Hawaii Volcanoes National Park | 54/59

Before we even got to the Big Island, I was excited.  We have heard amazing things about the island and wanted to not only visit, but to “evaluate” if  you will.  A big part of our trip around the U.S. we have been trying to take note as to where we could potentially settle down.  And what we found on the Big Island did NOT disappoint!

Baby Theo just started to smile and it’s EVERYTHING. Also he is the best plane baby, he does so so well!

We came from Maui and landed in Kona!

We had to stop and see the beautiful LDS temple before heading to Kailua to snorkel!

We rented these retro masks for $1.50 and had fun with the fishies!

Okay we have to ask, who wore it best?

After snorkeling we headed to our airbnb called Hale Aloha near the south point of the island. This peaceful island cottage is nestled on a couple of acres with an eco farm and tree houses for yoga and energy healing retreats. It was absolutely the most relaxing, gorgeous place.

A short walk away is my new favorite coffee shop on the PLANET.

I want my house to look like this. It was the most incredibly peaceful place with the most relaxing energy I have ever felt. I wanted to bottle up the good energy and good smells forever.

Homemade banana bread, coconut macadamia nut shortbread cookies, cocoa, and smoothies! Yum!

Back at our airbnb farm we found this gift on the table. The hosts were so thoughtful!

They gave us a tour of the property and showed us their fruit and nut trees and tree house retreat spaces.

This inspired us so much. Now we have a dream to move to the Big Island, build an eco farm with our friends and family and work and share the land.

Also, they had baby goats. BABY GOATS. Is this not the best place in the world or what?

They loved my sister and thought her hair was a little snack. They had the worst breath in the world, but they were too cute for words.

Our host was such a wonderful person. You could just feel her love and acceptance of all living things.

Baby Theo thought everything was alright…

Then we headed to south point, the southern-most tip in the U.S. We came for the world-famous cliff jumping! The jump is about 50 feet into perfect, clear, deep water with no rocks below. It’s an awesome place to jump. You just have to get the guts to go for it!

Even though I love cliff jumping, I made my brother go first to test things out haha. Now, that I’m a mom I have definitely noticed that I’m more cautious and hesitant to just throw myself off things.

Last summer we drove all the way to Prudhoe Bay – the northern-most point in the U.S. –  and we jumped in the Arctic Ocean. Naturally, we were stoked that we got to jump off the southern-most point of the U.S. as well! Just ask me which one I liked more… haha.

Of course we had to document everyone’s jump! It’s a big jump!


Honestly, the jump is big, but it’s fun. The scariest and hardest part for me at least was climbing back up the hanging, metal ladder. The ladder swings under you and you feel like you’re going to fall backwards. It’s also pretty tiring for some reason haha. But, if you can climb up, you can definitely jump!

Look at that clear, gorgeous water. It was so warm and perfect.

After we all had enough jumping for one day, we decided we earned some malasadas from Punalu’u Bake Shop, which happens to be the southernmost bakery in the U.S. haha! (These were good, but I will say that Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu has THEE best HOT malasadas of all time. Go ahead, go there and change your life).

Later we headed to the park to take our essential sign pic and we also wanted to check out the lava lake!

From the viewing deck about a mile away we saw real lava spitting into the air from the lava lake!

The rangers said that the lava activity was especially good that week. We were super lucky! Cees was in heaven seeing lava for the first time. He pretty much ran from the car to the viewing deck.

I lava you dood.

We found a hot pot where steam was pouring out of the ground and it felt so good to steam our faces.

For our second lava viewing adventure, we rented bikes in Kalapana at the end of the road and started riding the 9-mile out and back gravel road to see lava pouring into the ocean. It was Theo’s first bike ride and we just put his car seat in the back of a bike trailer, strapped him down and zipped him up. He slept the whole time! We just love how he comes everywhere with us! He’s such a good little buddy.

Unfortunately we didn’t bring a tripod, so it was pretty hard to capture the lava flow at night – but look how cool! It was so mesmerizing to watch, that we stayed out there on the edge watching for too long! Our bike rentals were due back no later than 10:30pm and we started leaving around 10:15pm and the ride back was going to take about an hour. Oops! We were hauling, but getting pretty wiped out going up the hills, so Cees helped us and switched off pushing all of us and gave us boosts almost the whole way back. He has serious dad strength already!

Our third lava adventure was by far the raddest. We got to take a doors-off helicopter tour with Paradise Helicopters! I’ll just say straight up that this was hands down one of the best experiences of our lives (not far behind behind getting married and having Theo haha). It’s really hard to put into words how cool this was – it was nothing short of EPIC. None of us had ever been in a helicopter before, but all of us said afterwards that this should be on EVERYONE’s bucket list!

