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Giving Hawaii a Second Chance

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 downtime 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 spent most of our time shopping—so much so 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 return to Hawaii, but I vacationed in the Caribbean with much better results — sunshine, sand, and warm Caribbean waters!

Fast-forward to March 2014—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 Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa (formerly 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 in Hawaii with temperatures ranging from -29°C to a balmy 29°C. Pure Heaven!

The first five days we spent mostly at the 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 restaurant’s deck. 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. 🙂

Gecko Hawaii

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 man’s performances were held indoors.

Those first five days were so relaxing. 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!

Huge avocado from Hawaii

For our next adventure—the timeshare days—we rented a car, went on a whale-watching and snorkelling 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 returning it to Sheraton.

It took us some time to drive around and 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 a while before dashing into traffic. Oh, that doesn’t sound good…I mean…before I can merge into traffic.

Staying at a condo was a much different experience than resort life. Our condo slept six and had a full kitchen, a full living room, and two bathrooms—all necessities with four women travelling together!

After we were there for a few 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 Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa…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 condo, which made it a bit less expensive than eating out every meal.

Which type of vacation do you prefer?

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