Saturday, December 20, 2014

Big Island: Christmas Vacation Itinerary

This is the tentative itinerary I set up for our trip.  To come up with this itinerary I used the Laie Elementary School 4th grade field trip itinerary, the wish lists of our family and recommendations of others.  This itinerary is not set in stone and we will likely make changes along the way. I just barely got a copy of Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook so that will probably send us in a few new directions. It is a vacation and isn't a vacation supposed to an adventure after all?!

In red are the changes we made to the itinerary.

Day 1--Saturday, December 20th


6:45 lv house
7:45 arrive airport
9:40 depart HNL
10:47 arrive HILO--get rental car
11:30am depart airport
Eat Lunch
Rainbow falls and boiling pots
12:30 depart Hilo for Akaka Falls (25 minute drive)
1pm Akaka Falls, explore and go on .5 mile hile to falls (30 minute hike)
2pm depart for Puukohola Heiau (1 hr 20 minute drive without stops)
stop at Earls Waimea to pick up bento dinner
3:30-4 explore Heiau
4-4:15 drive to puako petroglyph park
4:15-5:30 explore petroglyphs, fish ponds, etc.
eat dinner (from Earls) picnic style or in car
5:30-6:15 drive to kona, Courtard Marriot
check into hotel
play at pool, explore Kona and get an evening snack 
go to foodland to pick up food for sunday
We had lunch at Jack in the Box in Hilo and then headed for Rainbow falls.  We did not go to Puukohola Heiau nor Earls nor the petroglyph park. Instead we followed the scenic route north towards Waimea. Along the way we stopped at Akaka Falls and Laupahoehoe Point. Both were awesome as was the drive. At Waimea we took a right hand turn up towards Hawi to go see the North point of the Island and the Statue of Kamehameha. The drive through Parker Ranch was awesome.  Driving towards Kona as the sun was setting was pretty cool too. It got dark fast and we didn't see any of the volcanic rock of Kona until the next morning.  We met Grandma and Grandpa at the Hotel, got some taco bell for dinner and the kids played in the pool until bedtime.

Day 2--Sunday, December 21st


8:45 am depart for church
9am-noon church in Kona
back to hotel, rest and have lunch
2 pm depart for City of Refuge  (30 minute drive)
2:30-5 Visit city of Refuge 
5:30 back to hotel to eat dinner and walk around Kona. 
Went to church, did the City of Refuge. On the drive back we stopped at a little beach to watch waves. 

Day 3--Monday, December 22nd


sleep in a little or go swimming at pool? 
Or go walk around Kona a bit more?
snorkeling at captain cook area
12:00 costco or walmart shopping for groceries
1 pm depart for South Point Park (85  minute drive without stops)
5 depart SPP for Volcanoes (45 minute drive without stops)
6 at Volcanoes house
We got to the house later than 6 because we made several stops along the way just to check stuff out.

Day 4--Tuesday, December 23rd---


8:30 Kileaua visitor center with a 9am movie
Crater rim trail drive includes jaggar museum, overlooks, steam vents, thurston lava tube, etc.
noon lunch at house?
1pm head out on the chain of craters road drive to the end, see the petroglyphs, etc.
5pm back to house for dinner
7pm After Dark in the park presentation
OR drive out to see the glowing lava flow
We were already pretty tired so we slept in this morning. We did the visitor center, steam vents, overlooks and hiked the Kileaua Iki trail right down into the crater. Also hiked through the thurston lava tube and then drove out to the end of the lava flow at the Pahoa transfer station.  It was incredible. We went out to the overlooks again that night to see if we could see the glow of the lava flow but it was too foggy and rainy. Instead we took an impromptu night hike over by some of the steam vents. We could actually see the glow a bit from there. We were all giggles trying to help grandma and grandpa through the wet brush and to find our way back to the parking lot. It was very dark.

