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Old Jan 3, 14, 9:59 am   #1
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Planning Honeymoon to Kauai, Maui: Add a trip to the Big Island? Yes or no?

I have been reading a bunch of threads about honeymoon trips and trips in general I guess about Hawaii. I had a few specific questions that I have now that I have been searching around for a week or so.

I am planning my honeymoon to Hawaii for September, exciting!

So far we are planning on doing 4 nights in Kauai, and 7 nights in Maui. between both of those though I really wanted to get over to see the big island and volcano national park. I know there are a lot of people that say here do not go just for 1 or two days you will never see it all. While I know this to be true with about any destination, I figured we are coming halfway around the world to Hawaii I wanted to at least see VNP once. It could be a while before we ever come back. (Hopefully not) So we will be flying in and staying two nights and flying out.

With that being said, I am trying to book my inter island flights on and off the island. Is is better to fly into one airport, or fly into kona, drive across and fly out of hilo?

Trying to decide logistically whats the best / what we get to see. I know VPN is closer to hilo.

Things I would like to do/consider
- Helicopter tour
- VNP
- Astronomy stuff, although i read it mentioned places have not researched it much. Sounds like an experience though!

I just cant decide if going to KONA is worth it or not. One side it would be cool to see, but I do not know any reason specifically I wanted to. Just in my head I guess.

Anyway any help from all of you would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 3, 14, 11:52 am   #2
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I am biased as I love the Big Island... been there six times!

Personally I would switch out Maui for the Big Island. You can get comparable beaches on the Kona side... and some great resorts on that side of the island as well as many recreational things to do.

VNP is not to be missed; especially if lava flows have picked up at that point. If flows are not active, not sure of the value of the helicopter tour for what it costs. There is so much to do on the Big Island.

You are right on the Astronomy stuff.... do not miss going up to Mauna Kea. On Saturdays, they do a tour up to the observatories... and you get to go into Keck One Observatory. You have to be at the Visitor's Center by 1 pm... and have your own four wheel drive vehicle... so worth doing. When you finish, you can come back down to the visitor station where the local amateur astronomers set up 5 - 15 telescopes to the night sky... a great evening of drinking hot chocolate and stargazing... pretty inexpensive evening.

To me, the Big Island should be the first priority to any visit to Hawaii.... and then Pearl Harbor!
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Old Jan 3, 14, 4:58 pm   #3
  
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Originally Posted by wharvey View Post
I am biased as I love the Big Island... been there six times!

Personally I would switch out Maui for the Big Island. You can get comparable beaches on the Kona side... and some great resorts on that side of the island as well as many recreational things to do.

VNP is not to be missed; especially if lava flows have picked up at that point. If flows are not active, not sure of the value of the helicopter tour for what it costs. There is so much to do on the Big Island.

You are right on the Astronomy stuff.... do not miss going up to Mauna Kea. On Saturdays, they do a tour up to the observatories... and you get to go into Keck One Observatory. You have to be at the Visitor's Center by 1 pm... and have your own four wheel drive vehicle... so worth doing. When you finish, you can come back down to the visitor station where the local amateur astronomers set up 5 - 15 telescopes to the night sky... a great evening of drinking hot chocolate and stargazing... pretty inexpensive evening.

To me, the Big Island should be the first priority to any visit to Hawaii.... and then Pearl Harbor!
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Old Jan 3, 14, 5:14 pm   #4
  
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I agree with Wharvey. Since this is your first trip to Hawai'i Something also to consider is doing the NCL 7 day around the Islands cruise add a few days before or after to see and enjoy any Island or place where you want to spend more time. After you know what and where you want to visit Inter Island flights and hotels can be booked at the last minute at reasonable rates.
I also suggest that you look at The Revealed Guide Books and www.konaweb.com where they have a very active visiting forum. Hawai'i is a Great Place Enjoy your time there.

Safe Travels,



Quote:
Originally Posted by wharvey View Post
I am biased as I love the Big Island... been there six times!

Personally I would switch out Maui for the Big Island. You can get comparable beaches on the Kona side... and some great resorts on that side of the island as well as many recreational things to do.

