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Thread: Hawaii - Big Island recommendations

  1. #1
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    Hawaii - Big Island recommendations

    We hope to plan a mid-February multigenerational trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, and I would appreciate your tips on places to stay and things to do. We would like to stay in 1 or 2 locations to have access to different geographies over a 5-6 day period, and we'd like kitchen access. We plan to rent a car, and among us, we have subsets of people who enjoy museums, bookstores, cafes, trying new restaurants, hiking, beaches, and swimming. Age range is, like a board game, approximately 7 to 70.

    I know the TB bags will be very handy! I look forward to reading all your tips.

    ETA: Is pickled mango available at that time of year? One of my favorite snacks from a trip years ago!
    Last edited by GoStanford; 09-04-2014 at 10:17 PM.

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    Not sure how many people are in your group or your budget, but definitely recommend looking for a condo or house to rent on the kona side.
    The Kona side is the dry side, the hilo side is the wet side. In feb, you should expect rain on the Hilo side. They are many more accomadation choices on the Kona side, and I assume you will fly in to Kona?
    We like to stay in the Waikoloa or Mauana Lani area in a condo or house. It is far enough north to avoid vog, and it rarely rains. there are also some nice beaches.

    We usually just stay on the Kona side, and if we want to visit the volcano and hilo area, just have a long day drive around the island.

    Ok things to see and do:
    Volcano national park. First stop should be the Jaeger Museum and overlook. Short hike is thurston lava tube. There are also variuos overlooks( volcano house) and places to stop.
    If you want to stay in or near volcano, there is the town of Volcano we stayed at the Kilauea lodge, which also has a restaurant serving 3 meals a day. Recently the Volcano House at edge of the volcano reopened.

    City of Refuge ( now has a long hawaiin name) this is south of town of Kailua-kona. Very intersting for Hawaiian history. Right on coast, there is a popular snorkeling place nearby. You often see sea turtles here.

    I am not much of a fan of Kailua-kona, but there is an old hawaiian palace/ museum and a historic missionary church.

    Visit a Mac Nut factory - mauna loa is between Volcano and Hilo. It is down a bit of road, so watch the signs.
    The newer hamakua Nut factory is just off coast road between Mauna Lani and town of Hawi. Go on a week day and you can see the production. they have lots of free samples, and lots to buy!

    Waterfalls, lush vegetation on east (wet) side of island north of Hilo - Akaka Falls

    Beaches: Hapuna Beach near the Mauna Kea hotel is probably most famous.

    IF you are in Hawi ( north end of island), eat lunch at the Bamboo Restaurant



    Be sure to take a jacket or sweatshirt for the volcano area, or Waimea ( kamuela).

    I recommend you buy the " blue book". The big 8sland revealed. It is best guide book for the island.

    Best dining is pricy:
    Merrimans in Waimea
    Restaurants at 4 seasons hotel
    Canoe House at Mauna Lani Beach Hotel( dinner only)

    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawaii View Post
    City of Refuge ( now has a long hawaiin name) this is south of town of Kailua-kona. Very intersting for Hawaiian history. Right on coast, there is a popular snorkeling place nearby. You often see sea turtles here.
    Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau. That really is a neat place to visit, and just a short drive from the Kona area down towards Captain Cook. It's one of the few places we did see sea turtles in our last trip to the Big Island.

    I will second, third, and fourth @Hawaii's recommendation of visiting Volcano. That's interesting for young and old. Why go to Big Island if you aren't going to visit Volcano??

    I would also recommend going up to the summit of Mauna Kea. Several tour operators will take you up for sunset, which is cool because you are actually looking down at the sun setting below you. This is where all of the big observatories are located. The air is noticeably thin up at the summit though, and it's not uncommon for people not used to it to feel short of breath or light headed, just FYI. And do NOT do this within 48 hours of scuba diving; potentially too dramatic a pressure change if you still have lots of nitrogen in the blood.

    Hilo side and Kona side are very different topographies, but that said, we also preferred to stay on the Kona side in that 8-day trip. It was just more central to several of the things we wanted to do, other than Volcano and a day trip to Hilo (driving over Saddle Road), back up the northern coast to Akaka Falls (gorgeous), through Waimea, and back down.

    We stayed at a vacation rental (Kona Hula Girl - Sherry and Dean are fantastic hosts), but that might not work for you depending on your group size and needs.

    Sadly, Kona Village Resort closed after major damage was sustained in the 2011 tsunami, and appears that rebuilding efforts have failed with banks foreclosing and suing the ownership group for defaulting on an $86m loan. We had met a family scuba diving that was staying there (and their parents had taken them there when they were kids, it was that sort of place). Lovely classic resort, but we went there for the luau. Surely there are other luaus on the island, but we had heard that was one of the better ones. I thought the food was delicious.

    Travel tip: Bring a Costco membership to save a good chunk of money on gas. Lots of things are more expensive on the islands because they've all got to be shipped in, so save money where you can. This worked really well for us in Kona; the gas was significantly cheaper at Costco, and they also made for a nice last minute stop to pick up cheap food gifts to bring home.
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    A few other thoughts:
    Be aware that the KOA airport does not have jetways. If you arrive on United as we always do, there is a staircase to get down from plane to tarmac. They do have accommodation for handicapped.
    Some airlines (I think Hawaiian )has a ramp like thing they bring to the plane, making it easier for those with rolling bags.

    The shop bags were useful pool bags or to throw some extra clothes for traveling around the island.

    here are some pix to inspire you:
    (view from jaeger Museum of Kilaeua, City of Refuge, Akaka Falls
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  5. #5
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    I think Pic 1 and 2 are reversed. The first one is from Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau, the second is from the Jaeger overlooking the volcano/caldera. The wood carvings on the lower right of pic #1 look like this closer up:


    P1010401.jpg
    by everythingsablur, on Flickr

    Here is a Flickr set of photos from the last time I was on Big island.
    Last edited by itsablur; 09-05-2014 at 11:21 AM.
    WenV and Hawaii like this.
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    yes itsablur is right. The middle pic is the volcano.


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