This is the vacation we needed after buying a house, buying new furniture, moving in, planning a wedding and getting married within 8 months! Crazy??! Yes! When I look back, I realize how insane it all was!
A break from 8 months of hussling topped with daily stresses was much needed and this became the escape my whole being desired. Hawaii certainly healed me inside out, gave a me a new outlook in my life, rejuvenated me. Here is a diary of our 9 day getaway in Kona, Big Island of Hawaii.
January 22, 2016 Friday Goodbye NJ…. Here we come Hawaii!
Forecast predicted 5-8 inches of snow for New Jersey, New York pretty much tri-state area starting in the evening. Our flight was at noon and we were hoping that it would not be delayed. Luckily, we did not at Newark Airport. When we got to San Francisco, the pilot announced, “If you have a connecting flight to Hawaii, ensure you are not missing it since that is the last flight leaving this airport.” 1400 other flights were canceled due to inclement weather that day. Instead of reported 5 to 8 inches, parts of tri-state area got 24 to 30 inches of snow.
January 23, 2016 Saturday First day of vacation: Going from non stop work to an unplanned day
When we got to Hawaii it was 9:30 at night so we didn’t see much until the next morning. Going to bed at 10, made me naturally wake up at 6am. In order not to wake my husband up, I decided to explore around the resort.
I was captivated with all the colors around me. Shades of pink, red, green, yellow and orange seemed to be endless. Tall trees, different flowers and their scents was what put me in vacation mood. I could not help myself to take as many pictures as I can , snapping as I go- acting like a REAL tourist. Our resort, The Sheraton, was very nice but we did not want to be one of those couples who only stay in the resort spending time at the pool side. We also needed to further discover the natural beauty that Hawaii offered. We were going to explore the town so we took a trolley to the town center for some local food. We chose 808 Gridz cafe as our breakfast spot after reading amazing Yelp reviews. KawaBanga breakfast came with 3 eggs any style, 2 spam, 2 Vienna, 2 bacon, 2 Portuguese, choice of starch and toast. Fresh fish of the day was seasoned, fresh catch of the day over 2 grilled English muffins, spinach, poach eggs, with hollandaise & starch as side order. Even though we were feeling very full after our big breakfast, we still could not help ourself but tried some fresh donuts from Manuela Malasada Company food truck. Out of this world! So fresh, so warm and so soft!
While exploring local shops by the pier, came across one that guaranteed discounted tickets for excursions. Now, excursions in Hawaii can get a bit pricey. It ranges anywhere from $100 – $580 per person depending on the type of excursion, so a little of a discount sounded great. When we went inside for more info, the deal was attending a 2 hour timeshare presentation would save us 20% off of any excursion. Initially, we were certain on not wasting any time on this beautiful island. After realizing we could save $300 just to attend to a two hour event, we booked the presentation for Monday at noon. We went back to the resort spending the rest of the evening by the poolside, reading, swimming, going down the slide.
We took the trolley to town center to grab some dinner. Sushi restaurant was our first choice since Hawaii had the best seafood. Kenichi Pacific offered outdoor seating, lounge type upper scale ambiance. We were pretty disappointed with the quality of sushi we got. It was not tasty at all, sushi was loose so picking up rolls using chopsticks was hard. We decided to focus on drinking to compensate for the disappointment on our dinner. On our way back, trolley made a different stop that seemed like a little beach along with a tiki bar. It was just a stop away from the resort. I decided to find this place during my next morning walk.
January 24 2016 Sunday Happy to be stuck in Hawaii not NJ
At 4:30 am, I woke up to my sisters text. After seeing how much snow the storm has left behind, I sent my sister what we had been enjoying for couple of days.
After an hour of trying to fall asleep, I got out of bed. I made my morning coffee, got dressed and then left the room in order not to wake my husband up. I wanted to find that new beach/bar area so decided to make a left instead of right when I left the resort. It was a little public beach with three snorkeling shops and restaurants. There was a road behind the beach that was closed to traffic and which was in fact was leading to the shopping strip we went for dinner the night before. I was very excited and proud of my discovery so went back to the hotel room. Changed to my bikini, grabbed my beach bag and left to grab some breakfast.
