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Trip Report Big Island & Maui - October 2012

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Just returned from 12 nights in Hawaii – 4 in Kona on the Big Island and 8 in Kaanapali on Maui. We haven’t been to the BI since 2000 and the last time we were in Maui was in May 2003 for my niece’s wedding.

We stayed at the Royal Kona and the Royal Lahaina hotels. Not top of the line resorts, I know, but we like the locations and aren’t really big resort people. And, to me, both have a more traditional Hawaiian feel than some of the other large hotel chains. At the Royal Kona, we had a large corner room with a wrap around lanai. A huge plumeria tree was right outside our window. At the Royal Lahaina, we had one of the garden view cottages. Both rooms have a small fridge and coffee maker.

We flew American Airlines to Kona from Houston via DFW and LAX. Our BFF met us in DFW so there were three of us travelling together. All of our flights left on time. Staff and crew were all polite and our luggage arrived when we did. Not much more you could ask of an airline these days.

It was hot and muggy when we arrived in Kona at around 7:30 PM on Oct 3rd. By the time we got our luggage, picked up our Budget rental car and arrived at the Hotel, we were exhausted. Woke up bright and early the next day and had breakfast by the ocean with the waves crashing into the rocks. Welcome to Hawaii!!

There were a number of athletes in Kona training for the Ironman Triathalon, set to begin on the 13th. The streets were lined with bicyclists and runners and many of the shops were giving a 20% Ironman discount!

The heat was almost unbearable due to the high humidity (almost 80%). Coming from Houston, we are use to the heat and humidity but expected the weather to be cooler in Hawaii in October. And, at home, we stay inside during the heat of the day. From what I understand, there was a low pressure system or some such that had chased away the tradewinds which keep the islands cooler. No relief is expected for several days.

We were disappointed with the meals we had on the BI. Our first day, we had a so-so lunch at Huggo’s on the Rocks but later that evening our BFF became very sick. She thinks it was the Caesar salad dressing at Huggo’s. Fortunately, she felt much better the next day. We also had Fish & Chips at Quinn’s Almost by the Sea and found the beer batter too thick and undercooked in places. Ironically, one of the better meals we had was at Outback our last evening.

One of the highlights of the trip for my DH was his Night Manta Ray snorkel trip. He did the Night Manta Ray Dive last time we were here but since he hadn’t been scuba diving in such a long time, opted to do the snorkel trip instead. He really enjoyed it and said we would have too even though neither of us “girls” are much for water sports.

The next day, we talked to some women who told us about the Rays on the Bay lounge at the Sheraton where the manta rays come to the outside lights after all the boats leave --- usually around 8 – 8:30 PM. For the non divers/snorkelers, it was great. We watched 2 huge mantas feeding for over a half hour. There were several snorkelers in the water with them with lights which helped draw the mantas toward them. Lots of fun and we didn’t even have to get wet!

As a side note to the above, when we arrived at the Sheraton, it made me realize why I don’t like big resort hotels. It was like a maze trying to make our way through the hotel until we found the Rays on the Bay Lounge. We must have walked a mile from the parking lot until we actually found our way! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely hotel, but way too big for my taste.

We drove up to the charming town of Hawi where we had some delicious Tropical Dreams ice cream. While we were there, someone recommended the Bamboo restraurant but we weren’t around for lunch. We walked around some of the shops before continuing on our way to the Wa’ipio Valley.

We visited Hilo Hatties for the requisite tee shirt and souvenirs and shopped along Alii Drive in Kona. Glad I don’t have much room left in the suitcase!

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