If you are not one of my followers on Instagram, then you probably feel like I have gone missing. I’ve gotten comments and messages from loyal readers wondering where the heck I’ve been. Thank you for your concern but all is well! The truth is, our family went through a series of colds a couple months ago, then work got REALLY busy and then we took a family vacation to Hawaii! However, I have been posting every couple of days on Instagram (if you aren’t following me there yet, then I encourage you to since I post there much more often than on the blog). Now that we are back in town and back in the swing of things, I’ll get back to posting on a more regular basis. I have several awesome reviews and giveaways lined up that I am super excited to share with you!
Now let me get you caught up…
Several months ago we decided to book flights to Hawaii for our family. My three year old had never been on a plane before so I had no idea what to expect from her and let’s just say, she’s not known for her patience. I was excited to get away some where warm and tropical, as I had not been any where out of MN or WI since the year I got married. However, trumping my excitement for the trip, was my sheer fear of taking my daughter on a three flight, 18-hour travel journey.
In preparation for the day of travel we were soon going to endure, my husband and I made sure to have enough stuff to keep our daughter’s mind busy through the flights. We shopped for maze/puzzle/coloring and activity books. The grandmother’s brought over travel goodie bags of activities and my husband and I made sure we charged up the dvd player and tablet for movie watching. I talked to my daughter for months about flying and how we were going to be “sitting all day” and made sure to prepare her as well as I could. We had three bags full of activities and snacks for the flights. Well, let me report that the trip there and back was completely seamless and my daughter did great! It was actually unbelievable how well she did, you have no idea how thankful I am. I definitely over-thought this experience and even over prepared, but hey, better safe than sorry. She didn’t even watch one whole movie on the way there and she slept the entire way home. WAHOO!!!! Absolutely unbelievable.
Anyway, back to the actual juicy part of the story – HAWAII! We planned our trip to the Big Island, which we’d never been to, and had no idea what to expect. Planning a trip some where like that actually felt daunting. There is so much unknown and so many options that it felt a bit overwhelming. So let me put you at ease and just say, GO TO HAWAII… IT’S AMAZING AND WONDERFUL. We can’t wait to go back. For us, the biggest cost was air fare. I watched ticket prices for nearly a year and a half before they dipped down low enough for us to jump on them. Once you find your flights, you will need to book a car. A car rental is pretty much a must on the Big Island. My husband found a discount car rental website that saved $300 on our rental fees. Lodging accommodations are surprisingly MUCH LESS than I anticipated as well. Before we took our trip, I made a two page long list of ideas of activities we could do, but once we got there, that list went out the window. There is so much beauty on the island and so much to see that you don’t need to jump from one touristy activity to the next, just get in the car and drive; explore.
We stayed near Hilo on the east side of the island most of our trip, which is known as the rainy side. It is green and lush with the most beautiful trees, flowers and vines I’ve ever seen. It’s a jungle and the noises of the native frogs and birds are so soothing to sleep to. Much of the island is made up from volcanic rock so many of the beaches are black sand. We also traveled over to the west side of the island, the more touristy side, which gets much less rainfall each year and has some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. The popular white sand beaches are on the west side, the Kona side. The contrast between the two sides of the island are great and I would recommend visiting both so you can experience the difference yourself. Both sides offer wonderful things! We spent our days visiting different state parks (free admission btw) and trying out different beaches. The sea turtles are very friendly there. At four different beaches, we had sea turtles swim up to us and we were able to swim with them – who knew?! We saw dolphins, wild pigs and lizards too. Our family fell completely in love with Hawaii and cannot wait to plan our next trip back.
I went to Hawaii with the mindset that it was a super over-priced, over-hyped, tourist attraction – and from what I hear, some of the other Hawaiian islands are like that – but not this one. Gas prices were just a little over $4 a gallon and the food at the grocery store was very comparable to what I pay at home – even for the organic food. Once you get on the island, you wouldn’t have to really pay for any activities because there is so much to do and see for free. It was completely amazing. If you are one of those people that say, “I’ve always wanted to go there” then I urge you to GO. But get in touch with me so I can give you advice on which parks to visit and where to stay!
Here are some of our pictures from the trip:
Akaka Waterfall – 442′ fall
Lava Tree State Park
Stunning black sand beaches all over
Sunset from our condo in Kona (west side)
Green Anole – little cutie that kept us company during our stay. My daughter named him Hide, since he was always hiding. 😉
The one big ticket activity we did splurge on was a submarine tour. This is one of the two ship wrecks they took us to. Do you see the shark on the right side of the ship?!
If you have ever wondered what it is like to drive through volcanic ash and a rain cloud at 6,000 ft above sea level, let me tell you: ABSOLUTELY HORRIFYING! We are on Saddle Road here – it cuts through the island between two volcanoes.
White sand beach in Kona, Hawaii
Thanks for reading,