Sunday, March 4, 2018

January in Hawaii I - Big Island

  Winter in Korea is cold! Air quality for the most countries around China is pretty bad especially during winter so we decided to go to Hawaii.  2 Weeks in Hawaii was plenty: went to 3 islands (longer in Kauai and Big Island) and we were a little tired in the end. Ah! if you are a beach person, you probably want to stay in Hawaii forever :)  but for us, we are more hiking, exploring, visiting museums kind of people.  We had a wonderful time in all 3 islands.  I'd love to share our photos and itinerary with you. 

  Day 1 - We arrived in Honolulu Friday morning and about 3 hours later we took a plane to Big Island = Hawaii Island.  We got an unfortunate news at the inter-island airport counter that Island Air which we booked was bankrupt in last Nov! The lady at the counter was super nice, we booked several plane tickets without any difficulties and paid a reasonable price for all tickets.  Pick-up our reserved rental car near Kona airport and drove to Honokaa and finally we arrived at our first Airbnb place, Hale Kukui.  I wish that we had enough time to enjoy the garden and the breathtaking view but we were too busy exploring the north side of Big Island. You can check out better photos on their Airbnb website.  

The view from my veranda - there are lots of fruit trees and you can pick and eat as you wish!

Yes! You can even see the Waipi'o Valley. 

  I am a Cloud-illiterate :(  Somehow I got rid of all the photos from my iPhone.  I posted some reviews during my vacation and all the tiny photos from my Google reviews.  Our first meal in Hawaii was at this place, Waipi'o Cookhouse- casual but delicious food made with local ingredients.  We went to twice during our stay. 

   Day - 2 Highlight of the day was the snorkeling next to the Cook's monument.  Fair-wind is the company we reserved and they were excellent. Highly recommended!

View from the office

Captain James Cook Monument

There is my husband!  It was amazing. I felt like I was in a ginormous fish tank but sadly I inhaled HUGE amount of seawater and ended up taking a break.  These photos are from our boat. 

The photo looks not that great since it was overcast and rainy day but for snorkeling, it was perfect: my husband didn't get burn as usual and on the way to this point we saw 5 dolphins and 2 whales! - I don't know it's because of the weather or not.... 

There are many Kona coffee places where offer from simple tasting to nice tour.  We went to Greenwell and tasted some of their coffee and bought some and then went to the Mountain Thunder , took a tour, tasted some coffee and bought some souvenir.  Highly recommended. 

Coffee fruit!

One of my husband's favorite things to do - Birding! and figuring out which birds he saw.  This is the photo from Ulu ocean grill and sushi restaurant inside Fourseason resort.  Great thing about Hawaii, you can just wear shorts, hiking cloth or/and Hawaiian shirts to everywhere!  We had a great time in this beautiful restaurant.  Delicious food and cocktails after a long and fun day.  What else! 

Again unfortunately I got rid of all the food photos so I can't show you any of my food photo T.T 

   Day 3 - Waipi'o Valley - Highly highly recommended!  Hike here, No car ride.  You need lots of time though.  The slope was extremely steep but fun.  Obviously you need more time to climb up than down :P

Let's start!

Sooooooo beautiful!  We stopped million times to see the view and taking photos. 

Finally in the valley!

If you turn right and walk for a while, you will reach this black sand beach.  There were lots of local people with SUVs and ATVs.  Again it was a rainy day. Remember to bring your umbrella to Hawaii!

If you turn left and walk for a while, you will see this fall.  The trail to this fall was closed but you can see lots of tropical flowers, wild chickens and birds on the way to this view point. 

Time to go UP! 

We definately deserved a good dinner and several drinks.  We went to Waimea; I really like this town. It has everything you need: great restaurants, a good brewery, a good size supermarket and banks. The Fish and the Hog & Big Island Brewhaus I want to go there again. Doing this blog makes me hungry :P The fish taco was amazing and the people next to us told me that the Reuben is fantastic. Beer selection at the Big Island Brewhaus was good too.  Make sure that you get to the restaurant and the brewery early.  Restaurants and bars close so early in this town. 

  Day 4 - We started with Hawaiian breakfast.  There were several places and we chose the Hawaiian Style Cafe and had Loco Moco; I was wondering about this dish which turned out eggs, hamburger patty, chicken katsu, spam on huge pile of fried rice with gravy.  I wasn't too crazy about the sauce but it was a good experience; figuring out new dishes is always fun!

It was HUGE! I even couldn't finish it :) 

West side of Big Island has this national historice site. It was worth visiting and walking around inside park.  We visited again later for bird-watching. 

We are staying in the north of this island so it was often foggy and grey but the West side of this island seems so sunny and bright - Well! and also there were the Vog in the west side so you must choose carefully where you are staying. 

