Best Hawaiian vacation ever!

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We had an amazing time in Kona on the Big Island this past week – I don’t think I’ve ever had a vacation go more perfectly in every respect. The weather gets a lot of credit – not windy, not too hot, just beautiful every day, the mornings dawned sunny and still, so it was perfect for time on the water, then by afternoon it clouded up just a little (the clouds coming over the mountain from the volcano on the other side of the island, but never reaching the beach) and the breeze would come up a little, just enough to keep it from getting too hot or muggy. Evening sunsets were amazing – we learned that the bright red and pink sunsets every evening are caused by the gases from the volcano – and it was lovely out, still warm with just a little breeze – perfect for sitting and watching the sun go down.

We loved where we stayed – the Four Seasons at Huahalui. The resort has nothing else near it since Kona Village to the south was wiped out by the tsunami in March, so it feels really isolated, but it’s so beautiful – the grounds, the rooms, the beach, the pools . . . there’s a huge fitness facility with a lap pool, weight rooms, yoga and pilates room, all sorts of exercise equipment . . . then a coffee bar nearby where we walked to get smoothies every morning after running on the jogging trail along the ocean . . . the service was impeccable, very attentive but never made you feel smothered . . . maid service in the rooms twice a day (my dream!) and always someone offering to help you set up a beach chair, or get a cool drink. It was a perfect place to take kids – there were lots of families there, so we didn’t feel out of place, but not so many kids that it felt like Disneyland. Nice touches for the kids everywhere – when we arrived, the room was decked out just for them, and when the maids would come for turndown service, they’d dress the kids’ stuffed animals in little Hawaiian komonos. I loved how we weren’t charged for every little thing – bottles of water, laundry facilities near all the rooms (very important when traveling with kids!), lots of services that just went a long ways to making us feel pampered. We were told it was the off season – no crowds, perfect weather, days spent in the ocean!

We all agreed that we’re going to make this an annual trip – same place, same room, same time next year, I already can’t wait!

Day One: We arrive to find the kids’ room all laid out with supplies, treats, a stuffed dolphin for each girl, and their names written in the bathtub.

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Each room had an outdoor lava rock shower (which was wonderful after swimming or running each morning) and we could see and hear the ocean from our room – since we were on the ground level, we just walked out our sliding door to the pool and the beach beyond.

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Day Two: Rich and I did a two-tank dive our first full day in Kona – we went out on the boat on the right, smooth waters and great visibility – water temp close to 80 degrees, we saw dolphins, moray eels, a white-tip reef shark, and more fish than I could name!

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Day Three: Emmersen and Isabella take scuba lessons in Kings Pond, located at the resort and stocked with over 4,000 fish (including an eagle ray), where we also snorkeled and enjoyed the marine life.

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Day Four: Our only day with a rental car, in the morning we drove to Kua Bay and played on the white sand beach and in the turquoise waters – probably the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. We took turns snorkeling out to the lava flows, which turned to coral reefs underwater and were home to all kinds of fish, eels, and many resident turtles.

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That night was our manta dive – Rich and I went scuba diving, while the girls and their guide snorkeled above us. That’s me below with the pink regulator – I just got bonked on the head by the manta’s fin. Then he did a slow sommersault, right in front of me. There were at least eight full-grown mantas with us, the largest over 16’ from fin to fin. An unbelievable experience!

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Day Five: We took a boat trip out snorkeling in the early morning, found a pod of spinner dolphins and jumped in the water with them to play. Then at our second snorkeling site, we hung out with the turtles at their “cleaning station” while they got their shells cleaned by the resident fish.

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Sunrise, as seen from our patio – I’m pulling on my running shoes and getting ready to run the beach trail before the sun comes all the way up.

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The sunset we watched our first night in Kona from the deck of the restaurant where we ate dinner every evening.

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My favorite seat every morning – there were so few people around, it was like having our own private island!

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The girls played on the beach every afternoon – unbelievably, this is right in front of our hotel, yet there’s not a soul in sight!

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There were sea turtles everywhere, in the water when the girls were snorkeling and pulled up to rest every afternoon on the beach right at the hotel – I think they liked the Four Seasons ambiance too!

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Lots of lava flows meant good tide pools and endless entertainment looking for shells and sea life.

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There were so many beach cabanas to choose from, and no competition!  Some afternoons, I curled up in one with a book and didn’t move for several hours, it was so peaceful.

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 PARADISE!

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