Trip report: Hawaii(BI)/Aulani - The audiologists take on Hawaii

dachsie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Hey all! Am home from my trip and wanted to do a trip report for you. I haven’t done this before so bear with me. But I got so much help in planning by reading others reports, I wanted to hopefully help someone else. My co-worker/friend and I are audiologists so we got permission from our employer to go to a conference on the Big Island. Both our names are Kim so I could have named it “Kim & Kim take on Hawaii”. LOL

Anyway, preview of the report is Big Island first then to Oahu. We packed in a lot for 11 days and had the trip of a lifetime. Neither of us are sure we could ever go back so wanted to do as much as possible. I took so many pics so will try to get as many in as possible so you may see multiple posts for same day since you are limited to 10 in a post.

Day 1 - Arrival in Kona
Woke up at 3amCST to head for airport in Austin. We didn’t plan to until 3:30 but were excited so both woke up before alarm. I spent the night at Kim’s house and her husband brought us to airport. We flew from Austin to Denver and thought we had a decent layover but only enough time to grab a sandwich and the were calling the flight to board. We both had aisle seats next to each other and soon we were off to Kona. Long plane ride to say the least. Kept busy watching movies, playing on iPad and chatting with seat mates a bit. Found out my seat mates were headed to same resort - Hilton Waikoloa Village. Finally we approached the Island and my seat mates helped me get some great pics out the window. Landed and retrieved luggageC1132C35-057A-43C2-B308-167F5DFD4DE5.jpeg93EFF1F0-0595-44BB-8F3C-1A098AD1CA8D.jpeg83A656CE-EE67-48A1-B2E4-E962DA61CA76.jpeg
Not sure why the plane pics are sideways. Not sure how to fix either, sorry.

After we got the luggage we took shuttle to Avis for car rental. Our employer made us cancel all reservations we had made and had to use their travel agent so we originally were going to be at conference hotel - Marriott Waikoloa Beach - and we had a small SUV booked but the changed us to mid-size car. So while at counter I said to Kim that it’s too bad we had to give up the SUV rental and the lady heard us and gave us a GMC Acadia. Score!! We loaded up and headed to Waikoloa.

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Arrived at resort and I stood in line to check in, only to find out we had to check in to the Oean Tower building instead. So we unloaded the luggage, parked car and then had to transport it to the Ocean Tower. They have 3 means of getting there - walking, boat, or monorail. It’s a 62 acre resort so we took the monorail. The car rental lady said it was the Disneyland of Hawaii and we told her we were going to Aulani and she said we were going to the WDW of Hawaii too. LOL

Check-in took a bit because the lady could not find the credit card from my employer that was to pay for room but she finally took info and we would figure it out in the morning when I could call in. So we get to the room and have a perfect view of Mauna Kea.
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the beds were a little rickety and one was more so than other so Kim took that one and I the other. We were hungry so went downstairs to the Boat Landing Cantina. We got the Kalua pork tacos and the fish tacos and each had one of each. Both were really good but I liked the pork ones better. Then we decided to take the boat ride around to see the resort.
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went to other side and back and we were lucky enough that we were catching the sunset on the way back. Stay tuned......
 
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dachsie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
So we get to the perfect sunset spot on the boat just in time for the sunset.
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We were pretty wow’d by it. Pictures don’t do it justice. Then we got off boat and headed to room as we were tired and needed showers. We had been up since 11pm Hawaiian time the day before. Got in room and grabbed my stuff to go take a shower. Go the tub to turn on and nothing happened. Tried turning it a different way thinking I was doing it wrong and nope - no water. I yelled to Kim “that’s it, we are out of here.” She asked why and I told her we have a broken bed an no water in shower. Got on phone to front desk and said we needed a new room due to bed and water. She apologized and put me on hold. After a couple of mins she came back and said they had booked us in a partial ocean view. I said thank you and we hauled luggage back to front desk to get the new keys. We got in new room and holy cow!! Did we get an upgrade!!
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we were right above the area we had just taken the sunset pics!! You’ll see better pics later since this was after sunset. Score again!!

We showered and went to bed. We knew we would get up early and had a full day ahead planned.
 

