Friday, March 13, 2020

Kona Hawaii Family Trip

What a wonderful, fun filled, memorable trip. So grateful we were all safe, healthy and fit a lot into the trip! Highlights included beaches, beaches, beaches, Mauna Kea Mountain for Darrin (kids and preggos couldn't go due to high elevations), Darrin and I got a private tour night snorkeling with 12 foot wide Manta Rays and a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins (eeeekkkkk!!!), Volcanoes National Park, Queens bath, Kihalo Bay Lagoon hike where we saw countless turtles right up along the shoreline most of the hike, Pololu Valley Hike where we saw dramatic cliff views and hiked down to an amazing black sand beach, Boogie Boarding, Kaumana Lava Tube Caves and Ho‘okena Beach Park where we saw so many dolphins putting on a show for us hours on end. It's never a relaxing vacation when we bring the kids but it was certainly so much fun and we created long lasting memories! So grateful we could go!

Monday 2.24.20 woke up at 3:30am, the plan was to get an Uber but there were no drivers available so we had to find a park and jet last minute, left 20 minutes later than planned, the security line was 25 minutes, and we boarded after everyone else had already boarded. So, it was a bit stressful but the Lord was with us all the while and I knew it would all be ok. Then we got on the plane and they saved us seats to all sit together! Miracle! We flew to Oaklyn California first and then onto Kona. The kids did great, even Rachel with having to wait to go potty on several occasions. We finally made it and had the whole day ahead of us. The car rental went smoothly and quickly which was nice and we headed straight to Costco for lunch and groceries. It was really close to the airport. Then we headed towards our rental in Waikoloa Village. We dropped off our luggage and groceries since they were still cleaning the condo and headed to Mauna Kea mountain . They recommended that I nor the kids went any higher elevation than the visitors center because of altitude sickness and said it could stunt our kids growth... So Darrin went on with Wes and Jenica and I took the kids back to the condo to change and headed to the ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach for the sunset and playing. We had a great time! Caden and Rachel got all the way in right off the bat and couldn't get out they were having so much fun. Parker and Spencer were building a River with a bridge to the ocean. After it was too dark to see we headed back to the condo for showers and dinner. Darrin had a great time with Wes and Jenica hiking to a freezing lake through the ice and snow and driving around. He said he felt really sick and strange when they were at really high altitude at about 13000 feet. He was glad I didn't go with the kids because of how he felt. They also saw amazing stars which I was jealous of. Went to bed at 9:30 because we were EXHAUSTED!

Tuesday 2.25.20 slept as late as we could which was about 6:45am. Had our Costco breakfast of cereal, muffins and yogurt. We all got ready, and met up with Wes and Jenica at about 9:30 to go to ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach, the same beach we went to last night. It was really windy but we had a good time. Darrin and Parker went out snorkeling and then he took Rachel snorkeling for the first time which didn't last long but they had fun. Then we went to the Kihalo Bay Lagoon hike. In total it was a little over 2 miles we walked but was along the shoreline which was beautiful but not easy to walk in and it was pretty windy. When we got to Queens bath we all got in which was really chilly but so worth it. We went in the underwater cave as far as we could which was a lot of fun. After we were done with that we went along and saw so many sea turtles swimming right up by the shoreline which was awesome!! We got to our destination which was the lagoon where there were even more turtles including 5 up on the shore of the island just 20 feet away. We hiked back to the car and headed to Kua Bay, a white sand beach. It was a gorgeous beach with epic boogie boarding! We all loved it and stayed for hours. When the sun was setting we headed back to the hotel for showers. We grabbed Chinese food right near our condo which was really good and then headed to bed.

