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Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Connecticut
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Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

My husband and I are planning a trip to BI next spring, and were planning to spend a couple of days up in Volcano, then have our "home base" out of Kona for 5 or 6 days.

Now, I'm no skittish thing. I've walked the streets of DC and Baltimore alone at night. Homeless people are, to me, more a sad reminder of how lucky I am than a threat. And drug dealers? As long as they aren't violent or aggressive, it's just a matter of walking on by.

But, given that, I don't want to spend a large chunk of our "trip of a lifetime" feeling like I could've plunked a palm tree in the middle of any major city and had the same experience, without spending all that time and money to get to HI.

Chances are, this is the one time we'll ever travel to Hawaii. And, while we don't want a fake-veneer version of the Island, we do want the beauty, the culture, and, yes, a lack of harassment and depression on the trip.

So, should we continue to plan to stay in the Kona area? Or look elsewhere? And if we should look elsewhere, where should we look? (We're on a pretty serious budget, and looking for waterfront lodging--had a couple of places in mind in Kona, but will hold off while waiting for feedback.)

Albuquerque, New...
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1. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Sure HOPE encouragement is forthcoming creative 'cause my Wife just read "Kona areas to avoid?" and wants to cancel our trip!

Kauai & Mainland
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2. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

The entire Kona discussion over the last few days has me kinda nervous too.

We're in Kona Isle by ATR for the first 6-7 days of our trip, and now I'm wondering what it's like around that area (at the top of Ali'i Drive).

Our final days are up on the slopes of Hualalai at a B&B so I'm not worried about that. It's just the Kona Isle day's now I'm concerned with.

USA
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3. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

We were in Kona at the Sheraton about a month ago. I felt safe. We went into the areas being discussed for dinner a couple of times but even then we didn't notice any problem areas. We also went there for lunch - lots of people around - touristy and no big deal. I think this whole crime thing is being blown out of proportion. Our experience may have been different if we had stayed down in the thick of things but we didn't. We wanted a resort and we wanted peace and quiet, both of which we found at the Sheraton. There are plenty of places where you can stay and feel safe -- in my opinion. Kona is definitely not like LA, Chicago, or NYC and we would stay in any of those cities, too.

Derby, UK
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4. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Creative matter

Last September, did a tour of the four main Hawaiian islands. On the Big Island, we stayed King Kam hotel (not recommended, by the way!), which is in the centre of Kona.

Here's a quote from my trip review about Kona, which I wrote shortly after coming home:

"To be honest, we weren't that impressed with Kona. It was the only place that we didn't feel 100% safe. It was a bit seedy. We ate at some nice places though - Big Island Grill (which was the best value meal we had all holiday), and Huggos (which had great views and great food)."

U2fan

Connecticut
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5. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

sunny_island & U2fan--thanks for the feedback (and everyone else, please keep it coming!)

Assuming that we make the decision not to stay in Kona, I'm very curious to hear what folks have to say about where we should stay. I think I may sit down with the guide books and the online reviews here, and start over. Pleh. ;)

Sonoma, California
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85 posts
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6. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Whoa, Nelly, folks. Cancel your trip??? I was just there for the fifth time over New Years and now am returning to be married there in July. My fiance and I have been throughout Hawaii. Kona and the BI is where we CHOOSE to vacation. Like anywhere (Puerto Vallarta for instance, from which we just returned), there are some touristy areas, less savory areas, etc. And there is also just unbelievable natural beauty. When you visit the Big Island you need to get a car to explore and experience it for yourself. You can but don't need to stay in the town of Kailua-Kona. We usually stay in Holualoa for cooler breezes, views and quiet, and also go to Volcano for a couple of nights. Go and have a GREAT time. We plan to!

USA
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389 posts
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7. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Creative, If it's any help to you, my husband and I are planning a return trip to Kona and Hilo later this year. We will stay at the Sheraton in Kona and at the Hilo Hawaiian in Hilo, having stayed at both before.

Kona itself leaves something to be desired but the resorts are where we spend most of our time. The city has slow crawling traffic and a mish mash of buildings as though no city planner has ever been hired. We don't go there for those things -- we go to the Big Island for the ocean and for the volcano. I wouldn't stay in a hotel in the area where all the restaurants are.

I love the Big Island and have never had any problems with crime of any kind.

Little Rock...
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8. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

Why spend any time in Kona at all? We are spending three nights in a Kohala resort, two nights in Volcano Village, and one night in Keauhou. There's so much to the BIG Island without even worrying about Kona.

You can get a lovely room at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort for a pretty reasonable price. Or, if you'd rather be closer to Kona but not IN Kona, how about the Outrigger Keauhou or the Sheraton Keauhou?

Don't cancel your trip. I'm making my seventh one in a week. I've visited all of the major islands and have never felt threatened or even uncomfortable. It really is Paradise! Just be a tourist - after all, you are one, and avoid the seedy areas where possible...

Palm Springs...
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9. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

this is for a 2 to 3 block area out of 4000 square miles

U2 callled it seedy and it is...........but folks there is nothing compelling about visiting this tiny area..........there is too much else to see............. consider it the one pimple on the face of Hawaii and easy to overlook. I have to work in it and it makes me sad to see it decline....if you miss this spec. you will miss nothing..... If you came to Hawaii to score some cool weed then you are part of the problem and you might get more than you bargined for

so less than 1/8000 th of the iSLAND............. AND ALL THE HOTELS and resorts and condos EXCEPT uncle billies, are totaly safe and free of any problems...............

Los Angeles
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10. Re: Is Kona really that bad? If so, where else to focus?

I didn't notice anything bad about Kona... it is fine to go into the town there for dinner and walk around but most of the time is spent at the resort, going to see the volcano exploring other parts of the island. While I'm glad we stayed up on the Kohala Coast and wouldn't recommend staying in Kona near the town or anything but the area is lovely - take a chill pill.