Travel Diary: The Big Island

Four Generations!

Where the heck have I been the past week or so, you may ask. Well, I was in paradise.

My little family and I jetted off to the Big Island of Hawaii!

My grandparents live near Kona, and we went to stay with them. It was our first time seeing their new house, and it was a DREAM. The views were out of this world and they have the best little jungle pool in their yard. Seriously...the entire trip was heavenly. My mom was even there for a few days, which was so fun! And it was SO nice to get to spend time with my grandparents!

I had only been to Oahu and Maui before, so the Big Island was new to me. It is SO different from the other islands that I've been to, and I LOVE it! There are so many different types of terrain and things to do and amazing features and places to explore!

This was our first time flying with James. I will write a blog post soon about our experience flying with a baby and some tips I picked up, so check back for that...probably next Monday!

Anyways, James did so well traveling such a long distance, and although there was a bit of an adjustment for him with the time difference and new place and everything, (PLUS he's TEETHING), he was such a little trooper! We had the best time adventuring with him!

Ok, I could ramble on and on, so let's dive right into it:

First things first: coffee.

Our first morning in Kona, we found the. best. coffee shop. Seriously. Look no further, next time you're in Kona. Just head to Green Flash Coffee. Every morning (except two mornings when we made the mistake of trying different coffee shops) Ben, James, and I headed to Green Flash Coffee at the crack of dawn. I fell in love with their croissant breakfast sandwiches with ham, and Ben and I got coffee cake to share. And we got coffee...of course.

Some mornings we enjoyed our coffee and breakfast at the coffee shop in their outdoor courtyard, and some mornings we brought it all with us to the beach. Regardless, every morning we headed to the beach and swam, laid in the shade, and watched the body surfers. James LOVED playing with his toys on our big beach blanket. Ben took James into the ocean for the first time. We made such great memories.

After our morning outings, we would head back to my grandparents' house and my grandpa made us his special oatmeal and we would eat fresh papayas and read and relax...it was the best.

We did so many fun things while we were there! We took a tour of the Kona Brewing Company, Ben and I went out for a couple of date nights in Kona, we went and watched a dolphin show with my grandpa, and we went on a snorkel tour!

The snorkel tour was amazing! James did so well on the boat, we saw humpback whales, and SO many gorgeous fish. I highly recommend this tour if you're going to the Big Island. Click here for all of the info!

One day, Ben, James, and I drove around the entire island. It was such an amazing day! We went to Rainbow Falls, fell in love with the town of Hawi, (go get sandwiches at Kohala Coffee Mill!!!) and we saw SO many beautiful sights, including this black sand beach.

I had never seen a black sand beach before and it was so pretty! We were going to stop by a green sand beach, but the parking area was SO crowded, so we decided to continue on our way.

We also went to the southern most point in the United States of America. For a few minutes, we were the southernmost folk in all the land. Which was a pretty cool feeling. And very neat for James, at only 5 1/2 months old!

On our way back home after our drive around the island, we stopped at this cute, nice restaurant called The Strawberry Patch. It was some of the best food I've had - I had the Spring Salad, and Ben and I split the Rustic Roasted Garlic Bread. So yummy. BUT the service was reeeeeaaaallly SLOW.

That night we saw the most unusual sunset as we were driving back to my grandparents' house. I didn't manage to get any pictures of it, but it was magical.

We saw so many beautiful sunsets while we were on the Big Island. One evening, my grandpa took us to this beautiful spot where we had pina coladas and watched the sunset over the ocean. Our last night, my grandpa took us to another beautiful place...a rocky beach where you could wade out and look down and see fish swimming around. And the sunsets from my grandparents house were unreal.

Our last morning, we got our coffee and breakfast and headed to the beach for one last family beach morning. It was a gorgeous day.

After that, we headed to Huggo's On The Rocks for a farewell drink and to soak in the view. It was such an incredible trip and I'm leaving out so many details because there is just no way that I could get them all down in one blog post. But it was just the best and we love the Big Island and can't wait to go back some day!

We really want to go to the volcano and the space observatory, but we couldn't this time because James is too little. Next time! There is so much more to do and explore!

This trip was the BEST way to kick off 2017...this year is already shaping up to be one heck of an amazing ride! Soo many exciting things in store!

Salty. Sandy. Happy.

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I've come to the realization that life is best when one is covered in sand, and one's hair is salty and sun bleached.Where can one get said sand, salt, and sun? A tropical island, of course. I've spent the last week on the North Shore of Oahu. When most people hear Oahu, they think Waikiki and Honolulu - tourist hell holes. However, take a drive up to the northern tip of the island, and you will find a completely different setting.

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The North Shore is famed for world class surfing and the fabled Pipe Masters, a surfing competition that takes place in the winter in which the best surfers on the planet can compete for the ultimate bragging rights. The quaint little beach town of Haleiwa is at the heart of the North Shore, and it feels a lot like a second home to me.

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I have been going there for years now with my family and every time we get back into town, I can feel myself beginning to relax. Haleiwa and the North Shore have a much more laid back vibe than the busy cities down south. The locals are super friendly and make you feel like one of them. It's a sleepy, sunny little place with some incredible restaurants and fun activities. Some of my favorite things to do are find new hikes around the northern end of the island, swim with sharks [www.hawaiisharkencounters.com], visit Waimea Valley, get a massage from North Shore Mobile Massage [they will come right to your beach house and set up their massage tables in your own back yard if you want!], and pick up some lumpias and fresh coconut from the local road-side fruit stands.

But honestly, my favorite way to spend the day on the island is holed up at our beach house, soaking up the rays and body surfing with the sea turtles. Nothing beats being a beach bum for a week and a half.I don't know if it is the balmy air, the vitamin D, or the salt water, but I always notice my skin clearing up after just a few days of being here, and my attitude clears up too. So, first chance you get, book your flight, pack your bags, and head to a tropical island - any one will do. Submerge yourself in the turquoise waters, lay in the sun, let your hair get bleached and let your body get sandy and just...let go.

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