Trista Heads to Hawaii – Final Blog

A very big Mahalo to all the lovely Hawaiian locals who took the time to share the history, passion and Aloha of the Hawaiian Island!

Our last day in Kona, we embarked on a walking tour down the main strip. We started our day at Hulihe’e Palace, a heritage site, with a guided tour that filled us with information on the history of King Kamehameha and the royalty line that lived here. The home is filled with amazing artifacts and hand crafted antique furniture, mainly made from Koa which is a very expensive Hawaiian hardwood.

We crossed the street and stepped inside another heritage site, The Moku’aikaua Church which is Hawaii’s first church congregation established in 1820. Fascinating site, as there have only been minor updates to either damaged or destroyed parts of the church.

Down the street, close to the marina, we had a taste of Scandinavian Shaved Ice, which is a treat that is not to be overlooked!! Shaved ice, stuffed with ice cream and topped with multiple flavors of your choice. The below picture is the Lava Flow, my favorite treat on the trip!
Hawaii 02

We got to enjoy a very tasty lunch, pizza and beer from the local brewery at Kona Brew! If you are a beer drinker, don’t forget to stop here for a pint while visiting Kona, as they have tons of variety of beer, all very tasty, unique flavors.

The other half of our group enjoyed the morning with a Body Glove Tour, snorkeling through Captain Cook’s Cove discovering lots of fish, hundreds of spinner dolphins and one even got to see a Spotted Eagle Ray, relative to the Manta Ray that we missed a few days prior. They all came back with a slight sunburn but could not stop ranting about all the sea life they go to see!

This trip has been so informative and one to remember with such an array of sites to see. Don’t hesitate to book the Big Island for your next getaway and stay tuned for “We’ve Been There” in our email blast, mid-January for a great package deal I’ll have for you! Mahalo!

Trista Heads to Hawaii – Part 2

The Big Island has been treating us so well, we have had beautiful clear sunny days all week! Along the Hamakua Coast to Hilo, we got the opportunity to stop at Parker Ranch to see the heritage sites of the Paleo’s, which is Hawaiian for cowboys.

Our stop at Akaka Falls, the biggest straight drop waterfall at 240 feet, took us on a lush tropical forest walk by the Hakuna Falls as well. Both falls are spectacular sites that cannot be missed!

After checking into the Hilo Hawaiian Resort located on Hilo Bay overlooking the ocean, Hawaii Forest & Trail picked us up for our sunset tour of Volcanoes National Park. The sulfur in the air was prominent as we walked through the park towards the Calderon. In the distance you could see the glow of the volcano and as we got closer and night set in, the view became more impressive! After some time admiring this amazing glow in the dark, we headed down the way towards the lava tunnels and it was such an incredible feeling standing in this tunnel that lava once ran through. We were enlightened of the history of Hilo and the affects of tsunamis in this town while visiting the Tsunami Museum, a real eye opener how it all happened and the evacuation processes put into place after these historic events.

We took Saddle Road back to the west side of the island to Kona, where we prepared for our night snorkel with the manta rays! Here we had some unfortunate luck and the rays did not come out to see us, a once a year event that is very rare. The company does have a manta ray guarantee so everyone has the opportunity to rebook the tour to see the rays another night. With our busy schedule, we will not have that opportunity so I look forward to hearing about this amazing experience from another’s point of view!

We did get hands on experience in coffee roasting with the Ueshima Coffee Company up in the mountains with incredible mountain and ocean views! This island is so diversified with a variety of activities to experience for all types of travelers! Tomorrow we get to learn more about the town of Kona and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Hawaii 01

View from Hilo Hawaiian Resort

 

Trista Heads to Hawaii – Part 1

Aloha from the Big Island! Our arrival to Kona airport was very welcoming and we all received leis as soon as we arrived! The transportation was prompt and waiting for us for a quick 20 minute transfer to the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort which is very beautiful and massive!

They have a tram and boats running throughout the resort for ease getting around. The coastline here is very young and quite rocky from the lava, but they have an ocean fed lagoon with a man-made beach There are turtles and fish swimming throughout that you can swim with or enjoy some of the water options they have such as paddle boats and SUP (stand up paddle) boards! Dolphin Quest is right on the property with 12 dolphins, 3 of which were bred and raised in captivity, proving to be a very natural environment for them!

We headed out on the road to visit King Kamehameha’s temple and hear the story of the unity of the Hawaiian Islands from a park ranger. Continuing, we went up to the north coast to the Pololu Valley lookout, which is stunning with a path that leads to a black sand beach. Highly recommended if you have the time to trek down the path, which unfortunately we did not, but the amazing view was all worth the drive!

We got to visit the Fairmont Orchid resort, which is a lovely property with amazing, spacious rooms and extra amenities offered to those who upgrade to the Gold floor rooms, such as an honor system bar, breakfast and snacks throughout the day in the Gold Lounge. As a group we enjoyed a 3 course meal and Mai Tai’s, looking out over the ocean at the 4 diamond Brown’s Beach restaurant before ending our evening.

Tomorrow we head to Hilo, on the east side of the island and get to take in the Volcanoes National Park and then soon over to Kona for night snorkeling with the manta rays!! Stay tuned for more information on experiences to check off the bucket list!

Amanda Visits Puerto Vallarta – Final Blog

Well it saddens me to say today is my last day in the lovely Puerto Vallarta. I did two great excursions today.