Akule supply company served amazing food with beautiful view of the coast line. It was all outside seating in the shade. I ordered Fresh Island fish & eggs which was very fresh, loved pickled veggies and the rice. Happy hour was 2-5 where they serve $3 beers and $5 wines and it closed at 7:30 since they mainly serve the people who enjoy the beach.
Kona beaches are very different than a “regular” beach. They are all smaller, sand is not fine and quite rocky. You are also lying down on grass under the trees for the most part mainly due to lying down on small rocks is painful. All beaches we saw in Kona had facilities even though not all had life guard in duty. Ocean is pretty rough in Hawaii and big waves can suck you in quickly. Many people enjoy to do paddle boat, canoeing or different excursions such as snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with wild dolphins or mantras. We signed up for Sea Quest ‘s Expedition Kona that includes snorkeling Keylakekua Bay (Captain Cook monument), exploring sea caves, watching whales and swimming with wild dolphins, tropical snacks and deli lunch that is 5 hours in total.
After a day at the beach, we decided to go back to the town center for dinner. The Fish Hopper had amazing seafood including coconut shrimp crispy calamari, crab cake tower and Maui onion tomato salad side with a cold glass of longboard lager. You really cannot go wrong with food here!
Town center is literally Ali’i drive that is miles long. It connects the Sheraton to many local beaches, pier, many shopping centers and shops. We still had a lot to discover on Ali’i drive.
January 25, 2016 Monday Lets be a local
Monday was our presentation day. Still woke up at 6 am and completed my morning walk before we head to town center for breakfast. We chose Bongo Ben’s Island Cafe for breakfast. We had huevo rancheros and big bingo omelette with fresh baked cinnamon buns. Once again, amazing food.
Timeshare presentation was at Royal Kona, and surprisingly it was only two hours. In the end, we booked our great island spectacular helicopter tour for Thursday, and the 11 hour volcano tour for Friday. When we were done, it was happy hour. We Grabbed some drinks and sliders in a tikibar called On the Rocks. Then we headed to Splashers grill-where locals meet. Absolutely loved this place. We chose Splasher’s grill due to great reviews on Yelp. Ordered captains platter with shrimp crab cake, ono, waffle fries and jalapeño burger with waffle fries! Amazing food! Great view of the ocean with live music.
We ended our third vacation day with walking Ali’i drive, watching the sunset. It was a very relaxing day and it turned out to be was more fun that expected. Having something to do (that you’re not very fond of) in the middle of the day kind of brings your energy level down but we still kept optimistic and made best of it. Monday turned out to be one of the most relaxing days of our stay.
January 26, 2016 Tuesday Dolphins, Whales, Sea caves and Corals
We were up by 7 am for coffee since we had to be at the pier for snorkeling tour at 8am. Even though the forecast showed some rain (and it was a bit cloudy), we were still excited and optimistic to make best of it.
We started with chasing wild dolphins. Having all of our gear on, whenever we saw a group of dolphins, we jumped in the water quickly to swim with them. Such an amazing experience. You could hear the dolphins communicate with one another and how they took a breath in whenever they came to the surface. Dolphins are such playful creatures.
Baby dolphins would jump up in the air spin the dive in. After we dove in five different spots, we started heading to the south part of the island to see see caves and where Captain James Cook first discovered Hawaii.
At the time of Cooks arrival to Kealakekua bay, Hawaiians were worshipping their peace god, Lono. Hawaiians believed that Lono was fair skin and one day he was going to return from the water. When Captain Cook and his men arrived at the island, they were greeted by 10,000 Hawaiians. It did not take long for the locals to understand that Captain Cook and his men were no gods since there were wounded men. They were able communicate enough to trade their swords for water and food. At the end of 3 weeks, Captain Cook decided to leave however couldn’t go too far because of the storm. They made it out to Maui but after one of their ships got severely damaged they realized they had to go back. Instead of staying in Maui, they decided to go back to the big island since they had an established relationship with locals on the big island. However, Hawaiians were worshiping their war God Ku then. Once Captain Cook arrived, Hawaiians did not welcome his fleet. Eventually Captain Cook was stabbed by a sword that he traded for food.
