Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

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cbr shadow
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Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby cbr shadow » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:27 pm

My wife and I are flying to Hawaii in about 3 weeks for a week-long vacation. We've been to Maui many years ago, but nowhere else in Hawaii. My wife picked Hawaii because she wanted to see/hike on a volcano.

What are the best things to do in this area? We are Open Water Certified for scuba diving, so we plan on doing some of that.

We're staying at Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.

I'm hoping to get some suggestions for other activities, especially something that is a bit off the beaten path or very adventurous.

Thanks,
CBR

centrifuge41
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby centrifuge41 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:43 pm

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Park is worth a quick look. The volcano is far away from where you're staying. Ideally, you book some time at Volcano or Hilo so that you don't have to pull off a lengthy day trip to get over there. Granted, there's not a lot of hotels/resorts in Hilo, since it's on the rainy side of the island.

There's a green sand beach to the south, near the very southernmost part of the island. The hike is ~2 or so miles, but it isn't exactly a pleasant hike per say (walking on trails made by 4x4 vehicles).

The real draw, as you know, is volcano NP. Maybe you'll want to hike to the edge of the lava flow. Be prepared, have lots of food, flashlights, etc. And shoes/boots that won't melt down.

Lindrobe
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Lindrobe » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:45 pm

My husband and i got married on the Big Island in 2004 and have been back several times since. We did a rafting ride through the old sugar cane irrigation system that was kind of neat - touristy, but neat. See: http://www.flumindaditch.com/

Village Burger up in Waimea is awesome (still dreaming about the homemade milk shakes and french fries): https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60588-d1888242-Reviews-Village_Burger-Waimea_Island_of_Hawaii_Hawaii.html

Teague
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Teague » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:48 pm

On the other side of the island: Horseback riding through Waipi'o canyon was unforgettable. A few highlights among many:

- There was a portion where the horses swam across a small river. With you on them. Don't fall off!

- The ride down into the canyon is not easily forgotten. That road is, err, something else. Very steep, narrow, twisty, sheer cliffs, no guard rails, not well maintained. 4WD heavy-duty van in low range, and that thing was straining, both down and back up. They leave the sliding door open, and tell you not to wear seat belts. (If the brakes should fail your best chance is to try to jump out, rather than go down with the ship.) There are a few vehicle carcasses at the bottom that didn't quite make it.

- As you ride through the deep lush canyon, watch native residents farming taro traditionally. Well, mostly traditionally. Some use string trimmers and such.

centrifuge41
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby centrifuge41 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:02 pm

Speaking of food, the pizza at Ohelo Cafe in Volcano (the town) was ridiculously good. They have an awesome oven for firing up those crisp thin crusts!

Teague
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Teague » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:05 pm

centrifuge41 wrote:Speaking of food, the pizza at Ohelo Cafe in Volcano (the town) was ridiculously good. They have an awesome oven for firing up those crisp thin crusts!


Lava-baked?

rr2
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby rr2 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:10 pm

Going unto the summit of Mauna Kea can be a fun experience especially around sunset. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended for the dirt road. Most rental car companies prohibit the taking of vehicles as per the rental contract so you need to check.

Also the drive from Kona to Hilo via the Hamakua coast can be a nice drive if you take the time and stop by places such as Akaka falls, Botanical garden, Onomea Bay, Laupahoehoe point, UmaUma Falls etc.

Obviously nothing beats Volcano National Park.

chartcab3785
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby chartcab3785 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:12 pm

centrifuge41 wrote:Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Park is worth a quick look. The volcano is far away from where you're staying. Ideally, you book some time at Volcano or Hilo so that you don't have to pull off a lengthy day trip to get over there. Granted, there's not a lot of hotels/resorts in Hilo, since it's on the rainy side of the island.

There's a green sand beach to the south, near the very southernmost part of the island. The hike is ~2 or so miles, but it isn't exactly a pleasant hike per say (walking on trails made by 4x4 vehicles).

