Travel

Where to go and stay in Hawaii (Marriott Points)

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 11th, 2019 11:38 am
[OP]
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May 3, 2015
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Where to go and stay in Hawaii (Marriott Points)

Hey everyone,

My gf and I (In our late 20's) are planning to go to Hawaii, likely in March of this year. It is our first time out there, so I am trying to figure out where we should go to get the best experience (like to do a little sight seeing and then beaches/relaxing). Any tips or recommendations on how to do Hawaii are much appreciated.

We also have a bunch of Marriott Points, so if people can factor that in to lodging recommendations (if you have experience with this), it would be very helpful!

Thanks in advance!!
28 replies
Deal Fanatic
Feb 15, 2006
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Toronto
Which islands of Hawaii, and where on the island(s)? What do you like to do and what kind of places do you like to stay? You can do a search of the Marriott hotels in Hawaii and get an idea of what's available at what points for your dates. Marriott now includes SPG, so that gives you a wider range of choice for hotels.
Deal Addict
Nov 30, 2003
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In Maui you can stay at some pretty nice resorts, we stayed at the Wailea Beach Resort... amazing property and good location

There's also the Ritz Carlton which takes it to another level, all depends on how many points you have

On Kauai we stayed at Koala Landing, not 100% Marriott as I believe they were a independent brand and then bought by Marriott but have not converted over to the whole Marriott engine and don't seem willing to do so.... very good central location for the island, good pools etc.. only downfall was it is about 10min walk to the nearest beach

Starting point is to go to Marriott's site, punch in the dates you are staying and the island, select the Use Points check box and search... this will show you what's available and how many points you need, I found not all resorts open rooms for use with points

Also make sure to utilize the 5th night free to your advantage

Most resorts will have daily resort and parking fee's which you cannot use points to pay for, so make sure to budget for that
Jr. Member
Jan 17, 2017
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Lots of good choices on Marriott if you got tons of points.

Aside from hotels, renting condos is fairly common in Hawaii. Check out VRBO to compare... Make sure you check final price though as fees can have a large impact.
[OP]
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May 3, 2015
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Toronto, ON
Thanks for the accommodation tips! For island, we are Oahu for our first time, but we are open to suggestions if you think another one is better for first timers/better matches what we want to do.

For activities, we have just started looking, so we aren't 100% on what's available, but we'd probably like to do a little bit of hiking (maybe volcano?), surfing, chill at the beach, got to a luau (any suggestions for this?) and then anything else that you all may think is worth checking out/doing. We are athletic/like activities, but will probably be at a more leisure pace on this vacation.

Thanks again for the help!
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MikeZ13 wrote:
Jan 15th, 2019 12:04 pm
Thanks for the accommodation tips! For island, we are Oahu for our first time, but we are open to suggestions if you think another one is better for first timers/better matches what we want to do.

For activities, we have just started looking, so we aren't 100% on what's available, but we'd probably like to do a little bit of hiking (maybe volcano?), surfing, chill at the beach, got to a luau (any suggestions for this?) and then anything else that you all may think is worth checking out/doing. We are athletic/like activities, but will probably be at a more leisure pace on this vacation.

Thanks again for the help!
My personal opinion, skip the luau.. very overpriced for buffet food and average show, very few of them are known to be 'good', but still ridiculously overpriced for what you get, but if you are dead set on it just for the experience then check Costco (US site as well), they sell passes to a few for cheaper

Also if you are planning to go in March you better get on it! Last year when we went at the end of May I started booking flight and hotels in January and still had to work around what was left available.. hotels book up fast, especially rooms for points, they only open a certain amount and I would think March to be a busy period vs when I went

If you are adventurous, Kauai might be a good place for you.. very 'rugged' island with tons of fun things to do for active people, hiking downhill barefoot deep in mud then walking over sharp lava rocks still barefoot to finally end up at Queen's Bath was one of our trip highlights

Maui for me was the relaxing portion of the trip, from what I hear Oahu would be similar
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Feb 15, 2006
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Plan at least 5+ for each island you like to visit.

Oahu is good for first time. Can hike up Diamond Head, or hike to Manoa Falls, or take some hikes in east Oahu. Pearl Harbour is a must to visit. Drive the scenic H1 or H3, goto Pali Lookout (where King Kamehameha won the battle forcing 400 enemy soldiers down the cliff). Spend at least 1/2 day at the Polynesia Cultural Center (get b1g1 coupon from Entertainment book), and definitely the night show, and can add a luau there (not the best, but is still good). Spend some time at Waikiki Beach, can do some surfing there, or just relax and people watch. Watch the Fri. night fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Can drive around the island, visit shrimp trucks, Dole Plantation, snorkeling spots in the west, PCC to the north, nice scenery by sea/mountain/cliff in the east, Blow Hole and lighthouse in S/E, Hanauma Bay (nice scenery and so so snorkeling). Take an outrigger canoe excursion at Hawaii Kai. Back to Waikiki Beach to enjoy the iconic Hawaii.

