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Hawaii - The Big Island
Your first surprise will be landing in Kona at the Keahole Airport. It looks like the surface of the moon. The Big Island has many different weather zones, they are all interesting.
Below is a short guide to some of the places that we have enjoyed. I try to give you drive times, cost and dress code, but don’t hold me to any of this. The events are listed in random order. If your airline gives you a free Hawaii guide, hang onto it, as they have the best maps. At the Keauhou Shopping Center, near the condo, just outside the grocery store, there is a huge rack with all of the “Today in Hawaii”, “Best Beaches” and other free publications. Pick up some of these as they make good reading at night and will help to plan you next day.
All of the big and expensive resorts are at or near Waikoloa. While there is a nice shopping center in the Waikoloa Village, we have only been up there a few times for shopping. Visiting the big hotels, walking the grounds and having lunch is a great half-day activity. It is a 45 minute drive from the condo to the “man-made” Waikoloa area. It is very pretty.
First, about the Keauhou Surf and Racket Club: Yes, this is a big complex, yet one is not aware of the number of people living in such close proximity. Please walk every path, road and trail on the KSR grounds - they are yours to enjoy. In the condo you will find pool keys; be sure to take advantage of the wonderful swimming pool. If you play tennis, bring your racket, as the courts are free to residents. There are many archaeological sites on the KSR grounds and each tells a story of the Hawaiian people. There are no beaches at KSR, but a 5 -10 minute walk in either direction will put you in the sand.
1. King Kamehameha Hotel in the Kailua Village offers the Island Breeze Lu’au. It costs $50/person, but I think it is worth it. The price covers all you can drink and eat, plus the show. The show is good, but a bit on the tourist side. If you go, try to sit as close to stage center as you can. Drive time from condo - 10 min; Cost - $50; Dress - shorts.
2. On the northern tip of the island is Hawi. I strongly recommend a visit to the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi and after lunch a drive out to the Pololu Point lookout. Hawi is an artists community and there are a couple of galleries that are worth visiting. The pot on the dresser in the condo came form Hawi. Drive time to Hawi - about 1 hour; Cost for lunch $8.00; Dress - shorts.
3. At Keauhou Bay, just minutes from the condo, you can rent kayaks and go off to snorkel on your own. Glenda and I have done this a couple of times and enjoy it a lot. You can also go with the Fair Wind boat from Keauhou Bay. Drive time - 5 min; Cost $20 - $40, Dress - swim suit/shorts.
4. Drive 90 miles from the condo to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A visit to the volcano is highly recommended. Be sure to take the drive down to the beach where the lava is flowing, the road is called Chain of Craters Road. Now that you have gone 90 miles, might just as well do the west side of Hawaii. Continue your day’s adventure to Hilo and on up to Akaka Falls. From the falls, go on up to Waipi’o Valley lookout. From the lookout drive over to Waimea and then take 190 down to Kona. This is a FULL DAY trip, 12 to 14 hours. If you leave the condo at 7am and do not stop for a long lunch, you should be able to be at the Waipi’o lookout at sunset time. Be sure to take the 4 mile scenic beach drive from Papa’ikou to Pepe’ekoe. You will also pass the Botanical Gardens - we have not visited the gardens, so I don’t have anything to say about it. At Akaka Falls there is a 1.5 mile trail that takes you to some of the most beautiful falls in the world - - do the walk. Drive time - 14 hours; Cost - tank of gas and park fees, Dress - shorts, long pants, sweater or light jacket (this trip goes from the beach at 80 degrees to the mountains at 30 degrees - be prepared, take bottled water).
5. Bubba Gumps - - a must do restaurant. Bubba’s is in the Kailua Village, beach side. It is patterned after the movie Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks. Be sure to sit on the patio. Parking is difficult - try the underground parking next to Bubba’s. Drive time - 10 min; Cost - $5 to $12; Dress - shorts.
6. King Kamehameha Mall in the village has some of the best stores to spend your money at and has the best sushi bar in town. It is sort-of hard to find. But it is across the street from the Kona Brewery, another great place for lunch. Drive time - 10 min; Cost - ??; Dress - shorts.
7. For a really nice lunch or dinner, Edward’s at Kanaloa, is a must. Reservations are needed for dinner. Drive time - 5 min; Cost - $12 to $22; Dress - no shorts.
8. About halfway between the condo and Kailua, on the non-beach side is Farmers Market. Open Wednesday - Sunday, it is a great place to get fresh produce, plus there are some wonderful craft and clothing stands. Speaking of produce, in addition to the KTA Supermarket in the Keauhou shopping center, Kona also has a Safeway, Walmart and K-mart.
9. More great food can be had at Le Bourguignonne on Hwy 11. This french restaurant is a local favorite. Reservations are required. Drive time - 10 min; Cost - $25; Dress - dress-up for this one.
10. The Coffee Shack Deli, Hwy 11 at Kealakekua - is a long 7 mile drive south of the condo. They make the best sandwiches on the island and with a bottle of Kona Brewery Fire Rock Ale it is a great meal. The view from their deck is spectacular. Ask them for directions to the beach and go down to Moku a Kae Bay for snorkeling. You can visit a coffee plantation on the way down and on the way back look for the Painted Church. You can spend 3 - 4 hours on this little trip. Drive time - 20 min; Cost - $7, Dress - shorts.
12. During the winter you can always see whales and dolphin. We recommend Cpt. Dan McSweeney - whale watching. Call them and ask what there is to see. Best boat trip - takes half a day, but is fun. Drive time to boat - 25 minutes; Cost $50; Dress - shorts (if you go on the morning trip, take a sweater).
13. For some culture and history, take a tour of the Hulithe’e Palace in the Kailua Village across the street from the Moku’aikaua Church. Drive time - 8 min; Cost $10; Dress - shorts.
Have a great vacation, but remember, once you visit Hawaii a little something inside you will forever ask you to return.
Keauhou Surf and Racquet Club
78-6800 Alii Drive #2-301
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740