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SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

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SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Big Island Hawaii 30th Anniversary Trip Report: January/February 2012

OUR ACCOMMODATIONS:

5 NIGHTS: Shipman House B&B, Hilo, (east coast of Big Island)

4 nights: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Kohala coast (west coast)

TRIP REPORT:

The Big Island of Hawaii is now my #1 favorite island in the world! The wide open spaces are refreshing to the spirit – natural features with stunning beauty, from the west coast where the dark volcanic rock meets the sea, to the awesome heights of Mauna Kea at 13,000 feet. The Big Island feels more Hawaiian and less touristy, to us. We felt more in touch with Hawaii's history and cultural heritage on the Big Island.

Mauna Kea left me breathless at 13,000 feet, literally, where I marveled at the view with cold wind whipping my face. I love the colors at Mauna Kea, where the 2 hills called “cinder cones” are streaked with a fire-red color. At night stars lit the sky, although the sky wasn't black due to the moon. I battled my fears to make it up to 13,000 feet to the highest mountain peak upon which I have ever stood.

Reports of the terrors of Saddle Road to Mauna Kea are exaggerated, in our opinion. My husband drove us up Saddle Road to the summit of Mauna Kea at 13,000 feet, and I didn't feel nervous at all about the road itself, but the high altitude made me feel so breathless, I panicked on the way up and feared I was having a heart attack.

Hawaii Volcanoes National park is a treasure! We didn't see lava flow at the time of our visit, but we loved the volcano for its majesty & beauty...stark and mighty, a glimpse of the powers of creation of the islands. The eerie glow of the lava lake in the center of the smoking crater behind the Jaggar Museum is especially beautiful at night, with stars winking overhead. (Halema'uma'u Crater behind Jaggar Museum.) On our next trip to the Big Island we will return to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

HILO:

We spent 5 delightful nights at the Shipman House B&B in Hilo on the green, lush, and rainy east side of the island. The island was experiencing a drought and it barely rained at all during our visit. I love Hilo which is a local community, and the locals outnumber the tourists, which is very refreshing. There are lots of interesting local cafes and shops in Hilo.

Shipman House B&B

131 Kaiulani Street, Hilo, Big Island

www.hilo-hawaii.com

Breakfast at Shipman House B&B was a fabulous treat we looked forward to for every one of our 5 mornings at the B&B, with an unsurpassed offering of a gorgeous fresh tropical fruit tray artfully displaying a delicious rainbow of island fruit. Fresh lilikoi butter (passion fruit) was made every morning, and it is addicting when spread on a slice of gently toasted Portuguese sweet bread, or on a whole wheat English muffin. Healthy oatmeal or quinoa was also offered, along with yogurt, home-made macadamia nut granola, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and a different home-made baked treat each morning.

The tropical fruit was fresh and local and exquisitely ripened...some of it grown right on the grounds of Shipman House. My husband and I both miss the Shipman breakfasts, and I long for a return visit to the Big Island just to feast on the addicting tropical breakfasts! There were a dozen different tropical fruits at breakfast each morning, and the supply of fruit was generous, so we could have seconds of our favorite fruits. I was delighted by the sweet papaya with a scoop of passion fruit and a squeeze of a lime-like fruit.

I'm a foodie so I had to gush about the breakfast! We had booked a total of 5 nights at Shipman House B&B: 2 nights in a cottage room, and 3 nights in Aunt Carrie's room in the main house. Both rooms were lovely and comfortable, with Queen beds, and ensuite bathrooms with overhead shower heads plus hand-held personal showers.

Shipman B&B has 5 guest rooms: 3 in the main house, (a historic mansion), and 2 in the duplex cottage. On our next visit I will be happy to book any of the rooms which have a Queen bed in either the main house or the cottage.

Shipman B&B has a good location. You are close enough to walk into the town of Hilo, which is full of cafes and local shops. The historic family mansion is surrounded by beautiful tropical flora. The owners are wonderfully helpful and answered our many questions patiently.

KOHALA COAST:

We also splurged on a deluxe ocean view room for 4 nights at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel along the Kohala Coast on the west side of the island, to celebrate our 30th anniversary. (I must say that we enjoyed the Shipman House B&b in Hilo equally as much as we enjoyed the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, and I recommend them both for a romantic anniversary celebration!)

