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What was the highlight of your trip to the Big Island?

What was the highlight of your trip to the Big Island?

Aug 8th, 2009, 07:32 PM
  #1  
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What was the highlight of your trip to the Big Island?

I just booked a semi-last minute trip to the Big Island and will be meeting a friend for a 5 nights' stay at the Fairmont. This will be my 3rd trip to the BI, but her first (and her first ever trip to Hawaii). I enjoyed my previous trip to BI very much, with highlights being snorkeling at Captain Cook and also with the dolphins (not in captivity). I also have to say that I enjoy spending some time at Kona Brewing Co for some great beers and tasty pizza.

For the rest of you who have traveled to the Big Island, what were the highlights of your trip there?
beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 8th, 2009, 10:25 PM
  #2  
 
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VNP ... and the Place of Refuge. Also loved Akaka Falls -- and a walk next to Botanic Gardens.

And being an orchid lover ... Akatsuka's Orchids (near VNP). AMAZING!
Songdoc is offline  
Aug 8th, 2009, 10:43 PM
  #3  
 
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For me it was the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden north of Hilo.
April is offline  
Aug 8th, 2009, 11:28 PM
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Seeing the lava flow at night. It was amazing to see its glow as it flowed down the mountainside, then pouring into the ocean forming what will be the newest land on the planet.
globetrotterxyz is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 01:22 AM
  #5  
 
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Mine were the same as April and globetrotter - the lava flow at night and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
wildblueyonder is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 05:01 AM
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I liked poking around the small towns on the north end of the island, and the tour of Waipio Valley.
Barbara5353 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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The lava flow at night by far, will never forget that.
Serendipity42 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 10:22 AM
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Lots of Big Island highlights:

Since you're staying at the Fairmont, you should snorkel at their beach. When we were there, there were dozens of sea turtles, and we had an awesome time snorkeling with them.

Also, seeing the lava flow at night was wonderful. Not sure if it's flowing now or not, though.

On Chain of Craters Road, after viewing the lava, on the way back when we were at the top of the volcano. We stopped the car on the side of the road, rolled down the convertible roof, and laid our seats back so we could watch the stars. I've never seen such an incredible night sky in my life!

Driving through Waipio Valley was beautiful; try to take the drive up to Hawi and back. There are beautiful views along the way.
Samsaf is online now  
Aug 9th, 2009, 12:55 PM
  #9  
 
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Helicopter ride over the volcano. I've done it twice, and I think the short flights out of Hilo are fine (much cheaper).

Watching whales and dolphins off the Kohala coast. If you watch long enough, you will begin to feel they are showing off for you.

The best of all, really, is the King Kamehameha Day lei draping and ceremony at the original statue in Kapa'au, and the parade and festival which follow. The fragrance of the leis, the traditional chants and history, the fantastic all day local music, dance and feasting, is the highlight of my year.
Kailani is online now  
Aug 9th, 2009, 01:24 PM
  #10  
 
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I just re-read your post, and since you will be staying at the Fairmont, if you are there during the Saturday near a full moon, check with the Mauna Lani concierge, because they have a wonderful, free "talk story" night at an old cottage by the ocean, and it is magical.

The Mauna Lani is worth visiting to observe the ancient fish ponds, and they often have free Hawaiian music and hula.

I would suggest a road trip up north, stopping at Kawaihae and checking out the Pu'ukohola Heiau. http://www.nps.gov/PUHE It's free, and it is very impressive. Kawaihae Harbor is where Waterworld was filmed, and there is a good restaurant there, Café Pesto, which is open 11-9, so it's handy for those 3 o'clock meals we seem to want when traveling.

A bit further north is Lapakahi, an ancient fishing village, also free, and on a beautiful coral beach where you can see colorful fish from the shore. http://www.hawaiiweb.com/hawaii/html...ical_park.html

Then, continue on to Hawi. Have some ice cream, get some lilikoi fudge at the Kohala Coffee Mill. Continue on to Kapa'au and visit the statue, then continue to Pololu, and either enjoy the view, or hike down to the black sand beach. The drive is classic Hawaii (lush, colorful, jungly) along the way, with tiny churches, cemeteries, galleries, huge banyan tree houses, etc.

There is a wonderful restaurant, Pico's Bistro, with a tiny museum dedicated to a local fisherman which is a quiet treasure. There is an excellent artist cooperative and gallery upstairs. http://www.kohalaartists.com/bistro

There is $6 golf at King Kamehameha Community Center if you want to give that a try, on rolling hills overlooking Maui.

There is a new zipline, if you dare. http://www.bigislandecoadventures.com/

If it is a Friday or Saturday night there will be music at the Bamboo restaurant, and John Keawe (slack-key) and his wife Hope (hula) perform every other week, and the other musicians are local and very talented too. Make reservations. http://www.bamboorestaurant.info/

A lot of great family musicians and dancers perform for free at resorts and shopping centers, so check the papers or brochures for schedules.

