After an adventurous first week on the Big Island, I spent my Sunday just quietly blogging away and going through the 600+ photos that I had taken in the two weeks since arriving in Hawaii.
I started my Monday with the usual – a sweaty WOD at CrossFit Kona followed by a quiet lunch at the hostel. I’d bought too much random foods the week before so my lunch consisted of Vegemite toast with carrot and celery sticks. I don’t know how I spent so much money on food when I seem to always have very little to eat. After lunch I started to get restless so I made a last minute decision to hike down to the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay. I grabbed my Camelbak, bathers, towel, and a headlamp (just in case) and off I went.
The trail head was a five minute walk from the Pineapple Park Hostel and it took me about 40 minutes to get down to the monument. I jogged part of the way down until the terrain became slippery as the path is a mix of dirt and old lava rocks. After arriving at the bay I was initially hesitant about swimming as I couldn’t figure out a safe way to enter and exit the water. Eventually I found some rocks that doubled as steps and in I went.
The water was so clear in the bay that I could see all the fish and the coral without even needing a snorkel. After about half an hour of swimming I started the arduous trek back up to the road. It may only be a 1.6km hike, but it’s humid, the heat reflects off the black lava, there’s no breeze, and you gain 1000 feet in elevation! It was exhausting to say the least, but well worth it.
That night a girl from Massachusetts started getting plastic cups and lining them up on the table at the hostel ready to play beer pong. We ended up using a hexagonal table as a lovely shell chandelier was in the middle of the long table. I teamed up with Mike from Alaska and proceeded to play my first ever game of beer pong (with water). It turns out that despite having no real athletic ability when it comes to throwing a ball, I am actually really good at beer pong.
After a few rounds of Beer Pong it was on to Circle of Death. We played by Savannah’s rules first – and instead of having a cup in the middle, it was a can of beer. The aim of the game was to place your cards under the ring top and the person who cracked the can had to skull it. The beer in question was a can of Costco beer which works out to be 50c a can, and tastes like someone diluted cheap beer with water.
It was then turn to play with my rules. There were about seven of us playing, and the most hilarious moment came when I pulled the number 9, which is bust a rhyme. I started the rhyme with the word beer, and everyone after me had to say a word that rhymed. The game ended like this:
Mike from Alaska: “Cheer”
Ray from Somewhere: “Hear”
Tom from Paris: “Salty!”
We all burst into laughter for a good five minutes whilst Tom wondered why we were all laughing. It seems that playing a rhyming game with someone who speaks English as a second language is hilarious. For the rest of the night any time we would need a laugh we would yell out “Salty!” and we would all burst out laughing. Some of the craziest rules that we had during the game included: can’t say the word “drink”, feet can’t touch the floor and you must keep one eye closed. I bailed on the game just after 10pm, but others kept on drinking into the early hours of the morning.
The next morning I decided to make the 20 minute walk to the shops in South Kona and have a look at what was on offer. There are a lot of antique and secondhand stores along the road and after stopping in one the owner asked what I was doing. I mentioned that I was just walking along the street and decided to stop in his store to have a look around. Apparently he wasn’t used to seeing random Australians in the store as he proceeded to ask me if I was homeless.
I eventually ended up in a gallery and had picked up a book to read the blurb when I realised that the author was sitting in front of me. I stayed and chatted with her about life in general, art, adventures, and the importance of fear and letting go. She told me that lives on the side of the mountain with her husband who is also an artist. I stayed and chatter to her for 20 minutes whilst admiring her husband’s paintings. Before leaving I bought her book about what it was like to grop up on the border of Mexico and Texas.
That night a few of us at the hostel were chatting about wanting to see the lava flow, and so a group of us decided to rent a car the next day and make an afternoon of it.
The next morning I ventured with Wyatt from NorCal and Flou from Austria to the shops to get some food for the day. We ended up buying three giant avocados, tomatoes, crispy tortillas and pineapple for the afternoon’s trip. Later that afternoon the three of us were in the car with two French-Canadian girls (Karol and Clarence) and off we headed to the Volcano National Park.
As we got closer to the turn off for South Point, I mentioned that there was a macadamia farm just off the highway that had amazing macadamia and honey samples. So we took a quick detour and stopped by Paradise Orchard to sample their treats. After half an hour of tasting honey, macadamia nuts, macadamia cookies, and chocolate/macadamia nut crunch, we eventually headed off in search for the black sand beach. We figured it was time to leave when the guy working there started laughing at Karol because she’d managed to warm her plastic spoon in the hot coffee that they had to taste.
We arrived up at Punalum’u Black Sand Beach Park at the same time as the rain. It was only sprinkling so we still ventured onto the beach and saw one lonely turtle making her way back to the ocean. Wyatt figured it would be great to go for a swim, but chickened out after dipping his feet into the water as it was freezing cold! We all decided that it was too cold to stick around, so we were all back in the car and heading towards the volcano.
The first stop when we entered the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was the lava tubes followed by a short stroll through the rainforest. It was still raining slightly so we bailed quickly and took a quick detour to a lookout point over one of the craters. The heavy cloud cover made it difficult to see the crater but I remember having seen it when I visited in 2013. We stayed long enough to take a few photos before heading up to the Jaggar Museum to see the lava glow.
Wearing several layers of clothes, we headed to the crater viewing area and I was awestruck by the glow of the lava. This bright orange-red hue was coming out of the crater, and it was great to finally see something other than just smoke. The sky wasn’t dark enough to take cool photos so we all headed back to the car to enjoy dinner – toasted tortillas with guacamole that we had made earlier in the day, followed by sweet pineapple for dessert. The food was demolished pretty quickly as we were all hungry and it was so tasty!
