Mary and I have just returned from our 30th anniversary trip to Hawaii, 10 days on the Big Island. This was a best trip ever type of experience which ended with a sunset visit to AA beach followed by one more great dinner, this one a Roy's Kahuna Grill at Waikoloa Beach.
The trip started with three nights at Kona Village. This is an "American Plan" resort that gave me just a hint of being on a cruise ... mostly because of the nearly constant feeding that was going on. Kona Village has tons of repeat customers who have been coming for years and clearly lots of new young families either carrying on or starting new family traditions. Although we rented a car for the trip it was not used for our 3 days here. We soaked in the sun, snorkeled in the quiet bay and just Relaxed with a capital R. Our last night here was Valentine's Day and we took in the best Lua on the islands, at Kona Village. The overall experience here was A+, from the quiet and private palm roofed Hale's, the great food selections, great staff and the best lua.
Leaving Kona Village we headed to the east side of the island to mostly to explore Kilauea Volcano. The drive took us through Waimea, the Big Island cowboy town on the slopes of Mauna Kea (a 13,700+ dormant volcano) and in the heart of the huge Parker Ranch cattle ranch noted for its great beef. We made a quick stop in Hilo the second biggest city in Hawaii and worked our way up to Kilauea Lodge where we stayed nights 5 & 6 of the trip. Kilauea National Park visitor center sits across the road from the Kilauea cauldera with one crater in a crater that is currently venting lots of SO2 which limits access somewhat in the park. (Mark Twain on Kilauea Volcano from 1866). Still lots to see, mostly down the Chain of Craters road to the ocean. If you go to Hawaii and want to really see Kilauea plan for at least one and a half days and plan to get a work out. We opted to explore the Southeast corner of the island on our second day and found some great spots which will just have to be future snorkeling adventures. We also got around to see where the lava from the current eruption of Pu'0 O'o, is entering the ocean.
From here we travelled to Captain Cook for a night in the Manago Hotel to provide early morniong access to Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook monument. We rented a kayak and did this with some last minute plans that just worked ... poor planning on my part ... and had a fantastic snorkeling adventure. We had hoped to also see Spinner Dolphins that are regulars in the bay, during our kayak adventure to the monument, but not to be on that day. After the snorkeling and returning the kayak (a story in itself) we headed to Mauna Lani resort for night 7-9 and 3 fabulous days of R&R in the sun and great sunset dinners. The Mauni Lani staff was great, we arrived on our anniversary and they welcomed us with a bottle of bubbly which we had before dinner. We thought we would explore more beaches, but found ourselves mostly content with the quiet little cove just outside our 6th (top) floor room. And from our room we watched a continuos spectacle of contented Humpback whales (momma and calves) and on our last day we finally saw the Spinner Dolphins we missed at Captain Cook.
We closed our trip with a final sunset visit to A'a beach at Waikola, a beach we visted with our friends Russ and Carol on our first trip to the Big Island some 7 years ago. The sunset was fabulous followed by one more great dinner before heading to the airport.
We always look forward to the Mai Tai when we are in Hawaii and this year was no exception. The best Mai Tai this year .... probably at Mauni Lani. Here are a few Mai Tai recipes in case you are interested.
And now back in Federal Way, rested and rejuvenated and back in long pants and fleece .... here is a link to a selection of our Hawaii pictures.