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ejcrowe Mar 6th, 2008 05:43 PM

Big Island--which would you choose?
After a couple of months of thinking that my trip to Hawaii was off, I'm happy to report that it's back on again. I know that my first two nights will be spent on Honolulu and that my last four nights will be at Kona Village, but I'm not sure where to kick off my stay on the BI.

I'm really drawn to Waianuhea for our first stay, despite its remoteness. There's just something I really like about the looks and vibe of this place.

Of course, it would be more practical to stay in or closer to Hilo, and in Hilo I'm drawn to Hale Kai Hawaii and The Bay House for their locations near the water.

While on the eastern side of the island we intend to visit waterfalls, enjoy the scenery, check out the local color, browse in the galleries, and visit VNP. I have three nights to allot to this side of the island and I think I would prefer to spend them all in one place just so we don't have to pack & unpack again. However, I would consider splitting these three nights in two places.

So, I'm curious. Which would *you* choose, and why? Would you choose to be closer to Hilo and VNP, or would you enjoy being able to see the coast from your car, traveling back & forth each day?


NeoPatrick Mar 6th, 2008 06:08 PM

I asked this same sort of question just yesterday or the day before, narrowing it down to Hilo and Volcano. The overwhelming response seemed to say Volcano would make the better base for doing what we wanted to do -- plus adds the benefit of night viewing of the lava flows without a long drive afterwards.

martym Mar 7th, 2008 05:14 AM

For three days I would want to be closer to Hilo. Another place you might consider--Palms Cliff House. It is closer to Hilo than Waianuhea.

NeoPatrick Mar 7th, 2008 05:48 AM

for anyone trying that last link, switch the "plams" to "palms" and you'll get it.

Looks like a really beautiful place but at an average of nearly $450 a night with taxes and a four night minimum, it's out of my budget!

nomadgrl Mar 7th, 2008 06:22 AM

While it has been many years ago, I think 1997, we stayed at Hale Kai in Hilo and truly enjoyed our stay there. I would go back in a heartbeat. The breakfast was great and it was an easy drive to Volcano National Park.

martym Mar 7th, 2008 06:25 AM

Thanks for correcting my link, Patrick.

NeoPatrick Mar 7th, 2008 06:55 AM

No problem, I thought I was the only one turning dyslexic! LOL.

Shanghainese Mar 7th, 2008 07:03 AM

The Bay House, the rooms are beautiful and you can feel the ocean spray sitting on the lanai with a stunning view, and the hosts are terrific.

Kailani Mar 7th, 2008 10:03 AM

I can see why you are drawn to Waianuhea. It looks gorgeous. Okay, you have picked three great looking possibilities to stay!

Personally, I would not stay 3 nights at the volcano unless you are really going to hike a lot. You're up high and it's kind of cold. One night in Volcano, with a yummy dinner at the Kilauea Lodge. Or, you can really do a day trip from Hilo quite easily.

Another place to visit is North Kohala. You'll be passing through Waimea, which is Paniolo (cowboy) country, and it is fun to see, and there are some good restaurants. If you go north to the little old sugar towns of Hawi and Kapa'au, there are some good restaurants, great vistas at Pololu, and lots of galleries, and a special, secret $6 golf course.

ejcrowe Mar 7th, 2008 10:43 AM

Thanks for all of the great suggestions, folks! Right now I'm leaning a bit toward staying in Hilo over Waianuhea, but it's a tough call. I'm afraid I'm not at all interested in staying in/near VNP, but I can't pinpoint why I feel that way. I definitely want to visit, and maybe even do a night hike to see the lava flow if it's accessible in July, but I just don't feel it calling to me like the other places.

The Palms Cliff House looks gorgeous, but sadly it's too expensive for us, especially since we're splurging at Kona VIllage at the end of our stay.

What are your opinions of spending two nights in Hilo, seeing VNP from there, driving north to spend one night at Waianuhea, and then making my way across Waimea and down through North Kohala to get to Kona Village, versus three nights in Hilo, then driving clockwise around the island to Kona?

I normally would prefer to unpack & pack as few times as possible, but getting in one night at Waianuhea might be worth it to me.

For driving scenery, which would you recommend for driving from Hilo to Kona Village? Clockwise or counterclockwise and why?


martym Mar 7th, 2008 10:51 AM

Since you really want to experience Waianuhea, I would do 2 nights Hilo and 1 night there.

