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Big Island Advice Needed

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Mar 24th, 2014, 08:59 PM
  #1
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Big Island Advice Needed

Traveling to Big Island Hawaii in a couple of weeks (early April) Husband has work event and me and two kiddos ages 7 and 4 are tagging along. We will be staying at Four Seasons for the majority of the week. Friday morning we check out and we fly out of Kona on Sunday at around noon. We will have a car to use.

Question-since we will be in Kona the whole week, should we try to stay in Hilo on Friday night and then someplace close to Kona on Saturday night? And no, extending stay in Four Seasons will not be an option for us (out of budget range).

Need advice on should we do it, where can we stay for one night-I looked at airbnb and the like but there's usually a hefty cleaning fee even for one night...what to do in Hilo area? I read a lot about Volcanoes probably being not the best idea for our kids. So is it worth going to Hilo side for one night to explore?
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Mar 25th, 2014, 12:02 AM
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There's not much to do in Hilo, especially for kids that age. If you like animals I recommend the free Pana`ewa Zoo, Hilo also has an interesting tsunami museum. But otherwise you may find your family with bored expressions sooner than you expected.

If the goal is just to see the town, it's mostly residential and doesn't require an overnight stay. With your time constraints, I think I'd spend Friday exploring the north/Hamakua Coast (overlook at Waipio Valley, Akaka Falls, Botanical Gardens in Onomea and other sights on the way to Hilo), maybe see the zoo and have an early dinner in Hilo, and then drive all the way back to Honokaa, Waimea, Hawi or Waikoloa for your accomodations. If your family likes beaches, be sure to check out Hapuna. The Four Seasons has nothing like it, and you may find yourself spending lots of time there once you've seen it. If so, the towns and areas I listed are 20-30 minutes away and make perfect base camps.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 04:53 AM
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I would stay a night up at the Volcano - either at the Volcano Lodge at the Visitor's Center - or in nearby Volcano Village - and definitely tour the Volcano. It's about 30 minutes up the hill from the Hilo airport.

Akaka Falls - north of Hilo about 20? minutes - is also beautiful but the Voclano is the main event on the Big Island.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 04:57 AM
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It's been about three years since I drove around the Volcano - but there were plenty of people visiting with kids. All over the place, walking around, whatnot.

I think some times people get too concerned with the air quality (unless they have significant respitatory problems) - and when you go - if for some reason - it's not that great - then don't spend too much time there.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 12:51 PM
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The Hilo side also has beautiful botanic gardens with waterfalls (Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens), Akaka Falls, and Laupahoehoe Point Memorial and Park (beautiful park with crashing sea, cliffs scenery) to the north.
To the south, Lava Trees State Monument is a lovely and interesting park (a beautiful drive there; also try Pahoa-Pahoiki road).
Hilo has some very nice beach parks and trails, waterfalls in town, and the free zoo mentioned above (very nice grounds, and kids will like the white tiger habitat).
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Mar 25th, 2014, 12:54 PM
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BTW, although at least 1/2 of Crater Rim drive has been closed for more than 3 years, a small part reopened recently (to access a crater trail). As far as Volcano National Park not being a "good idea" for kids, I think you've gotten some extreme advice.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 07:02 PM
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Just a guess, but I'm not sure air quality is the main concern with small kids. For many people, the main reason to go to VNP is to see active lava, and that often requires a long hike over sharp and fissured rock. And of course the best viewing is at night, so add darkness to the difficulty and it pretty much rules out inexperienced hikers like young children. I could be totally wrong about why the OP has this opinion of VNP.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 08:23 PM
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If you want to stay in the Volcanoes area, we really liked this place -
http://haleohia.com/rooms.htm

Check to see the flow conditions at Volcano NP while you are there. It may be fine for the kids.

