Visiting the Big Island, Hawaii :: Traveling Vicariously During the Pandemic

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im.ag.i.na.tion noun: the ability of the mind to build mental scenes, objects, or events that do not exist, are not present, or have happened in the past.

As mothers of stir-crazy, frustrated children enduring the the COVID-19 quarantine, we have all, no doubt, faced the infamous question from our kiddos: “When can we go somewhere fun again without thinking about coronavirus?”

Sadly, with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise again, I have struggled to come up with an encouraging answer for my children. But one day, I had an epiphany: until we can freely roam again, we can teach our kids to harness the power of their imaginations to take them anywhere!

Take a Virtual Trip

If you find yourself longing for an island adventure, let’s practice this before teaching them. Close your eyes and take a two minute trip with me to the Big Island, Hawaii. *Tip: get your pencils ready for a list of hot spots to visit when the island is open for visitors again.

Imagine yourself for a moment sinking your feet into sand, enjoying a warm tropical breeze, taking a deep breath, and embracing the feeling of freedom, tranquility, and relaxation. Allow yourself to indulge in this feeling on your journey throughout this post. This concept is part of the “hang loose” culture in Hawaii where it is not the norm to worry or rush. It signals that everything is alright.

The “hang loose” gesture is used widely throughout Hawaii.

Our Trip to the Big Island

In 2011, we ventured to Kona, Hawaii, a city on the Big Island. Our trip began at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. We flew a total of ten hours before reaching our destination and landing in what felt like the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Black sand made of basalt created by lava flowing into the ocean.

I expected white sandy beaches and lots of lush greenery, but I was shocked to find gorgeous black sand beaches! I later learned that the entire island was created by volcanic activity. The black sand is actually basalt created by lava flowing into the ocean. Each year, the island grows over 42 acres due to constant volcano eruptions.

Antique resort welcome car!

The Four Seasons Hualalai rests on the picturesque Kona coast of Hawaii. Upon arrival, we were greeted by name along with the warmest aloha! The service throughout our stay was impeccable. The resort is the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Rated Resort in Hawaii, and it did not disappoint. It offers five dining options, and 75% of the food served comes from Hawaii island. It’s organic and absolutely delicious. 

There’s nothing like dining with your toes in the sand!

The spa is a dream, and believe me, I indulged in a volcanic ash body wrap and a classic facial. We also enjoyed visiting the resort’s cultural center which offers classes and activities highlighting Hawaiian culture. My husband Reggie took ukulele lessons while I learned the art of authentic hula dance.

Reggie’s ukelele lesson

We enjoyed visiting Waipi’o Valley, a gorgeous valley named after the river that runs through it (wai-pi’o means “curved water” in Hawaiian). The valley meets the ocean toward the north with a beautiful black sand beach. Notice how a cloud sits at the top with the black beach below. It was absolutely breathtaking.                          

Waipi’o Valley

Our seven day stay included several excursions throughout the island. Akaka Falls, which offers a self-guided hike through lush tropical vegetation to scenic points overlooking Akaka falls, plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. 

Akaka Falls–442 feet high

By far, the most breathtaking experience of all was a guided helicopter tour during which we flew directly over one of the two active volcanoes–Kilauea. The other volcano, Mauna Loa (meaning “Long Mountain” in Hawaiian), rises over 13,000 feet above sea level and makes up half of the island’s area.  

Our helicopter ride flying over the mouth of the active volcano Kilauea. 

Lastly, Pnalu’u Black Sand Beach is the most famous black sand beach in Hawaii. It is great for swimming, seeing sea turtles, and snorkeling.

Pnalu’u Black Sand Beach

After a long day of hiking and exploring, both the resort’s saltwater infinity pool and the balcony lounger were perfect places to rest and cool off.           

Enjoying the saltwater infinity resort pool. Look closely to see the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

In May 2018, seven years after our trip, the Big Island experienced one of the largest and most destructive volcano eruptions in its history. The volcano we flew over (shown above) explosively erupted throwing ash 30,000 feet into the air for months. Seven hundred homes were destroyed while 900 acres of new land was formed. I am not sure exactly how the island looks now, but I am so glad we had the opportunity to view that beautiful part of creation years ago. 

Make Your Own Paradise

It has been said that the mind can be either a prison or a paradise. During this crisis, let’s make it a paradise! Here are two easy ways to make that happen:

1.  Pull out some old photos and reminisce with your husband and kids about a past vacation. You may be surprised how therapeutic it is! This will create a sense of unity and thankfulness for the memories you have. 

2.  Meditate on something that brings you peace. This is a good time to pull out your favorite books to read. I have been thinking happy thoughts by focusing on some of my favorite Bible verses including Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

Life is short. Let’s cherish the memories we’ve made, create new quarantine memories with our loved ones, and travel freely (far and wide) when this pandemic is over! 

What places have you been to that you would revisit today if you could? Have you visited the Big Island? If so, what attractions did I forget to include? Tell me in the comments below!

P.S. Stay tuned for a virtual trip to San Francisco with the fam! Until then, hang loose!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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Kendra L
Kendra, a Birmingham native, is happily married to her husband of 14 years and is the mom of two sweet kiddos (10-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy). A former pharmaceutical sales representative of 12 years, she now stays home with their kiddos while running a small business. Two years ago, The Paisley Pea, an online baby and maternity brand, was born from her passion for sewing and all things earthy! The company has now grown into a substantial business with 75 retailers across the country. When not running the business, she enjoys crafting with her children, entertaining, exploring other cultures, music, and being a nature-lover! She is excited about sharing her experiences as a MOMpreneur to encourage other moms in their quest.

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