kona _ hawaii.

6 reasons why Hawaii is a must

1. SIMPLICITY. 

We tend to pack the most into each minute of every day. We are driven. We crave activity. We get bored easily and we look for something to fill our short attention span. This beautiful little place is no concrete jungle and it's not swarming with busy people. Instead it's filled with individuals all searching for the same thing - some peace and quiet. Rarely do we have the opportunity to sit and just listen to the waves crash on the shore and where else can we just read a book for fun.

2. NEW ADVENTURE.

Usually people try something new in Hawaii. Jet skies, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, zip-lining, hiking, sailing - it's all here. Doing something you've never done before always makes the adventure more memorable. When was the last time you really got your adrenaline going? Try something that scares you a bit, it's good for you.

3. ROCK YOUR BODY.

People are either on the beach confident and ready to show off their hard work or they realize they haven't met their goals and they are feeling self-conscience. Whichever category you fall in on your first day in Hawaii, you quickly realize the rest of the beach didn't come to Hawaii to look at your body. Everyone is there because they need a little break from life. Once you realize no one cares about your body - no matter how great or not so great it looks - you're able to confidently soak up the sun in your new bathing suit and confidence looks good on everyone.

4. CHANGE OF SCENERY. 

When it comes to our daily - we tend to crave routine. We don't like it when our groove is thrown off. But when we are on vacation - we embrace change. We are ready for a change of scenery. We are tired of the midwest squirrels and city rats and we are fascinated by the new wildlife. We have prepared for this and our eyes and our mind just soaks it up. We are creatures of habit but in order to get a recharge, we have to do something different. 

5. PINEAPPLE EVERYTHING. 

Pineapple should be in all of your drinks and all of your drinks should be in pineapple. It should be on all of your sandwiches and burgers.

6. THE CURSE OF OVER PLANNING IS BROKEN. 

I have watched people on their European vacations who are stressed to the max because they try to fit way too much into one day. They don't allow the slightest break to soak it all in, to spend a little extra time at dinner, or to divert from the path to check out something not on the list. I have found in Hawaii, people tend to plan a little less. Sometimes the whole days schedule simply says "BEACH DAY." Not many people can point to a day on their calendar that only has one activity on it - but you should try it in the real world too, it's pretty magical. Or really throw yourself for a loop and leave the schedule blank for a day! *gasp*

My Week in Hawaii

Thursday

I travel standby so trying to catch a flight is always the first adventure. I met up with another flight attendant, Bonita, from Colorado. Thankfully, we didn't have much trouble getting our flight this time around. As soon as we landed we picked up our rental car - which I highly recommend getting if you plan to explore a lot in Kona. I also recommend getting a place that has a kitchen (p.s. there's a Costco near the airport. If you borrow your friends card you have to pay in cash). Hawaii is VERY expensive and wouldn't you much rather spend your money on activities? We stopped by Kekaha Kai Beach Park to watch the sunset on our way back to our place. If you're in a car, the drive down to the beach will seem a bit treacherous but keep going, you'll be alright - famous last words right? 

Friday

We slept in and Bonita cooked the most perfect breakfast. We took our time because we are on island time. We drove out to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park or Two Steps. Honaunau means "place of refuge" and this area used to be a safe haven for people running from the king. Google it. It's a bit of a drive so we blasted our island tunes and Havana on repeat. We grabbed our snorkel gear, hopped in, and saw beautiful coral and the most colorful and unique fish. This is one of the best spots for snorkeling. We stayed there and watched the sunset while we drank our Kona beer and smoked a macadamia nut cigar - I'm not much of a cigar person - this was my second one ever - but it just felt right. Every night we drove back to our place and cooked dinner (ok Bonita cooked dinner).

