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Big Island trip report - Oct 22 - Nov 2 (very long)

Big Island trip report - Oct 22 - Nov 2 (very long)

Old Nov 4th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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Big Island trip report - Oct 22 - Nov 2 (very long)

BIG ISLAND TRIP REPORT
HAWAII
OCT 22 – NOV 2, 2006

This story began 25 years ago on October 17, 1981, when my husband and I were married (at the oh-so-young age of 20 – we were high school sweethearts). Fast forward to October 2006, and this is our trip:

Day 1 – It was raining all the way to the Atlanta airport, and we leave an hour late because of some sort of “security problem” and then a maintenance problem. No worries, because we’re finally on our way! We were in the exit row so we had plenty of room to stretch our legs.

We arrived in Honolulu around 3:30 and had a 5:30 flight with Aloha Airlines to Kona. The Kona airport is in the middle of miles of black lava. I had never seen anything like it. The airport is several huts, and it is open-air.

I wait for the luggage, and Mike picks up our Mustang Convertible (rented through Discount Hawaii Car Rental – picked up at Avis). The Avis people seemed very confused, and it took a good bit of time to get the car. We loaded our luggage and started driving to the Hale Hualalai B&B. It was dark by the time we started, and the road to the B&B was long, steep and curvy, but we found it, and it was the greatest! We had never stayed at a B&B before this trip, and I was a little apprehensive about it, but the Hale Hualalai was wonderful. There are 2 separate units, and the main house (where Lonn lives) is in the middle. There is a huge shared porch where he fixes breakfast; we also had our own private lanai. The view is of Kailua-Kona and then the ocean. There is no AC, and there is no need of it. We kept the windows open for a nice breeze. There was a stereo and lots of Hawaiian CDs. That’s our new favorite way of going to sleep (by listening to Hawaiian music).

We then drove down to Kona for dinner. There was a parking lot, and after we parked, we discovered that it cost $10 to park! We thought that was quite a bit, but we paid it anyway. (We told Lonn about this, and he told us about the FREE parking lot right next to the paid parking lot. We never paid the $10 again.) We had dinner at Kona Canoe Club, which was good. We both had hamburgers; bill was around $30. Kona sort of reminds us of Lahaina on Maui.

Our goal was to stay up until 9:30, and I think we barely made it. That six-hour time difference is always hard for the first few days. Lonn told us that there are wild pigs around, but we never saw one. We did hear one, though.

Day 2 – Up at 4 a.m.! Tried to go back to sleep; listened to Hawaiian CDs while watching the stars and waiting for daylight. I saw a gecko climb up the wall inside our room.

Breakfast was mango slushies, macadamia nut muffins and the best coffee in the world.

We went snorkeling at the Kona pier (Lonn told us about this place); it was pretty good snorkeling, but it was a little rough that day, and I cut my leg on some rocks. We then went to Kahalu’u Bay, and the snorkeling there was great. There were lots of fish, and the water was calm. We had lunch at the grill next to the Outrigger Reef (can’t remember name). Lunch was great; S had fish and chips, M had BBQ sandwich; bill was around $30.

We then drove and drove and drove. We drove to the Painted Church and then went to the Place of Refuge. We walked all around the Place of Refuge; it was very interesting to see everything there.

We went back to the B&B to relax and get ready for dinner. We went back down to Kona; I wasn’t feeling very well, so we decided just to get something light at the Hard Rock. Then I started really not feeling well, so we left and went back to our B&B. I think I was in bed by 7:30!! Mike had crackers and fruit for dinner.

Day 3 – Up at 5 a.m.! Breakfast was French toast with cinnamon apples and again, the best coffee in the world.

We had a snorkeling trip planned for the Hula Kai boat (with Fairwinds). We got there at 9 a.m. and boarded around 9:20. This boat is new, and it’s fast! There are lounge chairs for everybody with cup holders in them, and they put up umbrellas when the boat is stopped. We’ve done lots of boat trips, and this is one of our favorites! We went to a couple of places to snorkel (this boat, since it goes much fast than most, can go further south to snorkel). The snorkeling was great. While we were snorkeling at the first stop, the crew cooked breakfast (our 2nd breakfast!), and while we were snorkeling at the second stop, they cooked lunch (great big Angus beef burgers and teriyaki chicken)! Mike looked up while we were snorkeling at the second stop and said, “Look, the boat is on fire.” Well, it wasn’t, of course; it was the barbeque. Lunch was delicious. This trip was $139 per person, and it’s worth every penny.

