Right after our wedding, we flew to the Big Island of Hawaii for a week of sunny and fun honeymooning!
Aaron’s mom and stepdad, Greta and Mark, generously gifted us with this honeymoon in celebration of our wedding. They love the Big Island, and have vacationed for something like 20 years at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. So guess where we got to stay??
Amazing. Aaron and I had been to Hawaii together three times before, but we had always stayed at a budget hotel or in an Airbnb room. It was mind-boggling to be able to stay at this incredible resort for a whole week!
The view from our room didn’t suck at all.
Of course, something had to go wrong. I believe we were less than 24 hours into our honeymoon when I realized I was getting really sick. It started with a few sneezes on the plane, but I convinced myself those were just due to the dry air. I felt better when we got to our hotel, thanks to the humidity, but then started sneezing and constantly blowing my nose the next day… and it was all downhill from there. From about Monday evening through Wednesday evening, I was miserable with one of the worst head-and-chest colds I’ve ever had.
But luckily, we didn’t have too many plans for this vacation. Our goal was just to relax and eat a ton of good food. Aaron brought his bike and went for a ride nearly every morning, which gave me the opportunity to sleep in before we went to breakfast together. Then we’d head down to the pool or beach and soak up the sun.
We ate at so many incredibly delicious restaurants, including fancy dinners at Merriman’s, Huggo’s On the Rocks, Tommy Bahama (our fave — so amazing), and Roy’s. We’ve been to Roy’s on every island we’ve visited!
And guess who was having dinner at the next table over? Roy’s wife! So I guess we had the second-best table in the house. 🙂
Other notable meals include probably the best sushi I’ve ever had at Monstera, and the most unique sushi I’ve ever had at Sushi Rock. Aaron doesn’t like raw fish (or most cooked fish, either), but Sushi Rock offers sushi rolls with very thinly sliced tenderloin instead. He loved it!
Another favorite was Lava Lava Beach Club. We had fantastic onion rings and fish tacos, plus a great view of the ocean.
We also hit up the Kona Brewing Company, which we’d being dying to do ever since we discovered Kona beers on our first trip to Oahu in 2011. Big Wave Golden Ale and Wailua Wheat are two of our very favorite beers!
Of course, we had to get tasting flights to try even more beers.
Sadly, we just missed the last brewery tour, and it was getting a bit rainy that afternoon, so we went to see Gone Girl. Aaron hadn’t read the book, so he was completely surprised! We both loved it.
I finally started feeling better on Thursday, so we drove across the island to Volcanoes National Park to do a little hiking. The landscape of the Big Island is so varied and beautiful. It’s like Lord of the Rings in some parts, and the most desolate, black lava rock in others.
Greta and Mark had told us we could see lava flowing into the ocean at the national park, but a bunch of the park was closed due to toxic fumes in the air. So, we settled for hiking around and through a crater.
It was awesome!
I think it was about a four-mile hike in all. Nothing too crazy, but it felt so nice to be active and do some sightseeing.
Now, it’s time for the IRONMAN World Championship! It fell on our second-to-last day on the Big Island, and the whole week prior, it was so fun to watch all the competitors do their final training rides and runs along Queen K highway, and see them swimming in the early morning.
Also, everyone we encountered throughout the week — from restaurant staff to real IRONMAN competitors — thought Aaron was competing in the race! Between his cyclist physique, his shaved legs, his cycling sunglasses (he forgot his regular ones at home, so he wore them all the time), and his bike and bike gear, it was a logical conclusion (and such a compliment!).
Apparently he got sick of explaining that he was just here on our honeymoon, but I think he loved it. 🙂 Sadly, no one thought I was competing… ha.
We watch the Ironman World Championship special on NBC every year, but it was so much more exciting to watch the race in person!
We arrived in Kona just as the final competitors finished the swim leg right before the cutoff. It was thrilling to cheer on the ones who just made it, but heartbreaking for those who didn’t. 😦
Here’s the thing: It’s hot as shit in Hawaii. Aaron and I were sweating and dying just walking around in the sun and humidity. I have no freakin’ clue how these people do an IRONMAN in these conditions! I guess that’s what makes them the best in the world.
We watched competitors on the bike leg for a while, then had lunch at Da Poke Shack. Best. Poke. EVER.
Ugh, I want it so badly right now.
Then, it was time to watch the pros come in from the bike and start the run.
Nooooo big deal. I’m just massive and incredibly fit and starting a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles in the ridiculous Hawaiian heat. (This is Jan Frodeno of Germany. He finished third.)
Nooooo big deal. I’m a little behind right now, but I’ll ultimately crush all the women in front of me during this marathon because I’m Mirinda Carfrae and no one can touch me.
We then found a prime spectating location out of the sun, with beer.
But headed down to the finish chute just in time to see the winners!
Sebastian Kienle of Germany won it for the men.
And Mirinda won for the women!
We stayed for a while and watched more pros and age groupers finish, and then had dinner at Huggo’s On the Rocks. It definitely had the best location and view of any restaurant we visited! Those bright lights in the distance are the IRONMAN transition area and finish line.
Then we went back to the finish line again to watch more age groupers and the “regular people” (who race for charity, or have incredible personal stories) finish. Tears in my eyes! All the emotions! I cheered so much.
Well, that about sums it up for our honeymoon. It’s nice to look back on it from a not-sick point of view and remember all the awesome food we ate and things we did! And, of course, all the quality time we spent together as newlyweds.
Thank you, Greta and Mark, for such a generous and priceless gift!
And thank you, Aaron, for loving me “in sickness and in health”! ❤