Moving on to the Big Island of Hawaii

December 8, 2008

Hawaii – the Big Isle

11/22/08

We left Kauai today, FYI if traveling to several islands make Kauai the last to visit. The reason for this is there are no direct flights you have to go to Honolulu and change planes. I am surprised at how full the flights are on each leg. We arrived early at the airport in Kauai. The Hawaii Visitors Bureau is providing entertainment for the departing visitors. How nice to sit and listen to music while waiting for your flight. In Honolulu people everywhere many were going to outer islands for the holiday.

When we arrived in Hawaii there was vog. Not fog, but vog from the volcano. We are staying at the Kona by the Sea. An intimate oceanfront resort, secluded yet convenient to a variety of shopping, dining and activities. All the condominium units have full all-electric kitchens, washer/dryer, and spacious private lanais. The one bedroom units have 2 bathrooms. A nice feature. There is a pool, hydro-spa and outdoor gas BBQ’s.

We have stayed here several times and always have had a warm welcome and a great time. I have sent many clients here among them was my sister and her family. All have enjoyed their stay.

On the way in we stopped at CostCo. Did you know that all CostCo food courts have the same prices? Cheapest lunch we have had in the islands. This CostCo also sells gas, 30 cents less than on the street.

After we checked in we went for a walk around town. Kona is a great little town. We walked around the shoreline. We ended up at the Big Island Grill for a burger for dinner. You should have seen the Hawaii Mud Pie — you will be proud to hear we did not get one. We watched a table of 4 try to finish one. Maybe we will go back just for dessert.

11/23

Well still getting up early, but did use the time to answer emails. We went to church this am. Afterwards we took our rental car back to Dollar. The car we had sounded as if on its last leg. I remember my old VW bug sounded better. They nicely gave us another car – what a difference. By the time we finished all this the only spot we found for breakfast was Denny’s – now don’t laugh it was rather good. We went back to the condo and sat on the beach, and then I took a nap. Bob missed the Red Skin game but was happy they won. We decided to walk around town and ended up at Bubba Gump’s for dinner. We ate outside and the surf sometimes splashed up on us.

There are two snorkel trips I recommend one out of Kona and the other out of Keauhou. The one in Kona is the Body Glove and the one out of Keauhou is the Fair Wind. The Fair Wind takes you to Kealukekua Bay to the Captain Cook monument. This one was calmer waters and I liked it better. Both were safe, had great crews and good food. They both are recommended for families. They have boogie boards with windows for those that do not want to snorkel, for non swimmers they have life vest, noodles, and boogie boards.

If snorkeling not your style try the Atlantis Submarine. You go down 100 feet and see and learn about the undersea world. You see an ancient lava flow that is one of the most magnificent coral reefs found anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands.

11/24

Wow – the sun has come out. We walked along Alii Drive, this follows the shoreline. Lovely Banyan trees and lined with shops and restaurants. We saw the oldest Christian church in Hawaii built in 1820. Kona is known for world  class sport fishing, and just about every water activity imaginable. There is a International Market with outdoor shopping with indoor comfort. Located in Kona’s Old Industrial Area, minutes from Kona. There are 70 unique stores and an international food court. something for the entire family.

11/25

Well the rain followed us to Hilo. We took rte 11   which takes you around the Volcano National Park. We started out in the sun, but ended up in rain. We stopped in Kainaliu for breakfast. We stopped at the Aloha Theater Cafe. This isn’t far from Keauhou, which by the way we took photos of the cutest and smallest church. When I figure out how to get my photos on the blog you will see lots of our trip. In this town we stopped at the Blue Ginger Gallery, featuring one of a kind crafts and local artisans. Bob got a great Aloha shirt really jazzy.

As we drove along we passed coffee farms, sugar cane and beautiful flowers. We even passed a farm with a Zebra! We were at one point 4,024 feet, my ears were popping. If you need a clean restroom the Orchid Farm is great. The road follows the coast, lots of curves. At one point we were in the middle of nowhere and there was a fellow in his flip flops walking his dog on a lead. We could not see where he could have come from or where he was going – it really made us laugh. We passed many a stand of trees, they actually block the wind.

