Thursday, February 19, 2015

Day 6- Tuesday

Our last day!

We were up early and checked out of the hotel and headed to our WHOA (Wild Hawaiian Ocean Adventure) tour. It was the highlight of the trip.

We were on an old army style boat with the inflatable edges and we were in the back leaning up against a back rest and holding on to a handle  bar in front.  I did not even consider that I would get sea sick, but man did I ever.

 Almost immediately we saw these flipper dolphins. They were pretty little, but they were swimming around in a circle so they could sleep we were told. They did do a few flips that I caught on video.

I had bought this cheap little waterproof bag for my phone. I didn't use it much, and it didn't work perfectly, but I was very happy I had it on this tour.

We sped away from the other tour boats so we could get the best views of the ocean life. At one point we were seeing all these dophin, so they stopped the boat and told us to get our snorkel gear on. We knew it was a snorkel and ocean watching tour, but I figured it would be one and then the other. We were just stopped in the ocean and let out to snorkel with these dolphins. One of the most amazing experiences ever.

I seemed to be ok on the boat when it was moving quickly, but any time we stopped to check out some wildlife I got so sick. Puking over the edge of a small boat with 9 other people close by is terrible. Also terrible, is knowing you have another 3 hours left of the tour.

Half way we stopped in a  little cove to snorkel some more. It was nice to be in the water, and see the coral and all the tropical fish. My battery was dead by then, but there is something to experiencing something first hand and not through the lens of a camera. I wasn't too disappointed.

After the tour we went for an ultimate burger for lunch, ran to costco to get gas (they still use amex, which was frustrating since Canada has switched to master card) and we went inside to check if they had anything cool we might want to pick up.

Brett promised one of the big bosses at work that I'd bring home a bottle of Hawaiian Rum. So I picked some up at costco.

We headed back to the beach in town- where we had started our vacation and read for a little while before heading back to the hotel for a dip in the hot tub and to get cleaned up for our flight.

I had wanted to see a sea turtle on my trip, and hadn't seen one yet. As we were walking back to the hotel for our final walk along the shore, we saw a couple turtles in the shallow water. It just finished off the trip so nicely.

We ate dinner at a little cafe and headed back toward the airport to return the car and wait for our flight.

It was a red eye flight and we weren't sitting together so we tried to sleep as best we could.  In vancouver we took our separate flights home and were happy to see our families. Not so impressed with the weather though!

Day 5, Monday

The forecast for our last couple days did not look great. We were worried about rain. The Pizzey's had just been to the same area of Hawaii and they recommended this amazing beach. We drove down this crazy "unimproved" road (there were signs that said that) and parked and walked across a long lava rock path to get to a nice beach, BUT if you trekked a little ways farther you came to this perfect beach that had a handful of other people on. We set up our towels and spent the day. We were not very careful with our sunscreen because the sky was overcast, and we ended up quite burnt which was disappointing.

(Beach 1)

(Beach 2)

We played in the waves, read our books, ate this amazing trail mix from target that had these huge chocolate covered caramel balls that were literally half the mix. There were some ladies sitting on the beach looking out towards the horizon and they'd randomly start cheering. When we finally took a minute to look the same way we saw these huge whales splashing out of the water.

When it started to rain we headed back to the car, and decided to see a few more famous Big Island sights. A lot of driving, but worth it. We drove to a black sand beach looking for sea turtles. No luck, then we headed up to the location of a green sand beach. The beach is green because of some mineral in the volcanic sand in that location.

We got to where we thought we'd see the green sand, but came upon a local man offering shuttle rides in his truck down to the beach for $15 each. We thought we'd just walk, but the sun was setting and it was 3 miles to the beach and then another 3 back.  I was ready to run, it seemed a little shady, but there was another couple waiting to go on the shuttle so we went.  We sat in the back of this rickety truck holding on for our lives on the craziest road I've ever seen! I was against the tailgate on a cooler, and the other three were sitting on a bench facing backwards. There were all these narrow lanes barely wide enough for the truck, the bumps were huge and uneven and the truck was groaning. He was also driving very fast considering the terrain, but he wanted us to make it to the beach before the sun set. I was laughing so hard I was crying. It seemed like this precarious trip in the dark with a strange man to who knows where, and that was before I saw the road we were going on. I must have been tired, because it just seemed so funny. I wish I could have taken a picture of the roads, it is so hard to explain well, but all photos were too blurry, and I was holding on for dear life.

The beach was  beautiful, I think it would have looked more green in better light, but I was glad we went. On the drive back we saw more whales, they were incredible!

We had trekked quite a ways away from Kona to see these beaches, so Elesa came up with a new game for the ride. Think of random things and the other person has to figure out the connection. So fun!

We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant back in Kona, and then went back to the hotel to pack up because we had to check out in the morning.

Day 4- Sunday

Random little lizards. I wanted to take this one home.

We had heard Friday that they were having Stake Conference at church on Sunday. We decided to walk up the hill to listen anyway.

Elesa got up early and headed down to the lobby and brought up breakfast to eat in bed. It was nice to  take our time before heading out for the day.

We were quite distracted at church, and only stayed for an hour before heading back to the hotel to grab our car. We thought a little drive was an appropriate activity so we headed across the island to the Hilo side. It is the rainy side of the island, and it was beautiful! The city itself was quite run down looking, and way less touristy. Kind of disappointing!

We drove this "belt" road because it cuts right across the island. The first half from Kona was all dry and exposed rock, and about half way it turned to this amazing lush rainforest.

We drove up to this trail head for a waterfall (can't remember the name) we were hoping for a substantial hike and over heard someone say it would take about 45 mins. Well about 15 minutes later WITH stops for photos we were back at the car.  Still beautiful. I had never before considered taking small clips of video with my phone, but it was nice to play them back and remember the sounds of the forest and waterfalls.

