Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

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Wannaretireearly
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Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

One of the many secrets of this forum are the awesome travel tips! hint hint :P

We're travelling to Big Island in Dec (peak period, eeek!). Family of 4, kids 11 and 13, 9 nights here:
https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ ... ach-hotel/

DW and I came to Big Island prior to kids. Did heli tour and Mauna Kea summit tours (both amazing!).

Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.

Day trips:
We'll have a rental car, but also like to have one or two organized trips, with a guide (kids do better with the guides).

1. Booked an all island day tour on the second day. Long, full day, but will be a good way to get acclimated imo. first day, just plan to hang at hotel in Kona, check out local area, perhaps get some supplies etc. Costco? We'll see.

Link to tour currently booked. Can cancel, change. Lmk if anyone has done a Big Island tour like this recently and has an opinion:
https://www.viator.com/tours/Big-Island ... 9-6651BIOD

2. Day 3 - rest day :wink:

3. Day 4/5/6 - helicopter tour and drive to Mauna Kea visitor center. This is where i really need help!
- We've been on Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours before. Good experience. Go with them again to see the Volcano's/Lava flow? Open to any thoughts on this. We would also like to do a boat tour. Any recommendations?

- Mauna Kea visitor center. Anyone been recently? Trying to plan this one well --> I'd love to hire a guide for an hour or so, while there - possible? tips on guides? Getting great pictures? I think the visitor center closes at 7pm. So should we aim to be here at 5pm (driving from Kona), see sunset, stars etc. Dinner possible at the visitor center? We can't go to the summit given kids ages, so that is out of the question. I've read the visitor center is actually better to view the sky/stars. Trying to figure out how to get the best of the 2-3 hours max we'll be there. Ideas?

4. Day 7/8 - drive to some local beaches, black sand etc. Hang, Snorkel. 13 year old wants to try Scuba here. good idea? Again any tips on drivable day trips with kids would be appreciated.


What am i missing? Except for the fact I'll be bankrupt in 2022 paying for this trip! :mrgreen:
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
vested1
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by vested1 »

I wouldn't miss snorkeling at two step.

https://bigislandguide.com/honaunau-bay-two-step

Or swimming with the Manta Rays off the Sheraton.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionP ... awaii.html

Or taking a snorkeling day trip tour with lunch provided at Captain Cooks Bay (Kealakekua Bay)

https://www.hawaiioceanic.com/kealakeku ... QYQAvD_BwE

If you're real adventurous I would consider kayaking on Kealakekua Bay. You will likely see spinning dolphins close to your kayak. Don't step onto the shore unless you have a permit to do so.

https://www.konaboys.com/?gclid=CjwKCAj ... lsrc=aw.ds

I'm not recommending any particular company and have used other ones than these before.
Starfish
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Starfish »

I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
wfrobinette
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by wfrobinette »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm One of the many secrets of this forum are the awesome travel tips! hint hint :P

We're travelling to Big Island in Dec (peak period, eeek!). Family of 4, kids 11 and 13, 9 nights here:
https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ ... ach-hotel/

DW and I came to Big Island prior to kids. Did heli tour and Mauna Kea summit tours (both amazing!).

Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.

Day trips:
We'll have a rental car, but also like to have one or two organized trips, with a guide (kids do better with the guides).

1. Booked an all island day tour on the second day. Long, full day, but will be a good way to get acclimated imo. first day, just plan to hang at hotel in Kona, check out local area, perhaps get some supplies etc. Costco? We'll see.

Link to tour currently booked. Can cancel, change. Lmk if anyone has done a Big Island tour like this recently and has an opinion:
https://www.viator.com/tours/Big-Island ... 9-6651BIOD

2. Day 3 - rest day :wink:

3. Day 4/5/6 - helicopter tour and drive to Mauna Kea visitor center. This is where i really need help!
- We've been on Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours before. Good experience. Go with them again to see the Volcano's/Lava flow? Open to any thoughts on this. We would also like to do a boat tour. Any recommendations?

- Mauna Kea visitor center. Anyone been recently? Trying to plan this one well --> I'd love to hire a guide for an hour or so, while there - possible? tips on guides? Getting great pictures? I think the visitor center closes at 7pm. So should we aim to be here at 5pm (driving from Kona), see sunset, stars etc. Dinner possible at the visitor center? We can't go to the summit given kids ages, so that is out of the question. I've read the visitor center is actually better to view the sky/stars. Trying to figure out how to get the best of the 2-3 hours max we'll be there. Ideas?

4. Day 7/8 - drive to some local beaches, black sand etc. Hang, Snorkel. 13 year old wants to try Scuba here. good idea? Again any tips on drivable day trips with kids would be appreciated.


What am i missing? Except for the fact I'll be bankrupt in 2022 paying for this trip! :mrgreen:
Wife and I did the whole island in a day trip by ourselves.
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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by oldcomputerguy »

Check the size of the gas tank and the expected mileage on the rental car. DW and I went to the Big Island in 2009 and rented a convertible Mustang for the stay. Great car, horrible mileage, tiny tank. We just about ran out a full tank of gas just driving once around the island, and were starting to get really concerned when the needle hovered over "E" without a gas station in sight.
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batpot
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by batpot »

+1 to captain cook's
black & green sand beaches along southern coast.
Mauna Kea summit was closed due to wind, but we watched the sunset from ~9k feet up, which was really cool...and windy. That was in December.
wfrobinette wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:15 pm Wife and I did the whole island in a day trip by ourselves.
:confused
you...just drove?
livesoft
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by livesoft »

I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
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mary1492
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by mary1492 »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.
It is not a good time to go. Hawaii is continuing to ask tourists to stay away. Hospitals are currently at capacity.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/04/ ... his-month/

Governor put new proclamation in place on Friday:
https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/ ... signed.pdf

The locals are not very happy with tourists coming. It is not very welcoming at this time.

