June 22, 2021
As the kids are headed back home after an amazing two weeks in Kona and Kauai, tears fell while parting ways to their separate gates. Our last couple of days on the water were an unforgettable experience. Saturday was our first scuba lesson in the open water, where we did the first open water dives for our certification. The LODs, Ben and Ella, prepared a delicious breakfast of oatmeal, coffee, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, as the group had yet again an early morning and long day ahead. The group was split into 2 boats, each traveling to different diving locations along the Gold Coast to complete two 40 minute dives. Harper and Ella were brave and quickly conquered one of the hardest parts of certification, fully taking of their masks underwater and putting it back on.
All groups swam with hundreds of species of fish and marine life in the surrounding coral. We learned that Kona is known as the “Gold Coast” due to the plentiful schools of Yellow Tang, the bright yellow fish that illuminated our day of diving. Ben cheered on the divers and took outstanding action shots while snorkeling alongside us. After an extensive morning on the boat, we rewarded ourselves with incredible locally made açaí bowls. For dinner, the LODs cooked a collaboration of different types of pasta, including macaroni and cheese, pesto, and Mariana sauce. Jack, Jacob, and Jones decided to spice up their meal by combining the macaroni and cheese with pesto, which ended up tasting very flavorful.
The next morning, everyone woke up eagerly, as it was scuba certification day! On this special day, our LODs, Sally and Griffin pumped up everyone’s morale with an amazing queue of songs on the ride into the harbor. Our boat ride started off with a pleasant surprise of a show by an abundance of wild dolphins off the coast of Kona. Griffin was especially excited about this and was elated to be close in proximity to these amazing marine mammals. Although tempted, Harper restrained from jumping in to swim with the dolphins. Instead, we all marveled at the dolphins’ beauty and their playfulness as they jumped in our boat’s wake. After watching the dolphins enjoy their time in the water, we were all the more excited to jump in for our dive. Our final two dives were remarkable and finished with huge smiles on all the newly certified divers’ faced.
The group was thrilled to add the PADI Open Water SCUBA certification to their list of ever-growing talents. We were all so proud of Claire overcoming her fear of removing her goggles underwater. Cooper swam with grace, pulling out dance moves and flips on the ocean floor. After completing the dive, Jones and Jack lead the celebration on the boat with a dance party. The newly certified divers spent the afternoon shopping for the perfect outfit for our big night of hula and ukulele lessons. Dressed to impress (in full Hawaiian attire of course), our group joined another Hawaiian Islands trip for a group dinner at the campsite. The combined event was a blast for both groups! Jacob led our group in whipping up breakfast for dinner to share with HWI B. Jack scrambled eggs and supervised the bacon while Claire flipped pancakes. The groups learned new moves and hula combinations, with Harper being the star student. Ella impressed everyone with her natural talents on the ukulele.
After our nighttime lessons, the group moved into an impromptu homecoming dance. Of course Jones was the DJ and performed a few solos for everyone. After sending off the other folks, our group ended the night with s’mores under the stars. Knowing the trip was quickly coming to an end, everyone decided to sleep outside together for one last hoorah. We started our last day together with a trip to the southernmost bakery in the United States, Punalu’u. Here we enjoyed Portuguese doughnuts that had an island flare of mango, guava, and lilikoi. We then headed up the beautiful coast, everyone enjoying the ocean views for the last time. The group hit all the hot spots one last time and enjoyed açaí bowls. Sally and Ella jumped for joy for one last cup of Kona Haven coffee. Before dinner Griffin enjoyed an appetizer of spam musubi and shared with those willing to try the local snack. The trip ended with a banquet dinner at a local restaurant with an amazing ocean view. Fish tacos, burgers, and Hawaiian pizzas were enjoyed by all. The final van ride to the airport had tears flowing as the group’s favorite songs were played. Numerous rounds of hugs went around as everyone forced themselves to say goodbye to their new best friends and leave the beautiful island. We are so thankful to have spent the last two weeks with this incredible group of kids but are very sad to send them home. Mahalo for the best two weeks in Hawaii!!