To see volcanoes you'd need to go to the Big Island. Can drive to Kalapana, Redwood Dr., Lava Tree National Park, Akaha Falls, etc., in the east side. In the Kona side lots of good diving/snorkeling, boat trips to see spinner dolphins (that jumps and spins, like they are dancing for you), enjoy Kona coffee..

Other islands Maui, Kauai, all have their special places to see, special things to do. But you should research and learn and that's part of the fun about Hawaii.
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Oct 6, 2005
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Are you planning on seeing any tourist attractions, or do you want a relaxing beach vacation, or do you want to hike and see volcanoes?

You may want to split your time between Oahu and one of the other islands like Maui/Kauai or Hawaii (Big Island).
MikeZ13 wrote:
Jan 15th, 2019 12:04 pm
got to a luau (any suggestions for this?) and then anything else that you all may think is worth checking out/doing. We are athletic/like activities, but will probably be at a more leisure pace on this vacation.
For the Luau, the one at Polynesian Cultural Centre should do ... it's basically a buffet, but the night show is pretty good.

There are other Luaus closer to Honolulu if you're not planning on going to the PCC.

If you're planning on horseback riding, skip the one at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu (it's where they filmed Lost, Jurassic Park, and several other movies), it was overpriced and boring. There is better horseback riding on other islands like Maui.
[OP]
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Wow, great tips everyone, thanks for the suggestions, helps with the research! We will likely arrive on a Saturday around 2pm and then leave around 5pm on the next Saturday. So we will have about 7 days total. Would that be too much to stay on Oahu? If so, what would you do in terms of day split (5/2?) and where?

We are fine doing a mix of attractions/excursions and beach time. Probably would want 60% activities and 40% beach/chill if I'm guessing. I know it's dependent on the people, but all these suggestions help to guide at the very least, so it's much appreciated :)
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Feb 15, 2006
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7 days is too little for 2 islands. To go to another island you'll need to pack, travel, fly, travel, unpack, etc.

7 days, would be good for Oahu, or another island. But for the first time, Oahu is good. Waikiki, Pearl Harbour, Shrimp truck, PCC with luau and night show, east coast, Lanikai Beach, Blow Hole, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai; drive H1/H3, Punchbowl Cemetery, Manoa Falls hike, Pali Lookout, Diamond Head hike, and time to surf or relax at Waikiki beach. 7 days in paradise will pass by quickly.
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Arrgh wrote:
Jan 15th, 2019 2:59 pm
7 days is too little for 2 islands. To go to another island you'll need to pack, travel, fly, travel, unpack, etc.

7 days, would be good for Oahu, or another island. But for the first time, Oahu is good. Waikiki, Pearl Harbour, Shrimp truck, PCC with luau and night show, east coast, Lanikai Beach, Blow Hole, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai; drive H1/H3, Punchbowl Cemetery, Manoa Falls hike, Pali Lookout, Diamond Head hike, and time to surf or relax at Waikiki beach. 7 days in paradise will pass by quickly.
Right. We stayed a week in Waikiki and have enough time to do everything in the island mention by Arrgh.
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I must be in the minority that don't really enjoy Oahu. It feels like being in another generic US city, with its highway, american fast food, Costco, Walmart etc..

Maui on the other hand, feels like the paradise that Hawaii is known for.

Anyways the Royal Hawaiian is a decent Marriott property.
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Jan 17, 2017
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McKinsey wrote:
Jan 15th, 2019 6:22 pm
I must be in the minority that don't really enjoy Oahu. It feels like being in another generic US city, with its highway, american fast food, Costco, Walmart etc..

Maui on the other hand, feels like the paradise that Hawaii is known for.

Anyways the Royal Hawaiian is a decent Marriott property.
Personally I'd go for Maui over Oahu as well.
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We prefer Oahu over Maui. We have been multiple times, both before we had kids and after. The past two trips we went for two weeks and did Maui and Oahu both times. Definitely agree with the others that if you are only going for a week, it isn’t worth it to island hop. We like Oahu because once you’re at your hotel in Waikiki, you don’t even need a car if you don’t want one. There is a lot to do and see in the area, tons of restaurants, etc. Of course as others have mentioned Waikiki is not exactly a quiet vacation. But if you want to have lots of activities, Oahu is great. What we did last year was started the first 5 days without a car and just did things around Waikiki. For the last few days on Oahu, we got a car and did some of the other activities around the island. Oahu is a great island and once you’re out of Honolulu there is a lot to see in relatively less crowded areas.

