OK a little intro..DH and I are in our late 50's...13th trip to the islands...on our 5th trip to BI. I have loved Kona since our first trip 35 years ago and this trip has only deepened that affection. We have done the volcano in the past by land and helio...we have done horseback rides, snorkel cruises, whale watches, museums and educated ourselves every which way from Sunday with a lot of help from TA! We are not foodies, but appreciate good food and good service. We're what I would call "easy keepers"
That said, our flight from Seattle on the 9th was delayed for an hour by fog...then another delay in Honolulu so we didn't land until 3:30 Kona time. I have to say I LOVE flying over that lava field into the airport! As always the raw, primal beauty smacks you in the face, you are here and this is it!...then taxiing into the airport that looks very nearly the same as 35 years ago...the shuttle to the car rental goes past wonderful walls of lava rock with glorious cascades of bougainvilla...home, at least for a few weeks.
We hit "Kona rush hour" on our way to the Sheraton from the airport...OK maybe rush hour here...it was a slow couple of miles for us, not nearly the 25 miles of stop and go we are used to in an urban area, just a chance to check surroundings and orient ourselves again.
Check in at the Sheraton was great, we used cash and points here for 2 nights, got upgraded from mountain view to oceanview..and it was wonderful! Lovely staff, very friendly and helpfull! I'll write a full review when i get home in a couple of weeks. If you have questions before then pm me.
Our first morning we headed off for "coffee country", an area we have loved in the past...the valet chased us down to tell us about the new farmer's market at the foot of the Sheraton driveway...met some lovely folks and talked story with more than a few, bought some lovely starfruit. Went off on our tasting mission...sampled at Kona Joes and Kona coffee...bought some interesting "coffee rub" for fish and steaks at Kona joes for my "grillin' guys"...Kona Coffee shack has the most samples to try.
As recommended at one of the coffee farms we went to Manago for lunch...what fun! Funky old building, you order off the daily board...DH had teriaki chicken and i had the butter fish ( yes I know all about problems with butter fish..but mine was grilled with miso glaze and wonderful..not in sushi) Kind of a japanese style plate lunch...we were served a large bowl of white rice, chicken long rice, mac salad and bean sprouts in shoyu...then our entrees arrived. Lovely folks...good food about 9 bucks a plate.
I'll complain about the service at the sheraton bar in my review..checked out and dropped our luggage at the Worldmark by Wyndam. Once again great folks. this will be another review when we get home...one of the best places to base ever and our 3rd time here...all updated and so clean and welcoming!
Headed into Kailua-Kona for a late breakfast, stumbled across U-Top-It I just behind Lava Java on Ali'i...on Thurs. mornings they have a group of Uke players in the back room...amazing fun. We went back twice! the servers are great and ya gotta try the loco moco with county gravy!
Ok It's obviously time to shorten this up or I'll bore you all stiff, I'm sorry.
Farmer's Market downtown Kona...very fun! Homemade breads and rolls that were wonderful, buying jewlery from the artist, lettuce and other produce much cheaper than the store.
Round trip drive up to Hawi. Bamboo a fun stop for lunch and on to Kahamehama statue and on to Pololu Valley to wave at Maui. Back to Hawi and took 250 up to Waimea...gorgeous drive, great views. About 7 hours with all the stops for pics and food
Kona Inn...lunch, still wonderful and the view is killer, calamari sandwich was perfect. Confession here, I LOVE the length of Ali'i drive...I love how polite the locals are, the crawl ffrom one end to the the other and back...yup the one thing that hasn't changed in 35 years and which makes me feel at home.
We've hit the Kona Brewing Co twice and it's been great both times
best buy on the island is the optional $3 side salad here! Huge, frfresh and a real treat...Oh yeah, DH loved the Cajun pizza.
Last night we were treated to the Blue Dragon by friends, wonderful fun! Live music, live hula, wonderful fresh, organic food, a truely amazing evening all around!
Things I know...much has changed but a lot has not...Kona is still Kona. We have visited friends up in Waikaloa...while lovely, it could be a condo complex ,anywhere on a golf course, anywhere in the US. Kona however is still Kona!! We have spent a lot of time finally doing nothing!!! As I said best trip ever!!