When we were planning this trip, we thought long and hard about what type of family vacation that we wanted in Hawaii: resort or laid back authentic old Hawaii experience. We decided to spend most of our time in Hilo, opting for the authentic Hawaiian experience. In one review that I read about Hilo, the reviewer said that it’s a great place to buy tires, but not a vacation destination. I wouldn’t say that, exactly. The charm of the place is that it seems to be more “real”? Yes, there were tire shops and a Walmart (which we never saw). However, when we were at the beach and lagoon across the street from the house that we rented, our pale haole (or howlie) white faces were the minority and the local KTA grocery store was fascinating mix of items that we were familiar with and many Hawaiian/Asian things that we hadn’t tried cooking with. The restaurants were a little funky and the shops were fun, not at all the high end resort shops that you would see many tourist towns.
That being said, there’s a hell of a lot to enjoy while staying in a resort (Which I actually believe is my natural habitat, along with a cruise ship – just feels so right, you know?). SO, we shook it up a little and made the two hour drive across the island to sample the Kona Coast for a couple of days. We swam in the huge, huge pools, went down the twisting slides, snorkeled in their Disneyish lagoon, drank over-sweet and over-priced hokey cocktails and took in a touristy luau. It was divine. It turns out there were nearly as many Japanese tourists here as USA mainlanders. (They aren’t haoles, are they? Do they have another name in Hawaiian?) The grounds were just goooooooorgeous and the hotel was beautiful. I have to say it was a great break from doing dishes at the rental house. The breakfast buffet was nice, but not as good as Ken’s in Hilo. (which I will enjoy writing about in my next entry).
The grand-darlings were in the water nearly every minute we were there. Seeing them enjoy it so much was worth the price of admission. It did look like our newly engaged son and future daughter-in-law, along with our daughter and son-in-law (aka Mommy and Daddy) were having lots of fun too. Happy, happy, happy….thankful, thankful, thankful…
Hawaii Island, or “The Big Island”, is called the big island because you could fit all the other islands onto it and still have room left over. The drive from the tropical rain forests of the Eastern Hilo side, over the “saddle road” or Daniel Inouye Hwy. was about two hours long before we arrived at the sunny Kailua-Kona, western side of the island. Along that route we went across moonlike volcanic landscapes, through large cattle ranches and quirky looking little towns. This highway was improved fairly recently and was an interesting drive. Previous to the improvements, rental car companies refused to allow their cars to be driven on this road, customers had to sign to that in the rental agreement. After our stay in Kona, we drove along the north of the island on the Hawaii Belt Road and enjoyed amazing ocean views with lush rain forests. I was so surprised at the contrasts on this island.