Where to stay in the Big Island?
Although the Big Island has plenty of options for accommodations, our travel plans coincided with one of the biggest sporting events of the year- The Kona Ironman Competition, so most hotels were booked or outrageously priced, so when I saw a fantastic deal for the Hapuna Beach Hotel, I pounced on it like a polar bear.
Hapuna Beach has all the amenities of a 4-star hotel and a killer view, but my favorite things were the beautiful beach, the tranquility and size of the bedrooms, and the A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. beds!!! One afternoon after our morning dives, I decided to take a nap…didn’t wake up until 8pm, a power nap of 7 hours of uninterrupted, blissful sleep! Under any other circumstance, I would have been mad at myself for spending the day sleeping on vacation at such a beautiful place, but I didn’t even care. I was having a love affair with my bed!
If you don’t believe me- I took a picture of the mattress brand…just in case I need to buy one sometime soon…
We are not usually luxury travelers. We like clean, comfortable, safe spaces with a local flavor and we spend most of our days outside the resorts and hotel, but the Hapuna Beach Hotel was certainly a nice splurge.
Where to eat on a budget in the Big Island?
The resort has a beautiful restaurant, but if you are on a budget, here are a few tips on where to eat.
There is a small town about 10 miles up the road called Waimea with supermarkets and restaurants that the locals frequent. We bought drinks, snacks and fruit and stored it in our mini-fridge. For dinning options there were several small restaurants and even fast food in the same area.
We had a killer breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Cafe, which was recommended to us by our friends at the Kona Diving Company.
Mr. GoodLife and I each ordered a plate as we would normally do and the waitress paused and asked:
” Have you been here before? ”
I shook my head and she nodded.
“You won’t be needing two orders.”
For $10 we got pancakes, omelet, potatoes and ham. I couldn’t believe the size of the pancakes so I took a picture.
Now, if you happen to find this gem on your travels, ask for the coconut syrup- which is usually doled out to locals and if you are feeling adventurous try the more exotic choices on the menu.
Another good choice to stay on budget and eat locally is L&L Drive-In. Usually, I would not recommend fast food places, but they take fast food to the next level. It’s where the locals eat, so you have to give it a try. I had a great Shrimp Salad there, but their specialty is barbecue and local fare like Loco Moco and Lau Lau Pork.
For my vegetarian and organic food lovers out there, just a few minutes south of the hotel, there is the Island version of Whole Foods (I can’t remember the name). They sell prepared foods and have a salad bar.
If you rent a car and drive around the island, don’t forget to stop by local shops and organic coffee and macadamia farms. They give free samples and by purchasing their products you support the local economy and learn a ton about the island.
If you like sweets, don’t forget to try Malasadas- cream filled Portuguese donuts. The best place is Punalu’u Bakery on the way to South Point- the southernmost point of the US.
What company should I book for diving?
I could write about food the whole day, but I can’t leave out the diving. Check out the family run, absolutely fantastic team at the Kona Diving Company. They are super knowledgeable about endemic species, put safety first, do all the work, will find you the coolest animals in the ocean and bake the best – my mouth is salivating – brownies ever!
If you are a diver or want to become one, check them out. Oh, and ask them about the funny gear they wear and about a peculiar moray accident with a certain octopus look alike hair cap.
Stay curious my friends and go xplore!
All pictures © GoodLifeXplorers.com