10 days on the Big Island in June 2022

Old May 11th, 2022, 05:56 AM
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10 days on the Big Island in June 2022

Hi everyone, we leave in a couple of weeks and I was just curious if anyone has any suggestions or recommendations for restaurants, beaches, or activities before we go. It will be my wife and I with our 3 daughters ages 11, 9 and 5. Anything with *** is already booked, which includes horseback rides with Dahana, an overnight stay at Volcano House cabins, Legends of Hawaii luau, day trip to Oahu to meet a friend, and Anelakai Manta night snorkel.

Day 1 - fly to Kona, arrive 6:39pm, car rental, check into hotel
Day 2 - beach day
Day 3 - ***Dahana Ranch horse ride*** Waimea (11am, arrive 30 min early), Waipio Valley lookout for lunch, Pololu Valley Lookout and hiking
Day 4 - drive to Volcanoes NP, Crater Rim Drive and Kilauea iki crater hike, Thurston Lava Tubes, overnight at ***Volcano House cabins***
Day 5 - The Kapoho Kalapana Road to Isaac Hale Park, Hilo, Kaumana Caves, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, drive back to Waikoloa
Day 6 - beach day, Lapakahi State Historical Park, ***Legends of Hawaii Luau***
Day 7 - drive to South Point and Punalu'u black sand beach (turtles), Coffee tour (Kona Joe?), Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park
Day 8 - ***flight to Oahu*** for the day, fly out in morning and return in evening
Day 9 - beach day, *** Anelakai adventures night snorkel***
Day 10 - Kanaloa Octopus farm or Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm (near airport), evening flight departs 8:13 pm

Thanks and I will follow up with a trip report when we return!
Scott
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Old May 11th, 2022, 06:30 AM
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Where are you staying?
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Old May 11th, 2022, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
Where are you staying?
Hi! We are staying at Fairway Villas in Waikoloa.
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Old May 11th, 2022, 07:24 AM
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We always stay there, too. I would probably build in more beach time. We've been to Hawaii seven times with our daughter, and the first time we took her she was four years old. Her favorite thing to do then was to dig holes in the sand. She's now 18, and honestly, I can't say that her favorite activity has changed very much. She still wants a lot of beach time and less time in the car or hiking.

We've been to the BI five times. Hapuna Beach is fun for boogie boarding. Mauna Kea beach is beautiful and quieter than Hapuna. We always see sea turtles there. I like Makaiwa Bay at the Mauna Lani for snorkeling and walking by the giant fish ponds.

There is a great ice cream shop in Kawaihae. There is also a very good fish shop across the road from the ice cream shop where we buy fish to take back to the condo and grill. We buy groceries for breakfast and for picnic lunches at Foodland at the Mauna Lani Shops. It's a better grocery store than anything in Waikoloa. We always do a stop at Costco, too.

Lava Lava Beach Club can be fun lunch or dinner near your condo. The wait times can be long, but they have bocce ball courts set up and ping pong tables. It's a great place to catch the sunset over the A-Bay. We also try to have lunch at Merrimans in Waimea.

We've done the manta snorkel and it was very cool. We always go to the Place of Refuge, and we make time to snorkel at Two Step while there. We have also snorkeled at Captain Cook and it is amazing. I believe that is by tour only now. Annie's Island Burgers in Captain Cook is usually where we have lunch on our way back from the Place of Refuge.

I would skip South Point and the black sand beaches. It's a lot of added car time. I would say that our daughter is not a fan of the hike down to the Pololu Valley. I like it because it's pretty, but as a kid, she wasn't a fan of walking and not being able to swim at the beach. Then climbing back up and getting in the car for more driving.

Our typical day: get up early, my husband and I go for a run, have breakfast at the condo, pack a picnic lunch and head to the beach, boogie board and snorkel, stop in Kawaihae for ice cream, see if there is a parking spot open at Mauna Kea beach for some swimming and boogie boarding, pick up whatever we want for dinner at Foodland, then back to the condo. Shower and maybe walk over to A-Bay for sunset. Have dinner. And go to bed. We always go to Waimea and as I said before, we make a trip down to the Place of Refuge and have lunch in Captain Cook on our way back. We try to build in an activity like the manta ray night snorkel, but we keep it pretty simple.

