Written by flyin_illini on 17 Oct, 2002
If you don't plan on going on any activities with tour companies, then skip this entry. It's targeted at people who are going to be on the island for a few days and want to do things like ride helicopters, go on sunset/snorkel/dinner cruises, play…Read More
If you don't plan on going on any activities with tour companies, then skip this entry. It's targeted at people who are going to be on the island for a few days and want to do things like ride helicopters, go on sunset/snorkel/dinner cruises, play golf, take guided hikes, or do anything else that involves paying a guide or tour company.
On the Big Island, most of the activities are very expensive. For example, a helicopter ride for 1h40min is $340/person. Golf is $145/person. Guided hikes are about $100/person. The list goes on and the prices are all very high.
The catch is that all of the tour companies work with the people that sell timeshares to funnel the discounts through agents for the primary purpose of getting you to go through the whole timeshare sales pitch. We were unable to score any discounts through other means, including our hotel concierge. He said "go look at a timeshare".
Once you decide to view a timeshare, most activities become half-off, even if you don't actually BUY the timeshare. It's the age-old game of getting you to look and listen that they are paying you for. So, as much as we didn't want to do it, we agreed to go hear the schpiel.
Here's what we did:
(1) We arrived at the Big Island and talked to our concierge about activities. He explained how the activities worked and how they are nearly all attached to timeshare-viewing.
(2) We went to the Activities Booth in the Kings Shops. We got the list of available discounts we would be eligible for after viewing the timeshare. The list was long, and included plenty of activities of all types (helicopters, hikes, cruises, golf, luaus, etc. etc. etc).
(3) We left the booth to think about it - we reviewed the list and decided that we would, in fact, save hundreds of dollars by viewing the timeshare.
(4) We went back to the booth and signed up to see a timeshare. We went over to the Bay Club (Hilton) about a mile away and met with a salesman.
(5) This is the step where most people have to go on an hour-long tour of a one or two bedroom condo. If you have no interest in buying, you simply say NO about a dozen times and you're done. If you DO want to buy...well, I have no advice for you there because I've never bought one of these things. For us, we got lucky: we told our salesman that we were on our honeymoon, and he short-circuited the whole process and we were done in 15 minutes (he explained that he KNOWS honeymooners don't buy timeshares, and he was smart enough and kind enough to save us all the time).
(6) After the schpiel, you go to the Bay Club concierge to book your activities. We booked everything we did for the next six days through this concierge - all at half-off or close to it.
(7) You don't have to book all at once or immediately. We decided a day later to book another round of golf. We called the Bay Club up, gave them our name, and they set us up at half-price.
(8) They are undoubtedly making a little bit of a cut every time you book a discounted activity, so you don't have to be bashful about "taking advantage" of the system. They know what they are doing. They sell a lot of timeshares even if YOU say no.
As it turns out, everybody on our helicopter and most of the people on our cruises had done the same thing. I honestly think the "system" was different on the Big Island, but for now, timeshare viewing is about the only way (without some other sort of inside connection) to fair prices on these activities.
Written by pinarbashi on 29 Apr, 2004
One of the often-overlooked pleasures of the Big Island is the availability of fishing from the shore as opposed to chartering fishing vessel. I like to keep my feet on the ground when I fish. I take a collapsible rod with an open-faced reel (heavy…Read More
One of the often-overlooked pleasures of the Big Island is the availability of fishing from the shore as opposed to chartering fishing vessel. I like to keep my feet on the ground when I fish. I take a collapsible rod with an open-faced reel (heavy line just in case). I stop at the supermarket and pick up a pound of shrimp and a pound of squid. Take some hooks, a few weights and a bobber and you are in business. We just got back from a week at Paniola Greens, Waikoloa Village and spent quite a bit of time going up and down the Kohala coast and checking out the fishing spots.
