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1st time going to Hawaii

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canada
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1st time going to Hawaii

We booked a trip in February and have been very excited as we always have been going to Mexico and the Caribbean for years..So this is something different although I am not looking forward to the flights :) I have a few questions and am looking for some honest feedback.

- I understand the Kona airport is very busy and the waiting area is outside. We have a very long flight - so does this mean we will be waiting in the heat for our departure with throngs of people ? Nice and sweaty before we get on the plane ?

- Vog ? what the heck is vog.....and will we be affected

- FYI. We are staying at the courtyard Marriott when we arrive for a few days then staying the Marriott Beach Resort for many days after. Are those good choices ? I am also thinking about the Sheraton ? Thoughts.

- We plan on getting in 4 games of golf

- We will be renting a car - is it worth it to drive to Hilo for a day ?

- I admit I did not know that the entire Island was lava rock as I thought there was a little tropical feel ? Will we still enjoy it - please say yes !

- Anything, anything else you can add and help us out with

- We are simply looking for a relaxed vacation - we enjoy golfing just as much as we enjoy sitting on our balcony and enjoying a view with a cocktail or 10.

Thanks very much.

Island of Hawaii...
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1. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

Don't worry, you will be OK. The Kona airport is open-air but has nice breeze, so no sweat. Forget the Sheraton, your hotel choices are fine. It's certainly worth to spend a day or two (or a week or two!) on the East side. Double book for one night and stay in Volcano, otherwise your day will be spent with driving. All the Hawaiian islands are volcanic. The Big Island is the youngest, so it has less sandy beaches, but it is tropical. Enjoy your vacation!

2. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

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Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

I don't consider the Kona airport partcularly busy. I find the outdoor airport charming. It can be very hot, but not likely in February. You'll likely have a nice breeze as TT says.

I also agree, forget the Sheraton, the Courtyard Marriott is the nicest hotel in Kailua Kona. I'm not crazy about the Waikoloa Marriott, but it's OK. The rooms are small and the beach is mediocre. I think the Hapuna Prince in the same price range is a better hotel. But if you're traveling on points or something, it's fine.

Vog is primarily an issue in Kona and Ka'u. Many visitors don't even notice it, or if they do, they think it's just overcast in Kailua Kona a lot. It can have a significant impact on aesthetics, as smog does, and it may be a concern if anyone has asthma in your party, but in general, I wouldn't worry about it, you'll be completely out of it on the Kohala Coast, where you're spending most of your time.

The west side, particularly North Kona and the South Kohala district, can be offputting at first because it does look like a moonscape as you are driving on the highway. But don't worry. It gives way to the beautiful resort and beach areas on the coastline, and the black lava rock actually provides a great contrast to the blue waters and sandy beaches of the Kohala Coast. The upcountry town of Waimea and Kohala Mountains are green and lovely, and then there's the lush Hamakua Coast with waterfalls and jungle and beautiful flowers (and lots of rain!). There is great whale watching in February from the Kohala Coast, which is a whale sanctuary.

I think you can just do a day trip to Hilo, that time of year Volcano is cold. But Volcanoes National Park is pretty amazing, and double booking a night should be something you consider if you have any interest. Hard to say what lava viewing conditions will be like then, it varies. For some time now the glow from the lava lake in the Halemaumau crater has been visible and impressive, but actual surface lava flows are only accessible via a tough, long guided hike or by a helicopter tour. You can take a heli tour from the Kohala Coast or Hilo.

If you do a day trip to Hilo, perhaps on a Saturday to visit the farmers markets in Waimea and Hilo (if you get a very early start), you can drive the Hamakua Coast on the way down and stop at the Waipio Valley overlook, Akaka Falls, and the botanical gardens. Plan 4-5 hours to Hilo from Waikoloa Beach with stops, 2 hours or so on the way back if you come back on the Saddle before dark. Cool scenery, very different from anywhere else in Hawaii.

While you're staying in Kailua Kona, do the manta ray night snorkel and take a day trip to Puuhonua O Honaunau and snorkel in the adjacent Honaunau Bay. Consider doing a snorkel and whale watching tour on the Hula Kai for different, deeper water snorkeling. Also visit Kikaua Point and Kukio Bay for their beautiful sand, lagoon, tidepools, turtles, fish ponds, wetlands, bird life, and typically lovely coconut palm tropical scenery.

