We just got back from our two week honeymoon in Hawaii and I’m slowly catching up on everything I neglected during that period. With massive flight delays that caused us to be a day late to Kona, we spent about six days total on the Big Island, and the rest of our time was spent on Maui. Despite the flight issues and a sinus infection, the trip was fantastic overall. There was a lot of hiking, relaxing, photography, and obviously eating.
I thought I’d put together some thoughts on some of our favorite places for anyone looking for recommendations for an upcoming trip. This is definitely not a list of everything we did, but it is a selection of places we would recommend to our friends if they were visiting, or places we would return to in a heartbeat if we had the chance.
Akaka Falls: Lush tropical falls that will make you feel like you’re in Jurassic Park.
Rainbow Falls: A beautiful smaller waterfall with stunning trails through a huge Banyan tree forest.
Snorkeling at the Fairmont Orchid: They have a lagoon on the ocean shore for swimming and snorkeling. The snorkeling there was amazing. Not very far out from shore we saw lots of coral, schools of fish and sea turtles!
Gallery of Great Things: A wide range of locally made souvenirs and antiques, a little more classy and unique than your average tourist shop.
Browns beach house: We went here our first night on the island, and it may have been the best meal we had that week.
Kilauea lodge: We went here on a whim for breakfast the day we went to the Volcano park and it was fantastic. We wished we had time to go back while we were there.
Hilo burger joint: Ok, I might take back what I said about Brown’s. This was probably the best meal we had that week. I’ll admit this place doesn’t look like much. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, a quick glance inside might make you reconsider your choice to go there. But trust me, it’s worth it.
Hayashi’s You Make the Roll: The cheapest sushi you’ll ever have that tastes like the most expensive sushi you’ll ever have.
Poke Shack: If you like sushi and you’ve never had Poke before, you must try it while you’re in Hawaii. The fish here was incredibly fresh and the sides were great also.
Tropical Dreams Ice Cream: You can get Tropical Dreams all over the island: in grocery stores, at their retail locations, and a lot of restaurants serve it as well. I live near Wisconsin, and I can easily say this was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
Iao Valley State Monument: A beautiful valley full of lush greenery and some history.
The Whalers Village Museum: This was the most surprising museum. It was incredibly well curated and had loads of fascinating information. We stayed here twice as long as we expected to and ate everything up.
The Andaz Resort: If you don’t go to the Andaz for one of their amazing restaurants, you should go there just to hang out. Seriously, just go there to walk around. It’s stunning, and it will make you feel like you’re in a James Bond movie.
The Kahekili Highway: A narrow winding road through the mountains with no shoulder, and in many spots one lane for both directions of traffic – not for the faint of heart, but the views are stunning. There are a few attractions on the highway and many places to pull off for a nice scenic shot. Julia’s Best Banana Bread is at the end of the road (or the beginning, depending on which direction you’re coming from). We came from the long direction. It was a harrowing trip, but she made it worth it in the end.
Ka’ana Kitchen: But if you happen to find yourself hungry while walking around the Andaz, this is where you should go. It’s a little pricey, but it was one of the best meals we’ve had anywhere, not just in Hawaii.
Cuatro: Great food, pretty reasonable. They did only have one dessert option, but if it isn’t what you want it just gives you an excuse to have Tropical Dreams again.
Mama’s Fish House: This place was unbelievable. The decor and atmosphere alone makes this a very special place to visit, but the food is outstanding. If you can pick only one nice place to go to dinner while on Maui, pick this place.
Star Noodle: We shared the Hapa Ramen and the Steamed Pork Buns – ridiculous!
Julia’s Best Banana Bread: We made it! And Julia was there! I made the recipe for this bread before we left, but we obviously had to attempt to get it from the source, and boy was it an adventure (see above).