Friday, June 09, 2006

Big Island Camping

question
I am coming to Hawaii with my two children (husband is staying home) and plan to mostly camp. We are planning one week on big island and one week on Maui (although we can always change). My children really enjoy beach camping and I really enjoy hiking.

I would like to find two different campgrounds on the big island to use as my base camps. Since I am traveling alone (female) with two kids (ages 12 and 14) I like to stay at one campground for a least 3 nights so I dont have so much packing/setting up work to do.

I am wondering if we should camp at Punaluu and visit the volcano on day trips from our campground - or - if we should camp at the volcanoe (either Namakani Paio or Kalanaokuaiki?). I am thinking that we will need two or three days of visiting at the volcano and it might be nice to break it up with some beach time. Is it far from Punaluu to volcanoe?

I am also considering 3 or 4 nights at Spencer Beach park to have access to the other side of the Island. Spencer currently only have opening for 2 nights. are they very strict about checking the permits? Is there another camping place that you would recommend?


answer
Well, personally, I would stay at the volcano and drive to the beach. The volcano will be much cooler - cold even (which I would prefer for sleeping) and not quite so isolated. It is a 25 minute drive from namakani paio to punaluu. Besides, if you are going to do spencers, then there's your beach camping :)

You know, I'm not too sure about the permits at Spencer beach park. It's a pretty heavily camped beach though, so I would assume permits are checked. Have you looked into the a-frames at Hapuna Beach? You wouldn't have to do so much setup.

followup
thank you so much for your reply. I am glad to know that it is only 25 minutes to punaluu from namakani paio. This means we can just go for a couple of hours of beach time after our morning hike. Yea!!!

We have decided to camp at Hookena - mostly becuase I was able to get a permit for most of the nights I want to be there. We are missing one night and I am hoping it will free up - or we will work something else out.

Which Island?

question
I have never been to Hawaii. However,my fiance and I are thinking of eloping there in December. We love to experience beautiful beaches for swimming & sunbathing, as well as hiking trails with breathtaking views. Ideally, we would like to marry quietly on the beach, just he and I, and experience local culture such as an evening luau (is that corny?). We like nice accommodations but not too commercialized.
First, which island? Second, a hotel or resort recommendation?

answer
Well, you might want to look into Maui. It's not as commercialized as Oahu and has tons of gorgeous beaches. Kauai is practically one big beach, and also very nice - but very quiet - not a lot of nightlife. Both islands have amazing hiking opportunities. I would look into one of those two. There are plenty of really nice places on both islands. Do you have a certain price range in mind? Maybe try and decide on an island and an area and then get back to me and I'll try to recommend a place to stay.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Where to Buy Hawaii Postcards Online?

question
I am trying to find a place online that sells Hawaii postcards and I can't seem to find anything but Hilo Hattie. I'd like to have a bit more than just a small book of cards. I've done some searching online and can't find anything but vintage postcards. I lived in Hawaii on the island of Oahu for a couple years but never picked up postcards. My niece loves to get postcards and recently asked me if I had any from when we lived in Hawaii and sure enough that is the one and only place I didn't. I would love to get some postcards of Oahu to show here where I lived. Eventually she hopes to use the postcards the family gives to her to decide what places she would like to visit as she gets older. She's only 11 now so I'm sure she's got many years of planning!!


answer
Here you go http://www.abcstores.com/ (bet you remember abc stores :) ) and a direct link: http://www.abcstores.com/browse.cfm/2,20.html

or, some selections from amazon -

hawaii postcards

or this looks promising:

http://mailorderhawaii.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?store_code=M&screen=CTGY&category_code=HAMis

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Best Oahu Activities

question
We're looking into possibly these activities, depending on how quickly the time and the money goes:
* Helicopter tour
* Pearl Harbor tour
* Parasailing once
* Snorkling once
* Luau Dinner Show
* Swim with Dolphins maybe
* View from the top of the mountain (I forget its name at the moment)

Sorta touristy I suppose?

Do you know if it's cheaper to purchase tickets online, over the phone, or in person? Do you have specific sights you'd recommend doing and/or not doing?

answer
Those all sound like good options. If money is possibly an issue I would forgo the helicopter tour. In my opinion, that will cost the most money with the least payback. If you do the Pearl Harbor tour consider the submarine tour (USS Bowfin) and maybe the Mighty Mo right next door, they are inexpensive. The view from atop the mountain is Diamond head.

It sounds like you are pretty active -- you may want to consider surfing lessons anywhere or renting a kayak in the Kailua area. If you're only going to snorkel once, I wouldn't try it at Waikiki Beach -- there are not a lot of fish there. It's a sandy bottom and fish like rocks and reef. You may want to consider Hanauma Bay. It's very touristy and very crowded but it's that way for a reason. If you do swimming with the Dolphins at the hotel or at Sea world, be aware you will not actually be swimming with them. You will get in the water and get to touch them and feed them fish and may be, if they're in the mood, get pulled along by one. It's still pretty fantastic to get to touch a dolphin but it's not really swimming with them. For a more wild encounter check out these people. http://www.sailhawaii.com/swim.html I haven't been, but I've heard good things.

