We took a little splurge and went on a mini vacation in the middle of our Hawaiian vacation. We first visited the Big Island right after we got married in Oahu 13 years ago. We were struck by the landscape that was so foreign to us, but also how diverse the island was. Rocky lava and coral exoskeletons, lush rainforests, wooded areas, and miles of farmland and cow pastures – you drive a few hours and the landscape changes. It was hard to resist a return visit considering how close we were going to be.
There’s a quiet to the Big Island that reflects the enormity of the ocean. I think one of my fondest memories is a morning walk with Miss C from our hotel to a breakfast spot a mile away in the resort while Mark and M bicycled ahead of us. It was hot – like most of our time in Hawaii (which is unusual, by the way. It doesn’t normally hit 90 degrees in Hawaii), but the air smells so sweet on the islands and the breeze carries with it the scent of flowers which grow in abundance. From our walk to breakfast to our walk back, we barely saw a soul. Sounds a bit isolating, but it magnifies how different the Big Island is from Oahu or even Maui. It’s a whole different feeling. There are plenty of tourists to be sure, but it’s not hard to find pockets of quiet where you can feel like the only person on earth.
We rented a house on Oahu with Mark’s family, but splurged for 3 days at the Mauna Lani hotel on the Big Island, just the 4 of us. During check in, the front desk greeted us with fresh juice, a cold towel and leis made out of tiny shells. The girls were impressed! And had the best time learning how to snorkel. We didn’t really do any lounging, pool or beach side – we don’t seem to be one of those people who can do that for hours (personally, I get too antsy and want to see things. Surprised?), but the quiet of the island was relaxing enough.
The next time we go back to Hawaii (and we hope it won’t take us another 13 years!) I think I’d like to spend more time on the Big Island again. If you’re thinking of visiting, you really do need to spend 5-7 days to make your way around the whole island without feeling rushed, especially if you want to explore the Volcanoes National Park. The Big Island is large and driving between destinations can take hours, but the drive through the landscape is part of the fun.