We spent 14 wonderful days on the island of Oahu. We arrived on August 1, got married on August 8, and flew to the island of Hawaii on August 14.
If you are planning destination wedding, we highly recommend making the wedding in the middle of your trip. It gave us the flexibility to have our bachelor/ette parties before the wedding, and celebrations and decompression after the big day. We were lucky enough to get to have a proper visit with 95% of our wedding guests (either before or after the big day).
As much as we loved being with everyone, it was nice to get to Kona. A massive thank you to Nicole’s parents, who gifted us their timeshare at the Kona Islander Inn. It was the perfect place for us, peaceful with a kitchenette and a view. We slept from about 730pm the night we landed until 930am the next morning – talk about a wedding hangover!
We rented a car on the Big Island for 3 of the 5 days we were there – main reason being that we wanted to drive up to the observatories and see some stars! We had wanted to see some lava flow as well, but sadly the national parks and all road access to lava flow had been closed due to minor earthquakes and unstable ground!
We had plenty of other things to see though, and because we had our 4×4, it enabled us to go ‘off roading’ a bit to some more quiet locations.
We wandered on foot around the old Kona town, where there were many restaurants and pubs. Oceans (daily specials including $2 taco Tues & Thurs), Humpy’s Alehouse (named after the humpback whale, they have an amazing selection of beer and a great latenight takeaway menu), a Kanaka Kava bar (fun atmosphere with tasty traditional food, but highly overpriced for kava at $5USD/bowl), and even a Bubba Gump Shrimp (we didn’t eat here, we just walked passed it each day and quoted Forrest Gump).
In our neighbourhood there were many hotels, ranging in price and stars, but from our perspective, you really couldn’t go wrong with your choice. It was so laid back and Hawaiian-style in Kona, you could enjoy the pools at other hotels, and all the beaches were open to the public (or at least nobody stopped us).
At the Courtyard by Marriot King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, they had a lagoon for swimming in. It wasn’t advertised
that the public could join, but there was no private barriers. In the lagoon was the Kamakahonu Historical Landmark , the thatched roof building you see pictured to your right. A quick 1 minute walk to our lefts of this beach was the “public beach” (but like I said, we were able to swim here too).
We ended up spending more time in the public beach because there was far less people there! There were schools of little fish and John even swam out and saw a pod of dolphins about 25m away from him! Nicole was happy to stay in the shallows with the schools.
We hiked through the forest and dry flats, and saw 4 largely different environments within a 100m walk of each other. Have a read through our blog post Classic Rocks to read more about our trip to the Puakō Petroglyph Archaeological District.
We found plenty of sea turtles floating around and swam with a couple of them. It was getting us pretty pumped to go to La Tortuga Feliz and work with conservationists in Costa Rica. We wandered coastlines, to Kiholo Bay, which was a bit of a hike but definitely worth the tranquility on the other side. The walk was all on sand and rock, and it was quite loose, so it made it feel like it was farther away than it was. But if you’re going to Kona, we recommend!
Our biggest adventure was on our way up to the telescopes. We were told that 4wd was absolutely necessary to drive up the mountain. We had been told that some of the other places we visited 4wd was necessary, and it didn’t seem so, so we didn’t expect the road we came upon! Have a read through our blog post The Sky’s the Limit for more photos and a description of our day.
We could’ve stayed for a month and barely touched on all of what the Big Island has to offer. There is so much Hawaiian history everywhere you turn, there is a crazy change in elevation (bringing change in temperatures along with it), and there are endless nearly-untouched beaches to visit.
We had planned to go night time snorkelling with the manta rays – actually we were in the water and everything – but were the only manta tour of the day (and the month) that didn’t see any! We were rescheduled for free, but then cancelled due to weather. Guess we’ll have to go back to Kona!
If any readers have any questions or want any more suggestions of things to do, please contact us or leave a comment. We only spent 5 days on the Big Island but we found the perfect balance between exploring and relaxing.
Below is the map we were given from the woman who helped us with our car rental, a local who was born and raised on the island. Places circled in pink are 4wd areas, and well worth the visit.
If you plan on heading to Hawaii, think about Kona. The surf is minimal (perfect for a honeymoon), but it’s a great place to relax, restore and recharge, which was exactly what we needed.