Date of stay: Late Jan 2015
Where you stayed: Hotels and B&Bs
Travelled with: As a couple
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
Itinerary: Hawaii in 2 weeks.
A Saturday flight overnight from Brisbane with Hawaiian Airways (approx. 10hrs). 2 hours later we were on a flight to Kona, The Big Island.
On the Big Island, we spent 3 nights at Kona, then drove around to the other side of the island via the Hawaii Volcano Park. We stayed in Hilo for 2 nights before flying back to Oahu from Hilo. Once in Honolulu we picked up a car to head to the North Shore of Oahu (2 nights), before spending the last 7 nights in Waikiki.
The Big Island
Things to do:
Swim with the Manta Rays: Undoubtedly one of the best experiences! We went with Splashers the first night, however with big swell the Manta’s didn’t show. We stayed on an extra night and as Splashers (USD$105) were full booked they organised for us to go out with Wicked Wahine. The Mantas came out in force that evening, dancing and somersaulting through the water, the 8ft beasts came within inches of us! The boys organising the trip, especially Super Dave were amazing and the hot soup and pineapple on the journey back topped off the experience.
Coffee Plantation: Hawai’i is the only place in the US that grows and produces coffee. We visited Thunder Mountain, they run free tours of their small operations. Their choc covered coffee beans are divine. Unfortunately, the American idea of good coffee is brewed/filtered, espresso beans…coffee snobs beware!
Eating and Drinking in Kona:
There are plenty of bars and restaurants down near the Kona Harbour. Check out the Kona Brewing Company for good pizzas and great beer. Also try out some local cuisine including Poke (fresh raw fish served with rice) at Umeke’s Poke Bowls and Local Lunch Plates.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Holiday Inn. Great location, walking distance to restaurants. Ample parking if you hire a car. We booked through their website so check that out for current prices.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
A must do. Make your first stop the Kilauea Visitor Centre and pick up a map. There are bush walks all through the area but for an easy walk try the Thurston lava tube caves (<30mins). Check out Volcano House, a hotel right on the Caldera. There are cane chairs in the café with awesome views over the smoking volcano, sit down with a beverage and take it all in.
We took a 4 hour Ranger led tour from the Kilauea Visitors Centre which took us down into the bowels of the still active Kilauea caldera. We went out beyond the ‘Do not enter’ signs onto the 1974 lava flows with hot steaming vents. Check with the Rangers if this tour is running as its dependant on the wind direction of volcanic gases and volcano activity. The Ranger was quite funny (previously a magician) and very informative.
We spent 2 nights at Hilo Bay Hale Bed and Breakfast. Great location, big breakfasts with fresh baked goodies, fresh fruit and bacon. Check out the Markets for local gifts and souvenirs. While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, try out Lucy’s Tacqueria for nachos, tacos and a big as burrito! Support local business by buying some chocolate treats or stop in for breakfast or lunch at the Hawaiian Crown Plantation and Chocolate Factory. They do the best tasting hot chocolate I have ever had and also offer a range of healthy alternatives!
Things to do
Paradise Helicopters: We took a helicopter ride out over the new lava flows threatening the town of Pahoe and also went over an active crater. Doors off, Volcano and Waterfalls Extreme (45min, USD$282).
North Shore Oahu
Things to do:
Watch a big surf comp: We came to Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset specifically to watch the big waves. 20ft+ while we were there. Try and time it so you get to see some of the pro’s out on the water with a surf comp.
Where to Stay and Eat
On the North Shore of Oahu we stayed at Ke Iki Beach Bungalows. Ask for an Ocean front unit and the big waves will be breaking just at your door! Walking distance to the legendary Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline surf breaks. The units were self-contained so we got supplies from Foodland (walking distance). There are also a number of food caravans nearby. The Waimea Beachside Galley has the best sourdough toasted sandwiches with mozzarella, pesto and Kailua (smoked Hawaiian style pig). Don’t go past their short rib beef sandwiches either!
Things to do
Diamond Head National Park: Get the heart pumping with a climb up to the top of Diamond Head. Steep walk, try get there early to beat the crowds. Amazing views across Honolulu.
Get some sun on Waikiki: Take your towel down to the beach and swim. There are surf boards and SUPs for hire if you feel like something more strenuous.
Hanaumu Bay: Great nature reserve for snorkelling and quite an important place in Hawaiian native history. You can hire all snorkelling equipment there. Reef was quite bleached when we went. If you are a confident swimmer head further out through the channel, beyond the main reef. There are a lot less tourists, more fish and we even spotted a sea turtle out there. Just be wary of the currents.
Pearl Harbour war memorial: Sobering experience, we did the USS Arizona trip where you can see and smell the oil still leaking from the hull as well as the USS Bowfin submarine.
Shopping: Buyers beware that shopping in the Waikiki area is not as cheap as you would like. We did most of our shopping in the Waikele Outlet mall which was significantly cheaper than Ala Moana Center. For example Levi jeans were USD$40 at the outlet mall and the same pair was USD$118 at the Ala Moana Center.
Where to Stay and Eat
We stayed at the Waikiki Hilton on Hilton points, if it wasn’t for the points I probably would have stayed at another island or the North Shore. The best thing about the Hilton village was the ABC store where you could buy beer from USD$12 a 12-pack (Steinlager Pure).
Try Shorebirds for happy hour cocktails and amazing views of Diamond Head. They also do a huge steak special and all you can eat salad bar for USD$20. Only drawback is you cook it yourself on one of the huge hot plates they have. There are plenty of eating options around, Waikiki is a busy place.
By: Kirk & Kim