The best place that I found was at the mouth of the harbor at Kona. I caught five broom fish, about 20 to 30 inches long. They are also call bait stealers because for every cast they will get your bait off your hook 24 times out of 25 tries. I also caught other fish, but never found our their correct names. To me fishing is as much fun as swimming, snorkeling, or lounging at the beautiful beaches. We went to about 30 beaches on the island and it looked like I was the only mainlander fishing. The other fishermen were locals. The joy of fishing in the ocean is that you never know what you will catch and challenge is to see if you can keep from losing your bait. The fish there have sharp teeth and I lost a lot of hooks when they bit through the line.
Our unit at Paniola Greens was beautiful and the only drawback was that it is about six miles from the ocean.
Written by ramboy on 21 Apr, 2003
From the time you leave Kona airport to the time you get to Waikaloa, you feel like you are on another planet. For about 20 miles all you see is ancient lava fields. Then you turn into the Waikaloa Beach Resort, and…Read More
From the time you leave Kona airport to the time you get to Waikaloa, you feel like you are on another planet. For about 20 miles all you see is ancient lava fields. Then you turn into the Waikaloa Beach Resort, and your eyes widen. You can't believe the beauty that has been created on top of those ancient lava fields.
Waikaloa Resort is a group of high quality resorts located within the Waikalao property. Within the resort you have fine dinning, a shopping mall, golf, and of course a beautiful beach. You also have the Hilton Waikaloa Resort. This resort is a must see if you are not staying there. You can walk the grounds if you want to, but I recommend taking the boats through the resort. It is truly amazing.
During the day, if you are not traveling to other island destinations, there are plenty of things to do. Beside shopping in the Kings shops, you can hike the Kings trail and see the pictographs of ancient Hawaiians. Wear hiking shoes. You can pick up the trail across the street from the the Shell gas station, just east of it. Check out Anaeho'omalu Beach. It is a well-maintained beach that is great for kids. Good snorkeling and real nice walking paths around the ancient fish ponds. Come here about thirty minutes before sunset and stake out your picture spot. This beach is one of Hawaii's most photographed beaches at sunset. If golf is you game, then you will not be disappointed with the two championship courses within Waikaloa Resort. There is just about something for everyone in Waikaloa, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this Hawaiian destination.
Written by ACheaperTraveler on 17 Feb, 2008
On arrival, our greeter (you know the deal, they have a card with your name and welcome you to paradise with a lei of flowers around your neck) had long left and we just mutteled our way over to the Avis bus.Remembering, again, that our…Read More
On arrival, our greeter (you know the deal, they have a card with your name and welcome you to paradise with a lei of flowers around your neck) had long left and we just mutteled our way over to the Avis bus.Remembering, again, that our reservations were made months ago (and that I am a preferred member with Avis) we were quickly shuffled into a red Pontiac G6... which, we discovered on the drive to the hotel, had only previously been rented by families of chain smokers. Every time we turned on the heater or air conditioner (you'll need both) we were blasted with stale smoke forcing us to roll down the windows to let the heaviest contamination pass.My profile with Avis tells of my preference for economy cars (the G6 certainly doesn't qualify and, with the island's gas price at nearly $4 a gallon economy cars should be the rule, if not hybrid or electric cars!), non-smoking and, if available (and reasonable) convertibles. I got none of these things. Upon return, the desk clerk assured me that had I put these requested things in when reserving the car, they would be honored. Looking into my profile, she saw that I had indeed done so, and offered me $50 AvisDollars to keep my business. She then totaled out my prepaid bill... and said I owed another $50. The rate I'd pre-paid, she claimed, did not include the local taxes and fees. Had I known this I would have rented elsewhere for $50 takes Avis from a reasonable price for service to several dollars above the most expensive of all the firms I quoted. Checking after the trip, I see that my confirmation from Avis says "All taxes and fees included" so =sigh= looks like another little discussion will be required to keep them from playing fast and loose with tired travelers looking to cash out and head home.The return of the car was uneventful.MCI has added a new wrinkle to car rental with a completely superfluous additional terminal just for the rental agencies. Step on the bus with the company logo where you parked and you'll be taken to another rental counter directly the opposite direction from the lot where you're parked. To get to that lot, you'll need to take their bus back to the airport and find the smaller bus with their logo on it - which only comes when called.We were home inside an hour and looking at the snow, wishing we burning our butts in Kona again right away.POSTSCRIPTAvis, chagrinned at the posting of additional charges on my pre-paid rental, sent along ANOTHER $50 ($100 total) to be used against future rentals (but it does expire in six months - so I may be looking to trade them).This is A WHOLE LOT better than either the HILTON or US Airways did in trying to keep our business.Go Avis!(BEWARE personal opinions ARE subject to change!) Close
