Hawaii (The Big Island) - Jan 2003



This is a "Big Island" guide that covers most of the Island.  I still think that the best place to stay is near Kailua-Kona.  It gets the most sun and the least amount of rain in all of the Hawaiian Islands.  Any one of the condo units just south of town would be perfect.  There are at least 60 of these.  They are all on the water and lava - some have pools, there are basically no beaches in Kailua.


However right in the town of Kailua, there is a nice small public beach right in front of the 'King Kamehameha Hotel'.  About 15 minutes drive south of town is probably the best safe snorkelling I've ever done, at 'Kahalu'u Beach Park.  In town there is everything that you could want and its all within walking distance.


• If you are still into fishing - Kailua is where they do the Marlin fishing.  The boats come into the town dock to weigh them about 4pm.

• Holualoa. - just up the hill from Kailua  - Small town with lots of galleries.

• My little grass shack in "Kealakekua" (town) Hawaii.  As in the song.

• Captain Cook (town) - Great restaurant in the town Theatre. Big pink building.  We also saw the movie "Bowling for Columbine" there.  A great afternoon.

• Pu'uhonua (village) - Best 'city of refuge' restored ancient Hawaiian site. A must see.

• Lots of Kona coffee plantations all around this area. Tour one of these.



Some of the many other things to do on my favourite Island.  Counter clockwise from Kailua.


All day drive to the other side of the Island (Hilo).

Long drive all the way around south point.  Went there once - nothing much to see - continue to Na'alehu, for small snack.  Continue onto Punalu'u.  A REAL black sand beach. Photos - no swimming because of undertow.  More driving until you get to Volcanos National Park.  Check out where the lava flows are happening. (Don't visit this now, as you will be coming back to this park later)  keep driving on to Hilo.  As I said on the phone there isn't much tourism here on the East coast, as there is too much rain.  The best place to stay is probably the "Castle Hilo Hawaiian" 3 stars at best.  It’s safe and clean and has great views of downtown Hilo. Get a higher floor.


Once you are in Hilo you can do a number a great day trips.

- Drive the 1.5 hrs back to the Volcano park and spend the full day touring around.  Make sure you drive the 'Chain of Craters' road.  the first part is standard.  But when you start heading down over the ridge, this is where it gets great.  This is also where most of the new lava flows are.

If the lava is really flowing somewhere http://www.nps.gov/havo/visitor/lava.htm#map - it might be worth taking a helicopter ride.  (Linda and I did this once and it was great to just hover above an active volcano - many thrills). We also drove from Hilo one evening (5 pm) to see the Lava at dusk to dark. (Sometimes its easier to see then - and also MUCH cooler than walking 3 miles over the black lava rocks on a sunny day.  - Bring a good flash light for on the way out.  There are always lots and lots of people doing this each night.


- Head south to Pahoa - small old town - then maybe visit the Lava tree State Monument- Then take "road" called Pohoiki Rd down to the coast.  A great wandering road (Linda loved it).  Once down a the coast head west to Mackenzie State Park.  Great thermal pool that all the locals use.  Had a great swim and soak.


- On Saturday morning, right in town 8:00am to 2pm, go early to the flower market.  Also a MUST have GREAT lunch or Dinner at "Cafe Pesto". There is also one on the other side of the Island near Hapuna Beach.


Long all day drive back to Kailua.

Drive north - Turn off main road (19) at Honokaa, drive road to Waipi'o Valley lookout.  Nice view, a couple of pictures.  We also stopped at Kapulena for a Latte at one of the small local Cafe'’s.  All these towns around here are still living the local way.  sugar cane, Macadamia Nuts, Pot, post-hippies, etc.  Lots of that down south of Hilo also.  Very friendly people.


Back to Highway (19) to Waimea. This is the town you were talking about.  Use to be a nice quite town and home to the "Parker Ranch"  - Biggest ranch in USA.  NOW HOWEVER its mall and retirement condo hell!  All new and built in the last 8 years.


You could take the road down to coast and visit the great, great, great Hapuna beach for a swim.  Then drive back along the coast, back to Kailua.  You could also drive the quieter - "Hawaii belt Road" Some nice views of the mountains and sea, no towns until you get back to Kailua.


Rest, Rest!!


For a great day trip, head north up the west coast road back to Hapuna beach.  Maybe visit some of the BIG RESORT hotel complexes, near Hapuna beach - The granddaddy of these being the 'Mauna Kea Beach hotel.  Lots of big Asian-Pacific art pieces here.  One of the resorts around here also has the Dolphin swimming thing.


Blip of a town Kawaihae - where the other Cafe Pesto is located. (perfect lunch / dinner)


Continue north up the coast to Hawi, another hippie town.  A little bit further is Kapa'au.  This is where the original King Kamahameha statue is located.  This is where he came from.  He was the King who united all the Islands into the Kingdom of Hawaii.  You can drive further until the road ends - for some great cliffs into the wild ocean - photos.  There are some "strange' people living “off the grid” in this area.  So just be aware.


Now head back a bit and  take the Kohala Mountain Rd south.  This road has always been FANTASTIC for me to drive.  Lots of photos.  Great views all around - florescent green grass - old wooden fences - cactus - cows - wind swept trees - volcano cones, etc.


I have taken the Saddle road across the Island twice, however most car rental companies won't let you.  I don't know why because the road is perfectly fine.  I have also taken the road that goes up-to Mauna Kea (13,796 ft).  I almost made it to the top until my car motor stopped (No Oxygen).  I was in the snow.  I know that you can sign up for a night of star watching in Waimea. They take you at dusk from town in vans up-to the top of Mauna Kea - You get to go in one of the big observatories and look at galaxies, etc.. They drive you down in the morning.