I have really struggled with writing this blog, vlog, and podcast for my recent visit to Hawaii this past February, I am still a bit traumatized. For sure, if you travel as much as we do, you are not going to win them all. I struggled even with the title, Hawaii – #epicfail or Hawaii in February really bites, but landed on this When NOT to visit Hawaii.
Traveling absolutely has challenges always. However, after completing my Travel Agent State of Hawaii specialist course I thought I had all the details even when not to visit Hawaii. As it turns out, Hawaii does not have 72-degree sunny days every single day and there is a rainy season. Now I know that is why the airfare and accommodation rates drop just a bit to fly and stay on the Big Island.
I’m leading in with a really uplifting article I know but I gotta be honest, right? So here’s a recap of what became a hysterical, but sad tale. I am giving YOU all the details so you know when NOT to visit Hawaii.
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It rained 9 out of 10 days this past February 17 – 27 on the BIG Island, so I apologize for all the gray depressing photos and videos it was truly out of my control. We did explore and have moments of Aww for sure. This island had a huge draw for me because of all the hiking, snorkeling, and sea life I had read about.
Also, in my defense, I Googled before going “When not to visit Hawaii?” and February isn’t even listed as being a bad month, The Hawaii Vacation Guide says to avoid June through November.
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Holy costs a lot!
I know as a Travel Advisor/Agent that Hawaii is the most expensive US destination next to Alaska but we were unbelievably unprepared for how much more it would be. After all, we visited Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Belgium. Hawaii surpassed them all. Whatever you have budgeted or spent before you hit the island, be prepared for a bit more. At some point, we just went with it. What are you going to do? Ya gotta eat and that’s what credit cards are for.
One breakfast at the resort we ordered avocado toast, a ham and cheese croissant sandwich, two coffees, and an orange juice and it was $70 with tip. No kidding. We learned very quickly to find local places that were affordable and decent.
TRAVEL TIP: You can lose a little weight and save money on trips like these by splitting meals. #notkidding HA!
One of our favorite affordable stops was Island Gourmet Market located near Waikoloa Village Resort and within walking distance. It is a little bit of a walk (30 minutes or about 1.5 miles) but there is a shuttle from the resort too. (It’s $10 per person for the roundtrip ride.)
We found many more local places that were unique throughout the island too and I’ll share that below in Good Eats. We stayed in the Waikoloa resort area for five days and then made our way west to the Kilauea Military Camp and Hawai’i Volcano National Park. Additionally, on this visit the volcano that has been moltening for over 20 years was dormant during our stay, hahaha, we just couldn’t get a break.
VOLCANO & Staying at KMC
Our favorite part of the trip was literally this stay at the Kilauea Military Camp. I know a “stay” here is not accessible for everyone. Active duty and retirees only are allowed to stay in the camp. However, it is close by in the National Volcano park is The Volcano House we enjoyed the gift shop here and a few very nice meals.
The Military camp has cabins and houses that date back to the 40s and President Eisenhower actually stayed here while visiting too. Stays are based on rank and a full COL and above can stay in the Eisenhower House. We enjoyed the smaller one-bedroom cabin closer to the parade circle.
Our cabin had a fully handi-capable bathroom, mini-kitchen with coffee service, living room with a firep
lace, and two double beds. It was super cozy on rainy days to just curl up on the couch with Netflix and watch the rain come down outside.
The camp also has a General Store and was reasonably priced. Thankfully, it is open to the public. You do not need to be a military service person/retiree to use the General Store at KMC. It had a lot of food items, clothing, etc. we loved having access to while we were there.
Within walking distance of the cabins, hiking trails abound. When the volcano is active, visitors and staff say to go at night to see the ground all aglow. Again, it totally bit because it was too foggy and rainy. I definitely recommend taking a few trails we met some wildlife and incredible scenery.
When you visit Hawaii, you will want to try out the restaurants and there were plenty of good eats around the island. Here are a few restaurants we really enjoyed. I can find more in my upcoming blog and vlog on Where to EAT on the BIG ISLAND of Hawaii, here are some of my favorites.
Waikoloa Resort Side
We enjoyed breakfast and lunch here. It was affordable and fresh and close to the resort area. One morning we stopped for pancakes and an egg sandwich and then for lunch, we enjoyed a steak sandwich and Reuben with curly fries.
Fresh greens and salad options with fresh meat and fish, or vegetarian. Great service, inside a mall and close to the Big Island Gourmet Market. Check out these pics, it was refreshing to have this option as well and a bit different.
