Trip Report, September 23 to October 4, 2018

Feb 2nd, 2019, 07:29 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 85
Trip Report, September 23 to October 4, 2018

Our interests are interests are nature, history, botany, geology, photography and we picked our destinations and activities because of those interests.
Arrival day; Arrived Kona 3.30pm, picked up rental car
Drove into Kailua-Kona, picked up wine and some basic foodstuffs, granola bars, fruit etc, got something to eat, nothing special and I don’t remember what or where, we had been up for about 14 hours by the time we arrived, but we did sleep for about half of the flight time.
Drove to our accommodation for the next 4 nights; the Aloha Guest House in the Captain Cook area,
Day 1- Kailua-Kona, we spent most of the day walking; we visited the Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark, Hulihee Palace, then walked to the Old Kona Airport to see the fabulous gardens along the Maka'eo Walking Path, and walked on Kailua Beach, that was a very hot walk, we had plenty of water with us, and our Tilley hats so no problems, walked back to downtown, had dinner at Splashers Grill
Day 2- we had prebooked a guided walk at the Kona Cloud Forest-
It was really good, we were the only people on the tour and the guide was happy to indulge my plant curiosity, we spent 3+ hours there, much more than most people would.
Went back into town, bought some souvenirs, had lunch at Huggos on the beach, then went to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, it was too late to see most of it so
Day 3-went back to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park and became fascinated with the shadow patterns made by the palm trees on the sand, many, many photos taken, then Kailua-Kona for a submarine tour with Atlantis Submarines, we really liked the submarine tour, not cheap but definitely worth it, how many chances are there to go in a submarine, ate at the Kona Inn restaurant
Day 4- drove to our next accommodation for 4 nights at Sea Mountain on the south coast, along the route we stopped at many of the pullouts, and read about lava, plus hiked at the Manuka State Wayside, I’m not sure I would recommend this 2 mile hike, it’s more of a stumble between rocks and trees, a lot of the trail is overgrown, it took far more time than we anticipated and we are experienced hikers, take water and a walking stick, the variety of trees is interesting especially as many are fruit producing, there is a washroom next to the parking lot. It would be a great place to stop for a picnic while on the road south.
Day 5-Volcanoes National Park-parts of the park were open, some still closed, we spent all day in the park, hiking around the crater, driving Chain of Craters Rd and doing Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs hike
Day 6- guided hike with rangers at the Kahuku section of Volcanoes National Park, Punaluu Black Sand beach walk, saw turtles, and white turkeys on the beach plus an unexpected bonus a lagoon just behind the beach filled with lotus flowers, lots of photography.
Day 7- Kula Kai Caverns lava tube tour, ate our packed lunch at Whittington Beach Park, walked to the ocean slightly west but close to the Sea Mountain Resort, 15-20 mins walk maybe called Puuo Point
Day 8- drove from Sea Mountain to our next accommodation in Hilo, just down the street from Arnott’s lodge, explored downtown Hilo, damage from the recent hurricane was still evident, walked to Rainbow falls,
Dinner, Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill
Day 9-Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens and Akaka falls, I was thrilled with the Botanical Gardens, we spent close to 4 hours there, and took probably 300+ pictures, why because I am creating a presentation about the plants of Hawaii for local horticultural groups.
Dinner- The Seaside Restaurant Hilo
Day 10- Helicopter tour was marvelous a definite highlight of the trip, Queen Liliuokalani Gardens in downtown Hilo, Pacific Tsunami Museum,
Dinner- The Seaside Restaurant Hilo
Day 11-Drove from Hilo to Kona airport via, the Saddle road to Mauna Kea Visitor Centre to hike, the views are stunning and there is some very interesting plant life on the Saddle Road and at the Mauna Kea Visitor Centre where we were above the clouds. Drove to Waimea, to Hawi, back down Hwy 270 to 19, watched contestants for the Ironman biking along the highway.
Picked up food for flight in Waikoloa Village, signing for Waikoloa Village from Hwy 19 is lacking any useful information, some estimate of distance would help, we began to feel that we were lost in the wilderness, then went to Hapuna Beach and walked from end to end I think 3 times, then to airport for 9 pm flight
We came home with about 1800 photos.
What would I have done differently? We should have paid more attention to stocking up on groceries for days 4-7 of the trip, restaurants are few and far between, places to buy groceries are very limited; we did shop at Mizuno Superette a small store in Pahala, after a busy day we didn’t feel like driving to find food. We had some basics, wraps, cheese and fruit so that was dinner. We should have done the Mauna Kea summit tour; we could have fit it in on the last day and not driven up to the north end of the island.
We had a marvelous holiday; obviously we have different interests than many people who visit the island which is why there are no restaurant reviews, we just needed food at regular intervals and ate wherever we found a restaurant.
wanderingcanadian is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 03:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Sounds like a great trip. Did you post your pictures?

