Posts Tagged ‘go! Airlines’

A Weekend In Lana`i

December 1, 2009

Close your eyes with me for a second.

Now imagine a stunning paradise, filled with breathtaking magnificence and splendor. Can you see it? Can you feel it? It’s right there isn’t it?

Now open your eyes.

Chances are, the place you just dreamt about looked strikingly similar to the picturesque island we’re about to visit…

As the 1 year wedding anniversary for wifey and I approached, I thought it’d be a fun little surprise to whisk her away to somewhere unique and different for the weekend. A place that neither her or I have ever been before. After putting up with me for 365 days after all, she pretty much earned it right? πŸ˜›

So for a short weekend, we decided to close our eyes and get swept away to the island now known as the “Private Isle”, formerly the “Pineapple Isle” (“Pineapple Isle” because it used to be a place where a quarter of the world’s pineapples were produced and “Private Isle” because 98% of it is privately owned by David Murdock via Castle & Cooke). Here are some tips on how to best enjoy your “Lanaian” adventure. Hope it helps!

You’ve pretty much got two choices in terms of booking a flight to Lana`i: Island Air (who also provides flights to Hawaiian Air) and go! Airlines. Mokulele Airlines (who has recently partnered with go!) also has flights via their charter service, but booking a flight directly via their web site, at the time of this writing, was not working.

According to their route map, for flights to Lana`i, go! flies out of both Honolulu and Kahului via their go! Express service, while Island Air (and Hawaiian Air) only has flights out of Honolulu. On this occasion, booking through Island Air directly gave me the cheapest fares.

Boarding our Lana`i bound plane at sunset via Island Air
Boarding our Lana`i bound plane at sunset via Island Air

Ed’s Tip: If you’re weary of planes, it may be a rough take-off for you. Since it is a smaller, propeller powered flight, you will hear and feel everything during lift off. Once airborne though, everything is smoove.

Upon landing in Lana`i City, you will deplane, walk into the terminal and turn right towards the shuttle service check-in counter.

Shuttle service check-in counter
Shuttle service check-in counter

As long as you’ve made your reservation through one of the resorts (or Hotel Lana`i), the shuttles will be ready for your arrival. At about $20 per person for unlimited rides, it is totally worth the investment. Trust!

Ed’s Tip: Unless you are planning on going gallivanting around the entire island (which is mostly via off-road jeeping), there really is no need to rent a car. The shuttle stops at the three major destinations of the island: the Lodge at Koele at the top of every hour, in Lana`i City (Hotel Lana`i) at the :15 minute mark (Manele bound) and :45 minute mark (Koele bound) of every hour, and at Manele Bay at the :30 minute mark of every hour.

Lana`i shuttle arriving at the Lodge at Koele
Lana`i shuttle arriving at the Lodge at Koele

Arriving at the hotel, you are immediately pampered and made to feel like royalty. You are greeted with a kukui nut lei, and, instead of standing and waiting in a long line to check in, you are asked to take a seat, while offered a hot towel to freshen up. Did I mention that they bring you a sweet pineapple beverage to quench your thirst too? Geez, a fella can get used to this!

We chose to stay at the Four Seasons Resort, Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele, a great alternative to the other two Lana`i options: Four Seasons Resort Lana`i at Manele Bay, and Hotel Lana`i.

I can’t really speak on Hotel Lana`i because I’ve never stayed there, but I would highly recommend staying at the Lodge at Koele. And though absolutely beautiful, the Manele Bay resort is the most expensive of the three and is almost like any other beach resort you’ve been to, especially if you’re from Hawaii. Hotel Lana`i is the cheapest and most central (right in the heart of Lana`i City), but you will not get the luxury of the Four Seasons.

The Lodge at Koele was a dream. You are in Hawaii, but it is almost like you are not in Hawaii. Like you’ve been swept away to a high-class countryside villa in the middle of the forest, complete with tall pines, its own pond, and elegant art strewn all about. And because of all of the greenery (and because of the higher elevation), it is much cooler – cold even – than its Manele counterpart (which sits right on the ocean front).

Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge At Koele
One Keomoku Hwy
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-4000
Twitter: @FSLanai

Ed’s Tips: As expected at such a luxurious resort, rates are not cheap. Be sure to ask for the kama`aina rate (if you’re local) and/or special golf packages (if you’re a golfer). If you’re on Twitter, be sure to drop them a line. They are very active on there and seem to appreciate anything and everything Lana`i. Tell ’em @worldwideed sent ya and… ya never know! πŸ™‚ They’re doing Twitter right fo sho.

One of the recommendations given to us was to try the food at Lana`i City Grille at Hotel Lana`i, so shortly after checking in and freshening up, we caught the shuttle (at the top of the hour) over to Hotel Lana`i for dinner.

Lana`i City Grille sign at Hotel Lana`i
Lana`i City Grille sign at Hotel Lana`i

Wifey and I shared the Crab Cakes and Soup of the Day (a spicy lobster bisque) to start.

Crab Cakes - Tomato Corn Salsa and Tobiko Remoulade - $14
Crab Cakes – Tomato Corn Salsa and Tobiko Remoulade – $14

Soup of the Day - Spicy lobster bisque - $9
Soup of the Day – Spicy lobster bisque – $9

Then, she moved on to the Pecan Crusted Catch of the Day (Mahi) while I took on the Grilled Filet of Angus Beef.

Pecan Crusted Mahi - Chipotle Honey Butter, Chorizo Potato Puree and Seasonal Vegetables - $34
Pecan Crusted Mahi – Chipotle Honey Butter, Chorizo Potato Puree and Seasonal Vegetables – $34

Grilled Filet of Angus Beef - Aged Cheddar Potato Cake, Roasted Root Vegetables and a Classic Bearnaise - $39
Grilled Filet of Angus Beef – Aged Cheddar Potato Cake, Roasted Root Vegetables and a Classic Bearnaise – $39

Ed’s Tips: Make a reservation as it fills up fast here. Especially on Friday nights when local band Alapa Drive jams for the locals and tourists alike. Also, portions are pretty big here. Bring your appetite!

Lana`i City Grille
828 Lanai Avenue
Lana`i City, Lana`i, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-7211
Wed-Sun: 5pm-9pm

One thing we noticed early on about Lana`i is the people. They’re extremely friendly and filled with Aloha. And I’m not talking about those in the industry, catering to us tourists. They’re almost required to be nice to us. I’m talking about the local locals. Walking around, we were regularly greeted with smiles, several “Howzits!” and an occasional “Aloha!” I was really impressed and happy to see that the Aloha Spirit is alive and well here!

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of crime here either. Enjoying our meal, we missed the shuttle headed to Koele. No problem, we’ll just walk it back. Other than a crazy cat that leaped out of the woodworks, we felt completely safe in the darkness (street lights are few and far between). Safety? The result of a laid back lifestyle I guess.

Ed’s Tip: The walk between Lana`i City and the Lodge at Koele follows a single road (Lana`i Ave) for about a mile and takes approximately 20-25 minutes. Not too bad. If you don’t want to wait for the shuttle to come back around. It’s also a good way to walk off your meal if you find yourself overeating. 8)

The next morning, we hit up the town square that surrounds Dole Park, also referred to as “the city”. It’s a cute, quaint little town that is actually listed on the National Trust’s list of most “endangered historic places”.

One place that we were regularly told we HAD to check out was a place called Blue Ginger Cafe, right in the heart of Lana`i City.

Blue Ginger Cafe, Lana`i
Blue Ginger Cafe, Lana`i

Not only did they seem to have the longest hours of any merchant in the square (6AM-8PM on most days), they also had a full fledged bakery selection and a flat screen HDTV to boot. Let’s just hope that they have Oceanic Time Warner Cable service for this free plug. πŸ˜‰

Their menu ranged from breakfast items (including Omelettes, Pancakes, French Toast, etc.), plate lunch kine stuffs (Hamburger Steak, Loco Moco, Chicken Katsu, etc.), burgers, sandwiches, saimin, fried rice, “healthy choices”, their bakery options, and more!

Since it was breakfast time, I had to go with my all-time favorite breakfast meal: Corned Beef Hash and Eggs! Awwww yeaaaahhh!

