We spent the first half of our trip on the big island (Hawaii Island) and the second half on Oahu. The big island was definitely our favorite of the two, and not because that's where we got married. The big island was more relaxed and easy-going, way less touristy and crowded than Oahu. It felt more authentic and less commercialized, which we really liked. After a day of traveling, flying from Cincinnati to LA (with a three hours layover), we arrived in Kailua Kona around 5:30pm (on Friday). Once we got our rental car and found some food for dinner, we checked into the Kona Reef Resort, got showers, and pretty much crashed. The Kona Reef Resort is basically a condo unit on the beach in Kailua Kona. It's not the most luxurious accomodations ever, but it's an affordable place to crash for the night or if your want a reasonably priced, comfortable place for a couple of days that's on the beach and is near town.
After recuperating from our travels, we woke up before the sun! I think I woke up around 3:30am that day. But in general, while we were in Hawaii we almost always woke up before the sun and went to bed around 9pm...and I think most of the locals do too. So, after we woke up we lounged around a bit until right before the sun decided to come up, then we went out to the beach to investigate...
You can see part of the Kona Reef on the left. Most of its beach consisted of lava rock except for a small sandy beach off to the side (right by our room).
Plumeria, which blooms all over Hawaii and comes in a variety of colors...this being one of my favorites.
A little bit of reef I found. Now, I think right after I took this photo is when I slipped on a rock and fell flat on my butt! It hurt so bad, but luckily I cradled my camera as I was falling so I only had a bruised butt not a broken camera!
The sun coming up.
Little crabs EVERYWHERE! But they were skittish and fast, so it was hard to get a good photo of them, unless they were already dead.
A better view of the Kona Reef Resort and the beautiful palm trees that lined the property's beach!
The most eventful part of that morning (besides me falling on my butt) was our very first turtle sighting! Antoine spotted this guy among the rocks, I think he was feeding on something in the shallow waters because he pretty much stayed in one spot and would pop his head up occasionally! It was adorable and exciting for us!
These crazy, beautiful trees where everywhere in Hawaii and their bright orange blossoms were huge!
After exploring the beach at Kona Reef and grabbing some breakfast, we checked out and slowly made our way toward the Waipio Valley (on the northern coast of the island). Our first thing on the list was to pick up our marriage license in Kona (!!). Once that was done we headed to the Kekaha Kai State Park, which was on the way and I had read some pretty good reviews about it. It was a very pretty beach and I wish we had had more time there (we were on a time-crunch), BUT...the road to the beach is horrible (and kind of fun, if you have a rental car). I had read the comments in the reviews mentioning how pitted and bumpy the road was, but boy, oh boy!
It was an absolutely beautiful day, as it was most of our trip...though we had a little rain here and there.
I loved how the rock had been carved out by the waves over time...it actually extended pretty far out and we could have easily walked out there if we had had our swimsuits on.
The big island has a lot of beaches with lava rock or a mix of lava rock and sand. I thought this looked really cool, especially against the bright blue water!
My soon-to-be-husband posing all cute and whatnot on the rocks!
And that's just 15 seconds...it was a long road, very winding and narrow too!
After the Kekaha Kai State Park we headed over to the Waipio Valley, which was hands down the best part of our trip! Partly because it's where we got married, but also because we absolutely LOVED where we stayed and we loved the valley itself. It was perfect! So stay tuned because the next post (or two) will be all about Waipio!