Hilo is more like a city than the Kona area. Hilo is the commercial center of the east side of the Big Island. It is reknown for its flowers. There are many gardens to stroll. Another nice event each year is the Merrie Monarch Festival. Three beautiful nights of lovely hula.

We arrived at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel – did not get lost even though MapQuest gave us the wrong directions. The Hilo Hawaiian is located on the shores of Hilo Bay, and close to Volcanoes National Park, this hotel offers a breathtaking view of the ocean, Coconut Island, and the mountain peak of Mauna Kea. It has a large freshwater swimming pool, sundeck, golf and tennis nearby, and a restaurant/lounge. The resort offers daily maid service, a/c, parking, laundry facilities, restaurant and TV.

Our room is on the 7th floor with a great view of the Bay and ocean. We received a nice note of welcome and a lovely gift of candy. We went out to find the Big Island Candies but no luck. A must see, great samples and wonderful chocolates. We ended up going to all the beach parks. Very different, very nice with black sand and water so clear. We saw a school science class in the water looking at marine life. I never had a field trip like that, what fun.

I was able to meet with Linda Nako, the director of sales for the hotel. She was able to give me some insight on the area and the hotel.

We were next to the beautiful Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island. What a lovely walk and a great place to picnic. Notice I am not mentioning the Volcano Park. Well it was pouring, the lava tubes were closed and since we had been there before we passed right on by. Another reason to return.

When we got up today we could see Mauna Kea, what a view! The clouds hadn’t moved in so the mountain was in full view. We wanted to walk but down came the rain, then stopped then started again.


So off we go to the Waikoloa area – the Kohala coast.

This time we drove around rte 19. This rte follows the coast, we saw rainbows, cattle ranches, the terrain is now more like a desert. We stopped in Honoloa a really nice town with some great shops. We also went to Waiipi’o lookout. This was 10 miles off rte 19  on rte 240 but worth the drive. From the lookout you can see a black sand beach, towering cliffs, waterfalls and lush green fields. The sun is out and the view is even more lovely. We passed through the town of Kukulhaele, another town with some great shops.

Waimea is a big little town. The town is 2500 ft above sea level. Home to native Hawaiians and the famous Parker Ranch. Home of the Paniolo’s, Hawaiian cowboys. They have a great General Store – website is http://www.parkergeneralstore.com As we continue to the Kohala coast we pass Hawaii graffitti. People take the white dried coral and lay it on the black lava and spell out messages.

We will be at the Shores of Waikoloa for the next three days. This is an exclusive AAA 3-Diamond condominium resort on the prestigious Kohala Coast, fronting the beautiful fairways of the Waikoloa Golf Club’s renowned Beach Course. An upscale golfer’s paradise with fairway views everywhere. Luxuriously appointed 1 and 2 bedroom suites with gourmet kitchens and wet bar. Amenities: private lanai, 2 remote control color TV’s, central air, recreation deck w/kitchen and BBQ facilities, pool, jet spa, 2 tennis courts, great sunrise and sunset.

I was surprised that this is a small resort. Really very nice, a gated property,quiet with nice facilities. If you want to play tennis the office has racquets and tennis balls for you to use. Our unit is a 2 bedroom 2 bath, really great. It is in the Banyan building unit #125, a ground floor unit with a great wrap around lanai. The master bath has a hugh shower, one end has the rain shower head, the other end has the hand held with lots of pulsating sprays- wow. The 2nd bath has a jacuzzi tub. It is so peaceful here, we really love this property and unit. We overlook the pool.

We went for a walk along the beach, just a short walk away. For Thanksgiving we went to the Waikoloa Village to the grocery store. We found at the deli a great meal to take home with all the trimmings. No struggle with the  gravy!

We went over to the Marriott and the Hilton to see them. The Hilton has a monorail, a boat that looks like the African Queen. At the Marriott I wanted Bob to see the beach and wow they had bulldozed a 6 foot berm to protect it from the winter storms.