For a very kid-friendly experience you could extend your stay not far away from the 4S at the Hilton. It's a bit Disneyesque but a great place for kids -
http://www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/
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Mar 26th, 2014, 03:22 AM
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The Volcano vistors center has some great displays and movies kids should like - plus fun presentations from the park rangers.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 09:42 AM
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It depends on what you all do during that week at Hualalai. Some of the best beaches and best snorkeling in the state are along the coast just north of there, and I'd think the kids would much prefer beach related activities to VNP, gardens and waterfalls. You and your hubby might, as well. The beaches at the Four Seasons aren't that great (but everything else is!).

Perhaps the Mauna Lani, Fairmont Orchid, or Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel fit into the budget, but the kids would enjoy the Hilton or Marriott at Waikoloa too.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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<<...and I'd think the kids would much prefer beach related activities to VNP, gardens and waterfalls.>>

VNP is amazing and Hilo is beautiful. My husband and I enjoyed VNP, but when we were there, we could walk out to see the lava flowing into the ocean (2005). We went back to the BI with our daughter, then age 8 in 2012, and we did skip VNP because of the driving and knowing she wouldn't care muc about walking around. She was patient with the waterfalls and driving around the Hilo area, but she really, really wanted us to hurry up and get back to the beaches in the Kohala area.

We don't have sand and an ocean where we live, and anything that took time away from digging holes in the sand or swimming in the ocean was kind of a bummer for our kid.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:14 PM
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I'd skip driving across Big Island *twice*. Usually, people who want both sunny beaches and VNP split a trip between Kohala Coast area (NW) and Volcano (SE), and fly into one side and out of the other.

Mauna Lani would be nice. The kids would enjoy some time at the Hilton, whether you stay there or not. (I'm no fan of Kona Town; kinda 'tacky'.)
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:33 PM
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I disagree; most folks find it quite easy to drive over the (new and improved, recently shortened, and paved) Saddle Road into Hilo, and it's an easy drive back again (maybe taking the northern road through Waimea for different scenery). It's not that cheap or convenient to fly in and out of different airports, and not really necessary on the Big Island.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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Suspect the OP has already solidified any and all plans by now?
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Mar 28th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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In regards to airports-that is decided: we are flying in and out of Kona. With regards to these last two days-i haven't solidified plans just yet but I'm now thinking of trying to stay in Waikoloa area and use that as a base for a day trip into Hilo for a day? Trouble is now finding a place to stay for less than $200/night!

Last question: since it's my kids first time ever to hawaii-would like to take them to a luau. Yes it's cheesy and costly...but I want them to experience one. What's a good one with good food and a good show?
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Mar 28th, 2014, 06:55 AM
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We've stayed here in Waikoloa resort and really loved the place and location (http://www.vrbo.com/413069). Price is great, and they let us stay less than the minimum once (when we wanted to try Kapoho and Hilo for a change).
The nearby Marriott (http://www.sunsetluau.com/) has a pretty good luau (I hate them ), but I think there are several places in the area that have them (like the Hilton;http://www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com...of-hawaii-luau). Up the road there's also Mauna Lani: http://www.fairmont.com/orchid-hawai...ingofthekings/
p.s. If you don't do a luau, there's a free polynesian dance show (including a variety of styles, including fire!) several nights a week at the Shops at Mauna Lani, and often a free troup show at the Waikoloa Kings (or Queens) shops, too.
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Mar 28th, 2014, 02:47 PM
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Lodging in Waimea (Kamuela) is less expensive than Waikoloa. It's also 20-25 minutes closer to Hilo. The town is at 3500' elevation, so they do get rain especially on the east side.

As for luaus, I'm not a fan or expert, but the most bearable one I've been to was at the Mauna Kea Hotel. Actually that's not entirely true, Kona Village's was better imo when the resort existed.
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Mar 28th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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I don't know how you can beat a 2 bd, 2bt resort condo for less than $120. And lodging in Waimea is pretty difficult to find. However, Waikoloa village up the hill from Waikoloa resort might be an option (Paniolo).
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Mar 28th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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Sylvia, the VRBO link you provided is broke.
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Mar 28th, 2014, 09:47 PM
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I was able to get a decent rate at the Marriott through a priceline bid a few years ago. But I have no idea what the rate would be now.
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