For the next week or so Sew You Think You Can Cook will be transformed into a travel blog! Get excited – I know I am! The last week in August, Stuart and I travelled to The Big Island to celebrate my 25th birthday. I will be sharing our pictures and adventures with you – providing opinions on activities, restaurants, and more.
This specific post will be an overview of our trip – where we went, what we did, what we’d change. The following posts will more specific to location.
Disclaimer: All posts in this series and all mentions to companies are my personal opinion and I am in no way being paid or sponsored.
In February we started to plan (okay, day-dream about) my birthday vacation. I wanted to go somewhere/do something fun for the big two-five. For Stuart’s we had gone snowboarding in Colorado for a week (Jan 2012). The idea for Hawaii came to me because The Weather Channel had a slide show of volcano/lava photos.
So I started my research.
When going to Hawaii, there is one question that you must answer first: Which island? Hawaii Gaga has a great quick quiz that you can take and it will recommend the top 4 islands for you. They also break down their description of how they determine island rankings. When I took the quiz The Big Island tied for 3rd. So why did I still go to there?
Because of my answer to question number two! What is the number one thing you want to do/see? My answer: Lava! Being home to one of the world’s most active volcanos, I knew the Big Island was my optimal destination.
I’d also considered doing an island hopping cruise. It’s not particularly easy to island hop and if you want to see the most of the 50th state this might be your best choice, however it’s not the cheapest way to visit Hawaii. Granted, unless you know someone living there, there isn’t really a cheap way to do Hawaii. I checked and compared every travel website as well as calculated a total of booking everything (hotel, flights, car) separately. I finally settled on booking through Delta Vacations – it ended up being the same price as Expedia for the exact same trip, and I liked having the peace of mind of booking a Delta flight through Delta Airlines. I can’t promise you it’ll be the cheapest option for your trip, but it’s worth it to check vacation deals through hotels and airlines too!
After you decide on your island destination you have to pick where you’ll stay – whether you’ll rent a condo/house, stay in a hotel/resort, or find a hostel. We stayed at The Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. It had a great location (within walking distance of food, shops, beaches), beautiful views (ocean view rooms available), and was recently renovated. Ultimately, it’s everything you’d expect from a Courtyard Marriott.
However, this point brings us to the first (and only) thing I would have changed about our trip. King Kam is located in Kailua-Kona on the Western side of the island. You could very easily spend your entire vacation in the Kona districts, if you’re looking for great snorkeling and nice beaches then that’s all you need. If you’re interested in “Adventure Hawaii” as I like to call it, Kona might not be the ideal landing spot. On our next trip (yes, we’re already ready to go back!) we’ve determined that it’d be best to spend half of the trip in Kona and half of the trip on the opposite side of the island in Hilo. Great hiking can be found in Hilo and it’s closer to the Volcano. We actually spent a great deal of our vacation in the car getting from one side of the island to the other. But, driving on Hawaii roads is much more enjoyable to mainland interstates!
On Tuesday we spotted a cruise ship off the Hilo coast and again in Kona on Wednesday. Most island hopping cruises make these two stops on the Big Island. Stuart and I both were glad that we didn’t opt for a “Cruise Hawaii” vacation. By renting a car, we had great freedom with our schedule and never felt rushed.
I bought a travel book (Lonely Planet Hawaii: The Big Island (Regional Travel Guide)) and read it on the 9.5 hr plane ride. I preferred this book to others because it broke the island up into districts which allowed me to “plan” each day by location and see as much as possible without being inefficient in our travels. We hit each of the 9 districts in Hawaii County. In fact, this vacation was the first time I’d ever not had a plan for every minute of every day – it was such a strange feeling and by Thursday I was over it and ready for an official schedule!
If the Big Island isn’t on your bucket list already, I urge you to add it and hope that our photographs do the island the justice it’s due. (When I figure out how, I’ll create an album on my blog for the photos that don’t make the posts directly.) Here is a link to my Facebook photo album from our trip!