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ksromack

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 14, 2012
Following! And some seriously gorgeous photos to start us off! We will be visiting Hawaii, and more specifically staying at Aulani and Moana Surfrider, at the end of May.....and I can't get enough of the trip reports!
 
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  • dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Thanks. I was starting to think no one was interested. Lol. It was a fabulous trip and the pictures get better. :)
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 2 - Waterfall and Rainforests and a Chocolate tour
    We woke up about 4am which seemed to be typical of the entire vacation. I had to call the travel agency about the credit card snafu and went to the front desk so they could talk to them and get it straightened out. The card was on file apparently but the first person who checked us in couldn’t find it. Once that was done we grabbed breakfast at the coffee shop and walked to the car - no transportation options at 6am. It was still dark but we were headed to Hilo via Saddle Rd for the rainforest/waterfall tour.

    As we approached the mountains it started raining. We did see the protesters camped out at the Mauna Kea road. As we got closer to Hilo the rain slowed down. Our first stop was Rainbow Falls. We were able to get a few pics before the rain came again but no sun to see the rainbows but still pretty awesome.
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    then we headed to Akaka Falls State Park via the scenic route near Hawaii Botanical Gardens.
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    We stopped at a little store and got some apple bananas and a couple of souvenirs then we reached the falls. There is a loop that takes you to Kahuna falls first which is nice but not a great view of a waterfall. The path there is very scenic tho.
    3E8394F4-7495-4748-991B-D4DC518807D3.jpeg67847A18-F867-43BB-8177-D214B05E337A.jpeg
    then we got to Akaka Falls which was pretty spectacular
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    sorry about the sideways pictures.
    the walk back also had waterfalls to see.
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    it was pretty amazing. Our next stop was Unuama Falls. Will have to get to that later. Gotta head to work now.
     
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    alohamom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 31, 2003
    Oh wow-following along!

    We LOVE Big Island and were married right behind the Marriott in the area right in front of A-Bay.

    We have been tot he grounds of the Hilton but never actually stayed there. We have stayed quite a few times in the condo townhouses that are located to right as you enter the Waikoloa complex.

    There is nothing quite like the Big Island!

    Cannot wait to read/see more...
     

    parkhopmom

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 3, 2010
    Umm...Kim, I think we met at Aulani... I don’t want to give any spoilers to ur trip report, but at the Pau Hana room activity on Wednesday...? Or maybe it was a different Kim...:wave:
    (I’m Kathy)
     
  • ksromack

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 14, 2012
    I'm Kathy too!

    These "apple-bananas"...I've seen reference to then before but have no experience with them. Do they have the texture and taste of an apple but look like a fat banana?
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Umm...Kim, I think we met at Aulani... I don’t want to give any spoilers to ur trip report, but at the Pau Hana room activity on Wednesday...? Or maybe it was a different Kim...:wave:
    (I’m Kathy)
    OMG yes!!! Too funny! I'm the dark haired Kim :wave:
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    I'm Kathy too!

    These "apple-bananas"...I've seen reference to then before but have no experience with them. Do they have the texture and taste of an apple but look like a fat banana?
    They were a little firmer than the bananas we get here and milder tasting. I didn't really taste the apple part but it could have been my taste buds.
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 2 con’t
    So next we headed to Unuama Falls. When we put it in google maps it took us in the middle of nowhere, literally- we ran out of road. LOL So we headed back the way we came and stopped for a picture. It was pretty cool. D47CE9C8-293B-410A-9CDF-EEFEA7AFA09C.jpeg
    so we finally figured out we had to put in the Unuama Falls zip line to get to the falls. You can go see the falls and spend as much time as you want. They were pretty awesome.
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    then we headed north towards the Hamakua coastline. It was starting to clear out so we got some pics of how blue the ocean was.
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    Because it was Wednesday it was the Waimea Midweek Farmers Market so we headed to Waimea and shopped a bit. Bought soaps and an ocean necklace and chocolate there. Then we ate at Village Burger for lunch. Great burgers and I had Parmesan fries with it. So we headed back to Waipo Valley lookout. Just as we got there it started raining so I just took a quick pic from parking lot and we left.
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    while headed out of there there was a roadside stand with ice cold coconut and pineapple so we stopped for some. They cut it for us so we had some to eat on while we were there.

