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Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Plymouth, Minnesota
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Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Since we learned so much from these forums before our trip, I promised myself that I'd report in after our return. So here's what we experienced:

1. Saturday evening arrival at Alamo was a disaster. We waited in line for over an hour--it was like a TV commercial.

2. Waikoloa Beach Marriott was just fine--staff was very helpful and friendly. View from the partial ocean view rooms was a little bleak, but with Marriott Rewards card and some whining, we were upgraded for free.

3. There has been some controversy here about the berm on the beach along A bay, but we did not see it as a visual or physical impairment.

4. We did some shore fishing, and as hawaiidan has suggested, we did not have any luck.

5. Trip to Volcanoes National Park was a tremendous thrill. Thurston Lava Tube is an amazing and short hike. But the hike from the end of Chain of Craters road to the active lava flow is a brutal experience. It is a long way, the ground is very rugged, and for a good portion of it there are not even trail markers. Even though it is much more spectacular in the dark, the trip back in the dark would be brutal. It took us over an hour and a half to get out to where we could see, and we started back before it got dark, so we only had to do a little bit in the dark. Still an amazing experience.

6. We rented kayaks and padddled to Captain Cook Monument. Getting launched was a bit of a challenge, but the paddle across the bay was not too bad. Snorkeling around the monument was spectacular. Trip back was uneventful, but we did not see any spinner dolphins. The site seems like a very fragile environment--I urge everyone to be very sensitive to this precious resource.

7. We visited a couple of coffee plantations--Greenwell was pretty interesting and informative, but Kona Joe had the best t-shirts.

8. Went whale watching with Captain Dan on April 9th. We saw a lot of pilot whales up close, and were not really expecting to see any humpbacks other than possibly a straggler mother and calf. But we saw 4 or 5 humpbacks at a distance. Even then it was very exciting to think about their size.

9. It rained when we were in Hilo, but I guess that it does all the time. The farmer's market was fun, although much of it was a total mystery to us Minnesotans.

10. The road to South Point is fine. Narrow but not any problems. If you're passing by, it is definitely worth the trip.

Our thanks to everyone who contributed to our preparation, and we hope that this helps others.

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1. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Rikkasdad,

Thank you so much for your informative and helpful report. I really enjoyed reading it. I liked the part you wrote about "much of (the farmer's market)" being "a total mystery to us Minnesotans".

My husband and I will be going to the BI in four weeks. Our second trip, and we are so looking forward to it. We were thinking of visiting a few coffe farms. Now, we'll definitely check out Greenwell.

Glad you had a great trip, except for the Alamo part.

Birmingham, Alabama
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2. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Did you have any fine dining experiences? If so, where and was it worth it? Also, did you go out to the green beach at South Point?

Minnesota
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3. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Just FYI: It was in the eighties here the whole time you were gone,...well for sure it was never below zero.

How was the Spam?

Palm Springs...
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4. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Aloha......

Fishing is a mixed bag....its like fishing in Jurassic Park....you dont know what ya might end up with......regardless of what size gear you use.

Just for example I was fishing on that same day about 2 miles off the airport looking for ONO and hooked a 125 lb Blue marlin. which took an hour to fight......

Glad to hear ya' enjoyed your self

Hawaiidan

Plymouth, Minnesota
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5. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Forgot to add that we did make the trip to Pololu Valley, and did not have any problems. There were a lot of people around--the parking lot was full, and we had to park way up the road. We thought about hiking over into Honakane Nui, but decided that one climb out of the valley was enough. Views from Kohala Mountain Road (250) were pretty spectacular.

For Tracym2340: we did not do a lot of fine dining--that Island is EXPENSIVE. We had great breakfasts at the Coffee Shack in Captain Cook, Island Lava Java in Kona (try a cinnamon roll--the caramel rolls are just too much), and the Big Island Steak house at the Kings Shops in Waikoloa area. Best dinner was at Merriman's Market Cafe in Kings Shops. Actually the best dinner was probably cheese, salami, fruit and wine on our lanai at the Mariott, looking at the ocean. Grocery store in Waikoloa Village is pretty good.

