Danny and I just returned from a week long vacation to Hawaii. It was an amazing trip filled with early morning snorkeling beaching, coffee plantation touring, and volcano hiking.
When we arrived, we checked into the vacation home we stayed in for the first four days of our trip. We found the cottage on airbnb.com. It was a great little place with no glass windows (only screens) that looked out to an amazing view of the ocean.
Every night, we fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof and trees.
And every morning, we woke up with the sun around 5:30am to the sounds of turkeys and roosters. The big island is a fairly rural island dotted with small farms growing coffee, fruit and other things.
Our shower also had just a screen with an awesome view and cool ocean breezes. Ahh…
Danny was so sweet and managed to wake up a few minutes before me every morning and start breakfast, usually some local fruit (pineapple or banana), toast, eggs, and Kona coffee. We enjoyed it on our lanai (patio) while looking out at the view.
Here are the highlights from our trip:
Our first day, we drove north to Hapuna Beach which is the largest white sand beach on the island.
I love love love relaxing on the beach for hours, but Danny reaches his sun limit pretty quickly (he’s Irish), so we only stayed for a couple hours before driving to Kona Brewing Company for a tour. They have excellent beer there, and we enjoyed trying many of them on our tour.
As you know, Danny and I have gotten into home roasting so we especially enjoyed taking a tour of this Kona coffee plantation (we actually toured another later in the week). The above shot is of a chameleon that we saw while on the tour. Can you spot it?
This is actually what a coffee tree looks like! Who knew?! The bean is actually inside the ‘cherry’ and removed and dried later. The cherry is green above, but later turns bright red when it ripens.
As much as we ate out on our trip, our favorite meals were actually the ones we cooked ourselves at our cottage.
A couple nights, we took advantage of the grill and made all kinds of grilled fish and vegetables. The fish was the best I have ever had. We made this insanely delicious ono that was so buttery and smooth. Most of the fish there is caught in Hawaiian waters and never frozen as it is when you purchase it on the ‘mainland.’
Black Sand Beach
After four nights in our screened-in cottage, we drove to the other side of the island to explore Volcanoes National Park. On the way we stopped a few places, including this black sand beach.
The beach is famous for it’s giant sea turtles, and we had fun snapping some photos.
I like turtles.
Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee
We also toured another coffee farm on the way. This one Danny had read about in a coffee book (The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee) and is in a different region called Kau which is becoming more and more famous for its coffee. This particular area is called ‘Clouds Rest’ because the clouds from the mountain come down and rest over this hillside and provide plenty of shade and moisture for the coffee trees.
Volcanoes National Park
Did you know Hawaii has 5 volcanoes? If you’re coming to the big island, exploring Volcanoes National Park should be a must do. The above picture is of a caldera at the summit of the volcano. There’s magma down there!
The lava changes direction all the time based on the pressure building in different parts of the volcano. Much of this part of the island is covered in volcanic rock.
Here is the volcano at night. Crazy!
And a view from the park.
Our second day there, we hiked the Kilauea Iki Trail which takes you across this giant crater. If you see the faded line in the crater above that is where we hiked.
The hike was about three and a half miles and was fairly easy.
It was pretty amazing to actually walk across a crater and realize that it once was a giant hole erupting lava 20 feet into the air.
Our last night, we drove to Mauna Kea, one of Hawaii’s volcanoes. We drove to the visitor’s center and while there climbed a small hill on the mountain to watch the sunset. We were so high, we were actually above the clouds.
You can actually drive up to the summit of the mountain for even better views, but the rental car company doesn’t allow their cars up there because the roads are very steep and partly unpaved. The rangers also recommend you have four wheel drive which we didn’t either.
After sunset, the staff set up telescopes at the visitor’s center to view the moon, Jupiter and Saturn. It was a very clear night, and the stars were amazing. We stood around looking up at the stars and sipping hot chocolate. It was such a cool experience.
Our vacation was a great mix of relaxing times and fun adventures. See you next time, Hawaii!