I’m finally posting our trip to Hawaii and remembering how wonderful it was to explore the beauty and history of the islands or just sit with coffee on the deck watching the sunset.
Hawaii was a big trip we took at the end of August into September. We went to the Big Island and again to Kauai. The trip was amazing and wonderful. But chalk full of activities until we finally relaxed with a beach house on Kauai. Before that we were scaling mountains and descending into valleys. We were discovering volcanic eruptions and kayaking up rivers and across bays. Whew!
We flew into one of our favorite spots, San Francisco, for a few days. We visited the New Cathedral and the relics of St. John Maximovich, then celebrated the Assumption (falling asleep) of the Theotokos (mother of God) at the Old Cathedral of the Holy Virgin. Visiting with the amazing Father James was such a wonderful boost before our trip across the Pacific. We needed the feeling of protection as we flew towards the Big Island knowing that two hurricanes were looming. But with the protection of God and the mountains of Hawaii, both Madelaine and Lester, skipped by the islands only leaving a few rain showers and humidity to dampen our trip. We stayed at the amazing Mauna Lani Bay resort on the Big Island. We’ve traveled pretty often and this is, right now, my favorite resort. It is built to maximize the breeze, the water, and the views. Plus the amenities were impressive, multiple pools and jacuzzis, plus a great workout facility. The grounds are also delightful and full of the history of the island. From our retreat at Mauna Lani we used the Big Island Revealed as a guide to the sites and hikes of the island. The highlights of the Northern section of the Big Island:
- Kiholo Bay– Once a fish pond for Kamehameha the Great, it is now a beautiful protected bay. There is a hike along the beach and a little bit of a lava field.
- Palolu Valley Lookout and Hike – One of the 5 big valleys in the North of the Big Island. The trail is one of the better maintained on the island.
- Waipio Valley Lookout and “Hike”– I use quotation marks because it is rough. You walk down a 20-25% incline road, which LOTS of 4×4’s use, then you continue on a muddy road to the beach or head to the back of the valley to catch a glimpse of a waterfall before you invade private land. It’s a little tricky, but it is beautiful and worth it.
- The historically quaint towns of Hawi and Kapa’au. Cute shops and restaurants.
Near Kona/Kailua is the famous Kealakekua Bay where Captain Cook was killed. We rented kayaks and crossed the bay to the base of the Captain Cook memorial. Then we jumped out of the kayaks and snorkeled in one of the best spots on the island. I’m not a big fan of snorkeling in general. I don’t enjoy the snorkeling gear. Regardless, this was a great adventure and I was glad we did it.
We moved to the Kilauea Lodge in Volcano, the town right outside of Hawai’i Volcano National Park in the south of the island. This is the main reason why people come to visit the Big Island. And it is awesome. There are tons of lookouts, craters, lava tubes, and hikes. We did a few smaller hikes in the park:’Iliahi (Sandlewood) Trail and Kilauea Iki Trail . Then we signed up for the whopper, an 8-10 mile hike to view the current surface flow of lava with Epic Lava Tours. We met the guide at 4 am, followed him to the start of the trail (which is a gravel service road through the lava field). After three miles straight on the road, we turned into the lava fields and headed towards the glow we spotted when we started the hike. There were only three of us plus the guide so we sprinted across cooled lava mounds until we reached the furnace of lava on the surface slowly making its way towards the ocean. It was amazing and intense. It wasn’t until we caught a glimpse of a skylight into the lava tubes below us that we started to think that maybe we shouldn’t be climbing all over tenuous lava mounds. But at that point the lava flow was slowing and it was time to head back to more stable ground. It was a once in a lifetime experience!
From the Big Island, we flew over to Kauai and found our resting rhythm in a rental on Anini Beach. It was a great location near Princetown and Hanalei on the North Side. We cooked, kayaked, and ate. Our best Kauai discoveries:
- Happy Talk: It’s a weird name, but a great bar/restaurant in Princeville. It has a great view, good music, and decent food.
- Kauai Juice Co.: Fresh juice blends and you can get money off if you bring back their bottles.
- Kilauea Lighthouse: The lighthouse it perched at the end of a wildlife sanctuary.
- Waimea Canyon: We didn’t make it the canyon last time we visited, so we were ready to make a day of it. We picked a hike from our Kauai Revealed, Honopu Ridge Trail which is not an official trail. Which means it is maintained by volunteers. Eventually, we made it out onto one of the craggy precipices of the Napali Coast but it was a brute, lots of thick bushes and slippery pathways. We would have had a better time on a hike around the canyon.
Eventually, we had to head back home. But we took with us lots of souvenirs and a great tan.