Aloha! I finally uploaded all of our daily vlogs to YouTube and then put them all on one page. Find all of our Big Island videos here –> HAWAII BIG ISLAND! Check it out! I’ll link the overview video here to give you a taste.
Big Island was unlike any place I’ve ever been. I mean, for one, I was standing mere feet away from flowing lava!!! Being on an active volcano is definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life. The kids really hung in there – lots of driving, some hiking, and staying in different places. I was so impressed with their adventuring!
Some of my favorite memories:
- Road Tripping – kids singing songs in the back, listening to Christmas songs while I crocheted baby santa hats for a NICU donation, singing Mele Kalikimaka while staring at fresh snow-covered mountains. I seriously love road trips and Big Island was big enough to satisfy!
- Biking/Hiking to the lava flow – so, after having our minds blown by standing right next to the lava, it was time to hike back and it was pitch black outside. We had our headlamps (thank goodness), but the boys were so tired from hiking the miles out to the flow that we had to carry them. After a few minutes of walking, we fell in sync with a man and two women who were also hiking back to the same spot. They sort of just adopted us and they were going at such a great pace for me to just focus on keeping up, instead of how heavy Rory felt on my back! Zach was carrying Dane on his shoulders, and every now and then Dane would bust out singing Jingle Bells. Suddenly everyone would join in singing, including other hikers passing by. Spontaneous caroling on the black lava fields just warmed my heart – I love how travelers form temporary communities with each other. We made it back in great time – and we overheard our new hiking friends tell their group that they were singing carols and ABCs all the way back from the lava.
- Dane was begging to go kayaking on Day 7. We had planned to do it at Captain Cook, but we seriously could not find a kayak rental – haha – even though they were supposedly all around. We honestly tried 3 locations we found on GPS and they were all abandoned businesses! Anyway, we didn’t kayak at Captain Cook, so we promised Dane we’d kayak the next morning in Kailua Bay outside our hotel. So we did, and with little expectation. We saw some yellow fish, some cool tide pools/waterfalls, and had a good view of the town. We were just about to head back when another kayaker said she saw the dolphins tour boats headed our way, which meant the dolphins were coming! So we kayaked the opposite way and came upon them! The water was so clear we could look down and see them go by. This was the first time our boys were out in the water with the dolphins freely swimming around, and it was definitely a highlight!
- We lit fires in the fireplace every evening we stayed at Kilauea Military Camp. It was such a cozy delight. We all called it “The Cozy Cabin” because we liked the warmth and charm of our accommodations. The boys still talk about the cozy cabin. That will forever be its name.
- Akaka Falls was so foggy when we got there that we could barely see it, but it made for an otherworldly experience. We were so surprised by how much we loved the rainforest and feeling of life that surrounded us. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And our boys liked to “pop” the drops of water on the underside of the railings.
- Green Sand Beach was in such a stunning area, but we were truly delighted by the locals taking us to a very small patch of really green sand about a mile away! I mean, this stuff was seriously green – and so gorgeous! The boys also LOVED off-roading and still talk about the “bumpy car.” That was probably their favorite activity!
- Hearing – yes, hearing – the lava lake at the caldera was out of this world. It sounds like distant ocean waves!!!
- Ken’s Pancake House – we went twice! The food was good, but the customer service the first time we went was exceptional. The sweet hostess brought our boys their own Christmas stockings and stickers and let them decorate all over them. We kept those stockings and the boys still remember that activity.
- Dane fell on a jagged rock at the top of Rainbow Falls and he banged up his knee. I had forgotten my band-aids at the Cozy Cabin and had nothing but wet wipes with me. A sweet woman came up to us and offered us her two bandaids. One was a Donald Duck bandaid (so timely because the boys watched Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas about a thousand times at the Cozy Cabin and the Hotel in Kona) and one was a plain big bandaid. Thanks to her, I was able to help Dane feel better in the moment. People can really be so nice. I love being reminded of that. Another favorite at Rainbow Falls was playing in the banyan trees. The boys were scared to go through the tunnels at first, but Dane got so brave and then they both went through again and again. I was so proud of them!
- Our drone crashed into the ocean! This was not a glorious moment – it seriously happened at our first stop of the trip at South Point. Zach was positioning the drone to capture his epic jump off the cliff, when all the sudden the drone spazzed out of control and then just tanked into the deep water. NOOOOOOO!!! That was such a huge blow. We love flying our drone to get gorgeous footage and had high hopes for flying it on the Big Island. Kissed those dreams goodbye… BUT, what I loved is that we picked ourselves right back up and carried on with our plans. Zach jumped off the cliff with the GoPro instead and we still got great footage. We also followed up and made a claim with DJI, and they took responsibility for the malfunction, which means WE’RE GETTING A NEW DRONE! HALLELUJAH!
I’m always surprised after our vacations to realize that my favorite moments are usually not the epic planned activities, but the quiet moments that just naturally happen throughout the journey. I love people’s kindness, enthusiasm, and how we share tips with others to help each other have the best experience ever (thanks, kind man who showed me the hidden turtle sleeping under the water at Black Sand Beach). I will say, though, that experiencing lava flow was beyond my expectations and I reflect with awe on witnessing that phenomenon. If you have an opportunity to visit the Big Island, I highly recommend it. We had an unbelievably AMAZING family vacation!