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Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

Austin, Texas
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Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

My husband and I will be spending 7 nights on the Big Island, after 5 on Oahu. Based on earlier advice given here, we've decided to spend two nights in Volcano and five in the Kohala area.

We arrive from Oahu at 11:30am on a Thursday. Despite the advice given here, we are flying in and out of Kona. I know it's going to mean a longer drive on our first day, but the tickets and rental car were less doing it this way, as opposed to flying into Hilo and out of Kona. We plan to pick up the car and begin our drive to Volcano via the southern route. We would like to get out of Kona before stopping for lunch and will see the sights in Kona later in the trip. Any suggestions for lunch between Kona and Volcano? It is my understanding that it is about a 3 1/2 hour drive, so once we get to Volcano and get checked in to Kilauea Lodge, we'll probably just relax for the afternoon/evening.

We are spending the day on Friday at the national park and exploring with a guide.

On Saturday, we'll check out of the Lodge and make our way to Kohala via the northern route, going through Hilo. The only stop we have planned in this area is Akaka Falls State Park, but we may also stop at the Botanical Gardens. Would we have time for both if we got an early start? We are also planning to stop at the Waipio Valley overlook later in the drive.

We're spending the next five nights at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Once we arrive on Saturday, we'll just spend the rest of the evening relaxing and probably have dinner at the hotel.

Over the next four days, we want to divide our time between relaxing, visiting the Kona area, including Place of Refuge, and exploring the northern most part of the island. We're thinking of doing a snorkel trip one morning and have received some advice here about trips from the Kohala area. We will probably spend one day doing things south of our hotel, one day north and the other two days on the beach or by the pool.

I have spent some time going over restaurant recommendations and really want to have sushi somewhere (Sansei? Sushi Rock in Hawi? Any others to consider?), dinner at Roy's, and Kona Brewing Company. On the day we explore the northern part of the island, we'll probably have lunch at Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi.

Our flight home leaves Kona airport at 9:58am on Thursday. Based on things I've read, we need to be at the airport around 8:15 or 8:30. Is this correct? What time should we leave the hotel to ensure that we get to the airport on time?

A big thanks to all of the regular posters here for giving such wonderful advice to everyone. Any thoughts or other things we should consider?

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

I'd get to the arport by 8 am but I am an old worrywart. However, I do appreciate the serene time once inside to relax and look at Hualalai before takeoff.

It takes 30 minutes from Mauna Lani so I'd allow 45 from Prince.

If you want to get past Kailua-Kona for lunch, there are numerous small spots on the road in coffee country but the "towns" are tiny so pay attention.

Island of Hawaii...
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2. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

This is a thoughtful and workable itinerary. Kudos!

45 minutes from the Prince, I agree, and at least 90 minutes from arrival, two hours for a mainland flight. Do web check in and print passes in advance.

Once you pass Honaunau, there is a lot of nothing on the road until you get to Na'alehu and Pahala, which are not much. I used to recommend the Coffee Shack, but it's slow and the service is not very good at all.

I'd probably stop in Kainiliu. You will recognize it by seeing the Aloha theatre on your right. I don't know if the cafe there is good now. It used to be.

There is a shopping center in HOVE (Ocean View), but I don't know what is in it, sorry.

Your most choices would certainly be in Kailua. To find something other than the most visible places in the coffee towns, you kind of need to do your research. It's a bit like a series of strip malls ... and then the business district is done, as I mentioned.

Sansei is good, and Sushi Rock is a whole different little hole in the wall with fresh fish. They are both good, but nothing alike.

The Bamboo has limited lunch hours, and I know that from arriving after they've stopped serving, so know what they are. I'm thinking around 2 pm is the end, but it may have changed.

You could do both attractions on your way to Hapuna, if you start early, and I recommend taking a look at Hilo, especially if the weather is nice.

Waipi'o Lookout is better in the morning. By afternoon it is all backlit. Nice silhouette, but not at all ideal for taking photos of the Valley. It's a 40 minute investment of your time. Be sure to obey the incredibly low speed limit on that road, as police like to lie in wait there and write tickets.

My advice on the at home days is to do the beach in the morning. It's much nicer. Be sure to take the shuttle up to Mauna Kea Resort. Personally I would consider taking a drive and exploring in the afternoon. It gets too hot to be on the beach IMHO, after noon, the wind comes up, and it gets choppy.

Or do the pool in the afternoon ... the Hapuna pool is pleasant at that time.

As for dinner, Kawaihae is very convenient to the Prince, so you may want to try Cafe Pesto, and maybe the Seafood Bar (on your right before you get to the shopping center). Nice little place for seafood pupus and smoothies.

3. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

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Austin, Texas
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4. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

Thank you both for the great advice, especially on the timing issues, KamaainaK! Beach time in the morning is wonderful, so I'm happy to hear that's the best time. I'm a big fan of afternoon naps while on vacation, since it's a luxury I don't get at home, so we usually head to the beach early, have lunch, spend some time at the pool, and then take a nap before dinner.

