The Big Island: Trip 6

In September, our friends Andy and Anna got married on The Big Island! My immediate family all came so we spent some quality time exploring new parts of the island along with celebrating our friends!

We arrived to Kona early on Thursday. We stopped at Daylight Minds for some coffee before heading to Da Poke Shack for some delicious poke. We checked in to our hotel and relaxed for a bit. Then headed to the coffee farm where they were getting married for a BBQ.

The next day, we got up early to hike to Papakōlea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach). This had been on our list for years and we were so excited to finally get to see it! The hike was beautiful and even though it was completely exposed to the sun, it was such a windy day that it was pretty comfortable. The downside is that we were totally covered in dust/sand from head to toe because of the wind.

After we hiked back, we were all very ready for lunch. We stopped at Punalu’u Bake Shop for lunch and some malasadas (which were amazing). We then continued on to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since Linda and Tom had never been there. We saw the steam vents and the caldera (but couldn’t see the green lake that’s forming).

We arrived back at the hotel and took much needed showers. We then decided to go to dinner and enjoy the sunset along the coast at the Four Seasons. We were all really excited to go back as we were fortunate enough to have dinner there two years earlier. Such a beautiful sunset!

On Saturday, we decided to relax at the hotel before the big celebration that night! We arrived at the coffee farm in time for cocktails with a side of misty rain and a beautiful sunset. The weather cleared up and we had an AMAZING time! So much fun eating, drinking, and dancing!

On Sunday, we spent some time enjoying the lovely view before heading to the airport to part ways. Such a fun, packed weekend! ❤

Maui: Trip 4

To ring in 2019 we headed to Maui to celebrate our friends getting married! We had a beautiful sunrise and some great views of Molokai and Lanai on our flight over.

 

We arrived on Saturday morning and had breakfast in Paia at Paia Inn Café.

After breakfast, we drove around and then headed to Lahaina to check in and get ready for dinner. We made reservations to visit our favorite restaurant, Mama’s Fish House, for dinner.

On Sunday, we walked around Lahaina and then met at Hale Pa’ahao Prison for the rehearsal before the rehearsal dinner at Old Lahaina Luau.

 

Monday was the big day! The girls started their day at the Royal Hawaiian getting ready for the ceremony. We all got to wear the most incredible flowers in our hair! Caitlin was just stunning and we had a blast getting beautiful!

Next stop, the prison! It was a beautiful ceremony with more unbelievable flowers. After the ceremony, we boarded a whale watching boat to cruise around Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. We saw whales and an incredibly sunset.

Next stop was Down the Hatch in Lahaina followed by dancing at Monkeypod to ring in the new year! It was such a wonderful day celebrating!

 

 

Moorea

After our cruise ended, we stayed an extra two days on Moorea in an overwater bungalow. This was an item on my bucket list that I never thought I’d have a chance to cross off. I don’t think I can truly put into words how awesome it was to stand on our deck and be able to see fish, stingrays, and sharks clearly. We spent every day walking outside, jumping into the water, and snorkeling for hours.

On our first day we checked in, grabbed lunch, and hopped in the water to snorkel. After snorkeling, we enjoyed some champagne, a sunset, and some pretty awesome stingray watching.

After our sunset, we headed to dinner at the crepe restaurant. At night, the blacktip reef sharks come to visit the restaurant so we had quite a few friends hanging out for dinner.

After dinner, we crashed after our big day and got some sleep so we could do it all over again!

 

We woke up on Friday and started our day on stand up paddleboards in the lagoon. We saw tons of fish, sharks, and took in some great views. After that, we grabbed our snorkel gear and jumped in the water. The day brought more fish, more sharks, and a snowflake eel!

We ate dinner again with the sharks and organized ourselves so we could spend the morning in the water before we had to check out!

 

We woke up on Saturday and made the most of the few hours we had left. We spent the morning in the water with some familiar fish. We went pretty far out in the lagoon and on our way back we encountered a giant moray eel…which is the scariest thing I’ve seen in the water snorkeling and diving. He was really annoyed at us and came pretty far out from the coral and made it known he was pissed by baring his teeth at us. Pictures do not do this thing justice. Pretty cool that we got to see this without an incident!

We checked out of our hotel, grabbed the ferry back to Tahiti, and headed to the airport to hang out until our flight left. No words can describe how incredible this trip was and the pictures only start to do everything justice. So thankful we were fortunate enough to see this part of the world! ❤

Cruise: Taihiti

Our last stop on our cruise was Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia. We had one full day there and took full advantage of it. We started the day by having a lovely breakfast in our room, wandering around Papeete and visiting the market, then renting a car to drive around part of the island. Once we picked up the car, we headed North to start our trip around Tahiti Nui (we only had time to drive around the larger part of the island).

After stopping at a black sand beach and waterfall, we continued our rainy drive by a bright colored church and stopped at a botanical garden. Unfortunately the botanical garden seemed pretty desolate. However, we did see a Galapagos turtle but we were somewhat concerned since no one seemed to be there.

Our final stop on our tour of the island was the Maraa grotto. It was pouring down rain but well worth the stop. We met the cutest kitten and wished we could have taken her home with us!

After a decent amount of time at the caves, we drove back to Papeete to return the car and explore more. We walked around the city, visited the market for lunch and souvenirs, and eventually made our way back to the ship to eat dinner and pack our bags for an early morning departure.

