The Beginning

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First blog entry… where to start?!

Hi friends, we are Will and Joanna Mann.  He’s the photographer, she’s the writer.  We travel as much as our day jobs allow.

Like many couples, our first major trip was our honeymoon.  We spent 2 weeks in Hawaii: one week on the Big Island and one week on Kauai.  Both were amazing.  We started off in Waikoloa at the Marriott which was recently awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence!  As we drove up to the property, we felt as though we were on the moon.  It was other-worldly.  Black lava, tall, TALL palms and beautifully landscaped grounds.  The rooms had been recently renovated and felt modern, comfortable and spacious.  The pools had organic shapes that compliment the surrounding landscape.  We especially loved walking through the lava garden to see the beautiful view of the lagoon with a row of palms between it and the ocean.  Spectacular!

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This trip was over 12 years ago, so the details of meals and luaus are foggy, but J still remembers the amazing Lomi Lomi massage offered at the spa… there’s no better way to start a vacation.

We spent the week exploring the island and enjoying the property.  We bought Wizard Publication’s Hawaii Revealed and it was our bible for the trip.  (Also available as an app.)  We loved the way the book was written and found a good mix of can’t-miss tourist spots and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Our first adventure was a sunset on Mauna Kea with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures.  They picked us up at the shops across from the Marriott and provided cold weather gear (because who goes to Hawaii with parkas, hats and gloves?).  It was so cool to drive through the various climates, from tropical through desert to periglacial.  The air at the top was cold and thin, we were in the clouds.  Unfortunately, it was overcast so the views were not perfect for photography but the experience was worth it.

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Being on Hawaii, we obviously got some quality volcano time.  We circumnavigated the island in 2 days, stopping in Hilo and then spending the night at the edge of Kilauea at the Volcano House.  The hotel was… rustic, but we were sleeping on a volcano so that added to the ambiance and we had a great time.  (Their website notes that rooms have been recently renovated.)

We hiked around, saw beautiful native offerings, got a whiff of sulfur, and were constantly wowed by the views, the changing weather and the experience of BEING ON A VOLCANO!  On our way back to the hotel, we stopped off to see the black sand of Punalu’U Beach, and a spot where the lava meets the road at Chain of Craters Road.  It was a one mile walk from the parking area to actual lava.  Extended hikes are possible and available but it was HOT and we were not prepared.

Another must-see on our list was Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park which is as much fun to say as it is to explore.  Pu’uhonua O Honaunau was a place of refuge where those who broke ancient laws known as “kapu” could avoid death and be absolved.  It is beautifully preserved, feels sacred and peaceful.  We enjoyed walking the paths, seeing the carved statues and feeling the significance of the area.

We’ve had such a blast sorting through old photos and memories to put together this post.  We hoped to return to Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary, but that snuck up on us quicker than expected.  It’s tough to choose between returning to a place you know and love and exploring a new destination.  So stay tuned for our other adventures!

Mahalo!

 

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