Hawaiian to Kona, Kona First Day

Previously, in my trip report – we flew from Australia to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, got through immigration and customs, and got ourselves over to the inter island terminal. Here is my last sentence from the previous trip report –

Not long after arriving in the Inter Island terminal, having decided we did not want to eat anything, we are sitting in the waiting area for Kona with a Starbucks in our hands.

This was my first chance to watch the Hawaiian gate staff who are absolutely incredible and so organised. All the flights were full so standby was not an option, though some people were lucky enough to have their names called out for the earlier Kona flight. Then two b717’s right next to each other were simultaneously pushed back, like synchronised push back. It was amazing to watch and I firmly believe this should be an Olympic sport and if it were, the Hawaiian Airlines staff would win every single time. Gold medals akimbo!

There does come a point though where we realise we must be at the wrong gate โ€“ we were checked in for the inter-island flight when we checked in for our flight in Australia, many hours ago now. So off to a service desk and we were sent to a new gate where they asked us to volunteer for the exit row. We did, and the extra legroom was nice but it meant I had someone next to me because it is 2-3 on a 717 and we ended up on the other side of the plane. We had booked 2 seats together in row 15, for just us. The change put us in row 17.

And I thought 2 Boeing 717’s pushing back together was incredible. I had seen nothing yet. We were at gate 49 at the Inter Island terminal and this particular gate has one of the longest push backs at that terminal. We were going backward so fast, I look out the window and there was a guy in a golf cart travelling along beside waving the marshalling wands like some kind of man possessed.


Google Maps image of gate 49 with pink line of pushback drawn on (thanks to Bigaln2 for the pink line)ย 

My already huge respect for the Hawaiian Airlines staff was doubled – no, tripled – in this one pushback. Incredible work these guys do. I do not normally recommend visiting other islands because I love Oahu so much but I now would recommend it just to experience inter island travel with these guys.

On the other hand, by this time, we had been up for well over 24 hours and we were getting pretty exhausted. If you can sleep on the SYD-HNL leg and you have an onward flight my feeling is you should do whatever you need to do and take whatever you may need to take in order to catch those zz’s.

We had prepared with Restavit which is basically an antihistamine which will make you drowsy – usually that works for me, we tested it beforehand. On this occasion it did not seem to make me drowsy at all. It could be that there was a lot of bushfire smoke we had travelled through and I was having a bad allergy day so maybe the antihistamine was diverted towards that instead of towards making me drowsy.. whatever happened it did not work and no sleep was had.

Travelling from the South Coast up to Sydney, dropping off the cat, travelling to the airport, waiting for the flight, flying for just under 10 hours, standing for over a hour to get through immigration, finding our bags, dropping them off again, getting through security, waiting for the next flight.. it had been a long day.

The flight is very quick. 45 minutes gate to gate with something like 15-20 minutes in the air. This time we did not get to be last to board though we tried. The only thing served on this flight is a small container of POG or water. The other half kept nodding off during and then waking himself up – he tried the POG and declared it awesome, then nodded off some more.

Landing in Kona is just bizarre, the landscape there is so unusual. I would show you a photo of this, as well as other photos I am certain I took, however they are nowhere to be found. I do not know what happened to these photos or where they went. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The airport is built on a lava flow. Everything is like a dark moon landscape with some small golden grasses. We were met by Roberts shuttle who helped us find our luggage and had us at the hotel in short order โ€“ there were a couple of other people on the shuttle but that did not bother us.


The first thing that struck me about the Big Island was the riot of colour in the midst of all the lava flows caused by the Bouganvillea which is planted at the airport and along the roadside on the way into Kona in what seemed to be lava fields – though I am no expert on that stuff – it was gorgeous to see.

Once we checked into the hotel (more on that in my next trip report post)ย we took what was meant to be a quick nap of an hour or so but ended up lasting a good couple of hours meaning we missed the Kona sunset. As it was now evening, absolutely pouring down with rain, and the one thing I really wanted was a Lava Flow, some of that Bubba Gump Southern Fried Chicken plus the fact that Bubba Gump was quite close to our hotel, we headed out to grab a quick dinner.

Not wanting to dirty up a pair of my very precious planned out to the minute underwear, I threw on my bathing suit under my purple dress. Good thing too –ย By the time we got to Bubba Gumps we were dripping wet. It was raining incredibly hard and we did not have an umbrella. However it was still warm and humid and we dried off very quickly once we sat down. My Lava Flow came to me, and all was well with the world.


The chicken was just as good as I remembered. The corn was sweet and juicy. The gravy was great and the mashed potatoes.. my favourite!

Again my photos of this actual meal are somehow missing, I know I took them. What you see there is actually a picture of a later Southern Fried Chicken Bubba Gumps meal on Oahu. Lucky I had it twice during our trip!

Back to the hotel and an early night was much appreciated after our long day of travel, especially because we had a big day planned for tomorrow – our Mauna Kea Summit tour.

Coming up next – the Royal Kona Resort review with photos, then after that more about Kailua-Kona, and our trip to Mauna Kea Summit.