We saw the Place of Refuge from the boat; we also the Captain Cook monument, but we couldn’t snorkel there; the bay was still closed because of the earthquake.

After the boat trip, we drove back to the B&B. We got back around 3:15 p.m., and it started raining while we were taking a nap. There’s nothing better than napping to the sound of rain on the roof and Hawaiian music in the background! By the time we left for dinner, the rain had stopped.

Dinner was at Huggo’s on the Rocks. We had garlic bread and chicken nachos, which were very good. Bill was about $25. There was a show there of kids showing how they learned to hula dance. There was one girl who was so cute – she reminded us of our middle daughter (now 19 years old). This little girl was probably about 7 years old, and she was very good at hula dancing. After dinner, we walked around for awhile; we watched a sand volleyball match. My husband and I said we ought to challenge the winners to a game, but then we wisely decided not to do this.

Day 4 – Up at 5:30! Breakfast was bacon, eggs, muffins, coffee – very good!

Then we told Lonn good-bye and left for the next part of our journey. We drove the southern route to the Volcano. We stopped at the Ho’okena Beach Park; it’s down a steep, windy road, but it’s worth a stop.

Then we drove down the 11-mild road to the Southern Point. Well, this is called a road, but there is room for about 1 and 1/8 cars on it, so when you meet a car, you have to both get off the side of the road. This road is VERY curvy, and we felt as if we were away from the rest of the world. There are wind turbines in a field, but none of them are working, and some of them have missing blades. It is sort of an eerie place. At the end of the road, we parked the car and walked the rest of the way. The views are amazing! It is well worth making this trip if you have the time. We had crackers, fruit, snacks for lunch in the car.

We then continued on to the Volcano National Park. We got our pass, a map, and then we drove to the Country Goose B&B, which was our home for the next 2 nights. I wrote a review about this B&B on trip advisor; we were not impressed with this place at all. If we stay in the area again, we’ll stay at the Kilauea Lodge. We left and drove to Hilo for the evening. Dinner at Pizza Hut (I know, I know) for about $25. We went to Hilo Hatties and Borders (we both love to hang out at book stores).

Day 5 – Up at 5:30! Breakfast at the Country Goose, which was okay. Then we went to Volcano NP. We drove the Crater Rim Drive, stopping at the stem vents, cauldrons, hiking part of Devastation Trail, stopping at the overlooks. We also went into the Thurston Lava Tubes; we had flashlights, but once we got to the unlighted area it was so dark, even with our flashlights! We didn’t stay long in that area.

We then drove back to Hilo to the black sand beach (just north of Hilo). The surf was pounding, and there lots of surfers there. It was fun to watch.

Then we drove back to the VNP and drove the Chain of Craters Road. At about 2 miles into this road, there is the Hilina Pali Road, which is about 8.5 miles long. This road leads to a great lookout of the sea! The road is one-lane, which dozens and dozens of curves and hills. This road leads you around lava fields, beautiful scenery, and is well worth taking the time to drive it. We didn’t pass a car, which was good, because one of us would have had to back up and let the other one pass. The trees reminded me of some of the trees in Wizard of Oz. It was a great side-trip.

As we continued on the Chain of Craters Road, we can see steam from where the lava is flowing to the sea. It is amazing! Then we park along the road (there are lots of car by this time – around 5 p.m.) and walk about ½ mile to the ranger station; then it’s another ½ mile to where the lava overflows the road, and this is also amazing. Then we walked about ¼ mile on the hardened lava to a viewing area. As the sky darkens, we can see red, flowing lava going into the ocean. It is truly amazing. (I know I’ve used the word “amazing” several times, but I can’t think of words to describe how truly wonderful this was.) We walked back along the lava in the dark, using headlamps and flashlights to light our way. As we walked back along the road to our car, I looked back to the lava, and there were hundreds of lights from people’s flashlights as they were walking on the lava. The black lava was all around us, the volcano was to our right, the ocean was on our left, and the moon was illuminating it all. It was a beautiful night. We could hear the ocean waves hitting the rocks, feel the wind and see the moon and stars.

We carried ponchos with us, but we didn’t need them. We also had gloves, but we didn’t use them. We had water, which we did use.

On our way back across the volcano, we stopped at the top, put the top down on our convertible, and leaned back and watched the stars. I have never in my life seen so many stars; there were millions and millions of them, and it is a sight I will never forget.

Dinner was at Kilauea Lodge; M had steak; S had meatloaf (they charge for refills of soft drinks). Bill with tip was around $73.00. This was a great place for dinner.

