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polarbill 04-21-2013 7:15 PM

Hawaii, Big Island
I am heading to the big island for my honeymoon in August for a week. We have done a fair amount of research and have a good idea what we are going to do while there but does anybody have any can't miss suggestions while we are there?

After looking at things we decided to find a condo through VRBO in the waikoloa beach resort area.

magic 04-21-2013 8:42 PM


Originally Posted by polarbill (Post 1817918)
I am heading to the big island for my honeymoon in August for a week. We have done a fair amount of research and have a good idea what we are going to do while there but does anybody have any can't miss suggestions while we are there?

After looking at things we decided to find a condo through VRBO in the waikoloa beach resort area.

We did much the same. Rented a house on the North Shore of Oahu for our honeymoon. Lot more value for the money. We actually bagged a lot of plans after getting there. We biked or drove to a local breakfast place each morning, then mostly chill around the beaches within walking distance from the house. It was on the beach too, so that was killer. We also did the Honolulu marathon while there bit avoided Honolulu otherwise. So we kinda went local and bailed on sight seeing. We did some hikes, checked out some snorkeling and diving spots, drove around the island one day.... But we where there for close to two weeks. I do remember hitting Costco on the way to the house for beer and food, then mostly grilling at the house for lunch and dinner. We some friends that did the 26.2 with, they crashed with us for a few days too.

polarbill 04-21-2013 8:53 PM

Sean, those are some of the reasons we chose to do the condo instead of stay at a hotel. We found a 1 bed, 1 bath condo near the beach for $100/night. The place has a full kitchen, nice deck, washer and dryer, etc... The place has a workout room, pool, hot tub, tennis courts,etc... We plan on stopping by costco as well. I don't need to eat at a restaurant every meal for a week like we would if we stayed at a hotel. We are going to spend a lot of time exploring so paying the premium for a resort doesn't make much sense either. We may even buy snorkel gear at costco because it is cheaper than renting it for a couple days. We will probably do some tourist type stuff like go see the volcano, go to a luau and I want to go fishing. We will probably do some exploring by car though and do some hikes. We will probably snorkel on our own although I had a friend that was just there and went on a whale watching/snorkeling tour or something and got to see a whale shark up close and his dad even touched it while in the water.

markj 05-29-2013 9:39 AM

I've spent a lot of time on the big island. I could write about all the best places to go to but I think you'd be better served if you just searched for and bought a book called "Hawaii the big island revealed". That book is worth it's weight in gold. It will save you a ton of time and money. It has all kinds of inside tips from a local's perspective. It goes into great detail on things like which beaches or snorkeling areas are the best and why. There's too much to list. Just get the book. Good luck.

polarbill 05-29-2013 10:18 AM

Mark, we did get that book a while ago and it has been a big help finding out what we want to do.

We are going to spend 5 of the 6 full days we are there on the west side of the island. we are going to take one day to drive over to Hilo so we can do a heli tour of the volcano's and waterfalls. It is expensive but at least then we get to see some actual lava. If we have time while we are over there we might stop by the tide pools and the natural hotsprings that depending on the tide can be either salt water or freshwater I think.

We are really torn on whether or not we want to go to the top of Mauna Kea. I don't really want to spend a whole day going up there plus if we did it we would need to go with a tour and they are fairly expensive. We might drive to the visitors center on our way back from the Hilo. We didnt' end up renting a 4WD so we aren't able to drive to the very top ourselves and we won't have warm clothes either.

I am pretty sure we are going to take one day to check out the pololu valley and the Waipo valley. Again, no 4wd so we will do some hiking but we want to get some hikes in while we are there. We are pretty sure we are going to do one of the zodiac dolphin/snorkeling tours down by captain cook as well as a night manta ray dive down there as well unless there is a manta ray night dive up closer to Waikaloa. I want to spend 2 days just relaxing in the Kohala coast area checking out the beaches. From all the stuff we have read all the good beaches are in the Kohala coast area anyways. We will probably do a Luau at some point.

Besides the decision to skip going to the top of Mauna Kea I think we are going to skip the Black sand beach and the Green sand beach down at the southern tip of the island. I would like to see them but the green sand beach requires an hour or so hike each way and although it looks kind of cool there isn't much shade and just looks barren. I also don't think we will get close to those beaches either since we will probably go over the saddle road to get to the Hilo side of the island anyways. I also wanted to go fishing for half a day but I don't want to be fully booked every hour of every day. I want at least a couple days to relax.

