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Luxury & dolphins on The Big Island of Hawaii

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Last week, the Travel Channel was in Hawaii conducting “Man on the Street” interviews with a grand prize of 24 hours at the Bungalows at Mauna Lani Bay .  Since I toured the Bungalows in December, and know the going rate is $6000 per night with a 10 night minimum stay, I was especially interested… that was quite a prize!

The smallest bungalow at Mauna Lani is 2500 square feet and has a pool, hot tub, and private butler.  The whole experience begins when guests are met at the airport by their butler and transported to the Bungalows by limousine.  And that’s just the beginning!  Perhaps you’d like your butler to arrange a 1/2 day private hike near the volcanoes with catered luncheon for a mere $1500.  Or, after a strenuous day of hiking, ask him to draw a bubble bath, complete with candles and champagne.  Your wish is his command and a stay at the Mauna Lani Bungalows is all about pampering, privacy and luxury!

If $6K per night would stretch your budget a bit, perhaps the Hilton Waikoloa Village is more to your taste.  The Hilton is considered the “Disneyland of Hawaii” with fabulous pools, 3 story waterfall and swim with the dolphin program.  The lazy river and waterslides are something both kids and adults love, you can snorkel in a huge saltwater lagoon and you’ll feel like “Indiana Jones’ while trying to keep your balance on the swinging rope bridge…the kids love to make it swing!

I enjoyed the wooden boat meandering along a winding canal and the multimillion dollar art walk which connects several of the buildings.  The grounds around the resort are gorgeous and the ocean views are stunning.  Plus I had a ball taking pictures of the dolphins, from my balcony no less.

The Big Island has lots to offer in the way of activities such as the Volcanoes National Park.  The black lava fields look like Highway 405 has been hit by an earthquake.  If you can imagine black top erupting, that’s how the lava fields look.  On each side of the road through the fields are steam vents with steam rising from the volcano.  Hiking in Volcanoes National Park is not your garden variety wilderness trek, but the rewards are worth the challenge.  Where else can you see lava, cinders, steam vents rifts, craters, tree molds, a lava tube (where the lava has tunneled underground) and views of new life struggling through the past devastation. Since most of the hikes in the Volcanoes National Park are quite long, and some are arduous, it is advisable to not try and see the entire park in one day.  Volcano House is the only hotel in the park, and offers rooms with a view of the crater.  Hawaiiana is alive and well at the Volcano House.  Koa wood furniture & Hawaiian quilts are featured in each room.The summit of Mauna Kea, another of the Big Islands many volcanoes, also boasts 13 active telescopes, including the world’s largest optical/infrared telescope.  Yes, you can visit and have your very own “tour of the stars”. In Hilo, visit the new ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.  The planetarium offers several shows per day, and the center has many interactive exhibits, which are popular with the keikis (children). So if you are thinking the Big Island or any Hawaiian destination, please give me a call.  Mahalo!  Sandi

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