|Our resort from the airplane|
Due to my fascination with volcanoes, I'd always wanted to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and witness lava flowing from Kilauea's crater. So I got on Costco's travel website and snagged a great package deal for the big island in early May. We were told late spring is a great time to visit - crowds are smaller and prices a tiny bit lower.
|Lovely tropical flower|
Here in Oregon, our cold rainy spring continued into the month of May. As a matter of fact, I was skiing on Mt Bachelor the weekend before our departure. Totally not acclimated, I began to get nervous about the sun and heat. I'm such a winter gal, why did I choose to vacation in a tropical climate? What was I thinking?
|Lagoon in our resort|
It's a long flight to the Hawaiian islands - 5 1/2 hours from the West coast. I'd never paid attention to Hawaii's exact location before (It's normally placed below Texas on the weather map so you don't realize how far away it really is). Hawaii is way out west in the middle of the Pacific, and as far south as Mexico.
|Celebrating our arrival|
After a long, uneventful flight, it was exciting to see the big island's green coastline come into view. I even spotted our resort as the plane passed over. After landing in Kona, and ditching my sweatshirt (boy was it hot!) we claimed luggage, got our rental car, and headed north to Waikoloa.
|Dolphin pond at our resort|
My hubby and I are not fancy people. Normally our idea of a vacation is camping at a national park, so we were in for a real shock when we pulled into the resort we'd chosen. It was plush and huge - three tall hotel towers, several pools, a saltwater lagoon, numerous bars and restaurants, and a tram to whisk visitors between buildings. The place was beautifully landscaped, and even had a pond full of dolphins for guests to swim with (for a princely sum!)
|Feeding the dolphins|
First order of business - change into shorts. Second - sunscreen for my pasty white Oregon skin. Third - to the bar! Time to celebrate our arrival with some tropical drinks. I decided right away that Mai Tais were my new favorite cocktail.
My hubby and I sat in the resort's outdoor bar and grill, sipped our drinks, and entertained ourselves watching a flock of birds terrorize the ladies at an adjacent table. The little birds perched on empty chairs, the napkin holder, and even the tabletop itself, hoping to snag some french fries. They kept returning, despite being shooed away multiple times.
|Cool palm fronds|
First Hawaii lesson - food and drink are expensive at a fancy resort. So we quit after one cocktail, and decided to explore the lovely hotel grounds. I admired the many bright colored flowers, but the highlight was spotting our first sea turtle in the lagoon.
|The Lava Lava Beach Club|
A couple of friends had raved about the nearby Lava Lava Beach Club. Not wanting to blow all our budget on hotel food, we decided to check it out.
|Check the weather!|
We found a wonderful beachfront restaurant set right on 'Aneho'omalu Bay (don't ask me how to pronounce it!) Seeing this tongue and cheek weather station outside the door, I knew right away Lava Lava was our kinda place.
|Enjoying a "Lava Lava Flow"|
Oh what an amazing happy hour they had! Drinks were way cheaper. And their food - delicious! After trying their signature drink, a concoction called the "Lava Lava Flow," I decided Mai Tais were now my second favorite tropical toddy.
|Gorgeous nearby beach|
After a very happy couple of hours at the Lava Lava Club, my hubby and I wandered the nearby beach. Oh so lovely!
|The palm trees captivated me|
So this is what paradise looks like....
|Walk on the beach|
We watched a dozen outrigger canoes paddle out into the sea, return to the beach, and head out for another lap.
|Lots of outrigger canoes in the bay|
Then I noticed the sun beginning to sink towards the horizon.
|My first Hawaiian sunset|
I'd always heard Hawaii was known for it's fabulous sunsets. Time to find out for myself.
Oh yeah - the rumor was definitely true! As the sun slipped below the sea, everyone on the beach stopped what they were doing and stared at the sky.
|I've found paradise|
A perfect way to end my first day in Hawaii! And the fun was just getting started. Tomorrow we planned to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Coming up in my next post......