On our walk today we went through the Queens Market Place and the Kings Court shopping centers. The Queens is geared for families and a better value. They have a great food court, entertainment nightly and movies outdoors. Although I had to laugh the movie was in Japanese with English subtitles. We had a nice dinner at Ruths Chris Steak House. They have on all the islands an early bird special.

We really enjoyed the Shores of Waikola, a great spot. We met a nice gentleman at the pool. He is a local that owns 5 ranches and was verry vocal on how to fix our economy. Must be the only Republican in Hawaii. We really hate to leave this condo and property it has been so relaxing. We also hate to leave this island. But since we couldn’t do the observatories on Mauna Kea, Kayaking, and the Volcano again we will just have to come back.

This is a wonderful island and one you do not want to miss – and all of the properties we experienced are great and highly recommended.

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Moving on to Kauai

November 28, 2008

11/15/08

Well we leave today for the island of Kauai – the Garden Isle. Our flight is at 7pm, so we were able to get late check out. Our shuttle will pick us up at 4:30pm to take us to the airport. We did our walk today in the direction of the zoo and Kapiolani Park. As we walked there was a soccer meet going on with all the soccer mom’s and dad’s cheering them on. We sometimes forget that people live, work and play here just like we do at home.


There was an Art Festival going on in the park. All the venders had to have things they made. A beautiful selection of items. I saw the gal I bought some mu mu’s from several years ago. One gal had hand made leis out of fabric, even for the dog. I planned to go back and get one and totally forgot. I think Bob was rushing me around, hmmmm. I guess I will just have to return to the islands sooner.


I can’t say enough about the people at the Waikiki Beach Tower. They are so pleasant and helpful. Everyone expressed an interest in our travels from the maids to the front desk. To go somewhere and have them make you feel so welcome is very special.


Before I forget – on Hawaii, Kauai, Maui – you have CostCo and Walmart. On Kauai and Hawaii the CostCo also sell gas. Their gas is usually 30 – 40 cents less than on the island. Also at Walmart they have a great souvenir department, with gift items, lotions, clothing etc.


Also on each island they have brochures with tours, etc. The most important would be the beach information. Please be sure to read it carefully.


Kauai – 11/15 – 11/22/08

This last day in Oahu I was able to do laundry and also sit at the pool so my chores were done. Because we had a late flight out of Honolulu to Kauai, we decided we better eat something at the airport. Waikiki is going strong to the wee hours of the morning. The outer islands roll up the streets at 9pm. The restaurant at the airport – Stringer Rays was actually very good.

Our flight to Kauai was short. Kauai has absolutely no light pollution. The stars are unbelievable and dark roads – wow. We are staying at the Aloha Beach Resort just outside of Lihue. We were told there was no way to get lost – must not know to whom they speak. We picked up our car and off we went. (A car is a must on the outer islands.) Surprise we didn’t get lost. We have a cottage; in the dark it didn’t look very nice. But we were so tired we went right to bed. Well the next morning we were surprised to see and hear the ocean. Our unit overlooks Lydgate Park out to the ocean. The unit is small but had a nice kitchenette, 2 TV’s, living area and a separate bedroom. The unit is a little tired but clean and did not smell. We found out later they are in the process of renovating the cottages. We took a walk around the grounds, so pretty. We ended up having breakfast at the open air restaurant, very good. (You can order off the menu or they have a lovely breakfast buffet for $17.95.)

The resort is located on the ocean in the Kapaa area of Kauai. The property has multiple one and three story buildings and nice grounds for strolling. The hotel rooms, junior suites, and one bedroom cottage suites will sleep 4 guests. All of the units have air conditioning, color cable TV, and a small refrigerator. The one bedroom cottage units are detached from the main hotel and are closer to the ocean. The cottage units have a kitchenette and offer a quiet ambiance for guests. The hotel has 2 pools, spa, fitness room, activity desk, restaurant, mini-mart, gift shop, central laundry, tennis court, and free parking. Lydgate State Park is adjacent to the Aloha Beach Resort and there is good swimming at this park. What is nice at Lydgate is they have a nice wading area for children, then a safe area for snorkeling. They partitioned off areas with a man made rock reef to provide some safe swimming. There are many dining and shopping options within driving distance. They are renovating the hotel and the cottages.


