First of all, Hawaii is made up of a few different islands. Many people know this but a lot of people I don’t really understand what this means. Each island is so unique and they offer such a different experience. Being an East Coast girl my vacation spots with family were the Caribbean and Florida, Hawaii is actually very far from the East Coast so it’s not a typical spot to vacate like it is for the West Coasters. Needless to say, other then the fact that it’s multiple islands, I virtually knew nothing about Hawaii until I planned this trip!
I wanted to share with you what I learned about Hawaii and the places we visited and of course links to the outfits I wore!
We only planned to go to one island at first. We originally booked a hotel in Honolulu but once I realize all the cool scenic spots I wanted to visited were on the Big Island I literally shifted gears to make sure we ended up there as well. If you are looking for very exotic, scenic, exclusive to Hawaii places you will get a lot more of that on the big island (The Big Island is literally the island of Hawaii btw Honolulu is on the island of O’hua which is a much smaller island).
Here’s a recap of our stay…
KONA-THE BIG ISLAND (HAWAII)
Our first stop was to the big island. We flew into Kona airport and as soon as we landed, we noticed ground all around us was made up dried lava from 1000’s of years ago, it was beautiful right from landing I was already in love! The Kona airport is mostly outdoors which gave it a really cool vibe and it seemed really small but mostly it’s just spread out from terminal to terminal.
We wanted to make sure we were able to rent a Jeep on both islands, if you wait to get a Jeep at the rental place your odds are very slim because lets face it, everyone wants to ride in a jeep in Hawaii! And it’s actually much needed if you plan to explore off the road! So I literally Googled, “Hawaii Jeep Rental” and found websites that would assure I reserved a Jeep through a rental service. For The Big Island we used, Kona Jeep Rental and for Oahu we used Oahu Jeeps.com. This assured that when we arrived at the car rental place we were guaranteed a JEEP!
We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the service was in incomparable! Read more about our stay HERE
We didn’t have much time on the Big Island and our plans were a little switched up due to the Volcano. It’s perfectly safe to visit the Big Island btw the Volcano is very far from most places you will need to go. Like VERY far. But of course the one place I wanted to go there was a chance the road might be closed so it kind of switched up our plans a bit.
I was living to go to the Black Sand Beach but the one I researched and planned to visit, I couldn’t find any information on if it was open or not since it was about 20 miles from the Volcano, so we decided to go with the advice of a local and not to risk it. We found out there are other black sand beaches on the north of the island but we only had one full day to adventure the big island and our other plans were leading us south 100 miles so we weren’t able to go. (It really is the BIG ISLAND)
If you come to this island be prepared to DRIVE. All the places worth visiting outside of your resort you need to drive to and they are not super close but it is so worth it to see spots you wouldn’t be able to see in any other parts of the world.
Here are the black sand beach in the north if you plan on visiting. Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach is in the north so its way clear of the volcano. Panalu’u is the one we wanted to visit. It’s south/east which makes it closer to the volcano but it didn’t say anywhere that it was closed. I would do research before going. We will definitely be back because the other main city Hilo also has some amazing waterfalls. The island was WAY to big to see in one full day. You need at least 3 days here!
So here’s where we went. I REALLY wanted to also visit the green sand beach so we decided to wake up early and at least tackle that part of our itinerary. Well the drive is long and it’s just a two lane road so no speeding but at least the scenery is beautiful. It was about 80 miles from our hotel and took a little over 2 hours. When you arrive to the beginning of the trail that leads to the beach you can park your car and hike or you can drive along the VERY bumpy terrain. I was nervous about where the drive would lead and already had the idea we were going to hike based on my research so we decided to hike and let me tell you…its a HIKE!!! . (There are also shuttles there that can drive you up to the beach for $20). It’s 3 miles back and forth totalling 6 miles and it takes about 1 hour 20 minutes one way, it’s very bumpy with lots of rocks and some steep heels but it is absolutely BREATHTAKING.
I was in awe the entire hike. It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And when you arrive to the beach it’s so spectacular! Although the sand didn’t look super bright green like I imagined ( my pictures also do it no justice) it was so beautiful. (You can see it better on the vlog) It was totally worth the hike but my suggestion would be to hike there and get a ride back cause by the time we were ready to hike back we were beat! 3 miles when you’re already tired is a little exhausting to say the least. We went on a good day because there was overcast but there is no shade at all so if we had to do it in the hot sun, I would have reevaluated some things. But is was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life though so I would hike it again if I had to. We were filthy dirty afterwards so I wouldn’t make plans after because you will have dirt all over you.
FUN FACT: Papakolea is actually the southern most tip of the USA there is nothing between you and Antarctica, pretty cool huh? Also there is a cliff jump nearby but we were way to tired to find it even though it was part of our plans. We def tried to squeeze too much in one day.
