Big Island in November, Milepoint Members Advice Welcome

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by LauraPDX, Oct 20, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. LauraPDX

    LauraPDX Silver Member

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    201
    Status Points:
    395
    We had a companion fare coupon about to expire and booked a week mid-November on a good nonstop fare. Now we are checking VRBO/AirBnB for that perfect place and thought I would ask the community here for any advice about Restaurants/Farmers Markets/Activities etc. that they would recommend. Autoslash is working well to bring down our car rental price, and I am not bothering with hotel or car loyalty programs (gasp), on this trip. I suspect others on this forum travel like this now and then. (Not everyone travels first class and stays in luxury hotels in real life!).
     
    8MiHi and Sweet Willie like this.
  2. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    206
    Status Points:
    360
    The best Farmer's Market is in Hilo on the Volcano side of town. I'm not sure of the days and am leaving for Molokai tomorrow morning but you can ask when you get there as Everyone will know. 3 women, or something like that, in Hilo for Strawberry Mochi. Again ask anyone for the name. It's on Kilauea street. For a taste of local food try Cafe 100 the originators of Loco Moco.
    There is a great Italian restaurant in Waimea across from the shopping center. The owner was on the food shopping network and the food is excellent with moderate prices.
    Sorry for the sketchy info but I got to catch a plane.
     
    8MiHi and LauraPDX like this.
  3. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    759
    Status Points:
    720
    Try Hilo Bay Cafe for fresh, locally sourced food and an interesting menu. They're in a new location: 123 Lihiwai Street
    Hilo, HI 96720 Reservations (recommended): 808 935 4939
     
    LauraPDX and mikeschu like this.
  4. mikeschu
    Original Member

    mikeschu Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    16,886
    Status Points:
    14,520
    It depends if you're going to the Kona side or the Hilo side. I don't have info about the Kona side. I spent a week near Pahoa, HI in late October last year. If you're on AirBnB, I stayed at the yurt. Unless you really enjoy roughing it, I'm not sure that I'd recommend it for more than a night or two.

    For the Hilo side, I recommend the following activities:
    • Volcanoes National Park for the obvious sight-sighting of Kilauea (spend a day and a bit of the night if you can)
    • Hilo Coffee Mill, for some good locally roasted coffee and photo opportunities of chickens running amok
    • Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory (good for an hour or so)
    • One afternoon, drive past Pahoa on 130 and go all the way down until it ends. The county opens a viewing area where you can see Kilauea from a different vantage point, plus you get to see where the last major eruption took out a bunch of houses (some since rebuilt). Stay for a while and past sunset for the best volcano sighting, but make sure you see it in the afternoon as well.
    • If you need to kill some additional time, Volcano Winery was interesting, but I found their teas to be better than the wine.
    Closer to Kona is South Point, which is the southernmost point in the US. It's probably good for a half-hour to an hour, and you may see some cliff divers in action. Further east of South Point but before Volcanoes National Park is Ka'u coffee mill (meh) and, on the same road, a Buddhist temple/retreat center (kind of interesting if you're into it).

    Since I stayed around Pahoa, I recommend the following for eats in that area:
    • Kaleo's. This is a must go for anyone visiting the area. Incredible food, both lunch and dinner. I think I ate there every day for lunch or dinner.
    • Ning's Thai Cuisine. If I wasn't eating at Kaleo's for dinner, I was here.
    • Sirius coffee (hot spot). Next to the L&L, they always brewed some good coffee whenever I was in there. It's also an internet cafe.
    In Hilo proper, I ate at Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner (ver good and recommended, if expensive) and one Thai place downtown that quite honestly I can't remember the name of. I want to say it was New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine, but it was nothing really memorable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
    LauraPDX likes this.
  5. mikeschu
    Original Member

    mikeschu Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    16,886
    Status Points:
    14,520
    Did they move from the strip mall just south of the Hilo airport?

    Adding: I obviously can't read - they did move.
     
  6. mikeschu
    Original Member

    mikeschu Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    16,886
    Status Points:
    14,520
    Also, I recommend discounthawaiicarrental.com for auto rentals. Scary good.
     
  7. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    As others have said, it makes a big difference which side of the island you're going to be on. I stayed at a friend's vacation rental on the coast near Kalapana (south of Pahoa). Activities that I enjoyed included Volcano National Park, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden just north of Hilo, Akaka Falls (also north of Hilo) and the Waipio Valley overlook
    A list of Big Island Farmer's Markets is here:
    http://www.konaweb.com/konaweb/farmer.shtml.
    I went to the Hilo market on a Wednesday (the big day supposedly), but I was not so impressed. Not bad, but not impressive.
     
