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Where to stay on the Big Island, Hawaii for hikiing and exploring

Where to stay on the Big Island, Hawaii for hikiing and exploring

Old Jan 15th, 2010, 03:40 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
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Where to stay on the Big Island, Hawaii for hikiing and exploring

We are planning to go to the Big Island in a month or so. We'd like to hike and see lots of flora and fauna. We're not too interested in the crowded beach scene, etc. We'd like to be able to stay in a condo and do some of our own cooking, so a nearby farmer's market would be fun.
mountainsky is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2010, 07:24 PM
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Well, the Big Island isn't too crowded. Most of the condos will be in the Kona area or Waikoloa area. Farmer's markets are fairly plentiful, and most grocery stores will have good produce as well.

There are amazing hikes on all corners of the Big Island. The Kohala coast has several petroglyph trails. The Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden is beautiful The volcano area has great hikes, through lava tubes.

As long as you have a rental car, you can explore everywhere, and you won't be disappointed.
Kailani is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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how long will you be staying there? because it might be worthwhile to split your stay between the east and west side. From the east you'd be closer to Volcano National Park, and the Botanical garden, as well as the Hilo farmers market which is the best on the island.

since beaches don't interest you as much, DON'T stay on the Kohala coast. Its more expensive because its where the nice white sand beaches are and thst just doesn't seem worthwhile for you. You should stay somewhere around Kona. There are lots of nice condo complexes with great views, not so pricey. (I'd recommend the one I stayed in again, but I'm afraid of sounding like an ad, or a broken record. )
china_cat is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2010, 09:19 PM
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For exploring Volcanoes and the amazing hiking there, you can stay in one of B&Bs in the area for a couple of days.
You can stay the rest of the time in Kona. Don't miss snorkeling there! Losts of fishes and turtles.
Plenty of condo rentals. Kona farmers market is small, but open almost every day (think 3 fresh papayas for a buck!).
I suggest going to the South Point once (half way between Kona and Hilo). It is pretty amazing with cliffs going vertically into the ocean and crazy waves pounding. It is so windy there that all the trees are bent or grow horizontally.
gggman is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Mountainsky, I am an old california backpacker and I've been exploring the BI for the last nine years. There are two sides to the BI the dry side and the wet side. So we need to know how long you intend to stay. If you intend to stay a week or more, I agee that you should break up your trip and spend time on both side.

You mentioned flora and fauna. You will see that most of the flora and the fauna is on the east and north coasts. These also happen to be the wet sides. Fauna is mostly introduced birds and mammals, pigs, cats, rats and mongoose.

I suggest that you broaden your horizon when you come to Hawaii. In addition to hiking, you should include snorkeling. Afterall, Hawaii is an island and it has the best accessible snorkeling of the entire chain. The best snorkeling is on the west and south coasts, so just the opposite of the hikes.

Here is my suggestions for hikes:

In the Park, I like a modified version of the Byron Ledge. Start at Volcano House, enter the caldera then hike either towards Halemaumau then to Kilauea Iki or from the bottom of the trail at VH hike directly to Kilauea Iki, then take the rim trail back to VH. The caldera is wild! There is no place like it in the States.

I also like a little hike in the VNP called bird park. It is dry upland forest with many birds and some are even indigenous.

There is also a hike to Muana Loa from the park, but it is probably too long for a day hike. There are some
guided rainforest hikes so talk to the rangers at the park.

Green Sand Beach, is a so-so hike. It's hot, barren and windy. The beach is cool. Yes it's green sand (olivine). So this is a hard call for me.

I would go to the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Garden. It is a beautiful garden hike and worth the fourteen dollars.

I have hiked from Waipio Lookout to Waimanu Valley. This is a backpack trail and a great one at that for both flora and fauna. It is the second best backpack trip in the islands. You could hike into Waipo Valley and then up the Z trail. There are some interesting views up Waipio. If you have the legs there are miles of interesting trail once you crest the pali. I like Waipio, it's different. It's a tough hike though.

I also recommend the beach hike at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. You gain enterance to the beach by the going to the small boat habor south of KOA. This is a beautiful beach hike. You can hike pristine shore for miles and nobody goes there. I've been hiking it for years and I am always amazed.

Kiholo Bay hike is a short hike to a pretty area. Lots of turtles can be found in the old fishpond, both green and hawksbill. If you drive down to the Loretta Lynn house shell there are some longer hikes there.

The 1871 trail is interesting because of sea views and the area in general. Honaunau is a wonderful area for history.

I also suggest wandering the property of the Muana Lani especially the coast. In my opinion the property is the most interesting on the Kohala Coast. Although the resort itself leaves me cold.

On the Muana Lani Resort property there is a petroglyph field that requires a 20 minute hike. I found the field to be very different than the ones at Waikaloa and Kona Village Resort.

Last you could hike from Kekaha Kai State Park to Makalawena beach. This is the most beautiful beach area on the island but the road to Kekaha Kai is almost nonexistent and will probably be forbidden by your rental car agency.