As for what it's cheaper -- it really depends. Most activities will have an advertised price, and then they'll have coupons in coupon books (free at the airport and in stands on the street) or online or discounted early reservations for a set discount off of that. If you just call or show up you will pay full price. If you find a coupon or book online you'll get the set discount usually. So it's possibly cheaper to book online, but you may be able to get the same discounts in other ways. Expedia says they have discounts for booking, but in my experience it's may be a dollar off. Not usually worth it.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Hawaii Volcanoes Bike Rental

question
Hello, can you tell me where I could rent a bike near Volcanoes National Park? Thank you.

answer
Hi, there is nowhere in or near Volcano. Closest is Hilo (40 minute drive) or Kona (2 hour drive). If you happened to be staying at KMC, they might have something for you - check with them.

Need Inexpensive Place to Stay

question
I am trying to decide on whether to stay on in Hawaii after a week long vacation on O’ahu with my in-laws. My problem is money and the need for inexpensive accommodations. What about camping on the islands? Any suggestions?? Thank you for your time and consideration!

answer
well if you wanted to stay on oahu are the good site for you to research camping -- http://www.coconutroads.com/ - there are at least two articles linked there that should help you out. All of the other islands have good camping spots -- it just depends on what you are looking for. Was there a specific island you are thinking of?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Moving to Hawaii - Want an Island Feel

question
Hi Lisa, My name is ***** and I am looking to make a big move in my life to Hawaii (big island). Currently I live in New Jersey and I was a first time home buyer, now I am looking to finalize my life in Hawaii and most possibly in Puna. What can you tell me about that area the do's and don'ts do you have any suggestions or any watch out fors. I heard about the zone 1, 2, and 3. How hard is it to get a bridge loan? These maybe really out there questions but if you have any suggestions or advice to whom I could really trust to talk to please email me.

answer
Well I wish I could refer you to someone, but I don't know of anybody in the business of real estate that I could say "you can trust this person". I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you have about any areas I know something about. I live in puna so I'll probably know something about most of them. The biggest thing that you should know is there it is little to no infrastructure in Puna. Some places don't have electricity, most places don't have city water -- we have catchments, some places don't have phone or cable. The roads are bad, the ambulances and police have to cover huge areas. Plus, prices just keep going up for real estate, so some places it's not even worth it to live out here without the infrastructure.

As for the bridge loan and I don't know I've never tried to get a bridge loan -- sorry.

followup question
So if you could pick on any island of hawaii and on any part where would you live and why?

We are looking for island feel, clean air, ocean views/mountain views. . we want that very island feel.....
Something that isn't to far from the city for work..... Also, we are looking for a substantial amount of land at least an acre. I want to raise kids there so I am looking for a good community, schools, modern features (plumbing, electricity, phones, internet)

followup answer
Personally, my husband and I want to move to Waimea on the big island. If it were just us we would probably stay in Puna forever. However we have a three-year-old and the schools in this area are not great, and the selection of private schools is limited. He will start this summer at the local Waldorf for preschool, but I don't really want to leave him there after about first grade.

Waimea is really nice. The town area is not big, there are not a lot of jobs, but it's an hour's drive to both Kona and Hilo if you wanted to commute. Its farm and ranch and cowboy country with mild weather. A lot of wealthy people are moving into the area and hence the school selection is pretty good. I think there are two Montessori schools there. Land is normally sold in bigger lots out there.

I would not to say that waimea has an island feel -- it is more like a ranch area, but and a half hours drive or less will get you to the Kohala Coast and Hapuna Beach -- the best beaches on the island.

For more of an island feel you might wanna look into South Kona - Honanunau or Kealakekua. I can't comment on the other islands -- I would not want to live on any of them. Maui and oahu are too crowded, kauai is okay, and Molokai and Lanai are just too small and simple.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fares and Gardens

question
Hi Lisa, Just found your blog and it looks great. I am hoping you can help me with some ideas. I am planning on visiting several tropical gardens on different islands and would like some ideas about inter-island travel deals. I remember Aloha Air used to sell inter-island passes for a flat fee. Do any of the airlines, large or small or ferrys offer such a thing anymore? Have they built any long bridges since I have been there last? Any travel or garden recommendations? Thanks for your help.

---
OK so I read the Island Hopping posts and realize that the inexpensive inter Island thing is just a fantasy at this point, but do you have any suggestions for tropical gardens or museums to check out. Also interested in the Tiki culture, past and present.
Thanks for your help.
--

Thanks for the reply! I like those fares.

Which islands I will be going to will depend on the best choice of gardens to see. I definitely will be going to some of these.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo
The National Tropical Botanical Garden also on the big island
Kula Botonical Garden Maui
Kahanu Garden Maui
Tropical Gardens of Maui

I really enjoy the Heliconia's. I actually have been able to grow 4 different varieties at my place in Ventura Ca. :)

Anyway thanks for your help and if you can recommend any gardens or Islands to see that would be great! Also if you know of some places where some original Tiki carvings are that would be great too.


answer
FYI, even though there are currently no interisland air coupons, there is a fare war going on right now because of this new airline: - both aloha and hawaiian are also doing the $39 one ways for certain flights.