For Tuba Christmas: Being from the home of Spam, we were expecting to be treated as royalty, but . . . We did see ready made items with Spam at a great bakery near the Hilo farmer's market. Find it and try the pineapple upside down muffins and the maple scone. You're on your own with the Spam.

For hawaiidan: we kept looking for a distinguished gentleman driving a gray Suburban, but could not find you. Re your comment about spending time in Cambodia, my first foreign vacation was an extended camping/hiking trip in Hue, Danang and Cam Ranh Bay courtesy of my country. Your island is a special place, but I think I'd get rock fever after a few years.

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6. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

aloha Rikkadad.......

So you were a brother then......... I think Da Nang is a resort now..........and no I dont carry carry copper sulfate any more.

no....thats one piece of realestate Hawaiidan cant go back to......The trip would be too hard on me...and I dont mean the flight.......

As for rock fever.....this place is huge.......and if ya do want to leave you can get 250 rt tickets on the airlines..... not a C 141

In your short trip you saw only the tip of the iceberg.........I still am discovering........like Mauna road.........that goes cross country around mauna kea.....between saddle Road and Waimea..........all 4x4 across Parker Ranch backcountry.....

But that another time.......

HD

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7. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

hawaiidan: "distinguised gentleman with gray suburban" - we will be visiting the big island 4/22 through 5/5 - do you meet with tourists - we would buy you a beer at the kona pizza place, - or do you protect your privacy, certainly understandable. maybe we'll see you there.

we get in rather late the 22nd, do you know how late alamo is open? thanks for the tips on my guy going for the car and me getting the bags, hope the later arrival will help since he doesn't do trip advisor and had already made the car reservations and paid, without checking with me to see if there were bad reviews on alamo. the only thing I don't want is the constant line "we don't have a compact car - we'll upgrade you to a bigger car for free" don't want a bigger car, gas prices and parking make it more better to have a small car. last time on Maui I had to wait over 2 hours for a small car even though that was my reservation - and there were several in the back lot. this was budget rental, also a disaster on maui. recommended by a local, but I didn't like my experience with them, took forever, very rude, and didn't have my reservation in the computer even though I had a printout with me.

my ex son-in-law is currently in Oahu with my little grandaughter, visiting his family - he is native hawaiian. my daughter met him while attending HPU - they are now divorced but through him I got a better idea of what the locals really think of tourists, not that they don't have ample reason. I also had a couple of experiences in Maui that showed me he is right for a lot of locals. I understand - so I try to respect their privacy, I never dirty the beaches or leave anything disturbed if I can. I try to be as polite as possible understanding tourists come off as very demanding - as if it were their island.

any advice on how to get activities such as Fair Winds, Captain Beans for less without timeshare presentations? I won't spend my valuable vacation time listening to their spiel but I am a single mom with not a lot of money, I know there are great things to do without spending a lot. but those are two things we want to do, snorkel captain cook and take a sunset cruise.

we are so happy with trip advisor, it really helps; we are staying at Hale Kona Kai - thanks to the reviews. and we really appreciate your honest and many times funny viewpoints.

we would like to find a ono burger such as can be found at Paia Fish Market in Maui, - such a thing on big island? anything else you would like to share? we would also like to find some reggae or island hop music for a night out. ideas?

thanks again, always enjoy your posts.

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8. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

oh yeah, one more thing: trying to buy an entertainment book for hawaii, but not enough time to have it shipped before we leave, where can we get it for the 17.50 that is advertised - and do you find this a good deal? is it helpful and does it save money?

do they have a local swap meet/market like they do in Maui? the produce/fruit/and local art items seemed way less money than in the big stores - I bought each of my girls a silver ring for $15.00 - beautiful with plumerias carved all around it. they wear them every day and I would like to get them another ring or some earrings for a decent price. that is about what I would spend on a gift - as I have very limited money to spend. I will be buying my 3 year old grandaughter a swimsuit and tshirt.

anything else anyone can tell me about kona, and activities would be great. I have devoured the forums and reviews. we are staying at condo 307 at the Hale Kona Kai, the owner gave us a wonderful discount. we found it through another owner that didn't have dates for us, and then recommended this one instead. we read nothing but good things about this resort, except the ones booked through sunquest - so we went through the owners, and ended up with ATR properties.

we will be sure to post our findings on the reviews and forums when we return. we find this very helpful. thanks to everyone who takes their time to share their experiences.