Cafe Pesto was on my list of places to try for dinner, so good to know it's convenient to the hotel. I'll check out the Seafood Bar, too.

I'll do some more research on what may be available for lunch in Kainiliu and Kailua. Someone (not on TA) recommended Panalu'u Bake Shop. It seems to be about at the half way point, but it's difficult to tell just by looking at the map and not factoring in driving times. We may need something to eat before we get there, especially since we'll be getting an early start coming from Oahu.

(The post above was reported as spam and deleted by TA, just in case anyone was curious.)

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5. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

One of your nights in Volcano, plan to drive back into the Park and see Halemaʻumaʻu glowing in the night. It's only about a 10 minute drive. We arrived from the mainland in the afternoon and drove to Volcano right away. Only stopped for coffee and the grocery store in Kona, then had dinner at Thai Thai in Volcano and drove over to the park around 10:00. The caldera glowing in the night and the wisps of fog and volcano noises all make it seem very other-worldly. The lack of crowds was a big plus, too.

Denver, Colorado
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6. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

You'll have way more lunch choices heading south thru Kona by just doing a short detour into Kona town but better not daly. Make sure you are past Captain Cook by 3pm or so to avoid rush hour heading out of town. You probably have time to take a rest stop at Black Sand Beach and then check in at your accomodation at Volcano. Def. head over to the VNP park and Jaggar Museum after dark to see if you can spy a glow from Halema. Then next day full day exploring Volcano National Park. When you are heading back around thru Hilo maybe Kens' Pancake house for early breakfast.

Hawaiin Tropical Botanical Gardens (allow 2 hours) is a must on that side of the islands vs. any other scenic stops over there if limited for time. It has tons of pretty flowers and includes a nice water fall and nice bench down by the water to see the sea side view. Then maybe a fresh fruit smoothie at What's Shakin as you head north on the scenic by pass road. Akaka you can afford to miss if pressed for time (allow at least 1 hour for that side trip). Waipio Valley overlook will probably take you an additional hour side trip then back to the main road. Waimiea is great for dinner if you want food before checking in at Hapuna.

While at Hapuna I recommend Cafe Pesto a short drive near the harbor for dinner and maybe cocktails and live music afterwards at Blue Dragon near there. I believe you be happy w/ Hapuna Prince w/ easy walk to beach in the mornings and def. do a day trip north to Hawi and Pololu valley over look. Bamboo in Hawi would be good for lunch or dinner but check their limited hours so you don't arrive when they are closed.

If you get up really early on your last day you will have time to head as far south as Captian Cook sites and head back to Kona for your last dinner and sundown.

Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

>>> we usually head to the beach early, have lunch, spend some time at the pool, and then take a nap before dinner.

sounds ideal! Don't miss the sunset, one of my favorite parts. (I'm sure you won't.) Sun does tend to drop fast near the end in the tropics, so get positioned in time. I have had my share of sunsets here where it went down while I was still en route to the viewing spot.

Punalu'u bake shop is at least 2/3 of the way there, so I would have lunch earlier and stop there to get snacks.

Waialea beach (Beach 69) is just down the road from Hapuna, and I think you would enjoy it.

Austin, Texas
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8. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

Thank you, Marilyn and Theodore. We are definitely planning to go into the Park one night after dark to see the "glow," if there is in fact a glow to be seen. This was the whole purpose of the trip for my husband, so we'll make it a priority. I'm also going to put the Botanical Gardens at the top of the list for our travel day from Volcano to Hapuna. It sounds wonderful. We will also plan for a brief stop in Hilo if the weather is nice.

KamaainaK, I learned about the quickly dropping sun on our first trip to Maui when I missed a couple of sunsets. I won't let that happen again! I have a collection of wonderful sunset photos from Maui and Costa Rica hanging in my home office and in my workplace office to remind me what a special time of day it can be. Thank you for the perspective on the bake shop. We'll make sure to grab a bite before then. These posts make me sound obsessed with lunch places, and I guess I kind of am. After many years of traveling together, I know that my husband and I are happiest when we are fed. Not being able to find a proper lunch before we get "hangry" (a made up word we use to mean frustration or anger as a result of being hungry) can totally ruin an otherwise lovely vacation day.

Washington DC...
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9. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

What we do is pick up some snacks--bananas for me, taro rolls or taro chips for him, sometimes some plain or kona coffee mac nuts, and take them with us in the car, along with some water. Then we never get "hangry" and do not spend time buying/eating lunches. We eat a good breakfast.

Edited: 06 May 2011, 17:01
Austin, Texas
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10. Re: Itinerary for 7 nights/6 days on the Big Island with some ?s

Good idea, Honu_Ohana. I do this when we go on road trips from home, but never seem to think about doing on other trips that involve driving. Is there an ABC Store, or some other place to stop for snacks, convenient to the airport? The ABC Stores all seem to be along Alii Drive.