Every time I visit the US I find that at least one person asks me if I live in the US, or if I’m just visiting. Ever since arriving on the Big Island of Hawaii, I have had at least two people a day ask me “Do you live here?”. I’m not sure if that’s a sign, but I have definitely fallen in love with the island.
I visited the Big Island (the island of Hawai’i) for one day on my first trip to Hawaii. I flew in, spent a day on a bus seeing Kilauea Volcano and several other tourist sights before flying back to Oahu. Ever since then I felt the need to return, and so when I had the opportunity to spend four weeks in Hawaii, I knew I would have to return to the Big Island.
Flying over the lava fields into Kona’s airport was spectacular as the blackness of the old lava flow provides a beautiful contrast against the turquoise water. The flight from Honolulu was just long enough for the flight attendants to serve water and juice before landing, making it one of the shortest flights I’ve been on. I arrived at Pineapple Park hostel and decided that I needed food, so I walked the mile to the grocery store, stopping at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue for some lunch.
In my hungry state, I managed to buy a bit more food than needed and the cashier had crammed it all into one brown paper bag. In that moment I learned that I need to take a study backpack grocery shopping with me so I can get all my food back to my accommodation safely.
I knew that there was no way the brown paper bag would make it back to the hostel in once piece. I had been told that hitchhiking is a common way of getting around the island, so I stuck my thumb out in the hope of getting a ride back to the hostel. Ifelt sceptical and a little worried but after a few minutes a lady took pity on me and drove me back to the hostel.
The first evening I started talking to a guy named Brandon who had just moved to the island from Wisconsin. We chatted for hours and he invited me to join him and a friend on an adventure the next day in an attempt to find some cool spots on the island. I’m always up for an adventure, so the next day I found myself in the car with Brandon and his friend Alex as we started hunting for waterfalls.
There’s one thing that you have to get used to when on the Big Island, and that’s sitting in a car. It reminds me of being back home in Australia as it can take quite a long time to get to places. We drove from Kona to Hilo via the highway that goes between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, stopping a few times to take some photos of the huge shield volcanoes. Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest mountain (when measured from the sea floor), Mauna Loa is the world’s largest volcano, and Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano. The island is also home to Kohala (now extinct) and Hualālai (active), and together the five volcanoes make up the island.
After driving for almost two hours we ended up at Kulaniapia falls. Unfortunately the waterfall is private and only accessible by people staying at the inn nearby, but the caretaker was nice enough to allow us to take a few photos. It’s a shame that we couldn’t swim as it’s one of the only waterfalls on the island that has a swimming hole.
We briefly stopped by ‘Akaka falls to take a few photos before deciding to head back to Kona. After taking a wrong turn we ended up at the Waipi’o lookout and were mer with signs that the valley was closed due to the dengue fever outbreak. The sun was starting to set so we got back in the car and back-tracked until we found the highway.
The awesome thing about the island is the diversity in the landscape. One minute you’re driving through a rainforest, and the next minute you’re driving past giant mountains and the ground is almost barren.
Over the next few days I started my mornings at Crossfit Kona, before heading out with Brandon to find cool places on the West side of the Island. If you check out my post on the places I went on the Big Island you can see all the cool places we visited.
People say that sometimes the best adventures are those that are unplanned and my best adventure was no exception. After driving north on the coastal road Brandon and I ended up at Mahukona. Not long after arriving, Brandon ended up speaking to a group of people including a couple (Tony and Stephanie) who recently moved back to the Big Island after living on the mainland for some years. They asked if we wanted to join them that evening for a snorkeling adventure as they were going to go lobster fishing. We both said yes before leaving them for a few hours as we searched for food.
I made Brandon stop several times along the road so I could take photos of the beautiful rainbow what we were chasing. We chased it all the way to Kapaau on the northern tip of the Island. As we made our way back down to Mahukona we stopped again to photograph one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen.
We met Stephanie and Tony and they got us each kitted out with a wetsuit, gloves, fins, snorkel and mask. We were joined by a few other guys before grabbing our torches and heading into the warm water.
I made sure to stay in the middle of the pack as I haven’t had any experience swimming at night. Stephanie kept an eye on me and within about 10 minutes we were at our destination. The guys then spread out to hunt for lobster and that’s when I started freaking out a bit. I was cold and tired and just wanted to head back in so I called out to Stephanie and together we headed back towards the shore.
The swim back was much harder the the swim out. I wanted to stay close to the shallows and at one point I looked up and realised that Stephanie was nowhere to be seen.I started calling out to her in a mild panic and she shone her torch towards me and signalled me over. I fought the current as I swam towards her but after a few minutes were were back together. Once we reached the shore she told me that my actions were normal of a rookie, but it was important for me to stick with her if I ever went out again. Whilst being in the shallows was comforting mentally it was actually harder to get back to shore due to the current.
The guys returned with one large lobster and a smaller one called a slipper. The fire was going for a BBQ and soon enough we were enjoying the delicious seafood, along with some beef ribs and amazing pork steak. We chatted for several hours before Brandon and I headed back to Kona at midnight, with me driving his minivan. I’d not driven on the right side of the road since October 2015 so I made sure to pay attention to the roads.
It was great to find someone who was willing to let me tag along on adventures. I’m looking forward to many more adventures during my stay and I can’t wait to explore more of the island.
Week 2 (8 – 13 March 2016)