Regular Breakfast - 2 Eggs, Choice of Meat (Portuguese Sausage, Patty Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, Spam, Bacon, Ham), served with Rice, Fried Rice, Hash Brown or Toast - $7.50
Regular Breakfast – 2 Eggs, Choice of Meat (Portuguese Sausage, Patty Sausage, Corned Beef Hash, Spam, Bacon, Ham), served with Rice, Fried Rice, Hash Brown or Toast – $7.50

Wifey enjoyed their blueberry turnover with a coffee. Perhaps she enjoyed it a little too much because she ordered 2 more to go! πŸ˜› Nah, they were actually super onos!

Blueberry Turnover - $2
Blueberry Turnover – $2

Blue Ginger Cafe provided a great escape from the touristy resort life, and brought us back to grass root, mom and pop-type living/eating. Highly recommended!

Blue Ginger Cafe
409 7th Street
Lana`i City, Lana`i, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-6363
Mon, Thu, Fri: 6am-8pm
Tue, Wed: 6am-2pm
Sat, Sun: 6:30am-8pm

Following breakfast, we made a quick stop back at our room to freshen up before heading to Lana`i’s other Four Seasons property: Lana`i at Manele Bay.

Looking out into Hulopo`e Bay from the Manele Bay resort lobby area
Looking out into Hulopo`e Bay from the Manele Bay resort lobby area

Looking into the Manele Bay resort lobby area
Looking into the Manele Bay resort lobby area

The pool area at the Manele Bay resort
The pool area at the Manele Bay resort

As you can see in the photos, The Lana`i at Manele Bay resort is a very ritzy, beach-type resort. The kind you see in magazines and those “Win a Trip to Hawaii” contest fliers. πŸ™‚ If this is more your style, then I would say go getum and book away!

Four Seasons Resort Lana`i at Manele Bay
One Manele Bay Road
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-2000
Twitter: @FSLanai

As for us, we were just passing on through, on the way to the beach that sits behind the resort: Hulopo`e Bay.

Overlooking Hulopo`e Bay
Overlooking Hulopo`e Bay

At the bottom of the trail, you’ll meet up with one of the friendly employees who will hook you up with towels, an umbrella and beach chairs (and covers) to help you lounge and relax on the amazing oceanfront. And, oh yes, more refreshments!

The life
The life

Ed’s Tip: Both resorts’ systems are connected, so I am told that as long as you are staying at one, you can charge things at the other no problem. That means that you don’t have to worry about carrying around your wallet/money. Just charge um to the room!

The beach is absolutely gahgeous. Everything you’d wish for in a dream beach: white sand, clear, blue water, and barren! Aside from the dozen or so other beach-goers at the time, we pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves.

Hulopo`e Bay, Lana`i
Hulopo`e Bay, Lana`i

Ed’s Tips: Keep to the left side of the bay (if you’re facing the ocean), as there are rocks and reef on the right side. Pack your goggles. The water is so clear that you’ll be able to see all the way to the bottom of the ocean. You might even catch tiny fish swimming around your legs like us.

Once you’ve had your fill of Hulopo`e Bay Beach, head southeast along the beach (left if you’re facing the ocean) until you get to a little trail that leads to one of two of the trail’s highlights: The Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools.

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools
Hulopo`e Bay Tide Pools

While on the beach, I shoved my T-shirt in wifey’s bag in a feeble attempt to get a tan. During the hike, I decided to put my shirt back on so I reached in wifey’s bag to pull it out. To our surprise, a friendly little scorpion decided that he wanted to come along on the hike with us. Yeah a scorpion! WTH!? OK, so it probably wasn’t very friendly, but it was little. In my haste, I shook off my shirt and sent the scorpion flying into one of the tide pools. Sorry little guy!

My buddy, the little scorpion, floating around in one of the Hulopo`e Bay's Tide Pools
My buddy, the little scorpion, floating around in one of the Hulopo`e Bay’s Tide Pools

Ed’s Tip: Not sure how common these are in the area, but beware of the possibility of mini scorpions. Shake off your bags and clothing just in case.

Continuing along the trail, we got to the other highlight. The crown jewel of the area. None other than Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock).

Pu`u Pehe Rock
Pu`u Pehe Rock

My first thought when experiencing this remarkable work of Mother Nature was “Wow!” with the first word seeping outta my mouth being “Ho!” And it’s even more amazing as you get closer.

