There was a trip we took to the Big Island and Maui which I’ve yet to blog about or post pictures…it was a 2-week trip back in November of 2010. I remembered being so excited that I had accumulated enough United miles to get myself and Steve from NYC to Kona and from Maui back to NYC all using miles!
I never did a formal trip report for this but I wanted to share some pictures of our amazing trip, it was our first time to the Big Island too!
We stayed in a luxurious 2-BR townhouse unit at the Hali’i Kai, a gorgeous condo area in the Waikoloa Beach Resort. Our unit was on the ground floor and there were nice views of the green golf course next door. Renting a condo was cheaper than staying at a 4-star resort like the Hilton or Marriott, and we had plenty of space, a full kitchen, two huge bathrooms, laundry room, and parking. It was perfect!
The pool area of the Hali’i Kai is to die for. I dream about one day coming back and enjoying the views from the pool area.
There is no beach at this resort, but just a 5 min drive away is A-Bay beach which is just beautiful!
We explored many parts of the island. It’s volcanic and black landscape made for a very stark contrast from the other islands. The western side of the island (Kona) was mostly like this: ashy, volcanic rock. It was really cool to see the change in landscapes from the eastern side of the island, Hilo is, in contrast, lush and green.
We took an amazing helicopter tour over the Kilauea Volcano. We took Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and they are the best company in Hawaii. It was amazing and we even saw some lava! The volcano is a tubular volcano so it lava flows though tubes underground, and does not spew from the top.
You will notice the volcano immediately as you cannot miss the clouds of smoke rising from the steam vents all over the volcano surface.
You aren’t always guaranteed to see lava since when we went there wasn’t a huge flow. But we got really really lucky!
As the lava empties out into the ocean, plumes of steam/smoke are seen rising from afar.
It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend a helicopter tour to get a birds eye view of the island, especially Kilauea! I didn’t get a chance to see Kilauea on foot until 2012, and you can read it in this trip report here.
Big Island, like all the Hawaiian Islands, is a culinary destination. A lot of the foods are comfort foods and many restaurants haven’t changed in years. I really like feeling the history when dining in a restaurant and I hope these places don’t change much although it’s becoming rarer and rarer these days.
One of these places is Manago Hotel’s restaurant, which serves the best pork chops I’ve ever eaten. I’m not even a pork chop fan, preferring my pork to be sliced thinly or ground, but that’s probably because I’ve never had them this good. The pigs are raised on the island and the meat is tender and juicy.
Since the soil is rich and there is lots of land to grow crops and raise cattle. A popular burger joint, Village Burger, serves fresh Big Island beef.
One of the best things to eat on the Big Island is from Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo, their fresh strawberry azuki bean mochi sells out all the time so you should call ahead to reserve your order!
A lot of what we ate on the Big Island was just pure comfort food. A lot of loco mocos and the like 🙂
There was some fine dining to be had as well. This was taken at the nearby Fairmont Orchid. Gorgeous sunset views here. Browns Beach House is a lovely spot for a nice meal.
We celebrated our 2nd anniversary at Roy’s which was just a short drive from the condo. Roy’s in Hawaii is controlled by Roy Yamaguchi himself as I’ve heard, so the quality is better than the chain on the mainland.
We did a lot of snorkeling on the Big Island. It had some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done in Hawaii. The best places is called “Two Step” near the Captain Cook monument. It’s amazing!
We basically drove around the island in our swim gear and stopped at places we thought looked interesting. One of those places was the jaggedy tide pools of Kapoho. It was insane. I think I cut myself on some of the lava rock but it was pretty neat to snorkel in.
Another place we went to was the warm pond-like Alahanui Park pond. It’s geo thermaly heated, so the pool is always warm and nice. I don’t recommend going here though as the warm water is just a breeding ground for bacteria I think. I didn’t really know that going in but now I know better. It was pretty cool though.
Coming up in Part 2…more food, more exploring including Waipio Valley, Ka Le (southpoint) and turtles galore!