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Hard to narrow it down!

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Hard to narrow it down!

We'll be there for our 25th anniversary (to give you an idea of our age) in late May. I've done research, but I am having a hard time narrowing down what we can get in in 5 days! We've been to the islands twice before, but this is our first time on the Big Island. To give you an idea of what we like to do, we live in the northern Rockies and like to ski, hike, river kayak, and ride (horses). We also like to sail, snorkel and have been certified divers for decades, but rarely get to do those. We don't golf and we're not into shopping. We enjoy music, history, new cultures and nature. We don't want to engage in activities that the locals find offensive. We're looking for some new experiences that we can't get where we live, but we would enjoy a similar type of activity in a new setting. We're not well-off, so we have to carefully budget the pricier adventures (thank God -- and the U.S. taxpayers -- for our national forests and parks!). We will have a rental car. Thanks, Tripadvisor readers!

Minneapolis...
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1. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Have you ever done geocaching? There are some interesting geocaches to hike to on the island. Some even require night headlamps thru the lava fields. All you need is a GPS to get started. Check out www.geocaching.com for more info.

Palm Springs...
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2. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Sorry, this is a question that only you can answer...

If you select the Big island, you need to determine what the available activites are and then see if they meet your desires. Use the Left menu and read insider/ know before you go

There is a mistaken concept, which has been promoted by some insider type guides, that you can pretty much wander and explore at will. This is far from the truth

While we have national parks and State forests much of them are closed to all entry....its not the same as in Colorado. Even though this is the largest island everythng outside of the parks in all private land... its not public. Hawaii is not a 3rd world place...

From you likes it sounds like what you are looking for is better found in Fiji or the Marquseas islands

The locals find it offensive to have tourists such as youselves, prak and pry into their lives,places the they live and culture without being asked...There are some areas where you can get into real physical conflict. So forget the " new culture" bit

Being on a shoestring budget, is reaqlly going to restrict you to a a very few places and activites.

What attracted you to the Big Island? What did you want to do here ?

If you can decide on specific things then we here can better advise on those specific things... But your question is so broad and without direction.

Help us hekp you

Kona, Hawaii
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3. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Well 5 days is not enough but sounds like you will make do. Here are just off the top of my head thoughts:

VNP for sure, check out Kilauea Iki hike devote one full long day. http://www.nps.gov/havo

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park is not to be missed

http://www.nps.gov/puho/

Combine that day with a dive or a snorkel trip, this is one indulgence you should not miss.

Snorkel:

Dolphin Discoveries www.dolphindiscoveries.com

Seaquest http://www.seaquesthawaii.com/

Sea Paradise http://www.seaparadise.com/

Dive:

Dive Makai http://www.divemakai.com

If you can afford it consider Waipi'o Valley

Na'alapa Stables

http://www.naalapastables.com/waipio2.html

One morning check out Kahalu'u Beach Park

Maybe check out petroglyphs.. k'i'i pohaku "images in stone":

Panau-nui Pu'u Loa petroglyph field in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

Puako Petroglyphs at Holoholokai Beach Park (Mauna Lani Resort)

Waikoloa Petroglyph

USA
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4. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Sorry HawaiiDan, I thought I was being somewhat specific. I am hoping that someone familiar with the Big Island would recognize some of the things we like to do - like kayaking, or diving - and recommend a favorite place to kayak or dive and a reputable company to rent equipment or provide a good tour. I just don't want to be so specific that people don't respond with some other ideas we hadn't thought of.

Also, I thought that our national parks are open to everyone -- citizens and foreigners -- once you've paid the nominal entry fee. Am I wrong about the national parks in Hawaii?

We chose the Big Island because we haven't been to that island before and we want to check it out. I'd love to go to Fiji, but this trip is planned to Hawaii.

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5. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Thanks, AlohaAdeline, for the great suggestions! I especially appreciate your tips about how to fit things into a timeline. We'll just have to make another trip another year to enjoy more things. We did plan on devoting at least one day at VNP. The Dolphin Discoveries sounds intriguing, since we love the ocean (my spouse has a degree in oceanography), but isn't "swimming with the dolphins" one of those activities frowned upon? Is this particular company reasonably tolerated by the locals?

Palm Springs...
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6. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

I hate to break it to you..... but our national parks here and the ones in the Mainland.. all are not all open to anyone who pays an entrance fee.

There are large areas, study areas, special areas that require a permits.. that most visitors are prohibited from entering at all.... Some areas because of cultural issues, Some because of threatened species, Some because of fragile resources, SOme because lack of supervision,.

You might be very suprised to learn just how much of all parks are restricted to entry. I worked in a variety of parks with the NPS across the country, and you might be very suprised at the extent of the closed areas....you assume its all open...it isnt and hefty fines or arrest await those who try.

In our state forests... they are established to keep people and animals out and to preserve the eco-sustem. Traveling around you will see fences woth keep-out sigh... everywhere.

Ok... Sorry from what you said you liked a list of things... but wanted to do different here.. things not touristic. Wanted to seek out the exotic and the different, and were very restricted as to money..

