A September 2001 trip
to Hawaii (Big Island) by techflyer
Quote: From lava deserts to lush and untouched rainforests, the Big Island gives travelers time to relax or time to play. In our week long vacation, we relaxed, went horseback riding, ate at wonderful restaurants and saw an active volcano. We only wish we had two weeks, instead of one.
Also, plan your trips accordingly. If you are staying at the big resorts near Kona, it will take three hours each way to get to the Volcano. Try and plan your trip so you also see things along the way, such as Green Sands national beach on the Southern tip of the island. Chances are you won't want to drive two hours each way the next day just for this. (I'm speaking from experience here, I wish I had stopped.)
The rooms were large and comfortable, if unexceptional. There are three towers. To get between the towers you can either walk, ride the tram, or take a boat. The boats and trams were extremely irregular, especially at night when you wanted them most. To walk from the lobby to the Ocean tower where we stayed took about 8 minutes.
I loved the pools and the ocean fed lagoon. The Lagoon Pool has several waterfalls which you can swim through and two hot tubs to relax in. The lagoon is ocean fed, so you will be swimming with turtles and other colorful fish. You can rent kayaks, snorkel gear and other toys from a desk by the lagoon. There is also an adults only pool.
The views are incredible from the resort. There are a multitude of ways and places to enjoy the sunset.
The Dolphin Encounter allows you to interact with a number of Dophins, as well as learn about them and the issues surrounding them. Kids are given preference, but it would be memorable for everyone. For adults, one-on-one encounter was $125, and the couples adventure was $200. I believe kids'' pricing was similiar.
I will admit we did not have dinner at any of the restaurants. They were recomended; however, we like to experience the local cuisine. The restaurants were also pricey, but that is to be expected.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 9, 2001
Hilton Waikoloa Village
425 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, Hawaii 96738
At the table our service was prompt, informative and friendly. Some of the fish was unknown to this mainlander, and our waitress explained each by giving a similar fish that was known on the mainland.
We opted for the local menu, although the classic menu was extremely tempting. Roy's has a multitude of appetizers, and we strongly suggest just getting a selection of these. You might try his Blackened Island Ahi, or Hawaiian Kai Crab Cakes, or Szechuan Style Baby Back Ribs.
To start, I had the wonderful Rosemary Grilled Lamb Medallions. It was three medallions of lamb perfectly cooked with a peppered balsamic sauce and served with a crispy onion ring. My wife had Waimea Tomato Carpaccio with roasted asparagus, locally grown tomatos and balsamic glaze and white wine buerre blanc.
Smoothly moving into the entrees, I had grilled Anago with a plum sauce and grilled cilantro. The waitress told me this was a Pacific red snapper with a Japanese preparation. The fish was fresh and flavorful, although I'll admit the spices were very different from an American preparation. I was also lucky to be able to try the black tiger shrimp prepared in a coconut curry sauce with peanuts and cilantro. This sauce was excellent.
We finished with the chocolate souffle and the fresh fruit cobbler, both specialties of the house which must be ordered with your entrees.
The menu also included many local meats such as lamb and beef short ribs, as well as fish like Mahimahi, Ahi and Opakapaka. The preparations include influences from Japan (like my dinner), Thailand, China and the mainland.
There were several suggested wines by the glass and they were paired with different types of cuisine. Most of these are bottled for Roy's restaurant under a private label. I had the Rustique with my lamb, which was fair. I also had the Oregon Pinot Gris with my entree, which I thought was excellent. There was a nice selection of ports with dessert.
The restaurant is in the King's Shops in Waikoloa, right across the street from the Outrigger Resort. Just turn off Hwy 19 onto Waikoloa Beach Drive. Reservations are a must for dinner and should probably be made well in advance.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 9, 2001
250 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii
The food is spelled out on two big menus. They have burgers (beef, chicken or garden) and dogs, as well as a Mexican feast and surprisingly awesome salads. To drink they have smoothies, lemonade, and the usual fare of soft drinks.