You know when you come from a luxury property to a modest one it is always a shock. In the light of day we found a much laid back property with beautiful grounds and facilities. (We woke up at 4:30am again.) The grounds have lovely Koi ponds, fountains and landscaping. We had to go to the open air lobby for the wi fi hot spots to check our email. While we were there the park started to pick up. There must be a picnic about to go on. They set up jump castles, big slides, what fun they had. It rained off and on but the rain didn’t stop the fun.


We were able to go to church and the sun managed to shine while there. It’s always interesting to meet people that live on the islands. We went to the Kauai Fair in Kapa’a. I always manage to find some nice things to take home. Christmas shopping is fun in the islands. We went to Safeway and picked up some things for breakfast and snacks.


Sunday when the rain started we decided to head to the west side of the island to find some sun; we found it in Hanapepe – really picturesque but not much open on Sunday. If you are in the area on a Friday night they have an Art Walk. Lots of galleries. The town buildings are very colorful. They remind me of the old west except they have color. We then headed for Waimea. We passed the Russian Fort, built in 1817. This is where Russia had a grand but failed plan to bring Kauai under Russian control. Waimea is another lovely town said to be the sunniest part of Kauai. We stayed at the Waimea Plantation several years ago. They are rustic but really nice. The stars are unbelievable – so dark! You do have the feral roosters, and they have no idea when the sun comes up. They vocalize at all hours. Don’t miss the Waimea Canyon General Store; you can call them for the daily sunshine report.


Monday we went to the Poipu area – I always enjoy driving through the tunnel of trees. Even there it was raining. We ended up at Kieoki’s Paradise restaurant and bar. What a lovely setting, too bad it was raining the outside seating was nestled in beautiful gardens. The Poipu area has some lovely beaches.- Brennecke’s Beach has exciting bodysurfing, Shipwreck Beach has challenging boogie boarding, Poipu Beach Park has gentle wading pools and there is snorkeling at Longhouse Beach. Always check with the lifeguards for current water conditions. A basic rule is never turn your back on the ocean. From Poipu we ended up at the Spouting Horn Park. This is a “blow hole” created by waves forcing water into a shoreline cave, resulting in a vertical fountain of seawater that shoots out a natural hole in the lava table. There is a flea market there and it has some great items and prices.


Tuesday we moved to the RequestQuest Islander by the Sea located by the Coconut Market Place. We have stayed here before and have always enjoyed our stay at this property. This is a moderate oceanfront hotel located on a sandy beach in the Wailua/Kapaa area of Kauai. This property, located in the Coconut Plantation Marketplace, has amenities that include a pool, poolside bar, Jacuzzi, shuffleboard, activity desk, mini-mart and central laundry facilities. All of the units (both hotel rooms and junior suites) have a wet bar, small refrigerator, coffee-maker, air conditioning, color cable TV, and a telephone. The hotel oceanfront category has a microwave and the junior suites have kitchenettes for travelers wanting to do a limited amount of cooking. This property has nice grounds for strolling or relaxing and is close to many other shops and restaurants.


We have an ocean front unit so it was nice sleeping with the slider open and listening to the surf. The weather is rain, wind a little sun and more sun. We have never been on Kauai when it has rained. Luckily there is much to see. The pool area has a nice bar, great BBQ areas and fantastic view. We met a nice couple from Vancover Island, fun to talk with and get their view on our country. All positive by the way.


One of the restaurants we enjoyed was the Country Kitchen for breakfast in the town of Kapp’a. There is also a nice restaurant you can walk to in the Coconut Market Place called Eggbert’s. Have you noticed we are big fans of breakfast?

