the big island

September 14, 2015 |  Category:   life travels

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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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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.

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  • Kayce September 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve really been enjoying your recaps and photos. I grew up on the Big Island and live on O’ahu and it’s always nice to see my homes through a visitor’s eyes. It’s easy to take a lot of this stuff for granted.

  • Sora September 15, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The Big Island definitely on our list now for our next visit there — inspired by your photos. It felt very humid to us as well in Oahu but I had just chalked it up to the summers there (didn’t realize that it was not the norm). Happy that you and your family enjoyed your visit to a place that has such special meaning.

  • Holly September 15, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    My husband and I were married on the Big Island, during a trip where we leisurely explored the many towns, climates, terrains, and beaches. I can’t wait to take my girls back, and show them a place I love, as I’ll do for NYC someday, too. It must be so surreal!

  • Barbara September 15, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    I love your way with images and words, Jenna, and usually leave your posts with a satisfied nod. But here, you’re describing and displaying the island that is my home and I just had to comment. Do come back and spend more time here. Aloha!

  • Zooey September 16, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Was never into beaches or islands or the tropics – I live for cities and cooler climates. But I tagged along on a group trip to Hawai’i and fell completely in love with the Big Island. Corny to say this, but yeah it was magical. Your words and photos take me back. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Diane September 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Your photos are always so beautiful, and in these, I can feel the magic of those three days. Thank you, Jenna!

  • Lulu September 21, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    For first time visitor, would the Big Island be a good choice?

    • Jenna September 21, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Lulu! I think the Big Island would be a great island to visit for a first time visitor because you would get to see a lot of different types of landscapes. But if you are wanting long stretches of white sand beaches and turquise waters, maui or oahu might be better. The beaches on the Big island are beautiful, but it is a bit rockier than the other islands.

  • Karen September 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Of all the Hawaiian islands I’ve been to, the Big Island is my favorite. We went there for our honeymoon and returned there for vacation with our oldest child several years later. The Mauna Lani hotel has a special sentimental connection for us, because for our honeymoon, we saved our money so that we could stay there for half the week we spent on the island. Totally worth it.

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos!

    • Jenna September 21, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      Yes, the hotel was totally worth it, I agree. We had dinner at the Canoe House on our honeymoon, so it has a special place for us too.

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