I would recommend postponing the trip (at least) until next year. Aside from being sympathetic with the current situation being experienced there, you may encounter difficulties while traveling, whether it be getting in to a restaurant due to capacity limits, facing unexpected restrictions, animosity from locals, or that governor may make a new/stricter proclamation just prior to your travel date. In general, the proclamations have been coming about every 60 days, so the next one will likely be around Dec 1.

If you are set on going regardless of what is happening, I highly suggest purchasing travel insurance with Cancel for Any Reason to cover the cost of your entire trip.
Johnny Thinwallet
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Johnny Thinwallet »

We've been trying to hit national parks frequently the last several years, and we also enjoy hiking in national parks. Of all the hikes I've been on, I'll note that my #1 favorite day hike is still the Kilauea Iki trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Definitely worth it if you like going hiking. We spent 1.5 days in the park, and after leaving I wish we would have spent more time there. That said, there was no lava nearby to see up close when we were visiting.

Mauna Kea visitor center was fun - we just drove up ourselves and hiked around the general area near the visitor center.

Waipio Valley was really fun to see. Same with Punalu'u Black Sand Beach (plenty of sea turtles there lounging on the beach there five feet away).

We got plenty of use out of the Big Island Revealed book. Probably worth picking up a copy if you don't already have it. We didn't do any tours and instead just drove around ourselves using the guide book as a general tour guide for us.

For food/drinks, I'm a brewery kind of guy and we really enjoyed Kona Brewery.

For what it's worth, Hawaii's Big Island and Bar Harbor, ME (and Acadia National Park) are my two favorite places I've ever visited.
mr_brightside
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by mr_brightside »

livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:11 pm I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
I'm guessing you don't have winey kids tagging along 😉.
Some of the best guides we've had have made the trip worthwhile and memorable. I'm thinking Chichinitza, Mexico & Taj Mahal, India. Plenty of others too.
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
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Wannaretireearly
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

oldcomputerguy wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:43 pm Check the size of the gas tank and the expected mileage on the rental car. DW and I went to the Big Island in 2009 and rented a convertible Mustang for the stay. Great car, horrible mileage, tiny tank. We just about ran out a full tank of gas just driving once around the island, and were starting to get really concerned when the needle hovered over "E" without a gas station in sight.
Great point, thank you! I was able to snag what seems like the last car thru Avis/Costco (economy and tiny!).
I'm going to try and call them up & see if there are any options. Cheers!
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
Yep, 100% on board. Now I want to go figure out 'how'. Going in Dec, peak period is making me nervous.
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

mary1492 wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:56 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.
It is not a good time to go. Hawaii is continuing to ask tourists to stay away. Hospitals are currently at capacity.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/04/ ... his-month/

Governor put new proclamation in place on Friday:
https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/ ... signed.pdf

The locals are not very happy with tourists coming. It is not very welcoming at this time.

I would recommend postponing the trip (at least) until next year. Aside from being sympathetic with the current situation being experienced there, you may encounter difficulties while traveling, whether it be getting in to a restaurant due to capacity limits, facing unexpected restrictions, animosity from locals, or that governor may make a new/stricter proclamation just prior to your travel date. In general, the proclamations have been coming about every 60 days, so the next one will likely be around Dec 1.

If you are set on going regardless of what is happening, I highly suggest purchasing travel insurance with Cancel for Any Reason to cover the cost of your entire trip.
Thanks Mary. I haven't read the most up to date info, yet.
We really want to go on this trip. Flights are on miles and hotel can be cancelled I think a week before the trip. Summary, we can cancel everything, including tours, a week or two prior to leaving. So we'll keep up to date over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Fingers crossed things improve :confused
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
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ResearchMed
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by ResearchMed »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:43 pm We really want to go on this trip. Flights are on miles and hotel can be cancelled I think a week before the trip. Summary, we can cancel everything, including tours, a week or two prior to leaving. So we'll keep up to date over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Fingers crossed things improve
We've done the same thing... last winter, thinking things were getting better, etc., we made reservations for Hawaii for early/mid December.
Hotel didn't require any money down (so happy to have *anyone* book, I suppose!), and the airline was waiving any cancel or exchange fees for the awards. "So why not!?", right?

Well, we are older and have some co-existing conditions that put us at higher risk, so even though we are vaccinated, and DH just got his booster...
... it doesn't look good at all. We can't risk it.
(I was already on oxygen for 10 days in Dec, 2019 with a different virus, and we do NOT want a repeat of that adventure!)

So, we've made reservations for a short cruise for... August, 2023 (gasp, that sounds soooo far away).

But I haven't cancelled the Hawaii reservations yet. We have until 2 weeks before, so we can still pretend :wink:
And yes, we definitely felt "uninvited" when their Governor made that pronouncement to stay away.

If you go, I hope you have a great time!

Oh, last time I was checking out "things to do", it seemed that chartering a small boat from Hilo (?) to go view the lava flowing into the sea, from the sea looked really interesting.
Just make sure they stay FAR away. Some time ago, someone got too close, and a blob of lava went further than expected and hit a passenger in the leg. Not good.

