**A couple of months ago, I wrote this and the next few posts on my 2009 trip to Hawaii, not realizing at the time that I would be flying back to this island the very day I publish part one of this series! So these upcoming posts all pertain to my previous visit but I’m sure I will be writing more about the four weeks I’m getting ready to spend here again. Enjoy!**

Paradise. The word I used when I was younger and dreamed of visiting Hawaii. And now that I have actually been there, it’s still the word I use to describe it! These islands really do feel like being in paradise (or at least my interpretation of it!).


My dream of visiting the Land of Aloha was realized when I graduated high school and spent three weeks on the Big Island with my family. And I fell head over heels for this place! My next visit was in 2009 when I went again with my parents and a couple of friends. And my feelings for this island haven’t changed – I still love it and would love to live here!

My friends Teresa, Janellen and I were wanting to plan a summer trip somewhere tropical. We had our sights set on Costa Rica for a while until I discovered that flights to Hawaii were at record low prices – not much more than the cost of flying to Costa Rica. So we changed plans, bought our ridiculously cheap tickets, and threw our swimsuits and sunscreen into a suitcase!

My Aunt and Uncle live in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii and we stayed with them, in their beautiful home, during our 12-day vacation. And let me just say, they are the BEST hosts! We were seriously treated like royalty and felt like we had our own personal tour guides during our stay. Can you say spoiled? 😉

part 1 - house

Flying across the entire U.S. continent and half the Pacific Ocean = NO FUN!!! Perhaps if I flew in first class I would change my tune. Maybe. I must admit that the flight to Hawaii was a heck of a lot better than the flight back! I think the anticipation of being in paradise might have factored into that.  But we made the best of it…

part 1 - plane pics

And when catching our first glimpse of this:

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It was well worth it! 🙂

We were greeted at the airport by my Aunt and Uncle and beautiful, fragrant plumeria leis. ♥

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The trick when flying west through multiple time zones is to try to stay awake until a decent bedtime. My goal was 9pm (3am Florida time!). And I’m not gonna lie – it was tough! But I made it to, and even surpassed, my goal! Yay!!

Our first full day in Hawaii was pretty low-key. We visited the local farmers market then strolled through the Kona Inn Shopping Village. This day we had our first sip of lilikoi juice (passion fruit) and our first toe-dip in the Pacific Ocean.

part 1 - kona collage

This is also when we became obsessed with the geckos that are everywhere. They are so cute though!

part 1 - geckos

My family surprised me that evening with a birthday cake! My wish was to spend all subsequent birthdays in Hawaii. Who came up with making a wish when blowing out birthday candles anyway? Because it doesn’t work! 😦 But I was so thankful to get to spend at least this birthday in one of my favorite places.

part 1 - bday cake

And I was thankful that I’m not required to blow a conch shell on a daily basis – it’s darn hard!

part 1 - conch

It’s so much easier waking up early in Hawaii than in Florida. Why is that? Is it just the time change? Or perhaps sleeping with the doors/windows open and hearing the birds announce the arrival of a new day? Or maybe it’s just the excitement of being somewhere so beautiful with so many exciting things to do. Who knows…

All I do know is that I love mornings in Hawaii! And afternoons. And evenings. Sure, and nights too. 🙂

On Sunday we all attended services at Mokuaikaua Church. Founded in 1820, it is the oldest church on the Hawaiian Islands. The building itself was completed in 1837 and resides across Ali’i Drive from the Hulihe’e Palace.

part 2 - church

After church, we packed up some overnight bags and set off on a little road trip. Our final destination was Volcanoes National Park, but we stopped at a few fun places along the way.

First stop was the Punalu’u Bake Shop, “The Southernmost Bakery in the USA.” Have you ever tried the sweet Hawaiian bread you can buy at grocery stores? Yeah…that stuff is sooo good! We bought a few loaves of Hawaiian bread and walked around the gardens for a bit.

part 2 - bakery

Next we stopped at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. I think black sand beaches are so exotically beautiful!

part 2 - black sand

We hung out on the lava rocks for a bit, some of us avoiding the crashing waves, and some one of us getting drenched by said waves. Good memories though. 🙂

part 2 - black sand 1

We also saw the first of many sea turtles during our trip. These creatures are just so fascinating to me.

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Finally inside Volcanoes National Park, we stopped at a park for a picnic. The temperature here is much cooler than in the lower elevations by the sea.


We drove through the park along Crater Rim Drive, stopping at various locations along the way. We started at the Kilauea Visitor Center and watched the film “Born of Fire, Born of the Sea.” Next we drove to the Jaggar Museum and walked through the displays and exhibits. The most interesting “display” was actually the Halema’uma’u Crater, just outside the museum and billowing sulfur and smoke.

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On to the Steam Vents! At this point I was pretty cold and it was pretty windy, so a visit here was a warm respite! 🙂

part 2 - steam vents

Another place we stopped at was the Thurston Lava Tube. The trail to the tube is surrounded by what seems like a tropical rainforest. SO beautiful. I had visited here on my previous trip to Hawaii and enjoyed it just as much this time.

part 2 - lava tube

We rented a home just outside the National Park for the night and went there to unload our bags and eat some dinner. Then it was back inside the park for another trip to the Jaggar Museum and a view of the glowing, billowing crater at night.

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Needing something to warm our cold bodies, we stopped at the historic Volcano House Hotel for hot chocolate and a bit of relaxation by the fireplace. 🙂


A long, full, fun day! More to come on my Hawaiian adventures! 🙂

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