Sometime you have to get away from your desk and do some ‘market research’. I like to think that I did some good research as I just got back home this past Monday after a two week vacation to Hawaii. We’ve been to the “Gold Coast” area on the Big Island several times already, but this was one of the best yet, with my wife, our 2 year old daughter, my wife’s mother and my parents.
We stayed at a comfortable home just steps from a gorgeous beach (see the sunset photo that I took just steps from the house). We spent almost every morning at a beach, sometimes just walking out the door and sometimes driving a bit. I think the consensus was that the ‘best beach’ on this trip was Kua Bay, but we also visited Kauna’oa Beach (Mauna Kea) multiple times in addition to Hapuna Beach and of course Waialea Bay – where we were staying.
In between beaching it, we got out for some shopping and dining and that’s where I found myself doing my ‘research’. I must say, that I felt the most Aloha that I ever have on this trip, wherever we went, people were incredibly friendly, helpful and accommodating. However, it was a bit disconcerting to see the number of empty store fronts in the resort areas along with the decrease in inventory in many stores.
Here’s a quick list of my recommendation on where to go and what to do from this trip:
- Lodging – 2 Papayas – Mary, the owner/manager was great and the properties they represent are in my absolute favorite part of the Big Island.
- Dining – Blue Dragon Coastal Cuisine & Musiquariam - The interesting name says it all, but this is great ‘supper club without a roof’. Great local foods with local music…I knew we would be eating great when I saw a fellow carrying a huge, whole, fresh from the ocean across the street, fish into the kitchen.
- Music – John Keawe – He played the night we went to the Blue Dragon, and we were lucky enough to have his wife, Hope, perform her Hula with him. He’s a great Hawaiian slack-key guitar guru.
- Dining – Sushi Rock (Google maps link as I can’t see that they have a website) – Hidden way up on the Northern end of the Big Island in Hawi this little coffee house feeling sushi joint is awesome. With local ingredients (sense a theme here) and unique integration of those ingredients into their rolls, this place may not thrill traditional sushi aficionados, but it sure converted me, I’ll be back.
- Shopping – Hilo Farmers Market – Not what most people probably call the best shopping on the Big Island, but I certainly get a kick out of all the funky foods along with the spread of local artisans displaying their wares. Also, since we went on the day after we arrived, we had fantastic local produce for our whole vacation – yummm…
- Dining – Bamboo – Located just a block or two down the road from Sushi Rock, this restaurant seems a bit odd at first, but I found myself quickly sinking into the atmosphere of Hawaii-ana that it conveys so well and enjoying the evening (lunch here is great too). Fun gifts at the shop here too.
- Beaches – Kua Bay, Hapuna and Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beaches – Each of these is wonderful in their own right, Kua Bay has perhaps the most gorgeous azure blue color to the water, while Hapuna and Kauna’oa are both fantastic in terms of being huge sandy stretches of beautiful beach with great spring swimming and snorkeling. Caveat – while I haven’t been to any of these beaches aside from May/June, I’ve been told that they can all be tricky at times, in terms of surf, particularly during the winter.
- Research – the Tripadvisor Hawaii Forum is a fine way to dial yourself in for a trip to the Big Island. Use the search function as a ton of topics are usually in discussion, but always feel free to post asking for recommendations. Be aware that while some of the local experts can seem a bit short at times, they are very helpful.
- Research – Twitter – Another great research resource, I got a number of timely recommendations from @nathankam.
Well, it’s back to “reality” tomorrow – first day back in the office after three weeks off – cheers!