Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort is one of those locations that people literally put on their bucket lists. A top tier, great resort in Hawaii. This trip is one I have been daydreaming about for 2 years now. Ever since my last trip to Hawaii.
Also, on this trip I will be visiting several sites and staying a full week in the islands so I am very excited.
Video by The Hawaii Vacation Guide
Day One Arrival & Travel Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
Hawaii starts the same for almost every traveler. A long flight. For me, the trip would mean at least two connecting flights and over 15 hours of travel to reach Hawaii. I dreaded the flight time, but I looked forward to the vacation of a lifetime.
The flight had me coming into KOA Airport. Which is close to this resort. That made life easier when you arrive dead tired because of the time change, flight time, and not being able to sleep on the flight. Since the cost of the flights is so high given the distance, I flew coach. At 6’4” coach can never be comfortable. Long legs and a large frame do not work well in coaches these days. But I did get up and walk a lot on the flight when allowed, and that kept me sane.
My flight left at about 8AM EST and I arrived at 3 PM Island Time or Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time. The flight was faster than any I had experienced before going to Hawaii at only about 14 hours with only a layover in Denver for the single stop, which was great.
Getting there a little after 3 PM meant by the time I picked up my car rental and got to the resort it would be check-in time, which would be perfect. On my previous trips, I would arrive later in the day, which often would make that first-day kind of wasted time. This way I could arrive check in, see the resort before sunset and take a nap all while still enjoying the area some, eating dinner, and seeing the amazing sunset.
Take the 360 tours of Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort with me here. What you see here is very impressive, but it holds less than a candle to the real thing in person. Look at the scene in the tour of pool two at this resort. That is very literally the view I dream about when I dream of Hawaii. Well, that and the occasional hula girl.
At this resort, all the rooms are versions of 2-bedroom villas. So, my traveling buddy this trip can each have a room if we get on each other’s nerves at some point. For this trip, I had brought along an old girlfriend who understood this was just my way of helping her take the trip of a lifetime. Since I was staying on TZort’s dime, all she had to pay for was her flight, and chip in on some meals and fun.
If this had been a date, I would take care of everything, but this was supposed to be just a fun trip for good friends. We will see what Hawaii has to say about that. The Hawaiian Islands are perhaps the most romantic place on Earth, so anything could happen.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Whirlpool Bath
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Activities Center
- Activities Desk
- BBQ Area
- Computer with Internet
- Concierge Services
- Fitness Room
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Pool
- Wi-Fi Internet Access
- Kid’s Pool
- Sun Bathing Area
- Live Entertainment
We found the resort with ease and checked in at the simple lobby. To me, Polynesian architecture seems timeless and always pleasing. Part of my brain though instantly dates things to the 1970s when I see it. As a rule, I love everything Tiki and Polynesian. Something about it just sets my soul at ease. Maybe there is a harmonic flow to it or something. On some level, I am certain my first childhood experiences at Disney and the Enchanted Tiki Room have all things Tiki set in my subconscious as a clear indication of fun.
Here the rooms have everything the weary traveler could want or need.
I checked for local restaurants near the resort because I did not eat during the flight. The in-flight meal just did not speak to me.
Within a quick walk we found Jackie Rey’s so with the threat of eating my own shoe if I did not get a meal soon, we headed over for an early dinner.
I started by drinking their “Da Best” Mai Tai, which was not bad at all. Then tried a few apps with my friend and ordered a Seafood Trio for dinner, which was insanely good. My friend ordered the grilled fresh catch of the day and we both were in food nirvana for at least 30 minutes. Then it was time for more Mai Tai.
Wow, that was an amazing meal. So good we will probably come back during this trip. We skipped dessert to head towards the beach for Sunset. It was May, so the Sunset itself would be a little before 7 PM local time in the islands.
In Hawaii, the Sunsets are among the best in the world. They are literally the scene you would want to see if you had just found out you were being turned into a vampire and this was the last sunset you could ever watch. They are that powerful, and well emotionally impactful as well. The beauty of nature is on full display and she completely lifts up her skirt to show you her perfection on the islands. There is nothing to get in the way of your view at all, it is breathtaking and heart breaking.
After an amazing meal and sunset, we headed back to the room to try to sleep so we could get on the island timetable, and adjust as fast as possible.
Day Two at Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
Waking up on the Big Island is amazing. The fresh sea air came flowing into the room from the balcony as soon as I opened the sliding doors. The night before, I had stopped and grabbed a few convenience items to make a simple omelet for each of us for breakfast. The omelet, toast, and fresh pineapple juice were just what the Doctor ordered. It was like jet lag anti-viral.