Molly, Vivian, and Jack
June 19, 2021
Aloha from the Big Island!
While we were sad to leave Kauai behind, Hawaii or the ‘Big Island’ blew us away with its unique beauty. On Tuesday, we made the journey here from Kauai on a quick 45-minute flight, catching views of this island’s massive volcanoes from the air.
Before departing Kauai, we accounted for all our gear and cleaned up our campsite. Harper led everyone on a trash sweep of the area and Jones helped detail our van like a pro. We made our last stop to grab some açaí bowls, and then we said our final goodbye to the beautiful garden isle.
On the ground at the Kona airport, we stared up the seemingly never-ending slope of one of the volcanic mountains. What an incredible place! With the mountain in view wherever we went, we celebrated our arrival with pizza on the beach and drove to our new campsite.
For our first full day on the island, we had a chance to explore! We went on a beautiful seaside hike to visit the unique green sands beach on the island’s southern shore. Claire ran straight to the water once we arrived, while Jack and Cooper climbed up to a craggy overlook of the bay. Later we settled into our campsite, surrounded by papaya and banana trees. Jacob and Cooper whipped up some delicious burgers and a Hawaiian favorite, spam! The group’s verdict: very salty, but tasty with great texture.
On Thursday half of the group suited up, checked their tanks, and jumped in for the first day of scuba certification! Everyone worked really hard and practiced all of the skills we’ll need for our open water dive. Harper was especially quick to learn and was one of the first ones to take her mask off underwater during the most challenging section of the lesson.
Meanwhile, the other half of the group explored Kona in the morning and visited a local botanical garden in the afternoon. Griffin grabbed a map and became our tour guide for the garden visit, and later Jacob, Claire & Sally signed their names on the leaves of an autograph tree.
After the day’s activities, our group joined up again to cook dinner on one of Kona’s gorgeous beaches where we found bunches of white wildflowers and a sea turtle taking a nap in the evening sun!
After dinner and a short walk from the beach, we boarded a ship and headed out to the world-famous manta ray village. The boat ride out was gorgeous, right into the sunset. Ben rode up top with the captain the whole way. At our destination, we put on wetsuits and floated right on top of a favorite dinner spot for manta rays. Illuminated by massive LED lights, the mantas dazzled us with graceful loop-de-loops, scooping up mouthfuls of plankton and coming within inches of us on the surface. It was a real manta RAVE!
The next day we traded places. The rest of the group learned the basics of scuba while everyone else went and explored the city of Kona. Griffin and Sally’s instructor remarked that they were the quickest learners he had ever taught, and they finished well ahead of schedule. Over in Kona the rest of the group jaunted down the beachfront strip, with Ella snapping photos the whole way.
Once we met up that afternoon, our next stop was Hawaii’s most active volcano! Looking down into Mt. Kīlauea we saw a massive steaming crater that looked like an otherworldly Grand Canyon. Along the way we stopped by steaming cracks in the volcanic rock, smoothly shaped like flowing magma frozen in place. Jacob and Cooper were rocking matching pink shorts. Once back at the campsite we had the perfect conclusion to our day with some beef and fajita tacos chef’d up by Jack and Jacob. It’s been an incredible past few days here on the big island, and the group couldn’t be more excited for our first open water scuba dives!
More to come soon,
Jack, Vivian, and Molly
Everyone has some notes to their amazing fathers for this Sunday!
Harper: Hi Father! Happy Father’s Day. I know you are so sad that your favorite child isn’t there with you, but I hope you enjoy the gift that I helped mother design. I also know you’re really bored without me there, but you will get through it. I hope Waylon is doing well and isn’t getting too big. If you shaved your beard, I hope you took before and after pictures. Hawaii has been absolutely amazing, and I love everyone in my group. Also tell Paige that I bought her something. Miss y’all and love y’all so much.
