Hilo: The Vacation of a Lifetime

Being asked to be a part of a wedding is a huge honor. But being asked to be a bridesmaid in a Hawaiian wedding is on a whole different level. When Chelbie asked me to stand by her side to marry her high school sweetheart, I was over the moon.

Chelbie was Damaris’ (my sister) volleyball teammate in college, so I met her while visiting. I was still a high school youngin’ that didn’t know where I wanted to go to college yet. After meeting Chelbie, I instantly felt like I had another big sister. It’s no coincidence that I followed their footsteps and signed a contract to play volleyball at the same school they did.

When Damaris and I accepted Chelbie’s invitation to be bridesmaids in her wedding, we instantly looked into flights, hotels, condos, and fun activities to do while we were there. Damaris, my mom, and I ended up booking a condo in Hilo, Chelbie’s hometown. Hilo is located on the big island.
During our 1 week Hawaiian vacation, we saw things I never would have dreamed of. Here are a few of my favorite memories:

  • Chelbie and Nolan’s wedding overlooked the bright blue ocean and palm trees, and it was the most beautiful ceremony you could ever imagine.
  • There are no plastic bags anywhere and very few paper bags are offered at grocery stores. This is something that stuck with me and I’ve made a conscious effort to use reusable grocery bags ever since.
  • The rocky black shore in Hilo was unlike any beach I’ve been to. Sinking your toes into black sand is such a cool experience!
  • The FOOD, aka one of the best parts of traveling
    • Ken’s Pancake House was our go-to breakfast spot. Come to find out, it’s owned by The Rock’s relatives. We ate there two mornings in a row, and ordered the same exact thing both times. You know a restaurant is good when each table is full no matter what time it is!
    • The wedding meal consisted of Lomi Salmon, Chicken Long Rice, Squid Luau (luau lleaf, coconut milk, squid), and Laulau (pork, fat for flavor, luau leaf, sometimes fish). Laulau is traditionally wrapped in tea leaf and slow cooked in an “imu”, which is a pit in the ground. Poi is one of many popular starches in Hawaii, and is made from the taro plant, also called “Kalo”. Haupia is Chelbie’s ultimate favorite dessert. It’s made with coconut milk and is so sweet and creamy. Kalua Pig, what we know as Pulled Pork, is also slow cooked in the ground or an imu. White rice is also very popular!
    • Homemade crepes, sushi,”Poke” raw fish (ahi), doughnuts, and lots of delicious cocktails were also part of the diet plan for the week 🙂 Oh… and they put sweetened condensed milk in their shaved ice in Hawaii. To. Die. For.

  • Seeing volcanoes in person was a blast. We went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park around 7 pm one night. It was raining, but seeing the sunset beneath lava-filled mountains was breathtaking.
  • Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm was so much fun! These are easy to find in the states, but seeing where they were made was pretty cool. They cover macadamia nuts in chocolate, Maui onion & garlic, coffee, and butter glaze. Count me in!
  • We learned so much at the Pacific Tsunami Museum. It’s dedicated to the history of the 1946 Pacific tsunami and the 1960 Chilean tsunami which devastated much of the east coast of the Big Island, especially Hilo.
  • There was a group of about 6 Quincy alumni’s that traveled from the states to make it to Chelbie and Nolan’s wedding. And to our surprise, the wedding MC called us to the front of the stage to dance with hula dancers and kids (in front of hundreds of people). It was HILARIOUS and such a blast.


  • It’s taboo to take rocks from the ocean as a souvenir. We heard many stories from people on the island proclaiming the bad luck of people who took rocks.
  • Chelbie’s family saw us off at the airport with handmade leis, Hawaiian earrings, tons of goodies from Big Island Candies, and lots and lots of hugs and tears. Having a second family across the country, that you only get to see every few years, is completely indescribable.

Being exposed to different cultures is by far my favorite part of traveling. We also learned that Hilo, Hawaii is one of the rainiest cities in the country. It rained off and on every single day that we were there, EXCEPT for Chelbie and Nolan’s wedding day. They could not have asked for a more beautiful day. I remember being a little bummed every time it would rain, but it usually passed within a few minutes. The funny thing is, when I look back on our trip, the rain is the last thing I think about. A little rain could never trump the amazing food, people, and experiences we were able to have.

If you don’t have a trip to Hawaii on your bucket list, I highly recommend adding it. It’s unlike any other place. The culture is so unique and the people are so proud to be a part of it.

Mahalo for the memories!

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