We left Kansas City (MCI) on a cold morning with some snow cover on January 11th, 2008.The auto check-in gizmo at the terminal desk (U.S.Air) went insane after I typed in my reservation number. It recognized our four reservations but refused to print boarding…Read More
We left Kansas City (MCI) on a cold morning with some snow cover on January 11th, 2008.The auto check-in gizmo at the terminal desk (U.S.Air) went insane after I typed in my reservation number. It recognized our four reservations but refused to print boarding passes... so, I waited for those who had been behind me in the regular line to be cleared and then had the attendant (with the aid of a supervisor) type in my info on their computer, void the malfunction and manually print our passes. They informed me that the automatic terminals were extremely unreliable and it's always faster (as I am a preferred member with them) to wait for a human. Now I know.Even though our big bag was about seven pounds overweight, they checked us in and we were off. Except for the constant of extremely overpriced food and beverages in airports, everything was calm and orderly and went without a hitch. We boarded and took off within one minute of schedule and, except that we weren't seated together (the reservation was made back in September - and I always request adjacent seats near the front of the plan) and in nearly the last row.As we taxied away, the video monitors, located above every third or fourth seat, popped up and down a few times. Once settled, they began to play scenes of distant locations (some of which I don't think U.S.Air goes to) interrupted by some sort of commercial every minute or two. Just before we took off, the crew announced that we'd be sprayed with de-icer (somewhat soothing notion, no?) and that there was some difficulty with the video player so they'd have to do the safety demonstration the old fashioned way - which is just as well, because, as we learned in later and longer flights, that video monitor was like a flashing billboard located right beside your bedroom window. About 15 commercials repeated every 30 minutes only somewhat muted after the PA was turned off and the headphones of our, quite likely deaf, co-passengers broke up what should have been relative quiet.If there were kids on board you wouldn't have known it. No screaming or crying just the occasional interruption by an air waitress trying to convince somebody, anybody, to buy a box of crackers for $5 or a re-heated Lean Cuisine for $10. I did not see a single taker. Sodas and miniature pretzels soon followed.Landing was smooth and on-time and we were all packed out in a smartly fashion. Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) is on the nice side of mega airports. Plenty of opportunity to find food and drink, restrooms, CNN, moving walkways, bagged snack and souvenirs - all at double the price those in the free outside world enjoy, with, of course, no coupons accepted.We boarded our connecting flight (U.S.Air 45) just a couple minutes late and pushed out *a few feet* from the gate a couple minutes later. It was all time a pilot could easily make up en-route. After two hours of sitting in the plane - a tightly packed one with plenty of kids who might have done well if we'd have gotten off the ground - one of the crew informed us that there was a little difficulty and he'd keep us informed on the progress every ten or fifteen minutes or so. Ten minutes later, he announced that the heater on the air-speed doo-hicky was misconbobulated (or something like that) and that workers were "on there way" to fix it.At this moment my somewhat precocious five and a half year old announced to the cabin (including a private pilot on my right who insisted this problem was a non-issue for a flight from PHX southward) "It's probably a broken wire!"Everyone chuckled - and we needed it. Ten more minutes later and the voice chimed in again with the fact that it was indeed a broken wire. It would take about two-hours to fix this (here my son announced he could do it faster - no one chuckled but some seemed willing to let him try since he'd done so well with the diagnosis) so, we would all be de-planed (just leave everything) and re-boarded when all was ready. The plane lurched the 10 feet back to the gate just as people started to stand.Ten minutes later, another voice announced that they were sorry for the delay and that, once in the terminal, we'd all be plied with water, soda and snacks - in recompense