The real draw, as you know, is volcano NP. Maybe you'll want to hike to the edge of the lava flow. Be prepared, have lots of food, flashlights, etc. And shoes/boots that won't melt down.


+1 to whatt centrifuge41 says. Alternative to staying in Hilo to be close to the volcano, there are tons of vrbo/airbnb places all around the volcano. Seeing the lava at night is among my favorite things to do on the Big Island, and trudging back to Kona afterwards could be a drag, IMO. I'm always torn because I want the luxury of the places on the Kona coast but prefer activities around the volcano. Perhaps one day Hualalai will erupt and cut down on this 'commute'. :D

I also recommend the Waimea Town Market on Saturday Mornings. http://waimeatownmarket.com/ Love the BLTs at Mai Bacon there, and I'm not even a fan of Tomatoes.

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Just sayin...
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Just sayin... » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:22 pm

If you've got asthma, be aware of VOG: http://www.konaweb.com/vog/

It's real and forced us to end our vacation on Kona early, two years ago.

TRC
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby TRC » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:28 pm

Just sayin... wrote:If you've got asthma, be aware of VOG: http://www.konaweb.com/vog/

It's real and forced us to end our vacation on Kona early, two years ago.


I'll second this. I'm on Maui now wrapping up a 2 week vacation and my allergies (and allergy induced athsma) have never been this bad. I wasn't sure what it was, but the locals said it was VOG. I've been popping claritan and benadryl like candy!

In terms of suggestions on what to do, our favorite activity was a sunset catamaran sail / whale watch. We plan to do it again tomorrow night before we fly home. The whales are here in full force by the way.

batpot
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby batpot » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:43 pm

Volcanoes Nat'l Park, and the green sand beach are a must. There's also a black sand beach that you drive right up to.
The local will drive you to and from the green sand for a nominal fee, but the walk is worth it, because you'll see green sand blown all over the ground, and it's really cool.

Kona brewery is fine, but the best beer was at the Big Island Brewhaus in Wimea.

We did a lot of driving; stayed 3-4 days in Hilo, and another few in Kona.

cantos
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby cantos » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:07 pm

Someone mentioned Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Park - the snorkeling spot there is Two Steps, and it's phenomenal. Dolphins, turtles, fish, depending on time of year.

Rent a 4x4 jeep - u won't regret it, and you'll need it to get to certain snorkeling/scuba spots.

You're staying at my fav place on Big Island, Kona. Lots to do it and fun place. Suggest a two-day trip to the volcano/Hilo. Go east along the northern coast and hit the waipo valley, the falls, etc. Last stop of the day is Hilo, stay at a B&B (affordable and they are just fine, look at tripadvisor), check out the volcano. Next day go back westbound to Kona along the south coast. Hit the black sands beach, etc. Check out the scenery, pistachio farms, coffee farms, etc.

Lots of beautiful beaches on the island. do a google for private/secluded beaches on big lsand.

Big Island is my favourite place in the world.

exrook
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby exrook » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:36 pm

I was there in 2005 and enjoyed Kapoloa Falls in the Pololu Valley. You'll need to work with a guide, as the trail to the falls passes through private lands.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby WhyNotUs » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:03 pm

Very good night diving. Rays

Waimea (Kamuela) is a great town and also Hawi at the northernmost tip of island.

Hapuna Beach is a fave.
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Boats day
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Boats day » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:50 pm

Aloha

We have lived on the big island kona for 5 years and prior to that vacationed here for
8 years.

Sounds like you all ready have 2 days booked 1 for volcano and one day for diving.

I would recommend the book big island revealed by Andrew doughty.

300 pages of places to visit maps and many off the beaten path beaches etc.

You will Love this book and it is very complete

My top 5 things to do on the big island

Volcano
Beach exploration day see if you can find white sand black sand and green sand beaches
Snorkel day manta ray dives are highly rated
Mauna keauhou
Water fall tours and Waipeovalley self guided tour must stop for Mala sadas in honnakaa.(texs)


Have fun
PAUL

chartcab3785
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby chartcab3785 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:06 pm

Boats day wrote:Aloha

We have lived on the big island kona for 5 years and prior to that vacationed here for
8 years.