Day 6 – Up at 6:00 (see, we’re sleeping later!) B’fast was at McDonald’s ($8.00) in Hilo. We drove the northern side of the island today, stopping at all the scenic drives listed in the Blue Book. We went to Akaka Falls. We went to Laupahoehoe Point (where the tsunami happened in 1946). There was a memorial there, which was very touching, and the waves were beautiful!

We drove Highway 250 to Hawi. There are beautiful views along this road. We had lunch in Hawi at the Short and Sweet Bakery; sandwiches (cheese and chicken pesto); bill was $21. Dessert was at Tropical Dreams (we shared a milkshake).

We then drove Highway 270 to Highway 19, which leads to the Kohala Resort area. We got to the Fairmont Orchid around 3 p.m. When we pulled up to the entrance they gave us fresh-flower leis. Our room wasn’t ready, so we went to the pool (had our bathing suits on under our clothes!). Our room was ready before 4, and it was beautiful; we had been upgraded to an ocean view room in the north tower. There was champagne in our room, along with some snacks. There was a card congratulating us for our anniversary. The room was beautiful. There was a beautiful CD playing (which we bought later at a Border’s – the CD is Kohala Flying).

We checked out the resort and then had dinner at the Orchid Bar. We ate at a table with our feet in the sand. One of the things I love about Hawaii is being able to eat meals outside. M had hamburger, S had chicken quesadilla; bill was about $40.

We walked around the resort and sat on lounge chairs at the beach. Mike looked down, and there was a huge sea turtle on the sand right next to him! There were some Hawaiian singers at Brown’s Beach House. They sang the Christian song, “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me, and it was so beautiful. We snuggled in a hammock and watched the stars for awhile.

Day 7 – Up at 5. Listened to our son’s band performance over the cell phone (his band was at a band competition at the Georgia Dome). We were out at the pool by 6 a.m. We put our stuff down and walked along the beach. B’fast was at Brown’s Deli (about $21).

There is a ping pong table on the grounds, and we had our first match. Mike won 21-18.

The Fairmont is wonderful. We were brought chilled towels and fresh fruit, and they also would come around and spritz us with Evian water to cool us off! I told my husband I was in heaven.

Lunch was at the Orchid Bar. We had pizza, cheeseburger; bill was $44.

We then went inside to watch the Tennessee football game on ESPN. Go, Vols!

At 4:30 we went to the Gathering of the Kings, which is just about like a lu’au. There are foods from Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and the dancers tell the story of the history of these islands. It was very good.

Day 8 – Up at 5; walked on beach; b’fast at Brown’s Deli ($21).

We rented a cabana by the ocean today. More cold towels and spritzing! It was a wonderful, relaxing day.

Dinner was at Roy’s. S had asparagus soup and mahi-mahi; M had short ribs and shrimp. Dessert was chocolate soufflé! Great meal. Bill was $95.

Day 9 – Up at 6. B’fast at Brown’s Deli. We decided to go to Mauna Kea Beach and snorkel today. The snorkeling was pretty good near the rocks. We drove to Hapuna Beach, which is a very beautiful. We thought we’d stay there for awhile, but we looked at each other and we both said we’d rather go back to the Fairmont. Lunch was again at the Orchid Bar; we split a hamburger/fries; bill was $31.00.

Spent the afternoon at the pool; again, more spritzing and cold towels (this is getting to be a habit.)

At dusk every evening, someone blows the conch shell in the lobby and then lights all the torches (there are probably 100 torches on the resort). Then this person walks to the beach and blows the conch shell while out on the rocks; this a very beautiful and haunting thing to watch.

Dinner was at Brown’s Beach House (favorite dinner of our trip!). M had lobster bisque and bone-in rib-eye; S had tomato soup and filet mignon. Dessert (compliments of the Fairmont for our anniversary) was mud pie.

We then dozed off in a hammock while watching the stars, which is a wonderful way to end a day.

Day 10 – (Halloween) – Up at 5:30. B’fast at Brown’s Deli.

We snorkeled at the Fairmont beach. There were dozens of giant sea turtles! Some of them were about 4 feet long; we got some pictures. They would swim right up to us. It was great!

Lunch was at Orchid Grill; chicken quesadillas; bill was $40. We then sat under the palm trees around the pool and relaxed.

That evening we drove to Kona, which completed our circle of the Big Island. Dinner was at Bubba Gumps; they have a great view from their tables. Dinner was about $35.

Day 11 – Up at 5:30; requested late checkout. B’fast at Brown’s Deli. We spent the morning in the pool, in the hammock, and under the palm trees, trying to enjoy every last minute.

