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Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

UK
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Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

My partner and I are going on honeymoon to Hawaii in September.

We have 6 nights in Kailua Kona then 3 nights in Hilo before heading to Maui for 5 nights.

We are interested in doing Muana Kea but the tours are really expensive, we have friends who drove up themselves (but we won't be able to do this with a hire car) and it was foggy both nights. How worthwhile is the trip?? Really I just want to be able to see the stars at some point in my trip....not necessarily with a telescope/tour guide! Also the sunset would be nice but we are hoping to do the sunrise at the crater in Maui so we are kinda thinking we won't get anything extra out of Muana Kea?

I'm really into snorkelling but my partner has never done it before. We have got our own snorkel equipment to take with us. We really want to go to the Captain Cook monument and snorkel there, we know the walk to and from the beach can be quite tough but we are reasonably fit. How easy is it to find the path down to the beach and is it safe to leave the car parked there?

I'm also not sure how worthwhile the snorkel trips will be compared to just driving to beaches ourselves? I was thinking of maybe booking a couple then leave the rest of the snorkelling we do up to ourselves....I think we will book a Manta Ray snorkel and I'm also considering the Molokini crater in Maui. Would these be worthwhile ones or are there better ones we could do?

Sorry that was a bit rambling! Its just so overwhelming with how much there is to do and we want to get the most out of our time and money :-)

Kona
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1. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

Congratulations on your wedding and upcoming honeymoon.

Some of the best stargazing on the island can be done along the Kohala coast - in my experience, especially around the Kohala Ranch/Kohala Estates area, where I've seen the Milky Way blazing and sparkling across the night sky and seeming so close you could almost reach for it . . . so no, no need to go to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station specifically for stargazing. You can't, of course, be at the summit at night - what the VIS does have to offer that goes beyond naked-eye stargazing is access to some very high-powered telescopes that allow you to see incredible detail of planets and constellations. On a clear night, it's a breathtaking experience, and you don't need to take a tour to do so - it's a free program, and you can drive yourself in a hire car to the VIS.

Reagrding the hike down to Ka'awaloa, where the Captain Cook Monument is located. First, there is no beach at all at Ka'awaloa. It's a lava rock coastline. It sounds like the hike itself isn't an issue for your level of fitness, but keep in mind that this is now a heavily-visited area that has NO toilet facilities (it was never intended to handle the kind of traffic it gets now that much of the kayak action has been curtailed). The result is a lot of human feces and toilet paper in the area - pretty disgusting.

There is no real parking area, either, and it is not safe at all. Tourists park along the side of upper Napo'opo'o Road, sometimes creating very dangerous situations on this busy road. Your vehicle will be left exposed and vulnerable - it's obvious that its a rental car, and that the visitors are off hiking to Ka'awaloa for hours. There have been many break-ins and cases of vehicle vandalism there.

There is actually much better snorkeling to be had at other sites, especially some of the Kohala coast - check the Top Question at the right about snorkeling areas.

The Manta Ray snorkel is a trip highlight for many people.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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2. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

Second the recommendations for snorkelling in the Kolaha coast over Kona.

If activity funds are limited (being a newlywed once myself, I understand you can't do it all) I would choose the Manta snorkel over the Maui Molokini tour. Depending on where you are staying in Maui, you can have pretty good beach based snorkelling. I've done the molokini crater snorkel trip, didn't feel that it gave us anything other than a lunch and time out on the water. We had been seeing the same sea creatures directly snorkeling off shore from where we were staying. Also you don't have to do Haleakala at sunrise, the sunsets are just as nice, maybe less crowded, but dress appropriately at Mauna Kea vis center or Haleakala.

Edited: 15 August 2014, 20:41
Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

Agree to skip the hike to Kaawaloa. If you're desperate to snorkel Kealakekua Bay, take a responsible kayak tour. But I agree there's better, easier and less crowded snorkeling at lots of other places and in September in particular the Kohala Coast will likely have better conditions. If you are going to do a day trip to South Kona anyway - perhaps for Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, go on a weekday and snorkel in Honaunau Bay - but stay out of the bay if dolphins are present.

