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First time trip to Big Island - help?

Auckland, New...
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First time trip to Big Island - help?

Hi everyone

My husband and I are planning a trip to Hawaii at the end of the month and need a lot of advice/suggestions!

We are flying from LAX to Hilo, going over to Kona, then flying from Kona to Maui, Maui to Honolulu, then Honolulu to home (New Zealand).

What we know:

- We are flying into Hilo airport on 28 September;

- We are planning to spend a few nights on the Hilo side of the island, and then a few nights on the Kona side of the island;

- We will be flying out of Kona to Maui (date TBC - but we plan to spend around 6 nights all up on Big Island).

What we want to know:

- How we should split our time - i.e. how many nights to spend on each side;

- Is it better to rent a car for the whole time we are on the island (meaning we would have to collect at Hilo, drop off in Kona) - or is it better to use tours/public transport etc. If a car - any suggestions as to where to rent from that allows one-way drop off?;

- What there is to do on the Hilo side - we definitely want to spend some time at the volcano, and see some waterfalls;

- Where to stay when we are on the Hilo side - should we stay in Hilo and Volcano, or just Volcano etc. We are aware that the accommodation options are more limited on this side of the island;

- What is there to do on the Kona side of the island;

- Where to stay on the Kona side - we are not interested in all-inclusives, wouldn't mind a nice beach (but are going to Maui, so not imperative). Something mid-range is what we are aiming for.

Thanks very much people - any advice appreciated. Feel free to ask questions if you need more info!

Canada
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1. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Is this trip for this Sept28 th?.....Just a few weeks off?

I'm not certain where to start. ......

6 nights on the Big Island encompassing both sides is rather a brief stay......10 nights would be better. Given your questions...regarding what there is "to do"......one wonders why you selected the Big Island ? The Volcano perhaps?

You definitely need a car the entire time on the Big Island(Maui as well for that matter) The Big Island is the last place I would want to be without a vehicle.

As to the one way drop fees......it is not about the company...but rather the discount codes you utilize to book the vehicle, some waive the drop fee, others don't. You will need to research this. Drop fees can be anywhere from $45-75., if not waived.

Hawaii, as a rule does not feature All inclusive resorts....so don't worry about receiving any recommendations for those.....curious question.

Sometimes, these last minute trip can be fun to plan. There is lots of info here on the forum for you to read and get the lay of the land.

You don't mention any of your interests...Hiking, swimming, snorkeling?

What is your nightly accommodation budget? Hotel or condo? I'm thinking Hotel... given the brief stay?

Auckland, New...
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2. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Thanks for your response - yes, this coming Sept 28th. We did not know when we would be leaving USA until a couple of days ago, so have only been able to begin planning now.

We decided to spend some time on Big Island definitely with the Volcano as a draw card - from what I have read, Maui has the better beaches, and so our 'beach/relaxing time' will be more for Maui, and our exploring time will be more for Big Island.

Great, we will definitely hire a car then. Do you have any recommendations for car hire companies?

Re: AI resorts - it seems every trip we have ever tried to plan in or around the States or the UK people have recommended AI resorts, which we are not our thing, so I thought I would pre-empt that - but if there are no AI resorts on Hawaii then that's great.

Our interests - my husband likes watercraft (sailing, jetskis, kayaks etc), we like beaches with safe swimming, I like photography etc. We are big hikers, but like simple hiking/walks etc to waterfalls etc.

Re budget, it's hard to tell at this stage as we are only starting to look into it and so don't even know what the price ranges are (i.e what to expect for a low, mid or high end accommodation). We are open to any 'type' of accommodation really.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Ok, first I recommend you read through the Top Questions.

Six nights is difficult for both sides of the Big Island. Even adding just one or two nights will make it more comfortable. But if six nights is all you have, then I would spend two nights in Volcano. You'll need one full day to explore/hike VNP. Then drive over to the west side for your remaining four nights. Drive via the Hamakua Coast so you can visit the botanical gardens and Akaka Falls, plus the Waipio Valley overlook if you don't plan to hike into there later on the week.

On the west side I recommend you stay on the Kohala Coast. While Maui has larger and more beaches, the Big Island has better snorkeling and some very interesting shoreline features like ancient fishponds, heiaus, and the historic Ala Kahakai shoreline trail.

The Mauna Lani is the most recommended mid range hotel on the island. It's one of the most Hawaiiana hotels in the state. Room rates are about $300/nt. Some of the best snorkeling in the state is from this resort. It also has the lovely Kalahuipua'a fishponds.

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Thanks - I'd say we could probably stretch to 7 nights? Would you say a 3-4 split then?

Also I meant to write in my last post that we 'aren't' big hikers, not that we are haha

ON, Canada
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5. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Just wondered if you've decided on the amount of time for the other islands? If Maui and Oahu are on the itinerary, with short stays there, maybe it would be better to rework the whole itinerary - e.g. skip Maui and allow more time on the BI, or just do the east side of the BI and spend more time on Maui.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

No, if you add a night to make it seven total, I recommend you allocate it to the west side, not the east, for a 5/2 split.

You're from NZ and you're not big hikers? After my last trip there I was convinced all you kiwis hike in your sleep! :-))))

Auckland, New...
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7. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Thanks - we are definitely going to Maui, it's my husband's preference. Oahu will just be one night on the way home, I've been there before and it's not on my to-do list.

Haha well some New Zealanders definitely are hikers, but I'm a townie with a bad knee, so simple/short hikes are more my thing! :-)

Birmingham, Alabama
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8. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

I found the best rate on Hilo to kona rental cars at discounthawaiicarrentals.com.

$45 drop fee with alamo.

Auckland, New...
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9. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

Hey everyone,

So we unfortunately only do have the 6 nights, but we will make it work.

We fly into Hilo and out of Kona. We have booked a rental car for our duration. The first night is a non-night as we arrive around 3:30pm.

Given the lack of lava flow, we are a bit confused now as what area is best to stay on each night we are on Big Island.

We would welcome some advice; Should we spend the first 2 or 3 nights in Hilo? or in Volcano? And then when we leave that side of the island, do we go straight over to Kona and spend all remaining nights there and explore from Kona as a base - or do we spend a night somewhere in between Hilo and Kona and then the last nights in Kona?

Thanks - sorry, we are just a bit lost since our volcano tour went off the cards :-(

ON, Canada
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10. Re: First time trip to Big Island - help?

For 6 nights, I would do what Shea recommends in post #3 above .... spend the first two nights in Volcano and the last 4 on the Kohala coast.

On your arrival day you can go to the Jaggar Museum to see the lava glow at Halema'uma'u Overlook.

The next day I would spend exploring/hiking in VNP.

On the following day I would head to the Kohala coast (along the north - Hamakua coast route.)

That leaves you 3 full days for exploring and enjoying the west side + whatever time you have on your departure day.

I would not add another accommodation location.