San Francisco & Hawaii (Big Island & Oahu)
San Francisco (May 13-14)
San Francisco was great! It wasn't our first time there . . . actually my third. But we wanted to get used to the time change and do some different things here. We began Monday by walking through Chinatown from our hotel (Parc 55) to Fisherman's Wharf. It was quite a walk, both distance, and steepness, but we made it. I made sure to walk into the arcade full of vintage games as the arm wrestling machine that was in The Princess Diaries was there. We had seafood for dinner, overlooking the water. We had to stop for some In-And-Out, particularly for Animal Style fries!! That evening we participated in an Alcatraz night tour!
The Big Island (May 14-20)
When we landed on the Big Island, of course we got lei'd and then we picked up our rental car to drive to our hotel, the Westin Hapuna Beach. They gave us another set of lei's, so we had plenty of fresh flowers in our room. Our room was pretty magnificent! That evening I enjoyed a poke bowl with fresh fish at dinner next to the pool and overlooking the beach. Our first excursion was a trip to the Waipi'o Valley. This valley is most well known for it's steep winding road to get into it, the river that runs through it, the Taro fields, as well as the black sand beach that is found at the end of the river. Rental cars are not allowed to drive into the valley, so we were on a Waipi'o valley and waterfall tour. The road is one of the steepest in Hawaii and even the world where the average grade is 25% but peaks at 40%. The most scenic views of our whole trip were found in this valley! We also visited Akaka Falls State Park and a private waterfall in Pepeekeo. That evening I enjoyed some pork ramen while watching the sunset from our room.The next day, my dad and I took a helicopter tour out of Hilo. We saw where Kilauea, the volcano, had damaged the coast. We also saw Mauna Loa from above, another one of the five in total volcanoes on the island, and it is the largest volcano on the face of the Earth. More poke, and some sunburn later and we were ready to hop on a flight to Oahu.
Honolulu, Oahu (May 20-23)
When we landed, we again has to go pick up our rental car. Then we drove about an hour away from Honolulu and the very popular Waikiki Beach area to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. We got lei'd for a third time in Hawaii. If any of you know me well, you know that I was in heaven! The resort, the staff, and the room were all absolutely incredible! We (mainly I) enjoyed Disney shaped desert including brownies, chocolate covered marshmallows, and the classic ice cream bar and shave ice with mickey ears!! (don't worry, I will put an image of it here) Our final excursion was a trip to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Despite the only rain we had being on this day, the plantation was A LOT of fun! We went on a train tour of the property, strolled around their gardens, browsed their extensive gift shop, and enjoyed Dole whip and teriyaki burgers and chicken. It was one of my favorite days and favorite meals!! Then we hopped on an overnight (and wayyy too long) flight from Honolulu to Minnesota to Pittsburgh. That was our first (and possibly only) trip Hawaii in a nutshell. We would recommend it as an experience, but wouldn't return due to the cost of travelling and staying there. I have a whole world to see yet, and I have other places on my list! (In retrospect, we changed our minds - this was our best vacation ever and we would do it again in a heartbeat!)