Heading to Hawaii

In less than 24 hours we’ll arrive in Hawaii (staying on the big island) for a belated holiday vacation. It’s a lot cheaper if you go a week or two after the big holiday rush.

We’ll be there for about 7 days with 6 days where we can really get out and do things. The agenda is not set in stone at all yet, but we’re hoping to do some or all of the following:

  • visit the volcanoes
  • see whales
  • swim with dolphins
  • go parasailing
  • scuba diving or snorkeling
  • enjoy the beaches and pools

We’d appreciate any tips, suggestions, cautions, or other advice.

I’ll try to post a few pics now and then over on my Tumbr (that’s all I seem to use it for currently). I’ll post the really good ones after our return. While Kathleen has bee to Hawaii a few times, I’ve never been. So this is all new to me. 🙂

In any case, it’ll be a good break that we’ll both enjoy.

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL N119AM, Bonanza N200TE, and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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11 Responses to Heading to Hawaii

  1. james phillips says:

    make sure you call ahead to the volcano the day you are driving up there. We did the multi-hour round trip only to show up to the park entrance to find that hazardous fumes were at a level that prohibited getting out of the car. we stopped by the zoo on the way back (which was sorta on the way) and that was a bit of a consolation for the kids. have fun!

  2. Jon Sagara says:

    It may be a little late for this, but perhaps you can pick up a copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore: “Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook”


    We used “Maui Revealed” on Maui, and it took us to all kinds of neat little places we would have otherwise skipped right over. If the Big Island book is anything like its Maui sibling, then I highly recommend it.

  3. Andy Miller says:

    If you can get away at night one night, you should drive up Saddleback Road, at least to the base of Mauna Kea, and do some stargazing if you’re into that. I’ve been in the Bay Area, CA, for the last 15 years or so where you can see only a handful of stars due to the light pollution and altitude. Up a little ways on Saddleback road, there is very little light pollution; it is amazing how many stars you can see. I stopped at a turnoff where the road up to the Mauna Kea observatories intersected Saddleback, and the number of stars visible there was incredible; I can only imagine what it must be like at/near the summit. ( I wasn’t brave enough to try that in the dark )

    IIRC the turnoff was closer to the Hilo (east) side of Saddleback road so it may be easier to approach it from that side. Also be careful, as some of the rental companies there have explicit language in their contracts banning you from driving on Saddleback road, they make it sound like some insane Danger Alley. I drove the whole length from ~Kona to ~Hilo with a local friend there and it really isn’t that treacherous, mildly curvy and hilly but nothing compared to some of the mountain roads in the Bay Area. (Page Mill, Alpine Road, etc)

  4. Sorry, never been to the big island. Maybe someday we will visit (unless it get’s sold to China). Have fun 🙂

  5. Gen Kanai says:

    I’d also recommend the Saddle Road trip, especially if you can go in the evening and do some stargazing from the Onizuka Center. Note, most of the major rental car companies do not allow one to drive on the Saddle Road so you either take a chance or rent from Hapers Hawaii who do allow that.


    Make sure it’s not a full moon because it’s so bright as to wash out any stars.

    Hapuna Beach (North of Kona) is a great public beach.

    Horseback riding North of Kona in the hills (I forget where, but the hotel will know) is wonderful too.

    If you go to Volcanos Natl. Park, I highly recommend a meal at the Kilauea Lodge. Great chef, great food.


  6. Tyson says:

    There is a company that does a star gazing tour which I highly recommend. They take you up to the Mauna Kea observatory where they setup a high powered telescope and a guide will talk to you about the stars. They serve you hot chocolate and provide coats since it gets quite cold up there, there may have been a boxed dinner involved as well.

    I got the company name and number from The Big Island Revealed book, I can’t remember what the company was called.

  7. I highly recommend the helicopter ride over the volcano, especially since you take good aerial shots. I did over 20n years ago, and the photos remind me that it was the best money I ever spent on vacation.

    If you take the ride, please post a few images for us.

  8. g7nbp says:

    Be sure to go and see the observatories

  9. Gen Kanai says:

    Stating the obvious but if Volcanos National Park is not on your list, it’s a must-do imho. Ideally you’d stay long enough to experience the park both during the day and maybe even at night if the lava is flowing.

  10. Tony Bourke says:

    Rent a plane. Call flights schools, rent a plane with an instructor and fly around Hawaii. I did that in NYC, it was amazing. Or at least, take a helicopter flight around the island.

  11. Dana says:

    Greaat blog post

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