Sounds like you all ready have 2 days booked 1 for volcano and one day for diving.

I would recommend the book big island revealed by Andrew doughty.

300 pages of places to visit maps and many off the beaten path beaches etc.

You will Love this book and it is very complete

My top 5 things to do on the big island

Volcano
Beach exploration day see if you can find white sand black sand and green sand beaches
Snorkel day manta ray dives are highly rated
Mauna keauhou
Water fall tours and Waipeovalley self guided tour must stop for Mala sadas in honnakaa.(texs)


Have fun
PAUL


+1 on the Big Island Revealed books. They are written extremely well and unlike any guide book I've used before. Know though, that many of the off the beaten path places mentioned in this book are no longer off the beaten path, due in large part to the book. Some locals are not to thrilled about this so I try to be discrete with the book when out and about with it.

curmudgeon
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby curmudgeon » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:31 pm

Hiking out to the flowing (oozing) active lava, getting so close you can "poke it with a stick", was an absolute highlight to me. Doing it at night and during daytime were both worthwhile, and different experiences. Sometimes the lava is completely inaccessible, but in recent months the active flows have been reachable. Do some research before going, have good shoes (and flashlights if going at night).

I don't find Kona all that interesting, but then we don't go to Hawaii for sunshine and golf. There are lots of interesting corners around the rest of the island that we have enjoyed more. Just take it at a slow pace and don't be afraid to explore. Some people say you want a jeep for exploring, but we haven't found it necessary.

Lacrocious
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Lacrocious » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:24 pm

We were on the Big Island at the end of October 2016. We spent the last 4 days in Volcano. We didn't hike out to the ocean entry - ~8 miles round trip was more than we wanted to do. We were able to see eruptions in Volcano National Park - Kīlauea Volcano from the Jaggar Museum. We didn't get pictures quite as good as this - but you can see what is happening now: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm. The erupting lava is hypnotizing.

If you want to spend a bunch of $ - take the Blue Hawaiian Helecopter tour - We did the Big Island Spectacular with waterfall landing - you land 2/3rds of the way through the trip feet from a waterfall. It was well worth the money.

Snorkling in "Kealakekua Bay" - by the Captain Cook Monument was great. Some of the best snorkeling we had - the water was extremely clear and lots of fish. We did Fair Winds trip - they seem to have the only boat that has a anchorage in the bay in the park. The trip had a bunch of kids - but once in the water, we were not near many people.

We rented an apartment across the street from http://www.hawaiisnorkelingguide.com/kahaluu_beach_park_snorkeling.html - Kahaluu Beach. Walk into the water and snorkel. We saw about 10-12 green sea turtles over the 3 days we stayed across from the park.

All good things. Have fun!
- L

RN2010
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby RN2010 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:40 pm

Someone mentioned night dive with the manta rays but if you don't scuba dive. Most of the same diving company's offer snorkel options and are great.

Not the biggest snorkel cruse fan but the Fair Wind big island ocean guide company is fun. They have a smaller boat Hula Kai that is worth the extra price for better food, and more personable staff.

My favorite beach is Manini'owali Beach. It is north of the airport and has the best sand. Hapuna beach is also a very popular beach and has a fun taco shack near the parking lot but is a ways from downtown Kona.

dumbbunny
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby dumbbunny » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:15 pm

cbr shadow wrote:I'm hoping to get some suggestions for other activities, especially something that is a bit off the beaten path or very adventurous.
Thanks,
CBR


I'd suggest Manini'owali Beach on Kua Bay for body surfing. 11.6 miles north of King Kam on Hwy 19 after something very adventurous. Bring some shade device. And the Da Poke Shack on Ali'i Drive 2.7 miles south of King Kam to eat before your next adventure.
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Lacrocious
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Lacrocious » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:25 pm

dumbbunny wrote:... And the Da Poke Shack on Ali'i Drive ...


