Stephanie-Johnson,-Tennis,-

The tranquil paradise of the Big Island of Hawaii offers so much to experience, I couldn’t confine my ten day visit to just one post.  For tips on my favorite Big Island resorts and must-pack items, check out Destination Hawaii, Part One.  Then read on below for Part Two of my Hawaiian adventure!

DO

The Fairwind II is a large catamaran that takes you out for a BBQ lunch and snorkel cruise.  I’m not a big ‘group’ person and I absolutely loved this trip.  The staff was A+.  My finicky four-year-old lasted all of 30 seconds with her snorkel and mask and was able to trade them in for a more manageable wave board with a clear window to view the fish below.  The diving board and slide on board feel Disney-fied, but are an absolute blast.  If you are traveling without children in tow you may want to try the more civilized Hula Kai luxury tour.  www.fair-wind.com

After such success aboard the Fairwind, I really got into being on the water and booked us a sunset cruise aboard the Winona at Mauna Lani Sea Adventures.  My daughter protested.  Sounds like a snore.  She ate her words after we were treated to a mama and baby whale that took a liking to us and shared over an hour of our journey with us.  The captain said they maybe get a show like that once a season.  I may have cried and can assure you I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than a mother and her nursing baby whale hugging our vessel.   I will definitely book that trip again.

Check out Rudy and Leanne at the tennis pavilion at The Fairmont Orchid.  This ten court Tennis Center is consistently ranked as one of the tops in the U.S. and these guys are the reason why.  Their drills and kick ass clinics made my trip.

I was the girl in junior high that climbed the high dive while everyone waited to see me make a glorious splash, only to be disappointed when I turned around humiliated and climbed back down the stairs.  So although my spunky and fearless four-year-old was game for a zip line experience, my fear of heights kept us beach bound.  However if it is adventure you want, try the Umauma falls and zipline experience.   I can’t speak from experience but the word is they are the absolute best.

If you stay at the Orchid make sure you connect with Rachel, one of their concierges, before you go.  She is incredibly knowledgeable and has the gift of ‘getting you,’ so have her plan both your dining reservations/recommendations and your island adventures.

EAT

I tend not to be a resort restaurant kinda girl but sometimes you just can’t get away from it.  Hawaii can be one of those destinations where ‘local’ dining can sometimes be a predicament.  The fact that my daughter ate free was another motivator for staying on property.  We had beautiful meals surf side at both Brown’s Beach House at the Fairmont and Canoe House at the neighboring Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows.  Napua is a beachfront restaurant at the Mauna Lani Beach Club that felt more like a secret, and we ate poke there for lunch almost every day.

Monstera is a great sushi option off resort.  Trust Chef Norio to prepare the most delicious and fresh combinations of fish and you won’t be disappointed.  Another off property must is the Seafood Bar & Grill.  Finally a place that had a real old Hawaiian feel with a menu to match.  The breakfast buffet is sort of a tradition on any Hawaiian vacay but one morning I felt obliged to try pancakes ‘as big as your head’ at Hawaiian Style Cafe.  If brown breakfast food is your thing (think coffee, toast, pancakes, French toast, SPAM, yes SPAM) then this is your dream destination.  Although I dug the local vibe (only sit at the counter), I admit I was missing those fresh squeezed guava and lilikoi juices back at the hotel buffet.

Stephanie-Johnson,-Hawaii,-