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how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

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Colorado
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how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

Hi all...help....I booked flights for 2 weeks on the big island without doing any planning ahead of time...going Feb 1-15...can anyone help me with an itinerary?...my thought was to spend 5-6 nights in Kona, then drive to Volcano Nat'l park and spend some time there, then return to Kona for 3-4 nights before flight out...is there enough to do at volcano to spend that much time?...anywhere we should spend a night or 2 en route?...should we drive around the whole island and go up north too?...opinions, anyone?...thanks, Ana

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

What's your budget for accommodation? Condo or hotel? What activities do you like? I would limit your time in Kona and instead spend 7 nights on the Kohala Coast. It will be prime whale season and that's the best place to view them. Thats also where the best beaches are, and easy access to Hamakua Coast sites. You could then divide the remaining time between Volcano/Hilo and Kona. One plan could be arrive, about three nights Kona, drive southern route to VNP, 2 nights there, drive to Hilo, one or two overnights there, depending on your interests, then end your trip on the Kohala Coast.

Colorado
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2. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

we like to self cater as much as possible so we like a condo with a kitchen, preferable $160/night or less on our budget...there are just two of us so don't need more than one bedroom....we do not care about fancy, but do want someplace that provides linens, kitchenware, etc....we don't wish to spend TOO much time on east side of island because we are hoping to have a primarily sunny vacation and I have heard that is not the case there....however, your plan sounds good...a few of questions:

how much driving is this?...don't want to spend the whole two weeks in the car either....and I have not investigated the Kohala coast at all....nice?....any recommendations on where to stay there?....I am also open to suggestions on where to stay near VNP....

I was a bit worried that Kona might be a little crowded and noisy....unfortunately, I may be stuck staying in Kona a while because condo owners are being hesitant to book me for just 3-4 nights.....because I am so last minute, many places are already booked all of Feb and those that aren't are trying to get the most "bang for the buck" which is understandable....

also, our flight does not leave Kona until 11:45 pm...that leaves plenty of drive time from Kohala and north island, but will there be something there to occupy us after we are required to check out of our accommodation at noon (as most require)?....

thanks so much for your help....really....Ana

Denver, Colorado
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3. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

You will have plenty to see and do. I just spent 3 weeks there and didn't do everything on my list. Definitely reserve a rental car now and don't wait too long on accomdation reservations cause that's high season time of the year.

From Denver area check the RTD schedules to see if you can get a Skyride drop at the airport. My recent trip only cost me $22 total to/from DIA and I avoided all of the long term parking hassle.

I wouldn't do more than 3 accomodations maybe as follows. With 15 days & 14 nights (I'm asssuming) I would break it up like this. Start off in Waikoloa area for maybe 6 nights w/ best beaches nearby at condo or resort. Hapuna Beach or Waialea Bay will be a short drive and easy day trips north to Hawi & Pololu Valley overlook, east to Honokaa town and Waipio Valley overlook, and Kona to the south.

Then start looping your way around the island thru Waimea and south along Hamakua Coast and do 4 nights in Hilo. Gardens/falls/scenic side trips north of Hilo one day, Volcano National Park one full day (check weather first) w/ sundown at Jaggar Museum, one full day doing a scenic loop of lower Puna district w/ early dinner in Pahoa town, then one full day looping back around up thru Black Sand Beach and Captain Cook sites. Or do the loop in the other direction, in that case book your accomodation in reverse but Volcano vs. Hilo.

Last 4 days spend in Kona town and chill a bit w/ short day trips to beaches like Honokohau near the marina or a short drive north or back track to Captain Cook area to snorkel again at Two Step and maybe revisit Place of Refuge. Then you have a super short hop to the airport on the last day. My favorite thing to do on my last day is walk Alii drive for last minute souvenirs and shaved ice at Scandanavian Ice watching the sun go down over the Kona pier.

Let us know your accomdation budget so we can suggest hotels or B&B's etc.

Here's a good driving guide to help you plan it all out.

www.alternative-hawaii.com/byotgdxb.htm

Denver, Colorado
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4. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

Maybe a cottage rental in Puako Bay to start with or condo rental in Waikoloa area. Same thing for Hilo check for a good VBRO rental. Captain Cook area is nice as well if you don't want to be right in the middle of Kona town but its about 20 minute drive. At $160 a night you'll have plenty good choices but yep as you see lots of booking are full already :/

If you can't find the right condo maybe a really nice B&B with filling breakfast.

If so definitely check out The Shipman House - Hilo or Kilauea Lodge Volcano for that leg of the trip. If you want to extend your stay in Kona or Waikoloa area then do at least 2 nights in Volcano or Hilo and forget about scenic loop of lower Puna.

You can easliy kill your last full day by a day trip to Place of Refuge and shopping and late dinner back in Kona town

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5. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

There are some very nice places to stay just south of Kailua-Kona town that would be quiet enough. We stayed in a condo at the Royal Sea Cliff (booked through VRBO), but there are also others further south. Volcano has some wonderful places on the vrbo site. We stayed at Hiker's Rest, again used the vrbo site. It is #252349, very reasonably priced, and the rates INCLUDED the cleaning fee. It is such a CUTE place, and I loved the shower, straight from the ceiling! We spent two nites there, and I loved it. I had a hard time leaving in the evening to go check out the glow of the volcano because I was so comfy there. We were there in April this year, and had rain, thunder, and cloudy skies the first nine days on the west coast. The first day we saw sun was when we went to Volcano! Even Mauna Kea had fresh snow on top that week! There are no guarantees regardless of where you go in the world these days!