When we landed in Honolulu lets just say we were in shock. It is such a big city compared to Kona and the Island of Hawaii. The big island is less touristy, more rural, and shockingly beautiful. It was definitely more our speed. As soon as we got the car in Honolulu, we hit traffic and I suddenly realized we weren’t in Kansas anymore. We stayed in Waikiki which is way more touristy then I like on vacation but if you like having tons of shopping within arms reach this is the place for you. To me Honolulu was my least favorite part. I didn’t start falling in love with the island until we ventured to the North Shore.
We stayed The Laylow which was in the heart of Waikiki with many restaurants and shopping nearby as well as a tourist full beach. I would have preferred a quieter location but it was nice that at least we could walk right next door to get anything we needed.
The first full day on Oahu we headed to the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. I saw how beautiful it was in Instagram I just HAD to see it in person. Well it didn’t disappoint. The cloud kissed mountains are a MUST see. SO SO beautiful it looked like a painting. Honestly if you feel like venturing around, there are a lot of plants to see but you have to be on foot to take it all in. A drive through was all we needed to see it’s beauty. Its free to enter and opens 9am-4pm.
Afterwards we decided to drive North along the coast to the North Shore. The North shore beaches are MUCH QUIETER then Waikiki and so serene. We found a local beach in Kahana with a swing that we fell in love with so much that we went there twice during our stay! If you stay on Oahu and don’t go to the/ North Shore, you are doing yourself a disservice!
We tried to head to Turtle Beach after but we went to a little it the day and it was super packed with tourist looking for turtles so we didn’t bother to stop. I was sad I didn’t get to see a turtle while in Hawaii. If you want to visit this beach I was told the turtles come early so visit early morning for more turtles and less tourists.
The drive along the coast was so beautiful though. I’m so glad we ventured out. We actually barely stayed in Waikiki the whole time. I prefer more quiet areas when vacationing.
The next day we headed to Manoa Falls. There are so many waterfalls to choose from on Oahu but I chose this one because I read it had a paved trail the whole way. Well it’s not really paved but it is a clear trail and easy to follow. It was very moist on the ground so I would definitely recommend hiking shoes or shoes with traction so you don’t slip. (especially going down) We were are Teva Sandals and they worked perfectly. When you arrive at trail there is a parking lot at the bottome that cost $5. I recommend getting there early because when we headed back after our hike it was packed with cars. The trail is clearly marked and the scenery is just remarkable.
You are basically in the middle of the jungle so be sure to bring bug spray (we did not and we got ate!). It’s pretty shady because of all the trees but the hike is about a mile up hill so you will get hot from the hike! On the way we found this cool vine to swing on and we lived our best Tarzan and Jane lives. There are a lot of little duck off from the trail if you are feeling adventurous. When we got to the top, the waterfall met us in all its glory. It wasn’t as high as I thought it was going to be but it was still magnificent to see. Unfortunately, it was roped off so we couldn’t get too close. I heard people have swam underneath it so something must have happened for it to be roped off because I don’t think it used to be. There are a ton of waterfalls on the island. We were gonna head to Lulumahu Falls too if we had time but I chose Manoa Falls because I wanted a “quicker” hike after Papakoleo!
IF YOU GO TO OHAU GO TO ALOHA SHRIMP!!! GO ! GO ! GO! Aloha Shrimp on the North Shore had the the best food we had our whole trip. It’s a little food truck on the side of the road Danny and I stopped at on a whim but it was the best decision ever. It was so good that I made us drive an hour back to eat there again the next day! I literally would fly to Hawaii to eat it right now. It has a simple menu of mostly shrimp dishes that are prepared fresh! I go the Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp and it was bomb!!
Next door is a fruit stand with fresh fruit and the vendor will cut them up for you. Hawaii has THE BEST PINEAPPLE hands down, I don’t think I can eat them anywhere else now. So definitely get Pineapple on the island. He also sold fresh chilled coconuts that he will open for you so you can drink them straight from the coconut.
Next door are other food trucks and one with fresh donuts which we got as desert. Well I got a snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich but whose pointing fingers?
Another treat located in Honolulu is Leonards Bakery. This is definitely a touristy spot with a line out the door but if you’ve never had malasadas (or even if you have) this is a place you must visit.
Fresh, simple, delicious breakfast. This is where it’s at.
So this pretty much sums our trip, this is not a travel guide whatsoever but more sharing where we went what we ate and what I wore. We had the BEST time in Hawaii, Danny and I fell in love with the island and will be visiting again soon (If it was up to him we’d be back next week!). I think next time we will visit Maui and then back to the Big Island since there is still so much we didn’t see. If you’ve been thinking of going to Hawaii, I highly recommend it (Especially The Big Island of Hawaii). It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life!
Cheers to more travel adventures!
SHOP ALL MY OUTFITS: