Three Island visit assistance/BI questions

May 3rd, 2013, 07:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 161
Three Island visit assistance/BI questions

We're arriving in Honolulu from Chicago around midnight on January 1. We'll spend that night and three more, leaving on January 5 for Maui.

We are on Maui until the afternoon of January 11. We'll be there to visit friends and attend an event.

Our plan is to then fly to the Big Island with our friends who live on Maui, landing in Hilo. We leave for home from the Kona side on January 17. So, we have 6 nights on the BI.

We are two couples, active, well-travelled, who enjoy beaches, but also culture. We want to definitely visit Volcano National Park when on BI.

So, questions:
Like many others, we're unsure if we should stay in Volcano Village or Hilo. Is Volcano Village really tiny? I do enjoy walking around a new town, and maybe Hilo has more of that.

One or two nights in the area?

The rest of the time in the Kona area, I think, but I am open to other ideas. We'll certainly have done plenty of beach time in Maui, though we can always do more. I like the idea of visiting some of the old, small towns, and less touristed parts of Hawaii. A suggestion was made to head to the NW.

Any ideas are welcome, and thanks in advance!
mosthecat is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 517
Hilo has a distinct lack of quality accomodations. The Shipman House is a lovely place. The hotel options are pretty plain.

Volcano is full of B&B's that are nice, but it isn't a little walking around village. I prefer to walk around Hilo, but stay in Volcano because it's such a different environment. Hilo is kind of a working person's town.

The Kohala/Waikoloa area is a nicer area than Kona. Kona is overpopulated with crummy restaurants. bars, and T-shirt shops. Both Hilo and Kona get heavy cruise ship traffic and reflect that.
explanation is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,299
Here are some websites about some of the smaller towns on the island of Hawaii that we have enjoyed. Holualoa Holuakoa Gardens is a good place to eat--though service can be slow--lots of local ingredients
Hawi we love Sushi Rock restaurant
Also you might enjoy what the Kona Historical Society has to offer
And there are three scenic byways on the big island though one is mostly in Kailua town--so there would be lots of traffic ttp://
martym is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hilo is the rainy side of the BI. When we were there in Feb it rained everyday, we stayed in Kona and kept waiting for a day without rain so we could drive to that side of the island. It never happened so we just took off one day, went to Volcano's National Park, where it was also raining so did not stay long, we did walk the Thurman Lava Tube and I would recommend doing that. There is a road you can drive all the way to the ocean but it is a 2hr drive and it was raining so we took off for Hilo and to find a hotel for the night. The hotels looked pretty shabby, not maintained so we chose the best looking one, the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. I think it was last decorated in the 80's but it was clean and location was good, we took the ocean side and had a good view. The next day we drove north and visited Akaka Falls State Park, it is beautiful even in the rain. There are Botanical Gardens close but we did not go. We drove the southern route of the island to Hilo and drove back to Kona by the northern route which we liked as you can see the many different landscapes and topography.
We stayed in Kona for a month. We enjoyed it as we had a condo close to the little harbor town and walked to town and to the market often. We liked Don the Beachcomer and Huggo's on the Rock's restaurants. We also walked to them but mostly we did our own cooking. We had an ocean view but the shoreline was rocky. If staying in Kona you have to drive to get to a sandy beach, although our condo had a small sandy beach next to it.
Driving north from Kona you will arrive at the upscale sandy beach resorts which are beautiful (read expensive) It is interesting, you will drive past lava fields, turn into a resort that has stores and restaurants, leave that resort go past more lava fields and visit another resort, etc....We drove to most all of them for lunch on the beach which was fun, (note expensive) My favorite was Lava Lava next to "A" beach. I would recommend you buy the book, Hawaii The Big Island Revealed. It was our bible.
cd is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 10:20 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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By the time you're there, the Volcano House within the park should be opened. Great place to stay to experience the park.
sylvia3 is online now  
May 5th, 2013, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 819
January is rainy season along the northern portions of all of the islands, but a bit less of a concern on Big Island. Hana area of Maui and Hilo area of Big Island will be wet, too. Stay south on Oahu and to some extent on Maui.

I would book one night in Volcano. Hilo is more of a government town with a commercial port. I would book the rest of the time in the Kohala area, not in Kona Town (no beaches, old concrete condos obscuring the bay, cruise-port kitsch). Kohala has beaches, just not the same number of easy-access beaches as Maui. It is mainly free of the vog that hangs over the island from the volcanic gasses. There are reasonable rentals in the Waikoloa Beach area -- and one of Hawaii's top hotels, Four Seasons Hualalai.

Check out Waipio Valley and Waimea Town. I'd drive the northern route between Hilo and Kohala. We always rent a larger vehicle for this island due to longer distances than on the other, small islands. Do not plan any long drives after dark here -- the roads are unlighted and the locals are frequently 'well lit'.

Six nights is very short for this island, but you'll 'get a taste'. See if you can tour Hulihee palace and Village of Refuge.

You should be seeing whales in early January, although we saw fewer last year from South Maui until mid-January into end of February.

(We'll be heading out of ORD Jan. 1 too, but going to Maui.)
ChiSue is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 05:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 161
Thanks everybody! Great advice, and a lot of agreement, so that helps really focus things.

We'll do the night in Volcano, and definitely steer clear of right in Kona for our stay there.

My folks loved the Four Seasons Hualalai, but a rental sounds good for us. We'll be at the Four Seasons Maui for our time there.

We'll definitely stay off the roads when it's dark. We've driven New Zealand a couple of times, and it gets really dark (except for the light of all those stars!), so we planned our drives to only take place during daylight.

We'll also start researching on some of these town. I know we have half a year to go, but the planning is half the fun.
mosthecat is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 906
If you like small towns, history, and great scenic beauty, you've got to make it up to the twin old sugar towns of Hawi and Kapa'au in North Kohala, and then drive onward to the end of the road at Pololu for a steep hike down to a black sand beach (or just take in the view and take pictures).

Along the way you'll see acres of green grazing land, and beautiful views of Maui on a clear day. There are quite a few amazing restaurants (Sushi Rock), cute shops and galleries, and places to stop for snacks. (Try Lilikoi (passionfruit) Fudge upstairs from Tropical Dreams ice cream, across from the Bamboo (lilikoi margarita is good here.)

Hapuna is a nice beach to go to, and nearby is an interesting National Park, Pu'ukohola, and a bit further on a State Park, Lapakahi.

I've written tons about this on older posts, if you want to search my name with Hawi 2008-2011.

I think that checking out the tiny towns all over the island is the most fun. All beaches are public access. Look for free Hawaiian entertainment (pick up any free newspapers & brochures).

If you are near the Mauna Lani on the Saturday closest to the full moon, go to the free "talk story" for an unforgettable and authentic evening with Danny Akaka.

North Kohala is a beautiful 30-90 drive from Kona & Kohala resorts, and especially during whale season there is no better place to view humpbacks from the coast. It's the birthplace of King Kamehameha, and the area is one of the longest inhabited with most native Hawaiians.
Kailani is offline  
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