RM
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Starfish
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Starfish »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:34 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:11 pm I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
I'm guessing you don't have winey kids tagging along 😉.
Some of the best guides we've had have made the trip worthwhile and memorable. I'm thinking Chichinitza, Mexico & Taj Mahal, India. Plenty of others too.
I have a 9 years old, I take him since many years ago on reasonably long hikes (10 miles). It would be his dream to go now in Hawaii: beaches, snorkeling, waves, water. hiking, cool landscapes, volcanoes. What can be better than that?
There places where one cannot avoid guide or an organized trip, or a guide really brings some value. Personally, I would go on one tour on this kind of trip, for example an off shore snorkeling trip or the lava one.
Typ997S
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Typ997S »

(To the OP: Sorry, I just re-read your post and caught the kids ages, so you're correct, I think the Mauna Kea summit is out. I hope some others will find the write-up on the summit trip useful. Regarding dinner at the visitor center, weather permitting, you could do that at the picnic tables they have outside. Strictly BYO for food and drink though. I'm not sure how much hiking is available at the visitors center. There is a a short loop (10 min) to see some Silver Swords that we did during our stop. The other thing to keep in mind is moon phase - unless it is a new moon (i.e. no moon) the moon will wipe out a lot of the "dark sky" advantage for seeing stars/Milky Way)

Here's a few thoughts/suggestions, based on trip that my family and I took in mid-August 2021, staying in Waikoloa Beach resort.

With regard to Mauna Kea, you might consider taking a sunset/stargazing tour. First, let me say I'm a hardcore independent traveler, so I don't do many organized/paid tours, but I think this was very worthwhile. One of my adult children and I did it, through Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (maunkea.com). Our tour guide, Travis, was incredible - native Hawaiian, and super knowledgeable on multiple subjects (flora and fauna, landscape, astronomy, etc.) You stop at the Mauna Kea visitors center on the way up (at about 6000'), where they serve you dinner and you start to acclimate to the altitude. The visitors center itself is pretty small, with a gift shop. After that, another stop at 10,000' to check out the view from above the clouds. Then it's up to the summit at 14,000' for sunset amongst all the large observatories. It's a once in a lifetime view. Then, after dark, you head partway back down to do some stargazing through a very nice 10" telescope. Highly recommended!

Here's a picture of Mauna Kea from 14,000'...but note that it is the shadow, not the mountain itself!

Image

And a view from the top...we had a pretty warm night - 37 deg F. It's often below freezing. The tour company provides parkas.

Image

The other thing I'll mention is the dining situation, which might be different when you are there. We were there only a month and a half after travel restrictions had eased to "no test required" if you are vaccinated. Because of the pandemic, a fair number of restaurants were closed either permanently or temporarily, and then those that were trying to re-open were having trouble getting staff. As a result, it could be hard to make a reservation or get a walk-in table, so I would definitely say plan ahead and stay flexible. Our favorite places that we ate were Tommy Bahama's (unexpectedly good,) and two places inland: Pueo's Osteria in Waikoloa Village, and Dom De Luca in Waimea. Sorry I don't have any recommendations on Kona area as we didn't make it down there.

Have a great trip!
Last edited by Typ997S on Mon Oct 04, 2021 7:40 pm, edited 4 times in total.
sneakboxer
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by sneakboxer »

I was stationed in Hilo 08-10. Being on top of Mauna Kea well before sunrise on the east side and watching the world wake up is something to see. Sunset up there is cool too. I also recommend getting as close to real flowing lava as you can, is worth the expense and or the risk. Lastly, be carful in the ocean and rivers. The water might be warm and inviting but currents and obstructions can be very hazardous.
Enjoy your trip,
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Sandtrap
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Sandtrap »

mary1492 wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:56 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.
It is not a good time to go. Hawaii is continuing to ask tourists to stay away. Hospitals are currently at capacity.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/04/ ... his-month/

Governor put new proclamation in place on Friday:
https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/ ... signed.pdf

The locals are not very happy with tourists coming. It is not very welcoming at this time.

I would recommend postponing the trip (at least) until next year. Aside from being sympathetic with the current situation being experienced there, you may encounter difficulties while traveling, whether it be getting in to a restaurant due to capacity limits, facing unexpected restrictions, animosity from locals, or that governor may make a new/stricter proclamation just prior to your travel date. In general, the proclamations have been coming about every 60 days, so the next one will likely be around Dec 1.

If you are set on going regardless of what is happening, I highly suggest purchasing travel insurance with Cancel for Any Reason to cover the cost of your entire trip.
+1
Do triple check on what the current and upcoming citizen restrictive mandates are in effect, documents and passes etc that might be needed for travel or to enter a shopping center or restaurant, etc, etc.

Otherwise, the Big Island is a magical place and you will fall in love with it and the warm sincere Aloha Spirit from “kamaaina and Malahini” as well.

I am a Hawaiian “local”, and have family “Ohana” on the Big Island and other Islands.
j🌺
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fizxman
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by fizxman »

I've stayed at the place you're staying but only for a few nights. We ate breakfast across the street at the Big Kahuna Beach Grill and thought it was good. We also went to Kona Brewery which is also across the street. If you like coffee, take a tour at Greenwell Farms, which is a little south of Kona. It's interesting learning how coffee is made plus you get some free coffee. If you drive over to Hilo, stop at Kaumana Caves. They are lava tubes that are pretty neat.
marcopolo
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:39 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
Yep, 100% on board. Now I want to go figure out 'how'. Going in Dec, peak period is making me nervous.
Unless there is change on conditions, there is no place to get close to flowing lava, unless you have some special situation to go into closed part of the national park. New activity at the volcano just started again a few days ago, but it is, so far, limited to the crater within a closed part of the park. You can see the plumes of smoke coming out of the caldera during the day, and at night you can see a pretty spectacular looking orange glow coming out of the crater.

Not sure in the helicopter tours are running, buy they have in the past been able get you a distant aerial view.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
marcopolo
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm One of the many secrets of this forum are the awesome travel tips! hint hint :P

We're travelling to Big Island in Dec (peak period, eeek!). Family of 4, kids 11 and 13, 9 nights here:
https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ ... ach-hotel/

DW and I came to Big Island prior to kids. Did heli tour and Mauna Kea summit tours (both amazing!).

Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.

Day trips:
We'll have a rental car, but also like to have one or two organized trips, with a guide (kids do better with the guides).

1. Booked an all island day tour on the second day. Long, full day, but will be a good way to get acclimated imo. first day, just plan to hang at hotel in Kona, check out local area, perhaps get some supplies etc. Costco? We'll see.

Link to tour currently booked. Can cancel, change. Lmk if anyone has done a Big Island tour like this recently and has an opinion:
https://www.viator.com/tours/Big-Island ... 9-6651BIOD

2. Day 3 - rest day :wink:

3. Day 4/5/6 - helicopter tour and drive to Mauna Kea visitor center. This is where i really need help!
- We've been on Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours before. Good experience. Go with them again to see the Volcano's/Lava flow? Open to any thoughts on this. We would also like to do a boat tour. Any recommendations?

- Mauna Kea visitor center. Anyone been recently? Trying to plan this one well --> I'd love to hire a guide for an hour or so, while there - possible? tips on guides? Getting great pictures? I think the visitor center closes at 7pm. So should we aim to be here at 5pm (driving from Kona), see sunset, stars etc. Dinner possible at the visitor center? We can't go to the summit given kids ages, so that is out of the question. I've read the visitor center is actually better to view the sky/stars. Trying to figure out how to get the best of the 2-3 hours max we'll be there. Ideas?

4. Day 7/8 - drive to some local beaches, black sand etc. Hang, Snorkel. 13 year old wants to try Scuba here. good idea? Again any tips on drivable day trips with kids would be appreciated.


What am i missing? Except for the fact I'll be bankrupt in 2022 paying for this trip! :mrgreen:
Prior to moving to the big island a couple years ago, we made numerous trips here with our two kids.
I suspect we were here when they were 13 and 11.

Hopefully, the Covid situation will improve between now and December (our kids will be here visiting then).

That tour IMHO, packs too much stuff into one day.
Since you have a rental car, I would recommend driving yourself, spend at least 1 night over by Volcano National Park or in Hilo There is a loop you can drive that has very good roads. This will provide flexibility to spend more/less time at various activities depending on interest.

I would save any tours for things like helicopter, kayak, Maunea Kea, etc., where they are difficult to do without a tour operator.

The Manta Ray swim is highly recommended. You can either Kayak, or take a boat out to them. If you are OK doing a short Kayak paddle in the dark, that was our preferred way to do it.

Can suggest other ideas if you share what kinds of things your family likes to do.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
johnegonpdx
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by johnegonpdx »

If you have military in your family (or even a close family friend), you could try to stay a night at https://www.kilaueamilitarycamp.com/. It was a great experience.
marcopolo
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

mr_brightside wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:18 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Yes. But, no opportunity to do that at this time on the island.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
Piper59
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Piper59 »

Even though it's on the other side of the Island, you've gotta hit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Been there two times - it's an absolute magical place.
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by whodidntante »

I spent a week on the big island. It was OK, but oh wow that was way too long. I started doing ziplining and crap I just never do in an interesting place.
DoubleComma
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by DoubleComma »

Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 5:47 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:34 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:11 pm I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
I'm guessing you don't have winey kids tagging along 😉.
Some of the best guides we've had have made the trip worthwhile and memorable. I'm thinking Chichinitza, Mexico & Taj Mahal, India. Plenty of others too.
I have a 9 years old, I take him since many years ago on reasonably long hikes (10 miles). It would be his dream to go now in Hawaii: beaches, snorkeling, waves, water. hiking, cool landscapes, volcanoes. What can be better than that?
There places where one cannot avoid guide or an organized trip, or a guide really brings some value. Personally, I would go on one tour on this kind of trip, for example an off shore snorkeling trip or the lava one.
Do you always like raining on other people’s parade or is this a one time special?
AlphaLess
Posts: 2723
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Location: Kentucky

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by AlphaLess »

Vaccinated individuals do not need Covid test to enter the state of Hawaii.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.
AlphaLess
Posts: 2723
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: Kentucky

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by AlphaLess »

ResearchMed wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 5:30 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:43 pm We really want to go on this trip. Flights are on miles and hotel can be cancelled I think a week before the trip. Summary, we can cancel everything, including tours, a week or two prior to leaving. So we'll keep up to date over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Fingers crossed things improve
We've done the same thing... last winter, thinking things were getting better, etc., we made reservations for Hawaii for early/mid December.
Hotel didn't require any money down (so happy to have *anyone* book, I suppose!), and the airline was waiving any cancel or exchange fees for the awards. "So why not!?", right?

Well, we are older and have some co-existing conditions that put us at higher risk, so even though we are vaccinated, and DH just got his booster...
... it doesn't look good at all. We can't risk it.
(I was already on oxygen for 10 days in Dec, 2019 with a different virus, and we do NOT want a repeat of that adventure!)

So, we've made reservations for a short cruise for... August, 2023 (gasp, that sounds soooo far away).

But I haven't cancelled the Hawaii reservations yet. We have until 2 weeks before, so we can still pretend :wink:
And yes, we definitely felt "uninvited" when their Governor made that pronouncement to stay away.

If you go, I hope you have a great time!

Oh, last time I was checking out "things to do", it seemed that chartering a small boat from Hilo (?) to go view the lava flowing into the sea, from the sea looked really interesting.
Just make sure they stay FAR away. Some time ago, someone got too close, and a blob of lava went further than expected and hit a passenger in the leg. Not good.

