WEATHER REPORT. Hawaii's consistently balmy air temperatures are a big part of its year-round appeal. On Waikiki Beach the average January daytime high hovers around 80 [degrees] - only 6 1/2 [degrees] cooler than the summer high. Still, winter storms can drench the Islands. Honolulu, for example, averages 3 1/2 inches of rain in January but has waded through close to 20 inches in wet years.
Tip: Leeward sides of the islands are normally warmer and drier than the windward sides.
RESORTS AND HOTELS. The black cloud of the Asian economic downturn has a big silver lining for travelers from the West: more room availability and better discounts.
Tip: We list standard rack rates on all lodging for comparative purposes; ask about package rates that include rental cars, meals, or activities like golf or snorkel cruises.
CONDOMINIUMS. Families love them, and big management companies like Aston Hotels & Resorts (800/922-7866) and Village Resorts (800/367-7052) offer plenty of choices. Ray White at Hawaii Condo Exchange (800/442-0404) can help you find smaller and more distinctive properties starting at $135.
Tip: Ask for written descriptions of furnishings and services (i.e., daily maid and linen service) provided with your specific unit.
B & Bs. Increasingly popular with couples looking for country quiet or small-town charm. Hawaii's Best Bed & Breakfast (800/262-9912) has a statewide directory of carefully screened homes and cottages.
Tip: Some require multinight stays. CONTACT. For a statewide travel planner, call (800) 464-2924 or check out www.gohawaii.com.
PHONE. Area code is 808 unless noted.
B/L/D: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Average dinner entree prices: $ = less than $10, $$ = $10-$22, $$$ = more than $22
SHERATON KAUAI RESORT. Closed for years after Hurricane Iniki, this family-oriented 413-room resort anchoring Poipu Beach finally reopened after a $40-million rebuild. Spacious new oceanfront rooms from $390, renovated garden rooms from $260. (800) 7820488 or www.sheraton-kauai.com.
HONU KAI VILLAS. Four modern one-and two-bedroom condo-style villas share a small pool and hot tub a short walk from Poipu Beach Park. Rooms from $175, plus cleaning charge with a four-night minimum stay. (800) 854-8363 or www.honukai.com.
HALE MANU BED AND BREAKFAST. Like many north shore B & Bs, Hale Manu, near Kilauea has just one spacious, nicely furnished apartment. It's booked far in advance, but the property's stunning gardens are worth planning ahead for. From $85. (888) 828-6641 or www.bnbweb.com/HaleManu.html.
WAIMEA PLANTATION COTTAGES. Hidden in a coconut grove near the edge of a gray-sand beach, these restored one- to five-bedroom plantation cottages with kitchens are cozy old Hawaii near Waimea. A new brew pub has opened on-site since our visit. Cottages from $175. (800) 992-4632 or www.waimea-plantation.com.
PACIFIC BAKERY & GRILL. Uber-chef Jean Marie Josselin's new Lihue restaurant offers salads and pizza plus creative main courses. B/L daily; $. 4479 Rice St., Lihue; 246-0999.
HANAPEPE CAFE & ESPRESSO BAR. The rich Italian overtones of chef Christian Riso's vegetarian menu make this out-of-the-way cafe worth the drive. B/L Tue-Sat, D Wed-Sat; $$.3830 Hanapepe Rd., Hanapepe; 335-5011.
HOUSE OF SEAFOOD. Contemporary but casual Hawaiian decor complements the fresh seafood. D daily; $$$. 1941 Poipu Rd., Poipu; 742-6433.
KAUAI HOTLINE. (800) 262-1400 or www.kauaivisitorsbureau.org.
The Big Island
MAUNA LANI BAY HOTEL AND BUNGALOWS. The area, with its royal fish ponds, ancient trails, and caves, was once a retreat for King Kamehameha III. Now you can get the royal treatment at this recently renovated classic on the Kohala coast - the island's only AAA five-diamond property. …