View Full Version : Anyone a travel agent?

04/11/2003, 10:18 PM
Iím trying to find a reasonable fare for 2 to Hawaii (KOA) from Austin (AUS) for 2-3 weeks starting July 5/6/7. Any help greatly appreciated - Iíve checked all the big online sites but nothing spectacular there.

04/12/2003, 12:19 AM

I know you said you tried all of these, just wanted to list my favorites in case you weren't familiar with them.

04/12/2003, 02:58 AM
Not a travel agent, but I spent the first 18 years of life in Kona (was actually born in Kealakekua, like the song goes, but not in a little grass shack). If you can get one, take a direct flight rather than in to Honolulu and an interisland flight to Kona. The reason is that many of the flights into Honolulu continue on to parts of Asia, so they have more of a chance of being packed full. Direct flights to Kona usually just turn around and go back to the mainland, so unless there is some big event (like the ironman) going on, they tend to be half-full, which gives you a lots of room to stretch out on for 5-8 hours. It also means that you may be able to find them cheaper on priceline since they tend to have lower prices when there are more open seats.

Depending on what you've got lined up for accomdations, you might also look at combo packages that include airfare and hotel and sometimes car rental. Often the airfare is close to free compared to buying them seperately. But, if you have the option, I totally recommend against staying in a hotel - find a bed'n'breakfast or a FRBO - for rent by owner, either condo or house. You tend to get more for your dollar than with a hotel.

If you haven't been to the big island before, there are some great semi-offroad places to go. The summit of Mauna Kea is just amazing, especially for sunset. The top half of the road is dirt, but even a two-wheel drive car can make it, the worst part is riding your brakes coming back down, 4-lo is handy for that.

Here's a pic of a sunset at the summit with a couple of the telescopes in outline:
http://www.jach.hawaii.edu/JACpublic/UKIRT/public/images/telescope/jkd_mk_cloudy_sunset.gif (http://www.jach.hawaii.edu/JACpublic/UKIRT/public/tel_gallery.html)

Another excellent place to go is the green sand beach at south point. The road to south point is tame, pretty much a one-lane paved road. But, once you get there, the trail to the green-sand beach is killer. However, there is a secret second trail that is easier to drive. The trick is in finding it since it is an unmarked turn off the road a ways up the road before you get to south point. I don't remember enough to tell you what landmarks to look for, but you can ask some of the locals and someone is bound to know - as a last resort there is usually a guy or two who just hang out during the day at the building at the very end of the road to south point, if he likes you he'll probably tell you the easy way to get to the green sand beach. Else he'll just let you go the hard way which starts right near the place he hangs out at.

Here's a pic of the green sand beach, it is a volcanic cinder cone that the ocean has broken into:
http://www.astro.ubc.ca/~jkalirai/Hawaii-GreenBeach.jpg (http://www.frenchspot.com/Hawaiian/Photos/Greensand/greensand.html)

Then there is waipi'o valley where the road is paved down to the bottom but the grade is so steep that 4-lo is required. The valley is huge and there are lots of places to camp, although I don't remember if any are officially designated as camping grounds or if we just knew some good places to go because of friends and stuff.

Here's a pic of the valley, you can see the access road on the left side, the river and the black sand beach (mostly a rocky beach):
http://www.cybercominc.com/images/nlphotos/bigisland01_lg.jpg (http://www.hawaiiweb.com/hawaii/html/sites/waipio_valley.html)

All the rental car agencies tell you that you can't take their vehicles to any of those places, but nobody pays attention - as long as you don't break down and then call the agency (instead of a local repair/tow service) and actually tell them you are there, they can't do a thing about it.

