How to do Hawai'i cheap (and what about visiting the Volcano there?)
December 29, 2017 6:06 PM   Subscribe

How's the volcano-watching on the Big Island these days? Thinking about a week in Hawaii for Spring Break and would love to hear any of your tips and tricks. Will it be worth it (or too expensive) to fly into HNL and then out of KOA on the Big Island; or should we just give up on any Kilauea sight-seeing and spend all of our time on Oahu?

And is it maybe too late to be setting up springtime travel to Hawaii in 2018? Thanks!
posted by Rash to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What does "cheap" mean to you? That will help us answer your question a bit better. Also, where you're flying in from will greatly vary the airfare price. I don't think it's too late to plan a spring trip to Hawaii, if you're willing to pay for probably a bit inflated airfare (depends when you go, and where from).

For volcano watching, here's the latest on the NPS website. I've been there to see the lava lake and that's pretty fun, and on a prior trip, I made the hike out towards the vent to see the lava there. Worth it in my opinion.

Also would help us to know what kinds of things you like. For me and my husband, we hands down prefer the Big Island to Oahu due to the number of sights to see there, the hiking, plus the volcano. I may be biased - I've lived on the Big Island and loved it to pieces.

I highly recommend the "Hawaii Revealed" series of guidebooks. They can help you narrow down what you'd like to see, what kinds of prices and hotels and options there are, etc.
posted by FireFountain at 7:20 PM on December 29, 2017

Some beautiful and inexpensive botanical gardens and museums on Honolulu, and the beach is always free! Loved snorkeling at Hanauma Bay which had reasonable equipment rental when we were there.

If you end up in a condo, lots of people recommend getting a Costco membership which seems to make stocking the fridge nominally cheaper.
posted by honeybee413 at 7:57 PM on December 29, 2017

I've lived in Honolulu. Big Island > Honolulu, even if it is more expensive because of connecting flights. You will need to rent a car. The helicopter flight over the Volcano as well as the hike out to the vent are both incredible experiences worth doing. Also drive up the high road on Mauna Kea.
posted by zdravo at 8:11 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Depends on what you want. Hawaii and Oahu are very different. Lived on both. If you are doing a week I would probably pick one. I'll second Costco for either island lol.
Unfortunately you cannot reasonably predict the volcano. You can take a boat to see if the lava is meeting the ocean or pay out for the helicopter ride. I've been on the helo a couple of times, one time it was straight from the discovery channel and others have been less exciting. It's a pretty ride either way. Also you can hike out a ways depending on the current flow which is also awesome.
I don't think you are late, if March is springtime for you it's humpback whale season and that is amazing.
posted by ibakecake at 8:51 PM on December 29, 2017

The Big Island will be so much cheaper than Honolulu (relatively - I mean, Hawai'i is still more expensive than the mainland) it won't even be worth going to Honolulu. If you only have a week, I would honestly skip Honolulu entirely, and spend it all on the Big Island; Honolulu is a big city, and you can get those on the mainland. The Big Island is amazing, and exploring Volcano Nat'l Park and the surrounding area is a fantastic way to spend a day - and there's so many other cool things to do in and around Kona (and a few in Hilo) that you won't even regret not going to Honolulu.
posted by pdb at 9:13 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm unfortunately leaving a weeks stay on Oahu as I type this. We stayed in a pretty spendy hotel but met up w some friends yesterday who were camping out at the malaekahana state recreation area on the north shore (in kuhuku). Think they said it was 75 bucks ish for 4 nights. They bought some supplies at the abc store or Walmart and brought others from home. You'd still have to rent a car but could save a ton on hotels.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:18 PM on December 29, 2017

We just spent 2 weeks in Hawaii, one on Kauai and the other on Oahu. We originally wanted to go to the big island, but couldn't find a flight that was reasonable (even with a connection). We flew direct to Kauai and found a rental in Hanalei (north shore of the island) for pretty cheap. We did have to rent a car to do all we wanted, though we could have gotten by without and not visited the south or west of the island and it would have been fine.

I agree, skip Oahu if you only have one week and are looking for unique Hawaiian nature. I want to go back to Kauai so bad. It was everything I'd hoped for... relatively empty beaches, incredible hikes, etc. No volcano though (that's a bonus for me though!).
posted by pazazygeek at 11:41 AM on December 30, 2017

The Big Island is the coolest place I've ever been. You can walk on land that is younger than you are, and feel like James Bond while drinking a cocktail at a restaurant on the edge of an actively exploding volcano. You can walk around the bottom of the crater and tell people you climbed a volcano on your vacation. Stay on both sides of the island, and take the time to drive around. You'll go from an alien, barren landscape of lava rocks that look like a picture from Mars, to humid jungle, to green rolling hills that look like Ireland, in the space of a few hours. Go up to the observatory visitor center at dusk and look through the telescopes that local volunteers set up. I'd never looked through a serious telescope before. I saw a globular cluster! We took a horseback ride through Waimea Valley and I can now say I've forded a stream on a horse in a warm tropical rain, thus fulfilling a goal I didn't know I had of being on a romance novel cover.

Oh, and there are beaches and snorkeling and stuff. But that wasn't really what stood out for me.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:19 PM on December 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

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