DH and I with my son are spending a week on the big island of Hawaii. This is the first time for all of us. My son is flying out of Edmonton and DH and I will meet him in San Francisco and then fly on to Hawaii.
I am so looking forward to the trip. DH and I have not been on a trip that did not include staying at a family members house since we got married and our honeymoon was just a 4 days drive around the Canadian Rockies. No going anywhere warm to lie on a beach. It was nice be not a real vacation.
We have rented a condo to help cut some costs as I have heard it is very expensive there. Nor sure if that is in relation to here but we will find out.
I have been spending time surfing the net trying to find things for us to do. I think I have it worked out. We are going to do a rest day, then a trip day, then a rest day and so on like that. I want to spend time laying on the beach, swimming and a little snorkeling. We also want to head down to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Been told that is a full day trip, so where thinking that we would do it on our 2nd day there so that we can just be lazy after that.
Has anyone been and can you give ideas as to where to go and what to do? We are staying just south of Kona.
Are you going to cowboy up or lie there and BLEED?
So, you're going to the big island. It is BIG. Rent your car at the airport and stop at the Costco on the way to Kona. That is the way to keep it cheap. You really don't even want to buy McDonald's there. Costco is the same prices as the mainland, though.
How long are you there? You really need to divide it up. From Kona down that LONG windy road to volcanoes is about two hours. The park itself isn't that long, it's getting in and out of there. It's OK. There's the vent and the cave. Drive all the way down to the water where the lava went over the road and walk a bit. That's nice.
If you're REALLY lucky, the lava will be flowing and in the water. One of the coolest things to do is to go to Kalapana and find one of the tours and walk to it (3 to 5 hours depending on where it is.) I have to say, walking over glowing walk and seeing flowing lava within 10 feet was a bucket list thing.
The thing is, Kalapana is another 90 minutes from volcanoes. The BEST thing down that way is the seven pools, which is really hard to find, but near Kalapana. It is the COOLEST snorkeling spot. It has all of these pools os super sharp lava (bring shoes) but there's a hot spring, so coral grows there that grows nowhere else in Hawaii. Hawaii is great snorkeling for fish, but nor normally coral.
Snorkeling--Place of Refuge is one of the best places anywhere (and I've been a lot) for snorkeling. It's about 20 minutes south of Kona. Captain Cook monument is pretty cool for snorkeling, too. You can hike down two hours to the spot from the unmarked spot on the road, take a really overpriced snorkel tour, or go just south to the beach where you can rent a canoe and canoe there and snorkel.
Kona is good for hitting the millions of little places for free coffee samples and there are a couple of tours that are nice.
If you go north to Waikoloa, there are all of the expensive resorts built in desert. You can pass the super expensive shopping malls and park outside the Hilton and go on there and play in the bazillion pools and caves and walk all over and see the Egyptian stuff and the China stuff, and, it's kind of like Vegas.
If you go up to Waimea you cross this amazing area where within about 50 feet you go from desert to rain forest. Nothing much there, but you can go to the outlook of Waipio valley, and if you're really into hiking, hike down to the amazing beach. There's another one around there somewhere.
Between Waipia and Hilo are some really cool water falls and caves and rain forests that I still haven't managed to see.
Mauna Kea is VERY cool. They say you can't drive up, but you can. Almost 14,000 feet. The thing to do is go up late afternoon, get up there before sunset and see it set over the world, and then come down and hit the rest stop with all of the telescopes at night. It is amazing how little air there is up there and what it does to you, and how cold it gets. I think Saddle Road between Hilo and Waikoloa is all paved now. It's about a 3 hour drive.
It's a BIG island, and it doesn't look like you have much time. I think we've been there three times now, and still haven't gotten to everything with a week, 10 days each time. You really need to stay 3 days in one area, and then move to another part of the island to do the things in that area. People stay on that side of the island because it's always sunny in the morning (and almost always rains in the afternoon.) In Hilo it's been pouring every single time we went through. Waikoloa is a desert, so it never rains.
since you are there for a week go down to Papakōlea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach) is a green...its on the southeast side of the island
then go up to Punaluʻu Beach (also called Black Sand Beach) is a beach between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu ...it supposed to be the #1 black sand beach in the world
my wife's grandparents lived on the big island for many years which gave us free access to get around
one thing that may interest you is the lodge on the southwest rim of the volcano.... the Volcano House Hotel was built in the 30s all the views from the dinning room tables into the volcano is something you will not forget. We were there when a rare electrical storm came over the volcano, the lights were knocked out in the lodge and we had a clear view of the storm over inside the volcano.... ask if there have been any cancelations of reservations as there are only about 35 rooms
Mauna Kea is one of the few places on the Earth that you can drive to and be able to see such a night sky. I have friends that are Astronomers, so I have an insider's way, but there are guide services now. Do what you have to, and get to experience the night sky up there. It is not something you can see many places on Earth. Take plenty of warm clothes-even sleeping bags (it will be below freezing, possibly with wind), so you can sit out, and stay long enough for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. I guarantee it will be a lifetime memorable experience. Make sure you go up on a night when the sky is going to be clear. Personally, I wouldn't take a rental car up that road-especially when you sign something at the rental place saying you're not going to. I know people do all the time, but the Astronomers keep spare wheels and tires for a good reason, and always rent the same make and model vehicle so the wheels fit.
I'd take one day, and fly over to Kauai, rent a car and drive around. You used to be able to get interisland flights easily flying standby, pretty cheap.
Whatever you do have a great time, we have been twice, first time was very structured, 3 island in 10 days with kids and in-laws in tow. Was good we did all the touristy stuff. Second time was just me and DH this past October, stayed in one of the resorts in Kona, golfed, charter boat fishing, volcanos park, laid around the room and the beach/pool and did a lot of nothing, was one of the best vacations I every had. It is amazingly beautiful, and yes expensive. Has ruined me for Eastcoast beaches, blech. Can't wait to go back.
"They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier
"They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"
We spent Christmas week on the Big Island about 7 years ago and it was the best vacation ever.
We went on a trail ride that was fantastic; not your usual nose-to-tail ride. We went whale watching. There was a sub ride in Kona that was fantastic. My husband and oldest son went on an ATV ride, and snorkeling.
We went on a trail ride on one of the ranches too. It was just my DH and I and the guide. Very enjoyable. We got to chat with the guide about all sorts of things. Well worth it. We enjoyed driving around the island and stopping where ever our attention was grabbed. We also did a bicycle ride also just us and the guide. We aren't big cyclists but enjoyed it very much.