You can continue to Waimea, the paniolo (cowboy) town. The drive from Hawi to Waimea is considered one of the most beautiful, with lush green pastures, snow-capped Mauna Kea, and the Kona coast spread before you. Great restaurants in town, especially Daniel Thiebault's http://www.danielthiebaut.com/and Merrimans http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/.

This will be more than you'll want to do, but if you are up for seeing the old Hawaii, I encourage you to explore North Kohala. If you want to just relax at the resort, well, that will be fantastic, too!
Kailani is online now  
Aug 9th, 2009, 03:13 PM
  #11  
 
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We loved Akaka Falls - some of the prettiest we've seen, and also hiking out at night to watch the lava flow into the sea. Hapuna Beach was also really beautiful.
volcanogirl is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 04:18 PM
  #12  
 
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There were so many........um let's see:

Meeting Matnikstym & getting a personal tour, snorkel & sharing a meal together.
The Volcano Blue Hawaiian trip
Hiking to Green Sand Beach
Night Dive to see the Manta Rays. (A no-show, but still saw so much else, it was great!).

I loved every minute of being on the BI, so I could go on & on.
olesouthernbelle is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 04:24 PM
  #13  
 
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Snorkeling at place of refuge
mrkindallas is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 04:35 PM
  #14  
 
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I'd strongly recommend walking next door to Mauna Lani for the Hawaiian music in the central court area every evening, I think between 5:30 and 7:30 with a couple of breaks. They serve drinks and pupus (no obligation or pressure to order any, however). This is one of our fave times in the BI after many years of coming for an annual meeting and R&R.

If you have a car I strongly recommend driving up to Merriman's for dinner--a pleasant drive, and IMO better food than available in most of the resorts.

My very favorite moments are walking across the ML fish ponds to the point and back every morning, followed by a rest in one of the hammocks.
annw is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 10:07 PM
  #15  
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Thank you all for sharing your highlights...I have done a couple of them, but most are new to me. It just makes me more excited for the trip!

Kailani - I especially appreciate the time you took for all of those suggestions. Mahalo.

annw - so glad to hear the Mauna Lani is close enough to walk to. I went to both resorts for dinner on my last trip, but couldn't remember how close they were. I'll definitely head over for music and apps.
beanweb24 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 09:23 AM
  #16  
 
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VNP and the drove to the lava flow at night. One of the most amazing things I have ever seen!!
MiamiBeachMomma is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 04:41 PM
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I've got to go with the lava flow at night.

An idylic spot for a picnic lunch and awesome photos is Laupahoehoe Beach Park. It is off the beaten path (Rt.19) but the detour is worth it and it is very private.
rpowell is offline  
Aug 11th, 2009, 04:34 PM
  #18  
 
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I (along with husband and active 10yo son) will be on the BI the last 10 days of August (first visit). We'll certainly look into some of the cool music and other activities you've all described here.

Our loosely formulated plans are to spend one week based in a condo close to downtown Kona, with maybe a day of fishing, lots of snorkeling and swimming, visits to the historical sites, coffee plantation and the Parker Ranch, and riding in Waimeia Valley, and maybe a dolphin swim.

For the last three days, we would take the southern road via the green sand beach to the Volcanoes Park, spend another full day in the park, then maybe one day in Hilo (botanical garden, tsunami museum), and return to KOA by the northern route in time for a 5pm flight home.

Couple of questions:
1. Does this itinerary sound reasonable? Anything not worth doing? (e.g., no one has mentioned the Parker Ranch)
2. we definitely want to see the lava flow at night. Is there somewhere reasonably priced (closer to $100 than $200) you'd recommend staying nearby, or should we just commute to somewhere cheap in Hilo?
3. How would we go about finding non-captive dolphins to swim with?
4. Where would I find a face mask for someone extremely near-sighted - are they rentable, or could I buy one for not too much (it wouldn't get much use after this trip)?
5. Any recommendations for a luau that includes fire-dancing and is not outrageously expensive? So far I've been told Kona Village is the best, but very pricy, and the Hilton's is a mob scene, which leaves Royal Kona.

Thanks for reading this far and for any thoughts you care to share.
zhenkamama is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 05:33 AM
  #19  
 
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1. We have only toured the houses at Parker Ranch--which we enjoyed. The ranch is an historic part of the BI-and gives another perspective on Hawaii and its paniolo heritiage.

2. I believe the current lava flow is at the end of Highway 130 near Kalapana. There are rental properties in the area - here are some websites with possibilities

a Kalapana Cottage http://www.vrbo.com/90588

http://www.hpvacationrentals.com/

http://www.apoparadise.com/cottage.html


3. There are pods of dolphins the frequent both Honaunau Bay (by Place of Refuge)and Kealekakua Bay (both are in South Kona). Both places are good for snorkeling. If you are snorkeling and the dolphins are in the bay, they may come swimming past you but I have not heard of them really interacting with swimmers.

4. Jack's Diving Locker says they have prescription masks available for rent--they're in Kailua Kona-give them a call http://www.jacksdivinglocker.com/

Another thought- I would be careful leaving your things in your car, if you are going to hike to the Green Sand Beach. Break ins are common there.
martym is offline  

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