Summer Vacay: The Big Island, Hawaii

Having been to Maui a couple times, Hawaii wasn’t a place I was hankering to visit soon. However, while researching possible San Juan island itineraries in preparation for our intended island hopping trip in early September, it quickly became clear that an off-season trip to Hawaii would cost less and be way less of a pain in the ass to schedule. Thanks Washington State ferry system and overzealous summer tourists who apparently book everywhere good (read: everywhere that costs less than $300 a night) a year out.

Kehaka Kai State Park

Kehaka Kai State Park

The Big Island made for a pretty great trip. I found a cheap-ish direct flight to Kona, and we secured a totally decent and very reasonably priced condo rental on VRBO with a balcony overlooking the ocean. It was walking distance from the main, waterfront part of Kona-Kailua, which was a huge plus given the island’s size, which necessitated driving almost every other place we went.

In general, the island was beautiful, seemed way less touristy than Maui, and offered a shitton to do. The trip was pretty much the perfect balance between active and relaxing. As I learned after visiting an all-inclusive resort in Cabo last spring, one certainly can opt to do nothing but eat, drink and lay in the sun during a vacation, it’s probably more rewarding to get off your ass once and a while.

Volcano! Kilauea

Volcano! Kilauea

Some highlights:

  • Beaches! So many good beach options. Many are of the ever-popular white sand variety. Calm, clear, warm water. Not that crowded.
  • Sea Turtles. Are. Everywhere. We snorkeled with them and saw them on multiple beaches. Those fuckers live to be like 200 and are basically dinosaurs that still walk the earth.

    Oh hey

    Oh hey

  • Umeke’s. Our food experience on this trip wasn’t great overall but we were being cheapos and didn’t seek out the spendy fancy pants dinner options. Usually we would just get happy hour for dinner and then go to bed at like 9 because we are getting old and also this schedule just makes sense on Hawaii where there is so much to do during the day but not a lot of nightlife. That said, we got poke bowls at Umeke’s and it was effing amazing. I wish we had discovered it earlier in the trip so I could feast there several more times. I want something like this to come to Seattle immediately. In related news, Seattle needs more shave ice.
  • Snorkeling with Manta rays: We booked this with Sea Paradise and they were great. You go out at night, when the Mantas feed. They were about ten feet wide and came within inches of us. It was rather spectacular. If you are badass enough to scuba dive (I am not), that experience would no doubt be even cooler.

I wanted to move to the Big Island by the end of this trip, screw my worries over sun damage and/or acquiring fatty liver due to Kona Brewing beer and macadamia nut over consumption.


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