We were on the Island of Hawaii from Oct 18-24 after a week stay in Maui. This was our second stay on Maui and our first on the Big Island. We stayed at the Fairways in the Mauna Lani Resort. It was a great place for the price (especially offseason) and we really enjoyed it. Everything that the DE's says about this resort area is correct. The coral in Makaiwa Bay was better then anything we saw in Maui including Honolua Bay and Ahihi-Kana'u reserve which was our best in Maui this time for snorkeling. Had a great walk in the fish ponds and all the historical sites in the area. The one cave were Hawaiians stayed 1000 ago was great. Very informative and well kept.
We were also there during a Full Moon so enjoyed the talk story. A great experience. Also snorkeled Mauna Kea beach, went to both farmers markets in Waimea(Kamuela), and had a great time watching cool sunsets at Hapuna and Manini'owali Beaches.
Sadly we had some swells while we were there so there was some visibility problems all along the Kohala Coast for a a lot of our stay. Also a tiger shark siting one day so the beaches "were closed" except for your own risk.
We did a great drive up to North Kohala and walked the Pololu Lookout and did the Hamakua Coast on the same day. Hiked the Waipi'o Valley and also visited Akaka Falls. Really great area. At the end of this excursion trip we took the Saddle Road from Hilo. The road is in great shape but it was raining as we started up the road to Mauna Kea and then fog was very heavy. For several miles we could barely see between the rain and fog. It was still daytime but I understand why the DE's caution you on why this road could be a risk at night. I don't know if I would try it.
On the way down on the other side when it was sunny again and I was enjoying the ride toward Waikoloa Village on Saddle Road and I made the ultimate rookie mistake. Did not check my speedometer and the County of Hawaii officer let me know that as he handed me a ticket. KK has warned multiple times about the cops and areas where they check for speeders. Listen to her.
My only regret is that I did not do the manta ray night snorkel. Hope to do it the next time I am on island. Reason for the title on my post is because if you read the top questions and lurk like I did for the past few months and you will get most of the answers you need for a visit to this wonderful island. It was a spectacular place. We did not go to the whole southern half of the island. When everyone says you need at least 10 days or so for this island they are right. As another poster stated earlier the airport kills your "aloha" spirit. Do not split time between two islands unless you have a lot of time. We should have stayed on BI the whole time. 6 full days is not enough. DE's and others are right about that.
This is actually a very good travel forum and I really enjoyed reading the last few months. Great to know I have an informative place to return when we come back next time.