So here is a tentative itinerary although the days aren't in order and some stuff may be switched like doing the 2 tour snorkeling things on different days instead of the same day.

Day 1: See 2 or 3 of the beaches in the Kohala area like beach 69(Waimea), Muana Kea Beach and hapuna beach. Maybe try and do some snorkeling/SUP/Surfing.
Day 2: Go to the Hilo side. Heli tour, tide pools, spring, maybe stop at the Muana Kea visitor center on the way back.
Day 3: Spend the day down near Kona. Kona Brewery, market, zodiac dolphin/snorkel tour, night manta ray snorkel.
Day 4: Polalu and Waipo Valley. Hiking.
Day 5: Another beach day. Queens bath, Kihola Bay. Maybe do the Luau.
Day 6: relax and hang around A bay and the rest of waikoloa beach resort. Maybe grab dinner at one of the good restraunts around there.

I think we are going to stop at Costco on the way from the airport to the condo. Any restaraunts or bars we need to check out? The person we are renting the condo from says they like the Lava Lava beach club.

So Mark, any things I didn't mention you would suggest? I also forgot about the ranch up the hill from Waikoloa. Is that something that is pretty cool?

ilikebeaverandboats 05-29-2013 11:19 AM

Dude! Waipio is awesome, I hiked all the way back to Waimanu (up the big Z trail you will see, and then like 10 miles back?) and camped....I highly suggest it.... its beautiful and you will probably have the entire place to yourself. Some awesome waterfalls back there.

markj 05-29-2013 10:12 PM

Hmm. Day one: Hapuna beach is by far the nicest beach on the island unless you're willing to make the trek to one of the more deserted beaches where you'll have it to yourselves. My main advice with beaches is get there early and pick your spot. Parking can be rough if you get there after 10:30am. That actually goes for anything you're doing in the water. Day two: never have done any of those things but they sound fun. Hilo side is a different world in many ways. Day three: Kona and south of there is a lot of fun with the best snorkeling on the island. If you're looking to save any money, I would consider scrubbing the zodiac and renting kayaks and paddling across Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook monument. The secret is getting there by 8:00am at the latest. Earlier is better. That way you'll be sure to see the spinner dolphins jumping right next to your kayak. They don't jump much after that. The coral near the monument area is by far the most pristine and untouched on the island but not very diverse. If you're down there in that area you CAN'T miss "two step". Look it up in the book. It has the most diverse reef on the island. I've seen so many things there. Wish I had pics to show you. day four: If you're into hiking, you can dock your kayak near the plaque where Captain Cook was killed, get out and hike up the coast for 1/4 mile and see some very cool shoreline cliffs and watch the surf enter many blowholes with small tidepools etc. Day five: Luaus are cool if you find the right one. I'll try to remember the best one. Some of them treat you like cattle so beware. Day six: Roy's is a hard restaurant to beat if you're up for gourmet seafood. Very important: If you're goin fishing, you'll want to go earlier in the trip so you can cook what you catch. Just know that it is customary for the boat to own the fish you caught unless you make prior arrangements. You'll also need to find a boat that is willing to catch food fish. Most boats are looking for marlins which taste lousy.

ilikebeaverandboats 05-30-2013 4:00 PM

+1 for Hapuna!!

polarbill 05-30-2013 4:22 PM

Mark, what beaches are you talking about when you say deserted beaches?

markj 05-30-2013 11:50 PM

Makalawena is the best one. There's a few others too. Stick to the book you already have. It will give you better insight than I could. My in-laws who used to be locals were the ones who turned us on to that book. It never steered us wrong once. They update it when things change. There's a website in the back of it you can go to for the most current updates.

sordave 05-31-2013 7:49 AM

We have stayed in the Waikoloa Beach area a few times and love the location. I would not go to A-Bay for a day at the beach, but almost every night we walk down there with a portable cocktail to watch the sun go down (bring a flashlight to get back). Nightlife in the area is terrible, but there is a new restuarant/bar called Lava Lava which is just south of the Marriot on A-Bay.

Regarding kayaking to Caption Cooks monument (which I highly recommend if possible), Kealakekua Bay has been closed for the last few months and just re-opened to kayakers if you have a permit. Do a little research before heading there - a commercial tour may be the easiest solution.

Hiking down to Pololu Beach is a must do hike.

