any easy way to find out minyaniim throughout the country?

Thanks.

12
Besides signing up for AAA Plus, is there a road side assistance benefit on any of the cards...Sapphire, AMEX, Etc, that has that benefit on it already?

Thanks.

13
On The Road / Hotels in Israel that take points?
« on: May 08, 2012, 12:25:40 PM »
Besides the Le Meridien and Hilton are there any other hotel chains in Israel I can use points for?
Hyatt? ICH?  Thanks

14
I am booking a ticket on Elal and wonder which is the best card to charge to.
I have AAdvantage VISA card, Chase Sapphire, Starwoods AMEX, Chase Continental card

Ticket is for daughter..can I give my Frequent Flier number for AAdvantage?  Or it has to match the name on the reservation?

I am not a huge traveler but save miles up to make trips to Israel.

What would you recommend?

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