The Big Island Hawaii: 6 Dreamy Locations.
As my plane to The Big Island
descended upon the dramatic intersection of vast aqua seas and black fields of lava, I arrived at the intersection of excitement and apprehensiveness. This fear of the unknown suddenly gripping me. “Prepare for landing” Into this foreign land we went, without concern of whether I was ready to or not (and I can't thank it enough for this, for that little nudge of encouragement). I disembarked following the herd into the group of huts which is, almost unbelievably, the airport.
My trip began in Kailua Kona:
Flying into Hawaii at sunrise
The local bus leaves from the airport twice daily so after quite a wait I arrived at 'my Hawaii hostel
.' The place was new, friendly, and clean. I found its best feature though to be its size: small enough to meet everyone (all 8 guests) in seconds and in a few minutes, 4 of us had decided to rent a car. (A brilliant decision: otherwise we'd have been bound to expensive tours or quite limited public transport.) We had a Swiss driver and passengers from Poland, USA and me- from Australia. (This lead to many confused looks: “where on earth are you guys from? We can't work out your accents!”) Without a car for that day we used what was in walking distance: overpriced convenience stores, $2.50 tacos at 'Oceans sport bar and grill,' beaches to snorkel at, rock pools to laze in, turtles to take photos with and each other to get to know. Kona is a cute little town on the West of The Big Island, but the excitement begins a few hours any direction from it.
So we headed to Black sand beach:
The famous Black Sand Beach on the Big Island
We drove south to the beach, we found amusement in the actual blackness of the sand, the way it clashes into bright green palms that line it's edge. Turtles lazed on the shore on our arrival, the possibility of more tempted us off the sand and into the water. It was packed with turtles close enough to touch. After lazing on the hot sand post snorkel…
We continued on to Volcano national park:
Hike through the volcano crater at Volcano National park
We arrived at the volcano national park way before sunset so we do the 'crater hike.' The hike took us through the jungle before winding down into the crater. The open space of cold hard lava was beautiful in an arid way. In a 'wow isn't nature fascinating and a force not to be reckoned with' kind of way. Up through cracks in the black earth grew plants- fluorescent green or some with blood red flowers: Beacons of hope. The sun set and we made our way to watch the lava smoke transition from white to glowing red from the look out. The air was freezing and I was unprepared- wrapped up in beach towels for warmth. The next day…
We spent the morning at Two step snorkeling:
Dolphins we swam with at two step beach, Hawaii
Upon arrival we spotted Dolphins, kicked off our clothes, grabbed out gear and got in the water. It's easy to get in off the rocks as long as you trust your booties- they're studded with sea urchins. The coral looked pretty but we bee lined to the Dolphins- hundreds of them. They swam down becoming faint outlines before circling back up to the the surface in groups, some babies in tow. The cycle has a calming effect, the water too. And it's just us out this deep… A private party with dolphins for hosts.
We allowed a whole day to explore Waipio valley:
Amazing view of Waipi'o Valley from the lookout
The north of the big island offered the lush green one seeks in Hawaii. Here it collides with brilliant blue sea in this valley that's overflowing with natural wonders. Even from the lookout into the valley a magnificent waterfall is visible at the end of the beach. Once we'd walked inside we saw four more huge waterfalls clinging to the valley walls and another at the other end of the beach. We sat and observed the surfers as the sun set guided golden light into the salty air. We decided upon hitch hiking out of the valley, and hopping into the back of a locals ute apparently this is a common option. “We never come down here without taking people back out.” They tell us as we cram in alongside a few other people from various places. During my trip I was lucky enough to see two sunsets from…
The summit of Mauna Kea:
Sunset above the clouds at the Mauna Kea summit
I booked a tour through Hawaii forest and trail
, it was expensive but easy. We had dinner and watched the sunset over the clouds and observatories, it looked straight out of a sci-fi movie. Later we did star gazing within our group. Learning the constellations is something I can cross off my to do list: the stars up there did not disappoint. The second time I went to Mauna Kea for free. The sunset was magnificent once again, the stargazing at the visitors centre was great. They set up multiple telescopes (which are connected to long lines of visitors) and a humorous guide provided us with lots of information. There's also hot chocolate sold for $1. This version was obviously a LOT cheaper. I was glad to do it twice though. The first time was very reflective, more of a meditation alone. With friends it became an attraction, we laughed and took funny photos and sat in the car when we nearly froze, eating carrots and salsa- a backpackers diet. That was how I spent my last night on the island: on the back seat of our rental car at Mauna Kea. A beanie on, freezing but comfortable in the presence of these new friends. These People who began as strangers, conversations that began with that awkward cliché “where are you from?” In a matter of days, became so familiar, so interesting. *** “Prepare for takeoff” I'm trying, but I'm no where near ready to leave this island. Once again it's beyond my control by now, to my right is black to my left is blue, but it's comforting now: each part of the landscape a tale, each of them equipped with happy endings.