Day six was unplanned until the last minute but I coudln’t have been happier about how it turned out. We headed back to the Fair Winds at 8:30 and out to sea for some of the most amazing snorkeling I’d ever done! The boat was huge, crew were great, and there’s just something about being in the middle of the tranquil Pacific Ocean that makes everyone impossibly happy!
Kara was brave enough to take on a 30 feet scuba dive,
while i preferred to view everything from above.
Of course my crappy disposable underwater camera did it absolutely zero justice… I saw FIVE sea turtles and all kinds of colorful fish. You’ll just have to take my word for it- the pictures are pretty bad…
see the turtle!?!?!
The breakfast and lunch was delicious and the ocean simply spectacular. I also learned that I loved stand-up paddle boarding! So fun!
grilled burgers on the boat!
even tried a little (rocky) yoga!
Our captain even snapped a selfie while we were out floating… isn’t he a cutie! Overall just a fabulous cruise and I would highly recommend to anyone. The perfect ending to our weekend in Kona.
Around 3 we had to head back to Hilo to pack and get to the airport. I was a little sad; but the road home via Saddle Back road lifted my spirits for sure.
Another look at the Big Island’s amazingly unique landscape and beauty… I felt like I was driving through Ireland- everything was so green and lush!
It only took an hour or so and it wasn’t enough time- is it ever?
After a delicious Thai dinner Kara dropped me off at the Hilo airport and I settled in for a very long flight home. I left at 9:30 and arrived back in Little Rock at 4 pm the next day. Overall, one of the absolute best trips of my life. I loved loved loved everything about that island and can’t wait to go back!

See all my days on The Big Island here: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5.

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Day five was much like day four- lots of crystal blue beaches and perfect 80 degree sunshine in Kohala. We were also very excited about our excursion that evening to swim with the manta rays so we tried to spend the day relaxing and enjoying the island. I can’t remember the name of the beaches but they were all, again, just gorgeous.
Can you stand one more posed beach pic? Okay, just one more…
For lunch we headed up to a cute little port town for a bite and a drink at Cafe Pesto. Delicious.
We headed back to Kona around 3 for some shopping and more sightseeing. The Place of Refuge was really nice and the story quite crazy!
This was a place warriors and (sacred) law breakers could run to to avoid punishment by death! Basically like “safe base”. Lots of beautiful statues and scenery here for sure.

of course framed with another beautiful ocean view!

North of A Place of Refuge was the famous Painted Church, which was exactly as its name says… a brightly painted church! It still holds service so we signed in and said a few quick prayers.
Finally it was time to head towards Fair Wind cruises for our night dive with the manta rays! We were starving though and first stopped at Rays on the Bay in the Sheraton Resort in Kona for a quick bite.
The decor and ambiance of this place was awesome and i wish we’d had more time to chill there but time was ticking so we arrived at our boat around 6:30, extremely excited for the nights adventure.
We suited up and took off to where the Manta Rays like to feed- the middle of the ocean. The sunset view was perfect!
Much like our trip to Mauna Kea in the rain, however, mother nature decided to frown us on… No manta rays appeared! We basically bobbed up and down in the chilly ocean for 45 minutes looking at lights shining down on only a few random fish.

you can barely see us, but we're out there

SOOOO disappointing but everyone understood. The crew were all very nice (and seemed a little embarrassed) and offered everyone a free cruise. Since tomorrow was my last day, we had no other option but to stay another night in Kona and go on the all day breakfast/lunch snorkel cruise the next day. Somewhat bummed and exhausted, we rented a shitty room at the Kona Seaside (far stretch from our Japanese B&B) and fell asleep early. Overall i have to say it was another fabulous day- minus the missing rays.
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Day four… ahhhh, day four I think I may love you most of all! There’s obviously something in my blood that loves the beach- perhaps because it was the only vacay I ever got to go on growing up (Florida. Maybe not the ONLY but the best…), or that my mother is also a sun-loving native american, a vacation is not a vacation without a gorgeous beach! And Hawaii’s beaches are hands down the.best.ever.

Hapuna Beach…

again, posing is totally okay here!

Would it even be more perfect if i said we stopped and had fresh coconut water as we were leaving??? Well, we did!


Because everything in Hawaii is more amazing than before, we decided to visit the Waikoloa Hilton resort in Waikoloa Village…

nice tree-lined drive?

the wind is OBVIOUSLY under kara's shirt here... only pic of us together!

nice little hotel beach view...!

this place was big and flashy and everything i need in a hotel! Give me a parrot or a DOLPHIN and I’m a happy girl.

if you know me, you KNOW i love a good sea mammal… IN. LOVE.!!!

After only so much of a good thing, we headed back south to visit the most locally recommended beach on the Big Island, Makalawena Beach. You have to take a 20 minute hike off an already rugged lava road to get to it, via the risk of bee’s…

but we were perfectly content to stop at the 5-minute walk beach and take pics of the famous way from across the ocean. Plus, this one was pretty amazing itself!

picture overload yet? think about how i feel…

and we just had to do more posing! It’s HAWAII!!!

i can’t post enough…

Finally, we had to leave to drive back home to Kona…

through this...

showered and made ourselves get up and out to dinner- this time at Huggo’s, also on the beach. (I’ve realized I can stop saying gorgeous, beautiful, and amazing now- obviously my favorite “pretty” adjectives) But yeah, it was real pretty here too…

spot the differences...

And then across the way to “On the Rocks”- which was actually a literal bar name…

nice view...

and i got to see a real hula dancer!!!

and then we got to BE real hula dancers!!!