VNP is not to be missed; especially if lava flows have picked up at that point. If flows are not active, not sure of the value of the helicopter tour for what it costs. There is so much to do on the Big Island.

You are right on the Astronomy stuff.... do not miss going up to Mauna Kea. On Saturdays, they do a tour up to the observatories... and you get to go into Keck One Observatory. You have to be at the Visitor's Center by 1 pm... and have your own four wheel drive vehicle... so worth doing. When you finish, you can come back down to the visitor station where the local amateur astronomers set up 5 - 15 telescopes to the night sky... a great evening of drinking hot chocolate and stargazing... pretty inexpensive evening.

To me, the Big Island should be the first priority to any visit to Hawaii.... and then Pearl Harbor!

Last edited by JA610; Jan 3, 14 at 5:44 pm
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Old Jan 5, 14, 1:44 pm   #5
  
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A cruise around the islands may give you a taste of each island, but I personally have never done one.

I made my first trip to the islands and stayed in Honolulu and on Kauai. Kauai made me want to move here (something about freezing temps in Atlanta and not here at the time).

Over the next 7 years I flew to the islands for 2 weeks a trip, 2 trips a year. Trip 13 was my "move" trip. Over those trips I wrote some trip reports (posted on Flyertalk) and I can tell you I have visited Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island (where I now live).

Each island is different and you need a minimum of 3 to 4 days on the smaller islands and a minimum of perhaps a week on the Big Island. For example, Molokai is so laid back that you can unwind pretty fast. Once you slow down, why try to rush off. The Big Island is so large that just driving around it takes a day and that is with few stops along the way. Just taking in the rainforest zoo can take almost 1/2 a day and the volcano at least 1/2 to all day. There are two valleys up north to see. On Kauai it takes at least a day to skirt the west side of the island and a day for the east side, both with few stops.

I have seen people try to "do the islands" a few in a short period, and that is crazy. Rather than try to cram a lot into a short period, just plan upon coming back on another trip.

Even after the 13 trips I made there is still lots I wanted to do and see.

Stick to one or two islands at a time and take it slow.

By the way, I second KonaWeb (as a member and attendee almost each month).
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Old Jan 8, 14, 7:06 pm   #6
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Been to Big Island 7 or 8 times over the past 10 years. I've got a bit of a different opinion.

Maui is the perfect island to spend the honeymoon, unless you and yours are adventure trekkies.. then Big Island is one not to miss. Just for VNP, fly into Hilo as its the closest airport, but I would recommend 4 or 5 days there minimum and do the Island drive and explore. When spending a bit more time, it maybe easier to get a flight to and from Kona. There is black and green sand beach, south point, Mauna Kea, Waimea Canyon, Kona Coast.. You could spend a week exploring VNP.

Plus Big Island has the best cuisine of any of the Islands. Mauna Kea (luau, Sunday Brunch, Clambake) simply outstanding, Four Seasons Hualalai Beach Tree, Prince (Lets go crabbing), Merrimans in Waimea, and not to mention the award winning Blue Dragon.

http://delishhh.com/2010/05/14/top-1...land%E2%80%9D/

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant...ii_Hawaii.html

http://www.fodors.com/world/north-am...staurants.html
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Old Jan 8, 14, 7:31 pm   #7
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Quote:
...then Big Island is one not to miss. Just for VNP, fly into Hilo as its the closest airport, but I would recommend 4 or 5 days there minimum and do the Island drive and explore. When spending a bit more time, it maybe easier to get a flight to and from Kona. There is black and green sand beach, south point, Mauna Kea, Waimea Canyon, Kona Coast.. You could spend a week exploring VNP.

Plus Big Island has the best cuisine of any of the Islands. Mauna Kea (luau, Sunday Brunch, Clambake) simply outstanding, Four Seasons Hualalai Beach Tree, Prince (Lets go crabbing), Merrimans in Waimea, and not to mention the award winning Blue Dragon.
While I agree with some of attractions to be seen -- except for South Point (and I'm not sure why the previous poster would suggest Waimea Canyon since it's not on the Big Island ) -- I would also note that none of those restaurants recommended will give you the slightest flavor (pun intended) of what truly local food is like -- particularly if you need to give some attention to budget realities. The same is true on any of the islands (although I know the Big Island much better than the others): you can eat amazingly well and in truly local style for 1/8 the cost of Kohala resort restaurants if you do a little digging and talk with folks who actually live or have lived there and don't just do "shore tourism."

