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Completely satisfied August! My July break completely flew by… And I didn’t bake a single factor all month. Not one.

Loopy, proper??

I believe that is the longest I’ve gone with out baking something since… Hmm… My freshman yr of school after I lived within the dorms and didn’t have my very own kitchen??

Nevertheless… I used to be simply so busy doing different issues! I went to a musical with my grandma and her greatest buddy, celebrated my belated birthday with them too (which included an extremely decadent chocolate cake from a neighborhood bakery!), replanted herbs in my little backyard, and had a beautiful digital espresso date with considered one of my greatest mates from highschool. 

And talking of espresso dates…

Let’s faux you and I are having one! As a result of I’m itching to inform you all about my additional particular trip with my mother. 

So seize some espresso or tea (iced or sizzling, I gained’t decide!), and I’ll spill all the small print!

Palm trees on the beach of the Marriott in Waikoloa, Big Island of Hawaii

In mid-July, my mother traveled to the large island of Hawaii for enterprise. Her work allowed her to deliver one visitor, and since my dad already had plans to backpack a part of the Pacific Crest Path, she invited me alongside.

When all conferences had been cancelled on her second day of enterprise, we ended up with three full days to calm down and discover. So listed below are a number of the issues we did!

View from the Marriott Waikoloa lobby on the Big Island of Hawaii

We stayed on the Marriott in Waikoloa. It’s proper on the ocean. You actually stroll straight from the swimming pools out into the seashore! (It was most likely the perfect seashore we visited throughout our journey, too!)

And talking of the swimming pools…

View of the Marriott Waikoloa pools on the Big Island of Hawaii

We spent as a lot time there as humanly doable. Mornings, evenings, the whole lot in between! We each completely loved the waterslide (particularly my mother… I misplaced monitor of what number of instances she raced down it!), and I cherished the pool with a sandy lagoon-like backside essentially the most.

A number of instances throughout our journey, we additionally relaxed within the spacious open-air foyer. I sat at a desk overlooking the ocean someday to work on a crossword (I’m obsessive about these puzzles!), and we lounged on a snug couch one other day to look at a free hula efficiency. So enjoyable!

The one draw back? We couldn’t keep on trip indefinitely and needed to go dwelling!

The Vanillerie, vanilla bean farm tour, near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Vanillerie
As a baking-obsessed particular person, this was the highest spotlight of the journey for me! We stumbled throughout a vanilla bean farm tour in Kona, a couple of half hour south of our lodge, and we stopped by for the final tour slot of the day.

The Vanillerie proprietor, Man Cellier, had earned his PhD and was an extremely good man, however you’d by no means understand it from his humble character. He patiently defined every a part of the vanilla bean rising, harvesting, and drying processes as he walked us by the viney crops, and I realized a lot as he talked, like how…

Guy Cellier giving a vanilla bean tour at the Vanillerie on the Big Island of Hawaii

›› Vanilla crops are literally orchids, and the flowers solely bloom for 4 hours yearly. That’s it!

›› All vanilla orchids have to be pollinated by hand. It requires an extremely delicate contact… And a barely shocking technique!

›› All of their vanilla beans are additionally picked by hand. On the Vanillerie, their head picker, JR Pataray, gently plucks them from the vine (after which makes certain he doesn’t miss any of the dear pods!).

Young vanilla beans on a vine at the Vanillerie on the Big Island of Hawaii

›› The Vanillerie additionally dries their vanilla beans by hand, utilizing the new daylight on the Kona coast. If dried accurately, vanilla beans even have an indefinite shelf life. They by no means go dangerous!

›› The outsides of the vanilla bean pods are simply as flavorful because the caviar (these little pinprick-sizes seeds!) inside. So don’t throw away these outer elements!

Guy Cellier showing hand-dried vanilla beans at the Vanillerie | Big Island of Hawaii

We realized so way more (that’s only a teensy snippet of the tour!), and we obtained a scoop of candy and splendid vanilla bean ice cream made with the Vanillerie’s vanilla beans on the finish of the tour. The present store additionally offered all types of enjoyable merchandise, starting from common vanilla extract and vanilla sugar grinders to vanilla bean lotion and physique scrub… And nearly the whole lot in between.

In fact… I simply had to buy a package to make my very own vanilla at dwelling utilizing their beans. Keep tuned for the way that goes!

Backside line? In case you get pleasure from baking — or consuming something made with vanilla! — then I 1,000% extremely suggest stopping by the Vanillerie for a tour! Undoubtedly my favourite a part of our journey!

