Guest post by xoxoshellygirl
Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.
Day 1: Arrival and Waikiki Beach
Drove to Chicago to save an extra $100 each on flights – that was the biggest mistake of my life. More on that later. Flew ORD – LAX – HNL.
Landed with enough time to get dinner at the “Cheese Burger Restaurant” where my friend Dan decided to do an eating contest to try to win a free meal… he failed. Checked out Waikiki Beach area for sunset and relaxed at the condo. It was in a great location b/c it wasn’t too far of a walking distance to places to eat and was right by the channel so we still had a pretty visually-pleasing view. We would have liked to have stayed closer to the ocean but those places were more than we wanted to spend.
Day 2: North Shore
Drove to the North Shore, allow about an hour and a half. All beach is public in Hawaii – we accidentally made someone’s back yard our personal beach hang out. It was nice to have the private beach and we even found a GIANT sea turtle sunning.
The ocean was a bit rockier but it was well worth the privacy and was legal at that. I made my own personal zen garden, we bought fresh pineapple from a stand and drove around exploring the rest of the North Shore. We came across a ton of `A`a lava rock (the sharp jagged kind) and started exploring as far as it would let us. There was a point where I was out at the farthest point as close to the ocean that I could go and I forced my friends to join me for a photo. I ended up moving in a little closer to them to a rock that we could all fit at and luckily I did b/c the Ocean picked up in the few mins that we were getting our photo taken and just as we were getting ready to smile CRASH then CRASH a few seconds later. The tide had picked up and came directly for us. Dan ran for safety, I held onto a rock and wedged my shoe into a nook to stabilize myself, but it was too late for Kasja & Bobby, the ocean had pushed them forward and under. Luckily they kind of floated over each other leaving minimal marks and we were stuck in a “pit” of lava rock because when the ocean made its way back away from us it probably would have taken us with it. Later I read about how a couple was on their honeymoon and the exact same thing happened to them but they never made it back out – we were surely blessed in that moment. We called it a day at the North Shore and grabbed lunch at a nearby grocery store, FoodLand, with a full service deli department. This place was the best because you could build your own deli sandwich – the prettier you are the beefier your sandwich is too – sorry boys. It was seriously an extra treat because it wasn’t too expensive, you got exactly what you wanted, and it was fresh. We were also able to purchase some other groceries while there before heading back to our car to drive around half of the island while watching sunset.
- Dolphins and You
- Diamond Head
Up early for Dolphins and You Dolphin Tour (www.DolphinsAndYou.com). We went for the 6am tour. Traveling over to the west side of the Island we actually were able to see a lot of dolphins. The water was CHILLY because it was still so early but the water was crystal clear. The tour was so well put together – included in the package was a ride to the boat by bus (don’t bring bananas, it’s bad luck), lunch cooked on the boat, snorkel gear, a dancing performance, underwater & regular photos for purchase of your adventure, and then Hula lessons afterwards. It was a true cultural experience to participate in a hula dance and learn the movements as well as the instruments.
Afterwards we did an impromptu hike up Diamond Head – not recommended – you should be prepared with shoes, and water. There are paths and it’s not too hard of a hike but in the heat with flip flops isn’t the best way to do things.
- University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
- Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout
Breakfast in bed, and off to pearly harbor. We showed up early so that we could get tickets to go out to the ship but due to the storm they had cancelled. We looked around there and took some photos then explored the University of Hawaii to see what campus life would be like. A beautiful campus with a beautiful view – but you have to be a resident of Hawaii for at least 1 year in order to be accepted to the University. That day we decided to finish our trip around the island to the windward side. Not only did we pull over at every possible pull over and take photos, we also got to see a surfer ride huge waves then have a breath taking view at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. *** Note please to not wear a dress unless you plan on losing it*** I wore a normal dress not tight too loose however I am glad that I wore my jean jacket with my dress because the winds at the Look Out are strong, it blew my dress right up to my armpits and luckily back down because of my jean jacket. Holding it in place. It was a beautiful view that you can see all of the greener side of Hawaii. There is also a few hidden waterfalls on the trip to look out for.
- Pearl Harbor
- Aloha Stadium
- Big Wave Dave Surf & Coffee
Back to Pearl Harbor! We finally got to take the ride out and view the ship. It was devastating to see exactly where everything still sat, oil still in the water, and walls covered in names of people fighting to protect. Right by Pearl Harbor is Aloha Stadium where you MUST go. Souvenirs all over the place. Coffee, luggage if you buy too much, sarongs, flowers, EVERYTHING. You can get so many great items for the right price.
We continued on the full Hawaiian adventure with Surf lessons from Big Wave Dave’s (purchased on Groupon.) As a group we had a lesson where they capture photos you can buy later. We had a great instructor named Jimmy who was awesome. Please note… it’s difficult to surf but going in a group and being instructed at Waikiki beach makes it a million times better. Instructions, Lessons, Rental, 1 Hour, Photos (for purchase) Big Wave Dave’s was awesome!