YES! Da Poke Shack was great if you like Poke! Would also highly recommend "Umekes Fishmarket Bar and Grill" - in that same area - near Ali'i Drive and Hualalai Rd.

- L

Cruise
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Cruise » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:51 am

OP: If you are going to the Big Island to hike volcanoes, it makes no sense to stay in Kona, which is a 2.5 hour drive from Volcano National Park. Instead, stay at VNP. I recommend Volcano House, a nice-if funky- hotel. Close to everything, and the meals are very good.

heyyou
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby heyyou » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:39 am

Pau restaurant, in the same parking lot as Merriman's, in Waimea/Kamuela, has delicious, well prepared, food at a quarter of the prices next door.

Hapuna Beach is famous for good reasons. For tourists, turn into the resort, stopping at the guard gate, then follow the signs past the resort to the public parking lot. Walk the paved golf cart trail to the restrooms/showers at the edge of the beach. The locals probably prefer the crowded county beach that is around the corner from the resort's beach. In Hawaii, all beach has public access up to the high water mark, so the resort has to share it with everyone, but the resort's parking for the public is limited.

From Hilo, we took a less expensive, fixed wing plane tour, instead of a helicopter ride. Consider taking a sunrise or sunset Lava Boat tour to where the lava runs into the ocean. It is worth seeing in both daylight and at night. The boat launch site is dozens of miles past the turn off into the national park, as is the location of the lava's ocean entry.

Besides sunscreen and bug repellant, take some itch relief ointment too, or buy some there before you go where you may need it. The rainforest plants are gorgeous but the mosquitoes are thick in a few places, and they will get you while you are spraying the repellant on your family.

ponyboy
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby ponyboy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:29 am

I was in kona 2 months ago...we've been there several times...its our favorite island.

If you want to scuba you can shore dive at that 2 step place. After you enter the water head right...its deeper. We dove here 2 years ago but last time we just snorkeled a bunch of times. Theres no real benefit to scuba diving. I was newly certified last time so I wanted to do an open water dive. Snorkeling is just as good imo.

Kayak at captain book bay...go early in the morning...rent kayak night before from kona boys...you can keep it for 24 hours...go early to see dolphins. They sleep there...that was a neat experience being 20 feet from dolphins and snorkeling with them. Listening to them talk to each other.

If you want to dive do a manta ray night dive. You basically just sit at the bottom (around 30 feet) and watch manta rays feed. Its still awesome.

As you're aware lava is flowing into the ocean as we speak. We made it an all day thing. We drove to Hilo early and stopped by hawaii candies factory when they opened. Tons of free samples...great chocolates/cookies. We had lunch then we made our way to Kalapana...thats where everyone parks to start the 4 mile hike to the ocean to see lava flowing. You cant get that close (100ish yards.) But its still really cool. Ive seen pictures of people poking lava with sticks, etc...not sure how they got that close. Everything is roped off and park rangers are out. Stay till night...thats when it looks the best.

Once you leave you'll be back to your car around 8pm or so. Head to Mauna Kea visitor center. If you're there around Feb 1 it will be pretty dark. Best time to go is obviously new moon. You'll be amazed how many stars you can see. You can see the milky way with your naked eyes. Most people have never seen this due to light pollution. The island uses special lights so it stays dark at night. You'll notice them when you're driving around at night. This is a must...get there around 9pm or 9:30pm. The crowds will be gone, telescopes will be up. Its really cold though...dress appropriately. Or do this on a completely different day and head to the very very top for sunset. Its awesome. Bring a bunch of food and have dinner up there (in your car with the heat on.) It will be your most memorable meal because of the views...trust me. Fanciest restaurant wont hold a candle.

If you like coffee hit up some of the kona coffee shops. Kona Joes is one of our favorites.

If you're staying in a condo hit up costco if you have a membership. Stock up on stuff (food to take to top of mauna kea for dinner.) Gas is also about 50cents cheaper than anywhere else. NOt sure how they can price it so low.