One other tip, we always book the condo for an extra night as our flight home typically doesn't leave until 10 pm. We do whatever we want that day, come back to the condo, shower and have dinner, pack and then head to the airport around 8 pm. It's worth having the condo that extra night.
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Old May 11th, 2022, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
We always stay there, too. I would probably build in more beach time. We've been to Hawaii seven times with our daughter, and the first time we took her she was four years old. Her favorite thing to do then was to dig holes in the sand. She's now 18, and honestly, I can't say that her favorite activity has changed very much. She still wants a lot of beach time and less time in the car or hiking.
Thanks for all of the suggestions for beaches and shops, we are Costco members so that is a good idea. I figured we'd fill in some days with beach time as well. Really just the two days going to the East side of the island and our Oahu day that are fully booked.

Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
We've done the manta snorkel and it was very cool. We always go to the Place of Refuge, and we make time to snorkel at Two Step while there. We have also snorkeled at Captain Cook and it is amazing. I believe that is by tour only now. Annie's Island Burgers in Captain Cook is usually where we have lunch on our way back from the Place of Refuge.
Our youngest is only 5 so I wasn't sure how she will take to snorkeling, so it will be nice having the small boat next to the light in case she just wants to stay in the boat. I love snorkeling, but not sure how much my daughters will want to do it, but I have a couple of masks/fins/snorkels that they can try out.

Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
I would skip South Point and the black sand beaches. It's a lot of added car time. I would say that our daughter is not a fan of the hike down to the Pololu Valley. I like it because it's pretty, but as a kid, she wasn't a fan of walking and not being able to swim at the beach. Then climbing back up and getting in the car for more driving.
I was going back and forth on whether to drive this route on the way to Volcanoes or to take the saddle road since it is a little quicker to have more time in Volcano NP. I was planning to skip Papakōlea green sand beach. I didn't think we'd do the entire hike to Pololū Valley, but maybe just a little of it - the woman from Dahana said there is some sort of rope swings or something at the begining (?) so maybe we'll just see how tired they are after horseback riding.

Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
Our typical day: get up early, my husband and I go for a run, have breakfast at the condo, pack a picnic lunch and head to the beach, boogie board and snorkel, stop in Kawaihae for ice cream, see if there is a parking spot open at Mauna Kea beach for some swimming and boogie boarding, pick up whatever we want for dinner at Foodland, then back to the condo. Shower and maybe walk over to A-Bay for sunset. Have dinner. And go to bed. We always go to Waimea and as I said before, we make a trip down to the Place of Refuge and have lunch in Captain Cook on our way back. We try to build in an activity like the manta ray night snorkel, but we keep it pretty simple.
All of that sounds good! Really just the 2 volcano days, the horseback riding and the 1 Oahu days are fully booked so we can be flexible to set the pace for our other days.

Originally Posted by kureiff View Post
One other tip, we always book the condo for an extra night as our flight home typically doesn't leave until 10 pm. We do whatever we want that day, come back to the condo, shower and have dinner, pack and then head to the airport around 8 pm. It's worth having the condo that extra night.
This is a really good idea! I'm not sure if our place is still available the last day, but I can check. If not I was thinking we could maybe move the coffee tour to that morning, have lunch and go to the seahorse farm in the afternoon.

Thanks!!
Scott
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Old May 11th, 2022, 07:15 PM
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I have not been to the octopus farm, but I loved the seahorse farm. It was great for kids.

From Lapakahi State Historical Park, continue on to Hawi, where you can stop for goodies at the little coffee shop and shopping. Then go on to the Pololu Overlook. The hike might be too challenging for your kids, but the overlook is still worth seeing.
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Old May 12th, 2022, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Songdoc View Post
I have not been to the octopus farm, but I loved the seahorse farm. It was great for kids.