RM
We traveled to the Caribbean at the peak of the 3rd wave (Nov-Dec 2020), which IMO was more dangerous than any other trips we took after that, and still, I thought it was quite safe, given our pre-cautions,

Reasons:
- airplane is a safe place to be due to the fact that air is re-circulated every 2 minutes (50% of the air is recirculated after passing through HEPA filters, and another 50% is taken from outside). Airport bathroom and transportation to airport is more risky,
- when COVID numbers are high, hotel occupancy is low,
- pick a place with tight COVID testing requirements,
- wear a proper, properly fitted N-95 or BETTER mask as much as possible. I would say, we wore it during 99% of the duration of the flight, 100% of the time we were in the airport,

Since being vaccinated, we have taken 5 trips on planes, to various destinations. Most places have been way less than 50 new cases per day (per 100K population), 7-day average. I would say even 50 is high because where we live, it never got above 20 during the Delta wave.

Of course, you are in control of taking the risk that you are comfortable.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.
AlphaLess
Posts: 2723
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: Kentucky

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by AlphaLess »

marcopolo wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:04 pm
mr_brightside wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:18 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Yes. But, no opportunity to do that at this time on the island.
Currently, there is active lava on the Big Island.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.
Typ997S
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:36 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Typ997S »

AlphaLess wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 10:20 pm
marcopolo wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:04 pm
mr_brightside wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:18 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Yes. But, no opportunity to do that at this time on the island.
Currently, there is active lava on the Big Island.
Active lava: yes. Any way for the public to stand anywhere close to it right now: no.

From ground level the best you can see is the glow at night. You might get a distant glimpse of the lava itself from a helicopter.
marcopolo
Posts: 4965
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

AlphaLess wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 10:20 pm
marcopolo wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 8:04 pm
mr_brightside wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:18 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Yes. But, no opportunity to do that at this time on the island.
Currently, there is active lava on the Big Island.
The new active lava is nothing like it was years ago when you could walk pretty close to it. The lava is isolated to inside the caldera, in a closed part of the national park. You can't get anywhere near it unless you work for NPS, or USGS. or something related to that. Even if you could get access that way, you can't go into the caldera, so it is not going to be at your feet. at best you are seeing it at a distance from the rim of the crater. But, for the general public, the best you can see is the smoke during the day, and the glow at night, coming out of the crater from a good distance.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
Starfish
Posts: 2392
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Starfish »

DoubleComma wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 9:25 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 5:47 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:34 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:11 pm I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
I'm guessing you don't have winey kids tagging along 😉.
Some of the best guides we've had have made the trip worthwhile and memorable. I'm thinking Chichinitza, Mexico & Taj Mahal, India. Plenty of others too.
I have a 9 years old, I take him since many years ago on reasonably long hikes (10 miles). It would be his dream to go now in Hawaii: beaches, snorkeling, waves, water. hiking, cool landscapes, volcanoes. What can be better than that?
There places where one cannot avoid guide or an organized trip, or a guide really brings some value. Personally, I would go on one tour on this kind of trip, for example an off shore snorkeling trip or the lava one.
Do you always like raining on other people’s parade or is this a one time special?
Somebody who want to retire early wants to spend too much on a trip to Hawaii and shows concern about this. We are on bogleheads, what do you expect? :mrgreen:
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2016
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Starfish wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 12:16 am
DoubleComma wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 9:25 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 5:47 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:34 pm
Starfish wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:11 pm I always wondered who takes the tors. I have seen a lot of countries and places but have been in like 2 tours in my entire life. I don't understand the value. What is wrong with driving around and hiking/climbing/snorkeling etc by yourself?
I'm guessing you don't have winey kids tagging along 😉.
Some of the best guides we've had have made the trip worthwhile and memorable. I'm thinking Chichinitza, Mexico & Taj Mahal, India. Plenty of others too.
I have a 9 years old, I take him since many years ago on reasonably long hikes (10 miles). It would be his dream to go now in Hawaii: beaches, snorkeling, waves, water. hiking, cool landscapes, volcanoes. What can be better than that?
There places where one cannot avoid guide or an organized trip, or a guide really brings some value. Personally, I would go on one tour on this kind of trip, for example an off shore snorkeling trip or the lava one.
Do you always like raining on other people’s parade or is this a one time special?
Somebody who want to retire early wants to spend too much on a trip to Hawaii and shows concern about this. We are on bogleheads, what do you expect? :mrgreen:
We've always spent too much on trips, but hey, you can't take it with you & we've had some great family memories with 'expensive' guides. I'll be attending a virtual funeral service tomorrow, mid 40s demise 😞. Stark reminders everywhere.

Fwiw, one big driver to retire early, is to take advantage of cheap travel. Help me figure that one out.

Also, thanks to every post above. I've read each and appreciated all commentary. I'll revisit this post a few times so keep opining! :sharebeer
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
fireman
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:36 am

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by fireman »

Hapuna Beach - by far, the best beach we found on the island. We stayed there 3 nights at the front end of a 2 week trip. Visited many other beaches, both easy to get to and remote, but did not find anything nearly as good as Hapuna Beach. Returned there toward the end of our trip and wondered why we spent so much time visiting other beaches. Absolutely beautiful! And good snorkeling opportunities right from the beach.
wfrobinette
Posts: 1623
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:14 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by wfrobinette »

batpot wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:47 pm +1 to captain cook's
black & green sand beaches along southern coast.
Mauna Kea summit was closed due to wind, but we watched the sunset from ~9k feet up, which was really cool...and windy. That was in December.
wfrobinette wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:15 pm Wife and I did the whole island in a day trip by ourselves.
:confused
you...just drove?
Yes we drove the same places a tour guide would have taken us. Started early in the morning and got home after dinner.
ScubaHogg
Posts: 948
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:02 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by ScubaHogg »

mary1492 wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:56 pm
Wannaretireearly wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 2:27 pm Covid:
- I haven't looked at this closely, but guessing we'll need to get tested here two days before we leave.
It is not a good time to go. Hawaii is continuing to ask tourists to stay away. Hospitals are currently at capacity.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/04/ ... his-month/

Governor put new proclamation in place on Friday:
https://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/ ... signed.pdf

The locals are not very happy with tourists coming. It is not very welcoming at this time.