Carson
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Carson » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:55 am

We did mainly off-the-beaten path adventure hiking, although we stayed just south of Hilo the bulk of our time. It was pretty incredible, even if the lava wasn't flowing when we went there. We are pretty efficient travelers and DH was comfortable driving our rented Jeep all over (off roading and up/down Mauna Kea summit).

There are a lot of hikes on this site:
http://www.bigislandhikes.com/

And the book we took with us was Big Island Revealed.
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MrNewEngland
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby MrNewEngland » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:33 am

ponyboy wrote:
If you want to dive do a manta ray night dive. You basically just sit at the bottom (around 30 feet) and watch manta rays feed. Its still awesome.




This. One thousand times this.

I spent three weeks on Oahu last year at a friend's place. I went to the big island (at Kona) for two days and wish I had spent another day or two there... but by far the best experience I had there was doing the night dive to watch the Manta Rays. I can't emphasize enough how much I recommend doing this. And I'm not usually a person that likes night diving.

I tried to do a helicopter tour while there because we knew we wouldn't have enough time to hike to the volcano but they didn't have enough people to do a tour. I did not plan the Kona trip well at all.

But watching those manta rays was such a fun and unique experience, and I dive Florida (keys and head springs) and the Caribbean as often as I can.

ponyboy
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby ponyboy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:35 am

MrNewEngland wrote:
ponyboy wrote:
If you want to dive do a manta ray night dive. You basically just sit at the bottom (around 30 feet) and watch manta rays feed. Its still awesome.




This. One thousand times this.

But watching those manta rays was such a fun and unique experience, and I dive Florida (keys and head springs) and the Caribbean as often as I can.


We only saw 2 when we were there but I was at a spot where the manta would come straight at my head than the last second glide up missing me by inches. You dont wear a snorkel for this dive for that very reason. The mantas would hit it.

Sometimes there area dozen + of the majestic monsters gliding around. A rule of thumb is for every foot across = 100lbs. The ones were saw were only 6 or 7 feet...but they still weight 600lbs. Wish I could have seen big bertha. That one is over 16 wide...weighting in over 1500lbs.

http://www.mantarayshawaii.com/manta-ra ... big-bertha

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fizxman
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby fizxman » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:58 am

Not really adventurous but, IMO it's the best way to see the entire island in just a few hours; airplane tour. We booked a tour through Big Island Air and loved it. We chose and airplane instead of a helicopter because everyone in the airplane has a window seat, whereas in a helicopter you might not because of moving people because of weight.

MrNewEngland
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby MrNewEngland » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:24 pm

ponyboy wrote:
MrNewEngland wrote:
ponyboy wrote:
If you want to dive do a manta ray night dive. You basically just sit at the bottom (around 30 feet) and watch manta rays feed. Its still awesome.




This. One thousand times this.

But watching those manta rays was such a fun and unique experience, and I dive Florida (keys and head springs) and the Caribbean as often as I can.


We only saw 2 when we were there but I was at a spot where the manta would come straight at my head than the last second glide up missing me by inches. You dont wear a snorkel for this dive for that very reason. The mantas would hit it.

Sometimes there area dozen + of the majestic monsters gliding around. A rule of thumb is for every foot across = 100lbs. The ones were saw were only 6 or 7 feet...but they still weight 600lbs. Wish I could have seen big bertha. That one is over 16 wide...weighting in over 1500lbs.

http://www.mantarayshawaii.com/manta-ra ... big-bertha


I must've been luck on my trip because I saw a couple seals, eels, and lots of Manta Rays.

My whole trip to Hawaii was amazing. I'm jealous of OP.

Puakinekine
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Puakinekine » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:03 pm

Not to put a damper on all of this enthusiasm, but be aware of your driving times. It is a good 2 hours or more one way right now from Kailua -Kona to Hilo because of road construction on the Saddle Road. The South Point route and the Hamakua route are just as slow. It is another 40 minutes up to the HVNP visitor's center. It is another 50-60 minutes down to where the lava reaches the ocean and a 4 mile hike in, coming back in the dark.