We ate lunch at the pineapple cafe in Hilo, and then headed to the volcano national park. We were freezing, but we waited in the visitors centre until it was nice and dark and we could see the glow of the active volcano. The Big Island is actually formed from a handful of volcanos. Most are extinct, but there are a few active. I heard someone say that there is one that is constantly pouring into the ocean. Very cool!

As you drive into the park you see all this steam coming up from the side of the road, and random spots in the horizon. They are volcano steam vents. This one was set up for tourists to check up close.  It was very cool to stand in the steam.

 Bright glow as we were leaving in the dark.

Craters inside of craters. It was a huge hole.

Day 3- Saturday February 7th

Elesa had seen this place selling Acai bowls when we had been driving earlier, and we decided to stop there for breakfast Saturday morning before heading to our Surf lesson. An Acai bowl is a delicious smoothie, topped with granola and fresh fruit, and then drizzled with honey. It was delicious!

We found the surf hut and they offered to move our lesson to later in the day when they thought the waves would be better. So we drove down the road to "white sand beach" to read for a few hours. Sadly it too had disappeared. They should maybe add that "little" piece of information in the travel brochures :)

At 11, we met our instructor and the one other man joining our group and learnt the basics on land before heading to the water. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but paddling is hard and you really don't get very far. They were pretty concerned with the current pulling us towards the rocks so set up a buoy so we had a safe spot to rest and wait our turn. There were quite a few other people in the same area, and the water was pretty shallow (he advised us to fall flat in a belly flop so we didn't hit our heads on the coral underneath). Surfing was lots of fun! We were in a little rotation with our instructor, we'd paddle over to him, he'd find us a wave, instruct us on the intensity of our paddling and when we still weren't going fast enough he'd give us a little shove to catch the wave.

I'd definitely surf again, but it would have to be with an instructor. Even Elesa who has done a lot of surfing insisted on an instructor. She said each area is so different that she felt more comfortable going with someone more familiar with current etc, before attempting to surf on her own. Also, with the island shoreline so rocky, it looked pretty scary to surf anywhere close to the rocks.

After the lesson we headed over to a little beach by the cover we were surfing in and read our books. We had a hot dog from a food truck that was the weirdest colour (matching Elesa's legs) but it tasted so good when you were hungry.

When we had enough of the sun we headed back to the hotel to clean up, and we spent some time shopping for our families and home and then to dinner at a Thai Restaurant. It was delicious!

We could not finish our day there. We hit up the hotel hot tub, and then ran to target for a Ben and Jerry's treat before bed. When Brett and I were in Hawaii we ate so much ice cream. We had to try all the Ben and Jerry's flavours you couldn't get in Canada.

Day 2- Friday February 6th

Friday morning we woke up early and headed to the Beach. We stopped at a grocery store for trail mix and some fruit to snack on at the beach and drove the 20 minutes to this beautiful beach we had seen on trip advisor. When we arrived, the beach was no where to be found. A friendly local advised us that in the winter the beach gets washed away because of the large waves and strong current. The beach returns in May. Luckily he told us where we could find Hapuna Beach. We got there early and found a nice little spot to set up camp. I had my hat, and my sunscreen and I felt quite confident sitting in the sun.

Background- When I went to Hawaii with Brett and Wyatt almost 7 years ago I was totally disappointed. Oahu was busy and crowded and HOT. I remember being surprised how hot it was, and everything is open air. The whole mall is even open except for when you were in a specific store and then you are blasted with air conditioning. We had a baby with us, so one of us was always on the beach with our things and the few times I went into the water I felt silly playing by myself, or I got water in my mouth and wanted out right away. Brett actually said that if I didn't like Hawaii this time that I shouldn't tell him. I think he did not plan to ever take me back. That's how great a time I had. As a disclaimer, I did have my camera stolen out of our rental car, losing 300+ pictures from our trip. Totally ruined the whole thing for me.

Back to the recent trip- it was TOTALLY different. I don't know if it was the company, or lack of children or both, but I was happy to play in the ocean, felt semi comfortable leaving our things up on the beach while we did and was never too hot because we frequently took a dip when we were feeling cooked.

Elesa said we had to try boogie boarding. I had read some recent blog posts from other people who had experienced almost fatal experiences in Hawaiian waves so I was a little nervous. I soon realized you don't have to go very deep to enjoy the fun in the ocean waves. They were quite powerful though, I almost lost my bathing suit a few times, and had Elesa cinch up my top to avoid over exposure.

We had planned this amazing tour for Friday evening, it was the main reason we had chosen to visit the Big Island. It was where you head up the highest peak in the USA _ Mauna Kae, and they have all these observatories and telescopes up there and the stars are incredible because you are higher than the clouds. Sadly, the winds on the mountain were too strong to go all the way to the top and so we decided to wait and see if we could go on the full tour another day.

That evening after dinner of fish tacos at Humpy's we headed to the Kona Temple. It is a mini one like the one in Edmonton, but it was fun to add it to my list of foreign temples I've been to.

Elesa likes to play these games.... so at dinner or any lengthy car ride she comes up with some great game. Random questions really. I don't remember the question exactly, but it made me think of the time we'd already spent in Hawaii, and how much fun we were having together. There is something nice about old friends. I feel like I can be myself completely because we've known each other so long. Elesa is totally different than me, she is daring and outgoing and so much fun. She was definitely rubbing off on me, someone who is typically very safe and pretty boring. It was nice to be pushed out of my comfort zone a little, and I'm pretty sure she is one of the only people I know that can do that for me.