First Timers to Hawaii - HELP!

Old Jan 19th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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First Timers to Hawaii - HELP!

My husband and I are travelling to Hawaii with our 3 kids - 12, 9 & 6 - for the first time in April for 9 days. Our flight arrives is Hilo and departs from Maui. We want to see the volcano, and I think the kids would love snorkeling, but other than that we have no plans. The airfare's paid and we're budgeting up to $4,000 for everything else. Any suggestions on lodging, rental car, activities, etc?
Thanks!
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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The Hilo Lagoon hotel is nice. Downtown Hilo doesn't have a whole lot to offer, other than Rainbow Falls (I'm sure I'll hear about this!), but you could take a drive up to the scientific station on Mauna Loa. My husband was there on a research project once, and the view is fantastic. It can be cold and windy; so go prepared. Another time you could drive down to see the black-sand beach or up north to see the Parker Ranch.

On Maui you will want to drive up to Haleakala and perhaps take the long but beautiful drive around Hana. Maui has gorgeous beaches with lots to do.
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 02:39 PM
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In my experience the best way to save $) is by staying at condo's ~$100 to $200/night and a good place to check is www.vrbo.com.

A sampling of hotels and condo prices can be found at expedia.com, travelocity, orbitz.com etc. Hawaii travel agents web sites also provide useful info. about hotels and condos and can be found by searching the internet and like hotels and expedia.com etc, also conveniently accept a credit card for payment whereas VRBO.com may require a check for partiall/full payment in advance.

The best snorkeling experience for us was on the Big Island near Capt. Cook Monument via Fairwind II out of Keahou (near Kona). Snorkeling also good along the west coast of Maui (e.g. Wailea beaches). We usually find some kind of discount rate for Alamo or Dollar rentals in Hawaii. Agree with your B.I. plan of visiting VNP and snorkeling, suggest consider visiting "Place of Refuge"-an ancient hawaiian village where turtles often come to feed in the water nearby.
On Maui would recommend at least one day checking out the pools at the Grand Wailea Resort. Also suggest a visit to Maui Ocean Center, touring the Road to Hana. Alot of helpful info. on Hawaii can be found in wizardpub.com guidebooks, here is link:
http://www.wizardpub.com/bigisland/bigresort.html

http://www.wizardpub.com/maui/maui.html

Enjoy your stay in Paradise!
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 05:27 AM
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How long are you staying in Hilo? You are flying from Maui to Hilo? And flying out of Hilo to go home? Hilo is close to Volcano Natl Park, but it is the rainy side of the island. Your kids are great ages for a stay at Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kona side, LOTS for kids to do there, including swimming with the dolphins. Go to the volcano area, drive up Mauna Kea, both are easy to get to from the Hilo side. Not a lot of real good beaches or hotels on the Hilo side. I agree with JohnD, a condo unit would be a better choice for a family on the Hilo side. VRBO is a good site to use and you can save lot of money. Here is one place we almost booked this year near Hilo.http://www.vrbo.com/20108 MUCH more room for the kids to roam in a condo. Depending on how many days you're on the BI, I would consider staying a couple of days at the Hilton. The weather is better on the Kona side, more opportunity for snorkeling. On Maui, depends on your budget for lodging. Bigger resorts in the Wailea area, lower priced condo units in west Maui area, Naplil Bay is a good choice. Rental cars, use Orbitz or go to their sites directly. Use discount codes. Get a copy of 'Maui Revealed' guidebook by Wizard publications.
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 12:21 PM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions! Another question: While we're on the BI, should we stay a night or two near the volcano then move to a different hotel near the north or west side of the island (where it sounds like the weather and beaches are better), or stay in the north or west the whole time and drive back and forth to the volcano? It sounds like the volcano sightseeing would only take maybe a day and an evening. (We plan on spending 4-5 nights on the BI before heading to Maui).
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 01:47 PM
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If you're staying 5 nights, stay in Hilo for 1 or 2 nights and explore volcano park . Then go over to the Kona side for the other 3/4 nights. Yes, you could stay all 5 days on the Kona side, but the drive over and back to the volcano is about 2-1/2 hours EACH way. Probably better to stay at least one night in Hilo. On the Kona side, check out the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort,(http://www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/)
it's great for kids and while they don't have a beach on the ocean, they have a very nice lagoon area inside the complex. One reason I recommend the Hilton is that they cater to the kids and have lots of things for them to do. There are a number of good beaches on this side where you can snorkel, tours also.
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 01:51 PM
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I think you're making a mistake. The first visit to Hawaii should be to Oahu. There is much to see there of interest to the young ones, stuff that one cannot see on the other islands.
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 02:30 PM
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I second Underhill's recs and ribar55 - driving to the top of Mauna Kea (I did not think it was called Mauna Loa but maybe I'm wrong?) is fantasic, your kids would probably find all the science/exploratory stuff interesting. It is basically halfway between the Hilo and Kona sides of the island. Do bring warm clothes b/c it is very cold at the top - but the view is spectacular at sunset. I think you must have a 4WD car (we rented a truck at the Hilo airport) to drive to the top, it's very steep and windy but well worth it. The Falls near Hilo (Akaka I think?) are amazing and easy to access.
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