At the Mauna Lani, we ended up being “upgraded” to an ocean-view suite with King bed, since the deluxe ocean view rooms with King beds were full. I had to be rather assertive to get this “upgrade”. I wanted a King bed, since that is what we had booked for our anniversary. The suite was much bigger than the room would have been, although the suite was further back from the ocean, it did have a lovely view. We couldn't hear the ocean from our room, which was disappointing, but I had expected this.

The Mauna Lani is a luxury resort with a laid-back atmosphere, and a lot of “freebies” (free parking, free lounge chairs & cabanas; free water bottles in room; free guided tour of the ancient fish ponds; free rental of snorkel equipment for 4 hours; free Hawaiian musical entertainment & story-telling outside at twilight on Saturday night...)

The snorkeling on the Mauna Lani's beach in winter was good. I was thrilled to encounter my very first “honu” (green sea turtle) while snorkeling with my husband! We saw a total of 3 honu (green sea turtles) while snorkeling at the Mauna Lani's beach. From the Mauna Lani hotel we also walked to the beach at the Beach Club, for more snorkeling.

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Kohala Coast, Island of Hawaii

www.maunalani.com

Snorkeling at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel's beach and Two-Step:

I'm awash with lovely memories of the warm tropical embrace of the Big Island of Hawaii. I slid into the water in front of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, and floated along on my noodle, snorkeling. I was thrilled with my first “honu” encounter...swimming with the green sea turtle! I floated above him, and watched him eating what appeared to be algae on an underwater rock below me. I swam with a total of 3 “honu” on this trip. I saw a variety of colorful fish and sea urchins. Snorkeling at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel's beach was adventurous enough for me.

My husband also enjoyed even better snorkeling at Two-Step near the Place of Refuge on the west coast. He was fascinated to watch an octopus change colors and swim. He said there were so many colorful fish in the water, it was like a magazine photo! Two-Step is evidently one of the better spots to snorkel in the winter. However I couldn't bring myself to go into the water at Two-Step, as I panic if I fear being trapped in the water, and I don't like to snorkel where you have to enter and exit the water on a rocky coast. The Mauna Lani's beach was better for me, as you can enter the water from anyplace along the beach.

Be careful at Two-Step, as my husband cut his toes on some rocks as he pushed away from the “Two Steps”, and a boy who was swimming nearby also cut himself, and howled in pain. I observed many swimmers, and it looks a bit awkward to enter and exit the water at Two-Step, but most people raved excitedly about the wonderful things they saw in the water.

PERFECT MOMENTS & HIGHLIGHTS:

Bliss on the BEACH and SNORKELING:

Lounging in my free guest chair on the Mauna Lani's beach, sun-kissed and utterly satisfied with my first snorkeling encounter on the Big Island; warmed by the sun and cooled by my wet swim suit, as the warm tropical air whispered along my skin...I realized I could even be served lunch right here, without getting up! Ah, this is the life!

In that moment I was celebrating having had the courage to triumph over 3 fears so far on the trip:

--fear of snorkeling (death by drowning?!)

--fear of altitude (yes I ascended to 13,000 feet at Mauna Kea) (shortcut to heaven?!)

--fear of the volcano (gorgeous it was!) (death by lava?!)

In that moment on the beach, I was fearless!

BREAKFAST at Shipman House B&B:

Ah, sweet addiction! The exquisitely ripe papaya is delightful with a scoop of fresh passion fruit and a squeeze of a lime-like fruit. The quality, variety and exquisite ripeness of the tropical fruits at Shipman B&B were a highlight of the entire trip for us. This was easily the best presentation of fruit we have ever enjoyed in our lives, anywhere in the world.

KONA COFFEE:

Tasting amazing dark roast 100% Kona coffee, organic & pesticide-free, at a coffee plantation on the Big Island was a highlight for me! We stopped at the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company above Kona, in the hills. We had time for a quick visit, but not for the tour. I tasted the dark roast Kona coffee, made in 2 different types of roasting machines...one which traps the smoke, and the other which lets the smoke out (air roasted). Both varieties made an excellent cup of coffee, but I fell in love with the one which traps the smoke. I am nuts about a good dark-roast coffee, and this coffee is fresh and wonderful! I brought home a pound of it, and I wish I had brought home a suit-case full of it! The dark roast beans came out of the bag nice and “greasy”, like they should be, from the coffee oils. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! Now I am going to have to mail-order another bag! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

“Maika'i Kona Coffee Company, Ltd. dba Holualoa Kona Coffee Company”

Kona Le'a Plantation

Holualoa, Hawaii

77-6261 Mamalahoa Highway

Holualoa Hawaii 96725

www.konalea.com

BEST SUNSET:

My husband and I stood arm-in-arm and watched the sun set over the water at the Place of Refuge, a mystical, beautiful, and spirit-filled place. Don't miss the historical Place of Refuge on the southern Kona coast at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical park on the Big Island of Hawaii. You can pay a few dollars to park in their lot, visit the park, and also walk over to nearby Two Step for excellent snorkeling. You can leave your car in the park's lot once you pay the fee.

