We just spent a wonderful week in Hawaii. We went in Big Island as we are told the nature is still unspoiled in comparison with the other islands. We took a flight from San Francisco to Kailua-Kona (on the West coast of the island). We booked a rental car for the week at Hertz (Alamo is less expensive but the service at Hertz is excellent and we have corporate rates with them). We drove directly from the airport to Hilo (2,5 hours drive) on the East coast.
At Hilo, we stayed 3 nights in Dolphin Bay Hotel (which is the best deal in Hilo according to Lonely Planet). This family-run hotel owns comfy apartment units with full kitchen. Fresh-picked fruit from the backyard and free morning coffee are available to guests. From Hilo, we visited:
- Volcano National Park: we spent a full day in the park which contains Kilauea, the youngest and most active volcano on earth. The landscape is amazing with dozens of craters and hardened lava. To visit the park, you will drive 2 roads:
- Crater Rim Dr circles the crater of Kilauea. The drive with stops will take you an hour.
- Chain of Craters Rd leads to the coast, ending at the site of the most recent lava activity. It will take you 3 hours down and back, with stops along the way.
- Tip: Go to the visitor center to ask updates on volcanic activity and trail conditions.
- Tip: Don’t expect to see geyserlike fountains of lava. From near the end of Chain of Craters Rd, you might see ribbons of lava pouring into the sea or only steam clouds. If you go after sunset, you might see red lava in the night sky.
- Tip: Don’t forget your binoculars.
- Akaka falls: very impressive waterfalls.
- 4-mile scenic drive: don’t miss the 4-mile scenic loop between Honomu and Hilo (on Hwy 19 between the 7 and 8 mile markers)
- Rainbow falls is worth seeing for the massive banyan tree next to the falls.
- Boiling pots: water cascades swirling in bubbling pools.
After 3 days, we went back on the Gold coast (West coast) which is reputed to be sunny the whole year. We were in Mauna Kea Beach hotel which owns the most beautiful beach of the island. It is a paradise for swimming and snorkeling. We saw sea turtles but missed manta rays. Mauna Kea Golf course ranks among the top 10 courses in the world.
Tip: at Mauna Kea Beach hotel, make the reservation by phone and ask for corporate deals. As our employer company is listed on their corporate list, we got a discount of 35% on a mountain view room. If you can afford for an ocian view room, we can tell you that’s worth!! You will have a full view on the beach and sunset…
Tip: Mauna Kea hotel is a sister hotel of Hapuna Beach prince Hotel. Guests may benefit amenities of both hotels. Free shuttles transport guests between the two (10 min drive).
Tip: If you play golf, don’t miss the Mauna Kea Golf course. Guests pay green fees of $130.
We didn’t get time to visit Mauna Kea (astronomical observatories) and Waimea Valley … maybe next time!