Now I know this isn’t a book review, but I just got back from two weeks of Hawaiian bliss with my husband and I wanted to share some of the fun things I saw with you. I hope that’s alright! Sadly, after I wrote this post the volcano we visited in Hawaii erupted causing fissures and threatening the lives of people in Hawaii. It’s a devastating event and I can’t believe we were just there and everything was fine.
Of course I did travel with some books, but that will probably get its own post since I have a lot of thoughts on travel reading.
B and I have been to Hawaii twice so this trip would make his third and my fourth trip to the islands. We know there are many other places to visit, but nothing fills our hearts with joy more than the Hawaiian islands. We also decided to change things up a little by going to an island we haven’t visited before; The Big Island.
The Big Island, Hawaii
We stayed in two separate parts of the island; Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Kailua-Kona is definitely what you expect of any beach resort town. It’s got your colorful locals and your drunk tourists and food priced way too high for what it is. This part of the island is known for their coffee and snorkeling and that is exactly what we decided to do there.
We stayed in a bed and breakfast that was situated on a coffee plantation. While it wasn’t the most idyllic stay (we had roaches in our bathroom), the spot was within driving distance to town so we just endured the low parts of our stay there and enjoyed the rest.
The best part of our trip here was the snorkeling. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of us snorkeling because I didn’t have the brains to carry those waterproof pouches for my phone. That’s okay though.
We went to two different snorkeling areas. The best was heading over to Captain Cook’s monument and snorkeling off the shore there. Apparently the area was well known as the inspiration for Pixar’s Finding Nemo when the little fish are about to touch the butt at the drop off.
After Kona, we drove to the other side of the island to Hilo. What we thought would be a leisurely 2-3 hour drive across the sheer vast of Hawaii turned out to be a much more adventurous ride. The main issue we came across while driving between two major volcanoes (Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea) was the fog.
We could barely see the car in front of us. To make matters worse, there was also torrential downpours between bouts of sunshine.
Once we got out of that darkness, we were in a pretty quaint beach town.
The only reason we came to this part of the island was for the ACTIVE VOLCANOES.
We were kind of disappointed in the volcano game here because apparently the last eruption was so bad that it’s dangerous for humans to walk let alone breathe in the air around the volcano. All we got to see is that speck of orange that seemed to bubble out of control. It’s like watching your soup boil over from your bedroom as you stare at the kitchen. It could be lava? It could also easily be tomato soup.
But we did get a chance to drive around the National Park and explore the petroglyphs, see things made from lava, and enjoy the drastic changes in weather.
We stayed in a quaint little bed and breakfast (we’re big on excellent bed and breakfasts) and I got bitten by mosquitos over 20 times. It was a real treat to feel like you’re living in the rainforest for a few days, checking out volcanoes doing their natural thing, and living a little off the grid.
There were a few moments throughout the trip where I felt like I could sit on the black sand beaches for hours and read. There were no obligations, no need to go anywhere. It was just the sweet sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore and me reading my book.
But the vacation doesn’t end here. After we left The Big Island, we headed to Honolulu.
The last leg of our trip before heading back to the mainland was Honolulu. I absolutely love Honolulu and Oahu and we never fail to make a quick stay over on this island whenever we’re in town.
Since we’ve been here a few times, we wanted to splurge on our hotel and decided to go with one that overlooked the ocean. You can see me above reading while we’re checking out the people on the beach.
It was seriously one of the best things we’ve ever done for ourselves. We’re not the richest people in the world, but we put a little bit more money into a hotel room with a beautiful view and stayed in bed and breakfasts the rest of the time. I think we watched the sun set almost every night from this balcony view.
It was also fun to watch everyone taking the same pic of the ocean except we were 15 stories higher than them.
Honolulu was mostly for playing tourist and eating ALL THE FOOD. We had so many rum drinks and even B got a drink in a pineapple.
I think a philosophy I try to keep in mind while on vacation is doing what the Romans do. I know that Hawaiians aren’t drinking from pineapples all day, but when you’re on vacation in some tropical resort you have to give into the silly touristy things to make the trip feel super authentic.
We love doing touristy things sometimes. I think one of our biggest touristy things we do is go to Benihana. It’s definitely not the best restaurant and there’s definitely questionable cooking choices made by our hibachi chef, but we always enjoy a good show. Seriously, we should do dinner theater.
But there are some spots we always go that don’t attract too many tourists. We did make a trip out to Haleiwa, which is still pretty touristy but unless you have a car it’s really impossible to get out there. You can try the bus system, but we had a car.
The weird thing about Honolulu is that the percentage of American tourists matches the percentage of Japanese tourists. If you ever want to see Japanese people in their natural habitat, spend some time watching them walk along Waikiki Beach.
For some, this is their first time in America and trying to get accustom to American stuff is tough for them. This goes double if you don’t have a friend with you who speaks English. We ended up helping out Japanese and even Australian tourists who just weren’t sure how much money to put down for their food or finding directions.
Because of the abundance of Japanese tourists, there is a ton of Japanese-centric things to do. Most of it is food and if you want to try some authentic Japanese food, you can definitely find it here. From ramen and souffle pancakes (depicted below), you can find great Japanese food in the area. There’s also great Japanese grocery stores if you’re inclined to shopping for Japanese snacks for your friends back home. No one can deny their love of every-flavor Kit-Kats. I do still want to make the big trip to Japan one day, but this is basically our spot for now.
The one thing we did in Honolulu that we’ve been dying to do every time we went is hike Diamond Head.
Diamond Head Mountain is actually a dead volcano. While you can’t hike to the top of a volcano (especially one that has a huge crater in the middle), you can hike to its highest peak and look over the rest of the island.
The day we went was clear and so we decided to go pretty early in the morning and see what the world looks like at eight in the morning. It did not disappoint.
We also go to see so many damn rainbows on Hawaii. I’m pretty sure they manufacture them there. We saw a rainbow that ended in the ocean. I wasn’t about to swim out to the middle of the ocean, but it was beautiful to see those colors shimmer on the ocean water.
I always have fun while on vacation. This year was way different than any other year I’ve traveled mostly because my day job doesn’t suck the life out of me on most days. Now I can see myself enjoying that breezy Hawaiian life especially if that means all I do is read books on the beach.
Hope you enjoyed this quick travel log!