Since we had great Wi-Fi after breakfast, I read the local paper online to get a feel for things from the local perspective. It had been almost 2 years since I last was in Hawaii and I was not sure if this would be my last trip or not. I did not want to miss anything special on this trip.
My friend woke up with the smell of toast and omelets. She was one of those people some others like to hate because she looked good without makeup the moment she rolled out of her bed. Me, I think I look about the same no matter what I do, and not in a good way.
She smiled as I laid the custom-made breakfast down in front of her. It was a great way to start the day. No time pressure to get to a restaurant, and just a chill way to start slow with breakfast on the balcony.
Today was going to be a big day. I was going to surprise my friend with a tour of the volcanos via helicopter. The write-up online for these sounds impressive.
Fly over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on a scenic helicopter flight from Hilo. Enjoy an aerial perspective of the Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes and stunning views of the most geologically active environment on earth. Ride in comfort and safety in your choice of either an ECO-Star or A-Star helicopter. You’ll hear informative commentary from your pilot as you spot the Halemaumau Crater and other sights in the national park, and pass over waterfalls and the Hamakua Coast.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is immense and impressive. Extending from sea level to over 13,000 feet, the park also includes two of the most active volcanos in the world Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.
Online you can view webcams they have installed. The systems are just a little old, so instead of life streaming, they updated their image about once a minute. Even just looking at those rough images, however, it is hard to imagine in a few hours we will be there. It truly seems crazy.
With most helicopter tours, you can choose either a morning trip or an afternoon trip. Not knowing how bad our jet lag would be, I chose an afternoon trip. My friend had no clue I hoped it would be a great surprise, and that she was not afraid of the helicopter or getting that close to an active volcano.
Ultimately, I had chosen to book with a family-owned local company. Mentally, I expected TC from Magnum PI to be the pilot. Instead, we had a local pilot versus the TV actor (likely a good call) and he was down to Earth and very knowledgeable of the island.
Now for the faint at heart, this may not be the excursion or trip for you for several reasons. One that you may never think of is if you are an overweight person like me, you may be required to pay for an additional seat on the flight. This is not at the full fair price, but it allows them to make an allowance for people over 250 lbs. At 6’4” now I weigh in these days like a retired NFL lineman. So, I was paying extra, and I even called and spoke with them when I booked the flight so they were ready for me.
A much more prominent area of contention for many will be the fact that you will be flying over active volcanos. An alternative to this extreme flight version is to go on a tour of the island and its amazing sites and waterfalls. My instinct was to just book both and do them back-to-back. However, the only way to get that done would be to rent the helicopter for a solo flight and for 2 hours which would cost an arm and a leg. I opted for the volcano experience.
Until flight time I thought we could head down to the beach and then leave before time for the flight and say we were just going somewhere for lunch.
We jumped in the rental and drove the short distance to Honl’s Beach. Before going I had to think of an excuse to get my friend to wear or bring some dark clothing with her, she could change into. The reason for this is that Helicopter tour operators recommend and most even ask that you wear dark clothing to allow yourself and others to take photos on your trip. Light clothing is too likely to cause glare on the windows from reflected light.
I do not even remember the little white lie I told on that one. But it was something about the strength of the Hawaiian sun.
The beach is a small one but ideal to just hand out and enjoy the sun and the sea for a few hours. There are even a couple of picnic tables if you want to have lunch there.
There are many more impressive beaches in Hawaii, but I kind of wanted this to be just nice but now an amazing beach. I did not want my friend to like the beach so much that she would not want to leave. As it was, we needed to drive across the big island for “lunch” so I needed her to be willing to move without a ton of explanation.
You can meet the helicopter tour group at their location or the airport depending on which tour you are taking. For our tour, it was the airport. So, I knew that my surprise was up as soon as we started driving into the airport, but until then I wanted to keep things a secret.
If you are surprising someone, make sure to also have a good idea of their weight. Guys, you have to be very careful with this. Finding out a women’s weight is far more dangerous than a helicopter flight above ab active volcano. I snuck a look at her dress size in the closet and estimated her height, then made sure Google was not in a mode where it would answer me out loud on my cell phone when I did the search.
When we finally reached the airport, the surprise was still in effect until she saw the helicopters. That is when the “no way” comments started. I heard them all “no way, my God, no way, really? No way.” It was nice to surprise someone.
After a safety meeting and the comedy of trying to get a lifejacket to fit me, we were off on the flight. Note to self “find some extension belts for life jackets.
The flight was about 55 minutes as advertised and amazing. I will count it as one of the most amazing things I have done in my life. The views were impressive, and the sense of wonder at the power of Mother Nature was dumbfounding.
