Perfect Hawaiian Vacation to Kauai, Big Island, and Oahu - December 2008
(Currently in Iraq with US Military)
Us at the Volcano Lodge in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii
Our trip was simply amazing. I'll try and remember all the details:
Resort Quest Islander on the Beach in Kauai I think was the best hotel the entire trip. The rooms were quaint little cottages, and there was a book with notes from people who had stayed there before. Places to eat etc. The advantage of having the small shopping center right there was a nice addition. And the "partial ocean view" just meant that on the back patio we turned our chairs to the right a little bit and saw the ocean. We ate dinner in Kappa, I should probably look at my receipts and find the names. But the first place that was in down town old town Kappa was on the second floor balcony. Oceanside Cafe maybe? Amazing fish and a view. Then the concierge at the hotel recommended a sushi place right down the road from the hotel, Takamoro or something. We sat at the sushi bar and saw this guy eating something amazing, we had hand rolls of fresh tuna and hamachi chunks. We went hiking to the top of Sleeping Giant, about an hour/hour and a half up. Spectacular views (we didn't bring the camera) but it was very wet and muddy.
I was thankful I brought lightweight pants and a waterproof jacket for the entire trip. I think we could have spent more time on Kauai. I went diving with Bubble Below. Amazingly friendly people, knowledgeable, skilled, great dive sites where I swam with spinner dolphins and humpback whales. I'd dive with them tomorrow if I could.
The Big Island was my favorite, although my wife would have liked less rain. The rental car agency only had a minivan for us, I think a 4x4 would have been a more practical approach. The cottages at KMC were a great deal and boy did we hike. We did the Iki Crater, lava tubes, etc. Christmas eve dinner at the Volcano Lodge was perfect. Great food, amazing service, I never had an empty water glass. Was like eating in a living room, but a very luxurious one. Great wine list. The hiking was a little intense for my wife, but we had some good hiking boots and had an amazing time. Afterwards we did the tourist stuff I saw on tours, Rainbow Falls, Hilo Farmers Market, Orchid Farm, Boiling Pots all were fun. We went to a little sushi restaurant in Hilo, great food. Then took the trip south to where the lava is flowing into the ocean, here's where the 4x4 would have been good. A video camera would have done it better justice, but still was amazing. Stopped in some little hole in the wall place for a burrito which took 2 hours to make.
There was a small zen garden in Hilo, very serene and strange but beautiful. The drive to Kona, we got a tip to drive north, was awesome, watching the scenery change etc. I dove in Kona with Kona Honu divers, a bit of a commercialized adventure, big boat lots of people but they made my wife very comfortable and she loved both her dives. The hotel was nice, right over a tide pool with turtles which we snorkeled with, my wife went crazy :) I wasn't that impressed with the luau at the Royal Kona.
Honolulu was a little strange. I was kind of disappointed with how built up of a city it was. Driving from the airport to our hotel I felt I was almost in a part of California. Hotel had an amazing view, fireworks on new years was great. Hotel had a bar next to the pool with a band and the sushi restaurant next door in the Sheraton was delicious. I did the military thing and did all of Pearl Harbor and then we drove up to punchbowl, which was moving. We spoke with a WWII veteran there for about 20 minutes and it really solidified the entire day's experience that made it so I'll never forget.
All said and done, it was the perfect trip. I probably spent a little too much money on scuba diving and food, but it was the perfect Hawaii experience. My wife and I both for the two weeks after felt just rejuvenated and alive from the experience. Having everything lined up, with airline connections...oh yea, the little puddle jumper planes from Lihue to Hilo, with the transfer in Honolulu, was bizarre. We had to just kind of wait around until we saw people going outside, then run up and say "I want to go to Hilo" Almost like taking a bus in the middle east.
I've told all my friends about you and my parents as well. The next time they head to Hawaii they should hit you up. I've attached some pictures, I'm not the best photographer but they are ok I think.
Thanks again for all your time and work on us, it was worth every email and every penny :)