Hilton Waikoloa Village Resort, Big Island, Hawaii

Wes and I can’t exclaim enough about this beautiful location and resort. Please watch this video before you travel to the Big Island of Hawaii!

Hilton Waikoloa Village

Eddie Aikau’s Restaurant, Big Island, Hawaii

Gourmet food and great service can be found among the museum of this surfer’s life. Wes and I tell of our experiences at this restaurant in this video.

Eddie Aikau’s Restaurnt and Surf Museum

Banjy’s Paradise Bar and Grill, Big Island, Hawaii

Experience a family friendly atmosphere and great food here at this award winning restaurant. Wes and I tell about our adventure in this video.

Banjy’s Paradise Bar & Grill

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, Waikoloa Beach Drive, Hawaii

True gluttony can be achieved at this amazing place. Wes and I review Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant in this video.

Roy’s Waikoloa Bar and Grill on Waikoloa Beach Drive

Ultimate Burger, Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Check out this video where Wes and I review the restaurant Ultimate Burger and what makes a good burger great!

Ultimate Burger – Hawaii’s Best Burger Restaurant!

The Legends of The Pacific Luau

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A trip to any of the Hawaiian islands wouldn’t be complete without an outing to a luau. Somehow, someway, a mainlander HAS to visit a luau to truly understand some Hawaiian culture. Now, traditionally, luaus are family parties or celebratory occasions in which copious amounts of local foods are donated, prepared and shared among many. The main course is a whole pig, roasted by being wrapped in banana leaves and completely buried in a sandy pit and ladden with hot coals. Days later, the pig is unearthed and the meat literally falls off the bone. Now we didn’t get to luau on the beach, or watch the unearthing of a whole ham, but Hilton Waikoloa Village did put on it’s own version of dinner and a show, luau-style!
We were escorted into the amphitheater and posed with silk leis in two different photos for possible purchase. Very nice touch for the romantic at heart or for those celebrating a birthday, wedding or anniversary. Wes & I were able to get all couple-y for these. We were all then led to our seats, round tables at the very front. The fruit, bread and salad first course was quickly gobbled up, washed down by your choice of bottomless alcoholic beverage.

20120218-191705.jpg I happily chose a Lava Flow, which comes highly recommended and I second that recommendation, but be prepared to experience a humongous sugar rush that could make your cheeks tingle! Wes chose a Mai Tai and then a nice scotch on the rocks. I also got to sample a Blue Hawaiian. Not bad. 🙂
True flowered leis were on sale for a simple $5 and example poi dancing and temporary hawaiian tattoos were also available for entertainment in between food courses, as was an audience-wide tutorial on how to dance the “Hukilau”, which had every person on their feet and looking like left-footed lumberjacks trying to full-body sign language in unison.

20120218-191825.jpgBy the time the main course hit the table, everyone was excited to have warm food in front of us! Fish, pulled pork with a choice of mustard or sweet and sour sauce, tea-leaved chicken, braised barbeque short ribs, and warm veggies with rice graced the lazy susan turn table. Just as the food disappeared, the show began. It was theater-esque with the wide stage before us and the live musicians playing traditional Hawaiian music. Every group dance was interlaced by the Hawaiian version of a smooth lounge singer who also introduced every song and told its story.

20120218-191928.jpgAnd the fire dancer guy? Well, he was a hoot to watch. Fun, charming, and talented!
At the end of the show, I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the girls to go up on stage & shake my hips a little bit, all of which was missed by Wes, however, because his tummy was acting up. We ended up skipping out as soon as the luau was over and didn’t get to shake hands with the performers, but I wish to commend them all, servers included, on a job well done. Thank you for a wonderous Valentines Day!

The Wes Side
“My tummy was acting up.” The Lava Flows were very tasty though.
-Wes

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Blowing your Mind with Neptune Charlie’s Ocean Safaris

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Neptune Charlie’s was the first major stop on our tremendous week’s excursions touring the Big Island of Hawaii, and the experience truly set the bar high for what fabulous opportunities Hawaii can offer!

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Now I had slight concerns for the venture as I started my preliminary research on the seafaring vessel and it’s tourist-based business of hiking wide-eyed foreigners across the sea and dumping them into key spots in the ocean to hopefully view passing dolphin pods and other sea creatures. One of my boyfriend, Wes’ books, The Big Island Revealed, had a so-so review of the business and I had many questions for the crew. The truth came to light that the Neptune Charlies Ocean Safari is not the same ownership as dictated in the book, and the new CEO’s (beautiful & fascinating ladies) and the incredible crew have indeed squashed any so-so review that you might find out there. In fact, if you read anything recent, including Wes’ and my review here, you will hear nothing but glowing and unadulterated love for this adventure cruise.