Pu`u Pehe from the cliff's edge
Pu`u Pehe from the cliff’s edge

The rock even has an amazing story to go along with it: It is believed that Pu`u Pehe was named after a beautiful young princess from Maui by the same name. She moved to Lana`i after falling in love with a young warrior from the island. Afraid to let others see her beautiful princess, the warrior hid her in a sea cave near the rock. One day, while away gathering supplies, terrible weather hit the area. Before he could return in time, the strong, storm waves had already drowned his princess in the cave. Distraught, he asked for help from the gods, who helped him climb up to the top of the steep rock where he eventually buried his beloved princess before jumping to his death.

Talk about romantic yeah?

Either way, it’s truly a majestic sight and is a definite must-see while on Lana`i.

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)
Pu`u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock)

Oops, the bottom of the hour is coming up. We better hurry back to the shuttle stop before it takes off without us!

A quick shuttle ride back to our hotel and a power nap later, and *poof* it was time for din-din. We weren’t all that hungry so we opted to stay in and try the resort’s Terrace Restaurant on for size. Located right across the lobby, next to the Great Hall (that included live lounge music by a local pianist), it was a relaxing meal after a long day.

Wifey enjoyed the House Made Lobster Ravioli, while I opted for the “Design Your Entree” option with my Tiger Prawns and Hamakua Mushrooms combo.

House Made Lobster Ravioli - Cabernet Butter Sauce Over Wilted Swiss Chard - $30.
House Made Lobster Ravioli – Cabernet Butter Sauce Over Wilted Swiss Chard – $30.

"Design Your EntrΓ©e": Grilled Tiger Prawns with Mango Relish and Sauteed Hamakua Mushrooms (Garlic Butter) - $33
“Design Your EntrΓ©e”: Grilled Tiger Prawns with Mango Relish and Sauteed Hamakua Mushrooms (Garlic Butter) – $33

And then it was on to dessert with the waitress-recommended Baked Chocolate Tart.

Baked Chocolate Tart - Kona Coffee Ice Cream - $9
Baked Chocolate Tart – Kona Coffee Ice Cream – $9

Terrace Restaurant
Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, The Lodge at Koele
One Keomoku Hwy
Lana`i City, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-4000

With our bellies satisfied, it was time to head back to our room to hit the hay in preparation for our last full day on this beautiful island. Aww, too soon! 😦

Ed’s Tip: If you’re a movie buff, your room comes equipped with a DVD player. You can rent from a limited selection of DVDs from the front desk for free.

The next morning marked the actual anniversary date for wifey and I and was cause for celebration. We decided to step out onto our patio area with the blueberry turnovers from Blue Ginger Cafe, hot coffee and tea from downstairs, and a little bubbly in the form of a Piper-Hiedsieck bottle of Brut Champagne, compliments of the wonderful staff at the Four Seasons Resort’s Lodge at Koele. Much love guys!

Piper-Hiedsieck Brut Champagne, compliments of the Four Seasons Resort's Lodge at Koele.
Piper-Hiedsieck Brut Champagne, compliments of the Four Seasons Resort’s Lodge at Koele.

Ed’s Tip: Coffee and Tea are served in the lobby area from 5:30AM-8AM every morning. We were also told that pastries would be there too, but perhaps you need to go early for those?

After sharing our memories of the last year together, it was time to make the best of our last day on the island. We started by exploring the vast grounds of our own resort, the Lodge at Koele.

Sign for the Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele
Sign for the Four Seasons Resort Lana`i, The Lodge at Koele

Looking out towards Keomoku Highway
Looking out towards Keomoku Highway

Looking towards the Lodge at Koele's main building
Looking towards the Lodge at Koele’s main building

Enter the main building and you’ll be amazed by the Great Hall. Here’s a panoramic view.

Panoramic of the Great Hall
Panoramic of the Great Hall

Exit through the back of the main building and you’ll run into a curious statue, one of the many art pieces around the property.

Statue at the Lodge at Koele
Statue at the Lodge at Koele

Walking forward for a bit, we hit the Pineapple Fountain, a popular spot for weddings.

