Big Island Love

Well… we’re back in Canada. Coming home from a trip is always bittersweet. I thought I’d be devastated after leaving Hawaii, but it’s nice to see our families, house and pets again. Living out of a suitcase becomes tiring after a while.

Court and I booked a hotel room at the Marriott in Kailua a couple days before flying home. For a ‘basic’ hotel, it was actually really nice! Newly renovated, very comfortable beds and a great breakfast buffet. We were all over the omelete bar and um… oatmeal. I’ve been craving oats like mad lately! You know your vacation is coming to an end when oatmeal sounds more appealing than a Mai Tai.

Kailua reminded me a lot of Puerto Vallarta. Just smaller and without a ton of resorts. It’s a great choice for families or travelers looking for hosted tours. I’m glad we only stayed there for two nights – the dining options are limited, unless you’re into pub-style eats. Plus there are so.many.people. Instead of hanging around tourist shops, we lounged by the pool, and squeezed in a few much needed gym sessions.

Our last full day in Hawaii was spent swimming at Hapuna Beach (I swam with turtles again!) and lazing in the sun. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know we’ll be back. I cried when the plane began it’s taxi down the runway and all of the airport employees were waving goodbye. And then again when I went grocery shopping at home and spotted a sad looking pineapple. πŸ™Β  Did anyone see a distraught looking blonde lady in Save On Foods recently? That was probably me.

Court and I were fortunate enough to be able to explore the island thoroughly, taking our time and compiling a list of ‘the best’ of Hawaii. For the most part, we went beyond the main tourist attractions, avoiding overpriced tourist traps, and letting our sense of adventure guide us.

What we loved about the Big Island:

  • The eco-diversity – the island has 11 of the earth’s 13 micro-climates!
  • Kohala Coasts white sand beaches; especially Makalawena and Mauna Kea beach. Hot, sunny and dry conditions along the South Kohala coast were a welcomed relief from unpredictable weather on other parts of the island.
  • Lush rainforest valleys, gulches and coastal views along the Hamakua coast.
  • Warm, welcoming locals. Everyone was so nice!
  • The old Kalapana-Kapoho highway aka The Red Road in Puna.
  • Fresh produce and farmers markets, specifically on the east coast. More variety and better prices.
  • The Kings Trail in McKenzie State Park, which leads into a coconut palm forest.
  • Tide pool snorkeling in Kapoho.
  • Waimea, a cool sub-tropical ‘western’ town located among cinder cones.
  • Waipio Valley- on foot. The walk down the steep 4×4 road is worth the effort – you get to enjoy multiple views of the valley and coast on the way down, with a rewarding grey sand beach at the end of the trail.
  • The Aloha. You can feel it. Everywhere.The Big Island has it all, and we often forgot we were on an island. It’s large enough that you can take a lengthy vacation without becoming bored.

The only aspect we didn’t like was the vog, which typically hovers around Kona when the volcanoes are very active. Some days were clearer than others, but it became hazy with cloud overcast everyday in Kona. On the bright side, it’s not difficult to get away from. A half hour drive north usually took us to bright blue skies and clean air. And white sand beaches.

We left with Aloha in our hearts, a lifetimes worth of memories and some pretty impressive tans. Hawaii nurtures the soul, and we learned that even though we can’t stay in paradise forever (maybe one day?!) you can create your own paradise within. I left the island feeling re-energized, grateful and determined to focus on ‘the little things’Β  that make life great.

So… who wants to come to Maui and Molokai with us? πŸ˜‰

We Found The Mangoes

Mango-fans, have you ever noticed that finding a decent mango is like chasing the dragon? A good mango is hard to come by – even in Hawaii. They’re either under-ripe and piney tasting, or over-ripe and piney tasting. In Kona this past week, the markets were overflowing with organic mangoes which sent Court into euphoria. They’re his favourite fruit. I love them as long as they don’t taste like a Christmas tree.

The farmers markets on the Kona coast are geared towards tourists – with crafts, clothing, jewelry, and less fruit and veggie stands. Meh. Give me veggies.Β  Lots of fresh leis for sale which I can’t resist burying my nose into every time I pass them. Plumerias are my favourite scent -they’re like lilacs… but better.

We had lunch at a wonderful burger place called Annie’s a few days ago. It’s conveniently located next to Island Naturals (our favourite Hawaiian health food store) in Kainaliu. Some guests we met at Ka’awa Loa recommended it, and we weren’t disappointed! The atmosphere was unexpected for a burger restaurant. It’s a partial open-air setting with a casual-contemporary cafe vibe. When we walked in, Tiesto was was blaring throughout the restaurant, and at that moment I knew I was going to love our meal.

We ordered Longboard beers and a bowl of tomato-basil soup to start.

I’d been told the ‘Mala’ burger was amazing, so I had to try it. Chickpea patty seasoned with herbs, topped with tzatziki sauce and lime coleslaw. Purple potato salad on the side.Β  Sounded promising!Β  Someone in the kitchen went a little crazy with the sauce in both my burger and salad, which was disappointing. All I could taste was tzatziki.Β  It was still good and I’d order it again – minus the gallon of dressing.

Court had the ‘South Point’ burger with a side of fries that I helped him devour. His burger was outstanding!

To balance out the salt, we stopped by Gia’s Gelato next door for a scoop of strawberry-lillikoi and mint chocolate.

My gelato was sickeningly sweet and I could only tolerate a few bites. Serious sugar burn in my throat. Lilikoi is already such a naturally sweet nectar that it doesn’t need extra sugar added to it.

Gelato, ice cream or frozen yogurt – what’s your favourite? Fro-yo, hands down! (Yogurtland… taro… mmmm)


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