Sunday, March 22, 2015

Big Island Day 1 + Travel Gear

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We just returned from a weeklong vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii!  I’ll be blogging our trip over the next few days, with a few pre-scheduled crafting posts in between.

This was our second trip to the Big Island.  Our first trip was in 2008.  You can read about our first trip in the links below:

Alaska Airlines now has direct flights from San Diego to all four of the major Hawaiian islands.  They just started their direct flight to Kona, Big Island on March 6th, so we were on one of their first direct flights.  The direct flight there took almost six hours, while coming back it only took 4 hours and 50 minutes due to the jetstream flow.  With the direct flight, it takes us longer to go to the East Coast than it takes to go to Hawaii.  That’s really awesome! 

Before I start with the trip report, I wanted to give you an overview of what cameras and gear we brought, and what I thought of them.  I hope it gives you an idea of what to purchase or save money on before your next big trip!  :)

Cameras & Gear:

  • Both of us have iPhone 6’s.  It takes really great photos & videos!  We used this for most of our photos.
  • ThrillPro Extendable Selfie-Stick – laugh all you want about the selfie sticks, they work!  This one is universal and works with iPhones, GoPros, Androids, and other cameras.  The photo above was taken with the selfie stick.  It’s really handy when you’re on vacation and want photos with everyone in it! 
  • Muku Shuttr – this is a remote shutter for use with the iPhone, iPad, and other Android phones.  It uses Bluetooth technology to pair with your phone and comes with a little stand.  It makes taking photos of yourself with scenery super-easy!  We used it a lot in conjunction with the selfie stick.  The remote is great because it eliminates the long-armed camera look and everyone can be in the photo with their arms down and look more natural.
  • Olympus TG-3 Waterproof 16 MP digital camera – we used this camera near water and under water while snorkeling.  It is completely waterproof and takes great underwater photos.  It is rugged so it can withstand some drops, extreme temps, and obviously water.  It is waterproof to 50 ft and has built-in WiFi and GPS.
  • Canon SD850 IS – this is my little point & shoot camera that I keep in my purse.  It takes better low-light photos than the iPhone, and is still quite portable and small.  This is an old model, but you can find later models that are similar. 
  • Canon Rebel T2i DLSR – this is our DSLR camera.  We usually bring our 28-135mm lens with it and it’s great for different shots.  This camera actually didn’t get a lot of use on this trip except for our summit trip to Mauna Kea.
  • iOttie Easy One Touch 2 Car Mount Holder – very sticky yet removable car mount for the iPhone 6 and other phones too.  Holds the phone in place in the car really well.  Since we use our iPhones as GPS a ton while on vacation, it was really nice to have it securely mounted onto the dashboard so that it is visible and stable and hands-free. 
  • Omaker Premium 3 USB Car Charger – while on vacation you use your phone A LOT for GPS, taking photos, Yelping, etc.  You don’t want to run out of phone battery while on the road!  This charger converts the car’s power socket into three USB chargers for multiple devices.  There’s different voltage so that even the iPad can be charged up pretty fast.  Very handy indeed!

Ok, now onto the beginning of the trip!  We left at 7pm on Saturday night 3/14.  So by the time we flew six hours into Kona and got three hours time difference back, it was still past 10pm local time.  We were tired!  On the flight we got to watch movies and shows for free, as long as we downloaded the GoGoFlight app onto our iPhone/iPad beforehand, which we did.  I watched the Veronica Mars movie again (I had seen it when it first came out).  Todd watched “Get On Up”, the movie about James Brown. 

We exchanged our timeshare into the Wyndham Mauna Loa Village, which was about a 25 minute drive south of the Kona airport.  We were in a one-bedroom with full kitchen and 1.5 baths.  It was older but still pretty nice.  The photos are from a couple of days later, when it was light out.

The living room.  It was quite spacious and had a sleeper sofa and two chairs, along with a dining table.



The bedroom and full bath are in the back.


Galley kitchen with a full-size fridge, dishwasher, stove, oven, and microwave.  It came with everything you need to cook and serve.


On Sunday morning, our first full day there, we went to Island Lava Java for breakfast.  We had been here before on our 2008 trip. 

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Of course when on the Big Island, I had to have 100% Kona coffee!

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I also had a breakfast plate of scrambled eggs, rosemary potatoes, bacon, and toast. It was rather good.

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Todd had coconut banana macadamia waffle with Portuguese sausage.

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After breakfast we walked around Alii Drive along the shore.

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We went to the Kailua Village Farmer’s Market to pick up some fruits.  We LOVE the Hawaiian strawberry papayas so we got a bunch of those!

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We also got a bag of rambutans

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Ate the papaya right away, so good!

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We stopped by Big Kmart on the way home and got water, cereal, other foods for the condo.  We found out that Big Island has a plastic bag ban now, so it is very useful to bring your own reusable bag or tote bag while grocery shopping!

For lunch we went to Da Poke Shack because we love ahi poke!  We found this place on Yelp and since it was so well-reviewed and had a ton of reviews, we had to go!

I had sesame poke with kimchee cucumbers and brown rice.  Yum!

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Todd had shoyu poke with garlic edamame and brown rice.  He loved it!

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Todd made dinner reservation on Sunday night at Merriman's restaurant in Waimea.  It was supposed to be my birthday dinner.  My birthday was on March 11th, but since I had just gotten my braces adjusted on 3/10, I could only eat soup on my birthday!  However, we got on the road and I felt dizzy and didn't want to ride 1.5 hours in the car to eat dinner.  We didn't realize it would take so long to get there!  So we pulled over and cancelled the reservation at Merriman.  We were very close to Kona Brewing Company, so we went over there to check the wait for dinner.  It was an hour!  We walked away because that was too long.  Then we drove down the street to Orchid Thai.  But it was closed on Sundays.  I was dizzy so I felt like some sort of noodle soup.  We finally decided to drive to the Japanese place at Keauhou Shopping Center.  But they did not have noodle soup! So we decided to walk across the plaza to Royal Thai Cafe and it was actually rather hopping in there. I had Tom Yum soup with shrimp and Todd had eggplant with chicken.  It was decent.  And hit the spot and I didn't feel dizzy anymore.

Came home and we relaxed on the couch and watched our Redbox DVD of "Maleficent".  It was predictable but pretty good.  There were several Redboxes near the resort and it provided cheap entertainment at nights, since the condo had a DVD player.  Love Redbox!


  1. I love your Hawaii trip posts! Can't wait to go on an adventure with you this week.

  2. I love your trip reports! I looked through some of your older Hawaii posts when we planned our trip that we took last December. It was super helpful! I also enjoy the details you add about the food. :)

  3. Thanks for the report! Sorry you didn't feel well to make it to Merriman's. Their food is great. I think there's a closer one in Waikoloa (King's Shopping Center?). Perhaps on your next visit. I can't wait to read more.

    1. We went to the one in Waikoloa last time and it was really good. That one is closed now! :(

  4. Looking forward to your next post!

  5. I am sending my mom to read your blog, because she is heading to Big Island and wanted recommendations. You are an expert!


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