Hawaii Journals

The Last State

A December 2011 trip to Hawaii by Chris & Carinne

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii More Photos
Quote: Chris visited Hawaii for a month, completing his tour of all fifty states. Carinne joined him for two weeks on the Big Island, and he spent a couple weeks on Maui solo. This journal details some of the places we visited.

Week 1: Big Island Beaches

Spencer Beach Park

Attraction | "Nice beach, superb campground"

Quote:
Spencer Beach State Park offers a very nice white sand beach and lots of communal gathering spaces from picnic tables to a large pavilion, making it the ideal spot for families or groups to enjoy the beach. As a campground, it also excels, providing tons of space, grills (if that's your thing), almost no precipitation, and shower stalls. The wind can kick up quite fiercely, so make sure your tent is secured. The nearby town of Kawaihae Harbor has some decent restaurants, an excellent convenience store, and the best shave ice we've had so far on the island. Next time, I might try to camp somewhere a little less popular, like Laupahoehoe Point, but Spencer Beach State Park would definitely be the backup...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 10, 2012

Spencer Beach Park

Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Kawaihae Market and Deli

Restaurant | "Superb convenience store"

Quote:
This place was my go-to while camping in the nearby Spencer Beach State Park. They have just about everything you could need: I picked up a flashlight, flip-flops, and bug spray on various trip here. Their food is surprisingly good and affordable, especially for a convenience store in Hawaii. I loved the freshly sliced pineapple, and their pre-made chicken salad sandwiches were solid. They've also got electrical outlets for those of us who need to juice up our various mobile devices while enjoying our lunch. While it's not the ultimate tourist attraction, Kawaihae Market and Deli is a definite stop for anyone spending any extended time in Kawaihae or vicinity.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 10, 2012

Kawaihae Market and Deli
Kawaihae Shopping Center
Kawaihae, Hawaii

Shell Beach Resort at Waikoloa Village

Hotel | "Surprising Value"

Shell Beach Resort at Waikoloa Village Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
We stayed at Paniolo Greens for a night and would definitely consider returning here were we to ever revisit the Big Island. At $110 per night, it's more affordable than most anything you'll find on the west side of the island, and in exchange you get a full two bedroom, two bathroom apartment that's clean and well-appointed with all the stuff you'd expect in a modern apartment, including a washer and dryer for laundry. It's plenty of room for a family, or you could easily fit a couple couples or a group of friends here, making the overall price very affordable. Views of the backyard golf course are nothing special, but it beats looking at a parking lot. We recommend.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Shell Beach Resort at Waikoloa Village
P.O. Box 480409
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii
1(888) 380-7002

Anuenue Shave Ice

Restaurant | "Best shaved ice, poss anywhere"

Quote:
I'm no shaved ice connoisseur, but I can't imagine it getting much better than Anuenue's. The trick seems to be in the ice shaves themselves, which this place does masterfully. Be careful with the more experimental flavors; unless you're sure you won't think "lavender lemon" tastes like soap, stick to the more traditional concoctions. Pina Colada was excellent, for example.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 10, 2012

Anuenue Shave Ice
Kawaihae Shopping Center
Kawaihae, Hawaii 96743

Week 2: Hilo & Environs

New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine

Restaurant | "Excellent Thai Food at Affordable Prices"

Quote:
We stopped here on a whim during our first day in Hilo, and we'll most likely make a return visit. The food was very good and quite affordable: full dinner plates were only $9 or $10. Serving sizes were generous too, so we had enough for a second meal off the leftovers. The restaurant itself was spacious and inviting. Yes, Thai food is not some unique "Hawaiian" experience, so if you're looking for something completely out of the ordinary then this is not it. However, if you're in town and want some excellent Thai food, New Chiang Mai is a great choice.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

New Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine
110 Kalakaua
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
8089693777

Kress Cinemas

Attraction | "Incredible Value!"

Quote:
Your hard-earned vacation time might be better spent enjoying some of Hawaii's more unique offerings, but few activities beat a $1.50 movie on the big screen. We pay twice that to watch an streaming movie on the computer! A definite must if you want a little break from your break.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Kress Cinemas
174 Kamehameha Avenue
Hilo 96720
(808)941-3456

Ken's House of Pancakes

Restaurant | "Is there a diner around here?"

