Not Really a Big Island Trip Report w/ Pix

Old Oct 25th, 2022, 05:26 PM
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Not Really a Big Island Trip Report w/ Pix

October 19 - 23, 2022

Iím just back from five days of working at the annual Hawaii Songwriting Festival which is held at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. I had very little free time so all I can report on is the resort and surrounds, and Hapuna Beach. They get the very highest marks. That beach really is stunning and the water was perfect. It seemed bluer and calmer than it has recently been where I live, on Kauaiís north shore. (Thatís not to say that swimming at Hanalei bay today was anything less than spectacular.)

Hapuna Beach (like all Hawaii beaches) is open to the public. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Big Island.

From the resort, facing the ocean, a few minutesí walk to the right brings you to an exceptionally beautiful cove with crystal clear water that was perfect for snorkeling. Continuing on, I got postcard worthy views as I hiked the 2.2 mile Ala Kahakai trail to the Mauna Loa hotel.

I did not go in the pool or hot tub, but they were both beautiful and the attendants seemed helpful.

My oceanview room was quite spacious and I liked having the mini fridge to keep some fruit and yogurt on hand. The housekeeping staff were excellent. I needed lots of extra Starbucks and creamers for my in-room coffee maker to get me through the very long, demanding days of the festival. The smiling, friendly housekeeper was happy to oblige. Rack rate for the rooms started around $800/night.

Since the last time I was there they have implemented filtered water dispensers that are located throughout the resort. Each room is given two reusable metal bottles to refill throughout your stay and take home if desired. It was an excellent way to cut down on all the plastic bottles, and the water was icy cold and available almost wherever I wanted it.

My schedule did not permit me to dine in the Meridia restaurant (their main upscale dinner dining) this time, but I enjoyed it in the past.
I had dinner at the Naupaka Beach Grill which included beautiful views and lovely, mellow music. The meatball parmesan sandwich (around $20) with sweet potato fries was so good I had it a second time.

View from the Naupaka Grill

My lunches were boxed lunches that were provided by the festival. They were fine. Nothing special. The breakfast buffet at Ikena Landing included just about anything you could want for breakfast. But I am not a big breakfast eater and $45, plus $6 dollars for coffee, plus tax and tip felt exorbitant to me. I donít spend $65 or more when all I want is some fruit and oatmeal. Thankfully, there was an excellent alternative.

The Piko Coffee + Bar, in addition to serving a wide variety of coffee drinks, had prepared items that could be eaten while overlooking a pool and beach area. Offerings included a breakfast sandwich that was a slight cut above what you might get at a fast food restaurant, hard boiled eggs, cheeses, a huge plate of scrambled eggs, meats, and hashbrowns, and a selection of croissants and pastries that people raved about. Fruit, yogurt, and cold cereals were also available. Breakfasts typically cost me around $12. The view alone would have been worth that!

That same restaurant also sold limited selections of sandwiches, hotdogs, snacks, and more at lunchtime and dinner. They also had made to order pizzas in the evening. I did not try them, but they got rave reviews from friends.

This is an annual event for me and in previous years Iíve added additional days for sightseeing on both sides of the island. I wish I had done it this year, too because I hated to leave!

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Old Oct 27th, 2022, 12:24 PM
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Sounds like a fine place to do a little work. I would find$65 a bit much, but then I would not be likely to pay $800 a night for a room either. Does anyone pay rack rate? I hope it was a business expense for you.

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Old Oct 27th, 2022, 12:43 PM
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As a teacher and performer, I wasn't paying for the hotel. But the lowest rate I'm seeing is $729/nt -- and that does not include the taxes and fees, which would bring it to over $800/nt. Rich or poor -- it's nice to have money. Thankfully, the festival attendees were offered a deeply discounted rate.

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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 07:46 PM
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Aloha, Songdoc! Haven't opened Fodors for awhile (since your Kenya TR, in fact). Listening to an old Sonny Chillingworth CD, I thought, "Time to check the Hawaii Forum"...and there you are! I'll be on BI in 2 weeks--woohoo!-- so mahalo for the anticipation-making gorgeous photos.
Minor point--I think you meant the walk to Mauna Kea Hotel (not Mauna Loa), correct?
What a wonderful place to be: a Hawaiian songwriters festival!!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 05:26 AM
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Beautiful photos songdoc. I remember when there wasn't a hotel at Hapuna Beach. Now that was nice
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 11:13 AM
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Hi CaliNurse: Yes, I meant the Mauna Kea. I hope you have an awesome trip. I love the B.I.

Hi Melnq8: Wow! You have a long history with Hapuna Beach!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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