For our 2nd Wedding anniversary, we decided to use my Hawaiian Miles and fly to Hawaii for FREE! Tate was in charge of planning what Island we were going to and what we would do when we got there. He chose Hawaii, The Big Island. As it turned out, our friends Steve & Anna were also planning another trip to Hawaii and we decided it would be fun to go together and share their timeshare condo.
Steve & Anna arrived several days earlier than we did and met up with some other friends also vacationing at that time. Bill & Annie own a condo on the Island and were a wealth of knowledge when it came to telling us where to eat, sights to see and things to do.
We arrived at 3:00ish Saturday afternoon and met up with everyone as they were finishing lunch. We spent a couple hours walking downtown Kailua Kona and did a little shopping. Later in the evening, we headed to Mauna Lani Resort for Twilight at Kalahuipua’a – Talk Story Under a Full Moon. A monthly event right on the water with a different special musical guest each month. This month the guest Brudder Schmiddy and his band. They sang traditional Hawaiian songs and told stories of their Hawaiian heritage. This was a great treat since we never would have known about it unless Bill & Annie were there with us. It was late when we finished and finally got a bite to eat and got back to the condo. We were exhausted!
We spent Sunday with Steve & Anna and Bill & Annie. We took the jeeps and headed across the island. We went from having the top down in the jeep with hot, sticky weather to cool and dry in the (with cactus even!) then to beautiful and breezy on the west side of the island to down right cold! The climate is so different on that island
We went to Wiapeo Valley, which is where King Kamehameha was raised in solitude to protect him from the then King who was out to get him. We took the Jeeps 4 wheeling down a 900ft decline and through some mud pits down to the beach so we could look up the valley. It was truly amazing.
After that, we headed south to Laupahoehoe Point where a Tsunami hit and wiped out a school back in 1946. The sea was angry and smashed into the rocks over and over again. While walking around the area, a rainbow appeared over the water and allowed for a perfect picture moment.
We spent Monday just hanging out and shopping before our first dive of the trip. An afternoon/evening dive to see the Manta Rays. The afternoon dive was at about 4:00 pm at Garden Eel cove. This is the exact same spot that the Manta dive was to take place later in the evening. During the dive, we were treated with a visit from one of the Mantas! It was so cool to be out in the open water with him flying all around us. He hung out for quite a while so we got LOTS or pictures of him. We even got some video.
Later, after our surface interval and it was dark we prepared for our night dive. This is THE spot for Manta rays so there were several other boats full of other divers and snorkelers anxiously waiting to get in the water. Basically, they set up a ring of rocks and boulders on the ocean floor, about 30 ft down. They set several boxes of lights in the middle shining up. The divers gather around the ring and sit on the bottom and wait. The light attracts plankton which attracts the Manta’s for feeding. The past several days, they had seen 5-6 Manta’s a night. Unfortunately, we only got one for our dive. This was actually ok because it meant that our view of him wasn’t obstructed by anything. Our boat did not have a videographer but I had my little camera which takes great video. I took lots of video which I am currently working on putting together. Several times as the Manta was flying by, I shined my flashlight on him and he turned to come towards me. He flew right over me. At one point, he was so low that he smacked right into me. I was taking video at the time and you can hear me squeak as he hit me. Tate got a few pictures of me as the Manta was flying over me. It was such an awesome experience. I highly suggest that if you are planning a trip to the Big Island, that you dive with the Manta’s.
Tuesday, was a quiet day. We shopped, and hung around and relaxed.
Wednesday and Thursday were both dive days. We had morning 2 dives each day. By the time we got back to the condo we were pooped and didn’t do much other than eat, nap and eat. However, Thursday afternoon it rained. Well it rained a lot while we were there, but this afternoon it REALLY rained. Tate and I had massages out on the Lanai with the rain falling around us. It was so nice. Later, we went to the Four Seasons resort and had a WONDERFUL dinner. I ate duck for the first time. It was a small appetizer but was actually pretty good.
Friday, Tate and I took off by ourselves and went South. Again, the climate was constantly changing. South Kona was nice a green and lush, but further South it was completely dry with nothing but Lava rock for miles. We felt like we were on the moon! We took off down a 5 mile long dirt road in search of the green beaches. After driving for about 30 minutes on a bumpy dirt road, we finally made it. It didn’t seem like the sand was all that green. It wasn’t black, or tan, it seemed kinda dark brown. I walked down on the beach to get my feet wet and the surf was pretty strong and if you ask Tate almost sucked me out to sea. It did however get my
pants wet. There was another green beach just over yonder so we hopped in the jeep and back on the dirt road and headed down a much bumpier ROCKY road to the other beach. We ended up at the end of it and not actually ON it. So we admired from afar. It didn’t look very green either. What’s up with that?
I thought we were done with the bumpy roads but alas, there was ANOTHER green beach that we wanted to see. So we headed down the highway to South Point, which is the most southerly point of the United States. Many people think it’s the Florida Keys, but nope, it was right there! The area was flat and WINDY. Man was it windy down there. The ocean had white caps galore! We decided that we hadn’t had enough four-wheeling so we took the off-road trail to the other green beach. This was by far the scariest of all trails. So many people had taken this way that if one road got too muddy or deep, they would just create a new one. So no matter which road you took, it still got you to the beach. The fun part was trying to pick a road. Some were nice and smooth, others were SCARY! One of them actually had us practically sideways on 2 wheels. I kept leaning to the opposite side to keep us from tipping over, not that it was actually helping, but it made me feel better. When we could finally see the beach, we were just a valley away but couldn’t figure out how to get over there. The way there was too steep and after getting out and evaluating our options, we decided that if we made it over, we wouldn’t get back. So we looked for a different road. I finally saw one WAY over there up a hill. Yep, that was it. It took us right to the cliff where the beach was. It was a long way down and I really didn’t feel like climbing down and then back up so we admired from afar, again. This beach was actually more of a cove and the sand went up the sides. The wind had carved lines into the walls making it look like stone. It was so windy that sand was stinging our skin as it whipped past us. After all that bouncing around, I had to pee so I found a bush. Nothing I could do to get away from the wind and sand so I ended up with sane in my end. Yuck! On the way out, we encountered a NEW Ford Expedition on its way in. We told them that they may not have much luck as some of those road weren’t very friendly. They went ahead anyway. Hope they made it out ok without breaking their truck!
After the third green sand beach, we headed further around the island to the volcano park. Unfortunately, the lava flow of Mt. Kilawea had shifted and was only accessible by helicopter. I didn’t see that they were offering helicopter rides anywhere. So we headed into the Park and drove around to see the outer rim of the crater and then we drove INTO the crater. There were still steam vents all over the place. There were signs telling what year this particular trail of lava flow occurred. It was pretty interesting. Unfortunately, it started to rain before we could get to the lava tube. We headed back to Kona for a last night out dinner with Steve & Anna. I had Ono fish for the first time. YUM!
So that’s it. There’s the Hawaii story in a BIG nutshell.
After slaving for hours, I finally finished our video of Hawaii. It’s 17 minutes long, so get yourself a drink and a comfy seat and enjoy.
Here is a slideshow of all the photos taken. There are some repeats from the video above but some new ones too: