This concludes the description of our Big Islands adventures—one couple's take on traveling in Hawaii. The Big Island offers so many choices in accommodations and activities that part of the fun is finding the mix that's right for you. This multi-part post describes what we found. To read from the beginning, click on the Part I link above.After a full day of snorkeling, we reluctantly gathered our snorkel gear and towels and headed north on Highway 11 towards Kailua-Kona. We have now completed our circle of the island and we're back where we started. But, we're not done yet. In our research, we found two highly rated body boarding beaches: Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea Beach, happily right next to each other. Our thought was to stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort (where each night cost approximately 3 times the cost of the other places we stayed), rent boogie boards, and play in the waves for two days.
We arrived late in the day, checked in to our lovely mountain-view room, and had a very expensive and delicious dinner at one the resort's restaurants (we sort of felt we earned this wonderful meal).The next morning, we had another lovely meal (yes, my two eggs over easy with fruit and toast costs $20) and headed to the beach to rent boogie boards. To our surprise and exasperation, Mauna Kea does not rent boogie boards during red flag conditions. Unfortunately in the winter (when there are waves), every day is a red flag day and we soon realized that if we wanted to boogie board, we would have to find our own equipment.
Now, was the surf big? No, not at all. Were the waves strong? Well, yes, even the small waves pack more of a punch than the waves I am used to in San Diego. And, some of the waves close out, meaning they don't break gradually in a nice line, but tumble straight over all at once. These waves are not fun to catch because they throw you over the falls. But, many, many people sported boogie boards and were enjoying the surf.
Approaching a boogie boarder as he exited the water, we found out that Costco sells boogie boards. A 30-mile detour to an area very close to the Kona Airport brought us to Costco and for $26 apiece, we were the proud owners of two new Body Glove Boogie Boards! (Bonus: we checked them at the airport and they arrived home undamaged. Amazing!)
Back at Mauna Kea Beach, we spent the remainder of the day taking mostly lefts and enjoying our time to the max. Again, the lightweight wetsuit tops let us stay in the water until we got tired. (Wetsuits are totally optional. The water is about 75 degrees.)
The next day, we took the short coastline hike to Hapuna Beach to check out the waves there. Impressed, we decided to boogie board at this second beach. We were not disappointed. We spent a full day in and out of the waves.
Our flight left that evening at 10:45pm, giving us the entire day to play and plenty of time for dinner, rental car return, and airport check-in.
In order, here's the list of places we stayed.
King Kamehameha's Kona Beach HotelAloha!
Hotel at the pier in Kailua-Kona
Least favorite place (it's a hotel and it's fairly close to the Kona Airport)
Hale Hamakua Guesthouse
Guesthouse in Honoka’a, easy walking to downtown Honoka’a
Not fancy but comfortable, complete kitchen!
8 miles to Waipi’o Valley
The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls
Bed & Breakfast 15 minutes upcountry from Hilo
Awesome! Great breakfast, great meeting other travelers; this was our favorite place
Hale Ohio Cottages
Cozy cottage/bed & breakfast
1 mile from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Breakfast in room, so no chance to meet other travelers
Areca Palms Estate Bed & Breakfast
Delightful upcountry bed & breakfast in Captain Cook Village
Convenient to great snorkeling beaches
Great breakfast, lovely rooms & grounds
Usually 2-night minimum
Mauna Kea Beach Resort
30 miles north of Kona in the Kohala Resort area
Pricey resort with all the amenities