Hawai’i, the Island; not Hawaii, the State

I’m not sure why I love Hawai’i so much, but I think it has a lot to do with its relaxed vibe.  There’s nothing pretentious about it.  Perhaps that’s why I’m going back there for the third time in March?  And, as I was telling my dad when I was home a couple of weeks ago planning my upcoming trip, I think I may need to go back a fourth time because there is just so much to see and do!

That’s the benefit of going back somewhere you’ve already been.  It’s gives you the opportunity to visit some of the more obscure locations, because you’ve already been to the main attractions.  While I’m anxiously awaiting my next trip, it’s fun to look back at the great things I’ve already seen there.

Hapuna Beach

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Hapuna Beach is only a beautiful 30-45 minute drive from Kona through lava fields, with volcanos on one side and bright blue ocean on the other.  There was lots of parking available when we were there last March.  While I found it a little crowded, Michael loved it there and would be completely happy if this was the only Hawaiian beach we went back to.  It is a very beautiful beach with white sand and gorgeous turquoise water.  I don’t think I’ve ever swam in water so clear.  Oh, and lava rocks!  It is the Big Island after all.  I also enjoyed the whale watching.  The first day we were there, I was walking up the beach and all of a sudden I saw this massive black shape emerge from the water offshore.  It was a humpback whale breaching!  It was amazing!  I don’t think I’ll ever get over the magical feeling of seeing such amazing marine life right from shore.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

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Speaking of wildlife, Punalu’u has sea turtles, or honus, as they are called in Hawaii.  That alone would make a beach awesome!  But the other amazing thing about Punalu’u is that it’s a black sand beach.  It’s the first one of its kind I’d ever seen.  The contrast of the colors, between the black sand, blue water, green palm trees, and blue sky, was just unreal.

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Mani’owali Beach

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One morning we stopped at Mani’owali beach.  It’s in the Kekaha Kai State Park, and it’s the only one of the park’s beaches that has drive up access suitable for a regular old rental car.  It’s a little closer to Kona than Hapuna, and just as beautiful, maybe even more so  We didn’t stay too long because it was smaller than Hapuna and started to get crowded.  There also wasn’t any food nearby, and Hapuna is next door to the Hapuna Beach Hotel which has a restaurant.

Java on the Rocks

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View with breakfast

I love having breakfast at Java on the Rocks.  There’s nothing better than drinking Kona coffee with your toes in the sand and staring out at the ocean.  Our last morning there we were even lucky enough to see whales!  My favorite breakfast is the delicious papaya boat with yogurt and granola, and a side of multigrain toast.  Oh the toast!  It’s the BEST toast ever!  There’s no better way to start your day.

Volcanoes National Park

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Halema’uma’u Crater in the Kilauea Caldera

The only lava flowing at Volcanoes National Park when we were there was only visible by helicopter… so we didn’t see any lava.  But the park was cool none the less!  We saw steam vents, walked through rainforest, and had the normally crowded Thurston lava tube all to ourselves.  Definitely a unique experience.

Chain of Craters Road, Mauna Ulu eruption

Chain of Craters Road, Mauna Ulu eruption

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There is nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.  Enough said.

Can’t wait to see you again, Hawai’i!

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