Cooper: Hey Dad!!! Happy Father’s Day! I hope you Mom, Murray, and Mavis are good. I hope they aren’t too stressed out without me there. I can’t wait to hear how you and Mom’s mini trip was! I’m having SO MUCH FUN in Hawaii!!!! Y’all are gonna have to come drag me off the island. We need to start camping as a family btw. We also need to invest in a Spike Ball set. I miss y’all and wish we were celebrating together!! I love y’all!! Let’s go to Barbacoa again when I get back!! See y’all soon! Aloha!!
Ella: Yo John!! What’s up dawg??? I’ve been dressing like u this whole trip; I think the rainbow flips are really selling it. Would you believe it if I told you, I kayaked 17 miles on Monday and hiked 6 miles today?? I think I am superman. I hope ur Alaska trip was good and that u went on tons of runs! I see u next week and we will watch the two new Loki episodes. I am very excited. Tell mom and Debra I say hello! I am sorry I’m not with u today, but I hope u like my gift (if mom didn’t give it to you, it’s in my bedside table) going to go try Spam right now, wish me luck. I love you and can’t wait to see you soon!!! Xoxo ur favorite daughter.
Sally: Hey dad! I miss you so much and I’m sorry I can’t be around for Father’s Day. You are the best father anyone could ask for, and I can’t wait to tell you about Hawaii when I come back. I’ve already gone surfing twice and had so much fun. You would absolutely love surfing here. I hope Richmond isn’t too boring without me! Once again, I still miss you so much. Thank you for always being there for me and being a great role model. See you in a couple of days! Love you!
Claire: happy Father’s Day dad!! I don’t have much time to write this bc im doing my PADI thing but I left u a note in ur present. I hope u have the best day ever and I can’t wait to see u when I get home! Tell everyone I love them too!!!! Xoxo
Jacob: Happy Father’s Day dad! I miss you so much and am disappointed I can’t spend the day with you. I’m thinking we should try to surf together when I get back. Thank you for always being there for me. I love you so much!
Griffin: Happy Fathers Day! Thanks for reactivating my debit card! So far we have done surfing, sea kayaking, and community service. I’m starting diving tomorrow Kauai was really beautiful, and now we are on the actual island of Hawaii. Miss you, and I’m excited to see you next week!
Ben: Happy Fathers Day! I miss you a lot, I’ll tell you all about Hawaii when I return. I know you miss me more than the sisters. I love you and see you next weekend.
Jones: Happy Father’s Day! Miss you and the fam! See you soon!
Jack: Happy Father’s Day! I miss you. Thank you for everything you do for me. See you soon.
June 16, 2021
Lots of exciting times have been happening here on Kauai! We now have 10 new surfers ready to go pro. Our group had our first surfing lesson in Kilauea Bay and spent the day learning to catch waves. Sally, one of our most experienced surfers gave pro tips to the first timers. Claire was very impressive and gracefully stepped off her board after riding waves to shore. Our first surfing lesson was a huge success with everyone nailing the stand up and riding the waves in! We celebrated our first surfing lesson with Oreos, specially requested by Ben.