On the Kohala Coast, enjoy the beaches, whale watching, and if the water is calm and there are no north swells, the swimming and snorkeling. Consider a hike into Pololu Valley, and visit the heaius and historical parks of the Kohala Districts (Puukohola, Lapakahi, Mookini). Consider a horseback tour into the lush, gorgeous Waipio Valley with its waterfalls and black sand beach.

You'll have a great time, just don't expect Maui, and appreciate our young island for all the wonderful things it has

Canada
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4. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

Well....Big Island Hawaii...You're in for a treat!

Not certain of what your homebase airport is in Canada......but I suspect you will wonder what the concern was you had about KOA. It is an open-air easy to navigate facility. There are no enclosed jetways .....just push-up stairways to the plane door. Baggage claim (covered)...but in the open air....adjacent to the Car rental shuttles.

Just seeking clarifications on a couple of points:

Are you renting a car the entire time? ( Just checking)

Why 2 locales West side? Points...perhaps?

What is the entire length of your stay on the Big Island? How Many nights?

I would suggest a South Kohala stay for the majority of your trip. The area experiences clear blue skies, little rain and enjoys close proximity to many of the Island's beaches and golf courses.

The Sheraton would not be on our radar .

The Marriott at Waikoloa Beach resort is adequate. (teenie tiny rooms) Heated pool however.Close to a number of dining options.

Have you considered a condo/Villa?......more space...usually less money. Both Mauna Lani resort and Waikoloa Beach Resort have a number of options in tropical settings. The accommodations can be different from what you mention as some of your previously visited spots in Mexico and the Caribbean. Hotels are certainly popular options as well if that is your preference.

I would definitely recommend a day trip to HIlo...lots to check out.....beautiful scenery along the way. Drive back with the light ( before sunset)

Check out the pics in this excellent recent TR for a good sampling of what the BIg Island has to offer.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g29217-i268-k56200…

canada
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5. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

Thank you so much for the feedback........I feel confident now that we made the right choice and will enjoy it no matter what. Not only will we be able to relax but there is lots of education / interesting things to learn on this island.

To answer some of the questions:

- We will have a car rental the entire time

- We are not staying on points. I am actually a die hard Starwood Member so that is why I asked about the Sheraton. In saying that I am not a big Marriott member but I hate to say it - the fact we prefer hotels etc., is we simply want decent service, clean rooms etc., and are really not interested in cooking for ourselves etc., on this particular vacation.

- No reason why we chose these two hotels.... the first Courtyard is only because we just wanted to spend a few days being able to walk around town and visit some restaurants etc., - The second Marriott only because it was a resort etc., - I honestly had no idea about the location ?? I think we will stick with it though.

- I actually thought about splurging for a couple of nights at the Four Seasons but just cant justify $900 / night......even looked at the Fairmont ( Actually both are Canadian companies now that I think of it ) but the Fairmont had some sketchy reviews for $500 / night. ???

- What kind of chains / decent resorts are in the south Kohala area ??

- We are really looking forward to this trip and experiencing something different.

Thanks Again.

Island of Hawaii...
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6. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

I too thought you were on points, but if not than in that case I would forget the Marriott and stay at the Hapuna Prince (same price range) or one of the higher priced resorts.

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

I don't where you're getting those prices, but they're way out of line. The Fairmont is a $225/nt hotel, and the Four Seasons around $600/nt, depending on dates, though. Are you looking Presidents Day weekend? Even then they shouldn't be that high.

The FS Hualalai is one of the best hotels in the world, and priced accordingly. Worth every dime. If you do decide to stay there, book using a FS Preferred Partner to get the best rates, upgrade when available, and other extras. I like to use whatahotel.com

A great midrange hotel is the Mauna Lani. Excellent snorkel beach, lovely grounds. Around $300/nt.

Those are all starting rates, but the lowest category of room at the FS Hualalai, the golf ocean view rooms, are identical to the higher category rooms and do have ocean views, plus with a FSPP you'll get an upgrade.

Edited: 10:22 pm, July 27, 2012
Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

Btw, Hualalai is one of my favorite golf courses on island, but expensive at $250/round. check for golf packages that will throw in a free couple of rounds, and will be combinable with the FSPP perks. The Mauna Lani has my two other favorite courses, and you can play them even if you're not staying there, but you can get deals as guests, or even non guests after 1pm.

9. Re: 1st time going to Hawaii

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