The ground crew briefed us beforehand and took all of our weights so that they could balance the seating arrangements in the helicopter. Paige sat next in between the pilot and me and Blake and Cees sat in the back.

Cees is looking really serious, but in reality, I’ve almost never seen him so excited for something.

There’s the stoke!

It was so crazy to look down at the earth from the open doors and to feel the warm air pounding the helicopter as we cut through the clouds.

Then we flew over to the spot where we had seen the lava flowing into the ocean the night before! You can see the road that we road on our bikes.

Then we got to see the surface lava flow below. It was fresh –  less than an hour old. We flew so close that we could actually FEEL the heat! It was so awesome!

Here is the lava lake – it’s not the same one that was spitting lava that we saw from a mile away at the observation deck in the National Park the other day, but I am glad we saw it first to give us perspective.  It definitely looks way cooler from up above!

After we got to experience the lava up close, our pilot took us over some other really cool sights.

A sea of trees.

The prettiest waterfalls.

Some broccoli trees.


Our hair got whipped, our minds were blown, our eyes will never forget the epic beauty we saw.

Everything that we brought on the helicopter had to have a strap on it, or else they wouldn’t let you take it for risk of it flying out the door and hitting a propeller and us crashing and dying. So Cees made sure to make a phone strap. (yes that is a quick medical tape job – not recommended.)

My hair will never be the same.

Thank you pilot Rob and Paradise Helicopters for one of the best experiences of our lives! Our stoke was level 100 for days after the trip, and we couldn’t stop talking about it!

We decided to hike to rainbow falls right afterwards, because we are crazy and had to jam so many fun things in everyday. To get there we had to cross this water. I wonder if Theo will look back on these photos someday and think his parents are awesome, or just nuts…?

Rainbow Falls was stunning, totally secluded and quiet (we were the only ones there) even though it’s located right off a main road.

I think we should start a collection of photos of random places baby Theo has slept haha. We tucked him in between some rocks and made a tent for him to nap under. He’s such a good sport.

Here’s my cute mom Sandy, can you believe she’s a grandma?! I mean Sandma.


Pro tip #1 when traveling with a baby: bring a Sandma. It’s the best having so much help! Cees and I actually got to swim in the magical waterfall together instead of one at a time.

As if this wasn’t already the longest, best day ever, we decided to really max it out and hike out to Green Sand Beach. A word of caution – it’s a LOT farther than you think, but worth it. It took us at least a couple hours to walk each way. We ended up hiking back in the dark haha.

Theo loves uncle Blakey. I heard Blake whispering to him about how the earth was formed while they were hiking haha.

You can actually hitch a ride in the back of one of the local’s trucks for a fee of around $15 too, if you don’t want to hike. But, we loved hiking! Going slow, allowed us time to enjoy the pretty landscape.

Check it out – Green Sand Beach!

Green Sand Beach is green because of olivine sand.

Theo started getting tired and a little fussy, but Sandma started talking to him and he looked at her like she was promising him the world.

We hiked back by the glow of the sunset and then by the light of the moon. It was one of the most beautiful nights I have ever enjoyed. It was the kind of night that you want to bottle up and save the light, the smell, the warmth, and the good vibes forever just to relive it all again. I couldn’t even get close to capturing how perfect it was.

It was the perfect ending to our new favorite island. We left feeling inspired by the land, the possibilities, and the beauty. As Cees put it, “it looks like Idaho, and then there’s an ocean.” We loved the variation of rolling hills, grassy farmlands, lush jungles, sharp cliffs, and sandy beaches. And it’s so big that you don’t even get that island fever. It might be the perfect place to live someday. I hope we get to spend a lot more time here because 3 days was not NEARLY enough. I would go for at least 10 days next time, but let’s make that 10 years!

Next stop: Oahu!



  1. 1. I’ll totally go in on an eco resort with you. The Big Island is my number one favorite island!

    2. I’m super sad there’s no vlog, but it just means we all have to go back together (2021, it’s happening!)

    3. Ultra jealous of the helicopter ride. So rad!!

    • Cees

      The vlog is coming, don’t you worry. BUT, I will still go back in 2021! Actually, we may be living there by then haha.

  2. Kerri Taylor

    looking at your photos and reading about your adventures is so therapeutic for me. It’s like a peaceful session of meditation, full of love, good energy, beautiful places and beautiful peoples! Love you guys! Xx

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