Right next door is the rental shop, where you can gear up for your day at the beach. Rent beach chairs and umbrellas, snorkel gear and a boogie board. You can also purchase the sunscreen you forgot.
After lunch, surf's up!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 11, 2001
Three Frog's Cafe
3 Frogs Cafe
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii 96738
Restaurant | "Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery"
Imagine a restaurant that you might see 30 or 40 years ago on the Big Island of Hawaii. It would probably be in a little town near the water. Would it be an airy place, with bamboo walls and furniture? Would you see tropical drinks served in coconut-shaped cups? Would the waiters and waitresses be dressed in Hawaiian attire? What would the cuisine be like? In the middle of the Pacific you would expect lots of seafood, but with influences from Asia as well as America.
If you'd like to see the restaurant you imagined, it might be very similiar to Bamboo in the sleepy and quaint town of Hawi. It is about an 40 minutes from the resorts of Kohala. Lunch or dinner at the restaurant is a perfect compliment to an afternoon of sightseeing at the numerous galleries and stunning coastline.
Bamboo has the feel of old Hawaii. As you walk in there is a gallery on your right which has Koa wood furniture, local art, old prints and Hawaiian dress. To the left is an airy dining room. The furiniture and walls are largely bamboo, with some local wood thrown in. There are prints on the wall that alludes to the history of the Island, and the origins of its culture.
Once you sit down for dinner or lunch, start with the specialty of the house: a passion fruit margarita. The Mai-tais also looked good, and I can personally vouch for the locally brewed beer that is on tap.
They have a selection of local appetizers such as chicken potstickers, Margaritaville shrimp, and a pork & mango quesadilla. The chicken potstickers are a house specialty and have peanuts, ginger, garlic and lemongrass. They are served with a chile-mint sauce. If you can't decide, there is the Bamboozled Platter, which has all three. We could not decide, and everything was so delicious I still would not be able to make up my mind.
For entrees, you can't beat the fish. They only serve one kind at a time, to ensure you get the fish that is most fresh. When we showed up, there were four orders left of the Ahi, and Mahimahi was up next. You pick from one of four different prepations of fish, all creative and inviting. My wife chose a Thai preparation that resulted in the best fish I tasted on the Island. I had a pork tenderloin with a pineapple BBQ sauce, which was well prepared. There was also a fish special, a locally grown lamb and steak, as well as an Asian noodle dish.
We were too tired for dessert, but I believe they had a mango creme brulee and coconut cream pie.
There is entertainment on Friday and Saturday that sometimes results in the waitresses breaking out into Hula. They are closed Monday, and do not serve dinner on Sunday night.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 10, 2001
Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery
The white sand beach extends into the ocean and is extremely soft. The three days we were there the surf was gentle.
Be sure and try out the Three Dogs Cafe, or if you didn't bring snorkel gear, you can rent very good equipment there are very reasonable prices ($6.00 for 4 hours).
Hapuna Beach State Park
Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway
Dorkel's Snorkel Rental
Suite #129 Highlands Shopping Center
Waikoloa, Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii 96738
Restaurant | "Huggo's"
We also ate dinner at Huggo's. The menu was mainly fish. The preparation was fair but not memorable. Our table was right next to the open windows that looked out over the ocean. However, given the prices, I wouldn't recommend dinner.
The restaurant is just south of the main part of town on the main Ali'i Dr right next to Snorkel Bob's.
Huggo's on the Rocks
75-5828 Kahakai Road
Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740
Koa wood art, jewelry, lithographs, fine clothing and other fascinating artwork awaits you at Ackerman Galleries. Across the street from the historic King Kamehamea Statue (the original), this friendly shop has very high quality finds throughout. In business for 18 years, the store is run by the Ackerman family, who is also the featured painter. While my knowledge of art is limited, I admired the many limited edition lithographs created by Gary Ackerman. My wife tried on many pieces of locally made jewelry. We both enjoyed talking with the two people who ran the gallery and got some goods tips as to activities and places to eat (see Bamboo).
For a preview of the artwork, go to www.ackermangalleries.com You might also call the gallery at (808)889-5971 for a private tour.
