Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mahalo Hawaii

Brad and I really wanted to take a vacation with just the two of us before the new baby came. We had flight points and hotel nights that were going to expire this summer so we really wanted to use them by going somewhere tropical. Our original decision was to go on a Caribbean cruise so we found a good deal, booked our flights into Miami, and got really excited! Unfortunately, at the beginning of January, the Zika virus had a major outbreak in the Caribbean and after thinking about it and talking to my midwife we decided to cancel our trip:(. I was majorly bummed and started looking for other options. Our flights were with American Airlines so we had a lot of different options, but because Brad only had a week off of school we decided to go somewhere closer that didn't take a whole day to get to. Hawaii was our final decision. The only place in Hawaii we could get with our miles (thank you spring break) was Kona.

It was kind of hard for me to get really excited about going because I was so worried about leaving Caleb for a week. The longest I had ever left him was overnight. Brad and I had watched Matt and Lyndsey's kids last fall so they offered to watch him for us. I knew he was going to be ok, but it didn't make it any easier. I was scared to leave my baby! Lyndsey was really good about giving me pep talks and I trusted her 110%. It was really important for Brad and I to get time away. Just ourselves. We dropped Caleb off Monday morning, I cried my eyes out for a good 30 minutes, and then Jacob dropped us off at SFO airport. We had a 3 hour layover in Seattle, got the infamous Ivar's fish and chips, and arrived in Kona by 10pm.


Hawaii is 3 hours behind pacific time (i.e. 1 a.m. here) so we were EXHAUSTED by the time we landed. Kona is small airport so we picked up our car and drove 15 minutes to our hotel. We had 7 free nights at the Holiday Inn with points we had accrued (yay for almost free vacations!) so that's where we stayed.

Tuesday morning we slept in, (it was hard to remember how that felt!) exercised, ate the hotel breakfast and got ready to go to the beach!

Thank goodness for hotel exercise rooms!
We had snorkel gear that my parents lent us for the week so before we left town we decided to stop by Wal Mart and buy a boogie board as well. Most of the main beaches were about 20 miles north of Kona near all the big resorts. The Big Island is really unique in that it is the newest of all the Hawaiian Islands and pretty much all volcanic rock. Our drive to the beach was eery. It looked like we had arrived on the moon! At one point there were a bunch of cars pulled over so we stopped to check it out.

It ended up being a long tube of sunken lava rock.

We finally arrived to Hapuna Beach, set up our stuff and immediately jumped in the water. It was beautiful! We spent the day hanging in the water and snorkeling around the bay. There were beautiful fish and we got really close to a sea turtle!

Don't mind all our selfie pictures...we had no other choice :/

Every night we tried to go to a different restaurant because we don't get to go out very often with Caleb. Tuesday night we went got delicious Mexican food and went back to our hotel to relax and watch Survivor...a daily activity. We got through a whole season in 1 week...

Wednesday morning we woke up and went for a nice run around town. It was beautiful to run down the coast and I loved that Brad was willing to go with me. Pregnancy has really slowed me down so we are about the same pace now;).

At breakfast we saw a  bunch of people dressed up in church clothes and we guessed they were LDS. Brad decided to ask them all what they were doing together and they told us they were attending the temple! It might be really bad, but I had NO IDEA there was a temple in Kona. Later that day we looked at a map to see how far it was from our hotel and it turns out it was literally up the street! The only reason we couldn't see it is because of a big city building was right in front of it out our hotel window. We had a pretty good laugh about that and decided to try and make a session later that day since it's been too long since we've been.

After getting ready and watching more Survivor we drove down south to a bay and rented a sea kayak. There were supposed to be dolphins around the area, but we never actually saw any:(. After about 3 hours we were completely exhausted and starving so we stopped at a food truck and got smoothies and crepes for lunch. yumm. Then we headed back to the hotel to nap, watch survivor, and then grabbed some quick thai food before heading up to the temple.

The session was tiny, but nearly everyone came up to us afterward and said hello and talked to us about the area. That was one thing I LOVED about this island, nobody hates tourists because there aren't very many. It has a really small island feel.

Bump picture in front of temple. 22 weeks.
After the temple we decided to end the night with shave ice from the best place in town. It was huge so we shared one and ate it together on the beach. There were multiple times I had to pinch myself to see it was actually real life. This was one of them.

Every morning I would wake up with new pictures/videos of Caleb and it made my heart happy! He loved being with his cousins and we are grateful for our family who helped us out. 

The whole gang at breakfast. Lyndsey is a rockstar.

