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Big Island Hawaii - stay in Kona AND Hilo? Also when are school holidays?

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Feb 5th, 2013, 12:28 AM
  #1
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Big Island Hawaii - stay in Kona AND Hilo? Also when are school holidays?

Hi, my husband and I are mulling over whether to go to Hawaii later in the year. We have visited Oahu a few times (used to be the regular stop from Australia before planes could fly all the way to LA) and Maui twice, Kauai once.

We have about 14 days and are thinking of the Big Island and Oahu. Oahu mainly because we have to fly in and out of Honolulu.

Is it a good idea to stay at both Kona and Hilo? We like to explore but also prefer sunshine, warmth and white sand beaches and I've ready that Hilo is often rainy.

Does anyone know when the school holidays are? I guess prices and demand will go up then. I think the kids get 6 weeks off in summer but when?

Thanks for any help.
Kay
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Feb 5th, 2013, 01:05 AM
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On our trip last year, we spent 3 nights in Hilo and 8 on the Kona side. Worked out perfectly.

Summer holidays in US vary but they tend run from late May until 1 st week of September. We went last year in Feb and trip before was October. Both were lovely. October had few children to be seen.

We stayed in a nice condo in Hilo, there aren't a lot of nicer hotels over that way. Lots of folks like to stay at VNP.

In Kona, we stayed at Marriott Courtyard Kng Kam. It worked for us as we did lots of day trips from there without much effort. The Waikoloa area is very nice too, but tends to be more $$
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Feb 5th, 2013, 01:08 AM
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This is where we stayed in Hilo. Nice owner, lovely apt. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/231062
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Feb 5th, 2013, 02:57 AM
  #4
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Thanks DebitNM, that's very helpful. I was going to try and avoid school holidays but if they are spread that wide it might be difficult. We are thinking of going around July/Aug but I haven't checked weather averages yet. Don't mind heat but not keen on humidity - my hair especially hates it

Anyone else?
Kay
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Feb 5th, 2013, 03:22 AM
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Here is a beautiful place (Volcano Village Lodge - http://www.emmaspencerliving.com/vol...lodge/lodging/ ) my wife and mother in law loved - and I also visited it once during a BI trip. It's a former artists colony - up at Volcano Village - in a rain forest - and close to the drive around the main Volcano/cauldren and the visitor center, and nearby Kilauea Iki (great for hiking).

It's a bit of a splurge but worth it for a couple of nights.

I would also suggest you fly into Hilo - and from the airport - drive a bit north of Hilo to see Akaka Falls, and maybe the Botanical Garden on the "old" road - and then head up to Volcano/Volcano Village.

Then, as suggested, wind up on the sunny Kona side to kick back for the rest of your stay.

Some people prefer staying north of Kona - just in case the VOG is blowing around the south end of the island.
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Feb 5th, 2013, 03:42 AM
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If you can, fly into one side and leave from the other (Hilo in, Kona out) to save the extra drive back.

I am not an expert but I don't think the temps change all that much during the year. Don't worry about your hair, no one really cares. There is humidity, its an island in the tropics, go natural, hair wise. it wont matter when you go on that point. Go and have fun!
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Feb 5th, 2013, 03:45 AM
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(I didn't steer you wrong on your trip to the southwest, did I? )
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Feb 5th, 2013, 09:13 PM
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Hi DebitNM, you are right, you were very helpful back then too! I'm guessing on about day two I'll be thinking, who cares...no one knows me I suppose that's what a holiday is really about, getting away from the everyday which for me is make up, hair blow dried, good office clothes, work shoes etc.

Flying into one side and out the other makes a lot of sense. Just have to decide that we are actually going and how many days in Hilo and Kona and how many on Oahu. Not many on Oahu but I'd like to do some shopping. I love shopping in America! Lots of choice and good prices.

Tomsd, thanks for the Volcano Lodge link, I'll check it out. A seaview and walking distance to places to eat would be high on my list.

By the way, is it pronounced Hi-lo or Hee-lo?

Kay
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Feb 5th, 2013, 11:05 PM
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Hee-low.

We found the 3/8 split worked well for us. If you wanted to do less total time on the BI, I would take it off the 8 for Kona side. You need 3 days on Hilo side. From the Kona side , we drove all the way up to the north east part of the island on one day trip and then down the southeastern part on another day trip. Then we spent time hitting beaches along the west side.
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Feb 6th, 2013, 04:55 AM
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Hilo side suggestions:
Volcano NP
Hilo waterfalls (and waterfront)
Lava Tree State Park
Snorkel Kapoho tide pools
Akaka Falls
Laupahoehoe memorial and park
And
various scenic drives along coast, botanic gardens, lava tube caves (state park near Hilo)
(Get the Hawaii map by James Bier, University of Hawaii Press; excellent map, available many places)
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Feb 7th, 2013, 01:11 AM
  #11
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Thanks, great suggestions.

Any ideas for the Kona side?

Also what is the shopping like? Do they have the same big stores they have on the mainland? It's been quite a while since we've been to Hawaii and apart from Ala Moana on Oahu I don't remember much (about the shops). It's a lot cheaper shopping in America and the current exchange rate makes it even better for us.

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Feb 7th, 2013, 04:25 AM
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You get a rain forest view up at Volcano Village - and they have a good Thai restaurant not too far away.

Not sure what kind of shopping you want - but there is a good sized center in Kona - if not another one around there somewhere - toward the north?