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9. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Aloha Flwrgrdn........

Hey, thanks for the appreciative offer....but I gotta keep my mystique......if too many folks got to know It was I, writing brutaly honest reviews of them ,then they might try to corrupt me....and that is not good. I must remain the secret shopper . Then there is Mrs hawaiidan.

If you see my grey suburban wave.....and give a shaka. there are very few grey suburbans here...........and only one of me.

Gas prices are at about $2.67 and the best price is Costco.

OR at the Marina of Honokohau.....its all the way out past the other stuff and I buy my gas there....about $ 2.62

If you go to Hilo time your tank to runout there as gas is $ 2.47 there West Hawaii is more

When I moved here I found all sorts of scams and stuff and in the learning process wanted to pass it along. I ALOS FOUND FANTASTIC DEALS TOO.

anyway:

Alamo is fine.......by doing the 2 person tag team you will be out in 15 to 18 min of landing. They will close after the last mainland flight lands........ you will be driving away from baggage claim as the first gaggle is cramming into the bus to got to the counter.....

Where you are staying is only a few blocks fron 2 farmers market....one down town next to the Catholic church and the other closer to you Allii Gardens Market. closed monday and tuesday,

The Hilo farmers market is best ,but over 120 miles away. Waimea has a farmers market but is is more pricy for the clients in Kohala. The KTA market is your best choice from where you are staying in Keauhou.

The Keauhou shopping center has 4 real value and nice quality resturaunts. and the Outrigger has a killer and reasonable brunch. Drysdales.....burgers,fish,salads great

Rockys Pizza......A hawaiidan favorate. Royal thai.....reasonable and tasty, Kenichi....a budget minded Roys.

and great atmosphere and food.... these are all easy park for free ;in a up-scale area and Hasselfree zone If you eat at Drysdales on friday night you can watch a free aloha show ( mini luau entertainment.. while you eat show starts at 5:30 every friday In all these places 2 can eat, with drinks,and tips

and an entree.....for under $50.

As to the locals.....other islands being smaller force visitors and locals into tight contact. The bigisland is larger than all the other islands put together. and has only half the pop of Maui ( counting visitors) This results in less rats in the box so to speak and thus eases tentions. I see very little on this Island the most is on Kauai followed by Maui.

I still like Dolphin Discoveries.......as the best.......they go from Keauhou and stop at not one but two snorkel sites...one better than capt cook. They are cheeaper....but you must book direct.

To say thanks.. let us all know how you fared and pass on the neat things.......do somthing for someone elso for the pure good if it........ Hawaiidan

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10. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

hawaiidan: fantastic information, thanks so much. any ideas on the sunset dinner sail - is captain beans good, is there another one? would you use the entertainment book? I saw your post on timeshare presents, won't do one but glad to have it confirmed. ideas to get the discounts? - just call them and negotiate over the phone? which of the magazines have the best coupons?

as far as "kindnesses returned" my last visit to hawaii was maui, I stayed in a studio ohana apartment - one of the locals rented out the apartment under his house - very reasonable and they were very very kind to me. I was alone for my 50th birthday, wanting a trip to remember and they totally took care of me, but were kind to leave me private time too if I wanted it. all of my needs were taken care of and more. I loved the area, up in Paia, and had a special spot to watch the sunset each evening before I went back to my room.

to return the favors, I left gifts from the pacific nw, smoked salmon, seattle coffee, starbucks coupons. I also left a floral arrangement I had purchased at the swap meet. they had gotten me a whale mug, a pen, toiletries with hawaiian scents, a memo pad, and other small gifties in a gift bag waiting on the kitchen table.

I believe in leaving things better than I found them if possible, leaving no trace of myself in nature, and trying to treat everyone better than I would want to be treated so I always try to be kind to the locals who are kind enough to share their homelands with me as I travel. I know they work long hours and hawaii is my home, they just "lend" it to me for a few days so I respect their land immensely. I thank you for the information and will 'shaka' if I see you as we drive by. I will be with my guy, so really mrs hawaiidan wouldn't have worries. but I respect you wanting to be "mysterious". have a great day. counting the days down as it has been over a year and I am craving a hawaii fix.