Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Aloha 30

In celebration of my 30th year, my mom invited me to join her and Sam on their annual summer trip - this year, it just happened to be in Hawaii. 

Now if you know me, you know that Hawaii is my ultimate. I am a beach girl through and through. You give me a towel, a book and some sunscreen (and maybe a mimosa or two) and color me a happy (and tan) girl. There, of course, was slight hesitation on my part - I'd just gotten back from London and hadn't been to Iceland yet and my travel funds were quickly depleting (oh wait, that would mean I saved, I mean growing at a rapid pace) but it was HAWAII aka PARADISE. My mom was offering the present of a flight and a place to stay (!!!) so I just had one last question - can Lauren join? The minute she said of course, I was out bikini shopping.

We arrived in Kona (coolest airport ever, all open space) the morning of June 21 after a long (and cold!) flight over from Vegas. After a slight hiccup at the rental car place, we headed to Lava Java to fill ourselves with Kona Coffee (the best!) and croissant sandwiches. Off to the beach from there for Lauren and me which (no surprise) is where we spent the majority of our time. We've always been the best of beach buddies (hence the immediate request to bring her along) and for us, this was Nirvana.

That night, our very first night, we were welcomed with a Luau which I just ATE UP. Apparently, you give me a few Mai Tais and put a fire thrower in front of me and I am just giddy. The Kalua Pork was delicious and the hula girls were sooooo beautiful! A perfect start to our week in Hawaii.

On Monday, I went with my parents to Hawai'i's National Volcano Park where we saw an active volcano, devastation trail and a lava tube. I was surprised how much of Kona reminded me of Iceland - with all of the lava, they looked similar (although I much prefer Hawaii's weather to Iceland's!). The lava tube was my first underground cave so that was definitely the highlight for me. Sam, my biologist stepfather, was fascinated by the volcano though, so it was a good day trip for all.

Tuesday was our trip up to Waipio Valley where we rode horseback through the rain forest. Camel the Horse was my ride as we trekked through trails, water and took in the views. An absolutely amazing experience that I would highly recommend if visiting the Big Island. I even saw my first pink lotus (and dream treehouse!).

Wednesday, Lauren and I spent some time at the beach where we made friends with sea turtles before hustling back to the hotel to grab Sam before our Manta Ray Night Snorkel. Audrey (PY) had shared with me, when I told her about our plans to visit Hawaii, that the Manta Ray Dive was one of the most magical things she'd ever seen so this was top on my list of things to do and it did not disappoint. Even with a slight asthma attack in the beginning (I suppose I should have said that I'd had a snorkel mask on my face, once, six years ago, for about 15 minutes in Newport Beach while on vacation with my ex and his family rather than I've snorkeled!), it was up there with seeing the Northern Lights for me. We started with an evening snorkel to see all the coral reef and colorful fishies, we even swam above some dolphins! This snorkel lasted about an hour and I'm glad we did it so I could get the asthma attack out of the way before we got in the dark sea after the sun went down for the manta ray portion. We were on the (small) boat for about an hour between the dives - which wasn't ideal since it was cold and rocky but we learned a lot about the mantas and heard some really cheesy jokes. Come sundown, we got back in to our wetsuits (awful awful awful) and were back in the water. This time, there were about 80 other people in the water (it's the #1 night dive in the world and one of the top ten snorkel experiences). We saw five mantas that night with the largest being Koie, a 12-foot female weighing in at about 1200 lbs. It was such an incredible experience to be that close to sea life - I could have chest bumped with Koie at one point, she was that close to me. The photos below are from our actual dive because I'm the sucker that spends $52 immediately following the experience to get the video and photos I wasn't able to capture.

The rest of the trip was really spent lounging on the beach with Lauren (our secret beach and Hapuna were our favorites), taking in the GORGEOUS Kona sunsets, drinking Mai Tais (thanks, Don's!) and eating delicious meals with my family. One thing we were really surprised about was the lack of fresh fish to be found in Kona (apparently the poke is all the rage but I'm not a raw girl) - but one night, Pep went searching and found us some fresh Ono and per my request, put some parmesan crust on that bad boy and that, with a side of rice and some fresh green beans, was the best meal I had there. #homecookin

Come Friday, we did not want to pack our bags but come to find out, you can't stay in Paradise forever. Even though Lauren and I tried coming up with ideas while we were there - for the record, and more, I still think "Kinda Watchin' Your Kids, LLC" still has a ring to it.



Lynzie Anne said...

That picture of you by the sunset is gorgeous! Not a bad way to celebrate your 30th.

X said...

Wow, pics are amazing. Glad you got to bring Lauren along. Oprah says there's a time of day in Hawaii that is the most beautiful vision she's ever seeen. That she's with the clouds. Hope you felt that.