“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
– Anatole France
“Warmest Aloha and welcome to Hawaii!”
After three flights, two layovers and one flight delay, we arrived in Kona, located on the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. We were warmly, and tearfully, greeted by my parents who had come to spend a week with us there. Seeing them was one step closer to home and it felt fantastic!
Our first couple of days on island we got settled in our beautiful seaside condo at Kona Bali Kai and enjoyed catching up on our three months apart. It was within these first couple of days that we spotted our first sea turtle, just outside our apartment, basking in the sun on the sand. We were thrilled to have seen one up close and personal, and so early into our time there. Little did we know that we would see dozens more throughout the coming week.
Our first day of adventure took us south along the west coast, to Pu’uhonua Honaunau National Historical Park, known to Hawaiians as the Place of Refuge. It is named as such because years ago when a Hawaiian citizen broke a law (kapu) they were sentenced to death unless they could make it to this spot before being captured. If the accused arrived at the Place of Refuge safely they were forgiven of their sins by a priest and freed. After taking in some history we found a spot on the tiny sand beach in the park. As stunning as Hawaii is, its one downfall is the lack of sandy beaches. As a result of being home to a very active volcano, nearly every inch of the island is covered in rough lava rock; fascinating, but not the most pleasant to walk on, especially barefoot in the water. Regardless, we made our way into the ocean and I was privy to our second sea turtle encounter, as he swam directly towards me and I followed alongside him in the water. Never had I imagined I would ever have the opportunity to be this close to such a captivating creature. That evening we enjoyed happy hour and live music at the seaside restaurant, On the Rocks in Kona, which was Mom’s pick, followed by a ride in the open-air Kona Trolley back to our condo.
The one thing we all really wanted to do in Hawaii was go whale watching and although it was coming to the end of whale season, as they were beginning their migration back to Alaska for the summer, we took our chances and went anyways. We booked with Captain Zodiac , which was quite the thrill-ride, aboard a zodiac boat, which is about the size of a lifeboat and very unforgiving over the crashing waves. Mom was terrified to go, but worked up the courage and we were all glad she did. The boat ride itself had us on the edge of our seats, not to mention the dolphin and whale sightings. Within the first ten minutes we spotted a pod of dolphins surface as they swam in circles. It took a long and bumpy boat ride and a few mistaken sightings before we saw our first whale, but once we spotted one we began to see more and more. We all shouted with excitement as they breeched and our captain drove closer to them, while minding the strict laws protecting the whales. This encounter with the gentle giants of the sea left us all in awe of their size, grace and beauty.
On Sunday we split up and while the boys went golfing at Big Island Country Club, Mom and I went shopping in Kona. We all enjoyed our days thoroughly and met back at the condo in the late afternoon to watch the sunset from our lanai before heading to Kona Brewing Company Pub for dinner, my pick. The beer was plentiful, flood was delicious and the live band was an added bonus. We took the Kona Trolley back to our condo again that night, Dad’s favourite feature of Hawaii.
After one final day of lounging by the pool at our condo complex in Kona we began making our way to the east side of the island, with a final destination of Hilo. On route there we made a few stops, the first of which was at the Punalu’u Bake Shop, for a taste of their famous doughnuts made from locally sourced ingredients. They were so scrumptious that we had to get a few extras to save for later. Our second stop was at Volcano National Park where we drove, what we could, of the Crater Rim Drive Tour; parts of which are closed as a result of lava flow so we were unable to see it all. That being said, we were fascinated with many of the stops on the tour, including the steam vents, sulphur banks and the Thurston Lava Tube, wherein which lava once flowed underground. We all learned a lot that day and were better able to understand the ever-changing landscape of the volcanic island.
With eight different climate zones on the island, we noticed a drastic change in the temperature, flora and fauna from west to east. Kona is very hot, sunny and dry, whereas Hilo is very lush, green and tropical. Our accommodations in Hilo was a beautiful Hawaiian cottage, located outside of the city, surrounded by tall trees, singing birds and many geckos.
For our final day with Mom and Dad we did some touring of Hilo hot spots. We began at the Hilo Farmers Market, which is open Wednesdays and Sundays, and has many vendors selling food, fresh produce, handmade jewelry and souvenirs. We then strolled the waterfront at the Queen Llilioukalani Gardens and Coconut Island and landed for a few hours of sun basking at Carlsmith Beach Park. This protected lagoon is a popular spot for both tourists and locals because of its sandy bottom turquoise waters, making it much more accessible for swimming.
Mom and Dad treated us to a final Hawaiian dinner out at Ponds Hilo that evening. The great food, hospitable service and many laughs was the perfect way to wrap up our time in Hawaii together.
A week spent with two of our favourite people, in such an idilic place, was something straight out of a dream. Being that Hawaii was a “bucket list” spot for Mom and Dad, we were thrilled to have had the opportunity to experience it with them. The taste of home came just at the right time and in just the right place, the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii.