adventure, Big Island, girlfriends, girls' trip, hawaii, honolulu, Jon Acuff, Kona, Travel

48 Hours in Kailua-Kona; otherwise know as That Night at Lava Lava Beach Club

Is 48 hours enough time to explore Kailua-Kona on the Big Island?

I should tell you that I know but to be completely honest I HAVE NO IDEA.  I was so busy catching up and laughing with my girlfriends that I can’t be sure how much of the area we actually saw.

Recently a couple of friends and I ate our way through Kailua-Kona and found the best spot to watch a sunset.  We discovered that not seeing someone for over a decade does not bar them from “awesome level” friend status.

After massive coordination efforts to cover caring for our tiny humans (kidding, our husbands are awesome and one of my other dear girlfriends helped out massively while my hubby was still at work Friday) my friend Alexis and I boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to Kona on Friday morning.

Alexis was kind enough to give me the window seat so I could snap a picture of the view to share here on Whoajennie.  The water is so ridiculously blue, even on a less than clear day.


I am a terrible airline passenger but survived the brief flight and was excited to set foot on the Big Island for the first time.

***Note:  I realize it is extremely contradictory to discuss what a terrible passenger I am on my travel blog.  I do not enjoy flying.  In the past I have needed to be straight up Mr T’d to get on a plane but am doing better these days.  In my opinion there are just too many great places to visit to let that slow me down.  Let that be a little voice in your ear that tells you to GO DO THE THINGS, even if you are afraid.  I promise.  It is worth it.

When we landed at Kona Airport I was somewhat surprised at how different it is from Honolulu.  It is smaller.  Which is an understatement.  It is also 95% open-air. This is beautiful but I can see how it could be tough if you have a long layover or a lengthy delay.  Something to consider if you are preparing to head to that side of Hawaii.


My first glimpse of the island took my breath away; not from the beauty but sheer confusion.  It looked like we were landing on Mars.  There was black rock and red clay and patches of hay-colored grasses that were sprouting between bits of aged lava.  I was intrigued and plan to read a lot more about the Big Island so I can better grasp it’s stark contrast to Oahu.  Did you know Hawaii is the youngest of all the Hawaiian Islands?  I find that so intriguing and cannot wait to go back and take my daughters to see the lava flow and study how it creates land.

Speaking of my daughters…I suck at leaving them.  My husband is the most amazing dad and does fun things with them.  He cooks, cleans and makes them giggle hysterically but the whole time I am way I feel ill.  It is a personal problem and I assume the only way to get over it is to keep trying but leaving them is a real struggle for me.  I assume that homeschooling contributes in a way because we are together so very much. While at times that fuels my desire for a break I think we have such a strong connection and I so enjoy their company and traveling with them that leaving definitely leaves a gaping hole in my heart.

But I digress…


These ^ are my girlfriends who were willing to go full on 48 hour sleepover party with me.  They are like yin and yang to my total chaos and for that I am grateful.  Allyson lives on the Big Island and was dear to chauffeur us around and make decisions about where to eat as she knows all the best spots.  She has a heart for adventure and new people and a zest for life.  Alexis lives on Oahu with me and is one of the sweetest, most dependable humans on the planet.  She is responsible, loyal and loving and puts up with my craziness.  I first met these gals when we all lived on the same street as young newlyweds and for the last 13 years we’ve barely seen each other but remained friends.  This weekend sure made for a fun time catching up!

The first afternoon was spent settling in to our hotel the King Kamehameha Courtyard Marriott at the northern end of Kona.  From the hotel we could walk to the sea wall, shops and restaurants and the hotel has a great pool, beach and restaurants of it’s own.  The beds were comfy and it served the purpose of a great home base for our girl time.


Both days were hazy and the air was full of vog.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with vog, it is a hazy layer of gas and particles from nearby volcanoes.  It can get pretty annoying to eyes, lungs and especially my throat but it makes for sunsets full of hazy orange and pink hues.  It’s an intriguing phenomenon to say the least.

We didn’t let it slow us down and Saturday we spent some time reading and gabbing by the pool after we filled our bellies at the nearby brunch spot, Splashers.  For a small price were were able to get a huge meal and I left happy and full.  They were even nice about honoring my dairy and gluten free request and brought an amazing chicken enchilada omelet to the table which I then proceeded to gorge myself on thus leading to a skipped lunch.  See?   Thrifty travel at it’s finest.


