The islands of Hawaii, with their picturesque beaches and stunning sunsets, really lend themselves to love birds. This flashy scenery is just begging to be admired by adoring couples from around the world and we thought that our recent honeymoon would be the perfect time to embrace the island and its romantic bliss.
The morning sun peeking through our wall of windows at the Mauna Kea resort was the perfect way to kick off our first day on Hawaii, the Big Island. While I could have stayed in that bed all day cuddling my new husband, we knew that there was an island that awaited us. We pledged to spend at least one day exploring the Kona side of the island and while it’s known for active volcanoes and multicolored sand beaches, we knew that we wanted to do something a little unique for our date day. While we both enjoy lazy days of R and R, we wanted to find fun island activites that we could do as a couple.
The beautiful coffee cherries at Greenwell Farms
First things first: coffee. These Seattlites will tell you that every day should involve multiple coffee breaks. Being on the Kona side of the island we knew we had to try local coffee straight from the source. We headed to Greenwell Farms where smiles and coffee flow freely. As we stepped out of the car I was immediately called to the dozen carafes of fresh brewed samples. We sipped on every flavor as we toured the farm’s resident coffee trees and watched the life of a coffee bean unfold before our eyes. We ended our tour with a caffeinated toast to the remainder of our date day.
Fully caffeinated, we made our way to Captain Zodiac for a snorkel tour. Departing from Honokohau Harbor, these exhilarating tours start with an hour zodiac ride to the snorkel site. Rounding a bend we found a mass of swimmers training for the upcoming Ironman Triathlon. I noticed some odd-looking figures and upon further inspection realized that a pod of spinner dolphins was happily escorting the swimmers to the shore. After a few minutes of dolphin-watching we continued our journey to Kealakekua Bay, our snorkeling site, where the famous Captain Cook met his fate against Hawaiian chief, Kalani’opu’u.
As per usual, my fear of the open water had me holding Chris’ hand for the majority of the snorkel. The visibility was incredible and we both spotted colorful parrot fish, eels, and a turtle or two. Our Captain Zodiac adventure didn’t end after we were out of the water. Our knowledgeable guide had the boat packed with local snacks that we feasted on as we raced our way back to shore.
A relaxing float down the historic sugar cane ditches
Ready for something a little more substantial than the snacks we enjoyed on the zodiac, we headed to the nearby Kona Brewing Company Brewery and Pub. Highly recommended by our Captain Zodiac guide, this local haunt is a refreshing water hole that serves up one of the best beers I’ve ever had and an eclectic menu with island flare. I knew that all of my food decisions were going to be guided by my beer choice so I went with the Wailua Ale and its subtle hints of passion fruit. The hops danced in my mouth as I took in the citrus flavors of this unique brew. Needing something that would pair well with my libation, our server recommended the porterhouse dip, a generous portion of white cheddar beef sauce for extra dipping pleasure. I don’t think my tastebuds have ever been so happy.
What better way to work off our substantial meal than with some pure adrenaline. After lunch we headed north to the Kohala district for an afternoon of getting wet and dirty with Big Island’s ATV Outfitters. Suited up in our helmets and goggles, we were ready to hit the open road. Our guide wound us around Kohala’s dirt trails as we took in the sights of nearby cliffs (straight from the opening scenes of Jurassic Park, seriously) to a hidden waterfall where we not only swam in the cool water, but feasted from the ubiquitous guava trees.
Viewfinder Tip: As you’ll be exposed to the sun for hours, remember to pack a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself on the ATV and ditch tours.
ATVs might be the main event, but we paired our tour with a more unique experience: a float down the famed Kohala Ditch System. Trading in our muddy clothes for bathing suits, we cuddled up next to each other as we lazily floated down the historic sugar cane ditches that were once used to channel water to local plantations.
I was more than exhausted after our epic date day but made myself stay awake to cozy up next to my new husband and watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. As I reflected on our day I realized that the Big Island is the perfect place for adventurers and romantics alike.