One person wants to go to the mountains, another to the ocean. You want to chill, and your partner needs endless action.
One of the few places on the planet that can instantly quell the vacation unrest is Hawaii — its lush exotic beauty, picture-postcard beaches and bountiful activities could have anyone uttering, “What took us so long to visit the islands?”
“Hawaii is an excellent destination, whether it’s a couple, single or family traveling together,” says Darrellynn Hanes, president of Worldwide Traveler, a Hawaiian Islands Destination Specialist agency in McHenry.
“With several islands to choose from, each has a little something different to offer, so your travel consultant will help pick the perfect island or combination of islands that will offer you the Hawaiian vacation you’ve been dreaming of.”
Jenny Nellessen, her husband, Tim, and children, Jessie, 22, and Victor, 19, wanted to stop in Hawaii on their way to Australia in May 2011 and needed Hanes and her agency to sort out a complicated trip.
“I am from Australia, and this was possibly our last family trip back to see my parents because my children are adults and moving on with their lives,” says Nellessen, a teacher at Chauncey H. Duker School in McHenry.
“My daughter, Jessie, was going into her senior of college, and my son was enlisting in the Navy and leaving for boot camp. The flight bookings alone were going to be a nightmare. Booking such a large and expensive trip, it was worth the extra attention to detail that Darrellynn could give us.”
The Wonder Lake mother handed Hanes a list of attractions and activities of family must-dos on the island of Oahu, which included seeing Pearl Harbor, seeing a luau and taking a snorkel tour.
Since the kids were no longer munchkins that could share a bunk bed, another necessity was ample lodging space and more than one bathroom, which Hanes secured at Embassy Beach Walk — a resort on Hanes’ “best” list.
“The hotel was wonderful and within short walking distance of the beach, and accommodations were exceptional,” Nellessen says.
The hotel was conveniently located near the bus pick-up area for the family’s tours, too, which included a Waikiki Turtle Canyon Snorkel and Sail Cruise, a luau at Paradise Cove that was “fantastic fun, food and entertainment,” and the Arizona Memorial and City Tour to Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona and a tour of a Hawaiian palace.
Snorkeling for Two
Brenda and Tom Ott of Spring Grove have visited two islands — Hawaii in 2009 and Maui in 2011 — essentially to experience the beautiful scenery and to snorkel, which is a favorite activity of the McHenry County couple.
With so many options in terms of lodging and activities, Brenda Ott welcomed the aid of Worldwide Traveler.
“I like the fact that they provide suggestions and insight into destinations we may like to travel to, based on our interests, either from their own personal travel experience or from feedback gathered from other clients,” Brenda Ott says. “That is priceless and comforting.”
On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Otts spied active volcanoes and an underground lava tube at Volcano National Park; rode ATVs around volcanic cinder cones in the Waimea area; and took an all-day bus tour of the island to see diverse landscapes of a rain forest, desert and the island’s famous black sand beaches.
“The most memorable and exciting excursion for us was night-time snorkeling with the manta rays,” Brenda Ott says.
“They took us to a location just off shore that was lighted to attract plankton, which attracted the manta rays who went there to feed on the plankton. The manta rays would swim within inches of us, and sometimes even brush up against us. Some of them had wingspans of up to 15 feet. It was an awesome experience!”
The Otts couldn’t wait to see what was in store for them on Maui two years later in 2011.
“We did much more snorkeling on our Maui trip because we specifically chose to stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa in the Ka’ anapali area, an oceanfront resort that wraps around Black Rock, an area known for snorkeling,” Brenda Ott says.
In addition to hours of snorkeling, the couple took a bus tour of the legendary “Road to Hana” for its spectacular scenery and waterfalls.
The pair enjoyed Maui enough to want to return and eventually explore the island of Kauai, the “Island of Discovery.”
Celebrating a Special Occasion
Hawaii’s heart is with “ohana” — which means family — whether it’s a Brady Bunch-sized group or a couple, like Jack and Pat McArdle, owners of Joe’s Barber Shop in downtown Crystal Lake.
The couple treated themselves to the islands for their 50th wedding anniversary in February 2011. Three weeks and three islands meant they needed the expertise of a solid agency like Cary Travel Express.
“Neelie [Kruse, the owner], and her crew get to know you, and they know about places, restaurants and sightseeing that you would like,” says Jack McArdle. “We loved Duke’s right on Waikiki Beach where you can eat and watch people learning to surf.”
The couple spent their special night at Sarento’s atop Ilikai Towers with sweeping views of rolling Pacific waves, Diamond Head and Honolulu.
“It was high end, but it was a special time for us, and Neelie made reservations here and at all of these places and told them it was our anniversary so we got great seating and service,” Jack McArdle says.
“Hawaii is big on birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, and the Hawaiian people treat you so royally.”
Adventurous Jack McArdle adored a guided bike ride that began at the top of Maui’s Haleakala Volcano National Park at sunrise. Then he coasted down the world’s largest dormant volcano with panoramic views of neighboring islands, lush Maui landscape and the blue Pacific below.
Pat McArdle was happy with a glass bottom boat ride to view coral reefs and marine life.
The Crystal Lake business owner has some tips for island newbies.
“You have to see the Arizona on Oahu, but get there when they open — you can do other things later in day,” Jack McArdle says. “Get the volcano dessert at Leilani’s on the Beach in Maui. Reserve a room with a partial view because it’s cheaper, and you’ll have a lanai [balcony] so you can see everything anyway — our travel agent told us that!”
After three weeks, the McArdles had collected heartfelt memories of their time on the islands.
“The best part of our trip,” Jack McArdle recalls, “well, my wife would say that she got to see ‘Hawaii Five-0’ filming. Me? I just love watching the water, taking walks, relaxing — I love everything about Hawaii.”