    8MiHi likes this.
  8. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,048
    Likes Received:
    8,739
    Status Points:
    7,270
    A favorite activity of ours on the Big Island: www.flumindaditch.com
    great fun & beautiful scenery

    We enjoyed Sibu Café (Indonesian)
    75-5695 Alii DriveKailua-Kona, HI 96740 (do not go here expecting an Applebee's environment !)
     
    LauraPDX likes this.
  9. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Likes Received:
    7,456
    Status Points:
    5,245
    Waimea also does a nice farm/garden market on weekends; their town website may have details.

    Best black sand beach / park to relax at is Punaluu State Park on the southeastern side of the island. There's also the Punaluu Bake Shop not far from there on the belt road... in addition to delicious Hawaiian sweet breads and ice cream, they also have sandwiches and salads for sale there...and a nice place to eat outside ...or under cover when a passing shower visits.
     
    miles and smiles and LauraPDX like this.
  10. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Likes Received:
    7,456
    Status Points:
    5,245
    Is the ditch open yet? I know the big earthquake a few years ago destroyed the ditch system and there were some plans to re-build & re-open, but haven't heard any progress since.
     
    Sweet Willie likes this.
  11. LauraPDX

    LauraPDX Silver Member

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    201
    Status Points:
    395
    wow, thanks for all the great suggestions. We were thinking of staying on the dry side and making day trips over to Hilo and VNP on a couple of days, and hanging out and snorkeling on the other days. Anyone here do the snorkel trip with Manta Rays? (I am not a diver but I understand that is the better option). NO, not into roughing it at our age. A comfortable bed is high on the list along with a full kitchen to cook meals (will eat out too). I have been reading Big Island Revealed and the Moon Guidebooks (from the library, of course), and the Observatory sounds interesting too. Anyone been there recently?
     
    8MiHi and miles and smiles like this.
  12. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,048
    Likes Received:
    8,739
    Status Points:
    7,270
    I sure hope so!
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  13. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Likes Received:
    7,456
    Status Points:
    5,245
    The observatory on Mauna Kea gets pretty cold this time of year and snow is possible in November. Organized tours that take you up for evening star gazing and to roam around the telescopes on top will fit you with heavy coats/gloves/hats. If you go on your own, just make sure you're dressed for wintry weather... there may not be snow, but it'll be cold enough for it there. With the whole new Saddle Road now open, getting back/forth across the island...and the the observatory.... is a breeze. I road up just a few months ago at the end of spring.
     
  14. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,048
    Likes Received:
    8,739
    Status Points:
    7,270
    does one now have to use an organized tour or can one still go w/o a tour?

    I remember just driving up to one of the observatories, there were certain nights of the week where powerful telescopes were set outside so one could just walk up and look through. Some fantastic sights & knowledgeable personnel on hand to answer questions/discuss what you were seeing.
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  15. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Likes Received:
    7,456
    Status Points:
    5,245
    You should be able to get as far as the visitor's center, which itself has interesting sites. There are many, many restrictions for traveling beyond the observatory...like you need to drive with your lights off, etc. Most of the observatories on top are off-limits to guests, which is I recommend the organized tour that may be able to get you in to see something outside of a random open house. But if you want to roam around on top, as long as you meet the restrictions on the roadway, you shouldn't have any problems driving up to the top and wandering about on the outside of the telescopes.
     
    8MiHi, LauraPDX and miles and smiles like this.
  16. clscholes

    clscholes Silver Member

    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    1,420
    Status Points:
    810
    We went to Big Island on our honeymoon, and stayed at a resort halfway between Hilo and Kona...if you have time to hit all of the colored beaches (there are black AND green sand in one part), do it...Volcano National Park is nice, but can be a hike (if you like that, great!), and there are tons of hole in the wall restaurants outside of the city limits of Kona and Hilo. Ask the locals and they can point you to some great places! Enjoy!
     
    8MiHi, LauraPDX and miles and smiles like this.
  17. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,206
    Likes Received:
    7,456
    Status Points:
    5,245
    Another reco that I would make is Ruth Chris's in the Mauna Lani complex of that Kohala Coast resort area. Yeah, I know its a chain....and yeah, it's not "Hawaiian"...and yeah, it's not cheap. But they offer an amazing early bird cocktail hour where can you drink a ton of things like Mai tais and sample small bites like seared ahi tuna and filet Mignon sliders...for a low price (in the $5-8 range.) I went with two others planning to have dinner there...and we ended up pigging out in their happy hour without needing dinner. We left very full on a variety of fresh steaks/fish, not to mention alcoholic drinks, most of which come from local places...and I don't think we spent more than $120 including drinks and tip between the three of us. Plus they have a great view of the setting sun from their outdoor, upper level patio, which makes the place that much more gorgeous. If you want to live it up on premium food and soak up a great setting...and pay very little for it, I would recommend it.
     