I would recommend postponing the trip (at least) until next year. Aside from being sympathetic with the current situation being experienced there, you may encounter difficulties while traveling, whether it be getting in to a restaurant due to capacity limits, facing unexpected restrictions, animosity from locals, or that governor may make a new/stricter proclamation just prior to your travel date. In general, the proclamations have been coming about every 60 days, so the next one will likely be around Dec 1.

If you are set on going regardless of what is happening, I highly suggest purchasing travel insurance with Cancel for Any Reason to cover the cost of your entire trip.
I was just in O'ahu last week and the number of tourists has obviously dropped by a ton since the summer. Not even close to as crowded. Zero issue getting into restaurants. I'm not sure what "animosity from locals" means, but the staff at one of the restaurants I ate at had taken a real hit to their income with the reduction in customers.

Take that FWIW
“The purpose of the margin of safety is to render the forecast unnecessary.” - Ben Graham
ponyboy
Posts: 1141
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:39 am

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by ponyboy »

mr_brightside wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 4:18 pm
livesoft wrote: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:52 pm I recommend a tour with a guide that will take you as close to real-live-hot lava as possible. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plan on footwear that does not melt.
this

seeing actual lava flowing at your feet is unworldly

--------------------------------------
Meh, its cool...but ive seen lava more times than the milky way...and the milky way is above us every single night anywhere on the planet.

I would recommend heading to mauna kea when its dark and staying for a little until your eyes adjust from the lights. What you'll see in the sky with your own eyes will blow your mind. Of course, it helps to be there during a new moon phase when its even darker.
DoubleComma
Posts: 567
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by DoubleComma »

fireman wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:20 am Hapuna Beach - by far, the best beach we found on the island. We stayed there 3 nights at the front end of a 2 week trip. Visited many other beaches, both easy to get to and remote, but did not find anything nearly as good as Hapuna Beach. Returned there toward the end of our trip and wondered why we spent so much time visiting other beaches. Absolutely beautiful! And good snorkeling opportunities right from the beach.
+1

Our last trip before Covid set in, Jan 2020, was to the Big Island. Hapuna Beach is fantastic. Our kids where similar age to yours, we rented Boogie Boards, Masks & Snorkels for the week at a little shop in Waikola Village, super affordable.

Also, staying at the Marriott is a good call. We stayed at the Hilton, which was also great, but the pools were not heated which was much colder than we would have liked in January. We walked through the Marriott, of course tested the pools there, and I'm pretty sure they were heated. Also, there is a beach in front of the Marriott that didn't exist at the Hilton. The lagoon at the Hilton was a fun, and safe, place to snorkel to see turtles and fish with no current or waves. I'm pretty sure the Lagoon is public access since it connected to the ocean.

We did a self-guided hike at Volcano. From the visitor center, looking at the crater, we started our hike going to the left. In retrospect if seems like with would have been a lot nicer going the opposite direction. It was hot crossing the bottom of the crater and a lot less shade climbing out the way we did vs if we did the opposite direction.
heyyou
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:58 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by heyyou »

Below are various, previous posts on the topic of Big Island. You can see that I am under-informed on the name of the gated resort next to Hapuna beach's public access road. The current lava flow is only within the national park so you cannot get near it, only look from a far, safe distance.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North of Hapuna Beach is Mauna Kea beach, a less crowded one. Go to the next gated resort north of the Hapuna turnoff on the same highway. Tell the gate guard you are going to the beach. The parking is limited so on busy days, that guard may have you wait there until a space is available, then you drive a noticeable distance through the resort golf course and past the high rise hotel to the road's end. Continue on foot on the wide sidewalk in that same direction to a section of beach connecting to the one at the back of the hotel. No beach in Hawaii is privately owned, even if the land above the high tide mark is private. Look at the satellite photos on Google maps after locating both beaches on the initial map.

The slower paced vibe of the Big island suits us. We like the flowing lava, uncrowded beaches, loco moco, and the Hilo farmers market. The "Revealed" guide books are excellent, often updated, but not many changes other than the lava activity and the mom & pop businesses. The variety of climate zones seen in a day on Big Island is amazing. On Big Island, do drive to Wapio Lookout as seen on most Hawaii monthly calendars, and hike down the road that is too steep for cars. Next drive to Pololu Lookout and hike the dirt trail to the mini-version of Wapio's black sand beach.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Near Hapuna Beach, instead of the public county beach by that name, turn into the adjacent Hapuna Beach Resort and ask the guard at the gate for directions to the beach. Access is limited by the amount of parking. Sometimes you have to wait at the guard gate for someone to leave, we just go early. You drive through the resort's golf course, past the hotel, to get to the beach parking lot where that beach is shared with the hotel guests. The county beach is just around the corner, out of sight.

Surprisingly, Big Island Walmarts have a souvenir area that has a good inventory, and in the grocery section, have better prices on name brand macadamia nuts than at the same brand's local nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the mac nuts covered with chocolate and coconut.

