Hawaii’i the Big Island

My family has been going there on vacation every year since 1995 and J.O. and I were actually engaged here.  It’s kind of our second home :)

Where to rest you head

As far as where to eat, there are a ton of great places.
  •  Humpy’s Ale House – Great for lunch and easy dinner.  There is a top bar that over looks the ocean and they have AMAZING pizza and a kick ass bloody mary bar on Sundays.  They also have the most beers on tap in downtown.
  • Huggo’s – Great dinner restaurant.  They shine lights onto the ocean at night and let you feed the eels.
  • Huggo’s on the Rocks The tiki bar next to Huggo’s- great place for drinks and apps. Right on the ocean with half of the area on sand.  They also have live music  at night and a happy hour from 4-6 ($4 mai ties)
  • The Kona Inn– In the middle of downtown.  Very relaxing and a “historical” place to go for either lucy or dinner.
  • Panchos & Lefty’s– On the West side of the street in Downtown just North of the Kona Inn.  It’s up on the second level of the building.  Good Mexican food and drinks.
  • Sam Choys–   It’s South of downtown.  Just head out of downtown and towards 11.  You can’t miss it.  It has a huge wrap around deck and it’s name at the top.  It became an instant favorite for us.  Great Apps and Pupus
  • The Coffee Shack– Head South, towards the volcano.  It’s probably 15 min outside of downtown.  We like to go here for breakfast a lot.  They are only open until 3.  They have decadent desserts (macadamia nut pie) and breakfast specials like, ono benedict.
  • The Kona Brewery– about 5 min from downtown.  They obviously have all the Kona beers, great pizza and good apps.
  • Lulu’s– In downtown, good classic hawaiian drinks and atmosphere.
  • If you want a fancy place for dinner, head to the Sheraton just South of town (you can also feed the eels here), Huggos can be dressed up,La Bourgogne in Kona (not downtown) is a French Restaurant or the Tommy Bahama RestaurantT in Mauna Kea (about 40 min North of Kona).
  • There are a ton of places for public access to the water, but you’ll notice most of them, don’t have a ton of sand.  Remember it’s a new island, so there is still a lot of lava.  It’s worth it to buy a cheap pair of swimming shoes , because you usually have to walk across some rough rocks to get to good beach and/or snorkeling.
  • In downtown, the best snorkel beach  with sandy areas to lay out is on the South side. You’ll for sure see at least one sea turtle while you’re swimming.  TONS of fish. They also have a food truck there and a guy to rent stuff from.  Usually there is also a woman making leis at the tables and she just asks for donations.

  • We also will drive further South (head towards the Volcano) and go to Captain Cook’s Memorial.  This is also where the boats and tours will take you to snorkel.  There is slim to non beach to lay on, but it’s great private snorkeling.  You can also rent kayaks and paddle boards here.  The area is known for dolphins to come into the bay, but I have not been so lucky…yet.

  • If you want a sandy beach, head to Mauna Kea.  It’s huge and all Sand.
  •  There is also another beach by the airport (I want to say Hapuna…) it’s drive into the beach area is treacherous and cool at the same time, as you drove through a lava field.  You then walk about a 1/4 mile to get to the beach, but it’s worth it.
  • If you go to the old air port location there is also a nice sand beach.
  • Take a drive towards South Point (most southern point in the United States) and turn into the black sands beach.
  • If you can go on a snorkel or deep sea fishing tour, I recommend it. You’ll see a lot of whales (if you aren’t sick of seeing them from the land! The Humpback whales are in the migrating season and you’ll often see them breach and put on a show even from land) and plus it’s nice to just get out on the water.  Body Glove and Fair Winds have been the best for us on price and dependability of it being a good tour.  Parasailing is also fun there and for that we always use U.F.O.
  • Downtown Kona has great shops.  Lots of fun boutiques and galleries.
  • Trinket and typical hawaiian gifts are galore at Hilo Hattis, a store that advertises a ton and it outside of town by 30 min, but if you need a lot of gifts to bring home, this is the place.
  • There are also a lot of farmers markets in parking lots through out the week everywhere you go.
  • Make sure to try Maui Brewing Co.’s Maui Blonde Ale…it’s delish!  and The Kona Brewery’s Drake (only available at the brewery).
Places to go, Things to do
  • If you have time to drive around the entire island, DO IT! It’s amazing.  There are 11 of the 13 climate zones on the island and you’ll pass though them all.  We left to do it at 7 am and were back in Kona by 2. We even stopped at the Volcano state park for over an hour, which is also cool.  I;ve walked down to the bottom of the crater and it’s neat.  You’ll be amazed at how fast the terrain changes and how amazing it is there.

  • The Golfing is Great.  That’s the main reason my family goes there (my dad has a golfing obsession).
  • Kona Country Club has 2 courses, the Mountain and the Ocean.  The Mountain is Hard, but worth playing for the views alone.
  • I know that they also always golf at Hapunna and Mauna Kea.
  • I recommend buying a golf card on Golfhawaii.com
  • Luau’s are fun to go to , if you have never done one.  It’s been so long since I’ve been to one, that i can’t think a recommendation, sorry.
  • Go on a deep sea fishing adventure if you like to fish:)
This is the island that we lived on staring in summer of  2012. We found our place though craigslist and have many posts on our experience here.  Below are links to each post.  Enjoy!
Preparing for your dog or cat to come to Hawaii…The Quarantine Process


                                         Other Tid-bits of Info
  • Pupu’s are appetizers
  • Poke is a sushi like way to prepare fish
  • Don’t take Lava chunks home, it’s bad luck :)

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