Forgot to mention that in the Kapa’a area you can see the sleeping giant. The mountain looks like a man resting. Also a great restaurant is Postcards. It is only open from 5 – 9 pm so reservations a must. They have a great seafood menu and now also have a great vegetarian menu.


Both of the properties we have stayed are at the base of the Wailua River. This is where the river empties into the Pacific. This is where you can get a boat or rent a kayak to cruise up the river to the Fern Grotto where the ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto. At the fern grotto a lovely Hawaiian woman sings the Hawaii Wedding song. I still remember the first time I heard this many years ago. Beautiful!


We spent our last day driving to the North Shore, to Hanalei and Princeville. You will love the one lane bridges. The coast line is rugged and beautiful. Of course it rained all the way, but the beauty of the area made up for the rain.

A good way to see the Na Pali coast is to take a snorkeling cruise. We have taken the Kauai Sea Tours – Lucky Lady cruise. We really enjoyed this cruise, the cliffs are spectacular.

Kayaking has become very popular and there are many tours available. There are a lot of choices on Kauai for things to do rain or shine.


We all know about Kona coffee on the Big Island – but now Kauai has its own coffee. The Kauai coffee is very good.  I bought some at the WalMart. I was there getting some souvenirs – had a great sale. The Kauai coffee I bought was Estate Roasted Vanilla Macadamia Nut – so good. Here is their web address – http://www.kauaicoffee.com.


Aloha, We have arrived – Yeah!

November 18, 2008
11/12/08 – Oahu – The gathering place
Aloha, well we have arrived in Honolulu. We left Charleston at 7:30 am and arrived in Honolulu around 2:45pm Hawaii time. It was a long flight but great to be here. We as usual opted for the lei greeting and roundtrip transfers to the hotel. It is always great to be greeted with a friendly smile and a fragrant lei.

We are staying in the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Tower on the 36th floor, ocean front. They graciously upgraded us and we love the view. This is a great resort. The condo is very spacious, has a full kitchen, washer/dryer, 2 TV’s, balcony off the bedroom and living room. They have twice daily maid service, love the turn down chocolates. There is in room high speed internet, free. There are 2 pools; the one is a small intimate pool on the 4th floor. There is a party room, spa, billiard area and racquet ball court. The 2nd pool is across the street, has a sandy beach and is a beautiful turquoise blue. Of course I am talking of the Pacific Ocean. The staff here is wonderful, so helpful. The bellmen have some great suggestions on restaurants the locals frequent. That is something we like to do, although the Cheesecake Factory is looking good.

We arrived in time for the sunset. Beautiful! The nightscape is beautiful, a full moon and a sky full of stars. We can see the Pink Palace – Royal Hawaiian – from the balcony. We usually go to Duke’s at the Outrigger when we arrive. This trip took its toll and I went to Teddy’s (bellmen’s suggestion) for great carry out burgers. While walking to Teddy’s the streets were full of excitement – visitors everywhere, the street performers, venders, music from the open air lounges. (Melanie the parrot man is still here, those birds are well fed.) Waikiki is really hopping as usual. We are trying to stay up late but at this point we have already been up 24 hours.

11/13/08
Well we were up at 4am today. But that works out great – able to do our east coast business (there is a 5 hour time difference so it was 9am on the east coast.) We took our usual walk down to Ft. deRussy Park. One of the objects of our trip is to find spots that do not break the bank. On our walk we discovered Keo’s – a great restaurant. We had breakfast – $3.95 – 2 eggs, 2 bacon strips, 2 pancakes. Their dinner menu was also reasonable.

We went to the beach, had some liquid sunshine (rain shower) but you know by the time you gather everything up its gone. We have rented a car for tomorrow; we want to go to the North Shore to see the surf contest and the big waves.

Our bellmen recommend the Side Street Inn – near the mall. We were so full I never thought I would eat again. You should have seen Bob eating fried rice with chopsticks.

It was tricky to find because of the one way streets but they do have $5 valet parking. It is all Pu Pu’s (appetizers) but a serving was huge and we shared their signature pork chops and fried rice. We could not finish it all.