Www.nps.gov/puho

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK:

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is fascinating and starkly beautiful! It was a highlight of our trip, and I recommend a minimum of 2 days to explore the park. Lava flow wasn't visible during our visit, but the park is amazing. Here you gain a sense of the power that creates a volcanic island. There are many awesome sights, such as the eerie glow of the lava lake in the center of the smoking Halema'uma'u crater, a memorable sight as dusk arrives, and the stars blink overhead as the sky darkens.

I spent 1 day at the volcano park with my husband, and he returned for a second day at the park while I took a slow day to write in my journal and browse around the shops & cafes in Hilo.

We spent 5 nights in Hilo, and Hilo is a convenient base when visiting the Volcanoes Park and Mauna Kea. It's about a 45-minute drive from Hilo to the Volcanoes Park. I liked using Hilo as a base because there are lots of local shops & cafes in Hilo. If you try to sleep closer to the volcano, you will find yourself in a more remote area with fewer choices of restaurants & shops.

Www.nps.gov/havo

MAUNA KEA:

I'm so happy that we didn't miss Mauna Kea! I was very nervous about the altitude, and wondering how bad Saddle Road would be. I left the decision about a rental car vs. a tour up to my husband, who is a biologist and experienced with all kinds of driving conditions including off-road. He rented us a car (either 4 wheel drive or all-wheel drive) and we were both surprised at how good Saddle Rd. actually is, after everything we had read about it. It's a good road, and paved most of the way. Only a part of it is unpaved, and it is similar to other mountain roads. Driving Saddle Road in good weather, with the right vehicle, seemed safe to us, and the road didn't make me feel nervous at all. If you have driven in Costa Rica, many roads there are far worse! We stopped in the visitor's center to inquire about weather and road conditions, and then drove up to the summit. It was a clear and sunny day, although there's a chilly wind up on the summit.

I want to thank all of you visitors who decide to pay for the expensive ($200) “tour” up to the summit, because you are keeping the traffic on the road to the summit much lighter for us independent visitors! Judging from the 8 tour buses that we saw, and the prices we heard being discussed, somebody is making some nice money off of all the tourists who choose not to drive up to the Mauna Kea summit.

The visitor's center up at Mauna Kea can give you information on weather and road conditions, and whether it is a good day to drive up to the summit. We took some photos in an attempt to show the actual road conditions. Eventually I will get those photos online if anybody wants to see them.

My husband was so patient with me! I was so nervous about the high altitude. We stopped at the visitor's center for a while. Then as we drove up to the summit, when we had almost reached 12,000 feet, I felt so much pressure on my chest, I thought I was getting a heart attack, and I remembered reading about pulmonary edema. We found a little parking area to pull over safely, and I got out of the car. My husband offered to drive me back down the mountain without any complaint. “I feel like something is pressing on me really tight, right here,” I said to him. Then I realized...wait a minute...this isn't a heart attack...my bra is too tight! I adjusted the situation...and then I felt much more comfortable! Then I was breathing easier at the high altitude.

So we did make it up to the summit of Mauna Kea at 13,000 feet! We didn't walk too far once we were up there, as the altitude does make you tired very quickly. We kissed at 13,000 feet to celebrate our 30th anniversary...a new “high” for me!

There are some beautiful sites on the way to the Mauna Kea visitor's center...you can see the fire-red color of the “hills” or cinder cones...so beautiful. Even if you don't go to the summit...go to the visitor's center at least! There are also a few easy walks that you can do, on the way up, before you reach the Visitor's Center.

We stayed to see the stars at Mauna Kea visitor's center. They were beautiful, but the moon was bright, so the sky wasn't really black enough. We felt the starlight at the Volcanoes National park had been just as amazing as Mauna Kea.