Even if you don't feel like off-roading (what?), you should go camping at least one night. Sleeping by the water, where you can hear the waves all night is one of the best experiences. The air is so clear (if the volcano isn't going off) that the sky seems closer than anywhere else I've lived. The stars are intense and when the moon is full it is almost like daylight. Best thing about camping in hawaii is that hardly any of the fauna is dangerous - only three things come to mind - in the desert/dry areas there are small(er) scorpions and big-*** unkillable 6-8" centipedes, in some rain forest areas there are black-widows (I only ever saw one black-widow in all my 18 years there) and in rare cases there are wild (feral) pigs. That's about it, no snakes, effectively no spiders and rarely any scorpions or centipedes. Mostly you have to watch out for pot patches, the locals like to booby-trap their pot patches, so you don't want to accidentally wander into one out in the booneys.

There is also plenty of local kine food that you should try to sample:

mochi - (mow-chee) sweet chewy rice pudding-cake, plenty thick enough to eat with your fingers, comes in all kinds colors (pink, blue, white, brown, etc) and shapes you can find it the bakery section of most grocery stores

malasadas - portagee donuts, best place is Tex's Drive In in Honoka'a, everybody on the island knows Tex's Drive In

Poke (http://www.hawaii.rr.com/leisure/reviews/anthony_chang/2002-06_fajatpphigh.htm) - (poe-kay) marinated raw fish of all kinds of flavors, you can find it in most grocery stores in the deli section, usually 5-10 different varieties - the more upscale the store, the more kinds of poke they have

crack seed - chinese dried fruits, usually plums but sometimes other kinds too - most common is "rock salt plum" you can find bags in the candy section of most grocery stores. Beware, very salty. You stick one in your mouth and suck on it for a while, eventually the meat of the fruit moistens up and comes off. Sometimes you can still suck flavor out of the seed for like half an hour. Not something the western pallete is used too, but all kids in Hawaii grow up eating it, better than chocolate

Haupia cake - (how-pee-ah) haupia is a kind of delicately flavored coconut pudding that is used in many ways, but is a common replacement for frosting on cakes. They are harder to find, but if you see it on a menu or luck out and find a haupia cake in a bakery, or are otherwise offered some, do not pass it up.

White Pineapple - only available in the right season. THe difference from regular yellow pineapple is that it has been bred for reduced acidity. It is more expensive than the yellow ones, but it is totally worth it. I think it is junique to hawaii, I've never seen it anywhere else. Compared to yellow pineapple it is 10x more flavorfull.

Lychee (http://tfphotos.ifas.ufl.edu/060102.htm) - (some say it lie-chee, others litch-ee) chinese fruit about the size of a golf-ball. You peel the rough-textured reddish-brown skin off to get a the white meat that looks vaguely like a huge white booger. Don't worry, it tastes really good. Watch out for the big seed in the middle, if you bite into the seed it tastes really bitter, sort of, but not really, like biting into an apple seed. They gotta be in season too, Do not eat any canned lychees, they don't taste anything like the fresh ones, not even close. They barely even look the same.

Other less esoteric, but still rare to mainlanders, fruit - hayden mangoes (there are a bazillion species of mangoes, in Hawaii the hayden ones are the best), papaya - nothing like the mexican ones you can sometimes find on the mainland, and if you can find "strawberry papaya" with pinkish instead of orange meat they are the best. Guava - yellow fruit with pink meat and whitish seeds inside. Bigger than a golf-ball but smaller than a baseball and grows on trees. You can eat the skin (it is mostly flavorless) or just scoop out the meat and seeds - swallow the seeds whole, they are too hard to chew and too many to pick out. Passion-fruit - purple-green, slightly wrinkly when ripe, about the same size as guava and grows on vines. Inside the meat looks just like clear-orange snot with dark colored seeds, slurp up the snot and swallow the seeds whole, it is really sweet with a subtle flavor.

There's tons more, but I think I wrote this much because I'm home sick now. I hope it was at least a little bit useful though.

04/12/2003, 05:12 AM
Thanks for the recommendations and great information. Lodging and transportation are taken care of so I just need the airfare unfortunately.