We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
54 posts
38 reviews
Save Topic
Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

First off, thanks to the Shea and KK (and many others here) who have provided a ton of great information in the Top Questions as well as individual threads. I've gotten more out of this forum than my travel book!

I'm seeking your thoughts on our preliminary itinerary to ensure I've allocated enough time on these days for the planned activities. For reference, we are staying at a condo in ML for 7 nights followed by 2 nights in Hilo and we will have a car. We are both 30-ish, fairly active, and our plan for this vacation is a combination of relaxing days at the beach or snorkeling with more active things like hiking/water activities/etc.

Day 1

We arrive at HNL mid-afternoon and plan to relax, explore Waikiki, etc. We decided to spend a night in Waikiki so we could see Pearl Harbor.

Day 2

We have morning tickets to see Pearl Harbor followed by an early afternoon flight to KOA. We'll pick up the car, head to Costco for a few items, and go to our condo. Dependent on how we feel, we'll go to KTA for groceries. If not, we'll do it the following morning. I'm never a fan of going grocery shopping right off a plane but since we'll be near Costco and we're not getting off a 10+ hour marathon flight, I think it'll be fine to go to Costco right away.

Day 3

Beach/snorkel day, likely at Honokaope and Makaiwa Bay. We'll probably head to Anaeho'omalu Bay at sunset for some pictures and watch the sunset.

Day 4

We're planning on going to the Waimea Farmer's Market in the morning, a late morning zipline tour with Ecoadventure, lunch/explore Hawi, followed by Polulu Valley Overlook and hike.

Day 5

Morning mass at the Painted Church in Kona, rent kayaks at Kealakekua Bay, and eat lunch in Kona. After lunch, we planned to snorkel at Honaunau, and dependent on the time and how we feel, drive to South Point. Is this too much driving for one day? The drive to South Point isn't a must-see for us but if we have the time, we thought we would include it since we'll be south of Kohala that day.

Day 6

Beach day, probably at Hapuna Beach. We have reservations at 'Ulu for dinner.

Day 7

A couples morning massage at the Fairmont Orchid followed by a tour at Greenwell Farms. We want to do some hiking in the afternoon so we'll probably check out the Malama Petroglyph Trail. We may try to fit in paddle boarding or wind surfing this day (or another beach day).

Day 8

Beach day, likely Mauna Kea.

Day 9

We check out of our condo on the Kohala Coast and we plan to take the northern route and stop along the way at the following sights: Lapakahi State Historical Park, Waipio Valley Overlook, Akaka Falls, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, and Onomea Bay. We'll have a car with a trunk where we will keep all of our belongings, besides what we have with us when we get out of the car. Is this too much on our drive to Hilo? If so, we thought we'd see the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens in the morning on the day we fly out, since we currently have that morning open.

Day 10

VNP. We don't have a tour scheduled as we will use the ranger-guided and self-guided hikes instead. We plan on spending the whole day here so we can (hopefully) see the crater glow at night from Jagger Museum.

Day 11

We have an early afternoon flight to HNL followed by our flight back to the east coast.

Thank you!

LA
Level Contributor
10,061 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

For such a short visit and a party of two (I'm assuming that) I don't see much reason to go to Costo unless it's to buy a couple of bottles of booze or eat a hotdog. You are likely to waste most of what you buy there.

I'm not sure on the Kealakekua kayak rental situation at this time.

LA
Level Contributor
10,061 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

I'd rather shop at the Foodland in Mauna Lani, or Waimea or the KTA in Waikoloa Village.

California
Level Contributor
6,397 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

All very doable. Sounds like a great trip. I'm also a big fan of Costco, just the savings from sun tan lotion and snacks/alcohol will save you a few dollars. Costco is also a great place to refuel your car rental before returning it.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
13,100 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

A few thoughts based on our trip a couple of weeks ago:

- We like Costco and for a week long stay would have no problem using up items purchased there, so I would keep that in the plan if you have time, but I wouldn't go back to Kona for KTA the next morning if you miss it that day (the drive is too long) - instead, get whatever else you need at Foodland Farms at the ML. (Be sure to get a card for the discounts.) We really liked FF's - good quality produce, fish (delicious poke), and they have everything you'd need, with lots of sale items.

- Greenwell Farms - we really enjoyed the tour, but I would try to include it in your day when you're going to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. It's a long drive and quite slow through Kona due to the volume of traffic - in one week, I'm not sure I'd want to take the time to drive to south Kona twice.

- I think the Botanical Gardens on the morning that you fly out would be good. You can do a quick tour in an hour or so, but this is a place that's better taken in slowly if you have the time - it's more like a walk in the woods (it's quite expansive) and you might be too tired by the end of your transition day to give it the time/energy that it needs to really enjoy it. (They have a nice picnic area, so worthwhile packing a picnic lunch). I would keep the Onomea Bay drive in your transition day, but return for the gardens.

