July 6, 2016

Jen & Dave's Hawaiian adventure

I'm a procrastinator. That is why I haven't blogged about our trip to Hawaii, even though we went in January. And we got married there. And we didn't tell anyone we were getting married before we left. But I'll get to that...

Instead of going on and on about a two week vacation to Hawaii, I'll cover some highlights. We went to Maui and the Big Island. Maui was first. We stayed at the Grand Wailea, not far from where we got married.

Makena Cove
This photo was taken on the beach where we got married. It's a tiny little beach- rocky and beautiful. We got married at sunset the day after we arrived. I'm told there were whales hanging out offshore during the ceremony, but I didn't see any myself. We had a beautiful Hawaiian ceremony and even exchanged leis. It was perfect for us.


These are malasadas. They're only found in Hawaii. If you ever go to Hawaii, eat as many as you can. They taste like funnel cake filled with vanilla pudding. Not all malasadas are created equal. Some don't have any filling, while some have guava pudding filling or chocolate pudding filling. It's probably pastry cream and not pudding, to be honest. But they're soooooo good!!

Oneuli Beach

I really like black sand beaches and tried to see as many as I could while we were in Hawaii. This one had a sea turtle swimming right at the edge of the water. He was pretty cool. We saw a lot of old lava, too- on both the Big Island and Maui. La Perouse Bay is the site of the last volcanic eruption on Maui, and it looks like a moonscape in parts.

La Perouse Bay

Oh, we did actually go to the beach one day to swim. We went to Big Beach. The water was blue and beautiful, and the waves were huge. We also went walking over a giant hill and came across a nude beach by accident!

Big Beach
Of course we drove the twists and turns of the famous road to Hana, all the way to Hana. This is our go-to example for a winding road now when Dave and I are driving somewhere. "This is like the road to Hana!" One really cool place we stopped along the way was Keanae. The waves were enormous, and the sound of them crashing into the rocks was LOUD.

Keanae waves

That wasn't the only place we saw enormous waves. One part of the island had even bigger waves and was filled with surfers. We visited the extinct volcano, Haleakala. I loved Haleakala. Loved it. We drove up through the clouds and into a beautiful, otherworldly landscape. You can see the Big Island from Haleakala, which was pretty neat because then when we were at the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island, we could look back and see Maui.

I hiked down into the crater a bit while Dave took a nap in the car. I wish I could've gone farther, but I wanted to get back in time for sunset. And getting back up those steep hills in high altitude was more challenging than I expected...

Haleakala sunset
After the sun went down, the stars came out. And wow, were there a lot of stars. More than I have ever seen. I even saw the Milky Way! It wasn't the best time of year for the Milky Way, so I didn't see the biggest, brightest part. It was still cool.

Whale watching was the highlight of the trip (yes, I'm saying that even though I got married there) and one of the best experiences of my life. We were on a small pontoon boat with Maui Adventure Cruises, in the waters between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. Dave and I sat on one of the pontoons, right by the water. There were whales everywhere, and they were breaching off in the distance and also right next to the boat! We even saw a mom and a baby whale breaching together a few times. The baby was trying to breach, and then the mom would do it right, as if she were trying to show her kid how. The sound when these humpbacks hit the water- and the splash- was extraordinary. It was amazing.

Yay, whales!!
Next up was the Big Island. We stayed in our own little cottage at the Volcano Rainforest Retreat. The Big Island was colder than Maui, and we needed the gas fireplace in our room at night. I originally wanted to go to the Big Island because I wanted to see lava. I don't mean old lava. I mean flowing, hot lava. I wanted to get right up next to it and feel the heat. I wanted to watch it pour into the sea, setting off clouds of steam. Guess what? There hasn't been active lava flow to the sea in years! And the current active lava flow is tiny and inaccessible to people. Sigh. It was still cool.

Kilauea at sunset

We went to Volcanoes National Park and saw the smoke billowing out of Kilauea and the lava glow. We couldn't see into the crater to see the lava, though. We drove around the park on Chain of Craters Road through a sea of old lava. You could even look down and see the path it took to the sea. We also saw nene! I was excited to see nene. They're endangered Hawaiian geese, and they really didn't care that we were there.


We saw a couple more black sand beaches on the Big Island; one had turtles basking in the sun. We also checked out Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park, which was an interesting place. Dave said it "looked like Hawaii."

Hawaiian sea turtles, or honu

We checked out the Imiloa Astronomy Center, which had interesting exhibits about navigating across the ocean using the stars, before we headed up to the summit of Mauna Kea, 14,000 feet up! The guide warned us to be careful and not move around too quickly because some people have a hard time adjusting to the altitude and pass out. Also, it was freezing up there!

me and Dave at the summit of Mauna Kea

You can see what we're wearing. It was windy and cold. I really enjoyed seeing observatories that I've seen in astronomy documentaries and tv shows! As the sun set, they were opening up to turn their telescopes to the sky.

I learned some cool things about the observatories and how important they are to the Big Island. The road up Mauna Kea from the information center to the summit is eight miles. The first half is gravel, but the last four miles are paved so dust isn't thrown up into the sky where it would cloud up the clear air the telescopes need. Also, the street lights on the Big Island are special yellow sodium lights that cut down on light pollution and are better for astronomy. Neat!

Once it was dark, we stayed on Mauna Kea but came down from the highest altitude to look through a telescope. It was the most powerful telescope I've ever used. We saw a whole bunch of cool stuff, like the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and the moon. We also saw a bunch of shooting stars, including a long bright one. The guide said that shooting stars were common at that altitude- no special meteor shower necessary.

Relaxing after whale watching on Maui
I'm closing with a photo taken on Maui that I feel captures the trip. We sat at this table and had lunch after we went whale watching.

Hawaii was full of adventures but also relaxing. I could sit on the lanai of our room in Maui and look out at the ocean as I drank coffee in the morning or watched the sun set at night. Everywhere was beautiful. I kept saying to Dave, "It's so pretty!" We were never far from the soothing sound of the ocean. But there was also so much to do and see and explore. It was fantastic.


  1. Great pics, Jen! Sounds like a dream vacation with lots of wonderful memories :)


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