|You can't beat those Big Island sunsets.|
Welcome to 2016, my friends. El Niño has finally arrived here in the city of concrete and broken dreams, which means that many residents are refusing to leave their houses and the ones who do go out into the world at large are driving like complete idiots. To be fair, the rains have been so heavy that I'm thinking of having my son build an ark as his next craft project.
The grey skies and chilly temperatures have made me nostalgic for our recent Hawaiian vacation. Sure, it sucks to travel with children, and we're still trying to get over our jet lag three weeks later, but you can't beat the tropical breezes, sandy beaches, and warm-as-a-bathtub ocean water.
I never thought I would say this, but the kids had so much fun that it was totally worth the flight from Hell. I might even be convinced to travel with them again sometime in the future.
The last time we were in Hawaii we did not have children. It was so long ago that we weren't even thinking of having children. As I recall, we spent the majority of our vacation drinking tropical cocktails beside the Adults Only pool. My, how the times have changed. These days we're sitting in the pee-filled kiddie pool handing out juice boxes and refereeing sibling squabbles. The only good thing about this is that I now have a number of Big Island travel tips just for those of you thinking of braving a Hawaiian vacation with your children in tow.
Keep in mind that the Big Island is called that for a reason. It's BIG - the same size as the state of Connecticut, to be exact.
Volcanoes National Park is totally worth seeing, but not if you have little kids. It's 100 miles away from Kona, so unless you find being stuck in a car with screaming children relaxing, I suggest you save that particular adventure for a later trip.
We spent most of the week at my parent's house, and then spent two nights at the Waikoloa Hilton. Here's my honest opinion: unless you can afford to stay at the Four Seasons (which is amazing and priced accordingly), don't waste your money on a resort; rent a house or a condo instead. You'll have more space, a kitchen so you can cook if you want to, and housekeeping won't be knocking on your door at 7am.
La'aloa, or Magic Sand Beach (where most of the video was shot) is our favorite beach near Kona Town. It's easy to park and there's a shady area as well as picnic tables, bathrooms, and outdoor showers. Just be warned that if the weather has been stormy there might no be any sand to sit on. The reason it's nicknamed Magic Sands is because the sand disappears and reappears overnight, like magic.
Hapuna Beach is a 40 minute drive from downtown Kona, but it's so worth it if you want a beautiful, not-too-crowded beach experience. Hapuna has a long stretch of pristine white sand, but it gets super windy in the late afternoon, and the undertow can be crazy strong, so bring a sweatshirt and keep a close eye on the your little ones.
Catch a sunset at the Lava Lava Beach Club. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my post about this place. It's owned by the duo who catered our wedding, and the cocktails are as spectacular as the view. Ideally, you would be able to ditch your children and enjoy this place unencumbered by offspring, but you'll still enjoy it even if your dinner companions eat with their hands.
Be sure and hit up one of the local Farmer's Markets (I'm partial to the South Kona Green Market in Keylakekua), especially if you're renting a house. The Island of Hawaii has 11 different climate zones, which means almost every type of veggie, fruit, and protein is grown or raised somewhere on the Island. Buy local whenever you can, not only because it's less expensive, but also because it tastes so much better than anything flown in from the Mainland. Be sure and try the local bananas. They are small - about half the size of the bananas sold in stores here - and the taste and texture are both different than the ones sold here. Also, keep an eye out for the Brooklyn Hipster couple who moved to Hawaii, bought a farm, and are selling Vegan Kale and Vegan Lettuce. I thought vegetables were already vegan, but I guess they are farming with vegan fertilizer while bathing in patchouli and sampling the local bud.
Flip flops, or slippahs as we call them in Hawaii, are the only footwear you need. Pick up a pair of Locals at any grocery or drug store - they cost all of $1.99 - and your feet will love you forever. No other brand compares, and I swear by my Locals. I have literally worn holes in every pair I've owned, and I even walked and bicycled all over Cambodia in these plastic wonders. Buy some for your kids and watch their minds blow trying to figure out how to get (and keep) them on their feet. Just be warned: once they figure out how to walk in them you may not be able to convince them to wear anything else.