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.
heyyou
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:58 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by heyyou »

Do get bug repellent and anti-itch cream at Walmart when you are getting sunscreen. The bugs will be biting you while you are putting the repellent on the kids, then the wife.
Depending on the locations of the activities that suit you, on the next trip, consider flying to Hilo from a west coast city, and being based in Hilo, to save more for early retirement.
Pololu Beach is not a safe place for tourists to swim but the short steep hike through the jungle to the isolated black sand beach is very different from the other busy, crowded beaches. There are tourist buses steadily visiting the good turtle beach on the opposite end of Big Island.
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2016
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

heyyou wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 1:40 pm Do get bug repellent and anti-itch cream at Walmart when you are getting sunscreen. The bugs will be biting you while you are putting the repellent on the kids, then the wife.
Depending on the locations of the activities that suit you, on the next trip, consider flying to Hilo from a west coast city, and being based in Hilo, to save more for early retirement.
Pololu Beach is not a safe place for tourists to swim but the short steep hike through the jungle to the isolated black sand beach is very different from the other busy, crowded beaches. There are tourist buses steadily visiting the good turtle beach on the opposite end of Big Island.
Thanks!! Next trip back to big Island will be in ER 🙏
At that point, I can snag an off peak deal like my brother did a few months ago. Costco deal, Air, hotel & car for a week around $1250 per person!
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2016
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

heyyou wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 1:14 pm Below are various, previous posts on the topic of Big Island. You can see that I am under-informed on the name of the gated resort next to Hapuna beach's public access road. The current lava flow is only within the national park so you cannot get near it, only look from a far, safe distance.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North of Hapuna Beach is Mauna Kea beach, a less crowded one. Go to the next gated resort north of the Hapuna turnoff on the same highway. Tell the gate guard you are going to the beach. The parking is limited so on busy days, that guard may have you wait there until a space is available, then you drive a noticeable distance through the resort golf course and past the high rise hotel to the road's end. Continue on foot on the wide sidewalk in that same direction to a section of beach connecting to the one at the back of the hotel. No beach in Hawaii is privately owned, even if the land above the high tide mark is private. Look at the satellite photos on Google maps after locating both beaches on the initial map.

The slower paced vibe of the Big island suits us. We like the flowing lava, uncrowded beaches, loco moco, and the Hilo farmers market. The "Revealed" guide books are excellent, often updated, but not many changes other than the lava activity and the mom & pop businesses. The variety of climate zones seen in a day on Big Island is amazing. On Big Island, do drive to Wapio Lookout as seen on most Hawaii monthly calendars, and hike down the road that is too steep for cars. Next drive to Pololu Lookout and hike the dirt trail to the mini-version of Wapio's black sand beach.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Near Hapuna Beach, instead of the public county beach by that name, turn into the adjacent Hapuna Beach Resort and ask the guard at the gate for directions to the beach. Access is limited by the amount of parking. Sometimes you have to wait at the guard gate for someone to leave, we just go early. You drive through the resort's golf course, past the hotel, to get to the beach parking lot where that beach is shared with the hotel guests. The county beach is just around the corner, out of sight.

Surprisingly, Big Island Walmarts have a souvenir area that has a good inventory, and in the grocery section, have better prices on name brand macadamia nuts than at the same brand's local nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the mac nuts covered with chocolate and coconut.

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.
Thanks!
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2016
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

DoubleComma wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:00 am
fireman wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:20 am Hapuna Beach - by far, the best beach we found on the island. We stayed there 3 nights at the front end of a 2 week trip. Visited many other beaches, both easy to get to and remote, but did not find anything nearly as good as Hapuna Beach. Returned there toward the end of our trip and wondered why we spent so much time visiting other beaches. Absolutely beautiful! And good snorkeling opportunities right from the beach.
+1

Our last trip before Covid set in, Jan 2020, was to the Big Island. Hapuna Beach is fantastic. Our kids where similar age to yours, we rented Boogie Boards, Masks & Snorkels for the week at a little shop in Waikola Village, super affordable.

Also, staying at the Marriott is a good call. We stayed at the Hilton, which was also great, but the pools were not heated which was much colder than we would have liked in January. We walked through the Marriott, of course tested the pools there, and I'm pretty sure they were heated. Also, there is a beach in front of the Marriott that didn't exist at the Hilton. The lagoon at the Hilton was a fun, and safe, place to snorkel to see turtles and fish with no current or waves. I'm pretty sure the Lagoon is public access since it connected to the ocean.

We did a self-guided hike at Volcano. From the visitor center, looking at the crater, we started our hike going to the left. In retrospect if seems like with would have been a lot nicer going the opposite direction. It was hot crossing the bottom of the crater and a lot less shade climbing out the way we did vs if we did the opposite direction.
Thanks for the tips!
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
marcopolo
Posts: 4965
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

You are mixing up two different beaches a bit in you posts below.

EDIT: Sorry, I see you posted separately about Hapuna beach, Hapuna Resort, and Mauna Kea. I think you largely got it right.

Hapuna Beach has two "sections", one is part of the state park, has parking, bathrooms, showers, etc. Right next to it is the Hapuna Beach hotel (now a Westin property). They set out their own lounge chairs and umbrellas for guests, buy there is really no separation between these two sections of Hapuna beach, they are all public access, as are all beaches in Hawaii, to some degree.

A few miles north of Hapuna is a completely different beach that is only accessible through the Mauna Kea Hotel, or hiking in along a coastal trail. It is also a public beach, but due to limited number of parking passes can be difficult to get unless you get there early, or late in the day.

We live about 10-15 min from those two beaches, and they are definitely the nicest, easy to access beaches. We are usually there a couple times a week. But, there are also several very nice beaches that take a little more effort (hiking) to get to. It depends on what you prioritize. We find Makalwena beach, a little north of the airport, to be about the nicest beach on the island. Prettier scenerey than Hapuna. But, it is about a 1.5 mile hike across a hot lava field to get there. Which is great for us, as it stays pretty secluded even during tourist season.

heyyou wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 1:14 pm Below are various, previous posts on the topic of Big Island. You can see that I am under-informed on the name of the gated resort next to Hapuna beach's public access road. The current lava flow is only within the national park so you cannot get near it, only look from a far, safe distance.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
North of Hapuna Beach is Mauna Kea beach, a less crowded one. Go to the next gated resort north of the Hapuna turnoff on the same highway. Tell the gate guard you are going to the beach. The parking is limited so on busy days, that guard may have you wait there until a space is available, then you drive a noticeable distance through the resort golf course and past the high rise hotel to the road's end. Continue on foot on the wide sidewalk in that same direction to a section of beach connecting to the one at the back of the hotel. No beach in Hawaii is privately owned, even if the land above the high tide mark is private. Look at the satellite photos on Google maps after locating both beaches on the initial map.