Quote:
The four different pancake syrups alone are worth the visit (though the papaya syrup was merely okay)! Ken's extensive menu, affordable prices, and interesting takes on traditional diner food makes it a required stop for anyone spending any time in Hilo. Highly recommended!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Ken's House of Pancakes
1730 Kamehameha Ave
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
+1 808 935 8711

Laupahoehoe Point

Attraction | "Impressive atmosphere, potentially excellent campsite"

Laupahoehoe Point Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
The day we stopped by here, the wind was pounding the surf against Laupahoehoe's rocks pretty hard, spraying ocean water on folks even 50 yards from shore. This beach lies between some nice cliffs, so while it's no Waipi'o Valley you still get the same feel. Although we did not camp here, I would certainly consider it on a return visit. It's rained here only a couple times in the past week, far less than I'd expect on this side of the island, and Laupahoehoe, while not particularly close to anything, is less far than any other location I can think of, making it a surprisingly convenient home base for exploring the island.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 10, 2012

Laupahoehoe Point

Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Attraction | "Timing too important"

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Having visited most of the US National Parks, I must admit I found Hawaii Volcanoes somewhat underwhelming. However, I recognize this is in large part due to the timing of our visit; other times might have yielded a more satisfying experience. When we visited, the renowned Crater Rim Trail was closed due to high levels of sulfur dioxide, and the lava flow into the ocean was very minimal. The park is certainly worth a visit, especially to view the Kailauea volcano at night, but I wouldn't make a trip to the Big Island just to see this park without first making sure that Mother Nature was going to be amenable.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Highway 11
Hilo, Hawaii 96718
(808) 985-6000

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs

Attraction | "Remotely interesting"

Quote:
If you like archaeological or historical aspects of our National Parks, then perhaps you'll enjoy the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs more than I did. I tend to like these types of attractions more when they are on the way to some other feature (waterfall, sweeping vista, etc.), but as the main attraction, these were somewhat underwhelming. Most of the petroglyphs are holes in the ground for umbilical cords. In my opinion 1.5 mile hike is better spent walking further down the Chain of Craters road or doing the Desolation Trail.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs
Chain Of Craters Road
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Kilauea Volcano

Attraction | "Go after sunset"

Kilauea Volcano Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
The Kailauea volcano, a massive crater belching ash into the sky, is impressive enough during the day, but for the full effect you must visit after the sun has set. Only then will you see the glow of molten lava from beneath the earth illuminating the plumes of ash. The effect is so striking, it almost comes off as a man-made light show. Other areas of the park are interesting, but this was the most impressive to us.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Kilauea Volcano

Island of Hawaii, Hawaii

Lava Rock Cafe

Restaurant | "Try something else"

Quote:
We were starving when we got here, which usually makes any gruel taste great, but this food still failed to impress. The teriyaki chicken was no better than a $4.99 microwaveable meal at home, and the steak fajita was nothing to write home about. Don't bother choosing between the macaroni, egg, or potato salad, as you'll get an amalgamation of all three no matter what. Definitely pass on this one.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Lava Rock Cafe
Old Volcano Road
Volvano, Big Island, Hawaii 96785
(808) 967-8526

Wailoa River State Park

Attraction | "Decent Diversion While Walking Hilo"

Quote:
The Wailoa River State Park would be a great hang-out if you lived in Hilo. It's large relative to the downtown area and features a variety of attractions you'd look for in a park: streams, lakes, fishing, meeting areas, picnic spots. Even as a tourist, we found it to be a nice place to relax for an afternoon. It's not a "must see" spot, but I doubt you'll come away disappointed.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Wailoa River State Park
Hawaii (Big Island)
Hawaii (Big Island)

Hilo Bay Cafe

Restaurant | "Excellent Restaurant in Unassuming Location"

