September 14, 2011
Here is the first of many very photo-heavy posts about our summer vacation to Hawaii.
We were only supposed to spend two weeks there, one on Big Island, the biggest and youngest of the Hawaiian island, and one on Kauai, the oldest island. Well, once we got there, we decided almost right away to change our flight schedule and we spent an extra week on Kauai. After 17 hours of air travel, and after seeing how perfect and idyllic Hawaii is, it just doesn’t seem right to stay there for anything less than that.
BIG ISLAND, HAWAII
The journey to Big Island was a long one! We flew from Montreal to Los Angeles, then from L.A. to Oahu, then from Oahu to Big Island. The flights in Hawaii were exciting enough to make me stop caring about my exhaustion – talk about some spectacular views! We finally ended up at our final destination in the early evening, and after an extensive kerfuffle at the car rental place, we were driving in the pitch black through old lava fields to Puako on the north-west of the island, where we would be spending our first two nights. We stopped along the way for our first bottles of Kona beer and got our first glimpses of coconut M&ms and what become a mild obsession, the sparkle-cards.
We woke up before the sun was up, partly due to jetlag, but mostly due to our excitement. Right across the quiet, flower-lined street we were staying at was the shoreline of Puako, so we got dressed and wandered out for our first feel of the ocean as the sun was rising.
The beach was not a sandy one, but once of volcanic rock. The waves weren’t enormous, but it certainly wasn’t anything we wanted to swim in. We walked up and down the shore, then headed back to shower and get going for the day, but not before taking photos of all the different flowers that were blooming absolutely everywhere!
After a filling and tasty breakfast prepared by our hosts (along with big mugfuls of some of the best Kona coffee ever), we took the Jeep out for our first day of exploring the island. Our goal was the check out the northern tip of the island, and some of the eastern side. We ended up stopping several dozen times along the way; it seemed like there was another beach to swim at about every mile.
Soli and looking over Hapuna Bay. This really shows how pale we were…it also really shows how excited we were at just a glimpse of the ocean.
We spent some time at Spencer Beach park. This was our first experience snorkeling in Hawaii, obviously, and Soli’s first real snorkeling experience ever. Compared to some of the other beaches we snorkeled at, this one wasn’t fantastic. But at the time, having nothing to compare it to, it was great. Got to see some fish, and what was thought to be an octopus…but it wasn’t. The water was warm, the morning hot.
As we were driving, we remembered a “hike” that had been recommended to us by someone we met on the airport shuttle bus, and headed towards http://www.hawaiiweb.com/hawaii/html/sites/lapakahi_state_historical_park.html>Lapakahi State Historical Park, which is the site of a ancient Hawaiian settlement. It was completely deserted and we wandered around for over an hour, checking out the old walls and buildings and resting under the palms next to the bright blue ocean.
We stopped for a quick lunch en route, and to pick up what became our pet pineapple, a small and extremely fragrant fruit that we ended up toting around every where, but never eating, as it just smelled too good.
Lunch included a pretty potent mai tai and a sampler plate with some kalua pork quesadillas that we wished we had about ten more of. We made some more stops along the way to our goal of the Pololu Valley lookout. There was an amazing valley that Soli ended up running through. We also stopped for some freshly picked tangerines that were in a box by the road, with only a box to put your $1 in.
Finally, we reached the Pololu Valley lookout. The view from up there was breath-taking, but seeing all that black sand waaaaay down, and the little dots of people instantly convinced us that we had to make the long and steep hike down into the valley and towards the beach. The way down wasn’t so bad, and we got there quicker than we thought. The waves were angry, and we barely ventured in up to our knees before running away and hiking into the valley a bit. The way back up was arduous (but again, compared to the hikes we went on in the weeks to come, this one was pretty easy), as we were hot, sweaty and barely breathing by the time we got back up.
We did some more driving around that day, heading into the town of Waimea via one of the scariest roads ever. It had these turns that would almost have you flying off these mountains. I wish we had photos that captured this road properly…
and picking up our first poke (raw, marinated fish or seafood), a kimchee crab (this became one of our favourite meals) one and some shoyu tuna. We devoured it back at our place in Puako, and almost instantly fell asleep.
Next, the wastelands of old lava fields, loco moco and Captain Cook!
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