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Highlights of our ten-day stay on the Big Island

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We spent ten days on the Big Island at the end of August/beginning of September. Here are the highlights:

Lodging:

Kamuela Inn, Waimea, 2 nights

http://www.hawaii-inns.com/hi/wai/kin/index.html

I had been a little nervous about this one given the decidedly mixed reviews on Tripadvisor. In fact, our rooms in the new wing were just fine. Clean, cute even, a cut above the average Best Westerns that we have come to know and love on numerous car trips out west.

Pele's Plantation, Chalet Kilauea Collection, Volcano, 1 night

http://www.volcano-hawaii.com/pele-plantation.html

It was really a challenge to find a one-night rental over Labor Day weekend. This one was expensive but it worked.

Kona Beach House/Seaside Zen Cottage, 7 nights

http://konabeachhouse.com/threebedtour/seasidehome.html

Lovely site, see previous review, "Big Island home rental review"

Because check-out time at the house was at 11:00 a.m. and our plane didn't leave until almost 10 that night, we had to figure out how to spend our last day. We decided to make a dinner reservation at the Hualalai Grille and spent our last afternoon at the Four Seasons which worked out very well.

Food:

Our best meals of this trip were at Merriman's in Waimea, the Hualalai Grille at the Four Seasons, and a tiny Thai restaurant, the Garden Snack Club, that serendipity led us to in Hilo. Our Thai food was so good tht, since we had leftovers, we ordered some extra pineapple fried rice, and had dinner at our cottage in Volcano. While in Kailua-Kona, we had dinners at the Big Island Grill (best dinner out during our week here--the mud pie will forever be a part of family lore), the Royal Jade Garden (perfectly adequate Chinese food), Boston Basil's (not recommended), and Teshima's (thought the shrimp tempura was over-breaded, but other items were good and liked the atmosphere). Besides the Garden Snack Club, we had very good lunches at the Coffee Shack in Captain, the Roadside Café in Kainaliu, and the Kohala Coffee Mill in Hawi. Enjoyed good coffee and hot chocolate at the Holuakoa Café Espresso Bar in Holualoa. Eating our Scandinavian shaved ice overlooking Kailua Bay was fun.

The farmers' market in Volcano was excellent, and the one in Keauhou was a strong runner-up.

On Thursday afternoons, the Kona Historical Society just south of Kealakekua sells Portuguese sweet bread baked in a traditional stone oven. A salesperson ath the Kimura Lauhala store recommended it to us, and it was a great tip.

Best shopping:

Sig Zane in Hilo, a beautiful store, high class and high quality clothing and accessories

the Sandal Stop and its sister store next door in Kailua-Kona--Chris Kealoha was particularly helpful

the Kona coffee, purchased many, haven't tried them all yet; bought from the Big Island Candies store, the Hula Bean shop in Kailua-Kona, Blue Sky, the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company farm, and the Kona Lisa (couldn't resist) stall at the Keauhou farmers' market

Big Island Candies, especialy the chocolate-dipped macadamia nut shortbread

Dovetail Gallery in Holualoa: didn't purchase anything but this was my favorite of all the galleries I saw

Touring highlights:

the burros on the road through Waikoloa Village on our way from the airport to Waimea--the car rental agent had warned us, but it was still quite a surprise to encounter them in the middle of the pitch black road

the hike to Pololu Valley

the Halemaumau Crater glowing red in the night sky

the turtles in the lagoon at Zen Cottage

Snorkeling at Kahalu'u Beach Park

the incredible variety of cultural, historical, and natural sights--Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, beautiful churches and temples, the ranch country, sugar plantation towns, the coffee farms, the volcanoes and reefs, and more

the warmth and welcome of everyone we met on the Big Island and the amazing courtesy of its drivers

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