Jan 23, 2013


Ahhhh, Hawaii! What a magical place! We are so thankful to have gotten to go back this year after visiting Maui for the first time last year.

This year, I had a conference to attend on the Big Island. The sad thing for me was that we didn't have ANY extra time in Hawaii this year, so I didn't get to see very much of the island. (although I saw a whole lot of the inside of the window-less hotel conference room along with 250 other people) But Michael had a great time seeing the sights and on the last day we had a few hours between the end of my conference and the time our plane left so I got to see a few of the highlights.

When we flew in it was dark and we had a two hour drive to our hotel. It was raining and we couldn't see a thing! There are very few lights on the roads there. When you do see lights, they look very strange. They're long rectangular lights that point straight down and are a yellowish/amber color light. This is a terrible picture but you get the idea.
The reason they have so few lights along the roads is because of the observatories located at the top of one of the volcanoes on the island. To keep light pollution down, there are very few lights, and the ones that you see help to keep the star viewing as perfect as possible.

We checked into our hotel the first night and because everything was so dark, we could have been in the middle of a corn field somewhere and not have known the difference! But when we woke up to see this view...we knew we were far from corn fields (and snow)!

While I was busy working, Michael got to drive. A lot. The Big Island is just that...big. It takes several hours to get from one end to the other. There were a few places where he could hike, but most of the time he was in the car...which I'm thankful for because if he had taken his time and gotten out of the car more, I would have been sitting by myself every evening waiting for him to come back! :) Michael saw lots of this:

And occasionally a silly sign like this:
The first night we went into a town called Kona for dinner at Sam Choy's. Beautiful views of the sunset and yummy food. Sam Choy has been on a couple Food Network shows (Chopped and Emeril). Since we love being 'virtual foodies' watching Food Network - we like to try food from chefs to see what the fuss is about.
We, of course, had fresh Hawaiian fish. The fish was great...but then we had dessert. It was not.great.at.all. YUCKY! We tried something new to us which turned out to be a total mistake. It was fried mochi ice cream and I can't even describe how greasy and nasty it was. Michael couldn't even eat it...and he can usually eat anything.

Thankfully they didn't charge us for the nasty dessert and we tried something else. Dessert is not this place's claim to fame, and with good reason.

We did have good dessert one night after a meal at our hotel. And another beautiful sunset.
After a yummy meal (of fish again) we ordered the 'dessert for 4.' Yep - this was meant for four people! (and no, we couldn't finish it all by ourselves) It was quite the opposite of the dessert at Sam Choy's. Delicious! The three things in the middle are different creme brulees. (Kona coffee, coconut, and vanilla) Then it was POG sorbet (passion fruit, orange, guava) and other delectable chocolate things. Mmmm
Michael got to burn off the dessert calories by hiking around Volcano National Park one day. It's the home of Kilauea, an extremely active volcano. This was the crater of a different volcano, smoking from the hot lava inside it.
The volcanic rock is everywhere on this island. Some of it is rough and some looks like oozing mud but is hard like rock. Most of the green areas have been created for tourists, which makes it even eerier to leave the tourist areas. You kind of feel like you've landed on the moon. It's just black rock everywhere. And there are very few beaches on this island compared to Maui. Much of the shoreline is rocky like the picture below. And, I can't believe this...but we never even went in the water! The whole time we were there we were doing other things and the beaches just didn't seem that nice (really coarse, painful sand to walk on in most places) so we never went in! Although we did sit on the beach for an hour one night and got to hang out with a sea turtle sunning itself on the sand. So cute!
Michael found some gorgeous places!
This was a lookout area that he visited and then took me to later in the week. After you climb down a long path you see this gorgeous black beach. And if you look carefully, you can see the zig zagging path back up the hill. He didn't have time to go on that path but I bet it would have been beautiful at the top.
As soon as my conference ended we started driving to hit a few highlights before our flight left (at 10pm). We first went to a gorgeous waterfall. It's called Akaka Falls and is 442 feet!
You walk on this long, winding concrete path and after 15 minutes of walking you see the waterfall.
 Up close it is really beautiful!

We saw this funny sign on our drive. Have you ever seen one that says 'U turns' are OK?
When we got to Hilo we found a great little hidden Hawaiian Shave Ice place. I had never had shaved ice before and it was ssssoooo good! They put ice cream at the bottom and then take a huge chunk of ice and grind it down with a cheese grater-looking contraption to get it really fluffy. Then they pour flavored syrup over it. I tried a combination of coconut, lilkoi (passion fruit), and li hing mui (a salty/sweet red berry looking thing).
Then we tried to drive to the top of Mauna Kea, where the star observatories are. We drove from sea level to 9,000 feet and then saw signs that said you needed four wheel drive to get all the way up to the top (over 13,000 feet). Since the road turned to gravel, we decided not to chance it so we never made it to the top. Maybe next time.

Our last meal on the island was another Food Network place. Sad, I know. Earlier in the week Michael had stopped at Ippy's Hawaiian BBQ in Waikoloa and found out that Ippy (from Food Network Star) was working at his mom's italian restaurant in a different city. We stopped there for lunch (no fish this time) but didn't get to see Ippy. But we recommend Solimene's italian restaurant. It was good and really laid back.

Overall, the Big Island is quite different from Maui. And since those are currently our only two experiences in Hawaii (other than Honolulu and Pearl Harbor), it's hard not to compare them. There were some amazing features on the Big Island but Maui is hands down our favorite. I hope someday we get the chance to see Kauai and also see the non-Honolulu parts of Oahu so we get a better picture of the whole state. If you've never been to any of the Hawaiian islands...GO!

1 comment:

  1. Is there anyone that likes to eat their ice cream with a rubbery dome of deflated deepfried marshmallows that taste like vegetable oil? I submit "not".

    The fish was delish though. And it would have been more appropriate if they had named the fish "Oyes" and the desert "Ono".


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