Big Island Inspiration

By Kate Riley May 22, 2019

Hawaii is a magical place that fills the soul and has healing properties. Every time I visit, I return with a little more aloha in my heart.

Back in March, Matt and I took our teens on a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii. I didn’t have any input in the details of this Big Island adventure, Matt planned the entire vacation, I let him take the reins and I went along for the ride, so all of the beauty I saw and all of the inspiration I gathered came to me as a surprise.

One thing I’m learning is that the more present I am in the moment, the more I’m aligned with the pulse of the universe and in tune with nature and everything around me. I’ve become even more observant by living that philosophy and as a result I feel more gratitude and more joy just noticing the little things around me.

I’m one who craves constant stimulation in the form of shape and color so I’m always up for a new adventure to a new destination because I know I’ll find inspiration there, if I just pay attention. I could go on and on about Hawaii’s natural beauty. I could share pictures of white sandy beaches and waterfalls, but I thought instead I’d share the little things that caught my eye, that gave me little moments of wonder for just being in that place at that moment.

There’s an abundance of lava rock everywhere on the Big Island and the one thing I kept noticing was how black serves as a dramatic backdrop for green leaves! Consider black paint outdoors for your fences or arbors or planters, black really shows off the beauty of lush greenery.


We stayed in Waikoloa for a few nights at the Marriott and one thing I love about hotels in Hawaii is how they’re decorated in tropical style and open to the elements.





I’m usually not a fan of hotel carpet but this wide runner is out-of-the-box and I liked its blue abstract pattern. Also notice those awesome planters, these ones in white!


Are you like me when you spy a beautiful tree with branches that look like sculpture, you stop to snap a picture? Pretty much me all.the.time. :)


Vintage Volkswagon vans are a reminder of one of the coolest eras in American history, I found this one and these rad surfboards at one of my favorite stops: the Lava Lava Beach Club.



I’ve only seen a black sand beach once before and that was in the Hana area of Maui. I had to stare at this black sand beach at Waimanu Bay for awhile just to admire the contrast of the sand against the foam of the waves, so beautiful.


Botanicals are a huge source of inspiration to me so a stop at the Botanical Garden was a welcome pit stop. Each one of these is an organic work of art.


But you don’t need to go to Hawaii to be inspired by nature, it’s everywhere if you’re present and looking for it. :)

I’ve had a few requests to share recent pictures of my family. As my kids have gotten older I’ve pulled waaaaay back on how much I share about them on social media and here on the blog because I think they should tell their own online story, so out of respect for their privacy I rarely show pictures of my children, but today I’ll make an exception, just look how much they’ve grown! I’ll leave you with a few snapshots of some of the special moments we shared.




This was my sole souvenir, this black heart shaped rock found on the beach, better than anything I could buy in a shop. I keep it on my desk as a reminder of this beautiful island.


Hawaii is always a source of immense beauty and inspiration, don’t you agree? What’s one of your favorite memories from Hawaii?



  1. I am one of your long-time readers that never comments but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I love your mix of design, travel, athletisism (is that a word) & a variety of other elements. You are very inspirational without being pretentious. You always seem to keep it “very real”. I love this journey that you are on of exploration and inspiration! Keep up the good work. It really does make a difference in a lot of peoples day!

  2. Yes, yes, I’m the one on vacation always taking photos and asking about the trees, the birds and the foliage.
    My sister took a picture while on vacation of a tree trunk with really different bark and had the photo blown up and framed. It now hangs in her house as art but most people think it’s an abstract. Your picture with the black sand was my favourite. Just gorgeous.

    • Thanks for sharing! I once took a close up of the underside of a palm tree and did the same thing! I turned it into something that looked more like a painting then printed it on a large canvas. I love it.

  3. Hi! Have been a fan of your blog for a long time.
    I just wanted to say- if that’s a lava rock, which I believe it is…you might want to send it back, as beautiful as it is. It’s considered bad luck to take lava rocks from HawaiI- specifically Pele, the goddess of fire. I know this sounds crazy in this time and age, but as a child with both parents born in Hawaii, we were always told to never touch or take them. Just do a quick google search on it! I hope this doesn’t sound insane. Just concerned!

    • It doesn’t sound insane at all! I will consider that for SURE!

  4. Oh, Kate! Tears in my eyes!
    When I was 16 my family visited Hawaii where my lifelong love affair with blue seas and palm trees began. These photos are beautiful and so are you and your family ☺️

  5. Thanks for sharing! We’re going at the end of June and I’m so excited.

  6. We visit Hawaii every year and it just never gets old! Thank you for sharing these pics! I hate to say it, but . . . You’ve got to send that lava rock back to the island. It’s BAAAAAAAAD luck to take them. Like, house burning down bad luck!

    • I know that now! I’m mailing it back to the hotel where I found it with a letter of explanation LOL.
      Thanks again for looking out for me!

    • You guys are killing me! Thankfully no bad luck (yet??) so I’m sending it back, I’m superstitious too!!!

  7. I love this view of the little things in Hawaii. I’ve never been to the big island and really want to sit on a black sand beach!

    I just read all you Portugal posts and love how you write about the places you’ve been. I can’t wait to read about Porto!

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