MKTG INC Rewards: Big Rewards on the Big Island

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Each quarter, MKTG INC staffers select one lucky MKTGer for a reward trip to a destination of their choosing. Upon their return, winners are asked to report on their trip and make us all sick with envy. Here’s the rewards recap of Brandon Lee, Senior Account Executive, in MKTG INC’s New York City office.

Most people don’t get to travel and write about their experiences for a living. I… also don’t get paid to do this. But for one day, I get to tell you about the Rewards Trip I took to the Island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island. The Big Island is aptly named – it’s more than twice the size of any other Hawaiian island and the breadth of what you can see there makes you feel tiny and insignificant – in a good way. Here are some things I’ll never forget about my trip:

Manta Rays
In Kona, manta rays with wingspans of 12-16 feet gather nightly to feed on plankton. We went with Kamanu charters to snorkel among them as they glided and somersaulted underwater in search of dinner, occasionally brushing up against us in doing so. The first time seeing one of these creatures appear just inches beneath me was breathtaking, and I could hear everyone else’s excited yelps through their snorkel masks. The boat ride there wasn’t bad either, catching a beautiful sunset with humpback whales swimming by.

Volcano National Park
Due to the current flow location, I’ll have to make another trip to Big Island to catch a view of lava up close, but even seeing the bright orange glow from afar at night in Volcano National Park was awesome. During the day, we drove the Chain of Craters Road, passing previously active craters and ending with epic views over oceanside cliffs, created by old lava flows. We also hiked across the crater of the most recent volcanic eruption on Big Island, the Kilauea Iki Trail. It’s pretty crazy to walk past steam vents and stand on what was a lake of lava just decades ago.

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Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea is largely considered the world’s best location for stargazing, which makes it good enough for a sunset too. The drive up to Mauna Kea alone nearly sidetracked us into missing sundown, with amazing views in all directions, but we made it to the summit in time, perched ourselves on a rock and watched the sun slowly disappear over craters on the horizon. After night fell, the sky was still amazingly bright because of all the stars and planets that I never see from NYC.

Poke
I don’t normally get excited about tuna sushi here on the east coast, but tuna (poke) in Hawaii is a completely different story. The tuna by itself is silky, and delicious, but Hawaiians take it to another level, adding onions, sesame oil, seaweed, and sesame seeds. The finished result is a food worthy of the top-rated US restaurant on Yelp (Pro-tip: hit up Umeke’s as well to decide which poke is better – I won’t judge you).

After this trip, I have to say that Big Island is my favorite island in Hawaii, and I couldn’t have had this experience if it wasn’t for MKTG and all my co-workers, so thank you for your support. If you are ever planning a trip there, let me know and I’ll gladly share my Google map/recommendations. There are plenty of coral reefs, black sand beaches, sea turtles, waterfalls, caves, plate lunch restaurants, and shave ice spots we also got to enjoy during our vacation.

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