Dream Destination: Hawaii Part 2

Today we have the second part of Amy’s honeymoon to Hawaii, in case you missed it, here’s Part one – Oahu.

For now though, back to Amy!

Hawai’i (Big Island)

Where we stayedThe Sheraton Kona. This was recommended by our travel agent and we just agreed and went. From the reviews online and in the travel guides I think this is the ‘fanciest’ resort on the island but we were a little disappointed. The grounds, pool and facilities were wonderful, especially the Rays on the Bay restaurant which served excellent, reasonably priced food, the BEST cocktails, and had a viewing area for watching the manta rays who gathered every night. Unfortunately it was a sixties building that was very much in need of a facelift, especially the bedroom décor which was a bit of an offputting mustard/beige colour and a bit shabby. Kona is the ‘touristy’ part of the island which was still very quiet and relaxed, but I’d probably recommend staying in Hilo as that’s much closer to all of the main sights and places to visit.

What we did…

The main reason we went to this island was to see the volcanoes. It is home to both the worlds largest dormant and active volcanoes and we were really excited to see them, especially James who is really interested in geography and geology. In truth we were a little disappointed – obviously being a natural phenomenon there are no guarantees as to what you will see and sadly we didn’t get to see any lava flow. However there was still a lot to look at and learn about in the Volcanoes national park, including all of the new land from recent eruptions, and we did get to see the crater lit up from the lava at night quite close up which was pretty spectacular. If you are interested in all that geeky stuff like us I’d really recommend just getting out and exploring the island – it’s home to 11 different climates/eco systems and in the 6 hour drive to circumnavigate the island you will see nearly all of them, from desert to redwoods to rainforest. There are areas that resemble the wild west and that could be in the lake district, with the vast Mars like expanses of blackness from the eruptions.

We really enjoyed exploring all of the waterfalls on the east of the island – many of them are really accessible by car and clearly marked on all the maps. We also visited Hilo which is a strange mishmash of a town that has been rebuilt twice in the past 100 years after being wiped out by tsunamis and looks a little south American in it’s architectural style.

What we didn’t do – the Kona region of Hawai’i is famed for it’s coffee and a lot of the plantations offer free tours and tastings. We had planned to do this on our second day, but were feeling lazy and opted for lounging around with some cocktails instead! I’m not a coffee drinker (it gives me migraines,) but James tried some Kona coffee at the hotel and gave it the thumbs up (after previously saying all American coffee was awful) and I bought some as a gift for my dad.


Where we stayed

The Hyatt Regency Maui in Ka’anapali. Again this was selected by our travel agent and it was definitely a ‘honeymooners’ hotel (and the only one in which we weren’t upgraded) as we saw lots of other couples and a wedding while we were there. Having said that I’m not surprised! It was like being in a Disney film – there were waterfalls, rope bridges, tropical birds everywhere, a swan filled lagoon you could dine next to, and my favourite bit – PENGUINS!

What we did…

Honestly, not a great deal. We mainly stayed around the resort and relaxed after doing a lot of activities on the other islands but we did visit Lahaina, an old whaling town which is now a little touristy but well worth a wander around and was great for souvenir shopping, and Iao Needle in the valleys which was very spectacular and we are really glad we saw.

What we didn’t do – the road to Hana is a famous journey that’s recommended to all visitors with it’s 88 waterfalls and stunning coastline, but as we had done something similar on Big Island we decided not to bother. We also didn’t see any whales as we went outside of mating season (October – April) where they are clearly visible around the coast so the only way we could have seen some was to go on a boat excursion. Having done similar trips elsewhere we didn’t make this a priority.

We enjoyed everything we did on all the islands, it really was the most perfect trip imaginable. It’s hard to recommend just one place as I think different people visit Hawaii for different reasons and there really is something for everyone! We definitely want to go back to O’ahu and we would like to visit Kauai which is another island we didn’t have time for on this trip but it’s where Jurassic Park was filmed and is very lush and dramatic – apparently good for walking and biking. I’d say Big Island is probably only worth visiting if you’re really interested in geology and the volcanoes – it has the worst weather of all the islands and the scenery and views of the mountains are often obscured by cloud. Maui is probably the place most people from the UK visit and generally considered (understandably) to be paradise – it has some really dramatic scenery and lots to do and see whist still retaining a very quiet and relaxed vibe. This is probably the place I’d recommend to most visitors as I think everyone would find somewhere they loved there and if you’re going as a couple or family who all want slightly different things you will all be kept happy. I think it also has the most diverse mix of accommodation so again there’s something for everyone.

Basically, Hawaii is an amazing place and definitely worth the expense, epically long flight time, and horrifying jetlag you have to face if you’re visiting from the UK. I’m pretty sure we left a little bit of our souls there…

Anybody else already on flight checker? What an amazing trip. Thank you so much for sharing it with us Amy!


How Florence found… Notting Hill

A couple of weekends ago, I headed to London for a weekend of investigating the areas I don’t normally visit as a tourist. One of my main missions was to visit Graham and Green, the interiors store that I obsess over but have never visited and I opted for the Notting Hill store thinking the area would be good for exploring too.

Being a complete novice to the area, we chose Saturday lunch time to head over from our base in Shoreditch, The Hoxton Hotel and emerged from the tube into the midst of the masses also heading towards Portobello Road and the market of the same name. In retrospect, I should have realised how busy it would be, but it probably wouldn’t have put me off despite my extreme dislike of being shoved around, which was totally inevitable.

We flowed along in the general direction of the crowd and eventually hit the market with what seemed like endless collections of almost anything you could possibly want, silver and lace being most popular. On the way we passed rows of pastel painted houses with brightly coloured front doors and pretty gardens, perfect for imagining who lives behind them…

The whole trip became a bit of a gastronomic walking tour and I was drawn into Arancina pizzeria with a classic orange Fiat 500 in the window, used to display long rectangular pizzas while they cooled. We bought a ball of risotto rice which in this case had cheese and ham in the middle and was covered in bread crumbs and went some way towards mopping up the hangover I was battling from the night before.

Before I knew it, we were upon the Hummingbird Bakery and tempted into buying a black bottomed cupcake which we shared as we carried on. My justification was that I’ve never made that particular recipe and it was worth every mouthful 🙂

When we finally got to Graham and Green I was a bit disappointed by the size of the shop although it was packed to the rafters with covetable items. Most annoyingly, my favourite items that I wanted to see up close before considering a purchase, (this desk, this mirror and erm, another desk in case you’re wondering,) weren’t on display. We could have headed to the other store but I decided I could live without seeing them for now. I left with a gift for Anna K, whose birthday party it was later, a single champagne flute and a ceramic tray, both for my dressing table.

Next we decided it was time for lunch and headed to Electric, as recommended by Rachel where the chicken, bacon and avocado salad was lovely and pete had a Croque Monsieur. We sat outside and watched the bustle from the market but the decor inside was right up my street, all oversized industrial lights, metro tiles and reused wood.

Although we were recommended Ottolengis, we decided we had had enough of the area and headed back to East London to make some headway on our epic to-do list over there.

I’d love to hear if you have any Notting Hill area recommendations that I’ve missed, be they shopping or food destinations… Do share them and help the travel section become useful as a resource for other readers planning weekend or needing a Notting Hill guide, particularly if you have lived or worked in the area. 🙂


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...