- Re leaving items in your trunk on your transition day: at Waipio Valley, not a problem at the lookout, Akaka Falls has a parking attendant and security cameras, we didn't go to Lapakahi so can't comment on it. If you do the Botanical Gardens on your moving day, I wouldn't be uncomfortable leaving items in the trunk in their parking lot. On the Onomea Bay drive, there is a walkway down to the bay - I'd be a bit concerned leaving the car with valuables (since you have to park at the side of the road). However, you'll see those views when you go to the gardens (since the trails at the gardens go down to the bay), so you can pass on taking the trail down from the side of the road.

- re VNP - if you like hiking, the Kilauea Iki trail is a great hike that takes you through the forest at the rim of the crater, and then down into and across the lava bed (from the 1959 eruption) - there are steam vents on the crater floor and spectacular views along the whole hike. (Allow about 2.5 hours for this hike.)

Enjoy your trip ... we loved the BI !

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
647 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

I think that Lapakahi State Historical Park is too far out of your way traveling to the east side. Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site is closer to your route.

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
647 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

I'd like to add...

Thanks for offering your itinerary and thanks to everyone who responds. It's really helpful to read the suggestions for planning our upcoming trip. It's fun to see what others chose for their activities. So many choices!

LA
Level Contributor
10,061 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

There is a KTA at Waikoloa Village. I would go there rather than going into Kona.

Kona
Level Contributor
2,477 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

When is your trip? At this time, you can't rent kayaks at Kealakekua Bay, and there is no way to know when that restriction might be lifted. You can arrange a kayak tour from Kona Boys or Aloha Kayak, but you can't take a rented kayak out on the waters of the bay.

You can rent kayaks at Ho'okena Beach about 20 minutes south of Kealakekua, where the nonprofit community organization Friends of Ho'okena Beach runs the camping and kayak concession. You can also rent kayaks at Keauhou Bay, from Ocean Safaris. Or kayak up in Kohala where you are staying, from Kohala Kayak. Also, Adventures in Paradise offers a tour to "Nai'a Cove," near Kaloko-Honokohau National Park.

Making two trips to South Kona definitely doesn't make sense, especially if the only reason you'd be making that trek is to visit Greenwell Farms. Their coffee tour is interesting, but not so compelling to make a long drive to see! If you happen to be driving by anyway, it's a convenient stop, but otherwise, not worth your precious vacation time. Make that stop when you visit St Benedict's.

It's puzzling that you don't plan to visit Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, which is one of the most significant cultural and historical sites in Hawaii. It's a very sacred place that offers a rare opportunity to really deepen your understanding of the culture of Hawaii Nei. I would skip the kayak plan, and instead go to St. Benedict's as planned, followed by a visit to Pu'uhonua O Honaunau and a snorkel at Honaunau Bay - then go for a late lunch up on the highway in Honaunau (there are three choices, all decent) and then decide if you're up to more driving south or if you're ready to head back to Kohala.

The drive to Ka Lae ("South Point") is prohibited by some rental car contracts, so you'd want to check that ahead of time. That drive from Honaunau to Ka Lae, round trip, is going to take you 3.5 hours minimum - not sure that's the best use of your time, especially if you're going to want to stop at Greenwell Farms on your way back north.

On the day you had planned to drive all the south to Greenwell, instead use the time to visit Pu'ukohola, another stunning and significant cultural site, and maybe visit Lapakahi on the same day - together, those places will take you back into the fascinating history of the Kohala area.

Then when you check out of your condo and head to the other side of the island, you'll have more time for the other sites you listed. The drive time itself is 3 hours, and all your stops, starting at Waipio, will add 3-4 hours to that travel day.

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
27,663 posts
76 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

A few comments:

Day 5 -- as of now you can't rent kayaks to go to Kealakekua Bay. Kayak tours only. This day would be too packed anyway, after mass I would go to Puuhonua O Honaunau historical park, snorkel Honaunau Bay. Annie's is a great place for burgers and beers. Skip Ka Lae, and do the Greenwell tour this day.

Day 6 - Before your dinner reservations at 'Ulu, I'd spend some time next door at Kukio/Kikaua Point. I prefer it to the crowded scene at Hapuna. There are wonderful fish ponds behind Kukio Bay, turtles everywhere, endangered birds. it's a lovely spot for sunset.

Day 7 -- I wouldn't drive south again this day. I would do the Greenwell farm tour on your Kona day above. After massages I would go visit the Puukohola heiau and Lapakahi historical park, and do the hike to the Mo'okini heiau. The Malama trail to the Puako petroglyphs only takes about 20 minutes, so you can fit this in on any day. You may well want to enjoy more snorkeling on property this day.

Day 8-- It's Kauna'oa beach, Mauna Kea is the name of the hotel.

Day 9 -- Skip Lapakahi, do it on another day as set forth above, otherwise it's all perfectly doable.

Looks like fun! I would consider adding a manta ray night snorkel. For snorkelers, it would be a shame to miss it. I think the zip lining here is pretty mediocre and could be passed up. Don't forget to check out the local musicians and hula dancers. Napua at the Mauna Lani is a good place for that, Beach Tree at the Four Seasons, and free performances at Waikoloa Beach shopping centers.

Edited: 14 April 2013, 21:22
LA
Level Contributor
10,061 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Thoughts on preliminary itinerary for May trip to Big Island

I think Ka Lae is very underwhelming. Long drive, rough road, always always windy. Not much to see.