The weather had been beautiful our whole trip; highs in mid-eighties and clear skies since we left the Volcano area.

We were on the road by 1 p.m. to the Kona airport. Our flight was canceled, and we got on the next one. Avis was very slow with returning the car; finally Mike told them he was leaving the paperwork and for them to just mail us a receipt. We arrived in Honolulu and were able to get bulkhead seats. It was raining in Honolulu. Flight from Honolulu left at 5:30 p.m.

Day 12 – Home at last. We spent all night on the plane and landed this morning. We were met with COLD temperatures in Atlanta!

THOUGHTS OF TRIP: This was one of the greatest trips we’ve ever taken. As you can tell, we’re definitely not foodies, and we don’t like lots of fancy food.

My husband and I feel truly blessed to be able to enjoy being with each other after 25 years of marriage. He is my best friend, and this was such a romantic and fun trip. After this year, we’re empty nesters, so it’s good to know how much we enjoy hanging out with each other.

Mahalo.
Samsaf is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2006, 10:59 AM
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Great report Samsaf! By the way, our anniversary is on the same date, even the year!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 03:23 PM
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Thanks, AustinTraveler. I hope you had a great anniversary, too!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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Very nice report! Thank you.

Glad you had such a wonderful trip!
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Thanks, Icuy. I already want to go back!
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 04:39 AM
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Hi S...great trip report. And, how romantic to just star gaze so much!

Welcome home..even tho it was cold when you arrived, aren't the colors spectacular this year?

Aloha...i'2
 
Old Nov 5th, 2006, 04:50 AM
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Happy Anniversary! Great report, I loved that you included food price. It's great to read a report that does not go on and on about the $300 dinner (or whatever) they had at some exclusive place. I tend to believe more people eat the way you did then let on about it anyway

Thanks also for breaking your report into paragrpahs for easy reading. I am so glad you had such a wonderful time, we've been to the Big Island several times and it's a very enjoyable place (as you found out).
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 10:08 AM
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Thanks, i'2 and Lori. Yes, it was cold in Atlanta, but the leaves are beautiful!
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Great report samsaf! I love the Big Island and your report makes me want to go back! We were on Kauai with our kids during the same time as your trip. We chatted with several soon to be empty nesters such as yourself and I honestly think they seemed happier than the honeymooners!
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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Thanks, wtm! There was a honeymoon couple at the Fairmont while we were there, and we noticed that they argued and seemed unhappy; it was sort of sad.
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Old Nov 5th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Great report, samsaf! Glad it was wonderful - and what sweet comments on a 25 year old marriage. You two are very lucky indeed!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Thank you, Starrsville! (He is a very sweet husband.)
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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Great trip report! Thanks for sharing!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:04 PM
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Aloha samsaf!!! What a lovely report. I especially loved your description,

"As we walked back along the road to our car, I looked back to the lava, and there were hundreds of lights from people’s flashlights as they were walking on the lava. The black lava was all around us, the volcano was to our right, the ocean was on our left, and the moon was illuminating it all. It was a beautiful night. We could hear the ocean waves hitting the rocks, feel the wind and see the moon and stars.

It's as though I'm there with you! Lovely writing!!

Many congratulations on your 25th!!

Mahalo and much aloha!!
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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Thank you for the great report. My typical vacation dining is a lot like your, so your report is very relevant to me.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 04:35 AM
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Thank you. I know I left out lots of things -- one thing my husband pointed out is that he beat me TWICE in ping-pong!

I'm so glad we left time at the last half of our trip for relaxing. I feel that 10 days is a great amount of time to spend on the Big Island in order to be able to see lots of stuff (even though there's lots we didn't see.)

One thing I didn't mention: The Gathering of the Kings at the Fairmont Orchid was $99 per person, and you can upgrade to "preferred status" for another $25 per person. We did not do the preferred status, and we were glad we didn't. The "preferred" people got to go in first (sat in first row tables) and got a better lei (we got shell beads, they got bigger leis), and the pre-dinner snacks seemed to be better, but it was definitely not worth $50 extra. The dinner and show were awesome and worth $99 per person.
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Old Nov 7th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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Samsaf: Happy Anniversary! Thanks very much for a great TR, sweet and informative, can't wait till we go in Feb!
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Old Nov 8th, 2006, 04:58 PM
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topping for Heymo. And thanks, Shanghainese!
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Old Mar 11th, 2007, 12:14 PM
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Topping for Josh.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 03:41 PM
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topping for Ronine
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