we are satiated, tan and relaxed.
i wish i could say, excited to get back to the grind, but you know how that goes...
ahhh, the big island.
i had no idea i would fall so hard.
we began our journey on the east side of the island in hilo where we met terri and bud of happy campers who were better than we could have imagined!
they were kind, hospitable and friendly.
and man, do they have a good gig going!
they picked us up at the airport in the shuttle westfalia with lei's of pink orchids for us.
right there- i was sold.
the mood button was pushed firmly to HAPPY!
it was a fantastic way to begin our hawaiian journey.
we were shuttled to the bus lot which is truly a wet dream for the westfalia lover.
there, we found a fleet of 9 ( i believe) westfalias with the newest addition being a synchro.
we were introduced to silver holo holo who was to be our home on wheels for the next week.
looks like ive created a monster, and who doesn't love a monster?
terri gave us the ins and outs of holo holo, which means just for fun, which was appropriate.
after our introductions and instruction, it was off to the farmers market to stock up the cooler.
avocados, peppers, bananas, apple bananas, starfruit, rambutan, and all sorts of other amazing fresh produce. the farmers market in hilo is amazing.
we took our time day one and headed to the lava bottomed swimming hole on the coast, then up to volcano national park where our friends rich, les and lydia from seward were waiting.
they are spending a little more than an month in hawaii (lucky ducks!) and had rented a house there.
the next day we headed to the kilauea iki caldera which was surreal. the volcano area is a lush high altitude landscape (4000 ft) and is cool and green.
there were steaming vents and crackling sounds and this creep-ed me out!
but here i am.
we survived without being blown to smithereens and there aren't many people who can say they've hiked across a caldera.
after the hike we packed up 4 adults and 2 kids into the westy and headed south to the kopoho tide pools which were very cool. the snorkeling was beautiful with numerous kinds of coral and small colorful fish. we even saw an eel (eeeeewwwww) which was about 16 inches long.
the next morning we headed out, visiting the thurston lava tubes before heading down toward the coast, continuing south.
the lava tubes were DARK and creepy. the boys loved them.
we made a quick stop at punaluu black sand beach to see the turtles (with a couple of tour buses, we did not stay...) then continued south after checking out this fellow.
there were old defunct wind turbines swaying eerily in the breeze.
we avoided the stink eye by parking and promptly heading to the hiking trail toward the beach. (although most locals are very friendly, we were warned that if the place was taken over by locals, give them a wide berth.) we followed the directions to the secluded black sand beach, marching right on through the no trespassing signs and onto honomalino beach.
jaden was in heaven.
we had found a sandy beach at last.
we hiked back out at sunset and camped that evening at milolii as all the locals had gone home for the evening.
there was just one other camper there besides us.
it was amazing to wake up again with whales breaching off shore.
packing it in, we continued up the highway with the scenery changing from immense lava flow to lush green hills.
we landed at hookena beach which ended up being our favorite camping and hang out spot.
this place has recently been taken over from the county by a group of locals who patrol the place and sell permits on site ($5 per adult and $1 for the kiki) to camp.
the place had such a nice feel with locals and not too many visitors.
it was there we met mike and denise of... alaska!
they moved to the big island after being long time ak residents.
denise is a native alaskan and she and mike have 6 grown children. hookena is their home beach where they come to swim frequently. they gave us a big hawaiian welcome and chatted us up for a good long time. mike even tried to convince us to hunt down the hidden camp spot adjacent to neil youngs pad when we headed north, but we're not that bold. we now have directions though, so maybe next time.
we spent all day hanging out at hookena. this is where jaden watched the local kiddos boogie board and definitely learned some valuable techniques that he perfected as the week wore on.
we spent an entire day there and camped for just one night.
all in all blissful.
we continued heading up the coast into kona.
we stopped at the coffee shack, a well known breakfast joint which probably has the best views around. we watched the geckos feast on jelly and stuffed ourselves on brunch.
avocados do grow on trees you know.
we stopped at greenwell farms which is a giant producer of kona coffee and learned lots of interesting things about the revered coffee bean.
did you know the bean is really a seed and there are two per fruit?
we enjoyed the short and informative tour very much.
i am ashamed to admit that we took a whirlwind drive through kona.
we basically went to check out a piece of paradise that our good friends michelle and arron from alaska are in the process of buying.
it looks amazing!! macadamia nut trees and sweeping views.
i have my fingers and toes crossed for them!
we stopped at the grocery store to refill on ice and provisions and we headed to a beach called makalawana.
we parked at the end of a large and bumpy lava flow (about 1.5 miles to the parking area) then hiked across said lava field for approximately 1/2 hour landing here....
we planned on camping at hapuna which was just down the road, except there is no camping at hapuna- despite what every guide book says, take my word for it: there is no camping at hapuna.
so we ended up pulling off on a little dirt side road (very close to neil youngs place!) to park for the night.
the moon was enormous and it was quite lovely.
hapuna beach day!
we spent the entire next day in some of the biggest surf i have ever seen up close.there were 8 foot waves breaking close to shore and the rip tide was evident.
jaden perfected his fearlessness and his boogie boarding technique while i tried not to freak out, and we watched Joy the amazing hawaiian lifeguard do 3 rescues.
best beach day.
we hit the road the at the end of that perfect day to have dinner with our friends up in waimia at tako taco.
great vibe, open mike nite and fantastic food.
then we rolled back down the hill to camp near the north shore at mahukona beach park.
this was a quiet little beach park where we parked right on the side of a break wall over looking the ocean.
the next day we headed back down south a few miles to check out mauna kea beach for the day.
this beautiful cresent sand beach was quite lovely. it was less crowded that hapuna as it is flanked by a golfcourse and large resort. the resort limits parking to non hotel customers to 40 cars at a time.
the waves were big there but the rip current was not so strong.
it made for a relaxing day.
at the end of the the day and after very little contemplation, jeff and i decided to splurge on a room at the resort. we went from beach to van to the lobby and checked right in.
i havent had a shower feel so good in a long time.
this was to be our last night in hawaii.
the next morning we began our ride over to the east part of the island by way of waimea to make our way down to hilo.
we then headed west on 240 to the end of the road where we took in the stunning views of waipio valley.
we then headed east again, towards hilo.
we made one final stop at the botanical gardens which were AMAZING and beautiful.
i'm ready to head back and do it all again.
have you been to hawaii?