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Where to stay? Family vacation in December

Portland, Oregon
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Where to stay? Family vacation in December

Hello everyone! I just decided yesterday that we will be traveling to the BI this year at the end of December for 10 days (including travel days).

We are a family of 4 with kids that will be 10 and 6. Here is what we like to do:

-Some beach time, calmer waters due to the kids

-Would love to try snorkeling (very much beginner level)

-Hiking/exploring natural sites

-Relax and watch sunsets from vacation rental

-Pool time for the kids

-Not super long travel times for the majority of our activities (willing to take a few longer drives, but we don't want to feel like we are stuck in the car for much of a vacation)

-Less likely to rain every day :)

Based on that, what area would serve us best to get a rental condo? Should we break up the stay in 2 different locations if we want to visit Volcano? Thank you!

ON, Canada
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1. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

The S. Kohala Coast would be a good base for the majority of your stay. This is where the best weather and beaches are. In the top questions at the right, have a look at the links for "All about Mauna Lani Resort" and "All about the Waikoloa Beach Resort".

For VNP, a stay in Hilo or Volcano for the night would be good ... it's a very long day trip, and with early darkness and not recommended to drive back after dark, it limits what you can do if you do it as a day trip. You could either double book a night on the east side (i.e. keep your condo for the full time and do an overnight on the east side) - or fly into KOA, stay on the west side for the first part of your trip, drive to the east side to stay there for a night or two, and fly home from Hilo. If you do that, you would book a one way car rental from KOA to ITO.

With booking this late for Christmas, I would get pricing/availability on all components (flights, accommodations, car) before booking any one portion. i.e. you might book flights only to find that accommodations are too limited, or vice versa.

For car rental, suggest using either Costco Travel (if you are a member) or Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Book now, and recheck prices as the trip gets closer to see if they come down...if they do, you can cancel and rebook.

Edited: 20 August 2014, 16:20
Orlando, FL
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2. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

I suggest looking at condo's in the Mauna Lani Resort. My family stayed at Mauna Lani Terrace Condo's this past summer and loved it. There was a shopping center very close to the complex with a grocery store, restaurants, and clothing stores. We ate at the condo just about every day to cut costs so the grocery store was super convenient. The condo was also close to Makaiwa Bay which has very good snorkeling and there were walking trails among ancient fishponds. I can't say enough good things about this complex. We stayed at the Condo for 7 nights before heading to Volcano Village to stay in a treehouse for 4 nights - flew into Kona and out of Hilo. I highly suggest staying on the East side if your going to VNP. We loved the park; there was great hiking and a lovely drive up Chain of Craters Rd.

Canada
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3. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

All good suggestions above.

Susan makes a good point about checking availability...especially car rental.....prior to locking things in.

We are approaching the time when the car rates soar for the holiday period.....and eventually sell out come October or so.

How many "nights" do you have for this trip? What is your nightly accommodation budget?

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

Thanks so much! I am hoping to stay under $250 per night for accommodations. It will be 10 nights. I am really thinking of splitting our time up, maybe 2 nights in Volcano and the rest on the other side of the island. Is that a good distribution of time? Thank you!

Canada
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5. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

If by "late December" you mean roughly between the time period of Dec 20-30th.......accommodation rates will come at a premium.

We are frequent visitors to the Big Island especially over the holiday season...and it is not uncommon for rental rates to double for that 2week holiday period.

Many Folks will book up to a year in advance to secure a desirable unit. Normally a budget of $250/night will find you a lovely accommodation on the south Kohala area....though it may be challenged due to the timing of your visit and late planning.

A two night stay in Volcano seems reasonable.....certainly no longer as it can be rather cold and wet at that time of year..accommodations on the east side are considerably less than the west.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

I agree with the others but yes, while $250/nt usually isn't a problem, I checked some of the most frequently recommended complexes in that budget range and their rates are almost double their regular rates from about December 20 - January 4, putting most complexes in the mid 300s to $400s per night over that time.

