A blog by Jorge Garcia.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving on the Big Island II

Since I moved to Hawaii I have been wanting to go to the Big Island to see some lava flowing.
Like the name suggests, the Big Island is well, big.
Big enough to have two airports.
So you have to choose whether or not you're going to fly into Kona or Hilo. When we were planning the trip everyone we mentioned it to (and I mean EVERYONE) suggested the Kona side over the Hilo side. So we chose a resort in this area to stay.
The Kona side is the resort side. So if that's what you're into, stay there. We soon learned however that the stuff we really wanted to do, like lava, was way closer to Hilo.
Also I had an opportunity to check out the observatory on Mauna Kea.
Which was also closer to Hilo.

I heard the boat tour for lava got really close to the stuff. So we made a reservation for the 5am tour. When we made the reservation we found out that we would have to leave our hotel at 1:45am to get to the spot where we catch the boat on time. But if we were in Hilo we could leave at 3:35am. At the time we were heading to Hilo for the day to check it out. (By the way, Hilo "for the day" is pretty much impossible to pull off. Hence the second airport.)

So we decided to just find a room in Hilo for the night. Hilo has a lot more charm for our tastes, it also has a lot more rain however. So if you need to have sun on your vacation, stick with Kona.
But we wished we had stayed in Hilo. Which basically told us that we are out of touch with our friends.

33 comments:

Steve C. said...

My wife lived on the Hilo side for a few years, and she took me to the Big Island for a little trip a few months before we moved here to Oahu. I loved the Big Island, but I also found Hilo a lot more suited to my tastes. It seemed like Kona had better beaches, and the kama aina rate at some of the hotels over there is awesome, but yeah... Hilo side is where it's at. It wasn't very rainy at all when we were there (back in February of this year), but I guess it does rain a little every day. Makes for a pretty nice farmer's market!

Julie said...

My husband and I are heading to Oahu in January. I really wish we could go see the lava on the Big Island too, but as you said, going to see it for the day is pretty much impossible. Especially being on a different island.

I guess we will just have to plan another trip again in a few years! Good to know which side we should stay on though. Thanks for the tip! :)

did you get any awesome lava flow photos?

lost-815 said...

Hi Herley :-) How are you?
I wish to come to Hawaii one day. I would like to visit the island of Lost.
Tell me, in Lost we see two island:
the smaller is IDRA island, and the other one is the principal island, where flight Oceanic 815 crushed.
We know that Lost is shooted in Oahu, but witch island represent?
IDRA or the other one? and the second island is always the same or is another one?
Thanks.

Herley is the best character of Lost.

Henry Wasserman said...

Hang in there Jorge. They may be out of touch with you!

Autumn said...

Hi Jorge - when I took a trip to Hawaii in 1999 we flew into Hilo. We were going for a geology field trip for Winona State University, so we pretty much had to fly to Hilo. But I agree with you about that side of the island. It may rain a bit more, but it's usually not an all day rain (at least not when we were there) & there's so much to see and do! I hope you enjoyed your lava trip! It's beautiful to see at night.

SciFiHorrorFem said...

I hope you enjoyed your Lava-seeing-trip, Jorge! Sounds like you learned some things about which side of the big island is best for what, at least! May your Rat Incident reports be fruitful!
I watched both parts 1 and 2 and am anxiously anticipating part 3 and beyond! LOL! Thanks for your great blog!

Haylan said...

Kona side is great, but if lava and mauna kea is what you went for, that's a rough drive. i worked up on the mountain until a few months ago, but I lived in Kona so I had an hour and 45 min. drive each way! it's a beautiful ride though. I hope your time at the observatories went well, i miss it everyday. You should make it out to the other islands more often, they are truly amazing. You should post some pictures of your trip. The lava has had some new break outs recently that are making it more close and accessable, but still nothing like a few years ago when we could walk up to it and roast marshmallows and such! Hope you had a great time.

Pure Dog said...

Kona has better weather and beaches and more upper-crust amenities, but it is sorta Disneylandish (not that there's anything wrong with Disneyland). Hilo has lousy weather, but real people and real places. It's just more authentic, and has more of the flavor of Old Hawaii (IMHO).

Lost Dbutz said...

I came out there 3 months ago for my honeymoon, we took a cruise around all the islands (also took a 5-hour KOA-Lost tour before and a 10-hour KOA-Lost tour after). We got to see Hilo and Kona, and the consensus is correct, the Kona side is much nicer. Hilo is pretty wet, but the Rainforest zoo and the nut factory are pretty nice. On our way from Hilo to Kona, we got to see the lava flowing, a very cool sight. Lots of steam and orange lava. :)

Nice part about the Kona side, the Kona brewing company, make a stop in there if you have the time. The people there were more carefree and the weather was much better on that side. Also, close to the brewing company is a place with awesome Hawaiian plate lunches, just can't remember the name, but it's just up the road from the pier towards the Kona brewing Co.

Have fun Jorge, can't wait to hear more about your trip.

PS - Thanks for the autograph! Aloha dude!

Jeff said...

My family went to the Big island for vacation one year. We also stayed on the West side. We enjoyed it, but truly, as you say, there was tons of driving if you wanted to go to the other side. It amazed me,too, that there could be a complete rain forest on the east side and on the west side it is dry and barren almost like a desert. Even though it is small, it lives up to being BIG. Have a good stay there.

Paperbak Writer said...

My parents had friends that lived near Hilo and we stayed with them when I was 9 or so. Pretty cool place. They took us to some steep road where, supposedly, spirits push your car UPHILL. Didn't believe it until the driver (my parents' friend) got out and the car kept moving up. Freaky-deaky.

Petra said...

Question of the day - when LOST is over, will you stay in Hawaii or move stateside? I can't imagine leaving paradise, but I know that some people don't care for Hawaii as much.

: ) P

Jonjon said...

Hilo. Puna. Kapoho. My fav places!

Sean said...

Jorge,
I've lived in the Islands for 20 years, and whenever people ask me which island they should visit, I tell them the Big Island. All the islands have great scenery, but if you want to see stuff you can't see on the other islands (like lava)....go to the BI.
Kona side is nice if you're into sun and high-priced resorts. Great diving (scuba/snorkel) over there. But for hiking, scenery and a general rustic, laid back lifesytle, Hilo side is the place. Waimea used to be pretty nice too, before it got all built up.

Hilo is somewhat lacking in hotels, as it really just has the few on Banyan Drive. However, you can also stay at the hotel/lodge in the Volcano's park itself. The accomadations are rustic (at best), but there is also a fair number of B&B's right outside the park too. Do your homework on the reviews for each one though. :)

Lisa said...

well, now all your friends are in touch with your feelings again if they read your blog lol Sounds like alot of fun seeing the lava flow and the mountains. wish I was there. :-)

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

back in the stone ages when i lived in hawaii it was a big deal to fly to the other islands..but my daddy made sure we got to see all of them...but i still liked our little paradise the best.

SDintact said...

Wow. Very nice post. Well done to you....keep up the good job.

Kaulana said...

As a fan of yours who has lived in Hilo her whole life, I am soooo grateful for this post. People are always saying that our side of the island is boring. Mahalo e Jorge!

IslandPearl said...

Oh, Jorge, if only I was one of your IRL friends. I would have given you much better guidance.

I always as people what they are interested in seeing, and steer them to the appropriate part of the island accordingly.

Next time, just ask me.

Sarah - Kala said...

Good to know this when we make our trip there from O'ahu. Mahalo.

Lisa in Oz said...

We stayed in an amaaaaazing B&B (The Volcano Village Lodge, should you ever go back) on the Hilo side for our honeymoon last year. It's definitely rainier on that side, as you said, but so peaceful and gorgeous - the other side is a bit more "typical" Hawaii, if there is such a thing (more like the other islands, is what I guess I mean?).

Erin said...

Thanks for the great visuals, dude!! Sorry you wound up on the wrong side of the island...

Moon Over Martinborough said...

My partner and I are Americans in New Zealand. We just had a big Thanksgiving party, but rain threatened to spoil it!

IslandPearl said...

The B&B at the volcano is awesome. We took my parents there years ago and had a great holiday.

Ryan said...

The Hilo side is our favorite side. It's where Jen and I met, and where we go at least once a year. We're going back for New Year's, to avoid the fireworks in Honolulu.

We don't stay in hotels, we stay at a vacation rental, which is basically a cozy home where you buy groceries, make your own food, and make your own bed. It's lovely. We always stay up in Volcano, where it's foggy and cold and right next to the National Park with its gorgeous craters and lava tubes and... it's our little fantasy to live like that full time some day.

Kona is definitely more what the postcards of Hawaii promote, but it's way too commercial for our tastes. Hilo, because it's wet, is avoided for the most part, but that makes it more genuinely Hawaii, to me. Restaurants where the service is slow, but the food and conversation is top notch.

Ken's House of Pancakes, though hardly a hole in the wall, is a favorite. Where some of the servers have been there 30 years.

The Big Island is our favorite island, and we love all of it, but revel in your appreciation for Hilo!

mharing said...

Having lived both in Kona and Hilo sides of The Big Island, I found your post about visiting here pretty close to what most tourist experience when they plan a trip. Your tourist map notations are pretty classic! I wish more visitors spent the (had the) time to take in the many regions of this Big Island in a slower contemplative way. Thanks for the post, and come back soon!

Hawaii: It's a small state, and a Big Island.

Dreamybee said...

Shoot, I totally would have told you Hilo side! If you have anyone with military connections, have them hook you up at Kilauea Military Camp (KMC). The digs aren't fancy, but they are located right there in Volcano. Hope you got to see some cool lava from the boat!

Dreamybee said...

Oh, guess I should have read more-you did see some cool lava!

Kendal said...

I wish I would've known - I also would have recommended the Hilo side; it's what I consider the "real" Hawaii..and if you live on Oahu, you deserve to see some real aloha from time to time.

Karin said...

I recommended Hilo to Beth... every place we ate was PHENOMENAL... did you guys eat anywhere in Hilo?

Billy said...

I went to the big island last summer! I went to Kona and Hilo and got a chance to look at the observatory as well.

David Kingman said...

Had a coffee farm in Kona. My daughter went to UH Hilo. Just wanted to comment that your Kona circle is a bit small. Kona extends just south Millolii (oldest continuously inhabited Hawaiian fishing village) before the Kau District starts.

Jorge Garcia said...

Thanks for the comment. I was more circling the location of the airports but consider me educated.