    Our main afternoon event was a chocolate farm tour. We went to Honoka’a Chocolate company. Mike and his wife Rhonda are the owners and he makes the chocolates while she works. They also grow white pineapple and they had a few coffee trees which he roasts for himself.
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    The tour was of the farm and we got a chocolate tasting as well. The farm tour was supposed to be 45 mins and the tasting an hour. We were having such a good time with him we were there 3 hours. We tasted all his chocolates and bought some then he was experimenting with a bark that he pulled out and let us try. That will be available in month or so. It was good too. As we left he gave us white pineapple plants to take home to grow.C651D6EF-91B9-4F8D-8735-1D516E654EC1.jpeg
    The above is the tasting chart we used. It was fun! Their website: https://honokaachocolateco.com
    Highly recommend!

    We headed back to Waikoloa but decided to stop for dinner at the Seafood Bar and Grill in Kawaihae. I got an oyster shooter, coconut shrimp and onion rings. We took dessert to go - macadamia nut pie. Went back to resort and got ready for bed. Another action packed day ahead and the conference starts.
     
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  • dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 3 - Coffee and Seahorses

    So this morning we woke up at 3am. Ugh! Took a morning shot of the room view since we haven’t been in the room dui g daylight hours.
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    Since we were up so early we decided to go look at some beaches. Grabbed a quick bite at the coffee shop and headed out. First stop was 49 Black sand beach just up the road from us.
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    Was a very peaceful but small beach. But next we headed to Hapuna Beach. We spent a little more time here walking along the beach looking for shells. Not very successful - shells are hard to come by. I asked a lady walking on the beach and she said it was because of pollution and such pushing the reefs out further. Heck, I have found more shells on Galveston beach with all their pollution but whatever. The beach was gorgeous and we got treated to a rainbow.
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    Our next stop was Mountain Thunder Coffee. I debated which coffee farm to go to for months. We also considered Greenwelll Farms and if we had time I would have done both. Green well was recommended by a few people. We decided on Mountain Thunder for its closeness and that it had lava tubes and was up in the cloud forest. we Did the plant tour and then went on the nature walk.
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    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 3 con’t
    more lava to be shotsE27BA889-9343-449E-8EE8-F17675E133A0.jpegE0E4E2EF-3FC0-4D9E-8F3E-8F49FAD8A90A.jpeg
    At the end of the walk is a platform where you reach the coffee trees and a view of the ocean.
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    we shopped for some coffee and headed out to Ali drive in Kailua-Kona to eat at the Fish Hopper for lunch. They had some of the best clam chowder I have ever eaten. I also got macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi which was also good. Then we went next door to Maui Divers Jewelry and I did the pick-a-pearl. I picked one and got a 9 mm white pearl. I bought a dolphin cage and off we went. Stopped for gas and then headed to Oceanrider Seahorse Farm.

    These folks are trying to the conserve seahorse populations by raising them for people who want them in aquariums so they won’t go get them in the wild. We saw tiny baby seahorses that were just a few days old and then we got to feed some mating pairs these micro shrimp. Then we went to the tanks to see hundreds more
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    then the final part of tour we got to hold them! That was way cool! They had us put our hands in the water with fingers touching and then put a seahorse on your fingers.
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    finally they sent us into another room where they had different species of seahorses in tanks to see.
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    I really enjoyed the experience. It only lasted an hour so certainly doable if you like seahorses like I do. We exited through the gift shop and headed back to Waikoloa. Conference started this evening. But I have more pics. Lol
     
