I do not think there is a better value on the island than the Kona Billfisher. However, it is not for everybody. We are activity freaks and adventurers and therefore require a jumping off place to stay. So it was perfect for us as our main goal is to have a perfect time ON THE ISLAND, and NOT in the condo. If you want a ritzy hotel experience than go to the Four Seasons and spend $700 a night and then top it off with a per day per person restaurant bill of somewhere in the range of $200 - $300 PER PERSON. If I paid that kind of money for a hotel I do not think I would leave it for one minute. But then I would miss, well...., the whole reason for going to Hawaii! We stayed two days south of Hilo at the tide pools which was unforgettable. We did a half day ATV waterfall tour. We drove south to the state parks and swam with turtles. We took the road to the end to see the volcano pour into the sea. (This was an absolute bust, they do not let you walk out to the lava flows any longer, you look from afar and see only steam rising from the coast. And the state volcano park was closed due to excessive VOG). The only way to really see the flow is to take a helicopter tour. Two couples we met said it was unbelievable and well worth the cost. But not for us, too expensive and we like our feet either on the ground or in the water! So I guess you get the picture by now, we were not in the condo all that much except for sleeping and one day of rest. If this is your lifestyle then I would heartily recommend the Billfisher. If not, pay up and stay in a hotel or find a different condo.
The good points: landscaping, pool, patio & barbecue very well maintained; parking was always available near our unit; office staff very friendly and accommodating; room was clean but not in new condition, I would rate it an 8 out of 10 as far as island condos go; linens were plentiful, the good size (full size for a condo) kitchen was well stocked with all the necessities, we found nothing lacking; cable TV worked well, definitely not a big screen but we got to see the NBA playoffs no problem; unit was large and roomy and since on first floor we had a large courtyard outside with table and chairs (2nd and 3rd story units have a small lanai a third of the size. If you are traveling with more than 2 to a unit I would definitely get a first floor unit); bed was large and comfortable - I had no backaches; basic but clean bath with shower was fine; Walmart (no groceries in this one) and Safeway (expensive) are minutes away on Henry Street and K Mart is a little further and lastly the location is walking distance to the seawall and all the shops and restaurants and luaus. Note: Costco is near the airport, we did not go there but just a tip if you need provisions in mass when arriving on your way to the condo. Also, there is a Long's Drugs nearby (more reasonable than Safeway for maitai provisions) and in the same center is a L&L's restaurant where you can get pretty good local Hawaiian / Asian fast food that comes in huge portions for reasonable price.
The not so good but not so bad points: you will have to pay a registration fee of I think around fifty bucks when registering. We knew about this but some people are not aware of this; the traffic on Alli Drive is terrible and there is only one way in and out so you will have to deal with it and be patient; we heard about the traffic noise problem and yes, it is so. The condo sits between upper and lower roads so all of the easterly facing units gets the traffic noise from the upper road. If you want quiet you will need to stay in the westerly units but they may get noise from the lower road, so hard to say, if traffic noise bothers you one will need to ask the specific before putting down hard cash; air conditioning costs $10 a day if you want it. We visited last week of April and just kept the doors open and the wind flow kept it pleasant.. At least until the last day when we packed up it was way humid and I was sweating like a pig. But if traffic noise bothers you just plug down an extra $10/day and you will have quiet and cool. I mean for what the condo cost us an extra $10 a day would be a no brainier - if we were uncomfortable - which we were not; the average age of the renters was - ok let's be nice here - somewhere in the upper senior bracket. So if you are looking to cruise, forget about it, but just next door is Lulu's bar and grill and the Hard Rock Cafe ;o). they have a laundry room but it is pricey at $1.50 per wash or dry but thoughtfully there is a change machine; and I guess that is it for the not so good not so bad points, not bad, huh.
So would we go back? At the same price I would jump at it. If the price went up substantially I would probably shop around to get a different experience elsewhere.
Last tip: absolutely indispensable - buy this and study up before you leave – “Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed” by Andrew Dougherty and Harriet Friedman - Wizard Publications - we had the 2002 book I think there is a more recent 05 or 06 book now. You can get them off Ebay cheap. The best guidebook, enough said. And lastly, if you go to the Champagne Pond or any other volcanically heated fresh water spring fed pool on the south east side of the island, resist the temptation to get in with open cuts or sores or get your head in the water. The water is crystal clear but full of bacteria. (the guidebook failed to point out that little tidbit!) The only reason I am sitting here writing this long review is because I could not go back to work after returning to the mainland today as I picked up a nasty case of Pink Eye and had to spend half a day in the Hilo Hospital ER. Oh, and for those who had heart conditions or any other health problems that might require immediate intervention, you won't get it in Kona. Although there is a small community hospital in Kona the only real hospital is in Hilo (a surprisingly BIG town compared to Kona), which is an eighty mile drive or expensive medevac helicopter ride away. The second best hospital is 270 miles away in Honolulu. Something to keep in mind that we take for granted here at home.
Hope this review helps and if you go you that you also have a pleasant experience. Aloha!
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- Also Known As:
- Kona Billfisher Hotel Kailua-Kona
- Kona Billfisher Hawaii/Kailua-Kona