In the last two posts, I shared about our awesome land and sea experiences in Alaska, the 49th state – now, we are on to the 50th, the beautiful Hawaii! These two states are so different in so many ways, yet have an amazing amount in common. One is the northernmost point in the US, one is the southern – they are the only two states not part of the contiguous mainland “lower 48” – both see the same humpback whales each year – both have a beautiful native culture that was impacted by Western settlers that still struggles to stay present in the modern day. And of course, it’s fun to visit states in the order they joined the union!
Beautiful Kona Shores
Let me say first that we love Hawaii, we got married on Maui, spent our honeymoon on Kauai, and try to visit the islands on an (at least) yearly basis. Our kids have been several times in their young lives as well, and we are all fortunate to go as much as we do. The islands calm our stress, make us refocus, slow down on island time, and appreciate beauty and culture in a way that we forget about in Southern California. However, many times in Hawaii we can sit on one beach and not move much for the entire stay, but this time was different. This time, we hit the Big Island, land of the active volcanos, lava rock, sea turtles, the Iron Man competition, and fun local culture! Better yet, we went with friends who also have kids, which made for a super Hawaiian holiday on a grand scale. It starts with the airport, which is still outdoors! 🙂
Morning Pensive Thoughts at the Kona Reef
Our cozy but amazing ocean front condo in Kona at the Kona Reef Resort was fantastic with kids (our friends were right next door). We had free reign to watch the waves, kids played on the lawn, swam daily in the ocean front pool, used the grills and full kitchens for meals and mai tais, and we were in easy walking distance of restaurants, shopping, beaches and local activities. From the airport, we loaded up at Costco (good local eats here, including salsa and ahi poke!) and local liquor store (Mr. Cain Travel is the cocktail master) when we arrived, which is a huge cost savings for longer stays and also allows more of a budget for some of the fun eats. We did plenty from our home base, including lots of Stand Up Paddleboarding (our first time, I got hooked and am continuing in our local area!) , beach play, snorkeling, and of course good eating and drinking. The Farmers Market is open 6 days a week, and has an outstanding selection of local produce, arts, and crafts.
The awesome Kona Farmer’s Market
SUP in Action – the kids stood up too!
Local Dragon fruit is one of many island life tastes to sample!
We also had some amazing Poke from a local place, and delicious plate lunch at the Big Island Grill. Of course, no Hawaiian vacation is complete without Shaved Ice, which no matter how hard they try they can never replicate on the mainland! Kona served as a great launch pad to some of the other Resorts and Western Coastline as well. We explored the famous Hilton Waikoloa Village, where one of the kids swam with the dolphins – super cool! We also walked the beautiful grounds of the Four Seasons, which is like no other in terms of landscape, beach, and local wildlife. This is a more touristy aspect of the vacation, but it’s always fun to see the different amenities and options available for all kinds of travelers!
While we didn’t stay here, visiting the Four Seasons was a treat! It’s paradise!
We did explore beyond Kona – including seeing the volcano by air and land – and meet some pretty awesome locals and hear great stories! More on the Big Island – Part 2 – Beyond Kona tomorrow!