The roads are mostly two lanes, winding, and sometimes badly banked. It is not mainland driving. There most likely will be unexpected rain and fog at some point. I would recommend a night in a B&B in Hilo or Volcano. It is worth the extra $100. Also, you will be missing some beautiful scenery, if you drive at night.

RandomUser
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby RandomUser » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:55 pm

Reading this post brings back fond memories of our trip to the Big Island.

The only thing I didn't see mentioned was the Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Coconut Syrup in Hilo.

Volcano House was a neat place to stay, a throw back to a simpler time, but the view fantastic!

ponyboy
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby ponyboy » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:00 pm

Puakinekine wrote:Not to put a damper on all of this enthusiasm, but be aware of your driving times. It is a good 2 hours or more one way right now from Kailua -Kona to Hilo because of road construction on the Saddle Road. The South Point route and the Hamakua route are just as slow. It is another 40 minutes up to the HVNP visitor's center. It is another 50-60 minutes down to where the lava reaches the ocean and a 4 mile hike in, coming back in the dark.


Yeah and? Just leave early in the morning and make a day of it. Theres no reason you have to drive straight to the volcano parking area from kona. We stopped at a bunch of places along the way...not so much on the saddle road and yes there is construction. Not really a big deal imo. Lots to do in hilo. Take your time, no rush. I guess im one of the few that doesnt mind driving so they can see a lot of stuff.

For those who are not adventurous or who prefer not to drive...I say head to the Caribbean and sit on the beach at an all inclusive resort. Hawaii isnt going to be for you. Theres just too many awesome things to do on the islands to be stuck in one area.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Sandtrap » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:55 pm

Aloha!

Helicopter ride. Near you. "Blue Hawaii" , the big blue ones, more comfy/quieter. See the entire island, etc, faster, easier than long drives.
Hapuna Beach Resort buffet, prime rib/crab night. Super "ono".
Kamuela (Waimea), hang out, great Thai restaurant in the older shopping center.

Fish, seafood, fish fish fish. The best deep ocean fish can be had in Kona. The fishing capital of something it's been said.

Scuba of Kona or via chartered boat is outstanding most days. The water is clear. Hilo side is murky and muddy water. South shore is dangerous. Stay out of riptide areas, "molokai express" like tides will take you out to sea.

As mentioned here, drives can be very very long and take a lot out of the time you have there. Kamuela is super busy and going across on that single highway from Honokaa side will put you to sleep.
Same thing if you try to drive all the way from Kona to south point. Single highway. Traffic.
That's the one thing on the Big Island that can be cumbersome and time consuming is the long small roads and traffic.

The "saddle road" is mostly finished and much faster to go to Hilo side. As "ponyboy" said in a previous post, it's partially under construction. But, you might find it quicker to go to Volcano National Park that way via Hilo. The last time I was there (family) it was pretty quick. Double check that.
As said earlier, leave super early, take your time. Have lunch at "Kens" in Hilo by the airport (good prices and ono local kine grinds).

As an aside, avoid Oahu and Honolulu, nearly 1 million hard working souls in a very tiny place. Rated worse traffic in the nation. . or was it second worse. It is big city, permanent rush hour, and Waikiki and "non local" prices are to the moon.

As mentioned here also, Big Island, Maui, Kauai. . . "No Ka Oi".

Have fun. If you have breathing or allergy or "sulphur" issues, avoid the sulphur pits and volcano fumes at Volcano National Park.

navyasw02
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby navyasw02 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:06 pm

Try the tour at Kona Brewing Company, you get a good amount of sample beers at the end.

Most of my other suggestions have already been said. Also try going to Kaimu Beach Park area and walk along the lava fields. Try doing a kayak/boat trip out to see lava rolling into the water too if its still doing it.

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tooluser
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby tooluser » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:16 pm

I spent two weeks on the Big Island in 2011.

If you stay in Volcano, HI: Kilauea Lodge - Tutu's House. Delightful. You won't regret it. Everywhere but Kona was completely excellent.

