Getting there: Air Canada and United
Where we stayed: Honolulu: Seaside Hotel Waikiki – good- cheapish for expensive Waikiki, very close to bus stops and all the Waikiki action, bad – needs a reno ASAP, no gym, staff seemed a bit uninformed but were friendly. Big Island: Kona Coast Resort – good – great value for money, huge one bedroom condo, fully equipped kitchen, 2 full baths, washer/dryer, oceanview balcony, bbq use, close to great snorkeling, bad – only thing is the junky gym, The Wright Place – lovely, cozy one bedroom unit in this house – no stove/oven, but there’s a grill and rice cooker – no negatives and lovely host, Lava Lane Cottages – friendly hosts, well equipped house, amazing property, Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort – fantastic ocean view room, great gym, nice pool, good food, amazing beach, a bit hard on the credit card (!…oh well, it was the last few nights and we splurged!).
Fun: Sun, sand, and food. We were blown away by the snorkeling, sea life, black sand beaches, and the diversity of the environment and landscape on the Big Island – we went from snorkeling in +30 to mountaintop and -5 and drinking hot chocolate and stargazing in one day. And the giant turtles! I couldn’t ever get tired of them.
Tips: 1. Off season rates for airfare to Hawaii can be *reasonable (*relative term). I watched prices for quite awhile and finally booked through an agent – booking through United was far cheaper than through Air Canada, so we still got the points, but got a better deal. 2. Don’t be afraid to use hotwire.com – we used this for car rental on the Big Island – far cheaper than any other option, and we also scored a great condo in Kona. 3. Snorkel Bob’s – we rented snorkel gear for the entire 10 days on the Big Island from Snorkel Bob’s, renting from one location and dropping off at another (they even have an after-hours drop off box!). 4. SUNSCREEN! You are going to go through this like mad in Hawaii. One day I washed my hands after application – whoops – I had a big red hand later that day after only a few hours in the sun. And remember that when you’re in the water this washes off quickly – even the ‘waterproof’ stuff. 5. Make use of locals. Since we stayed in a couple of houses, we sat down with our hosts and asked them for best spots in the parks, best snorkeling sites, etc. 6. Invest in a Lonely Planet guide- They didn’t let me down on this trip – we found some great food spots that we wouldn’t have found otherwise using our book (e.g. Big Jake’s Island BBQ and Hilo’s Short n’ Sweet Bakery)
May 9, 2012: The Aloha Diaries, Part 1
You haven’t heard from us yet because we’ve been caught up in paradise….sigh….we’re about to leave Honolulu in a few hours for the Big Island, but I’ve attached some pics and have some commentary for you as always….
We arrived on Saturday about 15 hours after we left home, uneventfully via LAX. We even got to walk outside at LAX and enjoy some fresh air between flights. Naturally the first thing we did when we got to Waikiki was head out for food: red velvet cupcakes followed by a burger chaser. Yum. Sunday we took a bus to Diamond Head- the mountain you usually see in pics of Waikiki, and we did a hike there to the top. The crater pic shows the view of the crater from the top of the rim – it’s so ridiculously huge- and the 3rd pic shows the view of Honolulu from there. We spent the afternoon on the beach and just hanging out. Monday we got up early and went to a place called Hanauma Bay which is about an hour bus ride away and is a protected state park. We went snorkeling here and had a blast – so many good fishies of all colours and sizes – even an eel (YUCK) and a sea turtle here chilling on the corral. Very fun day. Yesterday was slightly more sombre – we went out to Pearl Harbour and managed to get on the first boat to the USS Arizona memorial which was nice since there weren’t a lot of people there yet. The 2nd picture shows the oil that’s still bubbling up from the ship – there were 1.4 million gallons on board when it sunk and 70 years later it’s still leaking. We had some delicious pho for dinner lastnight and watched the sunset from the beach. This morning I worked out on the beach and now we’re packing up for our flight over to the Big Island. We’ve enjoyed Honolulu – it’s been pretty easy to walk around or take the bus, and it’s strangely like Vegas – very expensive and a huge main strip with shops that’s busy all the time. Looking forward to new sights on another island. Stay tuned….
dpr and Davey