11/14/08
Up at 4:30am again, business done. We picked up our car (Dollar.com had a shuttle come for us) and off we went. Now this is a real test of a marriage, rush hour, map to the North Shore and Bob driving. We were so busy looking at a rainbow we missed our turn. But around the bend we saw a double rainbow. So worth the missed turn. Fortunately the roads to the North Shore are very well marked. In Haleiwa (a small town in the North Shore) we stopped for breakfast – great sweet bread French toast. (Haleiwa Café) Would you believe in this little town in the middle of nowhere they have a McCafé! The new McDonalds – competition for Starbucks – plasma TV’s, ATM machine, café tables, WI FI and all those fancy coffee drinks.

The waves were awesome – 30 feet. We joined the crowd watching the surfers, people from all over the world. Even the surfers we spoke with were from places far and wide. The surfers were amazing; some were taken out to the big waves via Jet Ski.

As usual when in the North Shore we stopped at Matzumoto’s for a shaved ice. A must –also if there for lunch stop at a shrimp truck. Keep an eye on the feral roosters, they love shrimp. (I always get the shaved ice with ice cream and beans, and the liner for the shaved ice. Without the liner it would be a big mess.)

This evening we went to Dukes but too long a wait, so we went to my favorite the Moana Surfrider. (One of the first hotels on the island – lovely) We enjoyed a sandwich under the stars and the famous Banyan tree. They had live entertainment. We then sat for a while on the front veranda rockers and watched the world go by. Perfect end to a perfect day.

11/15/08
Well we leave today for the island of Kauai – the Garden Isle. Our flight is at 7pm, so we were able to get late check out. Our shuttle will pick us up at 4:30pm to take us to the airport. We did our walk today in the direction of the zoo and Kapiolani Park. As we walked there was a soccer meet going on with all the soccer mom’s and dad’s cheering them on. We sometimes forget that people live, work and play here just like we do at home.

There was an Art Festival going on in the park. All the venders had to have things they made. A beautiful selection of items. I saw the gal I bought some mu mu’s from several years ago. One gal had hand made leis out of fabric, even for the dog. I planned to go back and get one and totally forgot. I think Bob was rushing me around, hmmmm. I guess I will just have to return to the islands sooner.

I can’t say enough about the people at the Waikiki Beach Tower. They are so pleasant and helpful. Everyone expressed an interest in our travels from the maids to the front desk. To go somewhere and have them make you feel so welcome is very special.

Aloha for now, Joanne

ALOHA – CONDO CLUB VISITS THE ISLANDS

October 18, 2008

Well it is the middle of October and we getting ready for our inspection trip to Hawaii. Bob and I will be there for a month. We will visiting Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii and Maui. The purpose of the trip is to visit the properties we work with, make new contacts and search out new properties. We will also be working on finding the best tours, activities and of course restaurants. We will be looking for things that will not break the budget. The package rates, hotels, etc are less this year then last year.  Hawaii is cutting prices to encourage people to visit in this crazy economy. Lets face it where better to go to relax and enjoy the beauties of nature. Lets not forget the Hawaiian people – so gracious, kind and they have the best outlook. Family is most important and the beauty of their islands is so appreciated. In other words no rat race.

We are looking forward to meeting with friends on the islands, you know everyone there is your cousin. I am hoping to put in some great pictures of where we are staying and the fun things we discover. With all our trips to the islands we see something new each trip. You cannot see it all on one visit. Some things are worth more than 1 visit. For example the volcano on the island of Hawaii. Every visit has something new and exciting to experience.

I will be posting some thoughts on packing – always a challenge. We take one small roller bag to check and a carry on. The biggest issue is taking our lap top, etc and all we need to do business while there. We really do work. So don’t hesitate to ask any questions or make a reservation.

This is my first blog thanks to my wonderful friend Jon Frye at Superior Internet. If you need help he is the man to call – 843-579-2211 – www.superiorinternet.com. Always with a quick response and wonderful suggestions.

How am I doing?  Joanne