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Just Maui'd and You Can Bet I Lava You- {The Big Island of Hawaii and Oahu; Honeymoon part 2}

Let me start this blog post off by saying if you have not read part one of our Hawaiian honeymoon, and our first stop at Disney's Aulani Resort, be sure to check that out first.

The second half of our honeymoon consisted of a little less Disney, and a little more adventure. We left the island of Oahu for the 45 minute flight to the Big Island of Hawaii. After picking up our rental car, we drove to our air bnb in Kailua Kona, and the first difference we noticed between islands was the hazy air and the rocky terrain, making it feel as though we just landed on Mars. 

After checking into our air bnb, we found dinner at a popular local spot, Broke Da Mouth Grindz (weirdest name ever, I know), where we snacked on Pork Adobo fries with Aioli and a plate with Teriyaki Chicken and Furikake Chicken. This little hole in the wall blew us away, and it comes highly recommended if you are staying near Kona. 

We had many choices when deciding which Hawaiian island we wanted to add to our itinerary, but we ultimately chose the Big Island for its clear water for snorkeling and unique volcanoes. In early May, the volcano Kilauea erupted, causing heavy destruction amongst the island, and a bit of concern for our trip. In the long run, we were very fortunate that the eruption did not disrupt our plans, and in fact added a bit more excitement to some of our other activities, but more on that later.

After some sleep, the following day we spent in and out of the water at various beaches, beginning first with one of our favorite snorkeling spots of the day at Kahalu'u Beach Park

small pufferfish 
Our air bnb was nice enough to provide snorkeling and beach equipment for us so we did not have to rent any gear

Our next stop on our snorkel tour was Honaunau Beach, where snorkeling was not as great, but the Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park is located within walking distance (and anyone who knows Mike, knows he loves his National Parks). 

 We enjoyed exploring the various exhibits, and learning about some of Hawaii's first inhabitants. 

(As you all now know), Mike loves his State and National Parks, and we had originally planned to visit Volcano National Park, however, with the current state of emergency, the actual park was not open. Luckily, on our drive to our next beach stop, there was a temporary unit open with information about the park, and Mike was able to collect his National Park badge. 

The Punalu'u Beach we were driving to was also affected by the volcano, since it is a black sand beach. The beach has black sand made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. We really enjoyed exploring this beach, and felt it was really worth the drive. 

Also, my new best friend lives here!
hi mr turtle!

All this sand and water had me ready for a true Hawaiian treat, a Malasada from the Punalu'u Bake Shop. Traditional malasadas taste very similar to a traditional doughnut, however, these malasadas were mango, passion fruit, and guava flavored.   

Feeling refueled, we were ready for our late night manta ray swim! We had found a Groupon for our tour with Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours, and I would recommend this company over others. Our tour group only consisted of about 6 people (where as most other groups in the water with us were closer to 30-40 people), and our guide was incredibly knowledgeable and resourceful. The experience itself was amazing, and literally the most difficult thing to put into words. 
These beautiful and majestic creatures, ranging from about 8-15 feet across were so entrancing to watch as they floated by. 

They also were not afraid to get up close and personal with us as they fed on the floating plankton surrounding our light.

Absolutely starving after this mind blowing experience, we scarfed down some delicious deep dish pizza from Bianelli's, before collapsing of exhaustion. 

Our final day on the Big Island, we woke up to a surprise of a small pod of dolphins off our air bnb balcony saying hello.

We had a pretty decently long car trip to the other side of the island to get to the Hilo Airport for our helicopter tour, so we decided to make the most out of our journey with a few pit stops on the way. The first stop was Waipio Lookout, where you had a beautiful lookout point of the clear Hawaiian water. 

On our journey, we were lucky enough to have very clear skies, and a great view of the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain on Earth (beginning under sea level). 

Once we arrived at Hilo Airport, it was time to check in for our doors off- helicopter tour, with Paradise Helicopters. They were a wonderful tour company to go with, and our pilot, Dan, absolutely made our experience, especially between the Disney puns and his British accent.

 I was a little nervous since I had never been in a helicopter before, and riding in one with no doors ...well, you could see how this could be a bit intimidating, however, this was hands down the best experience of our honeymoon. Flying over an active volcano totally made this experience worth every penny.

don't fall out, Mike!

must.. not ..push...buttons..
Watching an active volcano with it's flowing red lava, experiencing the smell of the sulfur, and the smoke in your eyes was an experience I will truly never forget. 

Seeing the cooled lava, the clear line between vegetation and destruction, the homes stuck in the middle of the chaos, and the distance the lava has actually traveled was actually one of the most impactful moments for me. 

The lava creating new land right before our very eyes as it flowed into the ocean was also one of those moments you just cannot put into words, other than simply, wow.

A small, bonus viewing was a small venture to check out some waterfalls, which were also beautiful, but, I could have watched the volcano all day long. 

Hawaii is known for having many different types of climate zones, even though it is a very small island, but I think my favorite is the jungle (except the humidity). On our way back to Kailua, we made yet another stop through this jungle climate to Akaka Falls State Park, to check out one of Hawaii's most beautiful waterfalls. The small walk around the park made me feel like we were visiting Avatar's Pandora because of the lush vegetation and unique wildlife. 


Stretching over 442 feet, the falls were also a breath taking addition to this small paradise. 

Continuing our drive back, we discovered yet another Malasada hot spot, Tex Drive In, only these were served warm, and filled with Bavarian cream (drooling!). 
Our final stop on our mini road trip was to Hapuna Beach, also known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Although I do agree it was a beautiful beach, I am not sure I thought it was one of the most beautiful in the world, but what I will say is the sand here was like tiny pillows hugging your feet! It was insanely soft. 

