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Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Plymouth, Minnesota
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Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Since we learned so much from these forums before our trip, I promised myself that I'd report in after our return. So here's what we experienced:

1. Saturday evening arrival at Alamo was a disaster. We waited in line for over an hour--it was like a TV commercial.

2. Waikoloa Beach Marriott was just fine--staff was very helpful and friendly. View from the partial ocean view rooms was a little bleak, but with Marriott Rewards card and some whining, we were upgraded for free.

3. There has been some controversy here about the berm on the beach along A bay, but we did not see it as a visual or physical impairment.

4. We did some shore fishing, and as hawaiidan has suggested, we did not have any luck.

5. Trip to Volcanoes National Park was a tremendous thrill. Thurston Lava Tube is an amazing and short hike. But the hike from the end of Chain of Craters road to the active lava flow is a brutal experience. It is a long way, the ground is very rugged, and for a good portion of it there are not even trail markers. Even though it is much more spectacular in the dark, the trip back in the dark would be brutal. It took us over an hour and a half to get out to where we could see, and we started back before it got dark, so we only had to do a little bit in the dark. Still an amazing experience.

6. We rented kayaks and padddled to Captain Cook Monument. Getting launched was a bit of a challenge, but the paddle across the bay was not too bad. Snorkeling around the monument was spectacular. Trip back was uneventful, but we did not see any spinner dolphins. The site seems like a very fragile environment--I urge everyone to be very sensitive to this precious resource.

7. We visited a couple of coffee plantations--Greenwell was pretty interesting and informative, but Kona Joe had the best t-shirts.

8. Went whale watching with Captain Dan on April 9th. We saw a lot of pilot whales up close, and were not really expecting to see any humpbacks other than possibly a straggler mother and calf. But we saw 4 or 5 humpbacks at a distance. Even then it was very exciting to think about their size.

9. It rained when we were in Hilo, but I guess that it does all the time. The farmer's market was fun, although much of it was a total mystery to us Minnesotans.

10. The road to South Point is fine. Narrow but not any problems. If you're passing by, it is definitely worth the trip.

Our thanks to everyone who contributed to our preparation, and we hope that this helps others.

Toronto, Ontario...
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11. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Thanks for the report! it's great that many tend to report back how all the advice they got here helped on their trip.

I have one question that's been posted before but I thought i'd do it again - when we kayak and snorkel at Captain Cook, should I bring my (expensive) digital camera or should I leave it in the trunk of the car? Unfortunately, I'll be there after checking out of Kona on my way south so I won't have a hotel room to leave it at. I've heard that it's okay to leave valuables at the monument while you're snorkeling because everyone does it, but that leaving valuables in your car can be risky. What was your feeling while you were there (and others as well)?

Palm Springs...
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12. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Aloha......

you said a key word.....expensive.

You have two choices.....as I see it.

First I would get a dry box for your camera and attach it to the boat. Put it in a shaded location and buy some bags of dessicant to keep the moisture down.

You could put it in the trunk......hidden......and remember not to go to the trunk for any reason, when you launch in the bay.

By going to trunk you have sent a signal that there is somthing of value in it. This goes for all your baggage and personal stuff.......nothing in sight in the car......nothing.

Then just amble on down to the shore with your boat.....actualy it's a workout as the beach here is all big bolders and the swell this time of year is running from the south. This means you will launch into the oncoming current. Lots of folks get dunked here.

Have you ever done somthing like this????.....if not, this is not ther place to learn.....it is the ocean not a lake or river......it moves in all directions.

Expect daytime temps at noon to be 84 and feel like 91.....drink a lot of water as you cross the mile plus bay

Plymouth, Minnesota
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13. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

I neglected to respond to part of tracym2340's question about going to the Green Beach. We did not go there because we had a big hike coming up at HVNP, from Chain of Craters road to the active flows. And we had seen some green (looking) sand on the southern side of A bay, out past the normal beach area.

On the camera question, I think that you have to weigh the risks of trashing your camera versus missing some spectacular pictures. I don't have an EXPENSIVE digital camera--it's a $300 Canon. So I double bagged it, put it in a backpack and strapped it in the kayak. But I got some spectacular pix of yellow tangs while I was just sitting on the lava by the monument (about 50 yards to the left as you approach the monument). There were about a dozen of them, with lots of other brightly colored fish, in a foot or 18" of water.

Hawaiidan is right about having your valuables in the trunk BEFORE you get to the landing, and he is right about the difficulty of launching the kayak at the preferred launching point--we had a very hard time launching. It's harder at low tide than at high tide, but then you've got to think about getting back out. Neither of our kayaks had trouble navigating the bay,but we also both had experienced flat water canoeists doing the steering.

I forgot to say at the start of this that I will never forget being at the Marriott in 85 degree weather, and looking up at the top of Mauna Kea and seeing snow.

We also managed to coordinate with family and coworkers about the time of our trip to the Kona seawall. So when we sat on the wall, we called back to Minnesota, and they were able to see us on the Kona Webcam. A little corny, but fun for all.

Toronto, Ontario...
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14. Re: Report on our 4/2 to 4/11 trip to the Big Island

Thanks Hawaii Dan and Rikkasdad. I wonder if there are any storage lockers available to rent in or near Captain Cook to store our stuff? I'll be touring Kauai and then Big over 10 days arriving this Saturday. Hope the weather's nice. can't wait.