More concerning is availability. I checked dates on vrbo for 12/23 - 12/31 and there is very little left, particularly anywhere near your budget. I did find a couple units in the highly sought after Halii Kai complex at Waikoloa Beach still available and for about $300- $349/nt over those dates which is a very good deal.

http://www.vrbo.com/157241

http://www.vrbo.com/204811

If you move down a step to the more budget options in Waikoloa Beach though there are some additional glimmers of hope. These are still lovely complexes but don't have the sweeping ocean views and oceanfront pool like Halii Kai, which is reflected in the price.

Here's a Fairway Villas unit for $275/nt holiday rate.

http://www.vrbo.com/3172189ha

Here is a Vista Waikoloa unit for $229 over those dates.

http://www.vrbo.com/11826

The Bay Club for $229.

http://www.vrbo.com/451073

But I would get on it right away as the pickins are just going to get slimmer :-) Also you'll want to book your rental car as soon as you have flights. If you are booking a one way rental Costco sometimes waives the one way drop fee. Discount car rental Hawaii often has the cheapest rates.

Do be prepared for some wet and rainy weather on the east side although you might get lucky. It's actually been summer here that's been very wet this year, much of the last winter wasn't bad until about March. It will be chilly though at night - as in the 40s - so rent a place with a hot tub or good heat source and bring layers and a fleece or similar for nighttime viewing of the Halema'uma'u lava lake glow.

I'm not sure what your dates are exactly but you'll probably want to spend NYE on the west side for the fireworks displays within the various resorts.

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

Yes, I am definitely trying to hurry and get everything arranged immediately. I just decided on this vacation, and I am no doubt running into some limitations. I found one nice option in Keauhou Bay and another at the Kona Country Club, both within my budget. Are those decent locations?

Should I bother with the 2 days in Volcano in December? If it is raining, will we be limited in our activities? Not sure if roads shut down or what. We aren't afraid to be out during a little rain but we probably wouldn't love a downpour.

Thank you so much! This has been extremely helpful!

ON, Canada
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8. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

Those two resorts are in Kailua Kona and a 50-60 minute drive to the nice beaches at the S. Kohala Coast.

The first link in the top questions discusses the differences between the Kona and Kohala districts.

Do any of the suggestions in Shea's thread look like possibilities? I think from what you mention in your first post, you might enjoy the Kohala coast area more ... even if it means not having an ocean view from the condo (that was the decision we made, and it turned out to be a good one.)

With 10 nights, I would be booking at least one night on the east side.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

I am thinking either:

a. two nights in Hilo, explore the east side of the island and then spend the rest of the time on the west side. With this option we would fly into Hilo and out of Kona, get a one way car reservation.

b. make the 10 night reservation on the west side, and double book 1 night in Hilo whenever. Do all reservations in and out of Kona.

Considering it is December, which one might we enjoy more? And any comments on my last post with locations would be wonderful. Sorry for the double post!

Edited: 21 August 2014, 02:02
Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: Where to stay? Family vacation in December

No, I wouldn't stay in Kailua Kona or Keauhou. There is a Top Question on the right hand side that explains both point of views but those areas are too voggy, cloudy, and too far away from good beaches and snorkeling IMO. Also the condos on the Kohala Coast are much nicer in the same price range.

I would stay two nights Hilo and fly into and out of Kona unless you get a huge price break on the west side condo for staying 10 nights instead of 8, which isn't likely. The only reason to double book IMO would be if you already have a flight or accommodation reservation you can't cancel, you save a lot by flying into and out of KOA or only can fly into and out of KOA, or you you need to stay the whole time on the west side to meet an accommodation minimum.

Even though it might be wet on the east side, I would still go. Volcanoes National Park is a jewel in the national park crown. And there's a reason it's the lush green side with botanical gardens and waterfalls. It rains! And as I said you never know, it's been rainy almost all summer. I actually built a fire in the woodstove today - and it's August!