Hawaii Post 5: Kona to Maui

To catch-up on my vacation recap (and to learn about must-visit restaurant and hotels in Hawaii) check out these posts:
Post 1: The Hilton Waikoloa
Post 2: Waikoloa to Hilo
Post 3: Hilo to Volcano Village
Post 4: Volcano Village to Kona

And so we leave off with us saying goodbye to the Big Island and taking an “island hopper” to Maui. It’s not common to take boats between the islands as it’s not cost effective or environmentally friendly which is a big deal in Hawaii. We dropped off our rental car and took the shuttle to the airport, only this time we didn’t get dropped at the main entrance. Instead we were taken to a shack of a building away from the main airport. And this is why this flight earned it’s own post.

So it’s the three of us and another two couples in this “terminal”. We approach the desk to get our tickets (since they don’t let you get boarding passes ahead of time… which should have been a warning sign). Instead of a person, there is a courtesy phone where you speak to an operator to “check-in”.

The planes parked out front were tiny. Very tiny.

We had a lot of time to kill, considering it’s Hawaii (and they have issues with plants and soil) we got their super early because of security. It turns out island hoppers don’t require you to go through security. So yes, lots of time to kill. The sunset was beautiful, watching it over the tarmac. And you know me, I made friends with an older couple waiting for their flight so that helpped time go by.

Eventually an attractive guy comes out and calls our names. He asks to see our licenses and confirm our weight. Oddly enough, weight on these small planes is a number one priority. We told him our weights (painfully after 5 days of vacationing) and then waited to board the flight. We were concerned about liquids and the number of bags and sure enough, none of that mattered. It turns out that the attractive man was our pilot, Captain Tim (he told us to call him). Oh how hottie Captain Tim will remain in our hearts.

Captain Tim loaded all of our luggage himself, and even called out our seat assignments. It was pretty funny, given that this plane fit 8 people? What an awesome/frightening/cool/scary experience. He put the three of us directly behind him. My knees were hitting the pilots back, that’s how small this plane was. We could see all the gauges, maps, whistles. Given how flying is these days, this was such a unique chance to see how pilots fly. It was totally new to me.

I was a tad worried, since the plane was so small and my stomach gets motion sickness sometimes, but it was all perfectly fine. Our only regret was that we didn’t do the flight during the day. Most travel companies had $100+ helicopter tours of The Big Island, but this plane was only $60 and was low flying enough that you could get the island tour experience. We booked our flight for just after sunset so we couldn’t see very clearly. Trust me, book a flight to another island and do it during the day time.

Hawaii Post 1: The Hilton Waikoloa

The trip begins with the three of us (me, my sister, and our friend) landing at the outdoor airport in Kona (The Big Island) late at night. We stepped off the plane to breathe in the fresh air of this cool (tiny) airport, walk down the steps and right over to the taxi stand. All outside. We clearly aren’t on the main land anymore.

We rented a car because our Big Island journey involves a looping trip around the island. Split three ways, the price of having a rental car is totally worth it. We then drove to the Kona Walmart. This is also a must-do if you are traveling in Hawaii on a budget. We didn’t want to check ny bags (because of the fees) so we bought liquids and beach stuff here. We then stopped at Safeway and bought food for lunches/snacks for the trip. Do this. Food in Hawaii gets really expensive. For example expect to spend $6+ dollars just on your morning coffee. After loading up on food, drinks (for do-it-yourself happy hours), and beach mats/coolers we made the 20 mile (30 minute drive) to The Hilton Waikoloa Village.

We had three nights at this hotel. The first night we got in so late that we just crashed. Plus it gets so dark here that you can’t see more than ten feet from any lights. For example, the drive to the Hilton was all along the ocean but we couldn’t see any of it. This post is dedicated to our time in Waikoloa, which was spent entirely at the resort. This place is Disneyland. When we arrived they gave us a list of classes (some free and some cost extra) for our time at the hotel. We then took the tram to our hotel room. You heard me right, tram. This resort is so large that there are three modes of transportation: tram, boat, or walking.

Every morning I would leave the room at 7a just to explore the grounds while it was peaceful and quiet. It was fun to see the resort wake up, and there’s always something new to see. Here are my pictures from the trip.


There are several pools (with slides!) and the fun of this place is exploring and stumbling upon something new. They have everything from manmade pools to a massive lagoon and bay perfect for snorkeling and seeing wildlife.



They have tons of birds walking around, 2 “talking” birds in their lobby, and flamingos. The lagoon has resident sea turtles you can swim with. Oh yeah, and freakin’ DOLPHINS! DOLPHINS! You can swim with the dolphins for an extra fee, although watching them is free and I did plenty of that.

Each day we indulged in happy hour… which basically made the fancy drinks a normal price. And we figured out a way to hit two happy hours at two of the bars within the resort.

A big thing here, and all over Hawaii, are the sunsets. People flock to the lookout points to see the sunset, although you had a great view from anywhere here. At the resort, a boy blows the conch shell at sunset and runs around lighting all the tiki torches. It’s a really fun event to watch. Plus the torch lighters are pretty handsome.

These are the boys we had for our two sunsets. The second one actually said “How you doin'” to us mid-run.

