Previous trip reports with pictures:
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
–Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
–Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
–The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
And one of these days I really ought to write up a trip report on Maui and The Big Island.
The 2nd most popular destination that people booked with the Delta glitch was Hawaii. More details can be found via the trip reports above, but this will give a quick overview of the options.
The revealed series of books are absolutely required reading if you are going to Hawaii. They read like a novel and are unlike any other guidebook you’ve seen before. It’ll be the best money you spend on your entire trip:
–Big Island of Hawaii Revealed
On the Big Island you’ll definitely want something with 4WD if possible.
Buy gas at Costco where’s it’s cheaper than at most stations on the islands.
Please read part 1 for tips on interisland flights, how much time to spend on an island, bringing kosher food from home, ordering kosher food from Oahu, gear that you’ll want in Hawaii, and whether you may have to keep 2 days of shabbos.
The Big Island of Hawaii: BIG! All of the other islands can fit inside of it!
The Kohala coast has famous stretches of sunny beaches. The Hilo east coast is very rainy, but is home to active volcanoes and hot springs. The Big Island is raw, lava filled, and not touristy like Oahu and Maui. It may not be quite as lush as the other islands but there is enough to do here to keep anyone occupied for weeks.
There are 2 commercial airports, KOA for the Kona side and ITO for the Hilo side of the island. They are 2 hours apart via Saddle Road.
A sunset on Mauna Kea isn’t something you’ll quickly forget.
Kosher traveler info:
-Chabad of The Big Island is located at 75-353 Nani Kailua Dr. in Kailua Kona on the windward (west) coast.
There is no daily minyan but they do get a minyan on Shabbos most of the time. You can join communal meals on Friday night and Shabbos day, reservations are required. The meals are free of charge, but donestions are greatly appreciated.
Chabad of the Big Island has most of the weeks Shabbos Davening (not always a Minyan, but they daven together regardless) and meals both Friday night and Shabbos day, all are welcome free of charge (donations are greatly appreciated), reservations are required. There is no daily Minyan on the Big Island.
Chabad of the Big Island offers freshly made meals as well as frozen raw kosher meat products which can be delivered to any destination for a fee, or picked up from Kona for free. They deliver meals to your hotel double wrapped so that you can call in room dining for your food and the hotel staff will bring it up (some hotels may charge a fee to warm it up). The cost of delivery depends on the distance. Kona area hotels are $15, Four Seasons is $45, Waikoloa area hotels are $65. Please check out their menu or contact them for more info.
You can also find kosher food on the Kona side of the island at Costco, Kmart, Target, Safeway, KTA, Island Naturals, and Walmart. On the Hilo side you have Safeway and Walmart.
Almost all hotels are located on the sunnier and warmer Kona side, though the very rainy Hilo side has more to do. When we honeymooned in Hawaii we rented a treehouse near the volcano using VRBO…it was awesome and is definitely the way to go if you want to stay on the Hilo/Volcano side as the hotels around Hilo are few and pitiful.
If you have the time it’s definitely ideal to spend some nights on the Kona side and some nights on the Hilo side as it’s quite far to keep driving back and forth.
-The closest options to Chabad are home rentals on Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway etc. The two popular hotels near Chabad are the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (a Marriott category 4 property) and the Royal Kona Resort.
-The Sheraton Kailua-Kona is an SPG category 4 property (10K Starpoints per night or 8K per night on a 5 night reservation). Chabad is 7 miles away.
The Resorts North of the airport which include four seasons, Waikoloa, Mauna Lani, Mauna Kea and Hapuna are a 30-50 minute drive from Chabad and Kona town.
-The Hilton Waikoloa Village is a mega-resort that costs about 50K Hilton points per night (20K Starpoints transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points. 25K AMEX points with the current Hilton transfer bonus or 25K Chase or AMEX points transfers into 25K Virgin Atlantic which transfers into 50K Hilton points) Chabad is 27 miles away.
-Volcano House puts you smack in the middle of Volcanoes National Park. Chabad is 96 miles away.
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-See the current eruption. You can do this in the evening on the coast of Kalapana at the end of highway 130. You can also view eruptions at the Jaggar Museum overlook in the Volcanoes national park which are also better at night.
–Helicopter tours can show you eruptions from the sky. Or find a bootleg guide to take you on foot to the real eruption sights, but you’ll have to search online or locally to find someone like that 😉
-In the national park you can also walk and crawl through lava tubes and go on incredible hikes like the Kilauea Iki hike. Start at the Kilauea Iki Overlook to go through beautiful forest and then into the crater where lava devastated the lush forest. You can even have a picnic in the crater! Roads like Hilina Pali Road, off of Chain or Craters road in the park, will offer spectacular lookouts.
-Waipio Valley is like stepping into another world. But only a 4WD vehicle can make it down the steep grade to the paradise of lush valleys and waterfalls that meander on forever. Otherwise it will take a brutal walk to get there and back. You can also hire a tour guide with 4WD from the top of the mountain. You can also take a horseback tour through the valley though you will be on their schedule and you won’t have time to explore waterfalls and peer into the valley. Beware that there are homeless people who live in the valley and they’re best left undisturbed. There’s no cell phone service down in the valley either.
-Hot springs around Hilo are volcanically heated and are awesome. The ones that can be easily accessed, like Ahalanui will be more crowded than ones like Champagne Pond that require a 4WD drive to get to. We had Champagne pond to ourselves!
-Hilo’s farmers market offers exotic fruit and local wares. Wednesday is the big market day here. A beautiful glass blue wave caught my eye and although the listed price was high, just remember that you can definitely bargain here! The fruit in Hawaii is just amazing, don’t leave without trying locally grown Maui Gold Pineapple, passion fruit, papaya, mango, lychee, mangosteen, rambutan, etc. They just taste so much better in Hawaii and they’re much cheaper at farmers markets. Beware that you can’t bring any fruit home with you besides for Pineapple or Coconut.
-Don’t be scared to drive Saddle Road connecting the Kona side with the Hilo side with the road up to Mauna Kea in the middle. It used to be bad but now it’s a fine drive.
-Mauna Kea offers the most stunning sunsets you’ll ever see. The volcano is taller than Everest from its base and you can drive up to the top and watch the sun set on the clouds below you. Bring a sweater, there will be snow at the top!
We did this drive in a convertible but a 4WD would have probably made things easier as the top half past the visitors center isn’t paved. Not for the faint of heart or those with respiratory issues. In fact those with respiratory issues should probably avoid the Big Island altogether.
Stay until after sunset and then watch the star show at the visitors center where you’re sure to see more stars than ever before.
Again, you can do this drive without 4WD, just take it nice and slow and use a low gear going down so that you don’t ride your breaks out.
If you do have a 4WD there are some other cool roads up here that you can drive on-see The Big Island Revealed for maps and details.
–Snorkeling by Captain Cook is among the best in the state. There are tons of other water activities on the Kona side.
–Diving options are plentiful, including diving with Manta Rays at night!
-South Island sites like South Point where you can see crazy people (or join them, just be sure to send me the YouTube link!) diving off a 40 foot cliff into waters that don’t hit landmass until Antarctica. If you have a 4WD you can drive from there to green sand beach or take the road to the sea to a private black sand beach.
-Whale watching boatride.
-Place of Refuge was where you went if you broke the Hawaiian law and were subject to execution. This place was a safe haven and if you made it here your life would be spared. No word on if you were able to leave once the big kahuna passed away…
-Kona Coffee is world famous and there are plantations like Greenwell and Bayview that offer tours and tastings.
And don’t forget to relax too 😉
Have more tips? Hit the comments and share your thoughts!