A misty, cloudy day in Cloud Forest on the Big Island of Hawaii

Cloud Forest
Whereas in Kona, we drove up the Hualālai mountain into Cloud Forest, aptly named due to the thick clouds encompassing the land, roads, and homes that sit up on the mountain. After we began on the base, it was 92°F and extremely sizzling and humid…

However by the point we bought partway up, we had been utterly surrounded by clouds, fog, and mist. We even drove by torrential downpours partway by!

View of the Big Island of Hawaii Kona coast from Cloud Forest

However the views… Oh my goodness. We appeared out from the winding street and will simply see the coast, ocean, and exquisite sunshine streaming down onto each. Completely breathtaking.

It’s a very completely different world up there… And a pleasant little break from the beating sizzling solar!

Bags of 100% Kona coffee from Mountain Thunder on the Big Island of Hawaii

Mountain Thunder Espresso Plantation
Whereas up in Cloud Forest, we stopped by the Mountain Thunder Espresso Plantation for a espresso bean tour. Fortunately, it was all indoors (it drizzled all the time!), and our information confirmed us the roasting course of from begin to end.

We started by freshly picked espresso beans (they’re truly brilliant purple, like cranberries!), noticed the looks of the beans as soon as these colourful skins had been eliminated, and walked by their facility that separates the “common” espresso beans from the “peaberry” ones (the latter are spherical and considerably bigger, so consuming 7 peaberry beans is supposedly the caffeine equal of 1 cup of espresso!).

Freshly picked coffee beans, Mountain Thunder coffee tour, Big Island of Hawaii

From there, we checked out the roaster. As a result of the climate and temperatures range a lot in Cloud Forest, they nonetheless decide when the beans are finished roasting fully by sight and sound. (Many espresso services program the roasting machine to do it routinely for them as a substitute!) We realized concerning the distinction between American (mild), Vienna (medium), and French (darkish) roasts, noticed the packaging and grinding room, then…

Headed again to the present store for samples! They course of and roast a couple of hundred kilos of their very own beans proper there from their Mountain Thunder farm, however additionally they course of and roast hundreds of further kilos of beans from different smaller farms on the Large Island.

Though my mother hates the style of espresso, I nonetheless sipped on a few of Mountain Thunder’s Cloud Forest Property Vienna roast espresso. It’s pretty costly since they develop, harvest, and roast the whole lot by hand, however the ensuing espresso tasted scrumptious!

Fast observe: It may be hit and miss whether or not you find yourself with an excellent tour information. Ours sounded a bit bored and like she may most likely give the tour in her sleep, but it surely was nonetheless fascinating to study all the espresso rising and roasting course of!

Replica temple at the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii

Place of Refuge
We truly noticed the Place of Refuge highlighted on the Hawaii TV channel one night whereas stress-free earlier than mattress in our lodge room, and one thing instantly drew me to the Tiki-like wood statues prominently featured in this system. Mother sounded too, so we drove south on our final full day to take a look at the nationwide historic park.

The Place of Refuge is a really sacred place to Hawaiians. Though as soon as the placement of royal grounds, it’s barely extra well-known as a vacation spot for the lawbreakers that sought refuge there (therefore the “Place of Refuge!”). If anybody broke a sacred regulation, known as kapu, they’d be sentenced to loss of life… Except they managed to evade their capturers, swim to the Place of Refuge, and climb ashore previous the harmful black lava rocks. As soon as on land on the Place of Refuge, ceremonies could be held to forgive the lawbreakers, and so they may then return again to society.

Ki'i wooden statues at the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii

We walked throughout the cove, studying our information maps and marveling on the numerous stops alongside the self-guided tour. The grand statues (known as “ki’i”) stood in the midst of it, proper subsequent to the huge 18-foot-wide stone wall (made with zero mortar or glue holding the outsized stones collectively — they’re merely stacked on prime of and round one another!). Every wood statue had a really tall headdress, and the extreme peak indicated their royal standing. I can solely think about how heavy these headdresses will need to have been… Regardless that the real-life royals wore ones constituted of feathers, somewhat than wooden!

We additionally checked out the canoe homes, sacred temple, and outsized stone straight outdoors of the wall overlooking the serene turquoise ocean, supposedly one of many king’s favourite resting locations.

View of the ocean from the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii

On our means out, we noticed a couple of vacationers taking pictures of a brilliant yellow wall on the entrance, and one thing clicked into place in my mind…

“We got here right here after I was 9 or 10!” I exclaimed to my mother. “I bear in mind this yellow wall, the narration buttons… And the work of historical Hawaiians!”

By some means, I didn’t bear in mind the hanging wood Tiki-like statues… However the peace and serenity of the Place of Refuge was undoubtedly price a go to!

(There’s additionally a seashore close by with fairly good snorkeling!)