Pineapple Fountain
Pineapple Fountain

To the left is the property’s pool and hot tub area and to the right is the Reflecting Pond. Filled with Koi, this is one of the property’s main focal points.

The Reflecting Pond
The Reflecting Pond

Probably a good a time as any to play tourist. We obliged.

Using the Reflecting Pond as our backdrop
Using the Reflecting Pond as our backdrop

Close by, there is a greenhouse called the Orchid House and Gardens. Here’s a description from the web: The greenhouse at Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele is filled with the sweet scents and vibrant colours of orchids, hanging ferns, potted palms and tropical flowers. On the walk up to the greenhouse you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the mountains and the lake. Admission is free.

Orchid House and Gardens
Orchid House and Gardens

To the right, is a cool, temple-like structure with an Asian influence. Check it!

Asian influenced, temple-like structure
Asian influenced, temple-like structure

Depending on the season (I’m guessing), you may notice turkeys scurrying around the resort grounds. They’re not very friendly, but cute nonetheless. πŸ˜›

Turkeys on the Lodge at Koele grounds
Turkeys on the Lodge at Koele grounds

Continuing right, you’ll find one of the coolest, golf-related things I’ve ever seen: a full, 18-hole miniature golf putting course, complete with water hazards, sand traps and all! Just ask the front desk to rent a putter and ball. It’s free.

18 hole miniature golf putting course
18 hole miniature golf putting course

Ed’s Tip: Unless you’ve got mad, Tiger Woods type skillz like me πŸ˜› , you may want to either putt and run, or have your friend/mate/partner go up ahead and “protect” your ball. Some greens are really fast, with impossible turns, that your ball will inevitably be drawn to go for a swim in the shimmering water. πŸ˜‰

Our last day in Lanai was coming to a close, but we were starving. One last stop at Lanai City to grab lunch should do the trick. We hit up Blue Ginger Cafe’s neighbor Canoes Lana`i (formerly Tanigawa Restaurant, est. 1953).

Canoe's Lanai Restaurant
Canoe’s Lanai Restaurant

The sign out front said, “Home of the Famous Tanigawa Burger” so you betchyo bottom that’s what I hadta have. (And yes… for you eagle eyes out there who noticed the “Closed” sign above: this photo was taken the day before. Sheez, let a brutha slide once in a while won’tcha? πŸ˜› )

Tanigawa Burger - Mrs. Tanigawa's original recipe. A Lana`i tradition since 1953 - $2.30 each with an order of curly fries - $2.09
Tanigawa Burger – Mrs. Tanigawa’s original recipe. A Lana`i tradition since 1953 – $2.30 each with an order of curly fries – $2.09

Ed’s Tip: The Tanigawa Burger runs on the small side, so I would advise you to order two if you’re hungry. At least that’s what the waitress told me all the local boys do.

Wifey was craving fried rice at Blue Ginger the other morning, but they were all out. The urge must’ve still been ever-present cause she fried riced it up here for lunch.

Fried Rice and Egg - $5.69
Fried Rice and Egg – $5.69

Canoes Lana`i Restaurant
419 7th Street
Lanai City, Lanai, HI 96763 (map)
(808) 565-6537
Open daily: 6:30am-1PM

Before we knew it, it was time to wake up from this dream and head to the airport for our flight back home to reality.

View from Lana`i Airport at dusk
View from Lana`i Airport at dusk

But then again, our eyes were open the whole time…

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The King of Online Travel

June 10, 2008

It’s official. I am the King of Online Travel.

OK, so it’s a meaningless title cause it’s self proclaimed and nobody really cares, but I just got the sickest deal for a weekend trip to San Jose – that I booked for a good friend’s wedding (Congrats Tom!) – and I just want to gloat a bit. *grin*

Usually, I’m not too concerned about saving a few dollahz here and there if it means getting a trip that perfectly fits the ol’ schedule, but, unfortunately, due to my limited amount of resources and vacation days for 08 (on account of the big dance and honeymoon of my own), I’m in a bit of a squeeze… So saving money and preserving vacation days is the number one priority at this point.