The following day, (day 9 of our trip) was a travel day back to the island of Oahu, and after picking up our rental car, we drove straight to the Dole Plantation before it got too crowded in the afternoon. We had a sample of pineapple, saw where some of the pineapples grow, and absolutely had to get a dole whip, with fresh pineapple served on top.

After our visit to the plantation, it was time to check into our air bnb on Oahu, where were pleasantly surprised with the incredible home. I have attached the link here for anyone looking to stay on Oahu because the view from the balcony, the amenities located inside including all different things for a beach play or stay, and how clean and welcoming everything was were things worth sharing! We spent the rest of the day laying out on the beach here and trying to get the worlds stickiest sand off us afterwards. 

naps on the beach are the best!
Also nearby was the Hawaiian version of McDonalds, L & L Hawaiian BBQ, which I totally recommend checking out at some point during your Hawaiian adventures to eat like the locals do. 

Our final full day in Hawaii was spent on the hunt for some sea turtles and beach hopping. We started our day at Turtle Beach, or Laniakea Beach, where it is pretty much 'guaranteed' you will see a turtle...alas, we did not. So we had lunch at Kua 'Aina Burgers on the North Shore instead. 

Next stop was Waimea Bay, where there was beautiful water and very soft sand, but no turtles, a little crowded, and some not very nice people cliff jumping nearby. That being said, I would actually recommend it to those looking to just hang out in the sun and water (not to snorkel), just get there early to stake out your spot.

The next stop was where our luck changed, at Shark Cove (don't worry, there were no sharks there). When we first arrived, we entered the water to the left of the bathrooms, where everyone else was, in the small tide pool area, so I did not bring my snorkel in the water with me, since it was only ankle deep.

I majorly regretted this decision when we realized we were not in the right place for snorkeling. Instead we should have entered the water to the right of the bathrooms. 

We ended up walk-swimming toward the back of the tide pools to get over to the actual snorkeling area, and saw lots of marine life (with me gasping for air every 30 seconds because, remember, I did not bring my snorkel...). After a few minutes of free diving, we finally saw it, the majestic sea turtle!

We swam beside one another for quite some time, and I was literally screaming inside because this moment was all I ever wanted. 

 We said goodbye to our new friend before driving out through the misty mountains to our next stopover. Casually pulling off the side of the road for a photo with the beautiful scenery, we made yet another surprising discovery...

 In the middle of taking the photo below, I happened to look down and see another sea turtle!
this area is where some of the Jurassic Park movies were filmed, which is why I look like a dinosaur..

This guy was massive, and just casually being tossed around by the waves as he enjoyed his snack on the dock nearby. While watching him, we noticed he had a friend on the other side of the dock as well. We had sea turtles coming out of our ears!

We once again said goodbye to our new friends, and continued our journey to our final destination for the day, Kualoa Ranch. You may recognize this area, since movies like Jurassic Park and shows like Hawaii 5-0 and Lost were filmed here. The actual view in person is totally breath taking, and one of the prettiest sites I have ever seen. We did not do any of the tours, we simply stopped into the back of the gift shop, when they were closing, and I rather enjoyed this very peaceful moment of us, nature, and the dinosaur skeletons. 

This was it, our final day of our honeymoon in Hawaii; day 10. We decided to have one last snorkel attempt at Electric Beach, where it is said one can find amazing marine life, however, we did not see a single thing, and we left defeated. We also had gotten up incredibly early to get there, and no one else was in the water, so it is possible we were not looking in the right spot. 

When we returned to the airbnb to begin packing, whilst saying goodbye to our beautiful ocean view, we realized we never even needed to go out looking for wildlife, because it came right to us. Between an incredible sea turtle floating by, to a whole pod of about 200 playful dolphins, it was an incredible goodbye gift. 

Although we checked out of our accommodation at 10am, we did not have to be at the airport for another 11 hours, so finding things to do (that would not require a shower before getting on a 12 hour flight home) was a bit challenging. 

We decided to visit Peal Harbor Memorial last minute, since the Arizona has closed, but it was very interesting to visit this national landmark. 

celebrating our patriotism with a very American treat 
Ready for lunch, I was craving one more chance to have macadamia nut pancakes, so a visit to KOA Pancake House did just the trick. It was a super good, local, and cheap eat location. Mike also had his 4th(probably more?) local special, loco moco (hamburger patty with rice and egg served with an onion gravy). 

After we refueled, the next stop on the list was Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, which was insanely windy, with a decent view of some of the island.

My absolute favorite stop on this day was Lanikai Beach, where I wish we had spent the entire day at because it is one of the most beautiful beaches ever. I am talking right up there with beaches in Thailand, this place was gorgeous (however, there were no facilities here, so plan wisely). 

Just down the road was yet another beach (with facilities), Kailua Beach Park, where it was almost equally as beautiful, but literally nothing could beat Lanikai Beach. We ended up laying in the grass and taking a nap for the rest of the afternoon before heading to downtown Waikiki's Ala Moana Mall. 

The outdoor mall was huge and had a lot of different dinner options, but what is a trip for Mike & Cassidy without a run in with a Disney store (and we said hello to my new friend!). 

With that, we headed off to the airport to drop off our rental car, board our West Jet flight, and flew the 12 hours back to New York, where we said aloha to our honeymoon in Hawaii! We had such a magical time, and are absolutely on cloud 9 being married! 
Be sure to check out our Hawaii recommendations for The Big Island of Hawaii Here and Oahu/Aulani in Hawaii Here!

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