After eating we headed back to the crater viewing area and I managed to get some awesome photos. Random car conversations followed, including when we all tried to learn how to say “my name is” in a different language (including German, French, Italian and Indonesian), and when Karol turned to us in the backseat and asked a question in French, only to have Clarence point out that Wyatt, Flou and I didn’t speak French.
Wyatt and I managed to confuse Clarence, Karol and Flou after Karol asked us what the word ‘littering’ meant. Instead of explaining it, Wyatt and I both strted quoting Supertrooprs and were saying “Littering and, littering and, littering and, smoking the reefer”. The others looked at us strangely and after a good laugh I explained what the word meant.
It was then St Patrick’s Day and my only plans involved CrossFit and a haircut. The CrossFit part wasn’t exciting, but the haircut part got interesting. At 12:30 I figured it was time to head into Kona and as I left the hostel I started chatting to a Brazilian guy who was also trying to hitchhike into town. I joined him and we talked and took turns at walking backwards to try and get a ride. 15 minutes later we were still out of luck and just about to give up when a couple stopped and gave us a ride halfway to our destination.
We walked along Ali’i drive for another 10 minutes before a local lady took pity on us and gave us a ride the rest of the way. Lucky for us we were all heading to the same area so I made it to my hair appointment just in time. I was told to go to Moonbow Salon, which is owned and run by a Japanese hairdresser who has worked with several A-list celebrities in the past! For almost a year I had wanted an undercut, and this was the moment. He did a fantastic job and I am seriously loving it!
After my haircut I had to get back to Captain Cook so I tried my luck at hitchhiking again whilst heading to the bus stop. I had a guy stop to give me a ride and he started asking advice on self-improvement before telling me some of his story. He had been in with a rough crowd when he lived in San Francisco and had met his ex in high school. She is from the Big Island and moved back a year ago with their 8 year old daughter. He was telling me how he hates his job but wants to earn the money so his daughter can live in a nice house. He asked my opinion on whether he was doing the right thing, and although I couldn’t answer that I did mention that he should do things with his daughter rather than buy her things. I said to check out the tourist things to do, and take her on adventures to go snorkelling, to the volcano, hiking etc. I don’t know if he will take my advice on board but he seemed very appreciative.
He dropped me off in South Kona, a few kilometers from the hostel. I attempted to hitchhike the rest of the way but after 10 minutes my arm was sore. So I started walking backwards so I could use my right arm. That idea was put to bed quickly after I tripped and fell backwards. I gave up on the idea all together and just walked back to the hostel.
That night I was just chilling with Flou and Wyatt at the hostel, when Tom the Frenchman came bounding in and goes “We go to a party, yes? For St Patrick’s Day! Let’s go!”. Wyatt and I were the only two up for a random adventure, so the next thing we knew we were in the back of Tom’s boss’ ute as we drove up the mountain to this party. The party turned out to be just dinner at Tom’s boss’ friend’s house, so while the guys are their corned beef and cabbage I watched Prison Break. By the time we left my enthusiasm for a party was waning, so we all headed back to the hostel to bed.
That night was the most epic rainstorm I have heard in a while. I was woken at 3:45am by the sound of torrential rain, and saw a group of Uni students getting ready to go for a hike. Sucked to be them.
Friday saw me say farewell to Tom and Wyatt as I was ready to head over to Hilo. My morning started with 16.4 at Crossfit Kona, and I managed to get out 55 deadlifts at 70kg despite having an upset stomach, followed by 10 wall balls. I managed to get a lift off one of the ladies to the airport and I picked up a hire car and off I went.
My first stop was at Hapuna Beach after I saw a sign saying ‘Shoreline, Public Access’. Hapuna is often voted one of the best beaches in the world, and I could see why. There was plenty of shade under the trees and the water was cool but clear. It’s one of the first sandy beaches that I have found on the Big Island and it was nice to not have to scramble over rocks to get to the water.
There were some hidden rocks in the water but they were big enough to see. I bobbed around in the water for a bit and enjoyed the beautiful scenery before going back to shore and drying off in the sun. I bailed because I was hungry, so I left the families to enjoy the beach and I headed off to find food.
I headed north and after turning towards Kawaihae I saw a sign for a historic site so I stopped at the Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site. This was the place where King Kamehameha I built a stone temple to try and help fulfil a prophecy that would mean he could unite all the Hawaiian islands. I took a quick stroll around before hitting the road and stopped around the corner at the Blue Dragon food truck to enjoy lunch, and then followed my awesome hot dog with shave ice.
The rest of the day was uneventful as I drove through the heavy rain from Kawaihae to Hilo. I arrived at the hostel and got settled in for the afternoon and was ready for the weekend.
My first morning in Hilo started with a walk around the Hilo Farmer’s Market and surrounding shops before heading to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel to pick up my race pack for the Big Island International Half Marathon. I walked around the Lliliukalani Gardens for a while before it started to rain, so off I went in search of Carlsmith Beach Park. I ended up driving too far and so I stopped at the Waiuli Beach Park to enjoy lunch and take some awesome photos.
I then checked Google maps and saw that I had driven past Carlsmith Beach Park, so I was back in the car and down the road. The sky was dark and gloomy but it was still warm, so I changed into my bathers and headed to the water. Not long after getting in the water I realised there was a turtle nearby so I stopped to watch it hang around the shallows. It was pretty cool knowing that I was swimming so close to a sea turtle! I gave up after about 15 minutes of swimming as it was getting far too cold in the water and the rain was starting to get heavier.
I bailed and got back to the hostel just in time to avoid a torrential downpour. The next morning was the Hilo International Half-Marathon which was an adventure in its own right.
Week 3: 14-19 March