Hi Big Island
This year, both my sister and my mom celebrated some milestone birthdays, so for their birthday, they wanted to go on a trip and they wanted to invite the family along; what a great treat!
My brother-in-law researched the majority of our logistics, but sadly he couldn’t join us in the end. On my prior two trips to Hawaii, we had only stayed in Honululu – my first visit only two or three years apart from our second one. Despite having a budget-conscious childhood, we were privileged to be able to travel. By the second visit, I had the distinct impression that Honululu / Waikiki was too commercialized – at least that was true of Guam; the fishies and the coral population had visibly declined.
My parents and my sister had visited Maui a couple years back, so we spent most of our time on the Big Island, mostly around Kona and Hilo, but we also had a few days in Maui as well. Big Island reminds me of Newfoundland, in that you can rent a car and spend a few days to drive around the island – perfect for someone who likes scenery and nature, like me, but for those who enjoy shopping, Maui seems to offer a better balance.
So, a run down:
YYZ -> LAX -> KOA
Due to flight fares, we chose to go a night earlier. We found a great deal at Outrigger Keauhou Resort, which closed at the end of October to build up an educational site for the local Hawaiian students, as they are on historical site. God blessed us with roomy flights on both legs: Air Canada and United gave us emergency aisle seats, which are normally premium upgrades. Turns out that this stay was a great start of our trip. In addition to a complimentary upgrade to an ocean view room when we checked in, the lady at the Expedia counter provided a free orientation tour of the island, along with her own personal recommendations for places to eat and visit, including a great connection to a local Macademia nut and coffee bean supplier (Captain Cook Trading Company). God certainly directs our paths, even when we’re on vacation!
KOA -> ITO (Hilo)
We drove to Hilo first after a nice poke lunch at Sam Choy. It appears that much of their local foods have Asian influence: Japanese, Chinese, Korean.
Aside from the geckos (and the occasional cockroaches) that were clearly not strangers in the house, Hale Luana Makai is a beautiful home. Like Outrigger Keauhou, we are one of the last guests at Hale Luana Makai as they sold this vacation home prior to our visit. The area is in an area of other vacation homes and closeby tide pools for some calm snorkeling opportunities!
Hawaii is home to many exotic plants and fruits, which are naturally tree-ripened, sweet and fragrant. Roadside guava for 50 cents, starfruit for a quarter, coconut and dragonfruit for a few dollars (more expensive than here, but much better tasting).
Some of the most scenic spots are on Big Island: the valleys that haven’t been commercialized, and home to 11 climates with the weather patterns consistently spot on, especially in Kona: sunny and clear in the morning, and cloudy/foggy in the afternoon. That was a very good incentive to not sleep in!
- Hawaii Volcano Park
Unfortunately, most of the day was foggy and cloudy, but we were still able to see the steam and hear the thunderous sounds of volcanic activity, which was a lot more than what we saw at Mt. Vesuvius (or was it Etna?)
- We spent some time in Kona, prior to going to Maui. Our place was right next to the beach, so you’d go to sleep hearing the waves crash into the rocks, and wake up to a beautiful view. We left just before the big triathlon race, but we saw this place getting ready for the big weekend!
We also watched a entertaining luau at the Royal Kona Resort, and the one thing that stood out the most was not the sunset, the Mai Tai, the food, or the show, but that at the beginning of the show, a man gave thanks for the food, addressing “Our Heavenly Father”, and then ended with the singing of the doxology in the local dialect. It made me wonder if they were worshipping the same God?
KOA -> OGG
Maui, on the other hand, feels more commercialized – more like Guam, less like Honululu. Perhaps it is because we spent many hours shopping and eating yogurt at Yogurtland, to pass time (while waiting for the shopaholics to get their fill). In fact, we went to the same mall, thrice! The mall was interesting though, because everything (like the Kona airport) is outdoors, shielded only by a tent-like roof, but the stores were built with walls and ceilings. However, the one highlight would be the Road to Hana/Hana Highway with:
- Hikes to waterfalls (Twin Peaks)
- Rainbow eucalyptus trees
- Volcano lava tube
- Black and red sand beaches
We also had the opportunity to spend a Sunday morning worshipping God at a local church, which actually had quite a number of visitors from out of town as well – mostly Americans. One neat area in Maui was a banyan tree park in the middle of a quaint strip, with touristy boutiques; these trees all were somehow connected to each other!
Overall, I had 10 days to spend with my entire family, which was a rare opportunity and a blessing, since it’s next to impossible to spend that much time together even at home, as everyone’s schedule is so different.