Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

If we love Paia, Maui, where should we stay on the Big Island?

If we love Paia, Maui, where should we stay on the Big Island?

Jan 6th, 2009, 02:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 951
If we love Paia, Maui, where should we stay on the Big Island?

We keep returning to Maui, renting a little cottage in Paia, driving Makena to scuba dive and go to the beach, or hiking around the West Maui mountains, and spending evenings on our lanai watching the ocean, eating awesome fresh fish from Nagata Market, and relaxing.

We love it but feel like we are in a rut and need a new destination, so we are looking at two weeks on the Big Island.

If we love the hippie/organic/slightly shabby/local/small town vibe of Paia, where should we base as we finally branch out to the Big Island?

We like to be in a small cottage with a view and a BBQ. We don't mind driving to get to sights, beaches, or dive spots because all the vistas are so pretty. We like being in a town with a personality (and maybe a good organic market) instead of a condo-timeshare style area.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!
BlueSwimmer is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 02:59 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,672
sylvia3 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,854
Hilo, it's a good size town yet very laid back, or the Puna area.
Shanghainese is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 367
Agree with both PPs with a slight edge to the Puna suggestion, as the east side of the island has probably the most gorgeous scenery I've ever seen in my entire life. You can just drive and drive and be in awe.
Gellers is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,613
Maybe Puako on the west side, Puna on the east. Although Puna is less tourist-friendly than some places I've been.
Marginal is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 813
I agree with the suggestions above but would like to suggest that you break up your stay into time on both sides of the island. The Big Island is big and it takes several hours driving to go from one side of the island and back again in a day.

Hawi area would be what you described for the west side of the island. Or as Marginal said Puako for a warmer, sunnier climate.
bfrac is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 05:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 951
Thanks for all the replies! I've been reading other trip reports on the BI and splitting the trip into two halves to stay on both sides of the island seems like the way to go. I guess in my mind I'm thinking its around the size of Maui and we can easily drive back and forth, but that isn't the case. Dur- maybe that's why they call it the BIG island, right?

I will start looking into Hawi, Puna, and Puaka- more fun trip planning to look forward to in the middle of cold and rain here in DC tonight.
BlueSwimmer is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,613
Hawi is just too remote and windy for me. Interesting to visit, but not a good base for exploring.
Marginal is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
I have to agree with bfrac. I have been to the Big Island many times, and in fact will be leaving for their at 7 am tomorrow. There is great diversity so with 2 weeks you will be able to take your time and really enjoy all that it has to offer. If you enjoy tranquil walks, drive down to the southern most point on the island and walk to the green sand beach. It will take the best part of a day if you stop to enjoy all that the walk has to offer. If you like coffee, take a trip to upcountry to the Kona coffee plantations. Aloha!
jimisgood4something is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 813
BlueSwimmer, I should have known you were nearby by your screen name. I'm in MD. Planning a trip to the BI is perfect in this cold, rainy weather we're having.

Think of the BI as all the other islands being able to fit on it. We have gone for two week trips three times and still haven't done all that we would like to do. We always divide our time between the two sides of the island.

Marginal is right that Hawi is a bit remote but it has the vibe you described. If you decide on Puna you may want to be closer to the beaches when you move to the west side. Puna is remote too. You might consider the village of Volcano, I really like it there and don't mind the drive into Hilo which is about 45 minutes.
bfrac is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 906
Here are some ideas if you decide to spend half the time in the Hawi/Kapa'au/North Kohala area.

There are many really charming restaurants, galleries, and interesting places to explore, and once you go a bit below the surface, you will fall in love.

In Hawi, The Bamboo Restaurant is in the old Takata's grocery store, and has a nice gallery and gift shop. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is live Hawaiian music, including John Keawe, and his wife Hope who dances, usually every other week. Sushi Rock is a very innovative small restaurant owned by a creative young chef.

Across the street is the Kohala Coffee Mill, with interesting live music on Sunday mornings, sincere with range of quality. It's a great morning hang-out, with very good coffee, light breakfasts and lunches, and delicious Tropical Dreams Ice Cream. Someone might offer to paint your portrait for free! It may end up hanging at the Fudge and Craft Shop upstairs.

Luke's Place has live music almost every night, and a bar set up like a living room. Sometimes the food is great, sometimes it is OK.

Short & Sweet is a top notch bakery (celebrity wedding cakes) and has good lunches, breakfasts, and great pizza on Fridays if you call ahead.

Saturday morning there is a local farmer's and flea market under the banyan tree, and Friday nights there are free movies at the gym.

You can check out local happenings at the bulletin boards at the Coffee Mill.

Then, venture one mile more to Kapa'au, home of the statue of King Kamehameha. Another wonderful town, with the best casual restaurant Pico's Bistro, which is part of a museum honoring the life of a local fisherman, Kenji's Place, and upstairs an art cooperative with very high quality work.