ETA:

Given your thread-opener, and the advice of posters upstream, let me call your attention to these threads, if you haven't already seen them:

Consolidated "Honeymoon in Hawaii" thread

Consolidated "Big Island Activity and/or Must-Do" thread

Consolidated "Day trip to the Big Island?" thread

Consolidated "Maui Activities & 'Must Do'" Thread

Consolidated "Maui Restaurants" Thread

Consolidated "Restaurant Recommendations on Kaua`i" thread

Consolidated "Kaua`i Activity and/or Must-Do" Thread

Big Island: Consolidated "South Kona-Kona-North Kohala-Waimea restaurants" thread

Consolidated "Which/how many Island(s) Should I Visit? What Order? How Long?" thread

Big Island: Consolidated "Ka`u-Volcano-Puna-Hilo-Hamakua-Honoka`a restaurants" thread

Consolidated "Which side of the plane to sit inter-island or to/from the mainland"

Last edited by cblaisd; Jan 8, 14 at 7:48 pm
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Old Jan 8, 14, 7:51 pm   #8
  
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Just do it

To OP:

If you are coming half-way around the world and have the time, do go to the Big Island and spend a night there on you round-the-island tour. Fly into Kona, go south and up to VNP. Stay the night at Volcano house, and then tour around Hilo, Rainbow falls, Honakaa, Akaka falls, Waimea, and then back to Kona for your return trip. That would be my overnight adventure. Of course, if you have more days to spend on the Big Island, great.

Have fun.

Aloha!
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Old Jan 8, 14, 8:01 pm   #9
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I've been to Maui 4 times in the last 8 years, along with Kaua'i and Hawai'i (Big Island) twice each. Personally, I'd put Maui as my favorite, then Kauai and the BI as about even. There's way more to do any all of the islands than you could do in 7 days. You would lose a day or so, of your 11 days, in transit back and forth between the islands, seeing some really cool things on the BI in one day and losing two days of really cool things on Maui. Plus the cost of the flight/trip.

I've done 3 islands in a 12 day trip, and wouldn't do it again.

If lava is flowing extensively, and there's no chance you'd ever get back, I might recommend it. But last time I was there, nothing was visible and toxic gases had much of the main road closed. It was much less worthwhile than our first trip.


Here's a thought for some local flavor - take a day trip on the ferry to Lana'i and rent a Jeep. My family went over for the Pineapple Festival last year and it was a great day.
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Old Jan 9, 14, 6:34 pm   #10
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Originally Posted by cblaisd View Post
While I agree with some of attractions to be seen -- except for South Point (and I'm not sure why the previous poster would suggest Waimea Canyon since it's not on the Big Island ) -- I would also note that none of those restaurants recommended will give you the slightest flavor (pun intended) of what truly local food is like -- particularly if you need to give some attention to budget realities. The same is true on any of the islands (although I know the Big Island much better than the others): you can eat amazingly well and in truly local style for 1/8 the cost of Kohala resort restaurants if you do a little digging and talk with folks who actually live or have lived there and don't just do "shore tourism."
Waimea canyon is indeed on Kauai, considered the Grand Canyon of the islands. It was North Kohala region canyons and the breathtaking views, that I meant to mention worth taking in.

In terms of restaurants, we may have different tastes.. I don't mind getting a bite at Pinetree Café, Big Island Grill, Sam Choi's, Hilo Bay Café, Solimene's, Ken's house of Pancakes.. don't get me wrong. We'll have to agree to disagree on the restaurants I've mentioned.. as local flavors are communicated through expert chefs throughout Kohala, and I find the food worth the bucks.

For example, the clambake is good value, as its all you care to eat maine lobster. The Mauna Kea Luau, depending on the week, you can get a coupon for half off second adult, which we took advantage of last time out. Previous discussions, of how commercialized luaus have become.. Mauna Kea does put out a nice traditional luau, which ends in a Vegas style coconut girl presentation (which I disagree with).

