Author Topic: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR  (Read 1263 times)

Online Yehoshua

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Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« on: January 31, 2017, 04:50:38 PM »
Trip Planning

Being married to a teacher is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is 2 months off in the summer to travel. The curse is no other time of the year off except a week during winter break. To maximize our trips, we try to plan a local trip during winter break. This year we decided on The Big Island of Hawaii. We went to Maui two years ago and decided to try another island this time. As with last time, we went Sun-Thur as to avoid Shabbos in HI.

For flights, we booked on UA using 17.5k SQ per person each way. Despite the fact that BA only charges 12.5k each way, there was no availability on the outbound and the return flight landed too late for us. Combine that with the fact that I had 93k SQ already sitting there for a cancelled ticket from last yearís winter break, it was the 2nd best option.

For hotels, we actually went a little unconventional and booked a really nice Airbnb in Volcano, HI for 2 nights (Sun, Mon) to explore the Hilo side of the island and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (VNP). For the 2nd two nights (Tue, Wed) we booked the Sheraton on the Kona side for 5k SPG+$75 (+tax and the $25 resort fee) per night.

For a car, we rented from National as I got the best rate with them (we ended up with a Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid).

For food, we brought a pot and pan with us from home. We also brought veggie sausages and prepared noodle dishes, as well as tuna packets, rice, pita and tortillas. We bought the rest of the food at Walmart.


Noodle dishes

Now on to the actual TR.

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 04:51:10 PM »
Sunday, January 22, 2017: Off to Hawaii

One of the things we Angelenos miss out on when going to HI is the drastic change in weather. Itís usually just a bit warmer in HI, even in January. This year we got to experience leaving LA amidst one of the strongest rain storms to hit the Southland in many years.

While it was a bit wet getting to the airport, we were able to check in at the Premier desk (no queues) and were on our way through the beautiful new security screening area United recently finished in Terminal 7 at LAX. While the regular lanes have new automated security conveyer belts, the Pre-Check lane does not. Maybe soon.

Within a few minutes we made our way upstairs and settled in at our gate, 71B. I really wanted to check out the new United Club at LAX, but was not allowed in since I was not with the Star Alliance Gold member travelling with me (she was at the gate with our daughter). My wife did have a chance to check it out and snag some snacks. It was just not worth schlepping everything to the lounge for 10 minutes, so Iíll have to catch it next time.

We left LAX a few minutes late. As anyone familiar with the airport will know, flights usually take off to the west, over the ocean. Because of the storm we had, we actually took off to the east and have to do the turnaround over the city which was cool.

The flight was also long, just over 6 hours, due to strong headwinds. We arrived in Kona 1 hours late at 1:30pm. We were off the plane in no time, picked up our bag which was already at baggage claim waiting, got on the shuttle to the rental car within 5 minutes, and were in our car driving out of the airport by 1:50pm.

Our first stop was Walmart. We picked up some fruit (bananas for 37Ę each and a pineapple for $2.99) as well as some zucchini (2 for $4) and a dozen eggs ($4/dozen). We also picked up a small cooler to keep everything in.

We also went next door to Safeway to pick up some baby carrots (2lb for $5). Before long we were on the way to the Mauna Kea Visitorís Center.

The drive up was not bad. There wasnít any traffic and the views were amazing. We got to the visitorís center around 4:45pm, about 1:15 before sunset. We spent some time taking care of our daughter (who was doing just fine thank God) before putting her in the baby carrier and walking up the hill to see sunset. The walk was easy and took about 15 minutes.


Mauna Kea Visitorís Center


The sun through the solar telescope


I didnít see any

We watched sunset from there and it was spectacular. While it had been raining while driving on the saddle road, we were well above those clouds and it was a clear sunset if I ever saw one. Right after sunset we made our way down to the visitorís center again to wait about 1 hour for the stars to come out.




Sunset


Venus and stars

After getting DD ready for bed, we looked at the stars for a few minutes and tried to take some pictures. By 7:15 we were back on the rainy road to Volcano.

Despite the fact that there was major construction for a few miles on the saddle road forcing us to drive at 15 mph, we only arrived at our Airbnb 10 minutes late at around 9pm.  We immediately put DD to sleep in a bed and started on making dinner.  We ate a nice dinner of eggs, rice and zucchini before turning in for the night.


Dinner

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 04:51:26 PM »
Monday, January 23, 2017: The Heli flight that wasnít
We woke up early (aided by the 2-hour time change) and were out the door by 7:15am to catch our Helicopter tour of the waterfalls and volcanoes. Despite the fact that it was raining pretty consistently (and had been since we left Mauna Kea) the tour was still scheduled to depart. We got to Hilo airport at 8:25am for our 9:30am flight.

We checked in, got our safely briefing and were all set to go before the finally cancelled the flight at 9:20am. Our choices were to reschedule or get a full refund, but as the weather was only expected to get worse we just cancelled and moved on with our day.