I found Kona too hot for my taste. It was 105 degF in the daytime. Maybe that was unusual. The AC in the condos I stayed at could not keep up with the heat. Otherwise, tons of good things to see and do. I ended up buying a small cooler and blue ice packs so I would have something cold to drink while I sight-see'd.

List of Optimal Souvenirs: (I recorded these, along with $ values, for insurance purposes when I shipped them home.)

2 1.5 oz packet coconut M&Ms
1 6-pak Mauna Loa macadamis nuts
1 Cannister chocolate covered macadamia nuts
1 1 lb kona coffee – Mountain Thunder
1 8 oz kona coffee – Private Reserve
1 3-pak hawaii honey jars
1 Donna's Cookies
1 8 oz Macadamia-Coffee nut brittle
1 3-pak alaea sea salt blends
1 2.6 oz bag black salt
1 5.5 oz can butter toffee macadamia nuts
1 6oz bag macadamia nuts
1 bag Chimes ginger candies
1 4.5 oz can Spam macadamia nuts
1 12 oz kona coffee – 100% Kona Peaberry
1 6-pak Caramacs
1 16 oz jar Mele Macs
1 Tub 36 cnt Island Trio
1 Kiluaea Lodge Mug
1 wood turtle with carved inlays and calendar/compass
1 Koa wood bowl
1 turtle pin, sterling silver with MOP inlays
1 T-shirt XXL
1 hat, baseball, Hawaii emblem
3 shot glasses
8 refrigerator magnets
1 souvenir coin
2 hawaii Christmas ornaments – natural matls
1 book, On the Rim of Kilauea

Enjoy your trip. :mrgreen:

Cunobelinus
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Cunobelinus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:13 pm

Just sayin... wrote:If you've got asthma, be aware of VOG: http://www.konaweb.com/vog/

It's real and forced us to end our vacation on Kona early, two years ago.



It's pretty voggy here on Oahu at the moment. People say allergy medicine works for them. Vog just gives me a headache.

Cunobelinus
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Cunobelinus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:23 pm

Right in Kailua-Kona, there are two scuba diving companies that I've gone with several times and been quite happy: Kona Honu (day dives and manta ray diving) and Jack's Diving Locker for the blackwater/pelagic dive at night. The blackwater/pelagic dive isn't for the faint of heart, but it's certainly pretty cool and memorable.

You can check out coffee plantations if that's your thing. A lot of people in the West know of Kona coffee, but there are, IMHO, some equally good other regions for growing coffee, e.g., Ka'u coffee. There's also a coffee bean bazaar, but I don't recall what day(s) of the week it is.

Big Island is pretty rural -- Kailua-Kona seems to exist because of the Ironman, coffee, and diving. Hilo is a small town that seems to exist because it's been around a long time and now has a satellite University of Hawaii campus. I've only been to Hilo once, and that's probably enough for me. I've been to Kailua-Kona a few times more. I'm certain that people living in Big Island may have a different opinion though. There's a lot of land and subsequently a lot of cool beaches with few people.

On the lava piece, I'd recommend taking a boat tour early in the morning if you can and the lava is still flowing. I just did that a few weeks ago. You'll have to stay around Hilo or Volcano to make it worthwhile (be at the harbor at 4am). Staying around Volcano for a day (or several) can be really nice too. There's plenty of hiking trails in the area and volcano stuff to see. If you'd like to hike out to see lava, plan for a long day. We ended up walking from Volcano National Park out for what seemed like 2 hours (after the road ends, you walk on lava field) and still didn't get close to seeing the lava entering the water. You can apparently bike in from the other side -- I forget the name of the town -- but be careful if you're getting close to the lava. If your shoes start melting, it's because you're standing on the lava tube and it wouldn't be too surprising if the tube collapsed or started to deform and you found the lava up close and personal.

Cunobelinus
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Cunobelinus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:24 pm

navyasw02 wrote:Try the tour at Kona Brewing Company, you get a good amount of sample beers at the end.

Most of my other suggestions have already been said. Also try going to Kaimu Beach Park area and walk along the lava fields. Try doing a kayak/boat trip out to see lava rolling into the water too if its still doing it.


