We spent the past week on a beach in what has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, the big island of Hawaii. My husband, Kyle, and I traveled with my sister and her husband for a week of relaxation and adventure.

And my goodness, it was incredible.

We walked in a massive volcano, the lava, now cool, cut the earth into miles of black rock. As we were walking, the rain dropped from the sky and into the crevices, as hot steam rose from the earth. I would have mistaken this lava field for the moon, had there been a lack of oxygen. Thankfully, there was plenty of that available.

It was incredibly surreal.

We hiked down waterfall trails and steep valleys so remote that few ventured down with us. At the bottom, black sand beaches and trees that seemed to touch the sky, greeted our arrival.

We traveled to the very southern tip of the United States. The wind was so strong, the trees were tilted permanently. At the edge of the earth, Kyle discovered a few people jumping into the water below. I was adamant that he not re-create their adventure, especially after I saw a cross memorial nearby for a man named Peru.

Kyle obliged, although I’m fairly certain he now has a new item on his bucket list.

We ziplined hundreds of feet in the air above rushing water, and mountain prairies. This spot was my favorite. We were surrounded by ocean, prairie, mountains and waterfalls. When I zipped over the falls, I made sure to thank God for his spectacular creation.

I imagine the Garden of Eden looked similar before the scary snake part.

We ate (and ate and ate). Fresh oranges, guava, purple sweet potato ice cream, coconut and fresh fish.

We snacked on goat cheese and pineapple and the best macadamia nuts I’ve ever tasted. When I asked for my crème Brule “to go,” I realized I had no spoon. No problem. I finished every last bite with my fingers. No shame allowed.

Local brews and mai tai kept us smiling, and Kona coffee woke us up. And we dined, family style, on a roasted pig at a luau — where Kyle was pulled up on stage to dance with the ladies.

Of course, he was.

We hiked a mile through a lava field to reach a gorgeous white sand beach. Sea turtles greeted us and didn’t even mind when I snorkeled right beside them. An endangered Hawaiian monk seal swam to shore, moments before we left that beach. There are only six or seven of these creatures left in the world. I like to think he showed up just for us.

My husband and I reconnected. It was our first beach vacation since our honeymoon 15 years ago. We laughed until our sides ached and held hands and remembered how this whole thing started.

It was such a lovely week in paradise. But when I walked into my home on Friday afternoon, and squeezed my kids tight, there was no place else I’d rather be.

Vacation is funny like that. It’s good to get away, but it’s even better to come home, well-rested and ready for another beautifully, normal adventure.