From Lapakahi State Historical Park, continue on to Hawi, where you can stop for goodies at the little coffee shop and shopping. Then go on to the Pololu Overlook. The hike might be too challenging for your kids, but the overlook is still worth seeing.
Thanks for the suggestions! I think we will be going in opposite direction as we will probably get breakfast in Waimea, then we have an 11-12 reservation for horseback riding past Waimea, packed lunch up at Waipio Valley lookout afterwards and then head to Pololu lookout, and could stop in Hawi either before or after Pololu. I doubt we'd make it to Lapakahi State Historical Park before it closes at 4pm, but we could drive up there another day if you think it is worth the 30 minute drive.

Thanks! Scott
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Old May 12th, 2022, 10:35 AM
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I love Lapakahi State Historical Park. It is smaller and more off the beaten track than Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park and has a very beautiful setting. But if you don't have time for it, you will get much of what it offers at Puuhonua O Honaunau. Enjoy!
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Old Oct 9th, 2022, 04:35 PM
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"Thanks and I will follow up with a trip report when we return!"
Scott[

If you have a chance, could you post one? Am going to BI for ten days with family in early December, and would love your take on some of the above activities.
Thanks!
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Old Oct 10th, 2022, 01:17 PM
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Big Island 2022 Trip Report

Originally Posted by CaliNurse View Post
"Thanks and I will follow up with a trip report when we return!"
Scott[

If you have a chance, could you post one? Am going to BI for ten days with family in early December, and would love your take on some of the above activities.
Thanks!
Thanks for the reminder!! We had a great time and loved the Big Island I've included reviews below of everything we did, just let me know if you have any questions. I'd say my most favorite highlights were the Manta Ray night snorkel and hiking Kilauea Iki crater trail in Volcanoes NP. We would just try a different beach each time we went out - all of the beaches were great, some were better for snorkeling and some better for waves/ boogie boarding.

The only thing I would change do-over is that I would absolutely *not* stay in the Volcano House rustic cabins - I had read a lot of different reviews that people recommend staying a night on the east side of the island. Maybe if you absolutely hate driving, but it is only 2 hours via the saddle road to Volcanoes NP, I don't think that is bad at all and would be fine driving over to the other side of the island twice over 10 days to see what we wanted. The Volcano House cabin that we rented had full garbage cans and dirty sheets - it took hours of waiting, no one showed up and I eventually drove back over to the Volcano house to get clean linens. We could have driven all the way back to our Waikoloa condo in the time we were waiting - I thought it would be a fun little adventure to stay in the cabins, but I spent that night wishing we were back in our wonderful Waikoloa condo lol

ITINERARY (reviews at the bottom)

Day 1 - arrived Kona airport in the evening, car rental and check into Waikaloa Fairway Villas
Day 2 - swimming at Anaeho'omalu Bay, lunch at Waikoloa food court, grocery shopping Walmart, swam at the pool
Day 3 - Waikoloa petroglyph field walk, horseback ride with 4d Quarter Horses (formerly Dahana Ranch), packed lunch at Waipio Valley lookout, afternoon at Spencer Beach Park, dinner and ice cream at Anuenue in Kawaihae
Day 4 - drive to Volcanoes NP, Thurston lava tube, Kilauea Iki crater hike, Chain of craters drive to Holei sea arch, dinner at Volcano House
Day 5 - Isaac Hale Park, Lava Tree State Monument Park, Rainbow Falls, lunch/loco moco in Hilo at Cafe 100, Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, Akaka Falls, malasadas at Tex, dinner at A-bay's Island Grill
Day 6 - morning at Beach 69, lunch at nearby Blue Wilderness General Store, afternoon at Hapuna Beach, Legends of Hawaii Luau (at Waikaloa Hilton)
Day 7 - Coffee tour at Greewell Farms, lunch at Black Rock Pizza, Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, early dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club
Day 8 - flight to Honolulu, Bishop Museum, Foster Botanical Garden, Nu'uanu Pali lookout, dinner at Smith & Kings, flight back to Big Island
Day 9 - snorkeling at Honaunau Bay (Two Step), lunch at South Kona Grindz, afternoon at Ho'okena Beach, Anelakai Adventures manta ray night snorkel
Day 10 - Malasadas at Punalu'u Bake Shop, turtle viewing at Punalu'u black sand beach, south point, dinner at Pine Tree Cafe, evening flight home

REVIEWS

Anelakai Adventures Manta Ray Night Snorkel - absolutely amazing! saw I think 4 mantas that continually came up to the boat. Great because two of my kids snorkeled for a bit but got out and could still view mantas from the boat edge. Great staff.

