My husband and I will be traveling with two friends of ours to Big Island of Hawai'i the first week of October. We went around the same time with the same couple in 2012 and spent most of our time on the Kona side. Now we're planning to spend most of our time on the Hilo side, and I'm looking for all the advice/tips/recommendations you have to offer! Specific questions inside.
We fly into the Kona airport. Our first night, we're staying at an AirBnb rental near Waipio Valley. The next four nights we're staying in a rental in Mountain View, near Volcano, and the last two nights we're staying on a coffee farm near Captain Cook. The only activity we have scheduled so far is that our first full day, we'll be taking the AM horseback ride through Waipio Valley with Naalapa Stables
. We are also planning to go up to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center
for stargazing one of the nights, and to visit the Place of Refuge
when we're staying in Captain Cook.
Our last trip was kind of a whirlwind, and we didn't get to spend nearly as much time in Hilo and in and around the volcano as we wanted to, which is why we're spending the bulk of our nights in Mountain View.
1) I quit eating beef several years ago, but occasionally I crave it. If I want a really excellent local flank steak while we're there, where's the best place to go? I'm kind of assuming this will be somewhere up in the north, probably in/near Waimea.
2) Favorite bar in Hilo to just hang out and have a few drinks?
3) We're planning on buying a cheap cooler and a fair amount of our own food, since all of our rentals will have full kitchens. For example, we'll be driving from Waipio Valley to Mountain View via Hilo on a Wednesday so we plan on stopping at the Hilo Farmer's Market to buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables. Any tips/suggestions on getting the most bang for our buck when it comes to making our own food?
4) The volcano park was the most amazing place I've ever been on the planet so far, and I'm so excited to go back! Last time, we pretty much just saw the visitor center, the Thurston lava tubes, and the Jager museum at sunset. What else there is an absolute must-see? (There so many trails/hikes listed on the website that it's kind of overwhelming. I am not a big hiker - a couple hour walk is probably my max, unless there are bathrooms somewhere along the way.) Also, is it worth it to have a meal at the Volcano House?
5) Any and all restaurant recommendations!
6) My husband really wants to go to a beach with some wave action - he's not a surfer, so nothing crazy, just some place with more surf than a lot of the popular snorkeling spots. Any suggestions?
7) Just generally, what other recommendations do you have for things to do? I personally am pretty ambivalent about beaches (I can't swim) but the other three members of the party all want to swim and snorkel, and I never mind going along as long as there's some shade.