I love tropical vacations…give me a beach, hot sun, and the sound of warm aqua ocean waves rolling. I live for these vacations…my down time from a busy work schedule.
With full anticipation of my “perfect” holiday, I booked a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii a few years ago, with my sister, Donna. Imagine our disappointment when it rained the whole week! ACK! We managed to spend most of our time shopping—so much that I developed a case of “TMS” in my shoulder. “Too much shopping”… yes, I know it’s silly but my shoulder was sore for weeks after. At least our vacation week was better than the week after we left–downtown Honolulu flooded knee-deep!
“No more!” I said, “No more!” After that trip I vowed I would never go back to Hawaii and vacationed in the Caribbean with much better results–sunshine, sand, and warm Caribbean waters!
Fast forward to March 2014—and many years after my first Hawaiian experience—I decided to give Hawaii another chance when a friend gave me five nights in his timeshare in Kona on The Big Island. In addition to those five nights—five nights is just not enough anymore—I booked five nights at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa. These options gave me two completely different vacation experiences.
I travelled with three other people: my sister, Barb, our Mom, Kathy, and a friend of Mom’s, Julie. They arrived from -29°C weather to a balmy 29°C in Hawaii. Pure Heaven!
The first five days we spent mostly at the Sheraton Kona Resort and enjoyed reading poolside, devouring amazing buffet breakfasts in the Ainakai Restaurant, room service dinners, and a delicious dinner at Rays on the Bay—and watched the manta rays from the deck of the restaurant. I had a stalker during that time…or in other words a “poolside peeping gecko”! Eeeeek! And no, he didn’t try to sell me insurance. 🙂
In order to celebrate Mom’s retirement and birthday we booked a luau. The food was good and the entertainment was even better! Unfortunately it was rainy so all but the fire-guy, was held indoors.
Those first five days were so relaxing and the furthest we wandered from the resort was to the Farmer’s Market on the property next door. OMG they have the BIGGEST food in Hawaii…check out the size of the avocado we bought! It fed all four of us for two days!
For our next adventure—the timeshare days—we rented a car, went on a whale-watching and snorkeling tour, and a submarine tour of the reef.
Before we left the Sheraton, we booked a Hertz car rental. They were super flexible and we were able to schedule it so we could return it to the airport instead of back to the Sheraton.
It took us a bit of time driving around to become familiar with Kona Town. It is an amazing town full of friendly people who are more than willing to help lost tourists. The locals are considerate and let you into the line when waiting to get onto the main roads. Unlike North America…sometimes I wait for awhile before I can dash into traffic. Oh, that sounds bad…I mean…before I can merge into traffic.
Staying at a condo was a much different experience than resort life. Our condo slept six, had a full kitchen, full living room, and two bathrooms—all necessities with four women travelling together!
After we were there a couple days we found a routine that worked…Julie got up early and put on the coffee…waking to the aroma of 100% Kona coffee every day, yum––then a short drive to downtown Kona for shopping, popular restaurants, and the pier where we met our tour groups.
Both experiences were good. I like being able to relax and let someone take care of me for a change (at the Sheraton Kona Resort…no, I didn’t ask my Mom to look after me…she was too busy playing Candy Crush on her iPhone and iPad… yes… my mother…). On the other hand I liked the freedom of renting a car plus cooking in our own condo to make it a bit less expensive than eating out every meal.
Which type of vacation do you prefer?