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    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 3 con’t
    So since the conference was at Marriott and we didn’t want to pay to park for a 2 hour class, we parked in the beach parking behind the Lava Lava club and walked on the beach to get to the Marriott. So when we left we got some pretty awesome sunset pics from A Bay. CFF9369B-FCAA-4E53-BAD5-4FF204E087A6.jpeg15C55C83-DFA1-416D-83D0-E000DEDA6853.jpeg11EB5404-8262-486F-AAD8-E6A9C9E5B70A.jpegE3AE8936-5B40-4E61-954A-1C4FBB14CB63.jpeg50EC6EE2-0F97-4F36-A1C3-C450251EC9D4.jpeg0BCE3AEE-79EE-4D64-8EA9-4476CE674EBD.jpeg
    it was pretty amazing. We walked to car and went to the Queens shops to have dinner at the Kuleana Rum Shack which was recommended to us by Mike at the Chocolate farm as he manages the sugar cane fields for their rum. I hade the poke flight and pineapple upside down rum cake. Both were very good. Then we headed back to the room and called it a day.
     

    alohamom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 31, 2003
    We love Village Burger! Waimea town is so quaint too.
    Hapuna Beach is up there for one of my all time favorite Hawaiian beaches. anyone headed to the BI should take the time to spend an afternoon there.
    We went right down into Waipio Valley once-NEVER AGAIN! I seriously thought we were going to topple over the edge of the road, it is soooo steep.
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 4 - conference day with a sunset

    So today was primarily was a conference day. It rained while we were inside. We told the conference organizer that we were leaving to se sunset even if not finished. LOL. So we escaped early so we could see this:
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    we then went to the little bar and grill on property for dinner and drinks. We liked the lava flow.
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    Then we went back to room to pack as we were going to Oahu the next day.
     

    dachsie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 13, 2014
    Day 5 - Whales, dolphins, macadamias and Oahu

    Woohoo, we slept til 4:30 this morn. Lol. We got ready, packed our stuff and went to eat breakfast. We then went out to Buddha Point to watch whales.
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    We actually saw a pair go into a unison dive with their tails up. I found our from a lady watching with us that the night before they were breaching. Hate we missed that, but we got our sunset pics.

    we went back to the room to get luggage to bring to bell services to hold. Took the monorail to the main lobby building and then took pics around the resort we never visited.
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    Finally we stopped to watch the dolphins. They have a place on property with bottleneck dolphins that you can swim with for a hefty fee. It was feeding time so we got to see them. There was one that liked to swim upside down. Took lots of pics and videos but will just post a couple.
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    next we headed to Hamakua Macadamia nut factory.
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    Found some great an inexpensive souvenirs there - $4 coffee mugs to be exact. They had samples to try. I loved the butter rum ones. After our purchases we headed back to Waikoloa. We stopped in King’s shopping center this time. Kim decided she wanted to do the pic-a-pearl so we went to Maui Divers. She picked 3 oysters, one I pointed out to her and 2 others. I decided to get one more. She got 2 sets of twin black pearls and a single pink one. I was like what?? the oyster I told her to get had one pair. I got a pretty lavender pearl in mine. She ended up getting earrings made from one set. Still, we couldn’t believe her luck.

    Finally we ate at Island Fish and Chips and the headed back to the Hilton to get our luggage. It was a dreary overcast day which symbolizes our sadness to leave the Big Island but we were headed to Oahu. On the drive to the airport we had been passing this lava field and got pics of it cause it looked so cool
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    Finally arrived at airport to wait for flight to Honolulu We took Hawaillian Airlines over.
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    Bye bye Big Island, and hello Oahu. We were able to see Aulani from the plane but it was raining so bad the pics didn’t come out too well. But we were staying in the Hampton inn Kapolei that night. Initially we though we were going to stay on BI another night but employer would not pay for it so I used Hilton Honor points an we stayed free for the night.

    The Hampton is in a large outdoor mall so we went next door to Moani’s Bar and grill and order garlic shrimp fried rice and smoked meat yakisobi. Both were delicious. Then we headed to the room for the night as it was raining pretty well by now. They said that night the Mauna Kea got snowed on from the storm. That storm lingered for a few days which kinda sucked but we didn’t let it stop up. Next stop - Pearl Harbor.
     

    ksromack

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 14, 2012
    I really regret not being able to pack in more time for our trip.....I think next time the BI will be a must! Can't wait to hear about Pearl Harbor as it's on our must list as well.
     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    Following along! I wish my work would pay for a trip to Hawaii! :)

    BTW, your doxie are adorable. I have 2 long hair doxies myself.

    Jill in CO
     

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