Also, in Kapa'au is Sammy D's, a popular hamburger place owned by a local hula family.

Takata's Grocery store is family owned since the '20s (I think), and Mrs. Takata and the kids still work the registers. It's the best small super market in the world, and has another great bulletin board for local action.

The best bargain in the world is the $6 golf at the Kapa'au Community Center (6 holes). The course was designed and built by a caring community member to encourage the local kids to play golf. (Kids are free on Mondays, and $3.75 the rest of the time.) You can rent clubs.

Continue to Pololu, for a great view, hike to a black sand beach, and galleries (Rankin), old temples and churches, and beautiful gulches along the way.

Then, from Hawi, it is just 10 minutes to Lapakahi, a ancient fishing village/state park. That's a great place to hike and watch whales in season.

Another historical site is Mo'okini Heiau. Harder to find, but haunting. Pu'ukohola Heiau is in Kawaihae, where WaterWorld was filmed. You'll be near another good restaurant, Café Pesto, and several nice shops.

It's a beautiful drive from Hawi to the resorts, where most of the amenities can be enjoyed (beach, lunch, shopping, entertainment, petroglyph trails.)

The town of Waimea (also known as Kamuela) is a stunning drive from Hawi. This is a paniolo (cowboy) town, and the houses reflect this charming style. Great restaurants include my favorites, Daniel Thiebault's and Merrimans.

Since this is already so long, you can find more from my other posts with links, and be assured that the other areas of the Big Island are also quaint and interesting.

P.S. Try to avoid driving through Kona.
Kailani is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 813
Well said, Kailani.
bfrac is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 10:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,613
After recommending Puako, I did some research on TripAdvisor for rentals. I think you need to read about them, as I found some negative issues with the Puako area: lots of red dust, biting midges, tiny sand beaches and lots of rocks and coral to fall on. I've driven in there and it lookd idyllic, but I've never stayed there.

If you go to Hawi, also drive at least one way on Kohala Mountain Road, along the spine of the mountain. It was so rural and idyllic, with green pastures, horses, little lanes, and some astonishing views. I really wanted to stay there much longer and put it on my fantasy list as a place I'd want to have a house.
Marginal is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 07:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 951
Reading about all these places is taking my mind off work!

Thanks Kailani for the excellent list of recommendations. I love that level of detail.

Hawi and the area around it do sound like our vibe. I've been obsessively looking at VRBO rentals in the area, and I am starting to get really interested in the area around Waimea- there appear to be laid back cottages with great views in our price range. Now I just have to make sure it isn't too high in the mountains for scuba divers.

I've also found some awesome houses around Captain Cook. Is that more touristy?

Again- thanks everyone! This is so helpful!

BlueSwimmer is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,613
Waimea is a bit tricky. The west side is windy and sunny, and the east sides is windy and rainy. Really rainy. You can almost draw a line down the middle of town as to dry/wet sides. I wouldn't want to stay there because you really couldn't walk to many places, you would have to drive.
Marginal is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 08:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 813
I would rather choose a place on one side or the other, especially if you plan on diving. It is a very nice town but not really what it sounds like you are looking for. I go there to grocery shop and to do laundry. Merriman's and Thibeaut are nice restaurants too.
bfrac is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3,613
bfac described my feelings about Waimea. It is a nice small town, but not at all like Paia, and a fair drive from anywhere, especially beaches. There isn't much to do there.
Marginal is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 11:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 951
Okay- sounds like Waimea is out. Hawi looks great but remote. I'm having a great time learning about each place and fantacsizing. We just had about 10 minutes of sleet here... so island dreaming is in order!
BlueSwimmer is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 980
We spent 10 nights on the Big Island this past September and loved it. Echoing what others have said, you'll want to stay in at least two locations, and two weeks will give you plenty of time. We spent a couple of nights in Waimea which allowed us to explore the area around Hawi, a night at the volcano, and a week in a rental in Kailua-Kona. I would have liked to have seen more of the area around Honoka'a and spent more than an afternoon in Hilo, but there just wasn't enough time. Because we're from Southern California, being on a beach wasn't a priority, but we did want to be on the water for at least some of our stay and wanted to snorkel. While Kailua-Kona is more of a tourist town, we found it to be a very serviceable base (we also loved the location of our house). It offered easy access to the coffee country which has the vibe you're seeking. Captain Cook isn't touristy but the VOG can be more of an issue there. You will find wonderful farmers' markets everwhere. We were able to visit the ones in Volcano and Keauhou.
bon_voyage is online now  
Jan 11th, 2009, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 301
Hi BlueSwimmer

Did you look at the Kapoho area in the Puna District on VRBO. We stayed down there in July. Your hippie/organic/slightly shabby/local/small town vibe describes Pahoa which is about 10 miles from Kapoho. I should know I have lived in Humboldt County California for 35 years.

Have Fun

GP is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:53 PM.