After our surfing lesson, we went back to our campsite for lunch and played a few dozen rounds of highly competitive spike ball- Jacob and Cooper are reigning champs. After lunch we took a beautiful drive to the world-famous Hanalei Bay. This beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay was the perfect place to spend our afternoon playing in the ocean. There were several more games of spike ball while Griffin taught the rest of the group different ways to throw the frisbee on the beach. After the beach, our Leaders of the Day, Claire and Jacob, led the group in cooking Hawaiian fried rice at the campsite.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and our usual alarm to a chorus of roosters. Today’s Leaders of the Day, Jones and Harper, whipped up banana pancakes and chocolate chip pancakes while we jammed out to Jack Johnson. After breakfast we headed to the south side of the island to Poipu beach to master our surfing skills. This drive was DJ’d by Harper, with special Taylor Swift duets by Jack and Jones. It was a beautiful day on the beach and the group had an amazing time! After a quick nap, we went to visit Hanapepe, the town that Lilo and Stitch was based on. Ella was excited to visit the western-most bookstore in the United States. We then headed up the coast to Principe to see the Queen’s Bath. This excursion was a quick hike down to the coast that was covered in volcanic rocks. We saw rainbows and sea turtles and explored the tidal pools. Jack led the group around the shore as we explored. We made it back to camp for a beautiful sunset and started our Iron Chef cook-off for dinner. Our appetizer team, Cooper, Jones, and Ella started the competition off strong with a choice between avocado toast and sweet French toast. The dinner team, Jacob, Sally, and Claire went for a classic quesadilla cooked on the griddle. And to top it off, our dessert team, Jack, Harper, Ben, and Griffin made brownie pancakes with a twist- Oreos in the middle. Overall, the competition was a crowd pleaser!
Monday was quite a big day! Our LODs, Jack and Sally led the 4:30am wakeup call and rounded up the group to head to the Na Pali coast for a sea kayaking. We loaded our kayaks with a beautiful sunrise on our backs. At first Jones and Ben had a little trouble balancing their kayaks but that was quickly mastered. Harper and Sally led the pack as we made our way along the coast and went into sea caves that were breathtaking. We stopped for lunch on a beach that was previously a World War II landing strip. We all enjoyed pineapples, Maui chips, and “the best sandwiches ever” according to Claire. After lunch we finished the remaining 5 miles and made it to the west side of the island. Everyone cheered when we landed on the beach after completing 17 miles! We celebrated in the ocean and discussed the cost that we saw change from jungle to desert along our journey. As an end to the day, we stopped at a local restaurant for burgers and loaded teriyaki fries. This adventure was the perfect end to our time on Kauai. We’re all sad to leave the beautiful Garden Isle, but ready to SCUBA! Big Island here we come!
Vivian, Molly, and Jack
June 12, 2021
Aloha from Kauai!
Our crew has been very busy the past few days in Hawaii! Everyone enjoyed delicious snow cones and pizza on the first night in paradise as a warm welcome to the island.
Our first two full days of the trip has consisted of our service portion at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. On Thursday, with help from our new best friends Mickey and Joel, the group refurbished a gravel path that had been washed away from a flood back in March. Jack and Jacob crushed it when shoveling the gravel into buckets. Jones was amazing during his many trips down the path with the wheelbarrow full of the gravel.
This work was truly a team effort and everyone was rewarded with a special hike to the garden’s hidden waterfall. We ended our first full day with swimming, spaghetti, and a rainbow.
The next morning we woke up to crowing roosters and a beautiful sunrise. Cooper and Ben were picked as our first leaders of the day and rounded up the group to leave on time during our busy morning.
As we participated in our last day of service, our guide, Amanda, gave us a tour of the entire garden. This included the Moreton Bay fig trees that were featured in Jurassic Park! We worked on cutting invasive species from palm trees, adding mulch to under each palm tree, and clearing trails. Griffin has continued to impress everyone with his knowledge and fun facts. Claire worked hard by raking the debris that was cut by other group members.
After a long and hot day, we made a special stop for açaí bowls at a local fresh fruit market. All of the kids have really bonded as we spent the late afternoon and night at our campsite playing spike ball, frisbee, and chicken fighting in the water. Harper and Ella have kept the laughter flowing and entertain us all. For dinner, the group raved over the fajitas and veggies that Sally prepped.
The day finished with another jaw dropping sunset, fry baked brownie, and Moonup. We are so excited for our surfing and other adventures on the garden island!
Molly, Vivian, and Jack
June 10, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 1D Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Kauai last night, and they are off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!
– Moondance HQ