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii
You're in Hawaii, so you need to go to a Lu'au. We went to the one at the Royal Kona Resort. You experience a Hawaiian feast under the tiki torches and stars just off the ocean's edge. After feasting on the expansive Hawaiian buffet you are treated to a Polynesian revue that takes you through the customs and dances of the Pacific Islands. Throughout the performance you can enjoy Mai Tais and other drinks from the open bar.
The feast starts with a picture with two of the performers in local dress. (You can purchase this after the show for a nominal fee.) You can then get a drink, listen and admire the crashing surf, find a seat at the table, and get to know your neighbors for the show. The stage is nicely set overlooking the ocean, however the seating is card tables and plastic chairs.
Once the feast begins, a somewhat cheesy but enjoyable emcee explains the history of the lu'au and you get to experience the Imu ceremony. The emcee continues to entertain throughout the buffet, and takes the time to recognize those on their honeymoon or anniversary. The show itself is very enjoyable as you travel through the Pacific Islands.
The dinner is served buffet style and is composed of various Hawaiian dishes like roasted pig, salmon, poi and terriaki steak. There are also numerous salads and side dishes to satisfy almost any taste. The food is fair quality. For dessert there was pineapple cake or coconut cream pie. The bar is open from the beginning of the Lu'au through the first half hour of the show. It consists of Mai Tais, fruit punch, Bud, Bud Light, wine and highball drinks. The Mai Tais and fruit punch were served in punch bowls, and you didn't need to worry about drinking too much as they were very watered down.
Overall the Lu'au was a fun night out. That said, don't be afraid to try one of the other Lu'aus around the Island. The cost is $55 per person and $1 for parking. You can also buy leis for $3, premium pina coladas served in a pineapple for $8, and pictures of you with the performers for $15. Normally they are Monday, Friday and Saturday, although the Saturday one was cancelled when we were there. Call (808) 329-3111 for information.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 11, 2001
Royal Kona Lu'au
75-5852 Ali'i Drive
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii
Attraction | "Waipi'o Valley on Horseback"
Horseback riding is one of the best ways to see that valley. You travel easily through bumpy roads, rivers, and narrow trails. Along the way your guides will point out the taro fields, the different types of vegetation and wildlife, and local sights and history.
There are two riding companies, and we used Waipi'o Na'alapa Stables. The cost of the 2.5 hour ride is $75, and can be enjoyed by any ability. For people like me who had never ridden a horse, I was given basic instruction. While nervous at first, I was quite comfortable by the end of the trip, and even trotted a bit. The guides are extremely knowledable about the area and its history. One of our guides had family who lived in the valley. The guides also gladly take pictures with your camera during the ride.
The ride takes you through the middle of the valley. They are no longer allowed to take you to the beach, which is stunning with its black sand and thundering surf. If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, you can drive down the windy road to see the beach. If you have the time you might also do a little hiking to continue exploring the valley. If you drive down, be sure to ask a local for some tips and directions, as there a numerous potholes on the road and the cost to get towed out of the valley is about $750. For those alarmed, we nervously drove down, but encountered no problems. A good place for information is the Waipi'o Valley Artworks.
Off of Highway 240
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii
Attraction | "Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park"
Of all the sights, my favorite was the Thurston Lava Tube. It is a 10 foot high tunnel that was formed by lava flowing to the sea. Chain of Craters road is also creepy as you drive from crater to crater imagining huge lava flows and pools and how they made their way to the sea. At the end of the road, you sometimes can see active lava flows far off in the distance. At night you can vaguely see the lava pouring into the sea. While you can hike the six miles over the lava fields, the Park Rangers strongly advise against it.
If you are going to the park, I recommend you spend the night in Hilo or near the park. It is about three hours from Kohala, and makes for a long day when driving there and back. An even better suggestion is to take a helicopter or plane ride. While expensive, you will be able to see the lava lake, and a close-up of the lava flows.
If you do drive from Kohala or Kona, you might stop at Green Sands national park at the southern tip of the Island, for which you will need 4 wheel drive.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 15, 2001
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hilo, Hawaii 96718