Friday, January 2, 2015

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou or Happy New Year

  My husband was offered a chance to do a historic preservation training on both the Big Island of Hawaii and Oahu.  We hadn't planned or saved any money for this trip, but because his hotel and plane fare were going to be covered, we knew we HAD to figure out a way for me to tag along.  We flew out November 29th and returned December 8th, bright and early.  We had my mom, my father, and my father in law take rotating 3 day shifts watching our kids, to cover the time we were gone.  They are all so amazing and we are absolutely thankful that they pulled together so we could have this adventure.  
  We flew into Kona and managed to explore the trendier beachfront area before grabbing dinner at a Japanese noodle house.  The next day we rented snorkel equipment and hit Kahaluu Beach Park.  The water was a perfect temperature and at 7:30 am, the beach was almost completely ours.  We swam with giant tea turtles, who were so friendly they walked right over my snorkel flippers! We hopped in the car and drove South towards the Puna region .  The landscape is all a'a, which is hard, spiky lava rock.  I felt like I was standing at the edge of Modor.
We eventually made it up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we saw steam vents and the top of Kilauea, which is a hyperactive shield volcano and one of the most active on Earth.  The lava flows are currently threatening a small town called Pahoa, which is ironically where we had booked a hut months before.
Many of the beaches on the Big Island are rocky and comprised of volcanic black sand or  even green glass!  It was cold and rainy on this side of the island, but we still had to stop at Punaluu Black Sand Beach. 
We eventually made it to Pahoa just in time to see a drum circle breaking up at a nude beach.  When we had mentioned staying here to our host in Kona, she jokingly said it was where people are sent when they entered witness protection.  It truly is a strange and wonderful place.  It is full of eccentric, interesting people who would rather steer clear of the touristy expensive spots.  All the homes are off the grid, relying on collected rain water and solar power to fuel their houses.  The area is filled with dense jungles and we kept spotting wild boar and mongoose (which we dubbed "squeckos"...part gecko, part squirrel) running across the road.  We decided to check out the Kapaho Lighthouse, but our drive up the Red Road ended up being a lot longer than our map dictated.  The tree canopy formed a tunnel with long vines hanging down and we kept passing traditional Hawaiian burial grounds, so we started to feel like extras in an Indiana Jones movie.  Eventually it got too dark and we flipped around because our two lane road (which is freaking one lane wide!!) started to feel like an eminent head on collision.   The place that we rented was a hand carved, mid-century Balinese hut on stilts, that was brought over from Indonesia and rebuilt in a garden.  There was an outdoor shower that relied on foliage for privacy.  I felt very "Eve" walking around naked in this garden. :) We had neon green geckos that would scurry around on the ceiling in the evening.  We could play, "count the geckos" to fall asleep.  The ocean had pretty rough surf the days that we were there, so we spent some time soaking in the warm tide pools that are heated with geothermal energy.  We met some funny, newly local girls who were drinking whiskey straight from the bottle and lamenting that there wasn't much of a dating scene, because everyone was into wild orgies.  I have a talent for finding the most interesting people to talk with!
We drove up to North of Hilo to check out the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which I surmise is a top contender for most beautiful place on the planet.
Just about every morning we drank Kona coffee and had crepes/waffles/pancakes with mangoes, pineapple, coconut, and macadamia nuts. We ate tuna poke and Thai food every chance we got (like every other meal) and became addicted to purple sweet potato desserts.  My January plans include a gym membership.
We took a guided trip around the top of the island with some of Wade's work colleagues. It's amazing how many different micro climates there are on the Big Island. We eventually returned to Kona and I spent my days snorkeling and my nights drinking Mai Tais.  While my husband was working, I drove to the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm (my fave animal!) and got to sea thousands of seahorses and even hold and feed them. On our last night, we paddle boarded into the middle of the bay with spotlights and did night swimming with giant manta rays!  The rays had anywhere from a 3 ft to 12 ft wingspan.  They have these giant, toothless mouths that open up right as they swim towards you to eat plankton. The first time one rubbed against my leg, I screamed and my mask filled with water.  I got most of the attention in our group, and one swam up and rubbed its belly against mine.  It was both beautiful and terrifying.

Next, we flew to Honolulu on the island of Oahu.  We stayed in a small town called Kailua in a house about 5 minutes to a gorgeous beach.  We drove up to North Beach to see The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition, stopping along the way to eat some traditional Hawaiian food (poi, laulau, Kailua pig, and of course drinking from a coconut.)  In Oahu there is a strange phenomenon of wild chickens running around everywhere. We saw them in shopping center parking lots, highways, and hilariously running away from a BBQ food truck!  Our last day there fell on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and we had big plans of attending a celebration at the memorial in Honolulu.  We got caught up instead swimming near Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve & Halona Blow Hole, which is like riding a giant wave machine at an amusement park.  I got bashed against a huge rock and spent the next week hobbling around on a swollen knee. My husband also sliced open his foot, but no regrets, it was sooo much fun! We also had to check out one of the many Hawaiian shaved ice stands.  We found one in a Japanese area downtown and ordered some sort of Taro root and adzuki bean concoction.  
Hawaii, you were amazing and just what I needed.  Until next time, Mahalo!


  1. Wow! It looks like an amazing trip! I've always wanted to visit Hawaii.

  2. Oh what a crazy exciting adventure! I'm quite sure this will live in your memory forever. Such a different perspective on life and nature. It really takes you back to the basics and makes you realize the beauty of what is. Lovely!

  3. What a fantastic looking/sounding trip. I may be just a wee bit jealous right now.

  4. What a fantastic experience - and chance to soak up some warm weather during the winter. Thank you for sharing so many awesome highlights of your Hawaiian adventure with us. I would love to follow in your footsteps and see this stunning part of the world one day, too.

    Happiest New Year's wishes, dear Hannah!
    ♥ Jessica

  5. Awesome! And so pretty too!

    Like you described, this is often how I get to travel, by tagging along on Pat's business trips where his hotel and airfare are already taken care of.



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