HILO FARMERS MARKET:

We enjoyed wandering through the Hilo Farmer's Market on a Saturday morning. The produce was colorful and there were craft vendors.

Www.hilofarmersmarket.com

WAIMEA FARMERS MARKET & Cherry Blossom Festival:

We enjoyed the Waimea Farmers Market even more than the Hilo Farmers Market! We spent hours looking at artwork and jewelry by local artists, and tasting local coffee, tea, and macadamia nuts. Lots of locals come to the Waimea Farmers Market, which is on a Saturday. Luckily for us, the Waimea Farmers Market coincided with the Cherry Blossom Festival!

Waimea is an easy day-trip from the Kohala coast.

TO BE CONTINUED: (Coming up Next: Best Breakfasts, Lunches, & Dinners)

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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1. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

This is both interesting and helpful. Thank you.

Today, I explored Volcano and now I'm enjoying the sound of rain.

Being on the BI made your report all the better.

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2. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

EpicureanFunTraveller: Enjoy tasting your way around the Big Island! (-: Tomorrow I'll be back to post our favorite restaurants on the Big Island. I'm still working on getting our photos together so I can post a link to them. I have some very tasty photos of juicy colorful tropical fruit! As I recall I have a few other foodie photos as well.

Big Island, Hawaii
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3. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Great TR! I hope you made to Allen's Table in Waimea and I'm looking forward to your further posts about your trip.

So the info you read about Saddle Road was probably outdated. It was indeed a terrible road until it got repaved in sections in the last year. Also the cautions we post here about it are not because of the condition of the road but rather just to let people know they shouldn't drive it if their rental company prohibits it, which some rental car companies still inexplicably do. The weather on the Hilo side of it can be treacherous, however.

Re: the summit of MK, I couldn't tell from your post, but only Harper's rental company allows you to take their cars there and you absolutely shouldn't do it without a 4wd. It sounds like you had good weather which is great but it can be terrible (and was, shortly after you left). Also more than a few tourists have tragically died and been severely injured on the road, as you mentioned you almost had a panic attack, imagine that if you're driving, and in snow or sleet. So the cautions re: that road should really not be taken lightly and are not given needlessly.

Hayden Lake, ID
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4. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Keep posting, I'm loving your TR.

Milwaukie, Oregon
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5. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Enjoying your report and looking forward to more. We also enjoyed the Waimea Farmers Market. That is where I discovered the wonderful products from Star of Roses Organic Farm. It's been a few years so not sure if they still sell at this venue. I've been ordering their 2oz pain away massage cream by mail order ever since: www.starofroses.com

Edited: 29 February 2012, 23:43
Chisago City...
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6. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Fantastic trip report! I like your style!

Oklahoma City...
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7. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Really enjoying your trip report of "my" island:). Looking forward to the next installment.

I am one of the tourists who pays $200 to go on the tour of MK. I must say, for someone who usually does not pay for tours and prefers do-it-yourself travel, the Mauna Kea Summit Adventures ($200) and the Jack's Diving Locker night manta ray dive ($145), both on the Big Island, is the best money I've ever spent.

When you consider the 7-8 hours this tour consists of, not having to rent a special 4WD vehicle and gas for the day, having a professional driver and tour guide, telescope viewing, dinner, snacks, warm beverages, a down parka and gloves, plus the safety of not having to drive after dark (especially after being at such a high altitude and feeling a little tipsy), it is money well spent. I highly recommend this tour. http://maunakea.com/

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8. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

BEST FOOD On Big Island !!!

We enjoyed a total of 26 meals on the Big Island of Hawaii on this trip. Here are our top picks for BEST FOOD on the Big Island.

BEST BREAKFAST:

1st Place Breakfast Award: (Score: 10/10)

Shipman House B&B, Hilo

www.hilo-hawaii.com

Shipman House B&B has the top breakfast on the Big Island!!! It is tasty, healthy, and beautifully presented. Our taste buds were tantalized by the gorgeous fresh ripe papayas, passion fruit, and a dozen different fresh tropical fruits every morning! We found there was plenty of variety at breakfast to keep it tempting during our 5-night stay. This is one of the top breakfasts we have found at any b&b around the world.

2nd Place Breakfast Award: (Score: 8/10)

Hawaiian Style Cafe, Waimea

Hayashi Bldg, 64-1290 Kawaihae Rd.