If you are interested in snorkeling just ask and I'll give you my favorite places.

wbpiii is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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Thank you all so much; you are very helpful! We will probably be there five days, not including the two travel days from the mainland. We're used to hiking 4-5 miles several days a week at about 6000 ft elevation in the summer and fall; this time of year we are not so ambitious and also live at lower elevations. I'm not one for getting my head under water (bad experience as a kid), but my friend may be interested in snorkeling.
mountainsky is offline  
Old Jan 16th, 2010, 05:47 PM
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China_cat, where did you stay? all suggestions for housing are most welcome. We aren't interested in pricey and upscale; clean with basic amenities and a bit of a view is good; we don't plan to spend lots of time at 'home'. Do we need to check out costs not included in the basic price? It sounds like some places charge extra for cleaning and what else? Also, do some places include the rental car in the price, or is that just with some of the more upscale ones?
mountainsky is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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If you would consider something besides a condo, this is a nice accommodation--we have stayed there many times.
The pictures do not do it justice and it is very clean and affordable. Nice view of the south Kona coast from the lanai.
martym is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2010, 07:20 AM
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On the west side of the island, we stayed 6 nights at Hale Kona Kai, in downtown Kailua. We had a corner unit with a fabulous view. I loved watching the turtles swimming in the surf below my windows. The cost was quite reasonable. Here's the site I used:
It really is exactly what you say...clean, basic amenties, fabulous view. Walking distance to shops and restaurants.

On the east side of the island we stayed 4 nights in a house, this one:
There was a cleaning fee, but it was still reasonable. I found this a great location for the east side, about 40 minutes to VNP, 40 minutes to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical garden, 20-30 minutes to Hilo. The view was spectacular.

Lots of places do charge a cleaning fee, so do look for that and factor it into the cost. I've never seen a rental car included in the price.

If you'd like to see more pics of both places, and some restaurant recommendations, you can take a look at my trip blog
And look for the Kona and Hilo/Puna sections in the middle.
china_cat is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 01:03 PM
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You could also look at Hawi, on the north end of the island, where you can hike down into the canyon at the end of the highway (I forget the name, and DS has our guidebook). Try for rentals.

Buy "The Big Island Revealed" for good info on hikes and beaches. Some people don't like the book, but we think it is great.

Someone said "the road to Kekaha Kai is almost nonexistent and will probably be forbidden by your rental car agency." If you get a vehicle with a higher clearance, like most SUVs, you can go there. The road is rough, but only low-clearance cars seem to get into trouble. We go there several times every year. It's also a good idea to have an SUV because there are lots of places where the roads are kind of rough but lead to great beaches.

You can combine a hike and snorkeling by going down to Captain Cook from Kona and hiking down to Kealakakua Bay, where the BEST snorkeling is. DS goes several times when we are there. Very steep, about 2 miles I think. But people pay snorkeling boats $100 to get there from Kona because it's so fantastic. I think the book I mentioned tells you how to find the trailhead.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 01:21 PM
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The valley by Hawi is Pololu Valley. My understanding is the trail not longer exists. Not sure if it was the earthquake or a mudslide that did it in.

Even with an SUV, it still is a breach of the contract to drive the road to Kekaha Kai. True, most everybody does it. No problem if you have no problems, big problem if you are one of the unlucky ones.

Re: hiking and snorkeling Captain's Cook Monument. There is no way of entering and exiting the water without stepping on the coral which is one reason why the hike is not encouraged.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 03:45 PM
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The trail to Pololu is in fine shape; I hiked down last week. It's a beautiful location with a black sand beach, and an easy hike down, but coming up is rather steep, and if it has been rainy, it's quite slippery.

I took a lot of walks, not really hikes, but they were enjoyable. I went several times to Pu'ukohola Heiau, which has an easy trail along the ocean as well as past the interesting historical edifice. I also went to the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens, Pua Mau gardens, Lapakahi, Mookini Heiau and King Kamehameha's Birthplace, and several petroglyph trails.
Kailani is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:30 PM
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"The trail to Pololu is in fine shape" Good to know, thanks.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2010, 07:50 PM
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Also, check out the Ala Kahakai National Historic trail which is a 175 mile trail (but not yet continuous) along the coastline. You can access it in a variety of locations, and it will take you by ancient Hawaiian artifacts and sacred areas. Along the Kohala coast is a great place for whale watching, and there is good and easy snorkeling at Mahukona and Lapakahi.

This next website has pictures and information about a lot of interesting places to hike, and the one pictured at the link is the 1871 trail that Bill mentions above.

Here is a website for snorkeling at Mahukona.

If you are interested in a couple of days in North Kohala, the Kohala Village Inn is no frills and affordable ($70-90), and is located across the street from the farmer's market. (It may be noisy in the evenings due to live music.)

The Kohala Club Hotel is only $56 per night, and was built in the late 1800's as a gentleman's club.
Kailani is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2010, 06:47 PM
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You all are great with your tips! Thank you so much; they are very helpful. I've looked at several of the guide books and checked out reviews. The Big Island Revealed seems to be a majority choice. Really leaning toward some time on both sides of the island, so the places to stay tips are very welcome.
mountainsky is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2010, 09:33 PM
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The Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo is very popular with hikers. It is modest, affordable and charming, and the owners are very helpful and knowledgeable. Their website has a lot of useful information

Also, the Hapuna in Kohala has been having good rates, especially on Priceline.

Did you see the thread with rkkwan's pictures? They give a very good idea of the diversity of landscape on the Big Island.

Check out tripadvisor reviews before you commit to a place to stay, because the less expensive places may have some drawbacks. VBRO probably has some great deals as the economy and tourism are down on the Big Island.

I like this website for activities on all the islands.

You'll have a wonderful time! Big Island Revealed will include almost everything.
Kailani is offline  
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