4d Quarter Horses - nice guide, easy walk up to and around the large property. Nice rolling hills but not really amazing scenery or anything. Nice as my 5 year old was able to go unlike some other groups that didn't allow younger children. Light rain most of the time, which my oldest was not a fan of.

Volcanoes National Park - got to see the active eruption, a 2 mile round trip hike on the chain of craters road to the viewing area. It was pretty far away from the look out, but a ranger had a spotting scope letting people get photos/videos with their phone cameras.

Kilauea Iki crater hike - amazing hike, 3 mile loop we started at the overlook and went towards the Thurston Lava Tube. Technically this is backwards (numbers count down) but it was better that way I think as we did the sloped switchback going into the crater and steps on the other side going back up. So amazing to walk across the crater through a volcano.

Holei Sea Arch - the arch itself is pretty underwhelming imo, but the drive down is definitely worth it for all the viewing areas and seeing the old lava flow.

Volcano House Restaurant - food was pretty reasonably priced and they gave us a window seat which had a nice view of the volcano.

Volcano House Cabins - checked in while at the Volcano House for dinner so we got to the cabins after. Our cabin had not been cleaned, garbage cans were full and the bed was not made. Gross. Called the volcano house and they said all the cabins were booked but someone would drop off fresh sheets. Waited 90 minutes but nobody showed up. Called them back and said I'd just come and get them. I originally thought I'd put the kids to bed and go back up to see the lava at night, but that didn't get to happen. We knew it was going to be rustic, but such sad service... in retrospect, I would have just driven back to our condo after dinner.

Isaac Hale Beach Park - similar views imo if you already did the drive to Holei Sea Arch. Would be nice to walk down towards the ocean, but it would have been too rocky and difficult to walk on for the kids.

Lava Tree State Monument - a nice 20 minute casual walk to see the gardens and lava trees. Very close to Isaac Hale Beach Park if you are in that area.

Akaka Falls - parking was about $32 for a car + 5 people. About a mile loop to see both Akaka falls and another falls nearby.

Rainbow Falls - about 50 feet to walk from the parking lot to the falls. Smaller than Akaka but pretty and easy to get to. Free parking.

Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden - kind of pricy like $80 for family of 5, but very pretty. The kids enjoyed looking for all the flowers on the card they give you. Took about an hour to casually stroll through the gardens.

Waipio Valley lookout - can't drive or even hike down, but the lookout was pretty and they have a bunch of picnic tables making it a nice spot for a packed lunch.

Legends of Hawaii Luau - It takes about 10-15 minutes with little kids to walk from the Hilton parking lot to the desk and another 10-15 minutes from there to get to the luau, which is way in the back. The stage made it easy for the kids to see even from the back. But you are kind of walled in, can't see the beach. The food was pretty good and the show was just okay imo, but the kids did really seem to enjoy it. You walk by the SeaQuest dolphins, which the kids liked seeing and the nice swimming pool, so of course my kids asked why we weren't staying there instead

Waikoloa Fairway Villas - our 3rd floor condo was super nice, elevators to get to the 3rd floor with baggage and a 3rd loft bedroom was nice with 3 kids. Infinity pool, but only adults when we went (no other kids) and the hot tub has a 12+ age limit. We have a pool at our home so it was definitely less of a draw compared to the beaches and other things.

Greenwell Farms coffee tour - free tour, about 45 minutes, left the guide a tip and bought some coffee to bring home to our family members.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach - beautiful beach and saw 6 sea turtles

Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park - make sure to grab a pamphlet as there weren't any information in outside the visitor center, only numbers.

Punalu'u Bake Shop - super busy line way out the door, but they have a shorter line inside if you are just getting malasadas.

Bishop Museum (Oahu) - beautiful museum and a nice museum area to do after the kids got bored of the main museum.