 

 

 

Cruise: Moorea

Our second to last stop on our cruise was Moorea. We once again rented a car and drove around the entire island to explore. We knew we would be coming back to stay for a couple nights so we wanted to see as much as we could. Moorea is shaped like a heart and has some stunning views of jagged peaks along with an amazing lagoon to snorkel in.

After our drive around the island we stopped at a pizza place that had great reviews. It definitely did not disappoint! We sat at the bar outside and watched them make our pizza in the wood burning oven….and it was absolutely delicious!

After eating the entire pizza, it was time to return the car and head back to the boat.

 

Cruise: Raiatea

Our next stop was Raiatea, where we actually docked vs. anchored in the bay. We were the very first people off the boat and rented another car to explore the island. We drove all the way around the island to see as much as we could.

After we circled the island, we walked through Uturoa and then had lunch on the boat. In the afternoon, we did a drift snorkel in a coral garden on Tahaa (Tahaa shares a lagoon with Raiatea). It was pouring rain when we left, which made for an adventurous boat ride across the lagoon. It cleared up and the snorkeling was incredible. We drifted right over a really shallow coral garden and saw a ton of fish and beautiful coral.

After an amazing afternoon, we were the last to board the boat. We caught an amazing sunset from our balcony before a delicious dinner.

Cruise: Bora Bora

Our next stop was Bora Bora, which is tied with Fakarava as my favorite stop on our trip. We were here for a day and a half, which was the longest port stay of the trip. We arrived in the afternoon and anchored off Vaitape. On our first evening there, we took a sunset cruise on a catamaran and explored the lagoon. It was an incredible evening and a great way to explore the water.

After our sunset sail, we ate dinner at the food trucks in Vaitape. We decided to split a HUGE portion of fish. It was quite delicious and we enjoyed spending a night off the boat!

After dinner, we took a tender boat back to the ship and headed to bed to prepare for our early morning start to explore Bora Bora.

We woke up the next morning pretty early to grab the earliest tender boat and get to shore to explore. We rented a car (Fiat Panda) and drove around the entire island. Our first stop was Matira Beach, which we had entirely to ourselves. We were standing there enjoying the view when all of a sudden a stingray swam just inches from the shore. This was our first stingray spotting of the trip and it was such an awesome sight to see! I will never forget standing there and glancing down to see it!

After a lengthy stop at Matira Beach we kept driving around the island. We stopped at various places to check out all of the views. We also had our first encounter with a land crab who was not overly pleased to see us!

After we drove around the entire island, we went back to have lunch at a restaurant off Matira Beach. We had a great view of the beach, ocean, and stingrays!

After lunch, we returned to Vaitape to return the car and meet up for our afternoon excursion of snorkeling. We spent quite the afternoon in the water. Our first stop was a coral garden where we saw a variety of fish, oysters, a huge stingray, and a blacktip reef shark. After that, we headed to our second stop to snorkel with stingrays and backtip reef sharks. It was shallow enough for us to stand the entire time as they swam around us. It was a surreal experience!

After our tour was over, we headed back to catch a tender boat back to the ship and just enjoyed room service after a long, fantastic day!

 

Cruise: Fakarava

Our second stop in French Polynesia was Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago. This was up there as my most favorite place we stopped. Fakarava is one of the largest atolls in French Polynesia at 37 miles long. It is known for some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. We anchored offshore and took a tender boat to the town of Rotoava. We rented bikes and biked all the way north 9 kilometers to a beach and had it completely to ourselves. That spot on the beach is potentially the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It looked like it was out of a magazine! We were hoping to snorkel but the wind was incredibly strong and the ocean was way too rough to snorkel that day.

Cruise: Nuku Hiva

After four days at sea and crossing the equator for the first time, we made it to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands! Nuku Hiva is the second largest island in French Polynesia after Tahiti and is the most populated island in the Marquesas Islands. We anchored in the bay near Taiohae on the southern coast, which is where most of the population (less than 3,000) lives on the island.

We took a tour to Taipivai Valley for a large chunk of the day. The excursion started in Taiohae and we road with a local across the mountains to the valley. We stopped in the valley and watched some of the locals at work carving different wood sculptures (Nuku Hiva is known for their wood carvings). We enjoyed some local fruit and a stop at the beach as well.

After a full day on Nuku Hiva, we had another day at sea as we headed towards Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago. On our day at sea, we had another delicious dinner with the fanciest dessert yet!

Cruise: Honolulu, Hilo, & Days at Sea

Josh and I spent the first two and a half weeks of November on the most phenomenal vacation of our lives. We took a cruise that left from Honolulu and stopped in various places in French Polynesia ending in Tahiti.

We started in Honolulu on November 1st with a beautiful sunset and champagne followed by a steak dinner and cruising through the first night to Hilo.

We woke up on Friday to a gorgeous sunrise from our balcony. We enjoyed some delicious coffee and the view of The Big Island as we made our way to Hilo. We spent the day wandering Hilo with our friends who happened to be in Hilo for the weekend.

After leaving Hilo, we spent the next four days at sea heading toward the Marquesas Islands. Our days were filled with the gym, lots of delicious food and drinks, a fantastic massage, lounging by the pool, and reading. I think it was the most relaxed we’ve been in our lives!