Our first stop was ĎAkaka Falls. It wasnít raining when we arrived so we decided to take the long way around (15 minutes vs 3 the short way) to walk to the falls. About halfway through it started raining again. We made it to the falls, got some pictures in the rain, and returned to the car a bit wet.




íAkaka Falls


Long path to get to íAkaka Falls

We continued to the Botanical Garden (having been given free entrance passes by Paradise Helicopters- the company we were going to use). While it usually doesnít rain during the day at the botanical garden, it was raining quite steadily when we arrived. Because of the baby, the only thing we could have done is walk around the exposed garden in the rain. We opted to skip that and move on, especially because DD was sleeping.

We then drove just up the road to Umauna Falls. While they usually charge to see the falls ($5/person), I convinced them to let us see them for free because it was raining and we had a sleeping baby in the car so we couldnít do anything more anyway. They let us, so we just drove to the falls, snapped some more pictures and got back in the car to drive to the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory.


Umauma Falls


Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts

It was just our luck that the rain stopped when we got to the factory. We ate lunch in the car and then went inside to get some free samples. I saw another frum couple there but didnít speak to them. We then did the self-guided tour of the factory which was nice. Itís not a must do by any means (their nuts arenít even cheaper there; Walmart and Costco are cheaper), but itís a good rainy day activity.

After the tour, we went to VNP. We stopped at the visitorís center for a bit before continuing to the Jagger Museum. As we pulled up to the museum the rain let up for about 5 minutes, allowing the fog around the crater to lift temporarily. Good thing we got the few shots we did, because not 5 minutes later and the rain returned, bringing with it the fog and poor visibility of the glowing lava.


Jagger Museum


Lava through the rain

We looked around the museum for a few minutes before driving over to the steam vents for a quick steam facial. After that we decided to drive the Chain of Craters road in search of clearer weather down the mountain. We stopped every so often to take a look another site. Eventually we made it out of the clouds and rain to where the sun was shining. We didnít drive the whole road (we stopped at the point where you can see where the lava flowed over the old road about 75% of the way down) before turning around.


Chain of Craters Road


Part of the old Chain of Craters road covered in lava

We drove back to our Airbnb and finally had time to relax. We fed DD and put here to bed before doing the same for us. Before I went to bed though I decided to go back out in the rain to the Jagger museum 10 minutes away to see the lava at night. Despite the rain, it was a lot easier to see the lava at night through the fog than it was during the day. Iím glad I went.


Lava through the rain at night

I want to mention a few things about the property we stayed at. It was amazing! There was a full pantry of things we could use (which I knew about in advance). They had condiments, PB & J (the J wasnít kosher), pasta, tea, coffee, oils, vinegar, eggs, milk, popcorn, plastic cutlery and bowls, paper plates and even some drinks. It was amazing to be able to use everything, especially with so many kosher options already there.

Here are some pictures:




















Tuesday, January 24, 2017: Back to Kona
With the weather much the same as it was the day before, we just decided to suck it up and walk in the rain. We went back to VNP to see the Thurston Lava Tube. Yes, it was raining the whole time, but we enjoyed the quick walk to and through the tube all the same. We drove back to the Airbnb, packed up and started our drive back to Kona.

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Thurston Lava Tube

Our first stop was the Black Sand Beach. While it was raining a bit when we arrived, it stopped after a few minutes and the sun came out. We hung around there for a while, but despite looking we didnít see any sea turtles. We drove to the other side (the one closer to Kona) and ate lunch at a picnic table with an ocean view before continuing on.


Black Sand Beach

The next stop was South Point. We drove all the way to the parking lot where you can hire someone to drive you to the green sand beach, but DD was sleeping again and we didnít want to risk another 20-minute bumpy ride (each way) with her. Sadly, we passed on the green sand beach, but we did go to see people cliff diving. We watched as a few people jump off the cliffs into the ocean (despite the signs warning against it) and walked around a bit longer to find the hole where the sign that used to say South Point was (we didnít find it).


Cliff Jumping


South Point, looking north


South Point, looking south

We then continued our drive making our last stop at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau Park. We parked just outside the Park (despite there being no one in the booth to pay) and walked it. We looked around here for maybe 30 minutes, and it was quite peaceful and pretty.





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Disabled palm tree

We hopped back in the car for the last leg of our drive arriving at the Sheraton at around 5:45pm, just before sunset.

We checked in after a few minutes of waiting, and were in our upgraded (with SPG Gold) ocean-view room (#3312) a few minutes after that. The sun had just set, but the views from the room were amazing! I got a microwave delivered to the room (thereís usually a charge, but I told them we keep kosher and they waived it) as well as a crib for DD.

We got DD ready for bed before making dinner for us. After dinner, DW and I took turns walking around the property in the dark while the other stayed with DD. We went to the lookout point behind the restaurant to see the boat tours diving with the manta rays. I checked out the gym (with its great ocean views) and pools as well.

We made it to bed not long after that.