For the last week or so, I’ve been scouring dem online travel sites for the cheapest, fastest, dirtiest flights I could find. OK, not dirty, but you know what I mean yo. Making things a little more complicated/challenging was the coordination around the other friends’ varying schedules (most of them are going up in advance and making a vacation out of it… LUCKY!), in addition to around the wedding schedule. My friend Glenn and I have been in constant contact with one another on the almost stock-market-like volatility of the ever-changing airfare prices.

$1,000s… Merrcy!
$900s… Blah!
$600s… Interesting.
$500s… Woah, should I book?

No ways! I wanna hold out for another day!

Finally, today, $444.93 son! I am da man!

Instead of ending this blog here and making you feel like you’ve wasted 5 minutes of your life that you can never get back, I’ll turn this into a helpful and productive post that you will look back upon and not hate, but appreciate. πŸ™‚

Ed’s helpful tips to becoming your own King or Queen of Travel:

  • So, I always start off at the multiple listing service/consolidator sites to get a feel at what’s out there. You know the Expedias and the Travelocitys of the world.
  • Then, I look at the cheapest carrier and go directly to their web site to see if they have similar, cheaper or special rates. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, depending on the deal they cut with the sites above.
  • Most times, booking online is cheaper than calling their customer service lines, so plan on that (buying online).
  • If you haven’t already, sign up for their frequent flier or preferred member clubs. Most times it’s free and you’ll earn miles and sometimes you’ll even get a break on airfare.
  • SHOP AROUND! The same exact flight you see on one site will be a totally different price on another site.
  • Timing! Sometimes prices change daily or even multiple times a day, even on the same web site. If you’re into gambling, wait a bit and see if you can time it to get a cheaper price. If you like to really gamble (which I don’t recommend), wait ’til the very last minute as airlines and vendors will offer “Last Minute Deals” for the inventory that hasn’t been sold. You can often get big discounts.
  • If you’re planning a vacation way in advance, you might want to consider signing up for the individual airlines or travel partners’ web site newsletters. I hate junk mail, so I don’t, but they will send you e-specials as they come out. You can even set some to notify you based on your travel preferences.

I think that’s about it. There are tons of sites out there, but here’s a short list of the ones I use.

Partner/Consolidator Sites:

Airlines (direct):

Other:

Hope this helped! Post some of your tricks to booking cheap travel below!

We Do It Big Island Style

October 1, 2007
 Part I  | Part II

When you think “island style,” you think Hawaii and our innate, laid back way of life. After two recent trips to the Big Island of Hawaii, I quickly discovered that we ain’t got nuthin’ on ’em. This here is true, island style living and I’m about to show how you too, can roll John Cruz style… brah.

Thanks to a friend at go! Airlines, we were able to get an awesome deal on airfare, which also gave us the unique experience of boarding an airplane from the tarmac. Silly Jetway. Who needs ’em? True island stylers get it going from the ground yo.

Boarding go! Airlines to Kona, Hawaii
Boarding go! Airlines to Kona, Hawaii

Island Style Tip (IST) #1: Know someone who works for the airlines or shop around for the best price.

go! Airlines’ fares are regularly at $39, which forces the other carriers to offer competitive prices, which is good for us consumers. Another trait of island style living is finding good deals. Your options are as follows:

Living island style is also who you know. Luckily for us, we also have a friend in the hotel industry, so we were able to get great accommodations at a great hotel for a great price.

(IST #2): Know someone who works at Hilton or stay at the Hilton Waikoloa Village to take advantage of an entire day of frolicking in the sun for free/cheap.

Hilton Waikoloa Village sign
Hilton Waikoloa Village sign

Just a short, 20 minute drive from Kona International Airport at Keahole, this huge, 62 acre oceanfront property has much to do and much to see. First thing’s first, let’s drop our bags off at our room.

After checking in, you’re led towards (neat thing #1) an air-conditioned tram which takes you to your hotel.

Air-Conditioned Tram
Air-Conditioned Tram

Once we drop off our bags, we’ll get on board (neat thing #2) the mahogany canal boats to tour the rest of the property.

Mahogany Canal Boats
Mahogany Canal Boats

Our first stop was the Grand Staircase (you may start to recognize elements of this property as the place where Dog the Bounty Hunter got married).

Grand Staircase
Grand Staircase

From here, you can look at the beautiful view across the Lagoon or catch a glimpse of a turtle or two in the Lagoon itself.

