Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We started our vacation on the Big Island which we did not visit last time.  I was curious as to how I would like it because unlike Oahu it's not known for it's traditional white sand beaches.  But after spending several days there I found it to be my favorite island so far.  I found the rocky coastlines and rugged cliffs to be, in some ways, much more striking than the quiet, sandy beaches.  They are not great for swimming but if you want to sight-see and hike they are perfect.  The more laid back, quieter lifestyle was a little more my speed than the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. 

We stayed in Kona, and our hotel ended up being super convenient.  We were able to walk to all the little shops and restaurants along the coast line, as well as the pier and the neighboring hotel had a small beach in a little cove.  The Kona coast only gets 10 inches of rain a year and the weather is nearly always perfect so a lot of the restaurants are open air-no windows, sometimes no doors, even when they are closed, if you really wanted to you could just climb in!  This was great for me because the a/c in most restaurants during the summer freezes me out!

Here are some views from around Kona...

Of course we had to go to Volcano National Park, but unfortunately there was no active lava flow to view while we were there.  But still we saw and did some cool stuff.

We passes this on the way there-lucky cows!  There is no fence along the ocean-I guess there is not much concern the cows will swim away.


 We took a hike that led us through the middle of Kilauea Iki Crater-the lava we walked on was still cooling from a 1959 eruption.  I'm not sure how much you could really tell it was still warm  given that we were walking across black surface in direct sun-it was going to be hot anyway! The light colored pathway is the trail.
 These are plants growing in the cracks where the lava folded, broke, or collapsed on itself.
 A pile of lava.  See the steam on the left-there were steam vents all over the place, they smoke like that constantly. 
We stopped at Whittington park on the way to see the volcanoes.  It was a worthy stop-very beautiful.

This is not a sign we see in Missouri!

We spent a morning driving up to Pololu Valley lookout.  It's really pretty from the top but there is a trail that takes you to the bottom-if you go here, don't skip the trail!  It's totally worth it for the additional views you get and the black sand beach and view of the valley you get at the bottom.  There are a lot of scary signs about dangerous cliffs and falling rock but just ignore these.

From the top

 On the way down

 At the bottom
We then spent the afternoon at Hapuna Beach.  The sand here is imported from Australia (there are few or maybe even zero natural white sand beaches on the Big Island), but really, who cares?
The next day we spent seeing more sights around the island including the highly recommended Akaka Falls.  While it was a big waterfall, I didn't really think it was the most spectacular waterfall I have ever seen.  Not sure it lived up to all the hype.
We also went to Rainbow Falls, but we were there at the wrong time to see the rainbows.

 This was just a cool tree we saw while we were there

On the way to these places we stopped at Laupahoehoe.  I thought this was one of the most beautiful places we went to and it was barely mentioned in any of our travel maps.  We only stopped because there was one picture posted and I thought it looked cool.  But really after being there, no picture really does it justice.  But here are some that try!

We made another quick stop at Onomea Bay

And at Kolekole Beach Park

We also stopped at a Black Sand Beach and saw this guy
 And finally, we got this cool photo driving back to the hotel one evening.

Then we spent a few days on Oahu.  There were a few things we didn't get to the there the first time around like Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  While here, we splurged and stayed at the Hilton-it was really nice, but really big.  You probably need to spend a lot of time actually at the resort (we did spend about a day and a half just hanging out at the beach and pools there) to get your money's worth but it was fun to do at least once!

Some of the views around the hotel...
 Yes, we were surprised to see Penguins in Hawaii.  I think they were called African Penguins-they seemed to like the warm weather. 

Part of the island tour we took make a brief stop at Sunset Beach.  We actually spend a day here on our honeymoon but this time the highlight was getting to see an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal hanging out on the beach.

Our last day we spent at Kailua and Lanikai beaches to snorkel and relax on the beach and hopefully see Sea Turtles.  I didn't think the snorkeling was as good as it was in Maui-the water seemed rougher and not as clear.  It might be better if you go further out but I wasn't willing to that far out.  We did see some turtle and Jerry swam really close to one-he got pictures with the underwater camera but we don't have those yet-it has film!  We actually have to develop them!


Bailey said...

What an amazing vacation. Looks like you had the weather to make the most of it.

Kathy said...

HOW FANTASTIC!!!! Those are the most beautiful pictures, I LOVE them and it looks like an amazing vacation. THANKS SO MUCH for sharing your vacation with us, it gave me a few min mini vacation this morning!

formatie nunti said...

I was there two years ago and i was impressed. Unfortunately i had no time to visit it very well because i was there for only three days, but i hope to visit it again very soon. I recommend this place, it is very nice.

Diana said...

Just beautiful. I read some where that more people die from being hit on the head with coconuts then by shark attacks.

Sue said...

Brings back memories. We spent our honeymoon there. Love the pictures of the beaches.

Ellie said...

I'm SO jealous! Looks like an AMAZING trip!!!