Sheraton Pics:





Theyíre an AS crew in case anyone was wondering












Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 04:51:41 PM »
Wednesday, January 25, 2017: A Coffee Farm and the Beach
For our one full day in sunny Kona we decided to take it slow and just enjoy being outside in the sun. We started the day with a tour of Greenwell Coffee Farm. I called at 9:05am and they said loads of tours were coming from 10am-1pm, so we rushed over to catch the 9:30am tour. We arrived 2 minutes late, but Daniel had compassion on us and took us on a personal tour so we wouldnít have to fight the crowds at 10am.

It was a pretty cool tour. It was around 30 minutes and ended with coffee tasting. Despite the fact that neither DW nor I are coffee fans, I did sample a few types of roasts to compare them. I must say, this coffee was not bitter at all, and, despite giving me a mild caffeine headache, was actually good. We didnít buy anything (why would we, we donít drink the stuff), so we just headed back to the hotel to pack up for the day before heading out to explore Aliíi Drive.


Greenwell Farms, old coffee trees


Baby chameleon


Ripe coffee cherries

We drove and parked in the Coconut Grove shopping centerís parking lot for free. We walked up Aliíi Drive for about 1 mile to the pier before turning around and walking back. The hotel had given me a small self-guided walking tour pamphlet from Atlantis Submarines which we used on the way back to the car. We stopped at the Kona Farmers Market on the way as well as a few shops to window shop.


Pier along Aliíi Drive

After another lunch in the car, we drove to the beach. We decided to go to one beach, but ended up at the beach behind the Four Seasons. While it wasnít the beach we were expecting to be at, it was nice enough. There were a few areas of shade under some trees which was where we spread our towels (we brought from the Sheraton).


Pathway behind the Four Seasons near the beach


Beach behind the Four Seasons

We tried to introduce DD to the beach, the sand and the ocean, but, like her parents, she is not a sand fan after all. We quickly put her back on the towels and let her just chill watching the ocean crash on the rocks a few feet away. We dipped our feet in the ocean, but it turned out to be quite cold, so we just decided to stay on the towels too.


Very unhappy babyís feet full of sand

After about 1 hour on the beach we started the hour-long, traffic filled drive back to the Sheraton. We had an hour or so of daylight left so the plan was to go swimming in the pool. It would be DDís first time. As soon as we got down to the pool it started raining. On the one hand the pool was empty, but it also meant it wouldnít be as fun.

We spent an hour or so down by the pool before heading up to our room. By now you can probably guess what happened next: we got DD ready for bed, put her to sleep, ate and called it a night.


Sunset from our balcony

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 04:51:49 PM »
Thursday, January 26, 2017: Our Last Day and Back to LA
For our last day in Hawaii we just decided to chill at the hotel. We went down to the pool in the morning while the sun was shining. DD and DW had a great time in the water while I took pictures and watched. We then showered, packed up and drove to the airport (with a quick stop at Costco to fill up the car with gas).

I dropped DW and DD off at the terminal before returning the car to National. The shuttle was waiting to take me to the terminal and left as soon as I boarded. Check in was a breeze, and before we knew it we were on the plan for our shorter 5h30m ride back to LA. Despite having moderate chop most of the way, we arrived safely and on time. Until next time, Hawaii!


Crazy long outdoor security lines at KOA. Precheck was the one on the right, though apparently they donít actually have Precheck, just expedited.

End

Offline davidmal

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 05:00:25 PM »
nice job!

Love this photo
-DMC
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it ~Ferris Bueller"

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2017, 05:27:00 PM »

Offline tageed-lee

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2017, 05:28:27 PM »
Very nice TR! Nice pics! Thanks for sharing!

Offline PBaruch

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2017, 06:59:58 PM »
I'm happy to hear you had a nice time.  Hopefully next time you will have a chance to see the lava. 
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline mgarfin

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2017, 07:16:13 PM »
What's your secret to getting TR's done fast!!

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 07:30:27 PM »
Very nice TR! Nice pics! Thanks for sharing!
YW!

I'm happy to hear you had a nice time.  Hopefully next time you will have a chance to see the lava.
That's the hope. The island is still young, so the lava should still be flowing into the ocean for years, even if it stops for periods.

What's your secret to getting TR's done fast!!
I write them on the return flight when I can. I was lucky and DD slept or entertained herself for most of the flight.

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2017, 07:43:26 PM »
You did get very lucky. Considering what a very very very long flight it is.

Very well done though! Enjoyed it!
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline shulem92

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2017, 07:45:03 PM »
Great TR. It seems as all the crews stay by the Sheraton. I saw the UA crew there. Brings back good memories! Thanx!

Online Super Speed

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2017, 08:33:25 PM »
Great TR! Really enjoyed!

Online Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Big Island of Hawaii TR
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 08:34:37 PM »
You did get very lucky. Considering what a very very very long flight it is.

Very well done though! Enjoyed it!
Glad you enjoyed.
Great TR. It seems as all the crews stay by the Sheraton. I saw the UA crew there. Brings back good memories! Thanx!
Yw
Great TR! Really enjoyed!
Glad you did.