BEACH REVIEWS

Honaunau Bay (Two Step) - the best day snorkeling I did. $5 parking nearby.

69 Beach - great snorkeling (which really good, saw a moray eel). A part of Hapuna Beach State park so you have to pay for parking (about $32 for car + family of 5), but we were able to do snorkeling at 69 Beach in the morning, eat lunch and then use the parking pass at Hapuna Beach for boogie boarding in the afternoon.

Hapuna Beach - very pretty and the best waves / boogie boarding spot we did. Pay parking (same as 69 Beach)

Ho'okena Beach - pretty beach, but probably my least favorite we went to. Waves were pretty big and there are lots of rocks in the shallow areas making it hard to swim or boogie board.

Spencer Beach Park - all around great beach for the kids, nice swimming area.

Anaeho'omalu Bay (A-bay) - another pretty beach, snorkeling was decent when I was there but not as good as some of the others.

Punalu'u black sand beach - so cool to see the black sand and the sea turtles! Worth the 2+ hour drive to see the turtles. Pretty rocky so wouldn't be good for swimming.

Thanks and good luck!
Scott
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 03:58 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. Thanks for coming back with the TR.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 07:47 AM
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Thanks for the report. Glad I didn't stay at the Volcano cabins, I considered it! I stayed in Hilo and it was an easy drive at night to see the volcano except for the pothole on the main highway near the town of Volcano, that blew out my tire at 11pm at night. Luckily there was cell reception and AAA had a driver on duty.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 11:46 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to write about your trip. I was interested to read that the day trip to Oahu worked for you. Appreciate all the information.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
Thank you for taking the time to write about your trip. I was interested to read that the day trip to Oahu worked for you. Appreciate all the information.
Ticket prices used to be less expensive from what I'ver heard, but are now pushing $200 per person roundtrip Kona to Honolulu. However, if you are a Delta member, you can use skymiles on Delta's website since they are a partner with Hawaiian Airlines. I think it was around 10-12k miles so that was a nice option.
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Old Oct 11th, 2022, 04:39 PM
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Southwest and Hawaiian Air both still have $39 One Way fares, with several daily nonstops. Of course it requires booking far enough in advance and may not be available during some time frames.
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Old Oct 12th, 2022, 09:52 PM
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Mahalo nui loa! Thanks so much for your excellent day-by-day trip report . Its really helpful!
Last time I was on BI was almost 10 years ago so I needed this refresher course!
Well be starting our trip in a condo just north of where you were, and later head to the East side of the island, staying a couple nights in Volcano village.
Have had surprise experiences elsewhere, similar to yours at Volcano House Cabins. On the plus side, it makes for an interesting story and learning experience!

Again, thank you Scott for returning to write your trip report details, and for the good luck wishes!
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 10:52 AM
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I stayed at Volcano House cabins and was glad I did. Friends stayed there recently and also enjoyed it. There were hikes and activities I wanted to do on the Hilo side and did not want to drive 2+ hours each way from Kailua-Kona before and after my sightseeing. It's doable, but would have been a long, exhausting day--especially since I wanted to see the lava at night.

I'll be back on the Big Island next week for the annual Hawaii Songwriting Festival. I'll be staying at the Westin Hapuna Hotel, which I love. I won't be doing a trip report because the trip will be all work. I've done my sightseeing during many other trips.

I'm flying one-way on Southwest ($59) and the other way on Hawaiian Airlines ($79). They were not offering the $39 fares when my trip was booked.
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Old Oct 13th, 2022, 01:18 PM
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If Southwest drops fares after you book, it is easy enough to cancel and rebook at the new fare, using your cash credit. I wound up with enough in SW credits that I was able to fly free to Austin in February. They since have dropped any deadline on using the refunds.

You might want to look at the Southwest fare and see if it's dropped since you booked.

Last edited by mlgb; Oct 13th, 2022 at 01:21 PM.
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Old Oct 14th, 2022, 07:48 PM
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Thanks for that reminder, mlgb.
I just checked and my fare has actually gone up by $14.
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Old Oct 14th, 2022, 08:13 PM
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I think there was a Columbus Day sale, oh well
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