The first one was a City Highlights tour with Vallarta Adventures.  We did modified version of it. First our guide took us to where more of the locals live in Pistilla. We got to see their shops and their houses. It is very humbling to see how simple life is compared to our busy culture. It is neat how to catch the bus: you just put out your hand to signal the bus to stop and there are no designated stops. You can catch it anywhere.  We also visited a church and the popular downtown and Boardwalk areas. Lots of little shops with the locals selling their handiwork.  He took us by the marina area which is where all the cruise ships dock and people keep their boats/yachts. It looks like a newer area with more contemporary feel to it.  The modified part  of the excursion we enjoyed was going to the Riviera Nyarit area.  This definitely had a North American feel and was mostly the newer hotels that are very modern.  The shopping there is more like at home as well.  Then we experienced the Bucerias area a little and saw more locals and their craftsmanship. We were told that the beaches and swimming in the Nayarit and Bucerias areas is better than in the Puerto Vallarta. It isn’t as pebbly or rocky and the water is calmer. All in all a great overview of the Puerto Vallarta areas that are popular for tourists.

The second excursion to top off our evening and stay here was the excursion to Rhythm of the Nights with Vallarta Adventures. We took about an hour boat ride over to a secluded area called the Caletas. They have day tours here as well but this show we attended at night was amazing. Getting off and on the boat was a little tricky at the dock there as the boat rocks due to the tides and waves.  Had to hold on tight!

We were greeted by some amazing people dressed up in costumes of lizards, mermaids, a tree, owl, etc. They were posted all along the pathway to the restaurant.

We had a huge variety of food to choose from for supper.  Everything tasted fabulous. The entire area was lit by candlelight and torches, even their bathrooms were candle lit! We were also serenaded by some local musicians.

After eating, we saw the amazing show. Lots of live acrobatics, gymnasts, people flying through the air above, fire dancing and just great overall entertainment. It was a 45 minute show and I could have definitely watched for longer.

It was an hour boat ride back to Puerto Vallarta and the crew on board put on some great entertainment mentioned themselves. They were dressed up as clowns and did a number. Then there were the Blues Brothers who did one of their songs, and to top it off one of the guys put on a short magic show.  It was very entertaining as well.

This whole trip was an amazing learning opportunity for me as I have never been here before. I now feel like I can better help clients with this destination as to where to stay that will suit their needs and make some recommendations as to what to see!

Thanks for reading and see you when I get back. Stay tuned for one more blog post when I come back – I would love to share my pictures, too!

Amanda Visits Puerto Vallarta – Part 2

Hello again from the Krystal Puerto Vallarta!  This hotel is right beside the Hilton.  It has 2 a la carte restaurants. My favorite being the Cinquterre.  It is an Italian restaurant with a very romantic feel to it and a piano player during your meal.

The hotel is very rustic and traditional Mexico. It has an area with 6 individual jacuzzis which I’ve never seen at a  hotel before. The Krystal has some great family suite options. There are a lot of time share villas in the middle of the very large complex. I’m staying in their oceanfront tower and have a fantastic view of the ocean.  It is a basic and quaint all inclusive hotel.

A really neat experience was the turtle release we got to do. The turtles come every year to lay their eggs on the beach. The conservation biologists pick up the eggs and bring them to a nursery.  45 days later when they hatch they are released back into the ocean. We had the privilege of being about to help with the release. They know which direction to go to as they follow the light of the sun when it is setting in the evening.  A once in a lifetime experience and it was wonderful watching nature’s course take place.

I’m looking forward to the Rhythm of the Night show and my excursion tomorrow of the area. Stay tuned for more…

Amanda Visits Puerto Vallarta – Part 1

Hi everyone. I’m reporting from sunny and very warm Puerto Vallarta. It is my first time here so it is exciting for me. It was a 4 hour 50 min direct from flight from Calgary with WestJet. We got our tourist cards on the plane to fill out. Upon arriving at the airport we got on a bus to bring us to the security point. Then our luggage was waiting for us. They were very quick. Customs was a bit of a wait to get through but then the WestJet reps promptly got us on our hotel shuttle. It was a quick 15min ride to the Hilton Puerto Vallarta.

 

The first thing I noticed was how modern the lobby looked and there are fountains everywhere. It is a smaller hotel of 250 rooms but has everything you would need.

 

The tower I stayed in is a rectangular shape and hollow in the middle so to speak. Everywhere is open concept from the lobby to the atrium to the rooms.

Modern decor and the staff are very friendly.

 

We ate at all of the restaurants, and all of them have great food.

 

I love how the pool looks like it has swirl shapes in it. There is a rooftop adults only area with an infinity pool and a sushi bar. We were there this evening and we got some breathtaking pictures of the infinity pool and the sunset.

 

Today there was a Storm Trooper and Darth Vader walking around making appearances and taking photos with the guests.

 

Another favorite is how they set up the Romantic Dinner area for those who purchase it. It took the a couple of hours at least to make a huge heart shape in the sand, set up the palm fronds and candle shades and get everything perfect for the guests. The candles light up at night. It is absolutely beautiful.

 

There is another unique feature at this hotel that no other hotel in Mexico has, and that is the floatarium. In the spa the have a special area with a tub full of minerals and salts. It reminds me of the mineral spa in Moose Jaw. You float in this small pool, by yourself, and look up at the star lights the have put on the ceiling. Apparently half an hour in it is like 4 hours of deep sleep. Talk about relaxing.

 

Today we saw the entire hotel, all if it’s amenities and facilities, and got to see an amazing bilevel jacuzzi suite.

 

It is a great hotel the has that small cozy feeling. I would recommend this hotel and it is only 10 mins to downtown so great location too.

 

Tomorrow we head to the Krystal Puerto Vallarta, stay tuned. 🙂