Hawaiians still respected him as a man, captain and a soldier so today there is a Captain cook monument that its considered sovereign soil of the United Kingdom.
We stopped at the Kealakekua bay for about an hour for snorkeling. The depth of the water, shades of blue, a million types of fish and corals were mesmerizing. You realize how much life there is beyond what you know. Ocean is so deep and there are so many creatures that we are not aware of. After having lunch we started heading back. We were so lucky to see a whale and her baby swimming. She was teaching the baby how to inhale, exhale and push water through blowhole when swimming. It was such an amazing tour, such an amazing experience.
Even though, I am afraid of deep water, because it’s dark and I don’t see what’s underneath me, I push myself to experience. In the end, I realized it all depends on my perspective. When I first got in the water, I started hyperventilating and couldn’t breathe. I kept telling myself it was OK. I was able to get my breathing under control, by reminding myself how excited I had been about that day instead of telling myself that I was scared.
Spending five hours in the water made us very tired. When we got back to the resort, it had already started drizzling so we spent the afternoon reading followed by getting in the hot tub. It was an absolutely perfect day.
January 27, 2016 Wednesday
We were ready to visit Kona’s fresh market in the morning. The market was set up in the Sheratons parking lot under palm trees, we could hear the birds singing, it was warm but were were in the shade. Different vendors from food trucks to fresh produce to some paintings from local artists and Jewelry were present. We got some fresh turmeric (it’s really good for inflammation and preventing any disease caused by inflammation) and some fresh mandarin, bananas and grapefruit. We had a sausage sandwich, a local pizza and Ono sandwich for breakfast. Bought two packs of Medium roast Kona coffee.
After the market, we went to the resort lobby for our lei-making class with Tutu Lindsey.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach followed by dinner at night.
January 28, 2016 Thursday
We started Thursday with a 2 hour helicopter tour. It was breath taking!
After the helicopter tour, we went back to Splashers grill where we got more drinks, burgers and seafood. We walked around to do shopping, got another package of delicious kona coffee at the Cherry estate.
Kona is such a small happy town, that is full of polite people who do not judge one another. Even homeless fit in and tourist sit side by side with the homeless. Both locals and tourists seem to be so gentle, respectful towards ocean and wildlife.
January 29, 2016 Friday
We were getting a little sad about our vacation coming to an end in couple of days. Friday was our day to go on a 11 hour land tour of the island. We got on the shuttle at 7 am. It was a 14 seater comfortable bus with air conditioning. Picked up all the guests and head to mountain Waimea first. Mamakea is the tallest mountain which is 40,000 feet from ocean floor, and 14,000 feet from sea level. I Learned the meaning of Aloha: Sharing breath of life in the present moment. Hawaiians also touch heads and noses to literally share the same breath when they say aloha.
After rainbow falls, we went to historic downtown Hilo. Then started heading to Kilauea volcano. Since we saw the volcanoes from up top, we were not very thrilled about seeing them from land again. Seeing steam channels and lava tube was cool. We learned that Ironman triatholone is held on the second week of October. 2.4 miles swimming starts from kona pier followed by 118 mile of biking and 26.2 miles of running which ends at the pier again.
So the legend is: Pele, goddess of fire, passed southeast from island to island. On each, she attempted to dig a home in which she could house her family.
…but as always, as she dug her fire pits, she heard the voice of her sister, Na Maka o Kanai, goddess of the sea.
at least she came to Hawaii, wearer she could dig deep without hitting the water.
Our last stop was black sand beach to see the sea turtles.
January 30, 2016 Saturday
This was the last day of our paradise getaway. The past couple of days we were very busy with sightseeing so we decided to stay at the resort for the reminder of our time. We enjoyed the view, read a bit more and spent most of our time talking. We stopped by the town center one last time to grab a drink and dinner. This time we went to Quinns almost by the sea which seems like a hole in the wall with great food and outdoor seating. After 2 burgers, a fish sandwich and 2 beers we were full and happy. We said our goodbyes then got on the plane.
See you soon Hawaii! You know that we are coming back!