Saturday

We started off the day with an alert informing us that a ballistic missile was headed our way. Thankfully we were already on the boat with Kona Huna Dives and the locals were skeptical of the reality of the threat because no sirens were going off. We decided we would be safer covered in 80 feet of water and about 40 minutes later they said it was a false alarm. It was an interesting way to start off our day but we were thankful it was a false alarm. Now dive time - Full discloser about my diving skills - before this dive it had been a year since my last dive...which was my first dive. I was feeling pretty good but the first 15 minutes I was a little nervous. It honestly takes some time to convince yourself you're ok, but once you slow your breathing down and realize you're exploring underwater like a freakin' mermaid - it's actually one of the most peaceful experiences. After the first dive I wasn't feeling great - I came up a little too fast and I let my nerves get the best of me. I will be honest - I almost didn't go down for the second dive. But I strapped on that insanely heavy gear, turned on my GoPro, and took the plunge. Within about 10 minutes, I was feeling great. I was comfortable being my mermaid self and I was at complete peace in the water - just like I remember my first dive feeling. We explored a reef arch and some caves and it was incredible. I saw the most variety of trumpet fish I have ever seen - those fish are so bizarre. We rewarded ourselves with the most delicious shaved ice from Scandinavian Shaved Ice - best shaved iced on the island. You all - it has ice cream in the middle. We ate it while we watched the waves crash on the shore. We headed back to our hotel - went down to the pool, watched some dolphins play, and watched the sunset - which is a trend for each night we are here if you haven't noticed. We came back to our room, Bonita cooked and incredible meal and we watched a movie. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday

I had this morning to myself because Bonita had a meeting to attend. I uploaded photos and videos, got a head start on my blog and ate some left overs. Once she was finished with her meeting, we had some pancakes and coffee then headed to 49's Black Sand Beach. It's beautiful but don't stay long because you will fry - because the sand is black, if you didn't catch that. We went to the pool to lay out for a bit longer before our Manta Ray dive. Unfortunately, our dive was canceled due to the gnarly swells. I don't actually talk like this but it felt right for this situation. We decided to drive up to Mauna Kea Observatory (13,796 ft) since we had 26 hours of being at sea level after our dive - which is a thing, you have to space out elevations. This is supposed to be the best sunset in all of Hawaii and it did not disappoint. We drove up to 9,000 ft where they asked us to acclimate for about 30 mins before continuing up. As I'm walking, I hear someone yell my name..."Rachel Fenimore?!?" I turn around slowly to see my friend from college! How crazy! She was also on vacation with a friend I have known since 1st grade! What a small world! Once we acclimated, we continued up the mountain - even with the discouragement from the patrol man. It is HIGHLY recommended you have a 4x4 vehicle but we attempted it anyway - be careful and don't be dumb. It actually wasn't too bad and from the top we watched the most magical sunset. It was a little chilly and we even saw snow! We stayed until dark to see the stars and it is by far the most magnificent display of stars I have ever seen. While we were looking up into the night sky I couldn't help but play the song "How Great Thou Art." Being in God's creation is just the most humbling experience and I am in awe of His power and that such a great God loves me. 

Monday

Today Bonita headed off to a surf lesson while I had coffee with a high school friend of mine. We laughed and caught up on life and it was such a beautiful and refreshing time. The rest of the day we didn't have much planned so we hung out with their family. They had a pool and 6 children between all of them. It was fun just to see the kids play and enjoy the sunshine while we continued to catch up. We ate paninis and ice cream out of a papaya. We ventured down to the beach at the Four Seasons with the kiddos, played in the water and watched the sunset. All of the beaches in Hawaii are public access. The black sand beach and the Four Seasons are all through a gated community but just go up to the gate and say you would like to the beach and you're free to go! Feel fancy.

Tuesday

Our last day in paradise. We woke up, had wine with our breakfast - because why not - and made our way back to Scandinavian Shaved Ice to get our last shaved ice for the trip. We stumbled upon Angel Donuts along the way and decided to indulge - cue headache to follow. Once we finished our shaved ice we went to the beach to catch our last rays of sunshine and mentally prepare ourselves for this red eye flight - oh and we saw some turtles. We had dinner at the hotel and packed our bags. As I was packing, I reflected on the incredible trip I just had but I was looking forward to going back to California and embarking on my next adventure. I think that is the perfect ending to any vacation - to feel as if you fully embraced each adventure, to truly rest, and to be fully ready to embrace what is coming next. 

Rachel Fenimore