I Channeled Moana and Went on a Hawaiian Adventure!

Though not technically a princess, Moana lives an adventurous lifestyle that would be coveted by many other Disney Princesses. I wanted to do something special for my five-year wedding anniversary, so we decided to check out Hawaii and go on our own adventure! At first, I did some research on Aulani, Disney's hotel on the island of Oahu but ultimately decided against it when I realized that one night at the cheapest room there would cost as much as my entire round-trip plane ticket from Texas. Plus, lunging around a hotel isn't much of an adventure, so I set my sights on other options. My husband wanted to check out the volcanoes, so I looked into accommodations on the Big Island, which is the only one that still has an active volcano, Mt. Kilauea. In doing so, I discovered a really neat Airbnb called Lava Lookout, which is built directly on top of a field of hardened lava. What a way to start off our adventure!

The Princess Blogger posing in front of the sunset over a field of hardened lava

The best adventures involve an equal amount of planning and spontaneity, so our first day was dedicated to exploring the Big Island. We saw a waterfall, went to a beautiful park overlooking the ocean, visited a rainforest zoo, and got some enormous snow cones, which is how they make them in Hawaii. I was hoping to catch some rainbows at the famous Rainbow Falls, but sadly, none were visible. It was still a beautiful view as was everything else on the island. The Liliuokalani Gardens had some particularly breathtaking scenery with Japanese-style architecture, exotic trees, and a bridge leading to a tiny island called Coconut Island, where some children were playing at the beach and celebrating a birthday party. The oceanside views and relaxing island breeze made me forget my troubles for a while and succumb to the serenity of nature. Our next stop was the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, a free zoo with some neat animals including a rare white tiger and some colorful birds. I loved how all the benches in the zoo were sculpted and painted to look like real animals.

The Princess Blogger in front of Rainbow FallsLiliuokalani Gardens

The Princess Blogger staring at the edge of the water never really knowing whyEdge of Coconut Island

The Princess Blogger on a white tiger bench at the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and GardensHawaiian snow cone

You can't go to Hawaii without attending a luau! The only ones I could find were on the west side of the island, which was, unfortunately, opposite from where we were staying. All of the luaus are presented as entertainment options in ritzy hotels, and I selected the Hawaii Loa Luau at the beautiful Fairmont Orchid because it used to be known as the Gathering of the Kings, and we all know I'm a sucker for royalty. The luau was named after Hawai'iloa, who discovered the islands of Hawaii. Throughout the night, we were bestowed with beautiful songs, stories, food, and dancing that encompassed the breadth of Hawaiian culture. There was even a hula dancing lesson! The food was delicious, and the talented performers made me feel like they were embracing me into their culture. I especially enjoyed wearing a real lei, which is different from the plastic ones you get a children's parties. The fragrant pink petals cushioned my neck and felt like a soft pillow. It was also nice to mask my sweat from our adventures with the scent of pretty flowers.

The Princess Blogger and her husbandHula Dancing at the Loa Luau

Tahitian dancing at the Loa LuauHula dancing at the Loa Luau

Fire dancing at the Loa LuauThe Princess Blogger's Lei

The next day, it was time to check out the volcanoes, and there's no better place to do that than Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. For a small admission fee, drivers can visit the best viewing sites for previous volcano eruptions and craters on the Big Island for a full week. There are lots of hiking trails on the tour, but I'm more of a stay-around-the-castle kind of princess, so I opted for Shaka Guide's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park audio tour, which hooked up to our phone's GPS and guided us around the park telling us stories about each landmark and the best places to stop. Most of the tour was great, but there was one point near the end where it recommended a stop at the Pu'uloa Petroglyphs to view some ancient Hawaiian rock carvings, which sounded really neat at the time. However, the audio guide did not tell us how treacherous the walk would be. There was no path, only strategically placed piles of rocks to guide us across the enormous field. We were forced to leap across giant boulders on uneven ground with fierce winds blowing our hair so hard that we could barely see. Someone could have easily broken their leg on this hike, and no one would have been around to see them. If you do visit Volcanoes National Park, I recommend skipping this landmark unless you are looking for a good challenge.

Massive Volcano CraiterThe Princess Blogger and husband in front of a steaming volcano

Holei Sea ArchPuu Loa Petroglyphs

Entrance to Thurston Lava TubesThe Princess Blogger pointing to an active volcano

A name that came up constantly during our trip was Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess who was likely the inspiration for both Te Fiti and Te Ka from Moana. Ancient Hawaiians believed that Pele created the volcanoes and islands of Hawaii. Though her creations are beautiful, she has a fierce temper. The audio tour told us a story of a man Pele fell in love with. She became angered that he was already with another woman, so she killed them both and later turned his body into a tree and his lover's body into the flowers on the tree that can be seen around the park. Pele is also rumored to bring bad luck to people who take home lava rocks as souvenirs. I guess we'll be testing that theory now. Pele must have been in a good mood during our journey because she shared many beautiful things with us, including a chance to see active lava coming out of the pu'u o'o vent on Mt. Kilauea. This was a relaxing experience that rejuvenated me as I return to my royal duties back home. After seeing them for myself, I can understand why the Hawaiian islands are such a popular vacation destination for so many people.

Active lava on Mt. Kilauea


Alysa Salzberg said…
So glad you had such a lovely trip (despite a few dangerous moments). I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and this makes me want to go even more!

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