I have never been a big fan of seeing the volcanoes, but our last trip changed my mind. We left Waikoloa early in the morning, drove Saddle Road to Hilo, got the Volcano National Park about 9am before the crowds, drove out to end of the road to see the active volcano (see steam, not lava) and checked out the steam vents. Staying just ahead of the tour buses, we drove to the Kilauea Iki Crater and hiked the Kilauea Trail around the rim and down across the crater floor. Maybe 3-4 miles awesome hike. On the way back, stopped in Hilo for lunch then up the Hamakua Coast. Make sure you take all the side roads listed in the Revealed book. We had dinner in Waimea at a mexican place micro brewery which I think has moved to Kauai. Full busy day but I would definitely do it again.

Have fun -

polarbill 05-31-2013 8:08 AM

Thanks Dave.

I thought I had read kayaking wasn't allowed across the bay to captain cook anymore somewhere. I think it cost about as much even if it is available as taking the zodiac tour as well.

Thanks for the suggestion on A-bay. I have heard it is more touristy than some other beaches. The idea of walking down at sunset with a drink in hand to or from Lava Lava sounds like a good plan. the Sunsets look amazing from A-Bay in the pictures.

how is the hike down to Polalu valley? Long? short? HArd? easy? Did you go down to the black sand beach? Is there anything to do when you get down there? Do you think it is too much to try and explore Polalu and Waipo valleys in the same day?

sordave 05-31-2013 9:02 AM

A-Bay is not necessarily touristy, just not a lot of sand, little surf and bad for snorkeling compared to Hapuna which is a huge white sand beach with good boogie board waves and Waialea (beach 69) which has good snorkeling and nice shade trees (our favorite). If you get there early, the Mauna Kea Hotel has a few public parking spaces and has a really nice beach.

Pololu valley hike is not bad maybe a mile and a little steep, but any half way fit person would not have a problem. The problem is timing of the weather as the Waikoloa area is very dry and nice weather while the rest of the island can be pretty wet. August should be dry, but the trail down to Pololu can get muddy. Once down there, eat a picnic, hike up the trail a little ways on the other side, but inland is private property.

I have never been down in the Waipi'o valley, but the view from the top is worth seeing. The road down is single lane, long and very steep. We have friends that have done a horseback tour down in the valley which they loved that we will probably do next time we are there.

We have done a zodiac tour which was really fun - I think a lot more fun than the big catamarans.

If you like fresh fish and poke, there is a fish market in Kawaihae. The place we stay has a grill on the patio, so we grill a lot of fresh fish. If you like sushi (raw) try some poke - I love it.

brettw 05-31-2013 1:59 PM

Suppose I should have searched the thread for 'revealed' rather than a quick 5 second visual scan.

jomartan 06-08-2013 3:18 AM

I'm wondering of there is a flipping house there. :) Flipping houses used to be a big thing. Granted, that's when housing as a business was relatively healthy. Now, however, it it's been sick for a while, but more individuals are flipping houses again.

skull 06-11-2013 11:37 AM

With your location, I'd recommend catching breakfast at last a couple times at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Kamuela. It is a local hangout and awesome and affordable. You will appreciate affordable on That is where I eat when I am in the area. Beach 69 is my favorite by far with excellent snorkeling. It is an awesome, awesome beach!

I love the drive from Kona to Hilo with all of the waterfalls along the way. I love the Big Island. It is my favorite place to go on vacation!

polarbill 06-11-2013 11:52 AM

Thanks Rob. I have us already penciled in for Hawaiian style cafe at least once if not twice. there is also a place kind of like it in Kona called big island grill or something we will check out.

Are the falls you are talking about on the Saddle road or along the northern coast highway that goes through Waimea and Honakaa? My fiance is a water fall fan so might have to do that. There is suppose to be a place called Tex drive in in Honakaa that serves awesome filled doughnut things.

Beach 69 is Waimea beach isn't it?

skull 06-12-2013 11:48 AM

Sorry about all of the damn typos... I was on a conference call.

Akaka Falls is MUST SEE (400+ feet)
Kahuna Falls
There is a a neat waterfall or two in the Botanical Gardens (sounds gay but it is really, really cool) on way to Hilo.
One waterfall is right in Hilo.

Don't forget the awesome Holei Sea Arch...


skull 06-12-2013 12:00 PM

Pic isn't loading... Yes.. Beach 69 = Waialea.

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