Car rental on Maui: Through Costco, I rented a premium car from Enterprise for the first 2 weeks (on Maui) for about $430--ended up with a Buick Lacrosse---nice car. Only problem we had with it was when I tried to leave my Tervis glass in there with Hawaiian Sun drink in it and it would get covered with tiny ants. Had to use a thermos in this car.
Car rental on Kauai: On Kauai I rented a premium car from Costco for about $420 total for the 2 weeks and received 2 free $30 Costco gift cards as a promotional bonus---we were upgraded to a Cadillac xts---another nice car, although we had a problem with the battery near the end of our trip. But I could use my Tervis in this car and never saw a bug.
Maui Accommodations: Our accommodations on Maui were at the Worldmark Kihei. I had to book it 13 month out as soon as reservations opened---if you aren't lucky enough to get in the second they go on line exactly 13 months out, you loose (although I have had really good luck with WM waitlist for here in the past). My mistake this time was booking a 2 bedroom with a queen bed in the 2nd bedroom instead of 2 twins. The 2 bedroom/queens' locations within the resort aren't as good as the 2 bedroom/twins. We ended up in the building 8 (last building all the way up the hill)--2nd condo from the end in building 8, and on the 2nd level)---inconvenient to the pool and elevator, as well as the ocean. Supposedly the farther out you book your condo, the better condo you get (subject to available that day). They said the 2 bedrooms with the queens were all up the hill. We got our share of stairs the whole trip (too lazy to walk to the elevator). But the unit was newly renovated and looked great. Plus I did a lot of walking from that unit to anywhere.
Kauai Accommodations: On Kauai, we had a menagerie of accommodations! I wanted to spend a week on the north side since the beaches are suppose to be great there in the summer---I was hoping Sept. would still be summer. So when I saw an exchange through Trading Places for The Cliffs, I took it. It was starting 4 days after we got there, so the first 3 nights we spent at Wyndham Kauai Beach Villas in unit F3 (2nd floor ocean view). I was able to cancel and rebook the unit within 60 days for half the normal points due to our Wyndham VIP Platinum status (figured we would stay at Bali Hai if cancel/rebook didn't work). I had also booked 2 nights at Wyndham Shearwater in Princeville (just to check it out) during the week we had The Cliffs. Wyndham touts the Shearwater as their flagship resort here, but won't let you see them. So I got 2 nights for 50% off and a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom presidential suite (313--3rd floor with high ceilings) from a 2 bedroom deluxe. It was really nice and even building 3 had good views of Anini contrary to what I had read ahead of time. Our unit at The Cliffs (4308) was really nice, too. Another 3rd floor unit with high ceilings. It's listed as a 1 bedroom, but has a loft with 2 double beds in it. They charge a $75 activity fee in addition to the hotel/condo taxes and fees, but they seemed to have a lot of activities to choose from. We didn't do many---did go to the managers greeting with free mai tais, wine and pupus. Planned to go to the wine and beer tasting and live music, but it was canceled due to inclement weather. The unit is really nicely furnished and decorated. No ac in either unit on the north side and the lack of tradewinds made the first 3 or 4 days there pretty hot! The last 4 nights we went back to Wyndham Kauai Beach Villas in a 2 bedroom oceanview unit (G12). Again I was able to rebook this unit for 50% off points within 60 days of arrival due to our VIP status with Wyndham. They even upgraded us to a 3rd floor level instead of the ground level we were expecting. Great views--- and air conditioned---the best unit we've stayed in for views!
Weather: Our weather the first 2 weeks on Maui was fantastic. Made up for not being able to snorkel in Feb. 2015 due to all the south swells. There were days we didn't snorkel when we could have just because we were exhausted from snorkeling 3-6 hours a day when we did go snorkeling. The day we flew from Maui to Kauai hurricane Madelaine hit the Big Island. Also messed up the weather and surf on the other islands. A couple days later hurricane Lester went just to the East of us and caused more surf problems. Snorkeling was a bit trying on Kauai---went to protected areas and still fought the currents. By the time we were leaving the North side, it was calming down up north for a few days until the first of their winter swells appeared, but it was still rough everywhere else. But we still had plenty of sun and fun.
Cameras: This year I'm using my Canon 60D dslr with a 16-300mm Tamron lens. I also brought my 1 1/2 year old Nikon Coolpix AW120 underwater camera. I've not been happy with it every since I got it, so when it died at Ahihi, I originally wasn't too upset. Finding a replacement proved not too easy! I bought a Fuji finpix90 from Costco, but was unhappy with it's photo review. The Fuji screen shows you very clearly what you're trying to take a picture of, but the review is so dark I have no idea if the picture actually turned out. The Nikon screen was so dark I couldn't see what I was trying to take a picture of or what I got, but the photoshopped pictures usually turned out better than the Fuji. So I had to decide whether to keep the cheap Fuji or get a better camera back in Atlanta, since it'll probably only last about 1 1/2 years! (I did end up returning the Fuji and got an Olympus TG-4 when we got back home)
Activities: As far as activities, we didn't do any paid activities. We like to bring company with us sometimes and let them choose where they want to go, so we've been to many of the activities on other trips. Our main activity is snorkeling. Ken kept track of all the time we spent snorkeling and it came up to 48.5 hours in the 4 weeks we were there. We also hit a few free gardens and nature preserves: Kealia Nature Preserve and Maui Plantation on Maui and Moir Gardens and Waimea Canyon on Kauai.
Instead of making this a super long blog, I'm going to put a link to each day.
Aug. 18, 2016----travel day!
Aug. 19, 2016---snorkeling the Dumps and another great sunset!
Aug. 20, 2016---snorkel Keawakapu; kite surfing at Kanaha; Kealia boardwalk
Aug. 21, 2016---snorkel slaughterhouse, honolua, and kapalua
Aug. 22, 2016---Clouds, Clouds, go away!
Aug. 23, 2016---Snorkel Maluaka
Aug. 24, 2016---Snorkel Kahekili and dinner in Lahaina
Aug. 25, 2016---Ahihi and search for a new camera!
Aug. 26, 2016---snorkel Po'olenalena and Keawakapu, sunset at Wailea
Aug. 27, 2016---snorkel Kapalua
Aug. 28, 2016---Maui Tropical Plantation and Kealia wildlife refuge
Aug. 29, 2016---Kahekili, Kapalua, and Lahaina sunset
Aug. 30, 2016 Kamaole 1 and Kealia Ponds
Aug. 31, 2016 on to Kauai
Sept. 1, 2016 Waimea Canyon and the West side
Sept. 2, 2016 Snorkel Lydgate and head South for a bit
Sept. 3, 2016 Moving to The Cliffs
Sept. 4, 2016 Snorkeling Anini and looking at St. Regis for sunset
Sept. 5, 2016 Labor Day---and more snorkeling at Anini.
Sept. 6, 2016 Tunnels --- and Wyndham Shearwater
Sept. 7, 2016 Kee snorkel and tunnels sunset
Sept. 8, 2016 Kee again, sunset near Princeville
Sept. 9, 2016 Tunnels snorkel and TA M&G
Sept. 10, 2016 back to Kauai Beach Villas on the East side
Sept. 11, 2016 Snorkel Poipu, wander Moir gardens, dinner at Olympic Cafe
Sept. 12, 2016 Frogfish!!!!
Sept. 13, 2016 Car troubles!
Sept. 14---our loooong trip home
It was the longest "vacation" we've taken to Hawaii---so far! I think it went amazingly well! The snorkeling on Kauai wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, but at least we got as much of it as we wanted on Maui. Time to start planning our next Hawaiian vacation!