So I’m finally sharing our beautiful trip to Hawaii we took in May! Two phrases I remember saying multiple times out loud and in mind are: “Bucket list item – CHECK!” and “That’s another new thing I can say I tried!” I liked being able to make those little steps of progression in life, but doing them felt a million times more special and held more purpose getting to do them with my husband :)
I did a lot of research on the best places to go in Kona so that we can make every moment count, and there are a few things I wish I could have found info on BEFORE we went. So I’ll share a few of those things in this post.
An 8-9 hour flight I thought would be a breeze. I figured we would be able to sleep even if it was uncomfortable. That didn’t work out, even after buying travel pillows. I found myself so jealous of those first class people!
With the 4 hour time difference from Utah, it definitely threw us off. The first day we ate much more because we gained four hours, and then we were so tired out that we fell asleep at about 7, haha. Some nights we managed to stay awake until 9 and then just woke up at 6. It was weird for us to be up so early but we got an early jumpstart for our adventures each day :)
Renting a car
We had no idea how easy the rental car situation would be, so we are so glad we went with the recommendations to do it! So glad I was at least 25 because any younger it costs more to rent. It was also going to cost more for Trev to be a driver, so I just volunteered to drive us around all week, and it was great! Pluses to having a rental car in Hawaii:
- easier and cheaper than relying on taxis
- you get to feel like a local
- you can go anywhere on the island at any time
- you can play music anywhere you go, which is our fav!
We loved the resort we stayed at! Trevor and I wanted to stay at a place where there was a lot to do in case we didn’t want to drive anywhere that day. Our Hilton Waikoloa Beach Resort was our answer, and it was seriously so wonderful and unique! They even had this little man-made beach that connected to the ocean, so little fish and other sea animals could come in and paddleboard with you! LOVED THE GIANT POOL! Swim under a waterfall with my honey : CHECK!
One of our fav places to go was driving back to downtown Kona because there was a lot to do there, and some local things we wanted to experience. We got some shaved ice that everyone said we needed to get, because it was supposedly so much better than back here in Utah. We definitely liked having ice cream in the middle of all that ice :)
Finding the coconut
Trevor desperately wanted to find places where he could enjoy fresh coconut! He had been to Oahu before where there were stands on the side of the road almost every mile, so he was hoping to see that here, but was disappointed. I had researched some farmers markets that were suggested online and we finally hit the jackpot finding this one that had his fresh coconuts and pineapple!!! I had never seen the inside of a coconut, or tried the meat inside! Obviously, I prefer shredded sweetened coconut more but this was great too :)
There are certain times the farmer’s market takes place so I would check out this website if you plan to go in the future. We got some yummy souvenirs for the parents, an awesome pineapple cutting board I had been eyeing for awhile, and some other neat things!
The beach that is a part of our resort is more rocky than sandy, although the sand was pretty cool to look at. But this was actually my kind of beach! I especially love beaches on an overcast day when you can see the darker clouds and feel a cooler breeze :) Because I prefer that more, I actually liked this more than Hapuna beach that we went to. It’s actually the top-rated beach in the U.S. which totally makes sense, I just hated how extremely hot the sand was, and there was no shade. We are tourists who don’t have a beach umbrella, guys! This was still fun though :)
We also went to the beach on our anniversary night and did this fun thing! Wrote about it in the previous blog post here :)
I HIGHLY recommend going on a zip lining adventure if you ever go to any island in Hawaii! The pricing was incredible for a 9-10 hour excursion that took us on a hike to a private waterfall, lunch at a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean, and ziplining through the forest! The zip lining was extremely safe, and you totally trusted your guides. They took care of the safety specifics so that we could just focus on having fun and enjoying the ride! It had nine zip lines and 3 rope bridges, with a final repel down from the trees. Just thinking about how much fun we had with that makes me want to do it all over again!
One thing that was also helpful from the guides was their advice on things to see and things not to see while we were there. Trevor and I had been debating going to the volcano national park, because we have never seen that before. The guides told us that the only way you can really see lava is from a helicopter tour because it can go right above the volcano. Since a helicopter tour was not in our budget, we just pulled over on the side of the road to walk around and study the lava rock. It’s a couple thousand years old, but still so fascinating!
I was happy that we got a variety of food options on our trip. There was a fantastic mix of familiar food and new foods to try! My favorite was probably Splashers Grill. It was right on the pier in Kona, kind of in the heart of the touristy spots. It’s basically amazing food you would find at your favorite bar and grill, but they put their little Hawaiian spin on things. Being a BBQ sauce connoisseur myself, I LOVED their chipotle guava bbq sauce! I found it on a few menus while we were in Hawaii, actually, so it must be comparable to fry sauce in Utah, haha.
The hotel deal I found came with a free breakfast buffet for the two of us every morning, which I’m so glad we did! I normally would not pay $30 each for a breakfast buffet, but with us getting up so early, a big breakfast helped us stay full for the rest of the day. We loved the food here, too, they had a large variety with some special Hawaiian foods that we got to try, like purple sweet potatoes. And of course, there were many things with pineapple, coconut, and macadamia nuts in it!
Trev was looking forward to his (non-alcoholic) pina colada by the pool, and he got that dream! I must’ve been dreaming about it and Trevor knew I was too, because when I woke up from lounging, Trevor had got me one too!
Wanting to enjoy food at the best places while we were was one of our top priorities, so we looked through a lot of reviews and found Roy’s Waikoloa Bar and Grill as one suggested to go to. The funniest part is that we had no idea how fancy-shmancy this restaurant was until we walked to our table, were handed a giant album of wine choices, and the hostess put our napkins in our lap. hahaha. I had never heard of this restaurant before, and come to find out it belongs to Roy Yamaguchi, a famous chef. After realizing we would be footing a $100 bill on dinner, we decided we would just enjoy it :) We got this canoe appetizer for two so we could try a whole bunch of items on their menu. Sooo yummy. When we got home from Hawaii, my taste buds were still tingling with those Hawaiian flavors so I tried to recreate some copy cat recipes :)
We seriously just had the best time. Not everything went perfectly smooth, but most of it just exceeded all of our expectations. So glad we took this time for us away from life for a little bit. And now we can say that we have traveled on a big vacation together! (and we didn’t kill each other!) haha jk.