Molokini trip is very meh. Take the day trip to Lanai instead from Maui. And i wouldn't miss the worldclass manta ray snorkel.

Agree that you can skip the summit tours and the drive to the VIS for stargazing, although you could play it by ear and do the latter if you have time and the weather is cooperating. As mentioned, the stargazing is excellent all along the Kohals Coast most of the time.

I would rebook and stay on the Kohala Coast or north Kona coast (Hualalai) for your west side time instead of Kailua Kona. Not sure where you're staying but there aren't really any honeymoon quality lodgings there, no beaches of note, and the weather and ocean sports are much better up north.

Edited: 15 August 2014, 22:16
Birmingham, Alabama
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4. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

The end of chain of craters road at VNP has some amazing star gazing because it is absolutely pitch black dark. It's the darkest place I've ever been aside from the middle of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Star gazing was amazing last time I was down there. However, that was also when people were going out to see lava at night from there ... not sure if people are down there at night these days since there is nothing to see.

As for snorkeling, I think being out on the water is one of the nicest things about Hawaii. I would definitely consider a snorkel trip. We did Fair Winds to Kealakekua Bay and loved it ... we have also done the Lanai trip with Trilogy (from Lahaina, in Maui) but snorkeling IMO is better on the Fair Winds trip. Not a big fan of Molokini, although again, being on the water is awesome and those trips can be quite reasonable.

UK
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5. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

Hi,

Thanks for all your replies. From what you guys have said I think we will skip the Muana Kea summit tour and just pay a visit to the visitor centre depending on how the weather is. My partner is really keen to visit Captain Cook as he is from Captain Cook's home town so always makes a point of visiting any Captain Cook related tourist point when he's away! I think we will do it as a boat tour though so its a bit more relaxing.

We are staying at Outrigger in Kona. I don't think we can rebook unfortunately...we did it through a travel agent. To be honest we weren't too fussed about having the typical "honeymoon" resort type accommodation as we figured we wouldn't spend much time in the hotel anyway! Our original quote may have in fact included some hotels in the Kohala coast but we are saving a considerable amount by being where we are now that leaves us money to do more activities! Hopefully its ok!

ON, Canada
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6. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

kirsten ... in your original post you say that you are staying in Hilo, but in your next post you say that you're staying at Outrigger in Kailua Kona. Which airport(s) are your flights booked in/out of on the Island of Hawaii?

UK
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7. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

HI...actually I did say in my original post I'm staying at both :-)

Flying into Kona and out of Hilo.

ON, Canada
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8. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

... oops, my apologies, you're right :) Good plan!

Re driving up to the VIS ... that's what we did instead of taking a tour to the summit. We thought it was well worth it.

Enjoy!

Big Island, Hawaii
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9. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

Captain Cook is a small town about 800 feet from sea level. You won't be snorkeling at Captain Cook. If you're referring to the monument, it's in Kealakekua Bay. There's some sensitivity on the island when you refer to Hawaiian place names with the English names of not fondly remembered explorers or other anglicized nicknames. There is an interesting Top Question on the right hand side about Hawaiian place names that you may find useful - we don't expect you to just know these things! :-)

There is no Outrigger hotel anymore but there are the condos at Kanaloa that are managed by Outrigger. I really hope you got direct oceanfront because it's pretty much the hottest area on the west side as they're sunk down in a puka - no air flow and often no air conditioning. In September that won't be fun.

If you could rebook without penalty I would. There are plenty of places on the Kohala Coast that are actually quite a bit cheaper than Kanaloa which IMO is overpriced. Remember also that gas is very expensive here and driving back and forth hours every day adds up too. Alternatively if you can't rebook ensure that you're in an oceanfront unit or have air conditioning.

You don't need to spend a lot of money on activities or tours on the Big Island. Other than the manta ray night snorkel, I wouldn't do any.

Edited: 16 August 2014, 22:19
Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: Honeymoon in Sep, some general questions..

If you look at the reviews for Kanaloa, a frequent theme is to make sure you request air conditioning, which apparently is available in some units but at an extra cost, or get direct oceanfront. It won't be central air, they will be wall air conditioning units, but it's better than nothing.