Saturday, September 3, 2022

Waikoloa, Hawaii

One of my best friends moved to Hawaii and so it was the perfect excuse to take a vacation & visit her! She works at the nicest resorts on the island (The Auberge Mauna Lani) and unfortunately a bit out of our budget, but we saw still went there for a sunset drink & it was stunning!!
The Big Island is huge and we wanted to take advantage of seeing everything, so we rented a car. We mostly wanted to venture to the other side of the island to see these waterfalls and it was so worth it! We visited Akaka Falls & Rainbow Falls - they are only 30 minutes away from each other, but if you can only choose one I would say Akaka Falls was my favorite!
One of my favorite parts of our vacation was going on a catamaran that also had snorkeling and lunch provided. Normally these boats have 45+ people, but we got super lucky and there were only 6 people total!! We booked ours through Hawaii Nautical. The crew was so nice - they made us Mai Tais, served us lunch, and took us on a snorkel tour where we saw TWO turtles! I am still mad I didn't bring an underwater camera...but we for sure got our money's worth!
Another place we snorkeled and just hung out for the day was Waialea Beach aka "Beach 69." As you can see the water is crystal clear and there are a ton of cool fish that we saw while snorkeling! We brought lunch from Island Gourmet (it's like a Hawaiian Gelsons, but better) and had the best beach day! I'd LOVE to go back here!

Willie's Hot Chicken
Kona Brewing Company
Kona is a bit of a drive from where we stayed, but I am happy we went to both Willie's and Kona Brewing Company for dinner! They were both so delicious and had such good vibes! At Willie's, there was live music and the picnic benches under string lights were just the best - felt like a summer BBQ! And yes, the fried chicken was just as delicious as it looks! At Kona Brewing we had a beer while waiting for our table and the Hawaiian Pizza & Poke really hit the spot. Highly recommend both of these for a casual dinner or lunch!
Kula Shaved Ice
As I mentioned, the waterfalls were on the other side of the island, and with that meant we could go to this highly recommended shaved ice place! It was soo good and a great pitstop between Akaka Falls & Rainbow Falls! 
Our hotel also had some delicious food which was nice to have by the pool & lagoon! Here are just two of the many things I enjoyed during our stay. The shaved ice was actually from Original Big Island Shave Ice Co, Inc. which was in the same village as our hotel - highly recommend it!
Copper Bar
My favorite dinner on this trip was at Copper Bar which is located in the Mauna Kea Beach Resort. Normally I don't love to eat at hotel restaurants because the prices are normally $$$$ and the food is subpar, but this was the total exception! The view and live music made the drinks and meal 10x better! Having the whole group together at this dinner just made it even more special too! 

The View From Our Balcony
We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village! While the rooms were a bit outdated, they didn't break the bank and the amenities that the resort had to offer were just what we needed for our vacation! And while the resort was huge, I loved that there was a coffee/snack store right by our room and so we didn't have to make a trek to coffee in the morning.
The resort has a walking path and a tram to each building. Of course, we stayed in the furthest building but given that we love to get our steps in and the tram is generally slower than walking we enjoyed walking to & from the lobby! 
There are plenty of pools on the property, but we spent most of our days at the lagoon where we saw turtles and snorkeled! All in all, a beautiful place to stay, but would love to stay at The Auberge Mauna Lani or Mauna Kea Beach Resort if we come back to the Big Island! 

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