Ok.. in 5 days I would visit the Volcano park for 2 days, stay in Kona for 3 days, where I would take a snorkel tour, visit a nice beach Place of refuge, then drive the Kohala coast up to Hawi and back to Kona via the Kohala Mts

In truth 5 days.... the first day is shot getting to and from airports. Stay at Outrigger hotel on a great snorkel lagoon. For Budget: Kona Tiki..$79.

Second day... take a snorkel tour with Dolphin Discovery $89 and see that afternoon Place Of refuge Natl Park Third day drive over to national park via Waimea, Hamakua, Hilo... Stay in Volcano. That night visit the lava viewing area. Day4 take a NPS nature hike, tour park, much is closed but much is open, Day5 drive back to Kona to fly out via the southern route. That is all you will have time for....really This island is huge... and driving slow and long 2/3 of your time will be spent driving... expect to average no more than 35 mph

SO to recap... in 5 days you can snorkel tour to Capt Cook/ Place Of refuge. Visit Place of refuge national park, Tour the north and east coast to Volcano, Walk to the Lava viewing area, Tour Volcano park, Return to Kona stopping at Black sand beach.... and relax... to fly out.

No time to drive to Hawi, Kayak, or beach much... Kona will be 1/2 the price of the Kohala resort region You can get rooms in Kona 79 to 150 a nignt ( thats dirt cheap here...B&Bs more expensive)

Meals for about $130 a day for 2.

T

Not enough time for kayaking, Wiapio, Mauna Kea, .

By the way, Kayaking should not be done at all in the Captain Cook area... as its causing severe harm.

You can Kayak out of Keahou bay and the have tours as well.... Have you ever ocean kayaked? It is totaly different than lakes or rivers

Palm Springs...
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7. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Dolphin Doscoveries is not a swim with the dolphins its a 4 hour snorkel tour... on which you may see dolphins....

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8. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Thanks, HawaiiDan, for your insight. You seem a bit abrasive at first, but you tell it like it is, and I appreciate that. I guess we're very spoiled where we live. Yellowstone is practically in our backyard, it's almost as big in area as the entire island of Hawaii, and there are very few acres a visitor can't access as long as he's willing to travel on his own two feet and pack-it-in-pack-it-out. Ditto with the surrounding national forests. If a visitor says they only have one day to visit YNP, we cringe, too, but we can come up with a full day itinerary based on their physical activity level that we think they will thoroughly enjoy.

DolphinDiscoveries makes a big deal on their website about seeing dolphins, but if you think they are a responsible company, I will put them on our "definitely check it out" list. We're on a budget, but we can splurge some if it's worth it, just not much.

Palm Springs...
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9. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Not a problem..... We here see a lot of people wanting to find where the $39.00 a night motels are, and where to eat for under $10 a day, and want to hang out with the local natives...and join in with them. No resorts or other tourists, just them. Concept, missed...they are tourists, guests, not hosts.... want all the secret places where the locals go... and dont want the tourists to know.

Secret: there are none. Hawaii is pretty well developed and urban...its not a wilderness,

Dolphin is a good company I have taken there snorkel tours and consider then the best

As far as the parks.... well the NPS has evolved over the decades..and its policies and reins are more and more going to more and more radical ideas.

I have been in one park, which will remain nameless, where the managers spent endless hours figuring out how to keep as many people out of as much of the park as possible.... Saw trails to areas they loved, get well, torn up making them impassable... signs dissapear, All sorts of little things under the radar.

Rangers forbidden to talk to visitors about some areas. even id asked.. or even other Rangers.... Pretty weird... But thats another story

Denver, Colorado
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10. Re: Hard to narrow it down!

Rob: First thing is get a bit more aquainted w/ the Big Island heres a good sampler site:

www.alternative-hawaii.com/special/bispdx.htm

Some good budget accomodations:

Kono Tiki Hotel - Kona

Managos Hotel - Captain Cook

My Island B&B - Volcano

Akiko's B&B - north of Hilo

Kamuela Inn - Waimea

Remember budget hotels are not fancy. Read reviews here on each place before deciding. You probably don't need any fancy tour groups if you do some preplanning (do it yourself).

If you only have 5 days to devote then pick just part of the island. My typical recommendation is at least 4 nights Kona, 2 nights Volcano, 4 nights Waikoloa. If you want to focus more on VNP then maybe fly in out of Hilo. If you are gonna be more beach, snorkel, sea kayak then maybe Kona or Waikoloa.

Horse ride up north Kohala def. a possibility. No river kayaking on the Big Island (Kauai great for that). Sailing yes maybe from Honokahau Marina.

Stop at Borders music when you land in Kona to check out Hawaiin music and culture. Waialea Bay (Beach 69) up north or Two Step near Captain cook are great do it yourself snorkeling places. If you want spectacular waterfalls, gardens def. spend one day just north of Hilo (Rainbow Falls, Botanic Gardens, Akaka Falls, def. lunch at What's Shakin).

Volcano National Park is a piece of cake just pay your entry fee and stay all you want (think the fee allows for a whole week). Also, the National Park at Place of Refuge in Captain Cook is a definite must. If you have a National Parks pass bring that. My favorite hikes are the Kilauea Iki hike loop in VNP and Pololu Valley (up north).

Your gonna have fun, come back at us w/ other questions. Aloha, TheodoreJay

BTW Dan gives everyone the same treatment so don't feel "special", ha :)

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