We are just back from 8 days on the Big Island and we had an incredible time. I'll just hit on the highlights and feel free to respond with any questions. We were two adults and one 11 year old boy.
We flew into Kona and headed for the Marriott Waikoloa. I can not say enough nice things about this resort. We found a great deal on this hotel and were very pleased. Our room faced north and west and had an incredible view. They have three pools, a slide, and a sandy area going into one pool for toddlers. They are on the beach (you walk past lovely fish ponds to get to the beach). The beach is Anaeho'omalu Bay which is beautiful. You pay $20 a day resort fee and get self-parking, unlimited internet, and snorkeling equipment for two for half-day every day. At the pool they have a cooler of water and cups so there is always free water. Pool drinks are expensive so never ordered one ($11 and up). Did have lunch at pool and it was a great burger, 9.00 I think?. Every night the restaurant offered specials so we ate there one night, which was very good. We also attended their luau. The food was good, the show was good, and setting gorgeous at sunset.
The hotel is very close to the King's Shops and the Queen's Marketplace. We enjoyed getting food from the Gourmet Market and eating their or taking back to room. We ate at Macaroni Grill which was good and Merrimans, which was o.k. We had Marble Slab several nights.
Our first day we headed to Wal-Mart and picked up water, soda, boogie board, etc. then spent rest of day by the pool and beach. We could have gotten everything at Queen's gourmet market and saved the drive, it would have just been more expensive. Second day we went on a snorkeling tour with FairWinds which I reviewed under activities. I highly recommend it but do your research, may not be right for you. After snorkeling we went to the Place of Refuge (Pu'uhonua o Honaunau). This is a must do. We loved it. It was overcast at Place of Refuge but it seemed whenever we returned to our hotel the sun was shining on it!
Day three we headed for Volcanoes National Park. We stopped at the Black Sand Beach on the way. Husband tried to steal a little black sand but my son and I made him return it because we didn't want bad luck. He said, "Why are they selling it in the gift shop then?" Any how, all is returned so no worries. At the volcano we hiked the Kilauea Iki trail and saw the Thurston Lava tube. Also went around crater rim ending at Jaggar Museum. AMAZING! We stayed the night at the Aloha Junction B&B which I've also written a review about, great place. We went back out to the Jaggar that night and saw the glow, it was foggy though so hard to see. There was a great ranger there that told us all kinds of wonderful information.
Day four we headed back up the coast north and back to hotel. We stopped at Rainbow Falls, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, lunch at What's Shakin, Akaka Falls, Waipi'o Valley Lookout and then back to hotel. Great drive, wouldn't change a thing.
Day five I did laundry at the hotel, we played ping pong, hung at the pool. We also took the beach walk to the Hilton. You must wear shoes. The Hilton was beautiful and huge, we just checked it out and left.
Day six my son and I participated in the Kona 10K and 5K fun run in Kona. Great race (there was also a marathon and half-marathon). After the race we had a $9.00 Grand Slam at Denny's, it was great! Then we went to Kaloka-Honokohau National Historic Park and skipped stones in the ocean, really pretty. That night we did the Marriott Luau which we fully enjoyed.
Day seven we headed north. We went to Pololu Valley Lookout and had lunch at Short n Sweet Cafe which was very good, we had a cheeseburger pannini and peanut butter pie. YUM. We then chekced out the view of Maui from the airport road and the wind farm. On the way back we stopped at Pu'ukohola Heiau National Park and then we sepnt time at Hapuna Beach. The beach was great and my son got to spend sometime boogie boarding.
Day eight - we paid $75.00 so we could keep our room until 8:00 pm because we had an 11:00 pm flight. This was a great idea! We went kayaking in the morning and did a little snorkeling around the bay. Then we headed south and went to Bubba Gumps for lunch (not great, pretty view) and did some shopping and had shaved ice. I could have skipped this entirely and stayed at hotel.
That's about it, longer than expected, sorry! It was a perfect vacation and I can't imagine a better vacation.