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Where to stay in winter: South Kohala Coast or Kailua Kona?

Where to stay in winter: South Kohala Coast or Kailua Kona?

Apr 2nd, 2013, 06:44 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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Where to stay in winter: South Kohala Coast or Kailua Kona?

DH & I plan to snorkel in Kahaluu and the City of Refuge area so I was thinking of staying in the KKona area but have heard of its vog and that it's nicer further north in the Kohala area. Also hoping to kayak & snorkel around Kealakekua Bay, and visit Mauna Kea VIS. We plan to spend a day at the Mauna Kea Beach too so having a hard time deciding where to stay.

Will be arriving via the northern driving route from Hilo, and flying out from Kona if that makes a difference. It'll be 8 nights over the Christmas holidays so prefer to stay in just one place - hope to be renting a cottage/condo, instead of staying at a resort.

Any insights/thoughts much appreciated.

Enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:05 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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I've always stayed in the Waikiloa Beach Resort in the Kohala Coast. We rented a unit at the Hali'i Kai both times but there are other condo properties in the resort as well. We rented via VRBO. We loved it and it was fine driving to all the different areas you've mentioned. We also went snorkeling at Keleakakua which was amazing, as well as visiting the beachs in front of Mauna Kea and Mauna Lani resorts. You can also rent villas there. Hapuna beach was also extremely beautiful. IMO the Kohala coast is much nicer and more upscale than Kailua Kona which seems a bit cramped, but I have not rented in Kailua Kona before so you may find a unit which fits your needs. Not sure about the vog, but I can say that the Kohala coast was just sunny and beautiful all the time.

Don't miss the volcano. It is a lot of driving but we thought that the drives were part of the attraction and we enjoyed the scenery. Have a great time! We love the Big Island!
tifa2276 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 10:21 AM
  #3  
 
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I've stayed a little south of Kona and have also stated in the south Kohala area. I was pretty torn on our last trip because we love to snorkel at 2 Step, but we also had our 8 year old daughter along and we knew we wanted to be closer to the nicer sand beaches. We ended up in south Kohala, and I prefer Kohala to Kona.

We drove two different days down to Captain Cook and to Two Step to snorkel. I didn't mind the drive. I liked being in Kohala because it was easy to hit the sand beaches in the late afternoon evenings. The weather was clearer in Kohala than in Kona, too. But we were there in June and I think the vog may be worse in Kona during the summer than in the winter.

I like both places, but I'd probably choose Kohala over Kona if we went again.
kureiff is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 10:24 AM
  #4  
 
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Also, we had great luck with finding parking spaces at Mauna Kea Beach. We went almost every day of our 7 days on the Big Island and got their at all different times of the day and the parking lot was never full. It's a beautiful beach!
kureiff is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 02:55 PM
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We stayed in a condo at Keauhou, 5 miles south of Kailua-Kona last June. Loved that the condo fronted the rugged lava coastline, but disliked that we had to drive a long ways to a decent beach. We're going back again late this summer with reservations at one of the many condo complexes in the Mauna Lani Resort. According to Malinowski's Snorkel Hawaii and at least one DE on TripAdvisor, the beaches there are some of the best for snorkeling in the state. Those same DEs would also tell you that the Kohala coast has the most reliably good weather in the state.

Kealakekua has been closed to kayakers in the past months, and many locals apparently wish that it would remain that way: http://westhawaiitoday.com/sections/...s-protest.html. We took a guided kayak & snorkel tour there last June, but not wanting to disrespect the environment or the locals, I don't know if I would again today.
22tango is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 06:10 PM
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22tango, we also heard that the beach at Mauna Lani is supposed to be great for snorkeling from that DE. It sucked, but maybe it was just bad luck. It didn't remotely compare to 2 Step or Captain Cook.
kureiff is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 04:14 AM
  #7  
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Thx a mint for all the helpful info & replies!

tifa2276, appreciate the volcano tip - we'll be seeing it during our few nites on the Hilo side.

kureiff, interesting point about the ease of hitting the sand beaches in the late afternoon/evenings. DH is a beach person but I'm not so I'll have to take a look at our possible days/activities and take this into consideration. Great to hear about your snorkeling too.

22tango, thx for the kayaking link. We may just snorkel in that bay, and kayak elsewhere. I checked out those outfitters' websites and they have other kayaking tours available; I don't feel the need to get to "the monument" just wanted to enjoy the beauty of the area, and reputed amazing snorkeling.

Off to check out the overwhelming VRBO selection...

Enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 07:20 AM
  #8  
cd
 
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We stayed in Kona for the month of Feb in a vrbo at the Kona Reef (condo) which is a middle of the road facility, kind of like a Sheraton. We enjoyed it a lot! It sits on the rugged lava coast line with a very nice pool and BBQ's. What we really liked about it was it is walking distance to the town of Kona and we walked there at least every other day for the market and good restaurants. We had no problem with vog and had sunny warm weather. We drove to the Kohala coast a lot to have lunch at some of the resorts there. They are beautiful upscale resorts with beautiful sand beaches but very expensive.
One thing that I will recommend is a hotel in Hilo. We went without reservations anywhere and it was actually pretty scary. The hotels are old and not maintained well. The only one that seemed decent was the Hilo Hawaiian http://www.castleresorts.com/Home/ac...hawaiian-hotel We asked for an ocean view and liked our room as it looked out at a little island that you can walk to. If its raining when you get to the Park, you can buy little plastic raincoats there and dress with a sweatshirt as it can be chilly.
We also loved the Big Island, you will have a great time.
cd is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 08:42 AM
  #9  
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cd, appreciate you taking the time to provide input. Tho I think it will be handy to have a kitchenette for leftovers and fruit plates, other than simple breakfasts, I don't cook on vacations (LOL!) so I'll also consider the convenience of walking into the village for meals. Thx for the Hilo link - we'd already decided on a vrbo place but it's Day 2 and haven't heard from them yet...are vrbo owners on island time?? Nice to have a recommendation to look into.

Enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 12:06 PM
  #10  
 
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If you would like to snorkel at Kealakekua, I did a tour once with I think it was Fairwinds, and had a great time, they did a nice BBQ lunch also.
jamie99 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 12:22 PM
  #11  
cd
 
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Jamie, I did a snorkel 5hr tour with Fairwinds. They have two boats, we went with the Hula Kia and it was wonderful. Breakfast in the morning, two snorkel spots, the best being Cooks Monument, and lunch of hamburgs,cheeseburgs,chicken and pasta and green salads... all included in the price with beer and wine for sale. We loved it! saw many whales! http://www.fair-wind.com/
cd is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 01:50 PM
  #12  
 
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We've stayed on Big Island several times -- never chose Kona Town. We stayed twice at Keauhou Surf & Racquet (only oceanfront and only above first floor, which can flood in winter surf). We enjoyed Vista Waikoloa and Waikoloa Surf, and there are many townhouse condos in the area that were built during the RE boom -- can be had for little now. I'd plan just an overnight on the SE side in winter. Maybe you can still get something in the town of Volcano. It will be wet over there -- not that it *ever* dries out completely in Hilo, as far as I know! We always rent a mid-size or larger car for Big Island. Don't plan any driving after dark!
ChiSue is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 07:44 AM
  #13  
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I'd come across Fairwinds in my perusing so nice to see a review from someone "I know"! I'll be sure to pursue this after I book lodgings.

ChiSue, appreciate the detailed info and will look into those places. We usually get the smallest car because there's just the 2 of us but that's a great point given the terrain and larger cars are usually just a little bit more.

Enjoy-la!
klam_chowder is offline  
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