Turtle in the Lagoon
Turtle in the Lagoon

From there, we worked our way around the Lagoon, through/behind the mini, manmade waterfall, and towards the Dolphin Learning Center.

Walking through/behind the waterfall
Walking through/behind the waterfall

Dolphin Learning Center
Dolphin Learning Center

Since our stay was brief, we decided to pass on the Dolphin Learning Center (for more information on Dolphin Quest, click here) and have our fun in the Lagoon.

Editor’s note: the real reason we passed on DolphinQuest was because of a cheap/grumpy tour guide πŸ˜› but this leads us to IST#3:

(IST#3): Hang out right next to the Dolphin Learning Center long enough and you’ll see the cute dolphins swim right by you, get fed and play with the tourists who weren’t on a budget. If you’re lucky enough, the trainers will come by and chat with you.

The Dolphins swim right near you
The Dolphins swim right near you

The Lagoon is a four-acre, ocean fed sanctuary where we humans (hotel guests of course) can rent kayaks, water bikes, paddleboats, etc. for some on the water fun, or wade and come face to face with tropical fish or one of the few rare green sea turtles we saw earlier.

Playing on the water bikes at the Lagoon
Playing on the water bikes at the Lagoon

The Lagoon side view of the waterfall is definitely better.

The view from the other side of the waterfall
The view from the other side of the waterfall

After frolicking in the sun, we head east to cover more of this huge property. Along the way, we see sleeping flamingos,

Sleeping Flamingos

ugly Buddha statues,

Ugly Buddha Statues

the property’s beautiful and scenic wedding chapel and gazebo areas,

Wedding chapel and gazebo areas

and, in front of the Ocean Tower, another close encounter with the endangered sea turtle.

Endangered sea turtle

(Note: I was told that you should avoid contact with these animals not only because they are fragile and endangered, but also because you can catch salmonella).

As you head northwest past the Kohala River pools,

Kohala River pools

You’ll slowly approach one of the most breathtaking sights on the property, Buddha Point.

Buddha Point

Take your time to enjoy the view at Buddha Point. It might even be a good idea to bring lunch or sunbathe here…

I can go on and on about the many more sights and amenities you can find here (including shopping, entertainment and additional outdoor activities), but I’ve got so much more to cover in this article, and let’s face it, they’ve got enough face time. You’re welcome Mr. Hilton. I’ll be waiting for my lifetime comp coupons in the mail. πŸ˜‰

Another benefit to having a “native” at the locale you’re visiting is the possibility of a home cooked meal (don’t be a cheapskate and be sure to bring planny omiyage though!). Not only is eating a home cooked meal great food for the soul, it’s a time for quality bonding and will make you feel like you’re at home again.

(IST#4): Have a “native” where you’re visiting and have a home cooked meal

Half the fun is going shopping for the ingredients,

Shopping for dinner at Waikoloa Village Market

Shopping for dinner at Waikoloa Village Market

Shopping for dinner at Waikoloa Village Market

And the other half is preparing it,

Preparing Dinner

Preparing Dinner

Preparing Dinner

Preparing Dinner

Preparing Dinner

and eating it.

Eating Dinner

With the day winding down, our first day of traveling island style has ended. But fear not, slipper wearer. We’ve still got another full day of laid back living to go!

So our next stop is Big Island Grill, a place popular with the locals. The food was way too salty for me and the prices are semi reasonable, but this visit and subsequent mention in this article is much more than just trying to find a good deal on eats. Confused? Read on…

Answer me this question first. Where else can you meet a 7 foot, former Olympic and NBA World Champion and All Star player AND even get a photo with him, all without paying for an exorbitant card show entrance fee? (Oh, and by the way, he’s as nice and cordial as they come!) That’s right: at Big Island Grill (if you were with me on this day πŸ˜› ). Rumor has it, he has a place in Hualalai and frequents local favorites when in town.

This one’s a little hard to accomplish, but…

(IST#5): Be at the right place at the right time and you too, can have a photo like this! πŸ™‚

David Robinson
David Robinson

OK, so this next tip is rather touristy and not exactly island style-ish, but hear me out. There’s a pretty good tip at the end, especially for you romantic types.