Wednesday 2.26.20 after breakfast we met up with Wes and Jenica and drove up Kohala Mountain Road which had gorgeous scenic views and reminded me a lot of Ireland's rolling hills and had horses and cows on the rolling hills rather than sheep 😊. The mountain road led us to a hike called Pololu Valley. It was a fantastic hike with incredible views of the cliffsides and led us down to a black sand beach. The sand so ultra fine and soft and we played here for quite a while before the trek back up. We ate at a nearby oceanside park that had huge waves but a little inlet where it was calm and the kids played. We tried a few places for shave ice or ice cream and had rotten luck with one place out of ice cream, one closed down and another closed. Lame! Then we attempted to drive to this place that many years ago there was human sacrifices taking place. We drove for a while on a bumpy, Rocky dirt road to get to it only to find that there was a body of water in the road completely preventing us from going. Then we went to a different ancient ruins place that was free and we did a hike around and saw different things that were still preserved like a house that was last lived in the early 1900s. It wasn't anything amazing but a decent stop. We then went to Puukohola Heiau national historic site where we walked through a small museum and watched a video about the history of the place. We didn't walk up to the ruins but saw it and it looked really cool and was big. Hapuna Beach was where we ended the day. $5 for parking but a beautiful beach with great boogie boarding. The kids loved it here. Parker dug a hole with a little help from Darrin up to his chin! We stayed until after the sunset and then grabbed dinner at Island Fish and chips. Darrin loooved it. I had chicken strips that were good. We came back to the condo, got the kids showered and to bed and then Wes and Jenica were SO kind to come over while Darrin and I had our Manta Ray excursion with My Kona Adventures. It was almost an hour drive each way to get to Keauhou Bay where they left from.  We were the only ones who showed up for our 10:50 departure time so we got our own personal tour! They had wet suits for us thank goodness because it wasn't warm 😊. We got on the boat and rode a little ways before they told us to get out of the boat and hold onto a little surf board thing with handles. It was a little hard to get in with the cold but you have on the wetsuit and ankle floaters too to just hold on and relax.  At first we didn't see much, they told us they'd seen a pod of dolphins just before we got there but we didn't think much of it because we figured they wouldn't stick around. But then we started hearing dolphins and saw three of them swimming underwater, then we saw the Manta Ray's and boy were they getting up close and personal doing flips right up next to us. We saw 6 Manta Ray's, the biggest being 12 foot wide wing span! And we saw more dolphins too. We could see the phytoplankton all around us which is what the Manta Ray's were eating. We could also see tons of needle fish which is what the dolphins were eating. He said they only see dolphins once to twice a year there and it's really rare to see both creatures at once because the dolphins like to pick on the Ray's. The needle fish nippled at both of us and these tiny see through crab things keep biting too. But it was seriously soooo incredible!! Towards the end of our time the Ray's seemed to have left and so I took my mask off to see the dolphins better above water and saw at least 8-10 of them swimming around us, spouting and seeing their fins. Wow!!! What an excursion! We didn't get to sleep until 1:30am which is 4:30am Utah time but it was well worth it!

Thursday 2.27.20 took the morning easy since we were up so late. We had a whale watching tour in the afternoon with Ocean Encounters aka Bite Me fishing tours and needed to be there to check in at noon. It was about 35 minutes away. The tour was decent. We saw whales on several occasions and followed them for a bit. My favorite time was when we could see the whale under the clear blue water swimming for a good amount of time and then coming up. You knew exactly where the whale was because you could see it underwater. We saw spouts, backs and tails. It was long though. Over 2 hours and lots of time in between seeing anything and it was really rocky waters. I was feeling so sick half the time. 3 out of the four kids fell asleep which was hard to do considering how rocky it was. Parker was real close to sleeping too 😁. They did give out snacks and drinks though which was nice. After the tour we took our packed lunches to a nearby beach park which was nice. Then we drove to Makalawena Beach to attempt going to a great, secluded boogie boarding beach. We could tell our minivan rental wouldn't make it so we parked and hopped in Wes and Jenica's Pathfinder. Wow. It was insanely bumpy and rocky with lots of deep deep potholes. We went for about 45 minutes with Darrin continually getting out and directing Wes or placing boulders so he could get by. Finally we decided we couldn't make it and turned around for another 45 minutes back of the same sketchiness. Probably the worst thing I've done while pregnant. My poor baby bouncing around like that 😁. While we were driving though we could see a bunch of whales jumping out of the water in the ocean though which was SO cool!  Then we went a beach down the road called Mahai'ula where you could hike 20 minutes to get to the beach we were getting to drive to. We decided for the sake of time we'd just go to the beach that was right by the parking lot where you could walk the 20 minutes to get to the other. We go got to our stuff out, kids stoked, only to find it was extremely windy and sand was painfully hitting us. So we left and went to the restaurant Lava Lava Beach Resort since we had a gift card there from our hotel because of the pool being closed down. They told us a 45 minutes wait but it really only ended up being about 15 minutes. The atmosphere was really nice with the sunset, palm trees, torches, lighted tree and live music with a dancer. The food was pretty good too. The service was really pretty crappy for us though which was a bummer. Awesome dinner though overall.

Friday 2.28.20- left at 9 to go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which was about a 2 hour drive there. Got in free with Parker's 4th grade park pass. Sweet! We did lots of lookouts and small hikes. Unfortunately it was a pretty wet day but we survived just fine. Noteably the steam vents, sulfer pots, lava tube, craters, ocean cliffsides with huge cracks in the lava and where you could see where lava had flowed down hillsides.  We ended the day with a VERY WET 2.4 mile hike to the bottom of Kilauea Iki Crater. The kids did so great even though we were all so sopping wet. Rachel walked the whole way and the boys pretty much ran the whole way. Then we ate at Cafe 100 in Hilo for dinner which was Hawaiian. It was pretty good.

