Trip Coach: September 23, 2008
Conner Gorry, author of "Lonely Planet: Hawaii The Big Island," answered your questions about the Big Island.
Conner Gorry: Good question—and one of the most important to resolve before a trip to the BIG island. See my answer to Colorado Springs. Is 6 days enough? In my opinion, no, but it's better than 5 or fewer!
San Bernardino, Calif.: We will be traveling to the Big Island for a week in early November, and staying at a B&B in south Kona. Last year, we stayed on the Hilo and Puna sides and visited Kilauea and the other sights in those areas. We are 41 and 46 years old and aren't into too much hiking or other adventure activities. What suggestions do you have for activities and sights to see? —Blair
Conner Gorry: You guys have the Big Island bug, eh? Two times in 2 years—this is what this place can do to you. You are going during festival high season, so check out if the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and/or the Big Island Festival jibe with your schedule. Must see sites include the Place of Refuge and Kealakekua Bay—even if you don't want to kayak to the latter to snorkel, consider taking a tour, either by inflatable Zodiac raft or catamaran. You don't want to miss the underwater wonderland here. Between the Place of Refuge and Kealakekua Bay, be sure to take the scenic backroad drive along Painted Church Rd to see what you can discover, visiting St Benedict's Painted Church along the way. This is definitely the best view from a church (both inside and out!) that we've ever had. Don't miss the cemetery while here with its lei-covered statuary. Upland from Kailua-Kona is the laid back town of Holuloa where art galleries and coffee plantation tours will give you a taste of local life. Some of the island's finest souveneirs are tucked away up here, at the Ipu Hale Gallery, Dovetail and Kimura Lauhala Shop. Be prepared to spend!
Minneapolis, Minn.: My fiance and I are planning to honeymoon on the Big Island. Are there any must-see's or -do's not to miss?
Conner Gorry: Congratulations! See answers to Curt, another soon-to-be-wed Hawaiian honeymooner
Long Beach, Calif.: We want to plan a trip to Hawaii. My son wants a place where there is good surfing nearby and my daughter-in-law, my husband, and I want to be near the beach, golf course and shopping. Where is the best place to go?
Conner Gorry: Good question and let the debate begin about what constitutes good surfing! Some people will tell you the Big Island doesn't have any good surfing, but they're just being overprotective of their breaks. Pine Trees, at Keahole Point, is pretty much recognized as the island's best surfing—and tourists will have to be patient and friendly to get locals to share the waves here. For the rest of the family, golf, shopping and beaches galore can be found at the nearby South Kohala resorts. Although damaged by the earthquake in 2006, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is restored, retrofitted and ready for guests. There's great golf here, plus two of the nicest golden sand beaches on the island at Kauna'oa Bay. Stay here and you can hit the links at the nearby Hapuna Price Hotel Golf Course as well. For something different, you can play the 18-hole course at the Volcano Golf & Country Club, with snowcapped Mauna Kea in the background. For an unusual 19th hole, hit the Volcano Winery just up the road for wine tasting.
The Kings Shops in the Waikoloa sprawl on the South Kohala Coast collects the island's most upscale shopping in one place: head here for Burberry, Louis Vuitton and the like.
By the way, when you say Hawaii, you mean the Big Island, right?
San Antonio, Tex.: My wife and I are spending the week of October 24 on Hawaii. We never encountered "vog" on a trip in March a couple of years ago, but would like to know what time of year it becomes a nuisance, and how do seniors or asthma-prone folks cope? We also wandered into a fairly ritzy resort while there, and received a chilly reception. If all Hawaii beaches are in the public domain, open to all, just what area do these elitist properties control? —Nick
Conner Gorry: Aloha. The vog can be a burden these days thanks to the volcanic action at Kilauea—and if you're asthma-prone (good punctuation, Texas!), watch out! You should check out the national park's air quality site and conditions on the volcano in general before going and adjust your activities depending on air quality and your comfort/fitness level. see the reponse to South Lake Tahoe for the sites.