The Big Island (Hawaii) – August 2006

29 07 2007

Charles and I went to the Big Island, Hawaii, for our honeymoon in August 2006. Since there is a lot of information on Hawaii online, I will just go through the highlights of this trip, and our recommendations for hotels, restaurants, and activities.

Hawaiian Sunset

We chose the Big Island over the other Hawaiian islands because it is less developed than Oahu and Maui, yet still has all the positives. In addition, it was less expensive than Maui and has retained much of the “old Hawaii” vibe. The Big Island, also called Hawaii, not only has beaches, rainforests, and waterfalls, but it also has a snow capped volcano in Mauna Kea and an active volcano in Kilauea among its 5 volcanoes. Although I’m not a particularly active person, I considered this an adventure vacation. Within a span of 9 days, we hiked in a rainforest, crossed lava fields, snorkeled in a dolphin sanctuary, and went horseback riding in a sacred Hawaiian valley. It really was a trip of a lifetime!

The Big Island is separated into two main areas, the dryer West side, where most of the resorts and the city of Kona is located, and the humid East side, where the town of Hilo and the Kilauea volcano is located.

Old Hawaii can be experienced in the town of Hawi. Bamboo, a Hawaiian fusion restuarant, is pictured below.

Shave Ice in Hawi

Where We Stayed:

Since it was our honeymoon, we splurged a bit and stayed at the Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast for 5 nights, then 2 nights at Hale Hualalai, a B&B on a coffee farm in Kona, and 1 night at Kilauea Lodge in Volcano Village . I recommend all these places to stay. I found Kilauea Lodge and Hale Hualalai through B&B reviews on tripadvisor.com.

We lucked out a bit, as we got a fantastic deal for this entire vacation. Since we went to August, we didn’t experience some of the high season winter prices for airfares. We bought our airfare and hotel package through AAVacations after researching several different vendors, including Expedia.com, PleasantHolidays.com, and pricing the airfare separately through sidestep.com. Be on the lookout for deals the hotel itself is offering – often other online sites will match this deal. We were able to get our 5th night free at the Fairmont through AAVacations.

The view from our hotel room. You can see the volcano peaks behind the hotel’s landscaping.

View from our room

Tips:

You will need to rent a car, as the Big Island is BIG! The cheapest gas can be found at Costco (if you have a membership) in Kona. For groceries and inexpensive but high quality souvenirs, go to the Walmart on the hill overlooking Alii Drive. If you do not want to shop at Walmart, there are many smaller grocery stores found all over the island.

Information on Hawaii and Guidebooks: We used the guidebook “The Big Island – Revealed” extensively in the planning of this trip.  While the book was invaluable,  it does go a little overboard in some more “adventurous” sections.  Use your common sense when using this guidebook.  I also got specific activity and restaurant recommendations from (I’m going to sound like a broken record) the tripadvisor forums for the Big Island.

Next: Hiking in Pololu Valley

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