HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Overnight Accommodations


By Kelly Moran

Overnight Accommodations

When it comes to picking a place to stay, whether you’re on vacation or searching for a home, there are almost too many choices here!

RESORTS. Many visitors want a resort experience, with a (full or modified) “American plan” under which all or nearly all activities and meals are included in the room rate. The Big Island’s resorts are on the coast of South Kohala: green oases in the district’s otherwise black lava landscape. Golf courses are abundant, but (compared to resorts on Maui and Kauai) the beaches are small and are typically augmented with swimming pools and ponds. Typical of the South Kohala resorts is the Waikoloa Beach Marriott.

Most resort hotels are mid- or low-rise buildings, with function rooms for conventions. But there’s one prominent exception: guests at Kona Village stay in thatched huts, called hales, that are fully modern inside, but (deliberately) have no phones or TVs.

HOTELS. Hilo doesn’t have resorts, but it does have a string of hotels on Banyan Drive, with extensive views of the bay and the ocean. The tallest are the Naniloa and the Hilo Hawaiian; a smaller alternative is Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel.

Close to Downtown Hilo, the Dolphin Bay Hotel and the Wild Ginger Inn are modest in size and price.

There are dozens of small hotels in and around Kailua-Kona; but for a truly “local” experience, there’s no place like the Manago Hotel, in Captain Cook: a family enterprise for over 80 years.

B&Bs. A Bed-and-Breakfast is, essentially, someone’s house with nice guest-rooms. If you don’t want the all-inclusive resort experience, and don’t need the guest services of a hotel, then a B&B is ideal, especially if you want to stay in a town with no other kind of visitor accommodations, such as Pahoa, Volcano, Naalehu, Honokaa, or Hawi. Start your search for a B&B at the Bed & Breakfast Online website.

Probably the most celebrated (and, arguably, the most beautiful) B&B on the Big Island is Shipman House, in Hilo, originally the Victorian mansion of a prominent local family, where Queen Liliuokalani and author Jack London were house-guests.

Vacation Rentals. If you’re going to be here for more than a week or two, consider renting an apartment. You’ll be on your own for all meals, with kitchen facilities ranging from plain to fancy, and for housekeeping, with services ranging from full to none.

These accommodations are easy to find and compare, especially on the Konaweb site, or at the VacationRentals411 website, both of which cover the entire island.

And if I may make a suggestion . . . do consider my own vacation rental apartment in Hilo, which I call the Lehua Honeymoon Suite.

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Bringing Fido and Felix to Hawaii


By Kelly Moran

Bringing Fido and Felix to Hawaii

“What about my dog and cat?” a friend asked. “Can they move to Hawaii with me, too?”

These Islands are unique in many ways, but one is that there has never has been a case of rabies here. Since Territorial days, in 1912, the authorities have actively discouraged people from bringing carnivorous mammals here, on the remote chance that they might be infected. And until 2003, this was enforced by a four-month quarantine for all arriving pets (except guide-dogs for the blind). If an animal showed no signs of rabies after 120 days in a Honolulu facility (housed and fed there at the owners’ expense, of course), then it could be released. Owners could visit their pets every day, but that was inconvenient unless they lived nearby, or at least on Oahu.

But most people are unwilling to leave Fido or Felix behind, even with a trusted friend or neighbor. So, what does bringing them here involve? Read the State’s rules-and-regs, and the answers to frequently-asked-questions for all the details. But the basic requirements are that a pet must have had at least two previous rabies vaccinations. A blood sample must be submitted for evaluation, to ensure that it’s free of rabies. And the pet must have an identifying “microchip” to link it with its blood sample.

This means you can forget about bringing a new puppy or kitten. After even the minimum number of shots and checkups that they need to qualify for admission, a dog or cat will be almost a full year old.

There are now quarantine stations on Kauai and the Big Island, and a “five-days-or-less” quarantine option, based on veterinary certification. But still, arriving pets may first have to spend about two days in the Honolulu facility – it’s the only port of entry – to ensure that they meet all the medical requirements.

What about bringing in other animals? Well, wolves and dingos are prohibited, but mainly what Hawaii absolutely does not want here are snakes. Recently, a few brown tree-snakes have hitchhiked here on military transports from Guam, but – fortunately – they have been captured before they could escape and go wild. While they might (might) put a dent in the coqui frog population, they would more likely wipe out the last ground-nesting native birds, and pose a threat to local people, who have never before needed to watch out for snakes in the wild. This proscription is thought to have been instigated by missionaries in the 19th century, who didn’t want the biblical tempter hanging around. But even back then, it was understood that snakes would drastically upset what we, nowadays, call the “fragile ecosystem” of Hawaii.

So, don’t complain about the lengthy quarantine period. It keeps us all safe. And it has also had the (fully intended) consequence of encouraging local adoption. The Islands are teeming with feral cats and dogs who have run away, or who have been deliberately abandoned. Shelters operated by the local Humane Societies, and the various private animal shelters, all offer free or very low-cost spay/neuter services; they do not allow any animal to be adopted without having first been sterilized. And wherever you go, you’ll see bulletin-boards and classified-ad pages offering free cats and dogs. But there are still more potential pets here than there are potential owners.

Anyone who is contemplating a move to Hawaii ought to give serious thought to acquiring their pets here.

