April 20, 2017

Hawaii (The Big Island): Part 2

This is the second part of our Big Island trip recap. We left off with the first part of our trip, Part 1 here.

DAY 5: We got up and out of our condo early this time because we had a full day of fun planned on the south side of the island. Hawaii Volcanos National Park was our main destination, but we made a few stops along the way to break up the long drive.

Our first stop was Greenwell Farms, a Kona coffee farm. They have free, low-key tours running all day long. We also loved checking out all the different fruit trees (avocado, banana, orange) and their farm store too! The kids were on iguana/lizard lookout the whole trip and were excited to find an iguana in a tree here.

After the coffee farm, its a long drive without much in the way of places to eat. We stopped at an L&L Barbecue because we were hungry and in need of a break, but it was gross. I was wishing we had brought a picnic lunch!

When we finally made it to Volcanoes National Park, it was worth the wait! After a quick stop at the steam vents, we went to the Jagger Museum. This is a fun little place to check out with lots of things to see and touch and, of course, its the best viewpoint of the crater.

Note: If you have school-aged kids, make sure to ask for a Junior Ranger workbook at Jagger Museum. Its free and full of educational fun for kids to work on while they are at the volcano. Once they are done with it, take it back to the museum and turn it in for a cool Junior Ranger badge. Love this program AND having kids that can read/write/inform themselves!

After checking out the crater (and the bubbling lava!), we drove down to the end of the road at edge of the ocean. The drive down is thru many recent lava flows that are pretty cool to see. At the end of the road you can hike it about 10 miles to where the lava is currently flowing into the ocean, but we didn't make it that far with the rugrats in tow. We did hike a good ways on the lava though. 

After a fun day at the volcano, we headed up the east side into Hilo for dinner and stumbled upon what ended up being our favorite restaurant of our trip to the Big Island. Pineapples was a great combination of yummy island food, kid-friendly, but not a kid place and awesome service! 

DAY 6: This day was all about the dolphins. A few months before our trip, the twins decided to spend the money they received for Christmas on the Dolphin Quest experience. We signed them up for the kid quest. First, they spent about 45 minutes in the education center learning about everything that goes on there with the dolphins and then they had 30 minutes in the dolphin pool with several dolphins. If you ask them, they can tell you all the names and relatives of the dolphins they swam with. It was seriously amazing just to watch and they were beyond thrilled and cherished every minute of it. 



After the girls were done with the dolphins, we stayed and played at the lagoon beach at the Hilton where the Dolphin Quest is located. Validated valet parking for the day made that an easy decision. The Hilton is huge and reminded me of Disney. Not sure we would want to stay there, but it was fun for an afternoon. Their lagoon is apparently required to be open to the public since its technically a beach. The kids got to work on some sort of fish trap and us parents enjoyed the beach chairs. 

We ended the day with birthday dinner for M at Jackie Rey's in Kona (it was just ok) an chocolate cake back at our condo. Looking at these happy sun-kissed faces all together gives me all the feels.

 To be continued with our final days and some other thoughts and tips!

April 15, 2017

Hawaii (The Big Island) 2017: Part 1

We just got back from spring break on the Big Island. Honestly, its hard to be back home. I miss the days without schedules and the only decisions of the day being what beach to go to. Sigh. We went to the Big Island eight years ago, before we had kids. More recently, we have vacationed on Kauai several times. So we were excited to get back to the big island and show the kids around. In comparison to Kauai, it is much bigger, sunnier and hotter.

We stayed in Waikoloa Village this time. It was a great middle location on the island. We were a good 30 minutes to Kona and Waimea and at least an hour to Hilo, but all the gorgeous beaches on the Kohalo coast were under fifteen minutes!

I'm going to split our trip re-cap and tips into a few posts so they don't get too long. This is Part 1. Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here. Let me know if you have any questions!

Here is a quick run-down of our trip:

Day 1: Travel to Kona, Check into condo and sleep!
Day 2: Hapuna Beach
Day 3: Botanical Gardens an Akaka Falls
Day 4: Wailea Bay Beach
Day 5: Volcanos National Park
Day 6: Dophin Quest
Day 7: Spencer Beach
Day 8: Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park
Day 9: Travel home

Ok, here we GO!

Day 1: Not that exciting for us parents, but the kids were definitely excited to go on an airplane. Ariana was MUCH easier this time than she was last year. All three girls passed the six hour flight without any issues. They colored and played games and watched movies on their tablets. I was happy to get a bunch of reading in.

The twins went to school that morning while we finished packing and loading up the car. Then we drove to Seattle, parked the car and got on the plane. It was late in the evening by the time we got to Kona, picked up our rental car and drove to our condo. We made it to the grocery store on the way to grab milk and then checked in and went to bed.

DAY 2: With the three hour time change, everyone was up early and the sun was shining so we got ready to hit the beach! Whenever we go to Hawaii we tend to go to the beach for a few hours in the morning, then head home for lunch and a little rest time before we hit the pool in the late afternoon. This works well for us with little kids (and heck, us adults) who need some mid-day relaxation and a break from the sun.  

We went to Hapuna Beach. Its a huge long gorgeous white sand beach that is everything you would expect. The  surf was big when we were there and we saw the lifeguard rescue a few people that got stuck out too far in the current.

After the morning at the beach and an afternoon swim, we headed into Kona for dinner and shave ice. We grabbed burgers at Ultimate Burger in Kona and the kids had Panda Express next door. Ha! Then we hit up Scandi's for shave ice. So good, especially with ice cream.

DAY 3: We drove over to the east side of the island. Its a totally different climate and landscape! Apparently the Big Island has 11 of the 13 different climate zones and I think we saw most of them! We did luck out with more hot sun though. We stopped for this little hike on he side of the road somewhere near Hilo. We went to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, but the bummer was that Zara wasn't feeling well so she stayed outside and slept and only Lexi and I toured the gardens. It was gorgeous and definitely worth a visit! 

After the gardens, we were ready for some lunch so we stopped at What's Shakin' just a mile or so past the gardens. What a surprise because the food was delicious, the smoothies were amazing and they huge lawn out back was perfect for our kids. After a lot of driving that morning, the kids loved running around, chasing lizards and checking out all the avocado and lemon trees. 

With new energy and Zara feeling much better, we drove on to Akaka Falls. This is a 1/2 mile walk to the waterfalls so nothing strenuous, other than about 50 stairs. After the falls, we drove on thru Waimea (with a stop for ice cream) and headed back to our condo. 

DAY 4: After the long day on the east side of the island, the next day we were ready for some relaxing beach time. We decided to try Waialea Bay Beach and loved it. It is almost completely covered in shade with tons of trees breaking up the beach into several tiny private feeling beaches. There was even a cool rope swing that Lexi loved. 

After the beach, we headed home for more pool time and grilled burgers and hot dogs for dinner. 


April 8, 2017

Farm life

Since our visit last spring to Tieton Farms and Creamery, the twins were counting down the days until they could go again. So they were thrilled and excited to go again in March when they opened up their farm for a day. It has been a LONG winter here, especially for small farmers like this one. In addition to getting to play and feed baby goats and sheep, they have super tasty fresh cheese! So its a win-win for us!