    LauraPDX likes this.
  18. Gardyloo
    Original Member

    Gardyloo Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,421
    Likes Received:
    4,431
    Status Points:
    2,470
    Two restaurant recommendations, one high end, one cheap.

    High end - Merriman's in Waimea. One of the best restaurants in the state.
    Cheap - Ocean Sushi Deli in downtown Hilo. Cheap and excellent, zero ambiance.
     
    LauraPDX likes this.
  19. Muerl
    Original Member

    Muerl Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,253
    Likes Received:
    2,656
    Status Points:
    1,445
    Spend some time on the Kona side a year ago. There was a lot of good food to be had ;)

    Favorites:

    Sam Choy Kai Lanai has am amazing deck and a very reasonable happy hour : http://www.samchoy.com/happy-hour/ Seared Poke was amazing.

    Da Poke Shack : http://www.yelp.com/biz/da-poke-shack-kailua Just get anything. Drink your beer on the patio in a brown paper bag. Make sure to add Sriracha.

    Actually had the Poke Shack for lunch and Sam Choy for dinner. spent the afternoon snorkeling at Kahaluu Beach Park which is about half way between them.

    If you want a spot for snorkeling thats a bit off the beaten path the recommendation we got which was pretty awesome was actually at the VERY END of the road to the marina. Its about 1000ft over the roads to a beach which you can snorkel along the water side.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&...1,-156.533356&sspn=0.008611,0.010954&t=h&z=18

    The Bite Me restaurant was tasty as well and also in the Marina. http://www.bitemefishmarket.com/ Its more down home fish and seafood, which being from Maine I greatly apriciated.

    If you are up in Waikoloa Beach, I would say that I found a quiet beach where you could sit in the shade and not see another person, which is basicly go to the LavaLava beach club and walk south along the beach until you feel alone.

    Thats my advice for the big Island, have an awesome time.
     
    LauraPDX and 8MiHi like this.
  20. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,048
    Likes Received:
    8,739
    Status Points:
    7,270
    We usually rent a condo when going to Hawaii now, cheaper & we get to make most of our own meals. @Muerl seems to be a poke fan like myself. FYI, one can get many different kinds of poke at most grocery stores/markets. So damn good! (for those that don't know what poke is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poke_(Hawaii)

    It is also easy to make at home, usually a summertime offering in our house.
     
    LauraPDX, Muerl and 8MiHi like this.
  21. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    Likes Received:
    1,255
    Status Points:
    945
    We have kayaked to Captain Cook's monument multiple times to snorkel. The spinner dolphins played with us as we paddled. It is quite something to see a pod of dolphins in the wild leaping for the fun of it. The water near the monument is often crystal clear with many fish and turtles to be seen. The first time we went there we thought the bottom of the bay was bright yellow, then we found that there were wall-to-wall fish filling the basin we had entered. Unfortunately there are also several commercial boats that show up here late AM.
    It's in Kealakekua Park south of Kona. Rent the Kayaks and snorkel gear up on the highway and drive down 160 to the boat launch. You will find local entrepreneurs there who will be happy to help you launch your kayaks and watch your car. It helps to be generous.
    There is also a hiking trail that we have not taken that starts at another spot in the park.
     
    LauraPDX and Sweet Willie like this.
  22. Muerl
    Original Member

    Muerl Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,253
    Likes Received:
    2,656
    Status Points:
    1,445
    I had never had it before my trip last year, but it was amazing. I didn't have the nerve to buy it in a grocery store, thought the restuant versions I had were amazing. I might have to try making it at home!
     
    Sweet Willie likes this.
  23. cvsara
    Original Member

    cvsara Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,497
    Likes Received:
    4,536
    Status Points:
    2,670
    Not sure about the Costco on the Big Island, having a Poke station, they just might have, and if so, well worth checking out. Teh Costco on Maui put in a Poke station about a year ago, and it is very, very, busy, usually a line waiting to sample, Yes sample, and buy. One of the most busy areas at that Costco. As is the Rotisserie Chicken.
     
    LauraPDX and Sweet Willie like this.
  24. LauraPDX

    LauraPDX Silver Member

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    201
    Status Points:
    395
    Thanks to all of you friendly MPers. I will take your advice with me and report back if I stumble any great finds myself!
     
  25. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    829
    Status Points:
    625
    LauraPDX likes this.

Share This Page