Our 2nd place award for Best Breakfast on the Big Island goes to a local place called Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. We sat at the U-shaped counter between locals. We ordered a huge plate of fluffy macadamia nut pancakes, and another huge plate of Kalua pork hash with eggs & fried rice. We shared this decadent breakfast. LOVE the Kalua pork hash! We timed our visit to Waimea to visit the Saturday Waimea Farmer's Market, which is a fun local event!

3rd Place Breakfast Award: (Score: 7/10)

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel room service breakfast

Our 3rd place award for best breakfast goes to the whole wheat pancakes & side of bacon that we ordered through room service at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. The breakfast was pricey, but I ordered breakfast for 1 person and it was enough food for the two of us! The whole wheat pancakes had a great texture, and the bacon was nice and crispy. We enjoyed this breakfast on our lanai with an ocean view. Coffee is free for hotel guests, although I must say I didn't like the coffee. I think their coffee is only a 10% Kona blend.

BEST LUNCH:

1st Place Lunch Award: (Score: 9/10)

The Coffee Shack

83-5799 Mamalahoa Highway, Mile Marker #108

Our 1st place award for best lunch goes to The Coffee Shack, a casual, friendly deli/cafe with a gorgeous view. It is located in the hills above the Kona coast. We took our sandwiches & banana bread to go, since we were doing a day-trip along the west coast. The sandwiches are home-made, and even the bread was delicious! We shared 1 veggie sandwich which was stuffed with avocado, and 1 Hot Corned Beef Ruben (with pastrami substituted for corned beef.)

If you are driving up to the hills above the Kona coast to visit a Kona coffee plantation, the Coffee Shack is a convenient stop for breakfast and lunch. The food is home-made and much better than what you will find at a deli “chain”. If I were a local, I would eat at The Coffee Shack twice every week! It's only open for breakfast and lunch. They also serve 100% Kona coffee.

The sandwiches & banana bread from The Coffee Shack were fresh, home-made, and delicious! We ate them on a picnic table by the sea, at the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National historical park (west coast, south Kona area.)

2nd Place Lunch Award: (Score: 8/10)

Cafe Pesto, Hilo

S Hata Bldg, 308 Kamehameha Ave.

My 2nd place award for best lunch on the Big Island goes to Cafe Pesto in Hilo. I dined alone, since this was my shopping & relaxing day, and my biologist husband needed an active hiking day. I loved my salad with fresh organic greens, topped with Ono, a very tasty fish. Service was friendly. The Passion iced tea which I ordered was better than others which I had tried on the Big Island.

BEST DINNERS:

BEST DINNER SETTING:

Canoehouse

Mauna Lani Hotel, Kohala coast

Our award for best dinner setting goes to the Canoe House at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. We had reserved a table outside for our anniversary sunset dinner. It was a memorable atmosphere for an anniversary. However the food, while good, fell short of excellent, and for the price, I felt it should have been excellent. We both ordered seafood.

BEST DINNER FOOD:

1st Place Dinner Award: (Score: 9/10)

Village Burger, Waimea

(in Parker Ranch Center, Waimea)

www.villageburgerwaimea.com

Our #1 pick for best dinner is burgers & fries at the Village Burger in a shopping center called Parker Ranch Center in Waimea! This was an unexpected treat. We ran out of time for a sit-down dinner, so we ate here near the food court because I liked the info on their sign. WOW! My Hawaiian Red Veal burger was the best burger I ever had!!! It melted in my mouth like butter. The taste was so pure and unprocessed. My husband ordered a different burger, also tasty. Good fries as well.

I don't normally eat Veal because it isn't usually raised in a humane way. But apparently the Village Burger's food is all locally sourced, supporting island ranchers, and it is pasture-raised beef, hormone & antibiotic-free, ground & handcrafted fresh daily. I am told that these babies are put out to pasture with their mothers.

The Village Burger also offers Ahi burgers, vegetarian Taro burgers, and Mushroom burgers. If I was a local, I'd eat here once a week!

2nd Place Dinner Award: (Score: 8/10)

Hilo Bay Cafe, Hilo

Waiakea Center, 315 Maka'ala St.

We enjoyed 2 great dinners at the Hilo Bay Cafe. Don't let the location scare you off...in a parking lot near a Walmart. Once you are seated in the Hilo Bay Cafe, it has a nice atmosphere. Make a reservation as it's small and popular. We enjoyed the seafood & salads. The chef is talented and creative. My only complaint is that one of my meals came with home-made beans, but they were tough and should have been cooked longer to soften them. This little cafe feels fancy enough for a special occasion...we had a table reserved for my birthday dinner.