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Dining Out in Hilo


Dining Out in Hilo

Hilo is not a night-time city. Its location on the eastern – sunrise – side of the island, and its legacy of an agricultural economy, have given it what might be called an early-to-bed-early-to-rise ambiance. So, in almost every restaurant, lunchtime draws more patrons than dinnertime; but as most travelers know, lunches are an excellent way to try new restaurants.

Hilo does have a good variety of places to eat, at reasonable prices, whether at mid-day or in the evening. Here are some suggestions for dining out – though please don’t construe them as “reviews.” They are all popular with local folks, and for dinner at some of them (noted with a *) you should probably make a reservation.

SEASIDE * The name is only a slight misnomer, as it stands across the road from the ocean, in the Keaukaha neighborhood. But it’s perhaps the best place in Hilo to order fresh fish; the day’s catch will have come from that morning’s auction at the nearby Suisan dock, and some fish will have been netted from the huge fishpond over which the restaurant is perched.
(1790 Kalanianaole Ave. 935-8825)

HILO BAY CAFÉ * Incongruously located in a shopping-mall parking
lot, between a Wal-Mart and an Office Max, this place is always ranked (in newspaper polls) among the “best” restaurants in Hilo. Its menu is based on fresh local ingredients, and although the cuisine is distinctly modern (some would say “California-style”), everything is served in local-size (i.e. big) portions. And there are delightful surprises: after you try the onion-rings with what they call “balsamic ketchup,” you may never shake a bottle of Heinz again. (315 Makaala St. 935-4939)

KUHIO GRILLE If you want to try a really local sit-down
restaurant, this is the place. Sited in a strip-mall that includes a Starbucks, this informal eatery makes wonderful comfort food, and is famous for Hawaiian-style platters, especially those featuring the huge “one-pound laulau.” (Prince Kuhio Plaza, Suite A106. 959-2336)

CAFÉ 100 One of the oldest-established places to eat in town, Café 100 is really a drive-in that does a huge take-out business. But it does have outdoor tables under roof; and for local plate-lunches, it has no equal. Everything is served, of course, with the classic “two scoops rice.”
(969 Kilauea Ave. 935-8683)

CAFÉ PESTO * A few steps from the downtown Farmers’ Market stands one of the most popular restaurants in town. It’s big, and sometimes crowded, but the food is consistently good. Pizzas there feature clever combinations of ingredients, and the dinner-size salads (especially the “lava” salad that looks like an erupting volcano) are a joy to behold as well as to eat. Pesto’s menu is not unique, but the place always ranks high in newspaper polls, and is perhaps everybody’s “second choice,” after their own personal favorite. (308 Kamehameha Ave. 969-6640)

MIYO’S * Among Hilo’s many Japanese restaurants Miyo’s stands out, both for its traditional country-style cuisine, and – as it’s located in the Waiakea Villas complex (near our real estate office) – for its beautiful views over the Wailoa ponds. (400 Hualani St. 935-2273)

OCEAN SUSHI DELI As the name implies, the specialty of the house is sushi; also sashimi, of course, and most of the familiar Japanese lunch and dinner platters. Extremely informal, Ocean Sushi is among the least expensive of the really great restaurants in town. (250 Kiawe St. 961-6625)

MLS Market Snapshot – Get this Week’s Local Market Conditions

I’m pleased to announce another complimentary service. If you’ve had any of the following questions about local Big Island real estate, check it out:

  • How do actual selling prices compare to listing prices in the area?
  • How are homes within a 5 mile radius selling?
  • Unsold Homes in the area?  Time on the Market?
  • Where can I get answers to any pressing questions I may have?

And … receive automatic periodic updates.


Read All About It

          Newspapers have been published on the Big Island since the mid-19th century.  Most have been in English, though there were Hawaiian language papers here until the 1920’s, and Japanese language papers (the largest was the Hilo Times) until the 1980’s.

          Two daily newspapers circulate here now: the Hawaii Tribune-Herald covers the whole island from Hilo, while West Hawaii Today, focuses on the Kona and Kohala districts.  Both are owned by a Mainland chain called the Stephens Media Group, headquartered in Las Vegas, NV.  Being the only local dailies, they run nationally syndicated news, features and columnists, but also cover Big Island politics and issues, and provide extensive coverage of local sports.  And both run a list every day, of islanders who have been arrested or charged.

          The dailies are delivered to subscribers’ homes throughout the island, and can also be purchased from coin-boxes in commercial areas, alongside boxes for the two Honolulu dailies: the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, which are home-delivered only within Hilo, Waimea, and Kailua-Kona.

          Two tabloid-size newspapers also serve the Big Island, and while they can be subscribed to by mail, they are free of charge in boxes around the island, and so are mainly picked up that way.  The feisty Hawaii Island Journal, published every two weeks, is owned in Honolulu by the publishers of the city tabloid Honolulu Weekly.  The Big Island Weekly, though owned by Stephens Media, is editorially quite independent.  Both are “alternative”
papers: staunchly pro-environment, giving plenty of “ink” to counter-cultural topics, and intensely supportive of Native Hawaiian issues.
Both also run a column locally written in “pidgin” English.

          To be fully informed, it’s worth reading at least one daily and one alternative paper regularly; and all four are available online, at:


While coverage of local issues may not be as comprehensive as some readers would like, the Big Island is about as good a newspaper market as you’ll find in any rural American county that’s 200 miles from the nearest big city.