At the end of our first week, we packed our bags and headed to the airport. It felt like vacation had come to an end- and a week would have been a great vacation. Instead we got off our plane barely 35 minutes later on the Big Island and it gelt like vacation got started again!
If Oahu looked like every postcard and movie you had ever seen, the Big Island felt like an oasis. From the moment we landed, it felt quieter, a little slower- because it was. The landscape contributed to this feeling with much more open space (at least on the. Kona side of the island which was stayed on). Noticeably less people, you truly felt like you had escaped.
Almost every day we went to what we nicknamed “Best Beach”. Very wide beach with enough waves for boogie boarding but not so scary the kids would have trouble playing in waves. It overlooked the Mauna Kea which is where we had lunch one day. They were setting up for a wedding which leads me to this promise- first person gets the deal -you pay for my travel and I’ll photograph your Hawaii wedding for free.
Fun fact: I love horseback riding. I took lessons in high school and on vacation, when possible, I request Ryan go on trail ride with me. I strongly believe it’s one of the best ways to see the land. We took a tour on Kahua Ranch which is a cattle ranch almost 3,000 ft above sea level. We also lucked out and wound up with a private tour! I can honestly say it was one of the most striking landscapes I’ve ever seen. Neon greens gave way to blue, with clouds you could touch and cattle all around. We were so lucky- winds were at almost 35 mph and they cancel tours at 40mph which I totally get. You’re so high up it feels like your being blown off the mountain. And it was so COLD! We brought jeans and jackets just for this but thank goodness they had heavier jackets and gloves. The wind was so loud- it tore your words away but cantering on that property with Ryan was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
The breathtaking scenery continued as Chris toured us across the entire island. We stopped at Kona Coffee and farmers markets (had the best cinnamon rolls from a very colorful vendor_. We made an intentional effort to find the black sand beaches which also led us to the southern most point of the island- and the United States, but it looked like the end of the world. We also crossed the island, catching a glimpse of the famed Mauna Kea, although the peak was rightfully closed by protesters blocking the placement of a telescope on the sacred land. We actually went to Mauna Kea- once at night and I finally got to see stars – like really see them, without any light pollution. Incredible.
Finally we ended with the ultimate tourist experience- a Lu’au. I did a bunch of research with Tawny and we settled on the Royal Kona Lu’au. We paid the extra money for priority seating- worth it! We were right up on stage which also let me take amazing photos! The food was amazing and because of the time of year, the Lu’au had a Christmas twist- including a singing of the 12 days of the Hawaiian Christmas.
Eventually it was time to head home. We said goodbye at the airport around 10pm, and I started editing while we waited to board our 12:30pm flight. Yay for me- we hit turbulence leaving the islands. A very haggard 16 hours later we made it to Baltimore. I have to say- if you have to leave Hawaii, reentry is a lot easier with the holiday fun to welcome you home. We got home on Saturday the 20th and on the 21st I surprised Ryan with tickets to Enchant Christmas in DC. A light maze, ice skating, Santa’s village etc. That really helped us overcome the sadness of returning to dark cold days. Like every other person before me, I fell in love with the Islands and can’t wait to return after this pandemic is over- we have a few more islands to explore!