3rd Place Dinner Award: (Score: 6/10)

Seaside Restaurant, Hilo

1790 Kalaniana'ole Ave., Hilo

Our 3rd place award for best dinner goes to the Seaside Restaurant in Hilo. We had a reservation to sit with a view of the water in the back patio room. SEAFOOD is the reason to eat at this restaurant. The quality and portions of their seafood are excellent. However their side dishes are just ok. I ordered Mahi-Mahi and it was excellent, and the portion was so generous that I couldn't eat it all. This family-run restaurant raises some of its own fish. This restaurant has a casual atmosphere...nothing fancy, just big portions of fresh tasty fish.

4th Place Dinner Award: (Score: 6/10)

Sombat's Fresh Thai Cuisine

88 Kanoelehua Ave., Hilo

We love Thai food, and being from San Diego, we are used to spicy food of all types, and we can handle some jalapenos and chile peppers. HOWEVER the food at Sombat's was way too spicy even for us. I feel this is partly the waiter's fault, as our waiter didn't seem to know the food very well, and he told me the ginger chicken doesn't come with veggies for example...however it came with plenty of veggies, to my delight, and he apologized and said he got confused. HOWEVER I also made it clear that we wanted our food to be somewhere between mild and medium, as far as the spicy heat goes. But our dishes came out very very spicy. The ingredients were nice and fresh, but the dishes were just too spicy to enjoy. I could barely eat mine.

THAT'S IT for my report on the BEST FOOD on the Big Island of Hawaii! Ah, such delicious memories...

TRIP REPORT TO BE CONTINUED: (I'm almost finished! Plus I will post a link to photos.)

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9. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

Bips: I'm glad you enjoyed my trip report, and thanks for your comments. I just posted our favorite places to eat on the Big Island (see above.) TASTY! The night manta ray dive sounds exciting! I don't dive, but I enjoy snorkeling.

KarenHaydenL... & trixi: Thanks for taking the time to reply! It's always good to know somebody is reading me. (-:

Barbara5353: Yes I agree the Waimea Farmers Market is great and full of treasures! We spent so many hours there that we ran out of time for dinner, which lead to us discovering a fantastic order-at-the-counter burger place in Waimea! I bought some jewelry and macadamia nuts at the farmers market & craft vendors...and my husband ordered a beautiful artwork of his favorite Hawaiian plant the Silversword.

SheaG: Darn, sorry I missed Allen's Table in Waimea! I was rushed in planning this trip and ran out of time to ask about where to eat on the forums! But we did ask the locals upon arrival where to eat, including our b&b owners plus other locals we ran into...and we enjoyed some great meals! I just posted (above) our favorite places to eat on the Big Island of Hawaii. SWEET memories! We also had the lonely planet guidebook, but the restaurant scene changes so swiftly, many of the restaurants we found in the lonely planet guidebook were closed or had moved!

Regarding Mauna Kea, I agree that people should always be cautious and well informed about driving conditions and situations. Up on the Mauna Kea summit, we ran into a man who had driven up there in a toyota corolla and he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt! Crazy! Now this was a sunny day and luckily the road conditions were ideal that day. But it was way too cold for shorts and a t-shirt!

We dressed warmly and stopped several times to walk around and get used to the altitude and ask questions at the visitor's center before driving up to the Mauna Kea summit. My husband, who was driving, had no problems with the altitude. As a biologist he is experienced with many different types of driving conditions.

I am normally a nervous rider in the car, but in the sunny weather conditions and the good vehicle that we had, the road was fine up to the Mauna kea summit for us. My feeling is that when you drive anywhere on the Hawaiian islands, the most dangerous driving situation the average tourist will encounter is simply driving anywhere in the rain in Hawaii! Rain makes roads slippery and limits visibility, and people drive too fast on those Hawaiian roads, where there isn't much separating you from oncoming traffic in the opposite lane!

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10. Re: SWEET Big Island Hawaii Trip Report: Papayas in Paradise!

I really enjoyed your post! I laughed out loud a couple of times. "Death by lava" and "couldn't breath because bra on too tight" was hilarious. I put your trip report as one of the top three I have read in the last year.

Thanks for posting! :)