Thanks for the report.
emalloy is online now  
Feb 4th, 2019, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 118
Glad to be part of this trip report - and pleased the Wandering Canadians enjoyed staying in our Sea Mountain condo as part of their time on the Big Island! Big time sales on airfare have been happening and will probably continue - especially with Southwest coming into the market, expect good air prices leading up to (and probably after) this happening.

If we could be part of your visit, get in touch!


Last edited by Moderator2; Feb 4th, 2019 at 02:35 PM.
TJM_70 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 04:11 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Thanks for the report! How did you like Kula Kai? (Any details? We've thought about one of these private tours, being cave and basalt geeks.) Interesting that you moved about so much; would you do that again, or just one or two locales?
tjm, would you mind posting a link to your condo? ( Don't think there's a rule, if someone asks specifically...curious about how that area has been affected tourist-wise by the recent East rift activity.)
sylvia3 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2019, 04:52 PM
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A (helpful) hint -- paragraph breaks make a long post MUCH easier to read. To get a ¶ do a double return . . .

. . . like this.
janisj is online now  
Feb 5th, 2019, 04:42 AM
Join Date: Nov 2017
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Tourism is coming back; there's always been solid interest in South and East Hawaii, especially Volcanoes National Park.There are less than 100 condos in our complex and it was a ghost town in May / June. The uncertainty with the recent increase in eruption activity created a brief dent in overall Big Island interest, I think.

Our niche is proximity to VNP and a sort of "non-tourist" part of Hawaii. As with the Wandering Canadians, most of our visitors seem to not be interested in driving 2 hours or so each way, (from Kona area) doing a "check-box" visit to the area and driving back in one works for some people, it doesn't for others...our rural location is a very different experience from usual tourist areas.

Late fall was very slow, but winter has been characteristically busy. We are seeing more international guests and interest from them. I try to follow the trends and projections with traffic and with the airfares, experts are predicting a busy July.

There was a big lag with a lot of uncertainty over LERZ and air quality, that Pu'u O'o is pronounced over (after more than 30 years) and LERZ is considered done, for now, people have some predictability.

Here's a link to our condo page:

Last edited by TJM_70; Feb 5th, 2019 at 04:45 AM.
TJM_70 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 05:45 AM
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Just posted a reply and it disappeared, can i get it back or do i have to start over?
wanderingcanadian is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 06:47 AM
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Thanks, TJM, bookmarked it once, but lost it on the desktop
re: lost post? I usually just say a bad word or 3 and retype.
sylvia3 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 06:54 AM
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P.s. tried to wait out Southwest to see what effect they would have on the airfare market, but the government shutdown postponed their long-route approval. Still ended up with Denver RT for $410 (not desirable flights, but my fav flights on United increased to more than double that, so I was getting anxious about fares).
sylvia3 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 07:01 AM
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Some answers: emalloy: I haven’t posted any so far but will do, just not all 1282 photos that are left after some initial editing

sylvia3: Kula Kai caverns was good, the tour we took was just over an hour $28, there are other longer tours available that involve crawling through passages. Tours have to be booked in advance as the caverns are in a gated community and you need a gate access code to get into the community.
The land in the area is all lava fields with very little vegetation, it’s a great lesson about how long it takes for plants to get established.

Moving around so much? We were on Hawaii for 12 days and had 3 base locations, 4 nights in Captain Cook and Sea Mountain and 3 in Hilo. The distance travelled around the island was less than 500 km, and a total of about 8 hours drive time.
Airport to Captain Cook 20 km and 30 minutes, Captain Cook to Sea Mountain 90 km and 90 minutes, Sea Mountain to Hilo 95 km and 90 minutes, Hilo to Mauna Kea 75 km and 80 minutes, Mauna Kea to the north end of the island and back to the airport, 185 km and 3 hours. This does not include drive distance and time to the various places we visited from the 3 base locations as we would have done those trips no matter where we stayed.

If we had stayed in one place Captain Cook and driven to VNP and other sightseeing or activities location we would have traveled more distance and taken significantly more of our valuable vacation time getting there and back. Captain Cook to VNP is at least 2 hours, Sea Mountain to VNP is about 30 mins at most.
Driving from Captain Cook to Hilo takes about 2 hours via Saddle Rd, and 2 hours back again leaving very little time for activities for the east coast, especially as is recommended if you don’t want to drive in the dark. Driving to Hilo via Volcano is nearly 3 hours.

When planning this trip I was continually puzzled by recommendations on travel forums to stay on the west coast and drive every day to other areas of the island, not only does it take a lot of time it also uses more gas and creates more emissions. Our original plan was to stay in Volcano Village for a second location but due to the volcanic activity that rapidly became something that made us uneasy.

I would recommend at least 2 base locations to travellers who want to see both sides of the island, and in that case time equally split between east and west. There are as many if not more places to visit and things to do on the east coast as there are on the west. If you want to visit VNP for more than a few hours, staying in the area makes sense.
wanderingcanadian is offline  
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