Chris and I spent this last week on the Big Island in Hawai'i with Chris's parents and younger sister. If I had to summarize my trip (for those who probably won't make it to the end of this blog post) I would say that it was "Incredible, Amazing, Peaceful, and a Paradise." I did not feel ready to leave after 7 days at all!
Day 1: We had a great flight and when we arrived we were greeted by Chris's family with Leis! We stayed in a 2-bedroom condo and were quite comfortable. The first night we went grocery shopping and enjoyed an afternoon of rest and a game of Settlers of Catan.
Day 2: We headed to the beach! We actually drove to three beaches, two of which were closed due to tiger shark sightings. The third beach had salt-and-pepper sand as well as a bulldozer working in the background. Not exactly what we had envisioned of the beaches of Hawai'i but it turned out to be great anyway.
We saw sea turtles! There were actually 5 of them! They would swim fairly close to us, poke their heads up out of the water and circle again, sometimes they even turned to their side and seems to wave at us with their fins! I couldn't believe how close they were!
Day 3: We woke up early to drive to the south-east end of the island to see Volcano National Park. Chris's family has a story of visiting this park when Chris was about 6 or 7 years old. They got right up to the edge of the caldera and Chris got a little too close for comfort. His dad quickly pulled him back saying "Chris, you could fall down; don't stand too close to the edge." In Chris's adventurous mind, he thought he could just climb right back out if he fell. He had no idea that it went down hundreds of feet!
We had to go back so Chris could see just how deep that caldera went. Unfortunately for us, the volcano was "pluming" or steaming and was too dangerous to get close to. Most of the park we had planned to see was closed due to the volcano activity. We spent the day driving a little farther than we had planned to see lava rock and a place where lava had covered the road. That was really interesting -- and the views were breath-taking! I was in awe of how much lava rock there was -- it felt like it was everywhere!
On the way home we had dinner in the southernmost town in the United States--Naalehu, Hawaii.
That night we went to a Luau in Kona. They had a huge Hawai'ian buffett and drinks. The food was delicious; they did an Imu Pork (where the pig is cooked in the ground) which was fantastic. My favorite side dishes were the coconut jello and purple sweet potatos. The fire-dancers and hula girls were awesome and the emcee was pretty entertaining too.
Day 5: Chris and I rented our own car so we could spend the next two days doing whatever we wanted and to be alone for a little while. We drove down to Kealakekua Bay and rented a kayak to go snorkeling near Captain Cook's monument. I would not describe myself as a swimmer, or even a water-lover. I hate putting my face in the water, so to go snorkeling was going to be a fear and a challenge that I would have to overcome. But I really wanted to try it. And I'm so glad I did!
The snorkeling was incredible! I don't have photos from my underwater camera developed yet, but I know they won't do it justice. The water was bright blue and sometimes turquoise. The coral was amazing, it was much bigger than I had imagined and more colorful; we could hear it crackling too. There were probably 15 different types of fish to see and hundreds of them! This was the highlight of my week. It felt like I was watching the discovery channel or something. Being that close to the fish felt completely unreal.
After our big adventure we went to Magic Sands Beach. It was beautiful. The sand was white and the water crystal clear. The beach was pretty crowded but we still were able to find a patch of sand for ourselves.
Later we went to Kona for dinner at Humpy's. Kona is a pretty touristy part of the island but I enjoyed it anyway. Probably because there was so much going on -- very lively. Dinner was excellent -- so was dessert! We had macadamia nut and coconut ice cream. Yum!
Day 6: We went shopping! We found some excellent Kona coffee and near the coffee shop was a building set up similar to a craft fair. I had a blast just looking around; which was good since we didn't really buy anything there! There was a lot of beaded jewelry, woodwork, clothing, etc.
We met up with Chris's family for lunch at Kona Brewing Company which was a lot of fun and the food was really good too!
Then Chris and I went to the beach again. It was our last day in Hawaii and we both really needed more beach time. It was perfect! We found a white-sand beach (one that was previously closed because of the sharks) and played in the sand for a couple of hours.
Day 7: We flew home! I have to say, I really enjoyed the outdoor airport in Kona. It's really small, but it's all outside!
I had a wonderful time -- I hope that came through in all of these photos and the words I shared with you. I would recommend a vacation in Hawai'i to all of you! But please note: the speed limit on the Big Island is 55 and lower in many areas. So, if you plan to drive anywhere, just know that it will take you FOREVER to get there!
P.S. I did NOT get sunburnt! This huge news for me!