(IST#6): Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (on a non lava day). Even better is if you visit on certain event days, admission is free (normally $10 per vehicle).

Volcano status report kiosk
Volcano status report kiosk

You may be wondering why you’d waste your time visiting the park when there’s no lava flowing into the ocean, but trust me there buddy ol’ pal. You’ll like this one.

OK so after you do the touristy visits to the Visitor Center and various stops around Crater Rim Drive, make the extra effort and drive down Chain of Craters Road until you hit the end of the road (download PDF map here). Most tourists end their tour on Crater Rim Drive and don’t make this little detour (especially on non-lava days), but believe you me, you won’t regret it as you’ll see more majestic, untouched Hawaii than you’ve ever seen before.

Majestic, untouched Hawaii
Majestic, untouched Hawaii

When you hit the end of the road and park your ride, make your way to the cliff’s edge for some nice, majestic shots.

Scenic shots

Scenic shots

Oh, but that’s not it my dear friends. You should see a long road that can only be traveled on by foot.

Chain of Craters Hike
Chain of Craters Hike

You want to take that until it ends.

End of Chain of Craters hike

End of Chain of Craters hike

Oh no, that’s not it either my friends. Keep on a truckin’! This is where the fun begins. Here you’ll see a large mass of hardened lava where few before you have witnessed.

Lava

You’ll see marked areas that you are not allowed to go beyond, so be sure to pay attention to these signs.

Don't go beyond marked areas!
Don’t go beyond marked areas!

Also watch your step and keep your eyes peeled for dangerous footholds and coned off areas.

Watch your step for dangerous footholds!
Watch your step for dangerous footholds!

Keep your eyes peeled for coned off areas
Keep your eyes peeled for coned off areas

So why all the rigmarole? Believe me, there’s a method to this madness. Eventually, when you make your way past all the obstacles and find a nice little area to rest, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, you’ll thank me for Island Style Tip #6a:

(IST#6a): Propose to your girlfriend/boyfriend (ukulele optional)

With its isolated nature and picturesque backdrop, you’re sure to have alone time with you and your mate in the most perfect of settings. Don’t forget to invite me to your wedding! πŸ˜‰

Later this evening, we planned on having a family style BBQ back at our friend’s house, so on our way back to Waikoloa, we stopped by Tex Drive-In for their very famous specialty: malasadas.

Tex Drive-In
Tex Drive-In

Which leads us to our next two tips

(IST#7): Don’t come to a BBQ empty handed and

(IST#8): If it’s Tex Drive In malasadas you are bringing, be sure to eat one first, hot and fresh (and then rearrange the rest in the box and act like you didn’t πŸ˜› ).

Tex Drive-In famous malasadas
Tex Drive-In famous malasadas

Fortunately for us, our friend’s roommate is an executive chef on the island, so we were treated to some of the best tasting grinds around, including BBQ steaks,

BBQ steaks

garlic butter shrimp,

Garlic butter shrimp

lomi salmon,

Lomi salmon

and homemade mac salad.

Homemade mac salad

Which leads me to tip #9.

(IST#9): Have a hotel friend, who lives in the place you’re visiting, whose roommate is an executive chef, who decides to have a BBQ and invites you. πŸ˜‰

OK, so that one’s not very realistic, but, much like IST#4, having a local style BBQ is just as fun and just as relaxing, island style, that is.

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of our stay on the Big Island, but what’s a trip to the Big Island without a visit to KTA Super Stores? It’s like going to Kauai and not going to Big Save, walking through Waikiki and not stopping at an ABC Store, or going through a list of Island Style Tips and ending on #9. So without further ado,

(IST#10): Buy your last minute omiyage at KTA. They sell unique, specialty snacks that are perfect for fulfilling that gift list before heading home.

Omiyage from KTA
Omiyage from KTA

So whether you’re from Hawaii or have Hawaii in your heart, that’s my perspective on how we do it Island Style (on the Big Island). I think, however, Cruz sums it up best:

On the Island, we do it Island Style,
From the mountain to the ocean from the windward to the leeward side…

Enjoying the Kona sunset before heading home
Enjoying the Kona sunset before heading home…

 Part I  | Part II