Saturday 2.29.20-Darrin's crown on his tooth came off last night while flossing so we spent a good amount time finding dental cement to put it back on. Then we drove an hour and started the day off at Waiopoa black sand beach. It was a lot of fun despite how cloudy and windy it was. You had to have a 4 wheel drive to drive down to the beach so we all got in Wes and Jenica's car to head down the steep steep road. A big River led into the ocean and you could see two waterfalls front the beach. Wes and Jenica went on a hike to one of the waterfalls while we stayed at the black sand beach playing the whole time. Played in the ocean, slid into the river off the sand bank, got super dirty, and built a sand castle. We saw some really pretty little birds with red heads too. Then we made the sketchy trek back up the mountain. Next we drove East to get to Akaka Falls State Park and on the way saw breathtaking views of the side of the road. Like incredible waterfalls and such lucious foliage. Once we got to the state park the entrance fee was $5/vehicle. We did the 1/2 mile loop to see two waterfalls which was a beautiful walk. I jinxed us. I said, "I'm so grateful it's so nice and not rainy!" And 2 minutes later it downpoured on us!! Still loved it here. Then we drove about half hour to Onomea Bay which was beautiful a small hike down and had a blow hole too. Pretty short stop. We went to get dinner in Hilo and it was sure a happening place. First we tried a Thai restaurant that said we'd have to have a reservation, then we went to another Thai restaurant that was closed Friday and Saturday's, then a nice couple told us about Cafe Pesto nearby and they said an hour wait, then we landed at a Mexican restaurant which Darrin hates Mexican but at that point we just needed food in our bellies. It was decent food but not amazing. Then we drove an hour home. We've been listening to the Work and the Glory and even Parker is quite into it. I feel like it's a great prep for the 200th year anniversary of the first vision.

Sunday 3.1.20 we took the morning pretty easy and left at 9:30 to head to the Kona temple and church. The temple was beautiful and church was great. Can't beat a fast Sunday in Hawaii with all the "Alohas"! It was a beautiful meeting. We then drove to Kealakekua Bay to eat lunch. Then Darrin took Parker and Spencer along with Wes and Jenica to take their car, drive to Captain Cook monument trail which was about 2 miles down and then snorkeling back to the Bay. They thought it'd take them about 3 hours. I stayed back with Caden and Rachel to wait for them. A local told us about a nearby beach called "Manini Beach" that was more kid friendly. We first tried to drive there. No parking at all. So we drove back to the Bay, parked and walked a little over .25 miles each way to Manini Beach. We loved it there. There was a nice big shady grassy area, bathroom, an easy to get into ocean pool and a shallow kiddie type pool next to that and little areas they could jump off rocks into the ocean. We stayed for about 2 hours and could have stayed much longer but headed on the walk back to Kealakekua Bay to meet up with the others in time.. Well, they ended up being an hour and a half late after the estimated time!! I was getting pretty worried! It turns out Spencer's snorkel was broken so Darrin ended up giving Spencer his snorkel and towing both kids with only a mask! They also found lots of cool shells along the way which slowed them and they said they snorkeling was pretty good. They saw eel, tons of fish including a two foot long bright yellow fish and a turtle. I was so relieved they were safe and well. We drove Wes and Jenica back to their car and then headed an hour back to the condo for dinner and bed.

Monday 3.2.20  started the day off at Kaumana Caves which took about an hour to get there. These lava tube caves were really awesome. We spent about an hour and a half here going through the caves. Next up was rainbow waterfalls which were really pretty and you could indeed see rainbows. Then we went to Lava Tree State Monument where they had a 0.7 mile paved loop path around botanical gardens and they had a bunch of lava tree molds which were made in the 17th or 18th centuries and lava flowed up onto trees , the lava cooled and the trees died leaving lava tree molds. So cool! We tried to go to Kapoho Tide Pools and Ahalanui Park but the whole road and town were gone from the 2018 lava flow we assumed. Just gone. After we went to some natural steam vent rooms. There were several steam rooms and you had to do some true bush wacking to get to any of them. They were super cool but note to self-wear shoes good in the mud, long pants and possibly a jacket to protect your arms. Driving around this area was breathtaking with much of the driving in tree tunnels. Issac Hale Park is where we ended the day. Despite a downpour we survived, they had these little pools of warm water we swam in which was a lot of fun.

Tuesday 3.3.20 Two steps beach was awesome. Little pools for the kids and great snorkeling. Rachel went out for her second time snorkeling and really got it this time and kept getting excited Everytime she'd see a fish! We had a picnic lunch here too. After we went to Ho‘okena Beach Park. Nice soft, gray sand here and we saw tons of dolphins right off the beach-even lots jumping out of the water! The kids loved playing in the waves, digging holes and "boogie boarding" on the sand hill. Stayed here for hours. Grabbed near our condo for dinner.

Wednesday 3.4.20 Packed up, had an early lunch at Costco, flew home and got to bed around 2am :).