  After Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site we drove up to the North. It was a perfect day for driving around.  The end of the road, you could find the Pololu Valley Lookout.  You can walk down to the valley but it was too hot and sunny so we just walked down little bit, took some photos.  I heard that people often hike from here to Waipio valley or vice versa. Next time! 

Driving toward to Waimea, you can find lots of cinder cones. 

Next to the Puako Petroglyph Archacological District, You can enjoy this view.  It was inside a huge resort and very few people were there.  There is even  clean toilets :)

From this sign, we walked about 20min or so, we found the Petroglyph site.  Interestingly the walking toward to this site was more memorable than the actual this Petroglyph; it was somewhat hypnotic....

On the way to Waimea, we saw the Mauna Kea Observatories- Later we were planning to go up to the site and doing star-gazing but it was canceled due to the strong wind T.T.  

Dinner reservation at Merrimans in Waimea It was a wonderful!  We enjoyed all the dishes, cocktails and wine.  Except the amaro they have on the menu, everything was perfect. 

Fancy poke served with beet chips

Signature dish - Macadamia nut crusted amberjack? some fish - Delish!

  Day 5 - We were driving toward to Hilo and stopped all the places we wanted to visit along the way.  Breakfast at Gramma's Kitchen was the exellent idea.  As you can see our omelet and Hawaiian style breakfast dish were amazing.  I believe this was the best breakfast we had in all 3 islands in Hawaii :) 

  We stopped at Hawaiian Vanilla Co. farm on the way to this botanical garden.  I bought lots of presents from the shop; didn't have time to wait for the tour but all the vanilla things were great for presents for all my co workers, friends and family. 

  We stopped at several Botanical Gardens and falls.  I even saw 3 little wild piglets took a nap inside a bush :) 

Akaka Fall State Park

Akaka Falls State Park - Good place to stop for a little walk toward to the fall and back. 

This place! You must go!  Amazing orchids, great ocean view and all beautiful flowers, trees and bushes.  Admission fee was little expensive but it was private owned and worth it. 

View from the garden. Amazing!

All the photos are from my camera which doesn't have the smartphone camera effect.  This was the real color: it's even better in real life :) 

Finally we arrived at our Hilo Airbnb place.  Little walkin distance from our place, there was this Indian restaurant, Kamana Kitchen and we had a very nice comfort meal. Next to this restaurant is a little supermarket that was very useful during our stay at this neighborhood. 

Day 6 - Volcano National Park day!  This is the reason that we came to Hilo :) We stopped at the visitor center, listened to an informative lecture, bought some presents; they have very good T-shirts at the gift shop. We didn't take any long hiking but drove around and walked little bit to a point 

It's HUGE!

Steamy and smelly.  We came back later night around 9pm-ish

So cool to walk through a lava tunnel!

My favorite view point in this park: so gorgeous and peaceful 

I could have watched the wave all day long...

The arch!

We'd been looking for Nene all day long and finally found them in a parking lot :)  

Dinner at the Rim restaurant.  You must make a reservation - the time is short and always full I believe.  I read many bad reviews but the server and the host were excellent!  Food was OK but we were in a national park so it's understandable :P We could see the active volcano from our seats.  For the window seats, you should arrive earlier than your reservation time.  

Wow, See?  Amazing that I can be this close to an active volcano!  Go to this point later - after 8:30pm and some people said that once in a while, it actives very strongly but you must be patient.

Beautiful moon and clouds

It's pretty far for my little camera to focus but you can see the HOT rock!

Day 6 - Last day in Big Island.  Our Airbnb place wasn't a nicest one but it was very close to a wonderful garden and awesome fish market.  If you are in Hilo, don't miss this fish market, Suisan Fish Market,  I've been eating Poke in many restaurant in 3 islands and this was the best Poke place. 
Super cheap, very fresh, lots of choices and it's located right next to a beautiful garden, Liliuokalani Park and Gardens.


Liliuokalani Park and Garden.  You can see lots of birds, beautiful Japanese style gazebo, bridge and huge tress and bushes... 

Rainbow Falls, Avoid the school drop off and pick up time.  There are lots of school around this fall and the traffic was really bad. 

You can see where the name is from :) 

We drove up from the rainbow fall to this spot, Pu'u O'o Trail.  Apparently it's famous birding spot. In fact we met a tour guide with lots of birders AND saw the famous Hawaiian bird, I'iwi

I was more excited to see mouflon sheep!

  Next day, we drove to Kona airport and flew to Kauai.  For 6 days in Big Island was perfect!  If we were beach people, it'd have been nice to stay longer of course.  Hope I can post Kauai blog soon.