I know I’ve let the first few months of 2013 whiz by without a blog post. It makes me cringe to think of how long it’s been. The past few months have been very busy, not so much with travel, but with work. I promise I’ll get caught up! In my last post, I talked about our magical wedding day. In this post, I want to re-live our stay on the Big Island.
Writing this post makes me long to be back on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. Ben and I are back up in the Portland area, and I’m pretty bummed that flip flops are no longer part of my daily attire. But back to Hawaii… After our beautiful wedding day on Jan. 4th, we spent a few more days relaxing at our resort and spending quality time with close family and friends. It was wonderful being on vacation with the people closest to us. Seeing everyone at home is great in itself, but being able to share a sunset happy hour in paradise, over looking the Pacific Ocean? That’s priceless. Those are memories I’ll be clinging on to forever.
As I may have mentioned in my last post, we stayed at the beautiful Hilton Waikaloa Village Resort, and man is that place amazing! Ben had been there before, and he tried to give me an idea of what it was like, but I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer magic of the place. First of all, it’s huge. And I mean HUGE. If my sister happened to call me and tell me to meet her in the lobby, I’d have a good 3/4 mile walk from my room. There are three main towers containing guest rooms and many other buildings with restaurants, lounges, etc. If you don’t feel like walking, there is a monorail and an adorable boat channel that will take you between the main buildings. But if you opted for one of these, you would not only miss the beautiful walk, but you’d miss the art too. The Waikaloa is FULL of Asian-themed art. During just a 5-minute walk around the grounds, you would literally pass dozens and dozens of sculptures, paintings, carvings, etc. Whoever curated this collection had a big job on their hands. The hotel has several large pools as well as a lagoon that it completely open to the ocean. If you hang out in the lagoon, you will most likely see lots of sea turtles and fun-looking fish. You could literally stay on this property for the entirety of your visit and never run out of things to do. (We, of course, DID leave the property a bit to explore.)
I snapped this pic of the Ocean Tower at the Hilton Waikaloa. This was where most of our hotel rooms were, and it was my favorite tower. If you looked at it from above, it would look like three circles, connected but with the interior completely open. In the middle was the adult pool (score!), a cantina/restaurant and a cafe.
On the day following our wedding, Ben and I went on an ATV tour at the northern tip of the Big Island. The tour was actually a Christmas gift from my parents, and we had a blast! We covered a lot of lush, Hawaiian landscape and stopped at a few waterfalls. At one of the stops, we did a short hike to get to the falls and at the bottom, and there we found macadamia trees. Our guide cracked some of the raw nuts open for us and we got to eat them right off the tree. They were delicious, by the way. Our ATV was pretty cool because it had seats that were side-by-side instead of one right in front of the other. I like the kind you straddle if you’re by yourself, but with two people, one person is always looking at the back of the other person’s head. This was much better.
Me and my new husband are looking pretty spiffy, eh? I think that helmet made me look like a bobblehead.
Since the resort was just amazing, we spent most of our time hanging out there. In most other situations, Ben and I would be out exploring more. But there was something really nice about just “hanging out” and spending time with the people we’re close to. I liked not having to worry about carrying a 40-lb camera bag on a 3-mile hike, or getting up at 4 am to be out shooting sunrise. (Ironically, I got up early anyway because I was just psyched to start the days!)
In the mornings, I went for long walks with my mom. We’d walk on the resort, off the resort and would go for miles just talking … all before the rest of the gang got out of bed. That time was just so special to me. In fact, I wish I could beam myself from wherever I am every day to go on morning walks with my mom.
It was also the morning time that truly reminded me how much of a warm weather gal I am. Ben and I have been spending the winter in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it’s the first winter where we didn’t head south for the colder months, and I noticed something interesting happening. I found that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, my eyes didn’t even want to open! This is SO uncharacteristic of me. Usually, I want to sleep as little as possible and I’m excited for whatever the new day will bring. Something was definitely off. Then we went down to Hawaii. The entire time we were there, I was awake before the sun came up, just lying in bed waiting for it to get light enough to go outside and start the day. I think Jimmy Buffett sums up my feelings for the wintery north in his song, Boat Drinks. “Oh I know, I should be leaving this climate; I got a verse but can’t rhyme it; I gotta go where it’s warm!”
In the evenings, we would meet up for happy hour at “Buddha Point,” a beautiful overlook at the resort that is just perfect for sunset. And of course, there is a Buddha statue there. We’d bring wine and snacks and watch the magical Hawaiian sunset. Sounds so rough, doesn’t it!?
While we were on the Big Island, I also got to swim with dolphins! I have always found dolphins to be so intelligent, fascinating, and “personable,” but I’ve never had the opportunity to interact with them before. It’s either been too expensive or a scenario where the dolphins are just in the equivalent to a swimming pool. At the Waikaloa, they’re in a lagoon and it just felt a little more natural. It was still pricy, but I guess they have to pay for the lagoon somehow! I got to meet several dolphins, and it was just incredible. They would swim down a line in front of us and then turn around to come back. I was at the end of the line and could feel the movement of the water when he whipped around and changed directions. It really gave me an idea of how friggin’ powerful they are. If his tail fin had hit me, it probably would have broken my knee or something. And of course, the whole time I was hanging out with the dolphins, I was thinking of the song from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: “So long, and thanks for all the fish; So sad that things have come to this…” hehe.
So basically, our stay in Hawaii was everything I wanted it to be and more. I got to marry the man I’m madly in love with, spend quality time with family and close friends and explore a new place…which just happens to be paradise. Life is good.
I’ll end this post with a few more photos, and a promise that I wont go this long without blogging again!