Michelle and I just returned from a week on the Big Island of Hawaii. Michelle had never been to the Hawaiian Islands before. I had 2 layovers in O’Ahu on my way to and from Guam 25 years ago when I spent the summer on Guam doing my college communications internship with Trans World Radio. My layover in Honolulu on the way out consisted of a night in a hotel and an attempted trip to Pearl Harbor that landed me at the gate of the military base and not the tourist site. Never saw it. On the way back, I went to Waikiki Beach for a few hours, accidentally fell asleep on the beach, and flew home horribly sun burnt. So, my Hawaiian experiences thus far have not been good! This trip was different.
First of all, I was there with my wife. That’s always a good thing as I remember being 21 years old on Waikiki Beach and feeling horribly alone as I watched young couples enjoying their romance in tropical paradise.
Secondly, this was a vacation – not a layover, so we had a chance to really explore the beauty of the island. (You can click on each picture for a better look.)
Our resort was located in Kona, which is on the west side of the island where the sun shines 350 days a year and the average temperature year-round is 85 degrees. That was nice! Here is the view from our balcony on the 4th floor.
On one of the days, we drove across the island (about 75 miles) to Hilo – where it rains a lot. And it did. All day. But, the moisture produces incredible waterfalls and plush green forests, and on our way there, we drove under a 13,000+ ft. mountain peak that was snow covered. Here are a few pictures of our day in Hilo – including visiting an active volcano, that when the clouds lifted, volcanic fire and lava could be seen.
One of the things we were really excited to do there was zip-line. There is a zip-line course on the north end of the island that takes you through a dense forest anywhere from 65 to 110 feet high. Michelle was really stoked to do this, and I was very encouraging of her stokedness…but inside, I was pretty apprehensive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the thrill of a good zip-line, but it’s standing on the small and packed tree stands that get me. Our group had 7 zippers and 2 guides, so at times, there were 9 of us standing on each small tree stand. We were securely fastened to the line at all times, but standing on the edge of these stands looking 100 feet down was a bit of a challenge for me. I survived – yea even thrived – but some of the high parts were really high! Here are some pictures.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Hawaii without the beaches. On the Big Island, there are some very diverse beaches – from rocky, lava beaches to soft sandy beaches. We spent time at both. The lava beaches were not as good for swimming, but the scenery and wildlife there were amazing. And the sandy beaches were incredible for swimming and boogie boarding, but the waves were pretty wicked at times. Take a look.
There was a luau almost every night at our resort, and even though Michelle and I didn’t splurge to do the meal before (too expensive) we did get to see the show afterward – and it was pretty amazing. We could see (and hear) it from our balcony, and other than a few trees in the way, we had a great seat.
And finally, perhaps our favorite thing of all about our Hawaiian experience was watching the sunset every night. At our resort, we had a front row seat to the beauty. We actually made sure to be back at the resort each evening to see it. Pictures don’t do it justice, but this was the best I could do.