TLE Travel : Hawaii
If there was one place on earth besides my beloved Disney World that i could visit monthly, it would be Hawaii. Last October my best friend decided to get married destination wedding style on The Big Island of Hawaii. From the moment i bought my ticket and every painful day until my take off, i daydreamed of white sandy beaches, Luau's, crystal clear waters and good food. I knew i would be experiencing heaven on earth, and every day since that trip i've fantasized about visiting The big island again along with all the other Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii has been on my bucket list since i was 13 and obsessed with the Travel Channel. At that time The travel channel was about travel and not about men binge eating their way across the country or Indiana Jones wannabe's digging a new hole somewhere...but i digress. I would watch my favorite travel host, Samantha Brown travel the world experiencing culture, and i vowed one day i would visit some of the places she visited. Fast forward many decades and my Hawaiian vacation dreams finally came true thanks to my best friend ( Love you Kris & Chris).
I had to wake up at 3am to catch my early flight from San Francisco but that didn't stop me from annoying the other super shuttle passenger with my talk of Hawaii. The flight from SFO to The Big Island was aprox 5hr, and needless to say i did not sleep a wink. The view out my window changed quickly from the hilly streets of San Fran to beautiful ocean water, to vast green mountains.
Tip #1 : My first tip when flying to Hawaii is to get a window seat, the views will not disappoint.
The Airport/car rental
The first thing i noticed was the friendly airport employee's. I am from New York and frequently fly through JFK and let me just say friendly is NOT the word i would use to describe the employees. Maybe its all that beautiful fresh island air and sunlight. Whatever it is everyone was incredibly helpful, especially the shuttle drivers that take you to and from the car rental lots. The mistake a made when choosing a car rental company was going with Hertz rent a car, which in my humble opinion is notoriously expensive. There needed to be a $600 hold on my credit card to get my rental. I don't know about you, but when i am on vacation i expect to use my budgeted money on fun touristy things like a post card or important things like food, not to be held hostage by a rental car company. After a little panic i decided to check another company Alamo car rentals, and rented a car saving me $300. And no unnecessary hold.
Tip #2: Do your research about car rental companies. Many require a $500-$1000 hold until you return the vehicle.
Tip #3: Many police officers are plain clothes riding around in their own personal vehicles. Making it easy to give you a ticket for speeding, which leads me to the 4th Tip.
Tip #4: Be VERY aware of the speed limit, they change frequently.
Airbnb rental oppose to Hotel
I decided to go for an Airbnb rather than spending the extra money at a Hotel. My highschool friend and i split the cost and were pleasantly surprised by our accommodations. We had an amazing view and the entire bottom floor of the two floor house to ourselves. It was well worth the extra effort searching for an Airbnb. Check out where we stayed on the Kona side of the island here. (Our accommodations was also less than 10 minutes from the airport)
The First Thing I did
The first thing i did after changing at the airbnb was grab some food. And what better way to start a vacation than eating where the locals eat. I am sorry to say that i did not write down the name of the restaurant, but i do remember what i ate. The loco moco is a hawaiian dish found all across the island. I first heard of this dish through the Travel Channel ( i watch alot of Travel Channel). Its basically a heavy carb and protein meal ( my two favs), white rice with a burger pattie and a fried egg on top doused with delicious brown gravy. I could have eaten this meal every day on the island, but then i would have never fit into my already tight bridesmaid dress. I highly recommend trying some of the local food. Our Airbnb host were great and recommended a lot of local spots that they loved.
Go to the Beach
After stuffing myself with a large plate of Loco moco the next sensible thing to do is to go put on a bathing suit and go to the beach. Mahai'ula Beach or Kua Bay is absolutely stunning, white sand, beautiful clear water and not very crowded. We spent the rest of our evening at the beach. Our first day on the Kona side of the big island did not disappoint.
Tip #5 : Research the swells BEFORE you visit. The waves were pretty rough and i definitely got knocked a few times...there was also an embarrassing nip slip that happened because of the rough waves, and not because my bathing suit top was too loose.
The Royal Kona Resort Luau
The friday night before the wedding all of the guest attended the Royal Kona Resort Luau. I can't say enough good things about the good food and quality of entertainment. The night was absolutely perfect and the delicious cherry on top was the amazing sunset that we experienced right before the show started. At this point in my trip i was 100% sure that i needed to start saving for my next trip to Hawaii.
Tip #6: Parking was a nightmare! We arrived 30 minutes before the show and the parking lot was packed, along with street parking. We did finally almost finally park along the road, was it a legal parking spot...who knows. Did i get a ticket, nope. If you do go to the show be sure to arrive as early as possible.
I will never forget....
1.The small town feel, everyone was beyond friendly and helpful
2.The good food, i would do anything to get another plate of the Loco Moco.
3. The Luau, the best entertainment and yummy food.
4.The Sunset, the best sunsets and sunrises i have ever seen.
I wish i could forget
1.Driving up a mountain in a small car. Do yourself a favor and don't get a small car.
2. The parking situation outside of The Royal Kona Resort.
Hawaii i love you and miss you and can't wait to explore more of your beautiful islands.