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Big Island Trip Review

Arlington, VA
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Big Island Trip Review

Everyone on this forum was so helpful when I was planning! I hope that this review will help some of you.

Here is a link to my photos. (It includes photos from Maui and Lanai, but I posted reviews in their forums.)

share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome…

The Big Island (7 nights)

We flew from Maui to Hilo on Hawaiian air. We rented from Avis again and had a Chevy Cruise. This car was much more comfortable than our previous cars in Maui. We drove from the airport to our hotel, the Kilauea Lodge.

Kilauea Lodge (2 nights)

The Lodge is small and charming and we had a great stay.

Room-We stayed in the honeymoon deluxe room and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a comfortable king size bed, a fireplace, a nice shower, and a private balcony with a beautiful view of the rainforest. We are very hot natured and did not use the fireplace or heater. But we did not need air conditioning either.

Food- We had the breakfast included with the room and it was quite good. We also had dinner here one night and it was delicious.

Other restaurants- we also ate at Lava Rock Café- we had burgers that were ok. I bought some lilkoi bread from the adjacent store and it was just ok as well. We had dinner at Thai Thai which was good food, but on the expensive side.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach- We drove about 45 minutes from our hotel after checking in to visit this beach. It is very picturesque and there was a turtle relaxing on the beach too.

Volcano National Park-

On the evening of our arrival we went to see the glow of the volcano at the Jagger Museum after dinner. It was stunning and worth a visit. We had originally planned to watch the sunset there too, but it was a cloudy, overcast day, so we skipped that.

The next morning we drove to different overlooks- the Jagger Museum, the steam vents and others. We did some short hikes and walked through the Thurston Lava Tubes. We had just gotten back to our hotel so my husband could leave for the lava hike with Kalapana Cultural Tours and they called to cancel the tour due to weather. My husband decided not to reschedule for another day since we were leaving the area the next morning. We had hopes of going back and doing the Kilauea Iki hike since his hike was canceled, but instead we were lazy and relaxed on our balcony and room for the afternoon.

That evening after dinner we went back to have one last look at the glow and we couldn’t see anything because of the clouds. I was so glad we were there to see it the day before.

On the way to the Mauna Lani (5 nights)

The next morning we made our way to the Mauna Lani, making stops along the way. We stopped at Rainbow Falls and at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, which were the most beautiful botanical gardens I have visited. Next we visited Akaka Falls which I thought was stunning. We had a good lunch at Fish and the Hog in Waimea—but the day we went they did not have any fish!

We had planned to visit Pololu or Waipio Valley this day, but it was very cloudy and hazy so we didn’t think there would be a good view for them.

Hotel- Mauna Lani-

We booked a garden view room, but were guaranteed at booking an upgrade to an ocean view room. Additionally we had a large credit and free breakfast each morning in our package.

Room- in the first room they gave us, one of the sinks was filled with a black liquid that did not smell good. We opted for them to give us a different room, even though the view from the new room wasn’t quite as good and it was one floor lower. We still had a view of the ocean over the fish ponds. I was surprised at how large the terrace was. The room overall was comfortable (I really liked the sofa). The bed was the least comfortable of our trip, but not awful.

Service was friendly and efficient at the restaurant, beach and pool areas.

Beach- the beach directly in front of the resort was pretty, but we only spent one afternoon there. I liked that the cabanas were included free of charge, but I feel like they don’t provide as much shade as umbrellas. But we had a solution for that—just choose one that’s already under a tree for more shade. The beach (in fact the whole resort) was not crowded at all.

Pool- the pool was nice, but we only spent a little time at the pool bar. Those lava flows are delicious! Again, there were no crowds to be seen.

Food- we were not wowed by the food, but it was typical resort food. I did love the banana bread at breakfast. We ate more meals here than I would have liked (we usually like to branch out more), but we had the resort credit to spend. I found the lunches and dinners at the Terrace to be typical resort food—except the brownie with macadamia nut ice cream was delicious. We did enjoy a lunch at Huli Sue’s—great grilled chicken and hamburgers. We also dined at the Canoe House one night. The place was gorgeous with such a wonderful ambience. We enjoyed the lobster cake, then my husband had the beet salad and a lobster special for his meal- he liked that as well. But I had the steak and it really was not good—it was not at all tender and had a strange flavor- I expected more given the cost too. The mac nut ice cream helped make up for me not eating much of the steak though!

Our favorite thing about the Mauna Lani was the easy access to Makaiwa Beach. Fanstastic snorkeling! I went three times. It was the calmest place that we could find to snorkel on the island. It was about a 10 minute walk or the resort shuttle would drop you off (we did it both ways). The coral starts very close to shore and there is a lot more to explore than it looks.