The slower paced vibe of the Big island suits us. We like the flowing lava, uncrowded beaches, loco moco, and the Hilo farmers market. The "Revealed" guide books are excellent, often updated, but not many changes other than the lava activity and the mom & pop businesses. The variety of climate zones seen in a day on Big Island is amazing. On Big Island, do drive to Wapio Lookout as seen on most Hawaii monthly calendars, and hike down the road that is too steep for cars. Next drive to Pololu Lookout and hike the dirt trail to the mini-version of Wapio's black sand beach.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Near Hapuna Beach, instead of the public county beach by that name, turn into the adjacent Hapuna Beach Resort and ask the guard at the gate for directions to the beach. Access is limited by the amount of parking. Sometimes you have to wait at the guard gate for someone to leave, we just go early. You drive through the resort's golf course, past the hotel, to get to the beach parking lot where that beach is shared with the hotel guests. The county beach is just around the corner, out of sight.

Surprisingly, Big Island Walmarts have a souvenir area that has a good inventory, and in the grocery section, have better prices on name brand macadamia nuts than at the same brand's local nut farms. Get lots of exercise to compensate for the mac nuts covered with chocolate and coconut.

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.
Last edited by marcopolo on Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
marcopolo
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Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by marcopolo »

DoubleComma wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:00 am
fireman wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:20 am Hapuna Beach - by far, the best beach we found on the island. We stayed there 3 nights at the front end of a 2 week trip. Visited many other beaches, both easy to get to and remote, but did not find anything nearly as good as Hapuna Beach. Returned there toward the end of our trip and wondered why we spent so much time visiting other beaches. Absolutely beautiful! And good snorkeling opportunities right from the beach.
+1

Our last trip before Covid set in, Jan 2020, was to the Big Island. Hapuna Beach is fantastic. Our kids where similar age to yours, we rented Boogie Boards, Masks & Snorkels for the week at a little shop in Waikola Village, super affordable.

Also, staying at the Marriott is a good call. We stayed at the Hilton, which was also great, but the pools were not heated which was much colder than we would have liked in January. We walked through the Marriott, of course tested the pools there, and I'm pretty sure they were heated. Also, there is a beach in front of the Marriott that didn't exist at the Hilton. The lagoon at the Hilton was a fun, and safe, place to snorkel to see turtles and fish with no current or waves. I'm pretty sure the Lagoon is public access since it connected to the ocean.

We did a self-guided hike at Volcano. From the visitor center, looking at the crater, we started our hike going to the left. In retrospect if seems like with would have been a lot nicer going the opposite direction. It was hot crossing the bottom of the crater and a lot less shade climbing out the way we did vs if we did the opposite direction.
I think you might be referring to the Marriott Waikoloa Resort. The OP said they are staying at the Marriott Courtyard, which is down right in Kona, not by the resort further up the coast.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.
DoubleComma
Posts: 567
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by DoubleComma »

marcopolo wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 10:38 pm
DoubleComma wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 11:00 am
fireman wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 7:20 am Hapuna Beach - by far, the best beach we found on the island. We stayed there 3 nights at the front end of a 2 week trip. Visited many other beaches, both easy to get to and remote, but did not find anything nearly as good as Hapuna Beach. Returned there toward the end of our trip and wondered why we spent so much time visiting other beaches. Absolutely beautiful! And good snorkeling opportunities right from the beach.
+1

Our last trip before Covid set in, Jan 2020, was to the Big Island. Hapuna Beach is fantastic. Our kids where similar age to yours, we rented Boogie Boards, Masks & Snorkels for the week at a little shop in Waikola Village, super affordable.

Also, staying at the Marriott is a good call. We stayed at the Hilton, which was also great, but the pools were not heated which was much colder than we would have liked in January. We walked through the Marriott, of course tested the pools there, and I'm pretty sure they were heated. Also, there is a beach in front of the Marriott that didn't exist at the Hilton. The lagoon at the Hilton was a fun, and safe, place to snorkel to see turtles and fish with no current or waves. I'm pretty sure the Lagoon is public access since it connected to the ocean.

We did a self-guided hike at Volcano. From the visitor center, looking at the crater, we started our hike going to the left. In retrospect if seems like with would have been a lot nicer going the opposite direction. It was hot crossing the bottom of the crater and a lot less shade climbing out the way we did vs if we did the opposite direction.
I think you might be referring to the Marriott Waikoloa Resort. The OP said they are staying at the Marriott Courtyard, which is down right in Kona, not by the resort further up the coast.
You are correct, I didn’t click the link just made a poor assumption.

Sorry OP, I’m not at all familiar with the Courtyard in Kona. Maybe it’s the same franchisee and you can spend a day at the pools in Waikoloa?
Shire hobbit
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:37 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Shire hobbit »

Whale watching and submarine tour gets my vote!
LifeOfRiley
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:46 am

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by LifeOfRiley »

https://htbg.com/

In addition to the other good places mentioned, visit the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens.
Topic Author
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 2016
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Hawaii - Big Island: Tips & recommendations

Post by Wannaretireearly »

LifeOfRiley wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:29 pm https://htbg.com/

In addition to the other good places mentioned, visit the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens.
Thanks! Great tip.
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