That night we found a lookout parking area and watched the Blood Moon. Also an incredible thing to plan on if it happens when in Hawaii.
Day 6: Switching to The Big Island
- ʻAkaka Falls State Park
- Kahūnā Falls
- Mauna Kea
Flew to the Big Island – my favorite island and location of my favorite place in the whole world! The Big Island has an active volcano, a mountain, black sand beach, green sand beach, waterfalls, rainbows, and coffee!
Our adventure started after flying into Hilo International Airport, renting our jeep, and making our way to the Hilo House. We stopped at Akaka Falls (huge waterfall), Kahuna Falls (smaller than Akaka but double waterfall and still awesome), and then journeyed up a mountain “Mauna Kea.” Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain in the world. It’s 33,500 feet which is nearly a mile taller than Mt. Everest. However, 19,700 feet of that is below the Pacific Ocean (Dickerson, 2015).
This is when I knew I was in love with Hawaii. Standing all the way to the top and walking in the freezing cold on an island, that was it for me! There is a U.S. Geological Survey Benchmarker at the top of the summit, if that’s your sort of thing. It’s pretty incredible to stand there and overlook the clouds, watch the sun set and the clouds roll past. I personally didn’t get altitude sickness but be careful of that being possible, everyone else in my group was starting to feel ill by the time we had to head down but I was singing “We’re on top of the world…” lyrics from “Be My Forever” by Christina Perri the whole time.
Back to Hilo House for the evening.
- Rainbow Falls
- Punaluu Black Sand Beach
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Visitor Center
All things I would never take back. It is necessary to view the black sand beach, you can walk on the smooth lava “Pahoehoe” and just observing the shimmer of the black sand beach is majestic. Going to Mt. Kiluea is also a full day, if not more. When you enter the park you get a full weeks pass of entrance. There are different paths you can hike and seeing how massive the volcano crater is in daylight is important for perspective. There is also a part that you can drive to and see where the lava overflowed over the road and lava tubes to explore. Heading back to the Volcano House for dinner in the evening is a MUST. The food is delicious and you overlook the active volcano, from a distance but still overlooking and watching the volcano light up the crater with the orange glow is incredible. Rainbow Falls is amazing. My first photo was exactly what it is called and so much more. You can hike back and on the falls and pretty much hang over them.
The Mac Nut Farm is called Mauna Loa and you can sample all of the varieties of macadamia nuts that they have. To this day I still order the Chocolate Covered Coconut Macadamia nuts.
- Kona Joe Coffee
- Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park
- Scandinavian Shave Ice
Trip to the Kona side of the Island. Coffee Tasting’s Galore! We tried out 3 farms and they all pretty much offer the same experience. We got to see the full process at hula daddy, picking through coffee fruit, tasting coffee’s and even tasting coffee fruit tea – extra caffeine. It wasn’t until our 4th farm & we weren’t interested in any tours – that we found the perfect blend! Kona Joe Medium Roast http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ABZD9U?colid=1E8NB7A1ORYTS&coliid=I2AGS4BOP3P1J5&ref_=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl The best!
A must – Scandinavian Shaved Ice – i.e. a giant snow cone of deliciousness.
Another MUST – Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park in Captain Cook Hawaii. Captain James Cook Monument is the most beautiful snorkeling spot. The hike down is a trip but please STAY ON THE PATH there is a lot of loose `A`a lava rock and I tried to take a shortcut that was a long-cut b/c of safety issues. It is the clearest water with tons of amazing things to see through snorkeling or just looking really. Water for the hike is also probably a good idea – what goes down… must go back up.
It’s a hike to Kona from Hilo (over 2 hours) but it was well worth the trip. There was such great scenery, and sunlight! The sunnier side of the island that is for sure!
We flew to Los Angeles and spent a day there. It was depressing, depressing LA. After coming from a relaxed state of Hawaii I personally wouldn’t recommend being in such a materialistic, fast-paced world of LA for even that day. We did Hollywood Boulevard, In-N-Out Burger, attempted to climb to the Hollywood sign… without proper shoes again. And all I wanted to do was go home and cry that I wasn’t in Hawaii. So when we got all the way back to Chicago and still had a 6 hour drive, I really wish we had spent the money to fly all the way back home.
Explore every piece of land you can
Visit the waterfalls, each one is unique
Visit things in the day and at night
Wear tennis shoes all the time
Drive all around the island
Escape resort life
Be stuck in technology
Be afraid to try new things
Go too close to the ocean on a non-designated beach area
Don’t spend too much time laying around on the beach – THERE IS AN ENTIRE ISLAND TO LOVE ON!!!
Traveled in April 2014