If I were you, I would try to pick two places to divide your time. It would be more relaxing than packing up every few days before check out and then having to drive around with all your luggage in the trunk, waiting to check in to the next place. There are people that spend a long day driving around the whole island, but it isn't fun, and with two weeks, you should not have to do this.

If you haven't rented a car yet, get on it right away!

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

If you want mostly sun, you don't want to spend more than 2-3 nights in the Hilo/Volcano area. Also Kona and South Kona can be voggy and cloudy (I call it "clog").

While it's my least favorite part of the Kohala Coast, given your budget you may have to look at the Waikoloa Beach area for condos. Be advised, it's touristy and the beach is pretty enough but it's not really good for any ocean sports besides windsurfing.

If you can find something in your price range in Puako it wouldn't be bad, it's a little beach town, mostly rentals, no restaurants, but good whale watching and snorkeling and a good location.

You could spend less than $160 night on your 3 east side nights and 3-4 nights in Kona, and then maybe put the extra towards a week long rental at a condo at the Mauna Lani. I haven't checked your dates and prices vary widely, but I've seen Expedia and vrbo deals for weeklong rentals there at around $200 per night. It is hands down the best area on the Kohala Coast, on the best snorkel beach perhaps on the whole island, and is set around ancient fishponds in an important historical, and very Hawaiiana location (as much as a resort can be, anyway). On your last night you can check out and easily spend the whole day on the beach there, with a great little beach grill, and excellent Hawaiian music at sunset.

With regard to driving, it's not bad. From the airport to your Kona accommodations would be about 20-30 minutes. You can also look into a rental on Kealakekua Bay which is in south Kona, about 40-50 minutes from the airport. There's plenty to occupy you in a few days in the Kona area with little driving. Pu'uhonua O Honaunau (Place of refuge), snorkeling in the adjacent Honaunau Bay, snorkeling at Kahalu'u in Kona, maybe a whale watching boat, coffee farms.

Then from there to Volcano is about 2 hours, with stops at Punaluu black sand

beach along the way and other spots that look interesting. VNP for one or two nights is probably plenty, depending on how much hiking and geology interest you. It's often rainy and chilly, but it's a beautiful area with a lava glow at night if you're lucky.

Volcano to Hilo is 45 minutes. Not a terribly interesting drive, but easy. Hilo itself deserves an overnight, you can try to time it with the Saturday farmers market. Botanical gardens are nice, lots of good cheap local food.

Hilo to the Kohala Coast is a spectacular drive, really worldclass. Plenty of stops that you'll read about. Laupahoehoe Point, Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, Waipio overlook. Just the drive is about 1 1/2 hours to the Kohala Coast but you'll take much more time than that.

From your Kohala Coast accommodation, it's about 30-45 minutes to the airport depending on what area you stay at. From there you can explore the north; beaches, heiaus, Pololu Valley, Upolu Point, back to any Hamakua Coast places you really like or missed, or just sit on the beach and watch the whales and swim in the ocean.

Colorado
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7. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

thank you, thank you, all...you have changed my thinking on some things and given great suggestions...I'm sure more questions will follow but for the time being, I appreciate that I have much more to go on now...I realize time is of the essence as so many places are already booked...I'll let you know how it all turns out....thanks again, Ana

Island of Hawaii...
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8. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

Re your flight out, the KOA airport is out of town to the north, and any resort area in South Kohala is within easy striking distance.

If you do need to stay three places, then I would make it Kona, Hilo/Volcano/Puna and Kohala.

The last part of your stay is President's Day, Valentine's Day, and often ski week on the mainland. It is a very popular time, so I recommend getting that part worked out first, although I would never book anything until you have an entire stay that works for your availability; it is too hard to make changes after booking.

If you can stay seven days in Kohala, I'd recommend that.

Weather is never certain on the east side, but February certainly is a time that you can encounter dumping rain. I live in a banana belt area north of Hilo and I like the weather up here much better than in Hilo town or in Volcano. There are some nice rentals in this area, but I won't even suggest one because of the likelihood they are booked.

I would suggest you find rentals and B&B's that can meet your dates, and then tell us what you have to choose from.

It is going to be cold in Volcano Village in February, not Colorado cold, but cold for the island. (Same with Waimea.) In Hilo it will be shorts and tees weather, maybe enough chill to enjoy a comforter as you sleep with windows open. In Volcano you will need heat, wood-burning or propane fireplace is the most common method, as there is little central heating on the island.

Many people like the Volcano ambience with its mountain rain forest chalet with fireplace style, but it is not going to feel like the tropics in mid-winter.

Many would suggest that you book your lodging through the day of departure, as your flight is so late. You are going to feel like a vagabond on your last day if you don't,

One solution might be to do a one night stay at the end at a hotel like the Hilton Waikoloa, where they will probably be able to offer a day room after you check out.

If you do anything much on your last day, you're going to want to shower before the plane, and the cold water beach showers don't cut it.

Edited: 31 October 2011, 21:36
Burr Ridge, Illinois
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9. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

So many good suggestions. I have little to add.

I enjoy Volcano Village in sunshine and during rain. Lots of fun choices for staying.

I also agree about booking through departure date as it makes for a civilized trip if you can relax at your condo until departure. A shower at the end of the day is also a good idea in a condo vs flying grungy.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: how to spend 2 weeks on Big Island

Hi, i wish i had your dilema, heres a site my father in law found for me, its based on a shopping experience in hawaii, but has lots of wher to, and what to links..written by a sydney lass..

www.shoegalnycblog.com/_/Blog/Blog.html