Whirlwind Tour of Hawaii

At long last, I can finally say that I’ve been to Hawaii!

Last March, at a silent auction, I purchased a week at the Hale Ho’ola bed & breakfast on Big Island Hawaii that I had one year to use. The bed and breakfast owners, Bob & Mary, suggested that I get  Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook before I arrived so that I would not miss any of the wonderful attractions.

We arrived in Kona midday on November 20 and promptly went to the Kona Brewing Company: Kona Pub & Brewery  for lunch. Our first day was all about settling in, picking up various necessities such as sun block, liquor,  Kukui Lotion (great stuff!), and fresh fruit. I now love rambutan and dragon fruit in addition to more normal tropical staples such guava, pineapple, banana, papaya, and passion fruit. By the time we decided to find dinner most places had closed so we ate at the Fish Hopper in Kona. Don’t make this mistake.

Later in the week we ended up eating several meals at Senor Billy’s in Captain’s Cook – fast, fresh, friendly and depending what you order, great for your nutrition plan. I also became a huge fan of “the plate lunch.”

Those who know me well know that my typical vacations involve reading through countless trashy novels, sleeping, eating out and browning my skin on the beach. This trip was quite different. I’ve never explored more or been so physically tired at the end of each day. Each day was an adventure. We tried to see and do just about everything.  Saturday, we drove Saddle Road to the east side of the island and spent the day in Hilo. Sunday we headed to South Point, the Green Sand Beach, the Black Sand Beach and the Volcano National Parks. Monday we hiked into Pololu Valley (one of the prettiest places I have ever seen! See picture below) and watched the sun set near Kua Bay.


Tuesday we rented kayaks from Kona Boys and spent the day at Kealakekua Bay. We had the pleasure of seeing a pod of about 7 dolphin swimming near us.  Wednesday, I started my day at Nail Trixx wanting to get my hands and feet touched up (and massaged!). We then toured many less know beaches that were listed in Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook. The directions were very detailed (such as turn left at phone pole #22 and head 0.72 miles down a dirt road) but most of the beaches weren’t as magnificent as described. We also toured the Petroglyph Park in Puako.

Bright and early Thursday morning we flew to Oahu for Thanksgiving.  Other than a brief trip to see the magnificent waves along the North Shore, we spent the day with my traveling companion’s family.

We arrived in Kauai at about 9 AM Friday morning. The Grand Hyatt thankfully let us check in very early.  We dropped our bags and immediately drove to the prettiest beach I’ve ever seen in Polihale State Park – the white sand beach literally goes on for miles and miles. We walked along the beach for perhaps 6 to 8 miles. I felt this journey in my calves for days. The surf was too rough to swim in but was majestically beautiful. On our way back we stopped at the Shrimp Station for a snack and ran into friends of my traveling companion from Denver. We are ever reminded that the world is very tiny. We splurged on dinner at Merrimans that evening – great food, great service. Wow. Saturday we drove the eastern coast of Kauai so that I could get a brief taste of the ecological diversity of the island. Kauai is the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever been. That afternoon we went for a helicopter tour of the island. Much of Kauai is privately owned or not accessible by road. The only way to see it is from the sky. This was my first time in a helicopter (Jack Harter Helicopters)- it was tinier than I expected and had no doors (Hughes 500) but the view was magnificent. That evening we flew back to Oahu.

After a terrific breakfast as the Like Like Drive Inn for one last traditional Hawaii breakfast,  we spent Sunday touring Pearl Harbor. I am sometimes embarrassed by how little history I know. Granted I knew that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in World War II but that was pretty much it. I now know much more. This was a fairly somber way to end such a delightful vacation but I’m glad we took the time. We toured the Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine, and the Pacific Aviation Museum before flying back to Denver.

I am already wondering how quickly I can get back to Kauai; 36 hours was not enough.