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Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Brussels, Belgium
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Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Now we decided to stay 2 nights in Volcano and then move to the other side of the island, where would be the best area to stay to explore that side (5 nights)?

We do like resorts, but that is not a must. We also like condo's (what site would be the best to explore condo's on the BI?) and just go out for dinner every night.

We like to be in the middle of everything, meaning we would like to be able to be in the neighborhood of shops and restaurants, without driving like half an hour every time.

We would like to spend about $300 per night and I was already checking out Mauna Lani Point and Hapuna Beach Prince. But any other options would be greatly appreciated.

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Please do read through the Top Questions on Kona versus the Kohala Coast. I much prefer the proximity to beaches, ocean access, good swimming and snorkeling and better lodging options and weather on the Kohala Coast but if you want to be in a town and walking distance to many shops and restaurants and don't care as much about beach access then Kailua Kona might suit you better.

The Hapuna Prince has no shopping or restaurant choice outside of the resort but has one of the best beaches. The Mauna Lani resort area has a handful of restaurants and shops, some of the best condo options and the best snorkeling. Waikoloa Beach has many restaurant and shops and many condo choices, but a mediocre beach. However they are all within 10-15 minutes of each other.

There is also a TQ all about the Mauna Lani and we're working on one for Waikoloa Beach.

The TQs are on the right hand side of the Island of Hawaii forum, desktop version.

Houston, TX
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2. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

For what it's worth, our party of 4 adults just returned from a holiday which included 6 nights on the Big Island, staying on both sides of the island. Our stay on the west side was at Kailua-Kona. We spent a day exploring the Kohala Coast. We all agreed that if you like a resort type vacation then Kohala is the place to be. But, if you want to be in the middle of things, where you can have lots of choices for dinner etc, then Kailua-Kona is better. We didn't do any snorkeling etc on this trip, just land based activities, and found Kona to be a better choice for us.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Yes, particularly for those who aren't ocean sports or beach people Kailua Kona is often a better choice and there are a lot more shops and restaurants. Although Waikoloa Beach also has two outdoor malls and several restaurants, it doesn't have the many bars and tshirt/souvenir shops like Kailua Kona. Also staying in Kailua Kona or Keauhou puts you closer to coffee country if that interests you.

As far as "resort type"'vacation, well there are other good lodging choices on the Kohala Coast aside from the resorts like Puako and Waialea and I don't think the "resort" aspect of it is what draws people there, I've seen the main split fall along the lines of people who want proximity to beaches and ocean to get into and people who want walking proximity to a town and ocean to look at from their lodging. Also Kailua Kona is much higher density than South Kohala. Some people like, as you and the OP say, being in the "middle of the action" there, others don't.

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Since it's the only town of any size on the west coast, staying in/near Kailua-Kona would obviously put you "in the middle of everything". But if your reason for wanting that is better access to good restaurants, I'd suggest you might be better off at either the Mauna Lani or Waikoloa Resort properties. In three trips, I've not found one restaurant in Kailua-Kona that compares to those at Four Seasons Hualalai and the nicer ones in the Kohala Coast resorts. The original Merriman's is in Waimea, and should be on your dining list too, but that would be a long haul from Kailua-Kona.

By the way, if that condo in Mauna Lani Point fits in your budget, look no further; book it. If not, check VRBO - vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/…kohala-coast .

Island of Hawaii...
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5. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

The best site for condos is VRBO and also Homeaway.

The Mauna Lani Resort is quiet and serene, and Waikoloa Beach Resort feels buzzy to me, which you might like. Thereʻs no feeling of being remote there. It has plenty of shops and restaurants and is very walkable.

Kailua Kona tends to be under murky cloud cover and volcanic haze especially in the afternoon, although winter is the least for that.

If snorkeling matters to you, the Mauna Lani Resort has better options and access for renters.

I personally think the options for sightseeing are much better from Kohala than Kailua Kona. Particularly as you are staying in Volcano, the fact that town is closer to the VNP by about an hour does not matter.

People staying in town have a long haul to visit North Kohala, Hamakua, and Hilo.

Edited: 30 January 2014, 00:29
Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Aside from the higher end restaurants, where I agree with thrumylens, I even much prefer the north for casual, cheaper dining options over the Kailua Kona ones. Waimea in particular has much more locally sourced and non touristy, less overpriced choices. But you will be driving about 20-25 minutes to get there from the Sourh Kohala resorts.

Edited: 30 January 2014, 00:38
Island of Hawaii...
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7. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Yes, the Kailua Kona restaurants donʻt have to be very good, with the constant flood of visitors replacing those who depart. I mean they are OK, but they are not for the most part anything special in terms of food. A lot of people who like it there talk about the mai tais, good prices on mai tais. (I donʻt drink mai tais so that is meaningless to me, but if it is your thing ... ). I like wine and craft brewed beer.

Brussels, Belgium
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8. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

Thank you all for the replies. Like you suggested, I tried to read up as much as possible on the different locations and in the end, we decided that the Fairmont Orchid was the hotel for us. Mauna Lani also looked good, but for the price of a Garden view room there, we could have a Deluxe Ocean view at The Fairmont. And if we wanted to snorkel at a better location than the beach in front of the Fairmont, we will walk over to the beach of the Mauna Lani.

Thanks again for all your input!

Big Island, Hawaii
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9. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

That's a lovely choice, the Fairmont is a very good hotel with a superb location.

Island of Hawaii...
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10. Re: Best area to stay to explore West side of BI

The Fairmont has a van shuttle to the Beach Club at Makaʻiwa Bay that is free and on demand. Itʻs a lovely walk, but with a full load of snorkel equipment and beach supplies I would take the easy way. The snorkel beach is 5-10 minutes north of the Mauna Lani hotel, so itʻs a fair walk from the Fairmont, and the trail there is rock and coral, not a paved path most of the way. Nice for a walk, but not ideal for getting to the snorkeling.

The Fairmont beach is pretty but small and crowded and I would not pick it for snorkeling.