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March Itinerary Questions

Austin, Texas
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March Itinerary Questions

My wife and I are healthy, active early 60's couple planning 1st trip to the Big Island. We will be there 2 weeks - beginning march 8th. We fly into and out of Kona. Arrive about 2PM and will likely stay close to the airport before heading to VNP area on the 9th. Plan to spend 3 nights there. VRBO or B&B or other suggestions for here? We will hike some on our own and maybe hire Hawaii Native Guide Warren for 1 day. We expect to spent maybe 1/2 of our time on the island birdwatching. We are on a budget, but not super tight. Expecting to pay maybe $125- $160/night on average - with some options to eat on our own. We will rent a car. We like to hike.

From VNP - we might drive to Hilo and on up the Hamakua Coast to Waimea. Looking at staying there 3 nights. Good location for seeing Waipio Valley, hopefully Hakalau NWR, etc. Suggestions on where to stay there?

From there, we want to find a nice place closer to the Kohala Coast better beaches and relax / sightsee for our last week. What are best options for where to base ourselves that last week and maybe specific suggestions for lodging?

Other questions:

What is weather likely to be like that time of year - in those locations?

Any mosquitos?

How can we get some great authentic Hawaiian experiences - that are not in all the travel guides?

Thank you so much!!

Gary

Lot's of questions you can help with:)??

12 replies to this topic
Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Since you're arriving at 2pm, I'd just go ahead and drive to Hilo or Volcano rather that spending one night on the west side. Volcano can be very wet and chilly that time of year, so with staying 3-4 nights you might want to consider staying in Hilo instead although it sounds like you'll want at least a couple of days in the Park, so maybe Volcano will work best. You could also spend your first three two nights in Volcano and then two nights in Hilo.

There's no reason to split a stay beyond that. You can base on the Kohala Coast the remainder of the time and visit Waipio and other sites from there. The Mauna Lani is always a good choice. I would stay about 10 of your 14 days there, and look at a condo. Palm Villas is a good midrange choice, walking distance to good snorkeling.

The Hakalau NWR public access is closed and no longer accessible.

The Kohala Coast is generally sunny and 80s year round. As mentioned, in March, Volcano Village is generally very rainy and 50s during the day and 40s at night. Hilo is very wet but fairly warm (70s). Mosquitoes aren't a huge problem on the island, but especially for hiking, I'd bring/buy repellant.

Hawaii
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2. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Sounds like a lovely trip (listen to Shea though).

I would never recommend Waimea in March, too cold, windy, and wet, and the location offers no advantage. I could see staying at a B&B or VRBO somewhere in the Honoka'a--Waipi'o Overlook area, as an alternative, as you seem like you would enjoy alt styles of lodgings.

Your budget is really low if the price includes taxes and resort fees (hotel) or cleaning (VRBO). If not, it could be manageable. I was looking recently at a basic budget $95 a night condo for staycation, two nights, sounded good until I went to the checkout page and it was $350 with all the fees.

You might check out Hawaii Forest & Trail for bird watching. They do one in the Kaloko cloud forest IIRC.

In general, both tours and eating dinner out will kill your budget if you aren't sparing with them.

Austin, Texas
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3. Re: March Itinerary Questions

OK - this is all very helpful info. We are rethinking our plans accordingly.

We are still going to spend time in VNP - maybe 3 nights instead of 4....in view of the likely March rains then. From there we will still go to Hilo and up the coast....maybe spending 3/ 4 / 5 nights in Honoka'a where the weather is better than Waimea due to elevation and proximity to the ocean. It still seems like a good base for hiking / birding and seeing the sights in that part of the island. May stay at Waipio Wayside B & B - which looks pretty good.

Now the biggest remaining concerns. I'm hearing & reading about how touristy the Kohala Coast is. (Is this true for our timeframe = March 15-22, or much much less so than high season?) We have been looking forward to this warm, sunny, beautiful beach gold coast part of the big island. Now we are wondering if we will have trouble enjoying it....since touristy is not our idea of fun. This is complicating the decision about how much time to spend in closer proximity to the Kohala coast and where specifically to stay. While spending $250+/night at an oceanside resort is not that ideal - it is really more about the quality of time....if we don't want to just check tourist stops off our list to be able to say we saw them.

HELP please. Surely there is a Middle ground" solution to this concern. Option to stay somewhere not so touristy, but closer to the Kohala Coast than Honoka'a - like maybe within 10-15 minutes? Cute little town with character and much sunnier than Waimea. Maybe stay there 3-4 nights instead of 7? Given our interests, what are the less populated, but still sunny and beautiful beaches we should go to on the Kohala Coast?

I really value and need your input.

Thanks all!!

Gary

Big Island, Hawaii
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4. Re: March Itinerary Questions

On heavens. I live in Honokaa, essentially. The weather is NOT better than Waimea. It is not an area you want to base at. It honestly doesn't make any sense at all. If you want to hike down into Waipio, especially that time of year, you're going to have to choose a good weather day, so it's best to just do it from the Kohala Coast on a day when the weather is good.

No, we don't have any cute little sunny towns that are not touristy yet are still 10-15 minutes from all of the tourist locations.