We love the beach at the venerable Mauna Kea - ( http://www.princeresortshawaii.com/m...otel/index.php - hey - Rockerfeller had his choice when he built the first luxury resort on the Kona Coast way back in the 60's was it?) - and next door - at the Hapuna Prince - is the 2nd highest rated beach on the island, but all of the main resorts north of Kona town have pretty good beaches/access.
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Feb 7th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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And if you stay at the Mauna Kea (or even another resort north of Kona town/traffic) - it's not that far to drive up to Waimea town and then take the beautiful mountain road/Kohala/250 - up to the top of the Island/Hawi. Think it goes through part of the fabled Parker Ranch?

see: http://www.gohawaii.com/big-island/r...-kohala/waimea
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Feb 7th, 2013, 05:40 AM
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Suggestions of things to do on the Kona side
• tour a Kona coffee farm - Greenwell’s is very good though there are many others http://www.greenwellfarms.com/coffee-tour
• Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge)a beautiful park on the shore of Honaunau Bay (good snorkeling there also) http://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm
• Painted Church http://www.thepaintedchurch.org/ it is easy to combine Place of Refuge and Painted Church into one excursion
• tour chocolate farm http://www.ohcf.us/tours.html (we did this last Dec. tour was interesting and informative and you could buy chocolate at the end of the tour!)
• Hulihee Palace http://www.huliheepalace.net/about-hulihee/palace
• Ocean Rider http://www.seahorse.com/ocean-rider-tours/ we did this a few years ago--I found it interesting--at the end you get to put your hands in the water and a seahorse curls its tail around your finger--I loved that-up close and personal with one of those delicate creatures
• whale watching http://www.ilovewhales.com/ We've gone out with Capt. Dan several times--he knows a lot about whales and he always finds them

shopping the Big Island does not have the big stores that are on the mainland or in Honolulu--unless you're talking about a store like Target -- there are some shopping areas associated with the Kohala resorts that have upscale shops and there are a few small towns with indie type boutiques--here are some examples
• King’s Shops http://www.kingsshops.com/
• Queen’s Marketplace http://www.queensmarketplace.net/
• Shops at Mauna Lani http://shopsatmaunalani.com/
• Kainaliu http://www.kona123.com/kainaliu.html
• Holualoa http://www.holualoahawaii.com/

Beaches—there are many—some comments below about a couple of our favorites
• Kauna’oa (aka Mauna Kea) Beach--the Mauna Kea controls access by having only about 30 parking spaces for visitors to the beach--just pull up to the entrance and ask for a beach parking pass--if they're out just drive south to Hapuna Beach http://www.hawaiigaga.com/big-island...kea-beach.aspx
• Kaloko-Honokohau http://www.nps.gov/kaho/index.htm there is a nice beach in this historic park—park on the north side of Honokohau Harbor (the small boat harbor south of the Kona airport) and walk in (not far) there are the ruins of an ancient heiau and the remains of a ancient fish trap)-the sandy beach has never been crowded when we were there

A good website for all things Kona www.konaweb.com
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Feb 7th, 2013, 07:06 AM
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The beach at Hapuna Beach is wonderful but we really loved: "A" Bay -

http://lovingthebigisland.wordpress....-kohala-coast/

There were always lots of sleeping sea turtles off to the left as you faced toe water, past the private boat place.

We liked this one too; crowded but easy entry and good snorkeling.

http://www.kona123.com/kahaluu.html
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Feb 7th, 2013, 07:20 AM
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I meant to add, we went swimming at Two Step beach by Place of Refuge and I thought I was going to drown! I could not get out of the water (getting in is much easier than getting out). DH got out a head of me and didnt realize i was having trouble,and I could not hoist myself out. The waves either smacked me into the rocks or they pulled me out before I could get out. I was freaking out, not a good thing, and after getting really scraped up, some men reached in to pull me out! By then DH had come over, but I was out of the water. I am not a newbie snorkeled, I have been snorkeling for decades and in many locations and had never had this happen before. Needless to say, I will never snorkel In that spot again.
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Feb 8th, 2013, 12:31 AM
  #17
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Thanks everyone for the info and links.

I'm not a strong swimmer and have snorkelled (badly) once but would like to give it a go again. Maybe practising in the swimming pool beforehand might be the go. My husband is a good snorkeller so he would help me but I realise once in the water I need to be able to go by myself. I found the breathing hard and had to keep coming up for air.

DebitNM, your story sounds quite scary.

Kay
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Feb 8th, 2013, 06:28 AM
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Kay, don't do Place of Refuge/ Two Step, please.
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Feb 8th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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We stayed in Kona for a week and took 2 days to drive around the island, exploring and having a wonderful time. We loved the place we stayed at Volcano -
http://www.haleohia.com/

We stayed in Cottage 44 with the water tank bedroom.

I was very happy with our choice to stay on the sunnier side of the island but taking time to drive around the complete island. I have a place in a rain forest at home, and wanted SUN for my visit in Hawaii. We bought rain jackets at Volcanoes NP because it was raining so hard during the morning. They are great souvenirs but I'm glad we limited our time on that side of the island. We were staying at the Hilton and were continuing our stay at the Four Seasons so we just did our drive around during the week we were at the Hilton. Since we were staying there free (using Hilton points), it was a nice option to just leave our stuff at the Hilton while we were gone for the overnight excursion.

LOVED the Thai restaurant in the tiny town of Volcano. If you like Thai, give it a try.
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Feb 8th, 2013, 04:46 PM
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We loved our trip to the Big Island in 2008. Here is the link to my brief trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...big-island.cfm
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