Quote:
Located next to Wal-Mart, the Hilo Bay Cafe might inspire thoughts of buffet style cafeteria food. Instead, it offers gourmet food at relatively affordable prices. The variety of food offered is excellent, so nearly anyone will find something they'd like, and everything we had tasted great. It's not cheap, but it's not overly expensive for what it is. If you're looking for a quality dining experience in Hilo, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Hilo Bay Cafe
315 Makaala Street, #109
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
808-935-4939

Waipio Valley

Attraction | "Well worth the grueling hike"

Waipio Valley Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Waipi'o Valley's views are spectacular all the way down the road into the valley, and the beach itself features silky black sand and wonderful views of multiple waterfalls cascading into the ocean. Be sure to head toward the back of the valley too, where you'll see twin waterfalls dropping at least 1000 feet into the valley. We didn't see any of the wild horses, but we didn't have to for the trek to be worthwhile. If you're in shape, the hike out will be a tough 20 minute haul. If you're not, just take your time to continue enjoying the amazing vistas; you'll make it eventually!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 8, 2012

Waipio Valley
Off of Highway 240
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Week 3: More Hilo & Back to the Beaches

Thai Rin

Restaurant | "Substandard Food at Beachfront Property Prices"

Quote:
If this is the best Thai food Kona has to offer, then we'll stick to Hilo. The Pad Thai was okay but approximated my own spaghetti-plus-homemade-peanut-sauce recipe. Carinne's noodle dish was notably bland. The outdoor seating with a view of the ocean was nice, but every place has that around here. We'll be trying something else the next time we're in the vicinity.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 10, 2012

Thai Rin
75-5799 Alii Drive
Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740
(808) 329-2929

Akaka Falls State Park

Attraction | "Definitely worth a trip"

Akaka Falls State Park Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Akaka State Park is a very beautiful slice of tropical forest that shows off two free-falling waterfalls. The short stroll to these falls transports you through some of the most exotic flora on all the island, making you feel instantly like you've arrived in a remote jungle. If only the walk were a bit longer or there were other trails in the park to enjoy, this might have gotten a perfect five stars. As is, it's all taken in within about 10 minutes, and there's really not much need to go back. Definitely a must-see, but not necessarily a spot worth multiple trips.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 11, 2012

Akaka Falls State Park
End of 'Akaka Falls Road (Highway 220)
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls

Attraction | "Nice but Akaka's better"

Rainbow Falls Photo, Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii
Quote:
Rainbow Falls are a nice stop if you happen to be in Hilo, but I wouldn't go out of your way to see them if you've already seen Akaka Falls. These are nearly the same thing except smaller and missing the beautiful albeit short walk. Be sure to make the two minute drive to the Boiling Pots for additional scenery.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 11, 2012

Rainbow Falls
Waianuenue Street
Hawaii, Big Island, Hawaii

Ahalanui Park

Attraction | "Like a resort pool, only warmer and cheaper"

Quote:
Ahalanui Park features a large naturally heated pool situated right next to the ocean. You'll have to go considerably out of your way to get here, but the drive is beautiful and the destination is more than worthwhile. A small crowd was already here when we arrived on a weekday evening, and I'm not sure I'd want to combat weekend crowds here. However, if you can get a piece of the pool to yourself and do a little swimming, it is quite a delight. The water is perfect, and you can swim right up to where the ocean crashes against the edge of the pool. It's easy to see why resorts have stuff like this, but hard to see why you'd pay for those when you can visit Ahalanui for free.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 11, 2012

Ahalanui Park
Hwy 137, Pohoa
Hawaii (Big Island), HI
(808) 961-8311

Hapuna Beach State Park

Attraction | "Amazing Classic Beach"

Quote:
One guidebook comments that the Mauna Kea beach a mile north of Hapuna is the "most classically beautiful beach" on the Big Island. While that might be true, you'd probably find us at Hapuna instead of that one more times than not. It's also a "classic" beach: soft white sand, good surf, a wide crescent lined with palm trees. In all but the latter, Hapuna is actually better than its northern neighbor, which offers a slightly more dramatic curve to its shore. Hapuna also has more showers, picnic tables, and parking. It just feels like a fun beach, while Mauna Kea feels a little more like a movie set piece.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 16, 2012

