Vacationing, Hilo Style

Monday Musings from Melinda #6, by LHS Contributor Melinda M.

For many, growing up Hilo-style means vacationing Kona-style. You go to Kona to get your fill of all day sunshine, white sand, tourists and sunsets, if you stay that late. From Hilo, going to Kona is probably the most efficient way to achieve Relax for your time and money.

So lucky to live Hawaii and stay at some of the world’s best hotels for not too much time or money!

Our access – in terms of geography and affordability – to some of the world’s best hotels and beaches astounds me. On the kona, or dry, side of every island are vacation destinations that people around the world save for their whole lives to visit. From Hilo, they are just a 1.5-hour drive away thanks to an improved Saddle Road.

Kamaaina rates mean my kids have been in more hot tubs than I had at their age!

And, being “kamaaina,” – a word that means “land child” but has come to mean “local” and is really only used to mean “people who live here and can’t afford the rate you charge” – we get to experience them at a discount.

Kona = Sunsets

The Hilton Hawaiian, the Hapuna Prince, the Sheraton Keauhou – these are some of the hotels that my kids have gotten accustomed to, hotels we can get two full days out of because we can drive over early and drive home in our bathing suits after sunset. (When we traveled to the mainland two summers ago, I worried how they would react to the budget hotels we could afford – fortunately, they are small-town enough that the flat screen tv, free toiletries, and complimentary breakfast bar made them feel like they were living a life of luxury!)

Enjoying the life at the Hapuna Prince, thanks to kamaaina discounts!

This Memorial Day weekend finds us in Kona where we got a great deal at the Mauna Lani, a hotel we have never stayed at before. We’re going to use our kamaaina status to try new adventures like zip lining and open range horseback riding and try others that are free, like walking the petroglyph trail and hiking Pololu Valley. We have yet to experience these because all too often our trips to Kona are quick and all business: some sporting event the girls are in or maybe an all day visit to our ole favorite, Hapuna Beach.

Original Big Island Shave Ice Co truck in Kawaihae is a must-stop!

We’ll definitely hit our favorite dining spot – Umeke’s – but now we have time to add a few new ones to our repertoire. Guaranteed that we will make the pilgrimage every day to the Original Big Island Shave Ice Co. truck in Kawaihae. That one is almost worth the drive from Hilo alone!

Ah, white sand! Ah, all day sunshine!  Must be Kona!

We like the occasional getaway to Kona, although often we quickly wonder how people can live over there. It is so hot and dry! And then we laugh because we know people from Kona must think the same about Hilo – how can people live here, where it is so overcast and wet?! We wouldn’t have it any other way!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and may we all be grateful to those who gave their lives so that we can have the privilege of enjoying and reflecting on ours!



  1. Hi. Jon here. Was so nice meeting you and catching up with Harold. I just loved this article and you hit it on the nose. Had so much people from Hilo at the Hilton spending vacation time there. Even as we were leaving, this family on the tram we met was also leaving to come back to Hilo. So yes, lucky for us we can just drive over anytime and enjoy everything this island has to offer. Lucky we live Big Island! Lucky we live Hilo. Thx for the article!

    Liked by 1 person

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