The scenery is lovely whether you go south past South Point or north along the Hamakua coast.

travelinandgolfin Mar 7th, 2008 11:17 AM

We stayed at the Bay House a few years ago. It was great!!

Ask for the room that's down in the corner on the right hand side of the house.

GloriaE Mar 7th, 2008 11:47 AM

One thing you should be aware of is that the current view of the lava is not accessed through Volcano National Park. The current viewing access is located in the Puna District. So, if you wanted to view lava at night, it would be closer from Hilo than from Volcano.

Shanghainese Mar 7th, 2008 11:49 AM

travelin -- must be the Harbor Room, we stayed there too!

ejcrowe -- you can tell the hosts I sent you, they'll remember where I was born and my DF's profession was the same as the host's.

ejcrowe Mar 9th, 2008 06:46 PM

Just wanted to post back what we decided. We're spending our first two nights in Hilo at the Hale Kai. Bay House was actually our first choice but they're closed for vacation the week we're there. :( Still, Hale Kai will be quite pleasant, and with a setting like that at a great price, who cares about dated decor?

Then we move on to Waianuhea for one night, then we'll drive couter-clockwise around the island from there to get to our beach resort for the last part of our stay. I promised my husband we can have serious downtime once we get to Kona Village--he's not looking forward to all of the moving around I have planned for us.

One more question for y'all. We haven't booked our inter-island air tickets yet. I feel that we can leave the Big Island on the same day to connect in HNL for our flight to the mainland, which leaves around 5:00 pm. My husband wants to play it safe and leave the Big Island the day before our flight to the mainland. Now, I've not actually checked prices & schedules, but I feel pretty comfortable staying the extra night on the BI. Do y'all have advice on this point? And if you do recommend flying back to HNL early, what hotel can you recommend for a good value, one nighter kind of place?

LVAMY Mar 9th, 2008 07:01 PM

There are quite a few flights out of Kona to HNL everyday so don't waste a night on Oahu if that is not what you want to do(not saying it is a waste, we are spending a week there after BI). We booked our flights separately RT Las Vegas to HNL and RT BI to HNL much cheaper. Our flight has been delayed before leaving Vegas and did not have a problem getting on another flight to BI when we missed ours. We always fly Hawaiian Air between islands even if we fly another airline to Hawaii. If he is worried take an early flight and check in and have lunch somewhere in Honolulu if you are not leaving til 5pm.

leavingsoon Mar 9th, 2008 07:08 PM

We have often ended up in a situation where we have to go back to HNL for our flight home. We have never had a problem and always pick the flight that lands closest to our time.

In the worst case scenario (airlines planes all stop working) you could ALWAYS buy a walk up ticket on a competing airline. You will be fine catching any interisland flight that lands by 3pm.

If you are flying United over, they cosdeshare with Aloha and therefore when you check in in KOA it's all finished. You give them your bags and they get them all the way back home.

Unless you're doing your day in Waikiki/Pearl harbor type thing, then I would not waste a day just to catch the flight- that is a totally unecessary thing to do. If you're going to see Pearl harbor, though, then that's a good plan.

Also, I would go book that interisland as soon as it is offered at the low fare- you don;t want to lose it and then have to go earlier and just wait and wait at the airport.

ejcrowe Mar 10th, 2008 10:01 AM

Thanks for the reassurances, y'all. I'd assume there were plenty of interisland flights daily that we could stay an extra night on the BI.

Can either of you or anybody else tell me what is a reasonable price for an interisland round trip flight between HNL and the BI? We'd prefer an open jaw, flying into Hilo and flying out of Kona.

leavingsoon Mar 10th, 2008 05:24 PM

I would fly Aloha or Island Air and book it on the website (but I think it is instant purchase).

We used to pay $39 each way, and this last time it was more like $48, but I did just see flights yesterday for $43 each way.

There are sometimes specials on that new airline, but that's one thing I wouldn't mess around with. As long as you know your dates- and that you've booked your lodging, just go ahead and get the seat- I don;t think you will do better and it's just not worth the worry- what is a school group suddenly decides to fly and takes every seat on the plane?

On the website you can put in your dates right now and see what the tickets cost. They do sell out of the lower fares as you get closer to the date.

leavingsoon Mar 10th, 2008 05:25 PM

That should have read: what IF a schoolgroup...

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