Lastly, I want to share these photos. The first shows you how grafitti works here. All along the highway there tons of black rocks (from the volcano) which means that with white rocks people can spell messages. All along the main road/highway are these messages. It’s funny the lengths people go to write messages in rocks. The second picture I took while eating dinner at the cantina within the Hilton. This is one of the boat docking stations and we enjoyed watching it from our table.

This isn’t meant to be a Hilton ad, but it was a great “vacationy” way to begin our adventure. This was the only resort part of trip and it was nice to see a variety of places along the journey. This resort offered deals (as it was there off season) and of course the longer you stay the cheaper each night becomes. They also offer food packages that we didn’t get. We ate at the cheaper restaurants within the resort, made our own breakfasts, had leftovers for lunch, and sometimes made our own happy hour drinks. Thats why the first stop at the local Walmart is an important stop. We each splurged on the Hilton coffee ($6-7) every morning because it was so delicious we couldn’t resist.

Next up, we leave the resort and get to see the real Big Island. From Waikoloa to Hilo.

I’m Back!

Hilton Waikoloa- Budha Point

Hi All! I’m back after a crazy 11 day adventure exploring The Big Island and Maui in Hawaii. It’s been full of adventures, and by that I mean FULL. We certainly clocked some beach time, but we wanted to make the most of both islands so we packed our days. I took over 1500 photos, so I’m still going through figuring out which ones to share with you.

Sunrise in Hilo

I know that my blog is mostly about Los Angeles, with the exception of some New England travel and Milwaukee wedding fun, but I think sharing details from my Hawaii trip would be really helpful to people planning their own vacation (the same way we used Young House Love‘s blog to help with our planning). So if you could care less about Hawaii, just skip over the next 9 posts coming up this week and I’ll be back to sharing my usual LA business late next week (it’ll be June!).

Volcano Village- Hike Through The Crater

Hopefully you’re interested in Hawaii and the next few posts will be really helpful to you. Without going into overkill (did I mention 1500 photos?) I plan on sharing with you maps of the trek, food places you can’t miss (from restaurants to roadside stands), the clean inexpensive hotels (resorts, condos, and B+Bs) we stayed at, and the excursions that are worth the splurge of money and time (zip-lining, snorkeling, and waterfalls). The smallest amount I can condense it to is 9 posts, while still sharing all the important details with you. If you want more details about a particular place, leave comments and I’ll happily tell you more.

One of many turtles on Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (Big Island)

While I do miss Hawaii, it’s good to be home and I missed you all too.

Another amazing Maui sunset.

King’s Hawaiian Bakery + Restaurant

I know I’ve tippy-toed around it, but it’s time to make it official: I’m going to Hawaii for vacation. I leave this weekend, but there is no need to be alarmed because I’ve been working like crazy over here to make sure you’ve got tons of new posts to read for the entire length of my trip. Expect to see secret stair postings, new restaurants, and more! In fact I recently met an author of a secret stair book.. more on that in a later posting 🙂

Well, now that it’s official I can tell you about a meet-up my sister and I had with some good friends of ours, Kelley and Irving, to discuss the upcoming Hawaiian trip. Kelley has an awesome blog which right now is focused around her pregnancy, and as a non-pregnant normie, I can say I find her blog fascinating. Any who, Kelley and Irving have been to Hawaii a bunch of times and Irving is a Big Island expert. When we came to them to seek advice on hikes and restaurants, they recommended we discuss it over a HAwaiian themed meal, and invited us down to Compton to visit King’s Hawaiian.

You probably recognize the name from their Hawaiian bread sold in chain grocery stores. This place was worth the drive from the valley, and a great place to get in the Hawaiian spirit. The bakery is by the entrance to the restaurant. We had a ten minute wait, which allowed us time to drool over all the pastries.

The staff was in Hawaiian shirts and kaki shorts. The decor of the dinning room involved fish tanks, brick fire places, and wave themed architectural elements. When we sat down, three of us ordered the mac-nut coffee. Very tasty. I’m really looking forward to the coffee on our trip.

The menu was extensive, with a lot of meaty items, although I was able to find some veggie friendly options. Since we arrived around noon, I opted for a brunch meal: Hawaiian french toast. I splurged on the added mix of fruit and whipped cream. It also came with maple syrup and coconut syrup. This was my first time having coconut syrup and I loved it. If it were socially acceptable, I would have asked for a doggie-bag just for the leftover syrup. You can see by the photo below, when I got the food I dug right in so the photo was taken mid-meal.

After my dessert like meal the waitress brought around a dessert tray so we could see their cakes. I’m drooling now just thinking about it.

 

If all Hawaiian food is like this, then I’m going to come home from my trip 15lbs heavier. I’m sure there’s a “Hawaiian 15” for everyones first visit. We decided to split one of their cakes. Yes, I had 2 desserts and I’m proud of it.

After dessert, we got down to business. We took out the computer and began going day-by-day through our vacation. It was incredibly helpful. They even told us where the cheapest gas stations are on the island. It’s all so vivid now. This trip is really coming together. I won’t reveal too much about what we have planned. You can expect to hear all the details when I return.