Global Discovery Vacations Review: Embracing the Elements of Hawaii

If hiking through lava fields and swimming with manta rays is your idea of a great vacation, you’re going to love this Member Monday. Global Discovery Vacations member Karyn B. spent an action-packed week in Kona, Hawaii, with her family, staying at the Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort. She told us all the good stuff to see on Big Island in this week’s Member Monday.

Where would you recommend a fellow member to go to…
Eat:
With a family of six (two parents and four kids, three of whom are teenage boys!) we ate in the condo most of the time. We hit Costco and Safeway, and had meals and snacks for both eating in and taking with us on our adventures!

Shop:
There is a cute “main street” area that is walking distance just north of the the condo, and we walked there several times to do some shopping for fun things. Walmart is super close for more sunscreen (we ran out on day thre), as well as a surprisingly large area of Hawaiian clothing, towels, swimsuits, etc. If you forget anything, try Walmart!

Have fun/attractions:
We took an afternoon/evening trip with Kona Diving Company to the Manta Ray Dive. Two of my children are certified scuba divers. One did a “discovery scuba dive,” and my youngest son and I just did the snorkeling from the top. It was absolutely amazing – the manta may experience is something that should be on your bucket list!

We attended the luau at the Royal Kona Hotel/Resort. The show was excellent, the food was great and it was just a five- or ten-minute walk.

What was your favorite…
Resort/Condo Amenity:
We were really, really happy to have air conditioning! Most places on the island insist you don’t need it due to the breezes, but in August we were hot a lot of the time and loved coming back to a wonderful pool and air conditioning!

Place to go in the destination:

Snorkeling at beach next to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Historical Park (Place of Refuge). The access was easy, the snorkeling was the best I’ve ever seen anywhere in Hawaii, and the next-door historical park has really cool tikis and statues from the time when the Hawaiian kings ruled.

We spent a day hiking across the lava flow on the south side of the island, a 4.5-mile bike ride, then a one-mile hike to an active lava flow (across the ground). We then hiked back to the ocean, watched the lava enter the ocean just as it was getting dark, then biked back to the parking lot. It was manageable for us in our mid-40s (we’re not in great shape either!), teenage kids and a 10-year-old. It was the best day ever!

Why did you choose this destination? Were you traveling for a special occasion?
Family vacation.

What was your favorite memory of your vacation?
Manta rays! They literally swam within inches of us and are the most amazing and gentle creatures.

Any tips for a traveler going to this resort or destination? Anything you think they should bring?
Tip: We bought our excursions and our luau tickets through the concierge at the condo, and got a much better deal than I could find online. They do have “preferred vendors,” but we found them extremely helpful and the prices were excellent.

About you

How long have you been a Global Discovery Vacations member?
Three years.

Why did you join the club?
Wanted to travel with our family more, and have always preferred condos over hotels with kids.

How many trips have you taken using your membership?
Five.

Why do you think traveling is important?
I choose experiences over things! Traveling with our family builds positive memories and experiences together that we don’t really get at home with all the daily distractions, electronics, friends, jobs, etc. My kids will not remember what toys they got for Christmas, or how much they loved those super-expensive shoes, but they will remember hiking over the lava and how incredibly hot it was from just a few feet away!

Photos courtesy of member Karyn B.

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.

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