The first thing you notice when you land on the big island, as opposed to visiting Maui or Kauai or any of Hawaii’s other islands, is the massive amount of lava. Dark, jagged rocks are scattered everywhere over the land for miles and miles, and have rerouted roads, relocated airports, and have caused more than a few homes to meet an untimely and unfortunate demise. Sprinkled about these lava fields are green oases where you will find beautiful resorts, lush vegetation, sandy beaches, and charming communities. Oh, the warm sunshine of Hawaii.
It’s amazing that such a paradise is only a six-hour flight from Portland. Justin and I left Bend at 5:15am, and after a short layover at PDX we were on the ground in Hawaii before noon (with a two-hour time change thrown in). After picking up our rental car, we made the trip down Queen K highway to our home away from home.
My mother-in-law rented a beautiful house in the Ka Milo community of Mani Lani, about 30 minutes north of Kona. The home had a private pool and hot tub, large kitchen and dining area, and four large bedrooms each with it’s own bath. The space had a great room feel to it and was open and comfortable.
After Justin and I arrived at the house, we had the rest of the day to relax and explore before his family arrived on a later flight from Seattle at 10pm. Our first stop was the pool. It was relaxing to lay with a magazine and soak up the warm rays of the sun. Or, as Justin so eloquently put it, “tan fat looks better than white fat.”
Once we had a nice base layer fill of vitamin D, we cruised around in the electric vehicle that came with the rental. This is basically a golf cart on steroids, with headlights, a horn, seat belts, four seats, and a top speed of 35mph. It’s perfect for getting around within the resort, and we took the opportunity to map out a few running routes. You know you’re a runner when… right? The roads all have wide shoulders that cater to the bike/run crowd, and people are very active everywhere you go!
That evening before Justin had to head to the airport to pick up his family, we had a nice beachfront dinner in the sand—even if our server was hands down the worst we have ever experienced—and watched a beautiful sunset over the water. There were a number of resorts along the water near our house, so we frequented them often for swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and dining.
The next day was what I would like to call recovery day. We slept in, took our time getting ready while enjoying our morning coffee, and had a little breakfast on the lanai. We then proceeded to venture into Kona to hit up Costco and one of the grocery stores. I highly recommend a stroll through Costco if you would like to save some money. Because we didn’t want to eat out all the time and spend a fortune on drinks, we loaded up at Costco and planned for several meals that would be cooked at home. It can be very expensive to eat out on the big island (think $30-$50 per entrée) so saving money where possible is highly recommended – unless you have an endless cash flow – then, by all means…
That day we spent a lot of time at the house pool relaxing in the sun. Justin and I of course played a few games of Sequence (because, it’s our thing) and Justin cooked a fantastic dinner with chicken, cheeseburgers, salad, rice, and grilled asparagus. We all dined outside on the patio while watching the orange sun disappear in the distance. It was a wonderful evening. It’s amazing how the sun and heat can take it out of you. By the time 9pm rolled around, everyone fell into a slumber and we all went to bed. I slept like a baby.
As soon as the sun was peeking over the horizon in the morning, Justin and I got up and put on our running clothes – ready for our first run in the Hawaiian humidity and sun. What a difference the temperature makes! Whew!!! We started by doing a little exploration for the first 4 miles and then Justin jumped on one of the bikes at the house and rode alongside me for the remaining 4.5 miles.
I love running in Hawaii because 1) the shoulders are 5ft wide, 2) there are active people everywhere, so you never feel alone, and 3) the palm trees, meticulously manicured landscape, and breeze creates the perfect ambiance. And there was always a breeze.
After running, we cleaned up and headed to the Hilton Waikoloa for some beach time, lunch, and dolphin viewing. My two nieces were going to swim with the dolphins, so we decided to make a day of it. One of the many great things about Hawaii is that all of the beaches are public, so you can use any beach, at any resort, at any time.
The Hilton was absolutely BEAUTIFUL and very regal. There were multiple pools and a large beach area next to a saltwater lagoon. At any time you could jump in and swim around with turtles and various fish. We laid at the beach area next to the lagoon for a couple hours before having lunch and watching the girls enjoy their dolphin experience.
It was an all around great day. If we were to stay in a hotel on the Big Island, I would definitely choose the Hilton because there is something for everyone.
Once we got back to the house that afternoon, we enjoyed a fancy dinner of New York steaks to celebrate day one of my sister-in-law’s birthday festivities, and played games. This time, and since the nieces weren’t around, we played Cards Against Humanity. Talk about a game that can make you uncomfortable! Again, the day completely wiped us out and we all headed to bed at 9:30pm.
That night we experienced a hefty wind and rain storm, and woke up to a calm breeze, cooler temps, and additional moisture in the air. The perfect conditions for a 7-mile run. Off I went into the sunrise, while Justin went for a swim in the nearby lap pool.
After coffee and breakfast, we headed to the Beach Club for a few hours of sun and sand. This was one of my favorite nearby beaches because it was beautiful, quiet and not overcrowded. While I made myself comfortable on one of the lounge chairs, Justin and the rest of the family decided to head out into the water.
A few minutes later, Justin emerged with a stream of blood running down his leg. Unbeknownst to him, he had cut himself pretty bad on some coral just above his knee and needed medical attention. With some assistance from the lifeguards, we were able to control the bleeding and wrap it up for the time being until we reached urgent care. It’s a good thing we took the 45-minute drive to Waimea because he ended up needing five stitches. The doctor was a quilter so she did her job well. The urgent care center wasn’t anything special, but the ladies who helped us were bubbly and brought smiles to our faces.
Once we picked up a prescription for antibiotics and were back at the house, it was time to get ready for Jill’s (Justin’s sister) official birthday dinner. Unfortunately, there were massive winds and a few sprinkles that evening, so our plans for dining at a restaurant right on the beach fell through. We ended up going elsewhere and making the best of the situation. Things turned out fine and I had one of the best pork tenderloins and desserts I had ever eaten, so no complaints here. I would have taken a picture, but I probably would have tried to eat that too!