The Kohala Coast resorts are of course full of tourists, they are also located amongst some of the most important historical and cultural areas in Hawaii. Many of them have cultural centers, native vegetation, ancient fishponds, historical preserves and other amazing features. One of our resort areas, Hualalai, has some of the best birding in the state.

So please let go of your resistance to resort areas. It's not what you think they are here.

Hawaii
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5. Re: March Itinerary Questions

I agree with Shea. I was thinking for a night or two. I stayed at Jackie's for a couple nights on my first trip here (20 years ago and she is still going?). I didn't regret the exposure to the area at all. I didn't stay there to hop to the beach, but to take a Waipi'o tour and check out Hamakua Coast. For the beach, you should stay west.

The only place one might feel too much resort vibe is right in front of a hotel where the chairs are set up. The rest is all used by a mixture of locals, residents, visitors.

For me, I don't care about avoiding tourists per se, but I avoid loud insensitive behavior if I can, whatever the source. Most tourists to the Big Island are nice people who should not be avoided just because they are on vacation, any more than YOU should be shunned because you are visiting.

I consider Kailua-Kona to be the center of busy touristy. Kohala has always been the center for a different more refined experience. You won't love Waikoloa Beach Resort, not your style, but Mauna Lani Resort should be sympatico. And also look at Puako, but realize it is a beach home and cottage community and not a village. One small store, no restaurants, have to drive to a resort area for that, or to Kawaihae (or Waimea). But you might like it.

There is a Top Question on West Side Beaches, and there are many websites--just type

in big island beaches and each site has something to add.

Edited: 2:19 am, January 03, 2017
Jefferson City...
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6. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Which side of the Island is the Kohala Coast? West or East? Thanks.

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Northwest

Woking, England
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8. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Having formed the impression the OP likes the same sort of activities as me I am going to throw in another suggestion.

If you are willing to drive as far as Captain Cook on the day you arrive (I think it is about 30 miles which doesn't sound far and I'd maybe risk it with a planned arrival time of 2pm but wouldn't want to do it in the dark) then how about the Manago Hotel? I stayed there a couple of years ago. Got the cheapest room with a private bath. It was basic but had a nice balcony. There is a supermarket nearby for supplies and it has an interesting dining room. Then, if you are feeling brave, the next day hike down to the Captain Cook Monument where there is a snorkelling opportunity. The hike is not for the faint hearted but I am so glad I did it. And no worse than Waipio though less shade.

Then you can carry on from Captain Cook to Volcano Village. I have stayed at a couple of places from the Chateau Kilauea. They have a house with shared bathrooms which also has a kitchen area. I have stayed there a couple of times and it was ok. I prefer (but more expensive) the Lokahi Lodge mainly because it is really easy to find in the dark after volcano watching.

My researches in the last few weeks have shown me that accommodation is now hard to find in the price range you gave. These 2 places could be cheap(ish) and leave more to spend somewhere else?

Bellingham...
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9. Re: March Itinerary Questions

Hi! I just spent two weeks on the Big Island ~ my first visit ~ and am planning to go back soon. I spent my first couple of nights at a cottage just outside VNP; the location and lodging itself was ideal. The craftsmanship is really superb. There are actually two cottages, one next to the other. Check them out here (I didn't look into availability on your dates): volcanohotlavaretreat.com/reservations.html.

When I flew in, I arrived at 1pm and immediately headed south/east to VNP, stopping along the way to have dinner with a friend. The timing worked fine, and you might do the same. Having said that, you're coming from two hours farther east, arriving a bit later, and there's something to be said for chilling in the Kailua-Kona area that first night before heading to the east side of the island. It sounds like you may not spend time there during the rest of your stay (I was only there one afternoon myself), so you may as well check it out at the front end of your trip, given that you do have two weeks.

Two or three nights in Volcano would do you well, and then you can head north/west to the sunnier Kohala coast. Or you might stay just a couple of nights around VNP and a couple of nights in or north of Hilo. I spent the remainder of my time, after Volcano, in Kawaihae and it was ideal for me. I enjoyed fantastic weather and an expansive ocean view, along with great proximity to North Kohala (Hawi/Pololu Valley), Waimea (went there a number of times & enjoyed it tremendously), and an array of beaches. I really, really would *not* have wanted to stay in or around any of the hotels ("resorts") right by those beaches. That entire scene (yes, to me it's a scene) is absolutely not my cuppa. So do consider, as KK mentioned, an area like Puako or Kawaihae, but keep in mind that they aren't villages, per se.

Bellingham...
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10. Re: March Itinerary Questions

The narrow window of time to edit has passed, so I'll post again to second momontour08's suggestion. While the destination experts on this forum don't recommend it, I absolutely think it's worth staying a night in South Kona, especially along the way to Volcano (taking the southern route, which I enjoyed). You can certainly cover this area in a day trip while staying on the Kohala coast. I did just that, but felt pressed for time. Staying there your first night would allow you to enjoy a more leisurely drive to VNP as well as get a feel for the area and determine whether you want to head there again later in your stay. The potential for vog in South Kona exists, but that's true regardless of when you visit, and it isn't as if you'd be staying there for the duration.

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