My husband and two children (girls) ages 13 and 10 and I are planning to go to the Big Island the last week of March and first week of April. My sister is stationed in Oahu and will be joining us for six of the days. I have been reading through the forum and I have some questions and hoping to get some advise. We have to stay at the Hilton in Kona because we have points and it is free. So the hotel was decided on due to points. I have read good and some not so good comments on the Hilton, but it is free so that is decided.
If we want to go to the Volcano and to Mauna Kea - yes I am still trying to understand the area via maps, but is this a one day trip to do both or should this be done on separate days? Could anyone give me the estimated time round trip to each from Kona Hilton?
Do we need a rental car each day we are there? I have read the bus does go into Kona and other places, but am unsure if a rental is needed all week we are there?
Coming from North Carolina the jet lag adjustment will be for us the first few days early mornings - until we adjust - so we took the advise when we went to Oahu 3 years ago to do Diamond Head - are there any attractions that we should do in the early am?
I want my girls to experience the culture - local restaurants, history, etc that isn't the typical "excursion" - activities we can plan and it isn't your typical tourist attraction to do - but could on our own?
And last - must do(s) this time of year? Whale watching? Manna-ray night swimming? I am unsure as I have read so much I am now asking for help.
Thank you in advance for your assistance!