Trip Report (LONG) - Big Island 6/25-7/3/2007

Jul 21st, 2007, 08:55 AM
  #1  
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Trip Report (LONG) - Big Island 6/25-7/3/2007

We spent a wonderful 13 days in Hawaii. 8 days on the BI, 5 on Oahu. We loved the BI (second trip) and stayed in Kona this time.

Airline - Continental Airlines, we flew the only direct flight from the New York area, Newark to Honolulu (we take this every time we go to Honolulu) We haven't encountered a problem yet except for slight takeoff delays. This time we took off an hour late, but they made up most of that time mid-flight and we were on time for our connection to Kona.

Accomodatons - Hale Kona Kai condos (Kona) room 406
This was a fantastic place to stay! This place is RIGHT on the water and within a very short walking distance to all the restaurants and shops in Kona. The complex is small and nothing fancy, they have a small pool right at the ocean. The unit itself again is nothing fancy, but was super clean, very well stocked and the bed was soooooo comfy. There are ocean views from the living room (with lanai) and bedroom.All this for $120 per night. Unbelivable! I booked the unit through VBRO, but you can google the website and the complex rents units as well. Each is individually owned, so I guess they vary in decor.


Activities/Beaches-

Kayaking Kealakekua Bay- This was incredible. We rented a 2 person kayak (forgot from who, sorry) dropped in at the south point of the bay. Which was pretty easy for my husband and I and paddled the mile or so across this lovely bay. Of course keeping an eye out for spinner dolpins an we were not disappointed! Half we out we started seeing them off in the distance. If we happened to paddle too close, they'd disappear. If we put our paddles down and sat still in their vacinity, we were rewarded with a huge school of dolphins swimming in circles around the kayak! There was up to 60.

We then headed on and beached our kayak. Tip - wear good water shoes for beaching and launching your kayak. We then snorkeled the bay for an hour or so. Beautiful coral, loads of fish. Great place. The kayak back was easier due to less wind and the spinners were still in the bay, this time putting on a show of spinning out of the water within 10 feet of our kayak. What a day. I know that the dolpins aren't always there, but this is a lovely way to spend half a day regardless of their prescence. It's a big bonus if they're around though

Manta Ray Night snorkel- OMG I loved this excursion! We booked through snorkel bob's in Kona and they hook you up with a tour operator. I liked that they guaranteed a sighting and would take you out until you got one. We had about 25 snorkels and 5 divers on our boat. They take you out by the Sheraton Keahou resort about 30 feet from shore in about 30 feet of water and turn on the lights to attract the Manta's to come feed on the plankton attracted by the lights. Immediately a manta appeared at the surface. We had two to snorkel with, a 6 footer and a 10 footer. They come so close to the snorkels that they often bump into you on their pass back down to the bottom. my only complaint was the crowd of snorkelers jostling for position to see the mantas, bumping into each other etc. Not too big a deal.

Paradise helicopters "Feel the Heat" volcano tour- My husband really wanted to do this trip because of the open door helicpopter. It made me a bit nervous, but ended up being quite an exciting way to tour the volcano and the waterfalls of Hilo. We had a fantastic pilot and a smooth ride. The views were amazing. Unfortunately for us, our timing was terrible and the main vent was on a rest so we saw no lava in the vent or flowing. The vent was huge and still steaming so it was still worth the trip. If lava if present this would be a hard to beat tour.

tiname is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 09:46 AM
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Mahalo for sharing your trip!

Are you guys experienced kayakers? I guess I'm wondering how difficult an outing it was to do what you did at K-Bay. It sounds great!
iamq is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 10:24 AM
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iamq - my husband and I are not experienced kayakers, but we're pretty active. I would say the kayak across the bay was mild to moderate in terms activity level. I took about an hour to get across including stops for dolphins. I'm sure this could change depending on wind and water conditions in the bay. Also, there are locals to help you drop your kayak in and lift if out of the water (it's a couple of feet off the dock to get it in and out) for a couple of bucks tip. We did this on our own as well.
tiname is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 01:33 PM
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Great tour report. We're going to BI in about 3 weeks and I can't wait!!! Which tour operator did you end up with on the Manta Night snorkel? We are considering Kona Honu Divers? I'm not a diver so was wondering what this was like for a snorkeler and so glad to see your comments.
luvtravl is offline  
Jul 21st, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Hey, tiname, great report! Can you tell us the VRBO # of the condo? Thanks!
Samsaf is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 05:27 AM
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In response to questions, the VBRO unit # is 121466. I was a bit leary about booking through an individual owner, but Corrine was great to work with.