We started out signing in at the back of the ground docked ship & proceeded to the on-property store “SeaStore & Deli, Honokohau Harbor” for breakfast, hats, and coffee. Then we quickly used the nearby land bathrooms because no one wanted to see what the boat washroom was going to be like a few hours in, although I am sure they were nice enough for ‘necessary procedures’.

The boat was lowered into the water, docked, and the passengers were welcomed onboard. The young, good-lookin’ crew gave us a welcome and safety speech and off we went! Equipment was doled out and dolphin rules were issued and we were released into the wild, placed strategically in front of a very large pod of roughly 60-70 dolphins traversing to a resting spot further on. As I slid into the water, I immediately kicked over to my projected ‘in the path’ placement to see the most dolphins and, boy, I wasn’t wrong! The first 6-7 Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins swam within 8 feet of me! The shallow waters kept the experience very concentrated and I kept watching for the dark pods to slowly appear in the blue waters as they neared me. I also was able to see some large manta rays swimming gracefully below and I was so sad to not be able to dive the 10-20 feet w my snorkel to be among them. The water was warm and the excitement was tangible. I never had any fear to jump right in, but I did have anxiety, not for being a land creature completely out of my element, but for fear of missing something!! Luckily, I quickly learned that Captain Quentin, manning the ship at times, would point me in the right directions from the top of the mast so I wouldn’t be lead astray.
The girls, Joi and Alicia, added so much delight by caring for each one of us and answering all of our questions, no matter how absurd. And if we needed that extra pick-me-up between the three designated drop areas, then out came the fresh pineapple!! If I asked about a particular fish, then out came the identification book. If I wanted any specific dolphins names or facts, then the knowledge was plentiful to be shared.

And when we began to rest, it was so incredible to be in the arms of our partners, Willem with Linda and me with Wes, and chase the humpback whales as they went along their own romantic courses.

It was a vacation. It was an excursion. It was an adventure that I can’t give enough love to or to tell enough of, and if you have a morning free while here on the Big Island, then take your partner and just watch the smile on their face as they come within arms reach of wild dolphins in their natural element. Be part of the ocean together!

The Wes Side
My lovely lady here is not wrong. It’s just a great experience all around, but for me, I was a bit more apprehensive. Yes, that’s a four syllable word that means I was as scared as a four year old girl that has an extreme clown phobia…(Totally not scared of clowns, by the way). A few years back, I had close encounter with a shark off the shores of Oahu. That’s a story for another time, but here, on this boat, with this crew, I felt at ease, confident and excited. They knew all the perfect spots to see the best of this underwater world. It was like watching Animal Planet on your 60″ LED TV at home, but ya know, with a lot more ‘being submerged in the ocean’ and all. I dont care how high your definition is, nothing can compare to the real thing, and right after you get back on the boat, you have freshly sliced pineapple to freshen your mouth from all the fish pee. It was again, just a damn good experience. Go now! Throw away your big screen TV’s! Swim with the dolphins with Neptune Charlie’s Ocean Safaris!!! (Please, don’t really do anything to your big screen TV’s, that would suck.)
-Wes

 

The Beautiful Black Sand Beaches of Punalu’u

The sky’s were slightly overcast as we pulled up from our two hour drive from the resort to the dark seaside, but the air was comfortable and warm. The first thing I noticed was the lack of “sea smell” from the ocean, but the sight of the crashing waves on the rough rocky cliffs was very familiar. I rushed immediately to the first thing that caught my eye & that was the bright yellow sea grass and the almost flourescent green broadleaf vines that grew over the dark lava rock. I simply adored the large lava rock flow that spilled into the water. In between the solidified outpouring of laced pumice, I saw a small cove of black sand and wandered over to dig my fingers into its warm depths. The lack of silt made the nearly powder-fine gravel slip between my fingers. Even the oceans water could not be held down by the black sand like the ordinary coral sands of my native Florida. I found the sands to be both breathtaking and soothing and took my time to experience all the different variations of black sand, from the solid, wave scored cliffs to the handfuls of dime-sized pebbles to the fine sand of the wide beach.

The actual park is about the size of two football fields (as far as I was able to traverse), but the sight is worth the trip if you like to commune with nature and see its natural wonders. The green sea turtles make these beaches a resting pit stop and after feeling the softness of its sandy tide pools, I can understand why. The life guards were there in case any tourists wanted to take a dip from shore, but I would vouch that they were there more to watch over the endangered turtles, whom which we had to remain 15 feet away from at all times,

Nicki on Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii

and we were watched by these lifeguards like hawks. The crabs were rambunctious and flitting about the sea mussels and abalone, and the birds awaited the rare absence of tourists so they could continue the crustatean hunt. Life was all around.

All in all, it’s a beautiful sight on the black sand beaches and you get a feeling of contentment by being in the middle of it’s incredible wonder…and you should visit…if you like nature and all. 😉