Big-time loved Foster’s Kitchen. The staff was professional and attentive and ready to serve. Our plates were so fresh and pretty. Even though it was raining and windy outside we enjoyed upstair porch seating in Kona and had a great lunch. We enjoyed an appetizer of pimento cheese and cajun shrimp, Thai Chicken Salad, and Grilled Fish of the Day with veggies.
TRAVEL TIP: If you visit Hawaii during busy times, especially in these resort areas, I would recommend making reservations in advance.
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Travel must be before October 31, 2023
Considered to be THE BEST RESTAURANT in HILO – we were pretty thrilled to find a seat at this super popular eatery. Again with the gray skies but when your cocktails are made to delight, you can overlook the gloom and doom. We enjoyed lovely crabcakes here with remoulade sauce, I had the Bombay Fried Chicken Bowl with curry, potatoes, chimichurri sauce, curry yogurt slaw, and sweet heat pickled onions. YUM!! I’m drooling just thinking about it.
I know. WHAT! Wendy, are you nuts? In this weather? A shaved ice take-out window is a FAVORITE restaurant? Absolutely, shaved ice is an island favorite. Today, for breakfast, I enjoyed an ACAI bowl with oats that was life-changing. HA! As Jon says “leckerschmecker!” We shared the bowl because it was so big and it was filled with fresh berries and sauces.
On our visit to Hawaii, most of our activities were washed out, so I can’t really write about all of them, it’s just too sad. However, here are a few that I loved.
Visit Hawaii – Activities to do!
SWIMMING with the Manta Rays
My absolute favorite activity on the island was this special night. If you visit Hawaii, Hawai’i island you must swim with the Manta Rays. It is an unbelievable, unforgettable experience.
For more information on the tour click this LINK. Our boat was smaller but not too small thankfully because it was extremely choppy on the water. It’s about a 40-minute boat ride out to the Manta Ray location. I met some honeymooners and families, and everyone said they were looking forward to this experience.
This was an amazing experience and I had so much fun doing this and meeting these gentle sea creatures. Be sure to check out the vlog for more underwater footage. We met in Kailua-Kona at the docks and made our way into the dark night, hold on tight, cause it was a bumpy ride. Be sure to check out the vlog coming out soon for video footage!
TRAVEL TIP: Definitely bring some SeaBands they will help with the motion sickness.
My next favorite activity was visiting Black Sand Beach. This unique and unearthly-looking beach is a tourist highlight when visiting Hawai’i Island. We had another overcast sky and the water was a bit too rough to get in and play with the turtles. Instead, we sat along the coast and watched the waves rush in. During our visit, there was a Sea Turtle napping that was protected by wildlife workers.
There’s a souvenir shop where you can purchase some t-shirts, and sweaters (wink) when the temperature drops and winds start blowing. HA!
Parking is a bit tricky if you don’t mind walking a bit. There’s a much larger parking lot before you get close to the beach. You will have to walk by some abandoned buildings that look a bit sketch. It was a little easier to park there than right near the beach.
TRAVEL TIP: The Black Sand Beach is also super hot, so be prepared, you will want to get wet.
We happened upon Rainbow Falls on our first trip to Hilo. Hilo is a big town on the west coast of Hawai’i island. It is the tropical side and has more rain, so I was prepared for a bit more. Locals had told us the roads to Hilo had been washed out. Some were not driveable so we looped around the island in what was probably an unconventional way. Although we saw massive rushing waters, no rainbow was to be found, since we needed just a bit of sun for that.
Rainbow Falls is right in the heart of Hilo and a very easy stop while you are visiting. There was plenty of parking as well. Additionally, on a sunnier day, you could enjoy a hike up to the top of the falls. The views from this trail were a bit different.
As you can see, the sun was just not meant to be our friend in Hawaii. So when NOT to visit Hawai’i? I would definitely skip January and February again. Jon and I hope to come back someday and visit Kauai Island and perhaps Maui. Now that I know when to go it should be able to have sunnier brighter days.
The Hits kept COMING!
As we were making our way to the airport we got some fantastic news. (Note the sarcasm) It was snowing in Los Angeles and our flight would be a 6-hour delay departing Kona at 4:00 a.m. You might think these hiccups don’t happen to travel professionals, but let me assure you, they happen to us all. My friend, Kelly sent me a pic from LA while I was there.
We made the best of it! Really cool human things happen when you face these dilemmas and people unite. They help each other, frequent travelers get it and go with the flow, and after all…
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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