for making the flight a couple hours longer than it should have been. Fine.The doors finally open and fresh air rushes in (remember, we're at the back of the plane, so that was a mighty whoosh) and the first voice returns to the intercom to announce that, instead of leaving everything where it is, take everything with you and head to a different concourse/gate where they've pulled another plan into service.The very full plane unloads and everyone rushes down to the new gate. The gate attendant there knows nothing about the change. The airport loudspeaker announces that those people who were already waiting for the plane we were about to take, would now be delayed and needed to hoof it to the previous gate. After about ten minutes of confusion, the gate attendant told us all to take a seat, it'd be about 15 minutes before the plane was serviced and ready. Nearly an hour later, she returned to ask how many children were on board (now shouldn't they have had a record of that handy?) and to get out our boarding passes. Several folks couldn't find their stubs and, in the end, they simply let anybody who wandered up get on board with neither an ID check nor manifest check nor ticket stub. So, even though we all resumed our previous places... there were one or two new faces in the crowd. With a little re-arranging we were able to get the whole family (two adults, two children under six) within shouting distance of each other... and we were finally off. A total of nearly four hours of delay.Oh, you may have forgotten about the offer of water and snacks, many of those on-board did not forget, those who complained were offered FREE headphones for the movie! No, really. They were charging $5 for 99-cent store headphones to watch a movie no one wanted to see (Disney's "Game Plan" starring famous wrestler turned 'actor', "The Rock"). Drinks would be brought around as soon as they finished trying, in vain, to pass off their $5 "goody boxes" and $10 airplane dinners. Except for being terribly, terribly late, there were no further problems.We arrived to the truck mounted 1950's style long staircase (complete with an assortment of malfunctioning lights that flickered on and off as you clumped down the stairs) well after sundown (instead of being lagoon side at our hotel to enjoy it) and found that we had left one of the children's books on the plane. Now, of course, security on this open lava field airport was never going to allow me to return to the plane to fetch it, but a nice woman said she'd look through the seat pockets of the whole plane, if necessary, to find it. THIRTY minutes later, we found her chatting with a coworker beside the baggage carrousel. She looked a bit confused at first but then said that she had checked everywhere and the book simply wasn't there. She said the cleaning crew was just going aboard and took our local number so she could tell us when she sent it our way. Three other calls, a drop by and a final questioning upon departure provided no information on the book - or that we had ever previously asked about it. It was, of course, a favorite which must be replaced. U.S. Air has not and does not seem interested in looking into what happened or offering any compensation for the lousy flight or the misplaced book. You'd think they could shake loose one of those snack boxes to make a kid feel a little better about his lost book... but no offer of any kind came.The return of the car and the flight back were uneventful - though we were still seated against the rear restrooms... at least we were all together.Moral of the story, I guess, is, don't make your reservations in advance and think they'll stay made. Keep calling in every week or so to keep them on track.POSTSCRIPT:US Air, to patch up our strained relationship, has sent each of us a $75 voucher against future air travel (good for one year).I have to give them credit for that... it's a lot better than Hilton did.FURTHER POSTSCRIPT:Turns out the $75 vouchers can't be used with internet or discount fares and so EVERY OTHER AIRLINES flies cheaper EVERYWHERE! Close
Written by rsamsel on 27 Apr, 2005
Kona is an amazing little town with much in the way of culture and local charm. The local farmers' market is a must-visit, along with the native site out in front of King Kamehameha hotel.
Then there is the heavenly Kona coffee, the smoothest coffee on…Read More
Kona is an amazing little town with much in the way of culture and local charm. The local farmers' market is a must-visit, along with the native site out in front of King Kamehameha hotel.
Then there is the heavenly Kona coffee, the smoothest coffee on earth. Try the roaster right on Queen Kaahumanu Hwy - Kona Coffee and Tea Company - which is in the same building as the MacPie Factory Store. Nothing beats a Kona coffee and Mac pie treat.
If you have never had macadamia nut pie, just think about the best pecan pie you have ever tasted, and it's better than that.
Both of these treats are available for purchase online for those who can't get enough of these island treats but are far, far away (macpie.com and konacoffeeandtea.com).