Definitely. No stop in Kona is worthwhile without going to the Kona Brewing Company. I think they have very good food too.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Sandtrap » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:30 pm

Things to eat while you are in Hawaii, land of "food", island style.
Spam Musubi
Pulehu Ribs . . . Pulehu anything.
Korean Kal Bi. . . island style.
Buffet anything. . .
Portuguese sausage and eggs for breakfast. . . .
Portuguese bean soup. . . .
Oxtail soup. . chinese island style. . . lots of grated ginger and chinese parsley. .
"Poke" and fresh poi. . .
Malasadas. . . (portuguese pastry thing). . .
Kalua Pig
Local food in Hilo, Kamuela (Kamuela No Ka Oi). . . none tourist places. . . . plate lunch anything (soyu chicken, bbq chicken, mixed plate, etc)
Often the same name food will be different in taste and price (hugely expensive) in a hotel or resort or tourist restaurant vs a local place.
Exotic "aquired taste" foods.
Squid Luau (be sure authentic with coconut milk and taro leaf vs spinach leaf)
Opihi (try once in your life, might like it, very very expensive for even a little, hard to find)
:sharebeer
Last edited by Sandtrap on Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Puakinekine
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Puakinekine » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:06 pm

I found Kona too hot for my taste. It was 105 degF in the daytime. Maybe that was unusual. The AC in the condos I stayed at could not keep up with the heat. Otherwise, tons of good things to see and do. I ended up buying a small cooler and blue ice packs so I would have something cold to drink while I sight-see'd.


I am wondering at the 105 degree number as it there are no recorded incidences of it ever getting that hot anywhere in Hawaii. Perhaps someone put a thermometer on black lava in the sun? There is a chart on this page containing highest monthly temperatures from 1981-2010--sorry, best I can do right now, as I am rushed--but you can see, it had never gotten above 95 at Keahole Airport which is a black paved place sitting in the center of a huge lava flow at ~47 foot elevation. Temperatures have risen since 2010, but not by 10 degrees as of yet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kailua,_H ... ite_note-7

95 is hot enough though, and I don't really care for Kailua-Kona, unless I am in the shade or in the water. My first visit there was in 1975, when I remember it feeling hotter then Honolulu (where I lived at the time) but that had a lot to do with the lack of trades in Kona and the pervasive black rock.

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Peter Foley
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Peter Foley » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:58 pm

Already recommended:

Snorkling in "Kealakekua Bay" - by the Captain Cook Monument was great. Some of the best snorkeling we had - the water was extremely clear and lots of fish.


We did this as well but we rented a Kayak from a small operator and paddled across the bay to snorkel. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

heyyou
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby heyyou » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:13 am

Things to eat while you are in Hawaii, land of "food", island style.

Loco Moco at Cafe 100 (ask for brown rice to slow the starch buzz, consider adding soy sauce, ketchup, maybe chili water)
969 Kilauea Ave. in Hilo
http://cafe100.com/the-loco-moco/
Some of the enjoyment is the outdoor dining on Big Island when is is below freezing at your home on the mainland.

If in Hilo on a weekend or a Wednesday, stop at the Hilo Farmers Market for an anthurium bouquet in a foil wrapped coffee can, at a BH price of $6!
https://www.google.com/search?q=ambiance&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=anthurium+photos

NerdGirl
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby NerdGirl » Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:35 am

I second the blue helicopter ride. Well worth the money! We also enjoyed hiking to various waterfalls and star gazing on the mountain (take warm clothes!)

Snorkeling and paddle boarding near the sea turtles in the Mauna kea area was amazing.

We grilled local fish purchase from Costco several times. Delicious and relatively inexpensive!

Kiter
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Re: Trip to Kona, Hawaii - Suggestions

Postby Kiter » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:57 am

Read a book on Captain Cooks voyages , I read Blue Latitudes then visit and snorkel at his monument. Amazing story . You can night dive with rays if conditions permit with a dive group. I rented a bike and road Tri .course and around the North end . Hilo has a great farmers market .


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