Day 5- Wednesday, December 24th


7:45 depart for big island candies (40 minute drive) 
8:30 factory tour and samples
9:30-11 free time in Hilo, get lunch and purchase packed dinner items for Mauna Kea
11am imiloa astronomy museum 
1-2pm- Maunakea show at Imiloa
continue to explore imiloa museum
3:00 depart for Mauna Kea 
5 hike up from VIS hike to top of Kalepeamoa eat packed dinner on summit
6-10pm star gazing program at VIS, dress warmly
drive back to Volcanoes House
We went to the Mauna Loa factory. Production was closed down but the store was open. Stopped off at the Panawea Zoo and loved it. We went to Big Island Candy and they were open with production and store. We really liked watching the chocolates and cookies get made and they had lots of delicious samples. We grabbed lunch at a nice little restaurant called Hawaiian Style Cafe. The portions were huge! We skipped the museum and stopped off at the store to grab some food for the trip up to Mauna Kea. It was so cold that not everyone wanted to do the hike. The girls stayed in the visitors center with granma and grandpa and watched a movie. The boys came up half way with Dave and I. Dave and I went up to the top of one of the hills there. We stayed to watch the star gazing but the weather had turned bad and was too windy for the telescopes. We were cold and satisfied to go home anyways.

Day 6--Thursday, December 25th


Puna--snorkeling in the Kapoho tidepools, swimming in the thermal pool at Ahalanui Park, walking on the new black sand beach at Kaimu Beach, and then watching lava flow at sunset at the end of Route 130 near Kalapana.
Explored a bit of Puna including finding a piece of property owned by a friend. Stopped by Lava Tree park. We drove out to the tidepools and had a great time snorkeling. Took a very scenic drive and stopped at a couple other beaches and a church that was supposed to be cool to see but it was all locked up. Went back to Volcano and then drove down the Chain of Craters road. The sunset at the end was incredible and the view over the whole was awe inspiring.

Day 7--Friday, December 26th


Clean up, pack up, pack a lunch?
11 am Check out
explore last minute whatever in Volcanoes area
12:30 drive to mac nut farm (35 minute drive)
1:20 explore farm (1hour)
2:20 drive to Panawea zoo (10 minutes)
2:30 explore zoo (1.5 hours) (zoo closes at 4pm)
4pm get dinner
5:45 check in car rental
6:15 check in at HILO airport
7:18 departure 
8:08 arrive HNL
9:30 arrive Laie
Had to make a quick stop back to the ranger station so Cora could claim her Junior Ranger Badge before heading back towards Hilo. Drove up to Kaumana Cave and had a fantastic time exploring that in both directions. Emerged and then descended upon Hilo. Saw the Banyan tree drive, the Naha stone, the clock that stopped and the lovely Liliokalani Gardens. Still had time to spare so we drove back to the surf beach we spotted the first day and spent a few hours lounging, swimming, watching surfers and collecting cool rocks at Honoli'i Beach park.


  1. Imiloa Astronomy Center, very similar to the pacific science center with an emphasis on Hawaiian culture and astronomy. Open Tuesday- Sunday 9-5pm. (closes at noon on 12/24, closed 12/25) Kama aina admission $12 adults/ $7 kids Maunakea: between earth and sky Planetarium show included. 1pm daily.
  2. Panawea Zoo and Gardens, free admission, open 9-4 daily, closed Christmas
  3. Hershey's Maunaloa Mac Nut Farm, free admision and samples , 8:30am-5pm daily. closed Sunday and holidays
  4. Big island candy--8:30-5 daily. Not a necessity to go. free samples and stuff
  5. Volcanos National park visitor center (7:30-5), dev trail, lava flow, jaggar museum (8:30-7:30), park is open 24/7 +all holidays!!! 
  6. Onizuka space museum, $3/$1 admission located at the Kona airport. will only go if we fly into Kona. Not a necessity.
  7. Tri Park Pass $25 for akaka falls, volcanos national park, etc.

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