Oahu & The Big Island, Hawaii | Mr. + Mrs. Diaz: Year One

Hawaii.  If you don't know already, Arturo and I are totally obsessed with it!  We WILL be moving there (eventually).  You think I'm kidding?  Nope, I'm definitely 100% serious.  When we're there, we see the difference in the sense of family and community, something we absolutely love.  Another thing Arturo and I enjoy about the Big Island is that small business is supported BIG TIME over there; you'll see a few big box stores like Target, Macy's, or Costco in Kona, but besides that, it's pretty much local businesses!  As soon as we got back from our honeymoon to the Big Island last year, we KNEW we'd be celebrating our first anniversary there.  This time around, we brought our friends who had never experienced the beauty of Hawaii before.  

We flew into Honolulu two days before our anniversary.  After getting off an 11 hour flight from JFK, we were welcomed to Waikiki by a beautiful rainbow just outside our hotel!  You’d think that after such a greeting, we would want to enjoy some nightlife, but I think we were both passed out by 8pm—womp womp.  We’re such party animals, I know.  But to be fair, with the 6 hour time difference, it really felt like 2am for us!  And because of that time difference, we were up at 2am, Hawaiian time of course.  Because of that, we got to enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Diamond Head!  That day, we hopped on a plane to take a short flight to Kona on the Big Island.  Jasmine and Pedro arrived that evening, beaming with excitement as they stepped off the plane. 

A rainbow greeted us when we stepped onto the balcony of our hotel in Waikiki!

A rainbow greeted us when we stepped onto the balcony of our hotel in Waikiki!

Diamond Head sunrise in the Waikiki section of Honolulu.

Diamond Head sunrise in the Waikiki section of Honolulu.

The following day was our anniversary, and naturally, since we were all still on East Coast time, we were up before the crack of dawn, and ready to get some breakfast.  We took a drive up into the mountains, past Waimea, to Tex Drive-In in Honakaa.  The food was great, but nothing beat their fresh malasadas!  For those of you wondering what a malasada is, it’s a Portuguese doughnut, served plain or with your choice of jelly or cream filling.  They are SO. FREAKING. DELICIOUS!!! And hey, who doesn’t like a fresh doughnut?  Tex isn’t far from Waipio Valley lookout, which of course we HAD to go to!  And then drive into!  It was raining in the mountains that day, so the valley was muddy and flooded when we got down there.  Luckily our Jeep had no issues getting us down or up the rocky and bumpy terrain!

Waipio Valley, Big Island.

Waipio Valley, Big Island.

Later that week, we met up with my sister, brother in law, and nieces at one of our favorite little dives, Kohala Burger and Taco.  YUM!  One of the many things I LOOOOOVE about the Big Island is how fresh all the food is.  There are a ton of ranches on the island, so all the good places have support each other in local business (you know we're all about supporting small biz!).  Produce is picked fresh and fish caught that day.  I don’t eat seafood, but I love me a good burger. 

Scenic Point on Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway, Big Island.

Scenic Point on Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway, Big Island.

The scenery and plant life is amazing!  The water is beautifully blue, the clouds look like giant, puffy cotton balls, and the flowers are rich yellows, pinks and reds.  The sunrises and sunsets are like nothing you'll see anywhere else.  The color on the Big Island is mind blowing!  When you travel to other parts of the island of Hawaii, you’ll find everything from lava fields, to green pastures, to snow at the peak of Mauna Kea, to an active volcano spewing lava into the ocean!

Plant life in Kona, Big Island.

Plant life in Kona, Big Island.

That Friday, we headed toward South Point to find the Green Sand Beach (the sand got it’s olive color caused by eruptions from what was once a volcano).  Once again, it was a good thing we had our Jeep to get us there!  The bumpy (to say the least) dirt roads were no match for that sucker.  At the end of our 25 minute drive along dirt paths, we finally arrived at a beach like nothing any of us had ever seen before!  From South Point, we continued our trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we saw the light of the lava in the crater of Kilauea.

Lava field along Mamalahoa Highway (above) and the dirt roads just before the Green Sand Beach at South Point (below), Big Island. 

Lava field along Mamalahoa Highway (above) and the dirt roads just before the Green Sand Beach at South Point (below), Big Island. 

Lucky for us, we had our Jeep to get to South Point.  For those who don't, there are locals who use their 4-wheel drive vehicles to drive tourists down the bumpy and hilly path to get there.

Lucky for us, we had our Jeep to get to South Point.  For those who don't, there are locals who use their 4-wheel drive vehicles to drive tourists down the bumpy and hilly path to get there.

Papakolea Green Sand Beach at South Point, Big Island.

Papakolea Green Sand Beach at South Point, Big Island.

Scenic views near South Point, along the way to Volcano, Big Island.

Scenic views near South Point, along the way to Volcano, Big Island.

One of my favorite drives on the Big Island is the Saddle Road.  It takes you from one side of the island to the other, winding between the two larger volcanoes on Hawaii, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  When you start your ride, you’re at sea level.  But when passing through the two volcanoes, you’re at a much higher elevation, and can feel the temperature change too!

Views of either side of the Saddle Road; Mauna Kea (above) and goats grazing along the very base of Mauna Loa.

Views of either side of the Saddle Road; Mauna Kea (above) and goats grazing along the very base of Mauna Loa.

Scenic view along Mamalahoa Highway on the way to Kona (left); One of my favorite sculptures at the Kona International Airport (right).

Scenic view along Mamalahoa Highway on the way to Kona (left); One of my favorite sculptures at the Kona International Airport (right).

On this trip, we saw everything from green sand beaches, to dolphins, and even a baby shark when we were snorkeling!  I couldn't have wished for a better trip to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with two of our favorite people in the world! It was quite a way to kick off Year Two. :)