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The Hawaii Series, yes, we are experts Chapter 5 · 20.03.11 by colin newell

Big Island of Hawaii - finding the roof that is right for youThe Big Island of Hawaii is a diverse and all-encompassing destination that offers every manner of diversion and activity possible. In our previous chapter on this subject, we outlined some of these – and promised to talk about the meaty aspect of getting there, getting around and getting a roof over your head.

Photo above: Our home away from home, the Hale Kona Kai condo off of Alii Drive – right on the waterfront!

Digs | And once again, there are as many choices for accommodation as there are activities to accompany your visit. Hotels, motels, gated luxury, back-packers, camping and condos – and that just scrapes the lava strewn surface.

Travel to Hawaii (and most places away from North America – or where ever your home might be) generally involves a bit of long term advance planning. For Andrea and I, fans of one particular condo, we usually book 10 months in advance to get the unit that we want. If you are doing the hotel routine or booking a condo in a bigger unit you can probably get away with less lead time – often as little as 3 months. Results vary of course. That in mind, you might want to think ahead with flights as well…

Getting to the farm? Get a rental car!Getting there | Where airline flights are concerned, you might want to jump in earlier than later. Sure, there are always seat sales to be had – but once you settle on your digs, you might not want to leave the flight to chance.

Want to visit the farms? Get a rental car! Photo right

Hawaii is well served by many of the finest airlines (and some not so much) that hop around North America and the Pacific Rim – Generally if you are coming from Asia (from memory here folks) you are looking at flying into Honolulu before getting your connector to the Big Island. American, Delta and United serve Hawaii direct from North America as does Hawaiian and Alaska (these 2 considered among the highest in terms of customer satisfaction – the others… not so much )

From Canada you can fly to Hawaii direct with West Jet – and Air Canada comes in via Honolulu.

All this in mind, it is highly variable as to when you will get your best price – Seasoned travelers will know better than I – because Andrea and I do not really shop around much. We fly Alaska – and buy the tickets when we feel like it – generally after we nail down our accommodation.

Eating fun - Hawaii style in the next chapter!Wheels | After getting the flight and the roof over our head, it comes down to booking some transportation while on the Big Island. And here is the bonus folks. Car Rental rates on the Big Island are amongst the most economical on the Planet – that is because there is so much to choose. The only caveat here is: Will you or won’t you be driving on dirt roads or climbing into the mountains to check out some of the out of the way coffee farms?

Photo right – In our next chapter, we will look at Eating and Drinking – Hawaii style!

The joke comes to mind: What is the difference between a 4-wheel drive and a rental sedan? You can take the rental sedan anywhere. Yup, maybe you have heard this one.

What you rent will also depend on what you are bringing with you, family wise. If it is just the two of you, a two-door sub-compact will probably suffice. We rented a Nissan Altima the last time – probably for about $30/day – and it was too big. Comfy, but too large. And as far as getting to the coffee plantations, our lovely and friendly coffee farmers who have adopted Andrea and I have 4-wheel capabilities and have taken us to some mighty out of the way places (another chapter…)

One tip about rental cars: Many outfits will try and push extra “insurance” and “Collision waivers” – but so you know, Rental Car companies are not in the business of selling insurance – and technically they cannot call it insurance – We are life long AVIS rent a car people and they simply refer to it as “Liability coverage” – and dig this, most of us already have this coverage in many of our credit card contracts or attached to our home and car insurance. Worthwhile to check out what your policies do and do not cover.

Health care | If you are visiting Hawaii from Canada or the continental Unites States of America, look over your health care coverage closely – if you are visiting from anywhere else, look close. You are better off having too much insurance than too little. We get an extra chunk of coverage that sets the two of us back around $50 for the entire month – for the two of us. And it incorporates virtually unlimited liability, extraction, doctors-without-borders, etc – almost valet health care coverage. Look it up if any of this is a tad unclear.

In our next chapter we will get down to the finer details of where to stay – and what to do when you get there! As well, we will starting talking about the joys of dining in and eating out.


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