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Waikoloa Marriott

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      The Aloha from anyone I encountered at this Marriott exceeded others that I have been at (Maui Ocean,Waiohai,Kauai Beach). Even if I was walking around at the edges of the property looking at lava formations. I wrote to Marriott about this.It seemed to me just your standard hotel room.Ate there twice (dinner/breakfast) and enjoyed the view and food. I think it was during the week that dinner was 1/2 off.Across the street at the Kings shops is Merrimans cafe where we ate twice and enjoyed the food and service.18 miles to the airportCheck both the Queens and Kings shops for the entertainment that they have.The petroglyphs adjacent to the Kings shops are numerous and worth the time if you are into that. Waikoloa does have a tour ~9:30am that is informative. On another note, if you play golf at the course there, tens of thousands of petroglyphs were destroyed under that course and homes.http://www.Kuhiogrille in Hilo had yummy peanut butter manju that were fresh and local food that was good. A nice stop for after a day and evening at HVNP.The beach at A bay is nice and I appreciated that it was curved rather than straight.Sunsets here were better than on other islands. There were no clouds on the horizon so you can see the "green flash".If you like coffee, try GreenwellsFor mac nuts try buying a bag of Ahualoa farms nuts. They taste very fresh and crisp. Hamakua macadamia nuts is great to see as a factory and taste but out of a couple of bags we bought I thought the Ahualoa were much better. Hamakua nuts had more halfs/quarters, some did taste not exactly fresh and they were not crisp.We bought a couple hundred $ in Honomu jams at the Kings shops, mostly Kona Coffee Cocconut butter from Jim. Free tastes and you use them to season like  spices. Or just eat them out of the jar.Kaumana caves in Hilo- Not claustrophobic,afraid of the dark, have a flashlight and are adventurous? Kaumana caves on 200 is the place to go. Thurston lava tube in HVNP is for families with small kids- nice greenery but as a lava tube, boring. Kaumana is not lit and will get so dark you won't be able to easily find your way out if your light goes out. Don't wear a hat so you can see the ceiling where it drops down and you won't hit your head. We did this on a tour and walked in a few hundred feet, there was more but no time.We did Hawaii Forest and Trail tours:Mauna Kea- nice but the 14,000 feet made me a bit sick- the sunset was ok only because of lots of clouds. Afterwards the night viewing was very good. I would recommend this tour for the following reasons- You don't have to drive at 14,000' I have had no problems on Haleakala but that extra 4,000' is a lot. They take good care of you and are informative. The road above the visitors center is bad and they make sure it is that way. I've been told in numerous places that it is because of front wheel drive cars and whatnot. Lies, if you look at the very edge of the wide road, it is the same as the center. They cut "rumble strips" into the road to increase traction if it snows and to try and keep people off the summit. The center of the road was the same as the edge, not potholes but grooved like the cattle guards(railroad tracks but worse). Volcano evening tour (12 hours)- loved it and had fun. A 12 hour day and driving isn't fun but better if guided. We saw stuff (Kaumana caves,Devils throat) that I would not have gone to. We ended up going to the park three times.Helicopter lava/waterfall tour- not cheap but the lava was flowing. We left from Waikoloa which is twice the price I think, but factor in the drive to Hilo and the Hilo tours get cancelled more often ( then you have to come back). If you want to take lots of HQ pictures, wear black and keep your shutter speeds no slower than 1/500th. Lots of vibration and the movement will get you blurred pictures. I ended up being satisfied with the pictures and sights I saw.Hiking to the lava- You can but make sure you are insured for accidental death. GPS would help,lots of water and willingness to put oneself in danger. This information is worth exactly what you paid for it. I spent 10 days here in January and I probably could have used another 5 to see enough. I guess I will have to go back.

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