Absence makes the heart grown fonder....I love him!!!!!
Thursday was another magical day. We drove about 2 hours up north to a place called Waipio Valley. My cousin Megan had told me this was a must visit place and after researching it we decided to make the 2 hours drive up north. The valley is famous for it's beautiful views and black sand beach.

You have to park at the top of the valley and either pay for a tour bus to take you down or you can walk a mile down one of the most steep road I've ever seen. I actually have been on "the steepest road in the world" in NZ and this was 10 times worse. It is a mile long with a 900 foot descent. Being the cheap students that we are with a spirit of adventure, we decided we could totally walk it. It turned out that going down was a lot worse than the trek back up, but it was sooo worth it. 

This picture doesn't do the "steepness" justice. It was STEEP.
Once we got down into the valley we hiked to a waterfall lookout and then to the beach. 

Wild horses!

After our intense hiking we had to refuel with world famous Malasadas from Tex Drive Inn. A guy at the gym had also told me this was also a must when visiting the island and it did not disappoint.

That night for dinner we went to a nearby island grill and talked with the owner about some of the best beaches nearby. He told us about a place called Kua Bay so we decided to go to that one the next day.

I now have a new all-time favorite beach. Kua had the most beautiful water, perfect snorkeling, and amazing waves. It was everything I ever dreamed of and more. We spent all day there snorkeling, boogie boarding, and soaking up the sun to our hearts content. I learned something else this day too...when you run out of sunscreen, go buy more! Don't believe that the small amount of SPF 15 in your bag is going to prevent a sun burn. Brad and I both got burnt to a crisp. Oops. Lesson learned. Thank goodness for Aloe Vera.

For dinner that night we had leftover Thai food because we planned to fill our bellies with movie theater popcorn. A while ago we had won some free movie tickets and because we can't go very often with Caleb we had to make use of our time. We went and saw Allegiant, the 3rd movie in the Divergent series. Thank goodness the popcorn was good because the movie was awful.

Saturday was our last full day to spend on the west side of the island so we drove down south to do some more snorkeling at a famous spot. There were pretty much the same type of fish there, but we got to see some more sea turtles so it was worth it.

We love vacations!!

We had a couple more hours to explore so we kept driving south stopping at different places that looked cool. We found a state park with tons of cool little tide pools on the volcanic rock beach.

Our last activity for the day was to go back to Kua beach and watch the sunset. I wish we had spent all day there, but we got a good hour and a half of boogie boarding before the sun set over the beach.

You can't not be in love in Hawaii.
Our last dinner in Kona was a nice Mexican restaurant near our hotel. I got the fish taco burrito and I have been craving it ever since. So good.

Sunday morning our plan was to check out Volcano National Park. I was sad that I had to miss being with Caleb on Easter morning, but my parents and Annie made sure he was taken care of.

On our way to the park we stopped at a small church building to attend sacrament meeting and were pleasantly surprised with how welcoming and wonderful everyone was. An older lady came running up to us before the meeting and gave us huge hugs and put homemade leis around our neck. The meeting was one of the best testimony meetings I have ever been to. What a blessing to be apart of this wonderful gospel and feel the spirit wherever you are!

We arrived at VNP around noon but before we went to see the sites we both needed lunch. We walked to a nearby restaurant and were pleasantly surprised to find a delicious Easter brunch being served. They had fresh crab legs, clams, salads, prime rib, pasta, breakfast foods, and a ton of desserts. It was one of the best buffets I have ever been too. Worth every penny.

With our bellies full we drove to the steaming vents and caldera overlook.

Unfortunately the clouds started rolling in and it started raining pretty bad so we couldn't see the overlook very well. I was excited to see lava in person, but we never got to:(.

Lava tube
One of my favorite parts of our whole trip was a hike we took down into an old caldera valley. 50 years ago the valley was a lake of lava, but has since dried up and become a valley of lava rock and steaming vents. Because it was raining we were the only people on the trail which made it even eerier when we made it onto the caldera. It was seriously so cool. I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic world.

The pictures didn't turn out well because of the clouds:(

That night we flew out of Hilo and into Honolulu for a 1 night layover. Thanks to our Marriott card we had another free night at the Marriott on Waikiki beach. Credit card points are the best thing that ever happened to me. Unfortunately, Waikiki is sub par compared to Kona, but we only had a couple hours on Monday morning to go for a run and sit by the pool before we flew home to Oakland.

Brad wasn't feeling the run that morning

And of course we had to buy an Acai bowl while there...

We arrived home late Monday night and immediately ran upstairs and grabbed Caleb out of his crib. Vacations are so good for the soul, but kissing your baby after a long week away is good for the heart. What a trip!

Until next time, Hawaii...

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