Saturday evening we hopped into Allyson’s car and headed north to Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa.  The drive had us in stitches because of the many signs warning us of donkey and goat crossings.  Full stop.  DONKEYS and GOATS.  (For the record…just had to look up how to pluralize donkey because I just don’t ever…)  I giggled for miles in the back seat picturing these creatures, wild, hanging out on the lava rocks on the side of the road.  Tell me you aren’t at least cracking a smile.  I’m laughing out loud as I type this.

Once we arrived at the Beach Club I mentally placed it in the top 5 of places I’d love to spend an entire afternoon hanging out, lazing on the cushioned couches in the sand through the sunset and happily going home thinking life is just about perfect.

Forget the fact that there were no open tables and no available reservations when we called the day before.  This just led us to a really great opportunity to meet new people.  We spotted a seating area with two gentlemen and while we panned for open tables noticed they didn’t seem to have anyone with them.

Embracing my inner boldness I asked if anyone was going to be joining them and if not….if maybe we could join them.  They were incredibly kind and welcomed us into their seating area as we discovered that they were on a guys’ weekend the same we were having a girls’ weekend.  We chatted about our spouses, kids etc and it was just lovely getting to know new people with interesting stories and backgrounds.

Disclaimer: The fact that we sat with two men is going to bother some people.  Get over it.  Hubby and I are super open and he understans that I will literally talk to anyone and try to find out what we have in common because we ALL have SOMETHING in common.  Carry on…

Not to go into too much detail but I have to share the story of how their friendship came to be.  I may have cried when they told me because it was terribly sweet.  They have been friends for more than 40 years and it all began with one of them, Nacho, arriving as the new kid in first grade in Vancouver and the teacher asking for a volunteer to help him out.  Here enters Abe, an eager, friendly first grader (also, man #2 in this duo) and as these gentlemen said, “that’s how it all began!”

Sob, so sweet!  I love meeting people and hearing their stories and being blown away by the depth of human connection.  This is what life is all about!

While we sat with Nacho and Abe (these are not their names but the names they go by…which I loved) Alexis quietly asked me if we were sitting a few tables over from Jon Acuff.

PEOPLE, I love written humor and I love humility.  These are two of the best characteristics exhibited in humanity and Jon Acuff rocks them like it’s his job.  Because, well, it kind of is.  If you don’t know who Jon Acuff is that likely means you haven’t, read Do Over.  Let’s remedy that situation.  Read it.

Moving on, we were, in fact, a few tables from Jon Acuff and his wife Jenny.  To go over or not to go over, that was the question.  Duh, I went over.  I then proceeded to astound even myself with my own dorkiness and gushed over some La Croix videos they made in their kitchen a few years ago and could barely keep up with their sweet questions like they actually cared who I was and what I was about.  These are good people.

Picture taken by waitress at Lava Lava.  How darling a couple are Jon and Jenny?  The darling-est!

After soaking up the awesomeness that is the Acuff duo I returned to my people and the two nice guys who let us sit at their table.  Soon they departed to meet up with their other friends and we were grateful for more than the table they ended up giving us.  These were two kind, intelligent, generous human beings and as I said before, it is so nice to get to witness the depth of human connection and experience it first hand.  This is so keenly a part of why I love traveling.  Human interaction is my jam.

As the sun set we basked in the glow of being together again after so many years and as the night wore on we got increasingly silly.


The music was a terrible kind of fabulous; reminiscent of the Marty and Bobbi Culp skits on SNL many years ago.  Not kidding; it was that level of fantastic.


We headed back to our hotel where we giggled like school girls late into the night and fell asleep together in the peace of being with people who get you.

Our brunch game was strong on Sunday morning and then quicker than I can explain we were back at the airport to fly home.  With heavy sighs Alexis and I boarded our Hawaiian Airlines flight and headed back to Oahu.  As excited as I was to squeeze my tiny humans and sweet hubby, let it be noted that for that weekend and time with those women I am grateful.

With a full cup I set into wrapping up our homeschool year and packing for Australia and New Zealand; proof that we can do anything with a FULL CUP.

Up next…packing for Down Under!  “Quickly,” hubby says… so we can use the dining room table again.

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