Wow. thanks to all! What good pieces of advice I have received so far!
Well as many told me, Hawaii as so much to offer!The more I read on it the more I question myself... Choices are tough to make...
So... here are a few more questions.
1) I am wondering if I should wait upon my arrival on Big Island to make a reservation for a helicopter tour - Hilo- over the waterfalls and volcanoe- or if I should make the reservation via Internet right now. I'll be in Hilo around May 12. Should I wait to see if weather permits?
2) I've read that car rental companies don't allow renters to drive up to the Green Sand Beach (unless one rents a 4 wheel drive). My interest would be to see the color of the sand only because I will have a car anyway and I can go to swin or snorkel to any other beach. Not sure I will rent a 4 wheel drive for that. Any advice?
3) Would like to visit a coffee plantation. Any recommendations ? I'll be in the Kona aera for at least 3 days.
4) I am a bit confused : what's the difference between Road of Craters and Craters Rim road? Are they the same? If not, which one is better (if I have time to do one of the 2 only)?
5) the Haleakala Bike ride from the top is about 23 miles? is that correct? Well I don't know if it is worth it. I know I could take a tour that would allow me to start the bike ride down from the top (10 000 feet) or from around 6500 feet. Would I miss a lot starting the bike ride at 6500 feet instead of 10000 feet?
6) I am considering to go on a LAVA BOAT tour. How close from the lava does the boat go? If one of you VT fellow have done it, would you please give me advice and recommendations. And should I wait to be on the Big Island before making the reservation or should I make it right now on the Internet?
THANKS ALL AND I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP :)
I can only answer regarding your coffee tour question.
I had visited Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation .The tour gave us information regarding the overall process and enjoying the famous Kona coffee. Make sure you take back it home as memory :)
Please check the link below for more information.
Rental car companies do indeed put a lot of restrictions and warnings on your rental cars due to every year ignorant tourists who attempt the drive into areas only designed for a 4 wheel drive.
Even using a 4 wheel drive jeep we got stuck in one dune area of Kauai and had to be pulled out.
Please heed the warnings and restrictions.
Crater Rim road/drive begins at the Kilauea (sp)? center and goes on throughout the caldera.
You will have many stops where you can pull off along the way and overlooks.
It is approximately 25 miles long? I believe it is the same just different names.
Chain of Craters road, Crater rim road, etc. with Crater Rim road being but a section of Chain of Craters road or, an offshoot.
We personally booked helicopter tour once there but we went during slow season.
It was solidly booked for the day we wanted and had to wait until 2 days later with pre-booking with them but we had 3 days to play with.
You're taking your chances but, be aware that they fly regardless of rain or not so your visibility is a crap shoot as well.
We did the 6500 feet with the Haleakala bike company for 2 reasons, we didn't want to get up at the unGodly hour of 3:30am and, we didn't want to go in a pack with a bunch of tourists all following single file down the mountain.
We set off on our own with the driver of the bike company driving us to our designated spot at around 9:30am.
From there the 6 of us headed down the volcano on our own stopping along the way.
IT WAS HAIR RAISING SCARY at times!!! You cannot help but go full steam and at a high rate of speed so make sure you are quite good at bike riding.
We stopped at Protea and other flower farms along the way and had a picnic lunch.
Regardless, dress in layers and wear a coat and swim suit underneath.
You begin above cloud level - cold and end up at sea level - hot!
I grew up in Hawaii and the Big Island is my favorite island since it is such an ancient and spiritual place. Also, there is such diversity! I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents on your questions. First, yes, I would wait until you arrive to make your helicopter reservation. Heavy rains are a definite possibility in Hilo and could thwart your tour.
Also, as interesting as the green sand beach, I've never bothered since it is so difficult to get to and really out of the way. You could blow an entire day only to be disapointed. There is so much else to do!
Not sure about the bike ride down Haleakala but I do have 2 fun suggestions.After seeing the crater (early in the morning), plan on doing the Zip Line! It is a great operation and a fun thrill! Nearby, is a really nice lavendar farm and is a nice place to go and slow down your heart rate from the Zip Line!
The Big Island Revealed my bible while touring the Island(). It is seriously the best guide book of a destination ever! And from one VT member to another, my favorite secret is Kiholo Bay. Park on the Highway (marker 82) and hike down to Kiholo Bay and don't miss the Queen's bath. It is featured on page 182. OK, I just gave away a precious undiscovered tip! For Coffee Plantations, check out page 66.
Hilo is my favorite Big Isle destination. Map out all the falls, throw in a tour at one of the 2 botanical gardens, and chill in town. Note, Hilo is a day trip from Kohala, so leave very early in the morning so you have time to fit everything in.
Hawaii No Ka Oi!
I do not think Lava flows to the ocean anymore... for the past 2 years maybe (give and take), unless it restarted just recently, so you cannot see the lava hit the ocean like in so many pictures... correct me if I am wrong anyone.
You can go at sunset at Kilauea and see the red colored steam over the volcano, but cannot see the lava there either (only on a computer screen)
An Helicoptor tour is mostlikely gonna let you see Lava over the Lava pool in the crater. But I am not sure what the boat tours are doing since the lava doesnt drop in the ocean like before, maybe someone can answer,
Green Beach is nice, we are going back (yes its a little out of the way tho), you cant go with your car to the beach, but you can park 2.5miles away and walk or pay a fee to get a lift from a local, there as been a post on this forum answered not so long ago by Oddin that really covers well information about GB. You don't need a 4x4 to go, even a 4x4 can't reach the beach, you need a really jacked-up 4x4 to think about reaching the beach or else you will mess up your car.
I havent done the bike ride, I am not sure what the diff. between 10k feet and 6,5k feet is, but I can tell you, we went to the top at 3:30am in a car and it was so freaking freezing, when we saw all those people bike down in the rain and cold we felt very lucky to have used our car! Must of been a bad day tho, but I can assure you, not many of them enjoyed it !! I am guessing that was the 10k feet. On a nice day, it must be really fun and nice to ride it down.
Will you reach the summit if you choose the 6,5k feet? I think the best part is the view on top and not necessarily the biking, so, I would choose what I want to see, and take the biking as an extra.
That's all I can answer, have fun
Aloha, regarding question 5.) Bike riding may be fun, but a lot of effort and control over the group is tight. Not my cup of tea with all the cars on the same road. As to the top of Haleakala, make sure everyone is healthy as the oxygen level is less at 10,000 feet and many doctors advise those with heart problems not to go to the top. As mentioned, bring warm clothes and jackets for the top, even in mid day as it does get cold, but the view is worth the cold, thin air. Look for the Silver Sword Plant, rare and not blooming any where else on earth. See my VT Haleakala review: "No place else on earth like Haleakala" - Maui Things to Do Tip by travelgourmet
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I forgot the link to the best guide on Hawaii, ever!
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