TRIP. MADE.

see day 3 or next day 5

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The next day i again woke up way too early to be on “island time” but my type-A person could not just lay there! We were up and out of the condo by 7:30- way before the farmer’s market vendors were even set up.

I. was. serious.

After an hour or so, though, it was in full swing and I of fell in love with it (of course). I present, a glimpse into the Hilo Farmer’s Market…

The colors of the vegetables alone had me in a daze!

Around 10 we finally made our way to our lunchtime destination: the tide pools. But the lava tree park just happened to be on the way…

It’s all too pretty- i’ve never seen this kind of beauty!

When we finally ended up at the tide pools- the most gorgeous place on earth- I could not believe my eyes. This crazy, lava beach world of crystal clear little glass bowls of fish and corral and shimmering sand was seriously the most fabulous thing i’ve ever seen in my life!

And it was in these people’s backyards!!!!

if you can’t pose here- where can you pose???

After several hours, we were finally starving enough to head south- towards the volcano (and lunch). Unfortunately you can only see the lava at night or via a two mile hike, so i settled for a stop in Volcano Village (a real town name) and was, as usual, very impressed. It was super cool there, temp wise, and we had a great lunch at Lava Rock Cafe.


And then we had this hour long drive to endure…

Pretty miserable, huh?

When we finally arrive in Kona, I had the lowest expectations; i could not imagine it more beautiful that what I’d left behind. Yet again, I was completely  blown away! It was raining when we pulled up to our “cottage”- the Haleakala B&B- aka this tropical Japanese inspired photo-shoot house!

Even through rain clouds, this view was amazing.


Dinner was at Anthony’s on the Bay- a pretty little seafood restaurant impressive for it’s view on both sides:

to the right

and the left...

The meal wasn’t bad either…

Because it was raining and we knew what we had to go back to (instead of a bar), we headed up the hill to our “resort”… sitting in a hot tub overlooking the most gorgeous island with your best friend and a glass of wine- while it’s raining!- priceless…

I also fell in love with my auto-timer…

Goodnight Hawaii!

see day 4

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Friday morning I had to pick Kara up at the hospital at 7 so I was packed and ready by 5- literally. I had mapped out my route to some of the “must see sights” along the famous highway 19, a long stretch of winding road with some of the most gorgeous scenery E.V.E.R. The morning was mostly driving, stopping, snapping pics, hiking, snapping pics, staring, sighing, and snapping a lot more pics. Unreal how beautiful this island is…. Absolutely impossible to describe in words or photos- you just need to go!

First stop, Akaka Falls, about 10 miles up the coast from the town of Hilo.

You hike through a cement trail of pure jungle; lush vegetation, beautiful flowers, wild vines, birds, and tiny waterfalls all around you. It was just stunning!

All leading you to this: Akaka falls, the tallest waterfall on earth! (or maybe just America…)

I just stared at it for what felt like an hour- it was too pretty to walk away! After what was actually only a couple of minutes, I continued my journey north towards Kolekole Park, a tiny beach park down a hidden road off 19.

chickens everywhere

Massive rocks with a tiny ocean stream running in between them. Oh, and a rope swing to get from one side to the other! From there, more miles of scenery took me to the tip of the island, Waimea, an old farming town that looked a bit more like Arkansas than Hawaii (minus the gorgeous ocean in the background…) Still super lush and pretty though…

On the way back down, I turned off towards Waipi’o Valley. It was way too steep to travel down without a 4-wheel drive but the views were out of control. I could not believe how gorgeous this place was!!!

awestruck

Then to Laupahoehoe Point, a park in the middle of nowhere with the most sapphire blue sea I’d seen yet, especially with the white rolling waves crashing into the contrasting black jagged rocks. It was peaceful and harsh, brilliant and lonely- all of these emotions mixed into one absolutely amazing picture. One of my favorite sites on the Big Island for sure.

I’d just about completed my loop up and then back down when I took the scenic route through another gorgeous jungle towards the famous Botanical Gardens. And I thought I already had sensory overload… My mind was not prepared!

Out of the 400 or so pictures I took, none of them do it justice. This place was absolutely surreal. Flowers and waterfalls and fish ponds and parrots and vines winding through every kind of tree, all surrounded by the gorgeous ocean view. It was too much…

I think I need to come back and do a whole post dedicated to the gardens- there’s just too much beauty to cram into one little day overview!

After everything I’d seen that day, I didn’t think it was possible to see more. But as soon as I made it back to the condo to pick Kara up after her nap, we were out the door to eat (at Hilo Burger Joint, the only place I actually don’t recommend) and on our way to Mauna Kea to look at some stars!

decent burgers but horrible service...

Because we didn’t have 4-wheel drive we were only able to travel up 9,000 feet or so to the observation deck/vistior station. But it was a 45 minute drive down the deserted, lava-ripened Saddle Back Road and the experience was quite eerie.

It felt like we were on another planet but it was very cool! However, one must note that it is not appropriate to go star-gazing in this:

Rain + Fog + Volcano = VOG

We kept driving, thinking we might make it above the storm clouds and see some pretty stars. No such luck. However Kara did entertain us with her stylish star-gazing attire…

The clouds over the mountains, just beautiful…

And the telescope set up was pretty impressive…

But unfortunately, the rain clouds never went away and we were left with very few tiny pinholes of light. Here’s a very lightened up pic of all we saw… :(

It was still worth going up there I think. And I was so tired from the all day excursion I was glad we did something low-key. Day 3 was going to start early so we grabbed another quick bite to eat and went to bed around 10.

Hawaii, I could not be more in awe of your wild beauty!

see day 3

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