In this post, I will share all we did on the Big Island in Hawaii, where we stayed, what we ate and all the details so you can plan your vacation.
We spent the last 8 days in Hawaii, and to say it was magical may be an understatement. We had the most amazing trip and all 5 of us agreed that it was our best vacation yet!
As you see different parts of this trip, you may feel like we spent a lot. We did. However, you can definitely do this trip on a much tighter budget and I will share a few tips on that later on.
Also, I wanted to share why we decided to splurge a little bit on this trip. I have shared in various posts that we live under our means, and are very strategic with our financial decisions. We also have learned to treat ourselves for all of our hard work so, although most of our travel was done on a tighter budget, this one was not.
If your new here, this past year we paid off 100K in debt, all in school loans! We had planned years ago to celebrate when we reached some big financial goals. Also, in full transparency over the last 5 years we have worked really hard to make my business what it is today, and we decided to truly celebrate that.
A little financial advice we’ve learned: don’t put trips on credit cards… only go if you currently have the money. Also, luxury trips should only be done when you have completed other more important goals like saving for kid’s college, paying off debt, and saving a emergency fund for 3-6 months.
Ok, onto Hawaii. This trip was so special to me as my parents have been our #1 cheerleaders through our marriage and have given us so much financial & professional guidance and wisdom over the years that have helped us get to where we are now. Although, they could afford the trip on their own, it was our desire to treat them as a “Thank You.” So, you will see them in various pictures as well!
We stayed at this beautiful ocean front villa. It had 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, a swimming pool and so much more! Airbnb has Luxe homes that are higher end and have to meet a lot of requirements to be considered one, but OMG are they worth it. The home was stunning, but we still spent 80% of our time outside on the front or back deck staring at the ocean and enjoying the sunrise and sunsets each day.
Everything about this house, made us go into full relax mode. We played music, games, and thanked God for His goodness!
One of my favorite parts of this home, was that there were 2 master bedrooms on the first floor complete with master bathrooms and stunning outdoor shower spaces. So, it was perfect for bringing my parents along.
We loved the house, but the Island is SOOO much more beautiful. Visiting the Big Island is more about relaxing and taking it slow and less about tourism.
We ate at so many delicious restaurants! We loved all the fresh seafood, fish tacos, poke, shaved ice and malasadas. Each day, we would google some of the best places to eat close to our house, and venture out to try some.
Even the burgers there were a little different due to the meat they used, and we loved them!
When you visit Hawaii, you have to check out a Luau, but they book up a month or more in advance so get your tickets early. The closest & highest rated Luau by our house was at Mauna Kea. The views were breathtaking heading down the luau. As you enjoy your show, the sun sets on the ocean right behind the performers.
The food was absolutely delicious and a perfect mix of seafood, pork, sides, and desserts. The performance was top notch as you learn about some of the history Hawaii offers along with some of the popular legends that get passed down from each generation.
Another day, we visited the farmers market. There are a few spaced out on the island and you can’t go wrong. They have so many delicious, authentic options. I tried an Hawaiian cheese steak, iced coffee (the coffee is so good in Hawaii), poke wontons, and so much more!
The neat part of traveling to different places on the island is the climate changes. At the market it was raining and chilly, but our home was down by the water where it was always dry and hot. So, bring layers when packing as the locals told us there are many climates on this one island, and we experienced many of them.
I think one of our favorite experiences was taking our 2 older boys on a hike to see the volcanic craters. We started the morning super early with an ATV ride with an awesome local guide, Kimo. He taught us so much about the culture, his personal experience growing up on the island, family stories, the mountain we hiked that he grew up on, the plants, agriculture and so much more.
It was such a rich experience and helped us understand what life is like there and to appreciate their culture in a whole new way.
The day included: an adventurous ATV ride, a rocky hike up to the craters that showcased views and history that you could only dream of, a picnic lunch at the base of the mountain, and we finished by planting our own tree there! It was something we will never forget.
We split up many of our days with just relaxing at the house, going out for a meal or two and just taking it easy. We checked out some of the local beaches as well and that beautiful see through water that Hawaii offers.
We spent one day exploring different parts of the island through a tour app on our phones that was highly recommended. The Shaka app has different driving tours where you see some of the major sights while stopping for snacks along the way. The app teaches you the history of each location, and you can go at your own pace.
We noticed many groups showing up at our same locations as well. The tours can last all day, but we only hit a few stops on the route to make it shorter.
Some of our favorite stops included the stunning Waipi’o Valley Overlook, Tex Drive Inn for the island’s best malasadas and the jaw-dropping Akaka Falls. We learned so much at each location, and enjoyed every part of the experience.
Here’ a few tips for doing this trip on a smaller budget:
- Plan 6 months ahead of time. I got amazing deals on our flights that way. Track prices with Google Flights to grab them at the cheapest time. Hawaii flights are not cheap and this saves a lot of money.
- Compare Luau prices & ratings. Also, skip premium seating. We did enjoy premium seating for our luau, but every seat in the house is a good view and super nice.
- Look up the best food places according to locals or join a Facebook group dedicated to travel there. Many of the small, less glamorous places are a lot cheaper, and the food is amazing!
- Get a house over a hotel. It saves a lot when you can cook, and have a fridge. We cooked breakfast every day, some lunches and a few dinners. Having a place for snacks also helped save. In comparison, Hawaii hotel prices are pretty lofty so, you can get a lot more space and save in the long run by booking a home or condo.
- Rent a car early. Prices keep increasing for rentals, but I got a great deal because I booked a van through Budget almost 4 months early.
Every day, we appreciated something new about The Big Island, Hawaii. Whether you explore, or sit in a chair by the ocean for a week… you will have the time of your lives!
Here is a video that shares a sneak peak into our amazing time there!
If you’re planning a trip, and you have any questions you can email me or leave a comment here!
For more articles on travel, check out “5 Things to do in Vail, Colorado.”