Hapuna Beach State Park
Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway
Kona, Hawaii

Keoni's Coffee Shack

Best Of IgoUgo

Hotel | "Better off camping"

Keoni's Coffee Shack Photo, Laupahoehoe, Hawaii
Quote:
I wanted to like this place, and the rationalization that carried me through our stay was an optimistic "you get what you pay for." After all, the Coffee Shack is about half the price we would have paid at any hotel on the Big Island, so we ought to be satisfied with about half as much amenity.However, staying at the Coffee Shack is better compared to camping, and there it doesn't fare nearly as well. For next to nothing, we could have stayed at any one of the Big Island's excellent campsites, including the one just up the road at Laupahoehoe Point. We would have had the same lukewarm to cold water, outdoor shower, infiltration of bugs and lizards, and finicky gas range you have to light m...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 16, 2012

Keoni's Coffee Shack
Hamakua Coast
Laupahoehoe, Hawaii
808-962-6622

Week 4: Maui

Waikamoi Ridge Trail

Attraction | "Perhaps a nice stop for families"

Quote:
This nature trail takes only about 10 minutes and offers a decent look at a variety of plant species, if that's your thing. I don't feel like I would have missed much if I'd just kept driving, but I can see this being an easy (and free) little educational excursion for families.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 18, 2012

Waikamoi Ridge Trail
Hana Hwy.
Maui, Hawaii

Road to Hana

Attraction | "Nice drive but not "all that""

Quote:
I enjoyed the three hour drive along the "Road to Hana," but would not offer up the superlatives others give this 50 miles stretch of asphalt. In my opinion, the run of highway along southern Maui is just as scenic, with spectacular sweeping views of Haleakea and the ocean. The contorted, twisting section of 340 just north of Waihee is also excellent. I'd give them all four stars out of five and recommend that anyone who enjoys scenic drives give them a try.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 18, 2012

Road to Hana
Hana Highway
Maui, Hawaii

Haleakalā National Park

Attraction | "Two Parks in One"

Quote:
Overall, this is an excellent park, and I preferred it to its companion on the Big Island. Like many National Parks, it combines several climate zones into one park, essentially offering two "parks" in one. Closest to civilization is the area in which Haleakala itself presides, reached by driving up Crater Road (separate entry in IgoUgo). The other primary section features the "Seven Sacred Pools," certainly worth the trip either along the Road to Hana or the more difficult but shorter southern route. These pools are the epitome of coastal falls here on Maui; if you were to visit only one, these would be it. The nearby campground is superb, offering free drive-in camping and more secluded walk-in site...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 10, 2012

Haleakalā National Park
Po Box 369
Makawao, Hawaii 96768
(808) 572-4400

Haleakala Highway (Crater Road)

Attraction | "Believe the Hype"

Quote:
My contrary personality usually tries to find fault with the popular, but in this case it just can't be denied: the sunrise at Haleakala is not to be missed. I'm not traveled enough to know if it's the "best in the world," as some proclaim, but it's certainly the finest I've seen in this country. Be sure to allow enough time to get up the road. You're looking at a good half hour even after you've gotten into the park.

Be nice to hitchhikers here; they're just trying to get up to the peak so they can hike back down to their cars via the Shifting Sands Trail.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 10, 2012

Haleakala Highway (Crater Road)
Rte. 37
Maui, Hawaii

Hamoa Beach

Attraction | "Best Beach on Maui"

Quote:
Perhaps I got lucky, but I found this to be the finest beach I visited on either Maui or the Big Island. It's got fine white sand. It's got open areas for sunbathers. It's got surf (at least I saw some surfers arriving as I left). It's got shade. Public showers. A nice flower garden. In other words, a little bit of everything for everyone. Yet somehow, inexplicably, there's hardly anybody here! More specifically, I arrived at sunset on a weekday, and there was one person on the beach, sleeping in his beach chair. Other than that, I had the place to myself.It's seclusion probably has something to do with the fact that it's slightly hidden from the road. You have to park by a stone wall and ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 10, 2012

Hamoa Beach
Hana
Hana, Hawaii