I have just one word to describe Hawaii, aka the Big Island, and that is LAVA!
We flew into the Kona International Airport and landed in a lava field. There are lava tubes underneath the runways that used to be hollow and when planes landed, they took chips out of the runway. They eventually filled in the tubes with concrete to reduce airport maintenance. The airport itself kind of surprised me. It’s an open air airport. I felt like it belonged in the Dominican.
I loved Hawaii! Hawaii and Maui were my favorite islands.
I don’t know what it was specifically that made me love Hawaii so much, but I think it had something to do with the waves crashing on the lava rocks and the beautiful sunsets framed by palm trees.
I think I developed some sort of wave watching obsession. I swear, watching the waves break is better than watching TV.
We stayed at the Royal Kona, a strange looking hotel that sort of looks like a cruise ship, and it’s right on the water. Doesn’t have much of a beach to speak of. They do have a private man made lagoon area, but I spent most of my time by the pool. I could drag a lounge chair under a palapa near the beach wall and stare at the ocean and watch the waves crash on the rocks.
Mr. Scientist wanted to go see the observatories, so we did our longest excursion to Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is almost 14,000 ft above sea level. Different countries have observatories on top because it has excellent viewing of a large proportion of the skies n both the northern and southern hemispheres. We went with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. Our tour guide, Chris, picked us up and drove us to the volcano. He was awesome! He talked non-stop on the two hour drive and was a wealth of information. You can tell he really loves his job. His enthusiasm for the subject matter came through.
Oh, did I mention there was snow up there?
And I got to wear a parka? Yes, I was in Hawaii, land of sun and sand, trying to get away from the gloomy Canadian winter, and I wore a parka.
So we went up to the top of the summit, and I felt like I was in Star Wars. Those domed observatories looks so space-age.
I must admit, the sunset was amazing from up there! We were up above the clouds. We could even see across to one of the peaks of Maui.
After the sunset, we came part way down the volcano to just past the Visitor Information Center. Then the tour guide set up a telescope and we got to star gaze. We saw Venus and Saturn a few other stars.
It may be blasphemy, but we didn’t make it to Volcanoes National Park this visit. It was far away and it would have been a full 12 hour day to go there. After spending nine hours on the Mauna Kea excursion, I didn’t really feel like giving up another day to touring. That would cut into my wave watching time. Next visit I’ll get there.
We also went 100 feet below sea level in an Atlantis Submarine. I felt like I was in a tropical aquarium! We saw lots of fishies! It was very Finding Nemo.
There are some artificial reefs (shipwrecks) down there. I wasn’t really paying attention at first when they said they had been put there and I thought they were real shipwrecks. They even have ridiculous stories of how the ships got there, like that a lady got drunk and her boat caught on fire, which I totally believed… because I am gullible.
I loved the restaurants in Kona! The main street runs right along the water and a lot of the restaurants have outdoor patios with ocean views. My favorite restaurant was Java on the Rocks for breakfast, and then turns into Huggo’s on the Rocks for lunch and supper. It’s right on the water and the patio is sand covered! Loved it! The birds love it too. You have to guard your food to make sure they don’t take it.
Humpy’s was our FAVORITE! We found it online before we went by doing a Man Vs. Food Hawaii search. We ate there twice. Everything is $2 off during happy hour. Their brownie dessert is delicious! And the view of the sunset is amazing!
We stayed in an oceanview room at the Royal Kona. The hotel needs a little updating, but I still loved it, and would definitely stay there again! There was a complimentary bottle of champagne in our room waiting for us when we checked in. The view was my second favorite of the whole trip. We even had a great view of the luau that the hotel puts on. And we were really close to both Humpy’s and Java on the Rocks.
Next up, my favorite island – MAUI!