You've got Monstera, Hakone's (Japanese buffet Fridays) which is ok when it comes to Japanese food. When paying $10 per plate, the local restaurant can only do what they can do. But I find that you get what you pay for, if the research is done. You couldn't get into Merriman's in Waimea without a reservation several days ahead.

you've just discounted Blue Dragon, who's won accolades for some outstanding cuisine..

http://www.bluedragonrestaurant.com/
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Old Jan 9, 14, 8:16 pm   #11
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I can go to Las Vegas, San Francisco or New York City and get the type of experience you're talking about. The high-end restaurants you mention can indeed be exquisitely good but they are simply not truly "local kine" restaurants, and those who go to Hawai`i, stay in resorts, eat in such places will have had a lovely, lovely time - but will not have experienced anything in the way of truly local culture and food. Which seems a shame to me.

I simply want to give the o.p. the choice -- he may well want to do only the high-end "shore tourism" experience. And I have no doubt he and his fiance will have a marvelous time.

But they won't have had the opportunity to eat, say, the best poke I've ever had (which was from the back of a gas station in Hilo), or sample incredible manapua at local mom-and-pop convenience store, or eat home-prepared laulau from the little plastic-menu-and-formica places that locals know.

I've done the "shore tourism" thing. It's fun. It's tasty. But my point is that it is not a real, local-style, local-people experience. And if the o.p. wants to experience some of that, he'll need to go inland from the resorts to where people live and work and eat.
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Old Jan 10, 14, 2:32 pm   #12
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Perhaps Island shore cuisine transalated by professional award winning chefs doesn't mark everyones taste.. my favorite food on Kauai can be found in a local outfit called Koloa Fishmarket.. but its still served with white rice when eaten, breaks down into sugars. On the days that I had Koloa Fishmarket, I gained weight. I find the higher end places do serve in accordance with dietary needs, and serve nutritious delicious local targeted cuisine (i.e. fresh catch of the morning, island flavors, etc). Blue Dragon was fantastic food at half of the price of high end restaurants.

For example, a good local flavor stop is lunch at the Vanilla Bean Factory on Big Island. Its a bit pricey, but the vanilla infused dishes is pleasure to the senses.

Now if the local places could serve nutritious food (i.e. brown rice vs white rice).. I would frequent the local establishments more. I'm not one to say McDonalds is local, but we have visited McDonalds on occassion, on the Big Island. If on a budget, I guess this is always an alternative.

A good local thai sensation in Waikoloa is Keomany's Local Thai. Back of the truck. Delicious Pad Thai.
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Old Jan 10, 14, 2:50 pm   #13
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Anyone have a good suggestion for a romantic hotel for two nights?

I am looking on tripadvisor and don't really see many good options on the Hilo/volcano side. I know people have mentioned the volcano house any others?
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Old Jan 10, 14, 3:32 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by Ancien Maestro View Post
Perhaps Island shore cuisine transalated by professional award winning chefs doesn't mark everyones [sic] taste.. my favorite food on Kauai can be found in a local outfit called Koloa Fishmarket.. but its [sic] still served with white rice when eaten, breaks down into sugars. On the days that I had Koloa Fishmarket, I gained weight. I find the higher end places do serve in accordance with dietary needs, and serve nutritious delicious local targeted cuisine (i.e. fresh catch of the morning, island flavors, etc).
Well, now you've moved the goalposts again. I can name 1/2 a dozen restaurants on the Big Island or Moloka`i that that are excellent and "healthy" by your standards -- but which hardly ever see a tourist. If the o.p. would like to experience something other than the "high end" kind of places that he could find in lots of big cities, there are options.

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Originally Posted by thebill0322 View Post
Anyone have a good suggestion for a romantic hotel for two nights?

I am looking on tripadvisor and don't really see many good options on the Hilo/volcano side. I know people have mentioned the volcano house any others?
If you're looking for "resort quality," or even anything better than 2 1/2 star accommodations, you won't find it on the Hilo side.

CONSOLIDATED Kilauea Volcano Lodging Recommendations

Consolidated "Hotels in Hilo? Other lodging suggestions on B.I. east side?" thread

But for what you're asking, I'd strongly recommend the Palms Cliff House B&B a bit north of Hilo.
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