Don’t get me wrong - we still really like Maui which is why we’ve also done it multiple times (whale watching was amazing in Maui!). The thing we find there, though, is that you seem to be in the car a lot driving back and forth to places.
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I think you might want to look at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club but only if you are planning on renting a car. The pools here alone are worth it. I have stayed here twice and the rooms were redone approx 3 years ago, I really like this resort as a home base for Oahu. But I am in my early 50s and go to Hawaii for hiking, beaches and relaxing so maybe not the same demographic as you LOL, I suspect you are much younger. The only thing I dont like about this resort is that it is situated on a beach cove that was dug out rather than a naturally occurring beach. Just isnt as nice as the natural ones imho. There is an incredible little natural cove about a 5 minute walk down the beach just past the Four Seasons hotel that has amazing tidepools and turtles and is great for snorkelling but it is a bit of a hidden gem and a little hard to find.
Ko Olina located about 30-45 mins (depending on traffic) to the West of the city of Honolulu and the very touristy area of Waikiki.

If you like to party and want to go to clubs etc then maybe stay in Waikiki but if you are truly looking for relaxation and taking advantage of the natural beauty of Hawaii then stay elsewhere. If find the traffic into and out of Honolulu and Waikiki is getting so bad that I prefer to stay in other areas like the West or the North Shore.

If you do decide on Waikiki (lots of people do this on their first trip to Hawaii because the majority of hotels are here and it is iconic) the Marriott Waikiki Beach is a pretty decent hotel for the money (or points in your case) It is a long rectangle with the smallest part being across the street from the beach. It is also in a fairly decent part of the city and the Kuhio section of Waikiki beach-not too many homeless people here, they congregate more to the east and the free hula show happens right in that area on some evenings.

One way to get a feel for these places in Waikiki is to do a street view. You will see it is a vibrant, bustling section of a major city whereas if you do a street view of the Ko Olina resort area you will see it is very much opposite of that. Both of these Marriotts are category 6 for awards so it should cost you the same in points.

You could try the Courtyard by Marriott which is sort of near the North Shore. I feel it is kind of isolated though and probably not the best for a first time visit.

@Arrgh has some great things listed to do in Oahu in their above post but I would add Kailua and Lanikai beaches, two of the most incredible beaches in Hawaii. You are going in March and there can still be some pretty strong surf at most beaches but these two are part of a large shallow cove that hug the East side of Oahu making for warmer clearer water than some other beaches. Lots of times, I will be swimming the length and a turtle will swim along side of me. Kailua can be busy on weekends but never anything like Waikiki. It is a busy busy beach. Another place you might be interested in is Kualoa Ranch. It is up in the Northern area and an easy drive up. They have ATV tours, kayaking, a movie site tour (you can actually go into the Indominus Rex pen from Jurassic World) horse back riding etc. It can be pricey but it is amazing. Here is the link https://www.kualoa.com/toursactivities/

Links for the Marriott Ko Olina

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ ... each-club/

and for Marriott Waikiki Beach

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ ... t-and-spa/

These are two I would suggest if you have so many points you dont know where to use them all

If you have lots of points but need to stretch them because Hawaii is expensive point wise, then I would personally stay away from the Waikiki Courtyard. It is a few blocks back from the beaches and really isnt the greatest. I have walked by and I was not impressed by the outside upkeep. Plus there is kind of an area of dumpsters right behind it.

So if you are stretching those points and really want Oahu, then maybe look at the new Laylow (falls under Marriott) It is an old hotel redone and re branded but it is kind of funky and hip. It is however very set back from the beaches as well, closer to the Ali Wai canal than the beachhttp://www.laylowwaikiki.com/?scid=bb1a189a-fe ... ba596febe2 my caveat is that I have not stayed her or even seen the outside so research the crap out if it first

NOW-as others have suggested you might want to go to a different island instead, especially if you are interested in the active volcano which is on the "Big Island" of Hawaii. There is an interisand airfare special happening right now because SouthWest Airlines is about to begin servicing the Hawaiian Islands so there is a pricing war beginning .... more info on this blog https://beatofhawaii.com/hawaii-travel- ... -each-way/ I would not island hop within that one week but just in case you wanted to that will help

One last thing is March is the end of whale watching season so if you are lucky you might be able to see a humpback or two before they leave for summer migration, the Makapu'u Lighthouse trail is an easy hike and the views here are amazing, one of the best for spotting whales
http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/oahu/ ... use-trail/


I have been to all the major islands many times over the years so if you have any questions feel free to dm me or ask away here, I just may not see it right away Aloha and happy planning, you will have a blast!

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