I’ve been to the big island of Hawaii a handful of times, but with every return trip I find myself falling in love with something new. From sampling dangerously delicious goodies at the local farmers markets to exploring towering waterfalls, there are countless ways to engage your senses. It's one of the few places I don't mind getting soaked by a surprise rainstorm, and no matter where you are on the island the food is just as amazing as the scenery.

Earlier this afternoon I checked in to the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which is an easy half-hour drive from the Kona International Airport. Not only does the hotel boast incredible ocean views from just about every spot, but guests are treated to an impressive display of native flora and fauna thriving on the property. I wandered around the hotel grounds with my camera, and within a few minutes of leaving my room I was barefoot on the sand. One splash of the 80something degree water was all it took to convince me to wade out up to my knees. It's not the kind of beach where you can lay out or swim, but experiencing the feeling of blissfully warm ocean water while watching the sun light up the sky is definitely the perfect way to end your day.

After catching the sunset, I met up with my new travel buddies and headed to the nearby Queen’s Marketplace to grab sushi at Sansei. There are plenty of restaurants at the Hilton, but there are even more eateries and shops just a few minutes away. Options are always a great thing…

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