Words, pictures, and even video can never do this justice. It is just well amazing. The scenes you experience are jaw-dropping. I am sure with Hawaii that the other tours are amazing as well, but the idea that people for hundreds if not thousands of years have lived with active volcanos like these is mind-boggling. I have had a distant family that lived on the islands and a few business friends over the years. But once you have experienced this, it would be hard to put down roots.
It would be like the one time I was on Grand Cayman Island and in the span of 2 days they had like 10 nearby Earthquakes. It made me reconsider my dream of moving there. I like Mother Nature, but I also respect its raw power.
After our amazing flight, we headed for dinner. Near the airport, I found Ponds Hilo, a local joint that had an impressive menu but no website. They just used a Facebook page for their business. As a marketer, this horrified me, but my inner voice said they must have great food to not need a website. We went and tried them out.
I was right, their food and service were outstanding. I enjoyed Ahi as both an appetizer and an entrée. Two things are fresh and great in Hawaii: the seafood and the pork. Both are from the islands and are great. When eating out also make sure you eat a ton of amazing fresh fruit as well. Just like the Sunshine Tomatoes back home, you can taste the sunshine in the fruits in Hawaii. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.
Day Three Back to Nature
After the tour yesterday, I thought nothing would be able to top that flight and experience. But I was surely going to try.
For me, Hawaii is about 3 things primarily. Nature with some of the most amazing foliage you will ever see, the waterfalls, and now amazing volcanos. Then the sea with some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world, and great scuba, and diving. Lastly, the sky because with several locations you can get away from most of the light pollution and see the sky more vividly than almost any other place on Earth.
I think Tahiti is the only place I have been with less light pollution. In Hawaii, you also can access amazing telescopes and tours related to space. So that was on the menu for tonight. Until then, it was time to venture out and tour the big island. See some waterfalls and some beaches and make one heck of a day of it.
Now if you want to see the most possible in a short period get a private tour guide to the island. A great local guide will cost you some money, but it is well worth the time. You can even save money and go with a group and still see more than you would likely find by yourself.
I had signed us up for a tour today that would be about 12 hours and include lunch, water, and a snack. The trip starts early with a pickup at 6:30 AM but that is not as hard as it may sound because being from the Eastern Time Zone it still felt like late morning in a sense.
The tour was amazing and included.
+ Pu’ukohola National Historic Site (no stop)
+ Waimea and Parker Ranch (no stop)
+ Waipio Valley Overlook
+ Rainbow Falls Waterfall
+ Coconut Island, Liliuokalani Gardens (no stop)
+ Big Island Candies
+ Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Visitor Center
+ Kilauea Iki Overlook
+ Kilauea Caldera Overlook
+ Hot Steam Vents
+ Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
+ Captain Cook (no stop)
+ Coffee and Macadamia nut farm with samples
+ Kealakekua (no stop)
+ Kona Coffee Belt (no stop)
I felt today we saw more than we would have seen on our own in a week. The nonstop areas were nice to see but nothing that made me miss not stopping. It was a well-planned trip.
After this full day by any measure, we headed back to the resort to take a nap because tonight was going to be our shot at one of the best observatories in the world. I do not have many strings I can pull these days. I am not as connected as I was when I was a younger man. However, I did luckily have some contacts which would make tonight possible. I just had to pray for clear skies and get some rest.
We went to a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant again called Super Js because like the year before I had seen them covered for the laulau on the show “The Best Thing I ever Ate” show on the Food Network and wanted to try it. Also, because we overslept, and I thought it would be fast and it was. The food was also great too if you love BBQ pork.
Our inside observatory hook-up was with the Keck Observatory. I headed that way after our quick dinner. The friend we got to spend time with tonight was one of the scientists here on an assignment, so we got the behind-the-scenes tour of a lifetime. I had spent time with them and got to know them years ago when they worked at the Thomas Jefferson Lab in Newport News VA. That is where one of the World’s most amazing continuous electron beam accelerator facilities is located. My friend was studying advanced particle physics at the time and now was studying the origins of the universe and the big bang.
Our personal tour even included a look at space with the telescope, then a personal tour outside the facility with my friend’s own equipment. Which was itself impressive.
Here at this facility scientists study galaxies 1.5 billion light years away. It was very impressive to see their work and to see the sky from such a vantage point with little to no light pollution. Again on this trip, Nature was making my jaw drop and my mind wonder about the insignificance of mankind in the larger picture.
After this amazing visit it was back to the resort to relax around the pool and then get some sleep for tomorrow we were changing resorts for our Hawaiian vacation of a lifetime. Make sure to book on TZort to stay at this or any of the resorts for an amazing price.
Continue to follow this dream vacation here.