Hawaiian holiday accommodation recommendations
February 14, 2013 2:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Hawaii with 2 friends in May and am looking for recommendations for hotels. We will be staying in Kapaa for 3 nights, Kona for 3-4 nights, Hilo for 1-2 nights and Honolulu for 2 nights.

We would prefer to share a room/suite but have separate beds, although it looks like this might not be possible in Hilo. Being close (walking distance) to restaurants or bars other than those in the hotel would be preferable so we don't all have to go back to the room at the same time (and I don't feel guilty for not wanting to stay out). Bar and restaurant suggestions in those places are also welcome. We've figured out most of the sightseeing stuff we want to do.
posted by Kris10_b to Travel & Transportation around Island of Hawai‘i, HI (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So, here's the thing about Hilo. The hotels are located in one area. Only one area, unless you want to stay at a bed and breakfast or a hostel. Next to the hotel area, there are a number of bars and restaurants that cater pretty much to the tourist traffic. I recommend Ken's House of Pancakes as a must see Hilo institution. Also, it's the only 24 hour restaurant in town. And Sombats, which has excellent Thai food, and is right next to Ken's. Coqui's Bar and Grill is also in the immediate area, but I've avoided it since there was a serious bar fight there that got someone killed there last year.
Downtown (where more good food can be found), is in a completely different area. An easy recommendation is Lucy's, which has Mexican food, and any number of tasty pho places.
And there is a third area where the fast food places hide. None are within an easy walking distance of the hotel area except the area right around the hotels. Hilo is not a very pedestrian or bike friendly city. You can, if you want to, hitchhike, or take a taxi, or the bus.
I hope you enjoy a visit to the Big Island. Mahalo and aloha.
posted by Sucht at 2:38 AM on February 14, 2013

Best answer: And here's the thing about Kona. If you don't make reservations well ahead of time, you'll be saying hello to Uncle Billy's--which is a totally standard (-bordering-on-dank) motel, but at twice the price of what you'd expect on the mainland. Central Kona (that is, "Kailua") is walkable and has bars, hotels, restaurants, nightlife (for non-Honolulu Hawaiian values), but is possibly even more touristy than Waikiki and rapidly transitions to suburban sprawl not too far away.

Definitely stop by Holualoa (up the hill) if you can; it's kind of a sleepy artist's colony, but is worth a few hours.
posted by psoas at 5:32 AM on February 14, 2013

There are a fair number of hotels in Honolulu in and around the Waikiki area, though I've only stayed in one (The Royal Hawaiian), and that was on the company nickel. It's pretty pricey, though it is generally walkable to restaurants and whatnot. On the other hand, most of the restaurants are of the Cheeseburger In Paradise variety, and it's heavily geared towards tourists and high-end shoppers. If you have a car, you can get away from the main tourist district and find interesting places to eat.

If I were to ever go back on my own dime, I'd probably opt for someplace on the North Shore, Haleiwa, probably. It's quieter (in that there's a bit less hustle and bustle as compared to Waikiki) and a little more funky. It's where all the big surfing goes on, so there's plenty to watch, but it's probably not optimum for swimming (Turtle Bay excepted).
posted by jquinby at 6:23 AM on February 14, 2013

Best answer: We stayed at the Hilo Hawaiian and Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort in Kona, which appears to no longer be associated with the Outrigger chain, so no link. Both had amazing views, but were quirky--no room service, no in-room refrigerators, somewhat dated decor and amenities.

Food everywhere was iffy. The best food was found at the Hilo farmer's market. Check my blog post about our trip for details, if you like.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 AM on February 14, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! It sounds like we're going to need to drive to go out at night in most places, so we might just pick whatever hotel looks nicest for our budget rather than the closest.
posted by Kris10_b at 11:50 AM on February 14, 2013

Best answer: Hey, don't give up on your quest for centrally-located lodgings quite yet! What about an airbnb option for the Hilo side? This place puts you in the heart of Old Town Hilo, very walkable to food, drink, a.m. coffee, and the farmer's market. And if Hilo's "nightlife" doesn't appeal, you could always do a booze run to the whimsical local market, KTA, and make your own party, local-style. This approach would give you a more full-immersion Hilo experience than cloistering yourselves in one of the tourist towers on Banyan Drive.

In Kona, I recently stayed at Courtyard King Kamehameha. I'm not a big fan of Kailua-Kona, or traditional tourist hotels in general, but this one worked well for us. Clean, nice rooms, quiet, very friendly staff, and you can walk/stagger to eating and boozing places.

I would explore the airbnb option for Kona as well, though, if you are open to that approach.

And I gotta stick up for my island by countering the allegations that the food scene is iffy. There is phenomenal eating to be had. The Big Island kicks ass for homegrown produce, fresh seafood, stick-to-your-ribs diner food, and snacks. Give me some idea of what specifically you folks are interested in, food-wise, and I'll post some recs.
posted by nacho fries at 12:20 PM on February 14, 2013

I've stayed at the Kona Seaside a couple of times. It's everything you need and nothing you don't, at about $100 per night (you can pay extra to park in their lot if it's not full -- otherwise they'll point you to the free public lot next door which is perfectly viable to save a few bucks). Decor is dated but the hotel is well kept. It's located at one end of the major tourist strip in Kona so it's an exceptionally easy walk to all of that stuff, pretty much just step out the door and you're there. Kona Brewery is about two blocks away as well. If getting off from the beaten path is your priority it's not the answer, but for an easy, reasonable place to stay I am a fan. Kona itself isn't so great for getting off from the beaten path anyway.

Also, you didn't ask, but the manta ray snorkel tours out of Kona are life changing. There are a number of places that do them. Highly, highly recommended.
posted by LowellLarson at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2013

Response by poster: Nacho Fries - I hadn't thought of airbnb, that place looks fantastic!
We eat pretty much anything, so any food recommendations are welcome.

LowellLarson - manta ray tours are definitely on the itinerary.
posted by Kris10_b at 5:32 PM on February 14, 2013

I've stayed in a wide range of places in Waikiki. My preference is Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Its priced the way you'd expect - not cheap - but the value is there. Great facilities and slightly removed from the main drag, so you're still very close to whatever you might need but with a bit less action all around. If I was going to stay in town again, I'd go there again in a minute.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:28 PM on February 14, 2013

The Outrigger resort in Kapa'a is close to a couple of good restaurants and to Trees, which has live local music. There are quite a few hotels in that area, but that's the one I remember. Eggbert's for breakfast is a local favorite. Kintaro has amazing sushi- like ahi caught that morning. I used to live on Kauai'i, feel free to hit me up if you're looking for local activities. It is so beautiful, it will hurt your eyes!
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:34 PM on February 16, 2013

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