Snorkeling- we were disappointed in our snorkeling opportunities in general—but what we did see blew our snorkel experience in Maui out of the water. Makaiwa was my favorite place. Wai’alea had lots of fish and coral. The first day we went it was way to murky to see much of anything and the current was strong. We went back the next day and it was a much easier swim and less murky, but still not clear enough for my photos to come out. I imagine it would be wonderful when the water is clear—there were SO many fish! We also tried snorkeling at Hapuna, Kauna’oa, and Kukio—but all of them were just too murky. Those beaches are beautiful – I thought Hapuna was the most beautiful beach I saw on the Big Island. (I was stung by a jellyfish at Kauna’oa, so I think that soured me a bit on that beach—even though it was just a small sting!) We were also going to try Honaunau, but when we got there it was packed with cruise shippers, so we decided to skip it. Unfortunately, we never made it back down that far south. We also attempted Kahalu’u that day, but again it was just too murky.

Manta Ray Night Snorkel with Big Island Divers- my favorite activity of the trip! This was an amazing experience. I wish we had done it twice! I believe we saw around 8 mantas that night. The Big Island Divers crew were great. I had contemplated not wearing a wet suit because I am not one to get cold. But I am so glad that I did- if not I probably would have needed to get out of the water early. We liked that is was a smaller group on the boat (about 20 people- half snorkelers and half divers). Here are a couple of videos from our trip-

http://youtu.be/DQuZYzXFYNo

http://youtu.be/q45aqjFiBag

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Historic Park- We enjoyed our stroll through this park—the only annoyance was that we chose the wrong time and the cruise shippers were there in full force. I knew I should have woken up my husband earlier that day! It is definitely worth a visit to learn some of the history and it’s also very picturesque.

Waipio and Pololu Bay Overlooks- we visited both of these scenic overlooks. Just stunning scenery! We had considered skipping these because my husband was tired of driving, but I’m so glad that we didn’t. I thought they were both worth the drive, even though I didn’t do any hiking. (My husband did hike about halfway down to Pololu.)

For restaurants outside the resort--

We were pleasantly surprised at the food court restaurants in the Queen’s Shops. I never go to food courts! But the rotisserie chicken at Ippy’s was fantastic and huge- more than enough to feed both my husband and me. My husband said that Lemongrass was also delicious.

We enjoyed the pizzas at Merriman’s and Café Pesto (although service was quite slow at Café Pesto).

We enjoyed roadside barbeque chicken and pork sandwiches at Big Jakes’ Island Barbeque—and they had great lemonade too.

One afternoon we stopped by Beachtree at the Four Seasons. The ambience is wonderful and we enjoyed watching the waves crashing on the beach. The lave flow and a hot fudge sundae with mac nut ice cream were delicious.

Overall, the Big Island was our favorite island that we visited and I hope that we can return sometime soon!

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Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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1. Re: Big Island Trip Review

Lovely trip report!

You are making me crave a dessert though.

I like all the details you provided, so very helpful. The thought process on whether you will or won't go and whether or not to do one more stop-- Tht is what we don't think of when we plan.

You met with quite a few things where you tried one thing and for whatever reason it didn't work quite right for what you wanted, so you moved on, and that's great for people to know that there will sometimes be weather or murky water or a boatload of cruisers, but you just adapt.

Kauna'oa seems to have man of war issues more than most beaches, at least that is my experience too. So sorry you got stung! I got stung by a bee once there, when the wind had blown in a lot of bees and they were on the sand in the wet zone. Stepped on it. Not as bad as a man of war! Ow!

That was great that the Mauna Lani upgraded you. :)

British Columbia...
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2. Re: Big Island Trip Review

Thank you for the TR.

Do you know what days the cruise ships dock?

Big Island, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Island of Hawaii
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3. Re: Big Island Trip Review

Thank you so much for the TR!! Yeah, Kukio, Kauna'oa and Hapuna aren't really known for snorkeling although they're nice beaches. There is a nice coral garden at Kikaua Point (adjacent to Kukio Bay) that is nice. Also, I take it you didn't get to Honokaope Bay at the Mauna Lani? It's very good snorkeling. Oh well, next time!

Cruise ships in Kailua Kona generally on Wednesday. You definitely want to avoid Kailua Kona, Kahalu'u, and Honaunau on those days.

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4. Re: Big Island Trip Review

That's good to know, thanks.

Arlington, VA
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5. Re: Big Island Trip Review

We did try snorkeling at Honokaope Bay ( if that's the beach in front of the Mauna Lani Hotel?) one day, but it was also murky. We just have to come back to hit the snorkeling spots that we missed! I hope we won't have to wait too long!

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Big Island Trip Review

No, Honokaope is the black sand beach on the other side of Makaiwa, away from the hotel.

Maryland
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7. Re: Big Island Trip Review

We're here on the Big Island and it's true that the cruise ships were in today (Wednesay). On the other hand, they were allowed maybe a half hour at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau (per one person I chatted with), so they basically rushed through and were gone before we knew it. Best to get there at 9 AM or so, since they all seemed to arrive around 10 or later.

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Honaunau
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8. Re: Big Island Trip Review

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