Hawaii Part II: Big Island

Part two of our trip of a lifetime. (For all photos, see here.)

Day 6: Wednesday, October 14

The flight from Kahului to Kona was one of the most memorable parts of the trip. I booked our flight for $80 through Kayak, not knowing that we’d be getting on a tiny plane via Mokulele Airlines. Departing around 11:20am and arriving shortly after noon, there were only a few people on the plane and two female pilots — with no separation between cabin and cockpit.

Flight Maui to Big Island Hawaii

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After landing in Kona, our first stop was to pick up another Jeep for our adventures on the Big Island.

Following that, we took the five minute drive to take a look at the house in which I grew up in the 90s, 73-1192 Ala Kapua Street. To our surprise, we spotted the owner out front who we chatted with, and who was kind enough to show us the interior of the house.

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After the trip down memory lane, Brian and I headed over to the Harbor House (74-425 Kealakehe Parkway) where I’d spent many nights circa 1989-1993 with my parents. (Highly recommend the $2 schooners.)

Harbor House Kona Big Island Hawaii

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After checking into the Mauna Lani (up on the Kohala Coast) …

Mauna Lani Big Island Hawaii

… we made the trek back down to the same place for our manta ray night snorkel with Neptune Charlie’s. What an incredible experience.

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Day 7: Thursday, October 15

We awoke that morning and began our road trip from the sunny west side of the island to the rainy east side. We took a northern route, passing through Waimea and watching the countryside change.

This included a stop at ‘Akaka Falls State Park to view the most famous waterfall in the state of Hawaii.

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We also drove through Hilo, and eventually circled back to make our way to our final destination, Volcano. We checked into the Volcano Village Lodge, and picked up some Thai food at Thai Thai (19-4084 Old Volcano Road) to enjoy in our room.

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Volcano Village Lodge Big Island Hawaii

Day 8: Friday, October 16

Our day in Volcanoes National Park proved one of the most interesting of the trip. Although we were exhausted from our lack of sleep (thanks to the pitter patter of rain all night), the park didn’t disappoint. I’d particularly recommend the Thurston Lava Tube and the Hawai’i Chain of Craters drive.

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We returned back to the Jaggar Museum that night to see Kilauea Cauldron light up the sky orange.

Kilaeua Cauldon Volcanoes National Park Big Island Hawaii

That night, Volcano experienced an unusual thunderstorm. We took shelter in the Ohelo Cafe, where we chatted with the owner, an incredibly nice guy who even gave us some Big Island brew on the house.

That night we again returned to Volcano Village Lodge to enjoy the sound of rain hitting the forest.

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Day 9: Saturday, October 17

It was time to say farewell to our adorable room in Volcano Village Lodge.

To get back to the sunny side of the island, we took a southern road. We checked out Punalu’u Beach, another black sand beach.

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This also included a stop at the Pu-uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park, south of Kona.

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Due to Brian’s altitude sickness following the ascent up to Haleakala, we canceled our planned reservation with Summit Adventures to climb Mauna Kea, and instead opted for a more relaxed evening at the Mauna Lani with cocktails and guitar music, watching our last Hawaiian sunset.

Mauna Lani Outside Big Island Hawaii

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Day 10: Sunday, October 18

The saddest day. My last photo: saying farewell to the koi in the koi pond at the Mauna Lani.

Koi Pond Mauna Lani Big Island Hawaii

We left the hotel around 10:30am for a long trip back. Our flight left Kona around 12:15, and we left Honololu around 3:20 for a 7am arrival into JFK. Until next time … aloha!

Credit Cards, Accounts, and Other Tips

As a personal finance nerd who is always in search of a bargain and spends her free time reading NerdWallet and PointsGuy (and who may or may not have shed a few tears when Suze Orman went off the air), I’m happy to share some of my findings. Add your own tips and thoughts in the comments …

France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, WHEW!

Brian and I seem to have a real thing for the jam-packed itinerary … join us on a recounting of our trek through Europe in June. (Full photos here.)