Regarding the tropical gardens - which islands will you be going to?

----

Well, Maui and the Big Island are certainly two good choices for tropical gardens. On Maui don't forget the Garden of Eden, and on the big island consider the World Gardens at Umauma Falls and the Akaka Falls walk (fantastic, huge overgrown bamboo and other wild plants). I'm not a big garden person, so I think you already know more than I do.

As for the tiki carvings, just keep your eyes open as you drive around. I know of a couple of places that used to be off the Highway on the way from Hilo to Kau, but who knows if they are still there. Places like that move and disappear and crop up again, but always on a path where they can be seen. You may also be interested in this site http://www.spiritsculptor.com/

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Where Can I Find the True Culture and Spirit

question
Also Lisa, could you please tell me where I might go to feel the true Polynesian culture and lifestyle and also learn about the history more. We used to visit every year when I was a kid (back in the sixties) or should I just say much younger in age haha, and everywhere you went there were Polynesian people and customs and culture. A few years ago I was visiting and I was disappointed in the lack of culture now. It's the places in between the big cities where I enjoyed it the most. I am aware of the anti Howlie (sic haole) attitude in some places and I understand some of the reasons those attitudes exist but I would rather try to mingle than be a tourist. Does that make since?

answer
Well, I live in Puna on the Big Island, and even here in the wilds of Hawaii you have to search hard for it. There are a dedicated few that live it every day but most polynesian people here are just as American as you or I. They go about their days in American ways and maybe go to hula halau on Tuesdays or say Hawaiian prayers or have a pretty traditional big first birthday for their kids and are a bit nicer and more relaxed than on the mainland, but they still go to a christian church on Sundays and go to work every day. They pay taxes, shop at the convenience store, drive SUVs, and speak English. Obviously, in the islands everything is a bit different because of the influence of the culture, but I know you are looking for more. The thing is, you just are not going to be exposed to it as a tourist in most cases and there is nothing you can do about it. The other day at playgroup I heard a local firefighter of Hawaiian descent talking to his two year old in Hawaiian. How are you going to be exposed to that :) ?

My best advice is to visit Hilo during the Merrie Monarch or the Tahiti Fete or any island during the aloha festivals and go to the events. This is not a show put on for tourists, these events (mostly the first two) are for the people who live here who share the cultural background. For the week they put their American selves on the back burner and nurture their polynesian selves, and everyone does it. They wear leis and feathered hatbands and everybody kisses everybody and you can just feel it in the air. I know this is what people looking for the "real aloha spirit" are looking for, but the truth is, a place where you are welcome to 'mingle' in it any day of the week just does not exist.

Now, the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu does a pretty good job of simulating it in an entertaining and educational atmosphere. You may want to consider it.

Categories: , ,

Should I visit a Neighbor Island or Just Oahu

question
Hi, just found your site while doing some research on Hawaii. I booked a trip with my son (10) for 8 days. We will be staying in Oahu. I am now sad that I didn't do more research and plan to spend part of the trip on more than one island. I can't change my airfare but could possible change the hotel accommodations and stay on one of the other islands. Is it worthwhile to do a day trip to another island or should I try to get reservations at another hotel on a neighboring island? If I did the alternative, which island would you recommend? Any advice would be appreciated.

answer
Well, day trips are OK for some people, if you don't mind a lot of travel time, rushing around, and then travel back time. 8 days is not an incredibly long time on Oahu, so unless there's something you really want to see another island, I wouldn't do the day trip or an overnight trip. Do you have an itinerary on Oahu already? Is it really full, or does it seem like you don't have much you want to see on Oahu? If it's not really full and you don't mind the flying and car rental all over again then consider it.

I wouldn't want to recommend another island for a day or overnighter. I would say if there is something you really want to do than go to that island -- like the Big Island has the volcano and black sand beaches, Maui has the downhill bike ride, Kauai has the Na Pali coast ... see what I am saying?

followup
Thanks for the reply. I feel better about my original plan. I figured 8 days would give us plenty of time to do the tourist "must dos" as well as try and simply enjoy the beauty of Oahu. After reading some sites, many people wrote that 3 days on Oahu was a plenty and then one should be heading for another island. We will save those for a future vacation....I want to enjoy my stay and not feel like I have to spend the entire time going from one spot to another.

followup answer
Well good, I'm glad you feel better. People say 3 days is plenty on Oahu because Oahu is so commercialized - and true, it is pretty commercialized these days, but it still has the most to do, plus almost ALL the major US historical sites. People who only spend three days on Oahu don't RELAX there at all. Oahu *is* crowded, so it is a little harder to relax, but it's possible! Waikiki beach can be a little crazy, but everything you could possibly want is right there. There are plenty of beaches on the North shore and the leeward and windward sides that won't have one person on them during the week.

My family and I went for a week in December, and we barely had any relax at all time, and we live on the Big Island, so we go once a year. We were running around taking our three year old to all the tourist stuff, and we didn't even get to do the submarine museum or the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Don't worry, you'll have a great time.


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