Lunchtime ocean views from the Lava Lava Beach Club on the Big Island of Hawaii

Lava Lava Seaside Membership
When Mother drove me from the airport to the lodge, she excitedly identified the signal for the Lava Lava Seaside Membership, only one driveway previous to our lodge’s car parking zone. As we walked across the lodge grounds, ready for the employees to wash our room so we may verify in, she identified the restaurant once more, situated a brief stroll down the seashore, so I knew we had been going to eat there a minimum of as soon as… If no more!

And naturally, that’s precisely what we did.

We met up along with her two coworkers and their important others for dinner on the Lava Lava Seaside Membership one night. We arrived early, round 5:15 pm, for the reason that restaurant doesn’t take reservations and instantly fills up within the blink of a watch as a result of…

Sunset view from the Lava Lava Beach Club on the Big Island of Hawaii

It’s actually on the seashore! About half of the tables and chairs truly sit on the sand, and since the restaurant faces due west, that provides visitors the picture-perfect view of the sundown.

We ended up on the desk with the absolute best view, and as we talked and ate, I truly slipped off my sandals and dug my toes straight into the sand. Consuming contemporary seafood (shrimp for me, the featured fish catch of the day for nearly everybody else!), sand between my toes, watching the solar gracefully slip down the sky and paint it gorgeous tangerine and dusty rose hues…

Life actually doesn’t get higher than that.

Properly, till the dessert menu arrived! 😉

We ended up ordering two slices of Large Island lime pie and one “Kiss My Chocolate Monkey” (vanilla cake, chocolate mousse, banana custard, with extra bananas and chocolate and butterscotch sauces!) for the desk.

After which…

Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation

My mother and I headed again to the Lava Lava Seaside Membership, simply the 2 of us, for a late lunch the very subsequent day! I ordered the identical contemporary vegetable salad with shrimp, whereas Mother picked the kalua pork sliders with coconut coleslaw and extremely crispy fries.

I’ve a sense we might’ve gone again a 3rd time, if we didn’t have to go away the Large Island to fly again dwelling!

As I sat on my return flight, hovering someplace over the Pacific Ocean, I smiled to myself…

Lagoon views from the Marriott Waikoloa beach on the Big Island of Hawaii

That was the primary huge trip I’ve taken in years (aside from this transient semi-local one!), ever since I began full-time meals running a blog, and I’m so extremely glad I did. It felt so refreshing and rejuvenating to be in paradise, exploring vanilla and occasional bean farms as a substitute of the aisles of the grocery retailer… slipping on swimsuits and sandals as a substitute of aprons and oven mitts… glued to the seashore and pool as a substitute of emails and social media…

It felt so good to take a break. To calm down. To cease letting work run my life.

Don’t get me improper… I completely love that Amy’s Wholesome Baking is my full-time job, and I’m extremely grateful for the function you performed in that.

However I believe it’s necessary to do not forget that I’m Amy… Not simply Amy’s Wholesome Baking.

It’s simply as necessary to deal with myself. To attempt to put myself first, somewhat than my job.

And I actually hope you’re capable of do the identical factor in your life, too.

Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation

And now, as a result of I virtually all the time take means too many pictures… Listed below are a couple of extra from our Large Island of Hawaii trip! Beginning with our lodge (and the view from our room!)…

Afternoon view from Marriott Waikoloa hotel room on the Big Island of Hawaii
Sunset view from Marriott Waikoloa hotel room on the Big Island of Hawaii
View of the beach from the Marriott Waikoloa pool on the Big Island of Hawaii
View of the ocean from a Marriott Waikoloa hotel room on the Big Island of Hawaii
Beautiful sunset view from a Marriott Waikoloa hotel room on the Big Island of Hawaii
Palm trees, clouds and a bright blue sky in Waikoloa on the Big Island of Hawaii

Then extra from the Vanillerie and the superb vanilla bean tour…

Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation
The Vanillerie vanilla bean growing houses in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii
Vanillerie vanilla bean growing house in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii
Rows of vanilla plants at the Vanillerie on the Big Island of Hawaii

A goat! We noticed plenty of them alongside the freeway to and from Kona, together with across the lodge grounds.

A goat on the side of the road in Waikoloa on the Big Island of Hawaii

The enjoyable entryway to the Lava Lava Seaside Membership…

VW bug at the entry of the Lava Lava Beach Club on the Big Island of Hawaii
Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation

Our drive south on the west facet of the Large Island…

View driving south from Kona to the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii
View driving south from Kona to the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii

And extra from the Place of Refuge!

Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation
Ki'i wooden statute at the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii
Amy Atherton, from Amy's Healthy Baking, on a Big Island of Hawaii vacation
View of lava rock and palm trees at the Place of Refuge on the Big Island of Hawaii


How usually do you are taking time for your self? What do you do to calm down, recharge your batteries, and refill your teacup?