I believe the tour operator for the Manta Ray snorkel was Sea Paradise. They did a good job.
tiname is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 06:38 AM
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Thank you tiname!!
luvtravl is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Hi tiname

Can you tell me how far it is from Hale Kona Kai condos to a sandy beach? Would you have to get in your car and drive to a beach or is there one within walking distance of the complex?

Thanks
Pilates is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Pilates - There is one small sandy beach south of the complex within walking distance. You just need to walk past 2 other complexes. Most of the larger, better beaches require a car. Within a 5-10 minutes of the complex (south) are White Sands beach and Kahalu'u beach. I didn't find Kona to have alot of nice beaches.

Our favorite beach was 30 minutes north. Hapuna beach is a beautiful long stretch with good swimming and some boogie boardable waves. We spent a couple of nice afternoons there.
tiname is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 12:33 PM
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Thanks tiname. The beach within walking distance, can you describe it? Is there anything wrong with it? For instance, can you swim there?

At Hapuna beach, are there condos there? Is there a little town there?

We love Hanalei in Kauai. We love being right near (2 minute walk) to sandy beaches and a 10 minute walk into town too. I'd love to find something like that on the big island. Years ago I was on the big island but I stayed at a couple of resorts (Mauna Kea and the one where you take a boat to your room) We are now condo people. I'm open to any suggestions/ideas.
Pilates is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 06:29 PM
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Pilates, regarding the beach close to the condo - it's small and you could swim in the water depending on the size of the waves which varies. While we were there it was used alot by surfers and boogie boarders which is fun to watch. Hapuna beach is north in the area you have previously stayed in which is home to the big resorts.

It's hard to say if Kona fits your bill, you definitely can get an affordable condo like we did and walk to shopping and restaruants, but I felt the better beaches were a car ride away. Good luck to you and let me know if I can be any clearer


tiname is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for that info and the offer to clarify too.

Two more questions. Is there a town of Hapuna near these big resorts? Are there condos or just huge resort properties near Hapuna Beach?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Pilates is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 09:44 AM
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I think there might be some condos to rent by Hapuna Beach or Mauna Kea beach, which is the next beach over and supposedly just as lovely. A google search can help you figure that out. There's no town at Hapuna just the resorts/condos lining the ocean.

I think you might have to do a trade off, either stay right on beautiful beaches in the North Kohala/Waikola area and sacrifice the walk to town or stay close to town in Kona and have less plentiful beaches to choose from.

Have you checked out the Big Island Revealed? It has great sections on beaches by area with good maps and hopefully would give you a better idea of what's right for you.

GL, the big island rocks!

tiname is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2007, 10:31 AM
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"I think you might have to do a trade off, either stay right on beautiful beaches in the North Kohala/Waikola area and sacrifice the walk to town or stay close to town in Kona and have less plentiful beaches to choose from."

This statement really helps me. My husband loves Hanalei so much that I don't think he'd be as content on the Big Island. As for me, you can plop me down anywhere in Hawaii (except Waikiki) and I'm a happy camper.

Thanks for all your help Tiname, I enjoyed reading your trip report.
Pilates is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Tiname - we are planning to take a Continental flight from Newark to Ohahu and then a flight to Kona. It looks like the flight does not get into Ohahu until after6 PM. When did you catch your flight to the Big Island. It seems as though the flight gets in pretty late and you would not get into Kona until really late??
lindafromNJ is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 07:56 AM
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Oooh, weren't the manta rays amazing? So graceful and agile. We don't snorkel, in Feb we had dinner at the "Kai" in the Sheraton and watched several manta rays from the huge terrace. No snorkelers that night, it was raining and the water was choppy.
Shanghainese is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 12:41 PM
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lindafromNJ - We booked a 7:45 flight to Kona and just made it with our delay. We were careful to book on an airline that had a later flight as well in case we missed the connection. It was GO airlines. After flying to Kona and getting the rental car we arrived at the condo around 10. A long day to be sure, but for us it was better than traveling for 2 days. Have a great time, it's a fantastic island.

And yes, those Manta's are AMAZING!!!!!
tiname is offline  

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