Big Island: Our 6 Favorite Things

OK, it took me forever to get this first post up about our trip to Hawaii.  I’m not sure why.  Life?  Laziness?  Longing to go back?

Anyway, we did a lot while we were on the Big Island but, rather than just give you a rundown of everything we did and whether we’d do it again if we had it to do all over again, I thought I’d put together a list of the favorite things that we did.  These aren’t in any particular order.

1.  Mauna Kea Beach.  It seems that some seem to  think that Hapuna Beach is the better (best!) beach on the island.  We went to both and, while they were both spectacular and perfect with amazing turquoise water and white sand, we actually preferred Mauna Kea Beach to Hapuna Beach.  In this photo (pardon the reflection of my pants), Hapuna Beach is the beach off to the left and Mauna Kea is the beach off to the right.

IMG_1527

Mauna Kea is a bit smaller and more intimate.  It was also significantly less crowded, which almost certainly has something to do with the fact that they only have approximately 40 parking spots for the public.  This makes getting in a bit of a challenge because the parking lot fills up early and stays full.  We lucked out on our first attempt and just happened to find a parking spot, but came up empty-handed on our second try later in the week.  Rumor is that you can also park at Hapuna Beach and walk from there to Mauna Kea.  We understand that it is about a 1-mile walk.

The snorkeling at Mauna Kea was pretty good.  There’s a little cove off to the left that’s full of fish.

IMG_1479

2.  Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour.  When I went to Kaui when I was a kid, we took a helicopter tour.  Even though I was only 7 years old, every minute of that amazing tour is emblazoned in my memory.  I wanted my kids and my husband to have a similar experience, so I booked us a tour of the Kohala Coast on Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours.

The truth is that these tours are expensive.  So expensive that you are going to be tempted to not do it.  But, believe me when I say that it is worth every penny.  You get to see things that you can only see from a helicopter.  And the things that you will see will blow your mind.  It was the highlight of everyone’s trip.  Seriously.

Our ride was about an hour.  And I think that was the right length of time with our kids at 4 and 7.  Much longer and I think the awe of it all would have worn off and they would have been ready to be back on the ground.  Just my two cents.

Here are a few (or, well, more than a few) of the shots I took from the helicopter.  I was an idiot and wore light-colored pants, so you’ll see my pants in most of the shots.  They told us to wear dark colors, but I failed to follow the rules.  Not intentionally.  I just forgot.  Helicopter tour fail.  Regardless, you get the gist of how awesome it was.

IMG_1491

IMG_1492

 

20140704_123243_resized

 

20140704_123407

IMG_1501

IMG_1506

IMG_1511

IMG_1514

IMG_1517

IMG_1522

IMG_1524

20140704_130442_resized

3.  South Point.  This is the southernmost point in the United States.  It’s along the road down to Volcano National Park from Kona, and is well worth the 10-12 mile drive off the main road to check it out.  Make sure you go all the way out to the point (where the disgusting toilets are) and not just to the windmills.  It’s a pretty spectacular view.

We didn’t know before we got there, but you can jump off the cliff into the water from the boat cranes.  We wish we had brought bathing suits, and seriously contemplated doing it in our clothes and just suffering in wet clothes for the rest of the day.  It’s not for the faint of heart, for sure.  The folks we saw did it said the hardest part was using the very rickety ladder on the cliff to get back up.

20140707_100246

4.  Devil’s Throat.  We had a great time at Volcano National Park, and saw a lot of neat things.  However, the coolest thing we saw wasn’t even marked on the Park map.  It was mentioned in my tour book, the Big Island Revealed (best tour book ever, by the way) and we decided to check it out.  You have to find a small unmarked trail, and then walk in a few minutes.  You come upon this monstrous, deep hole in the ground – without any railings or protection – so you can get right up close and see it firsthand.  It was scary, for sure, and I was completely paranoid that one of the kids was going to fall in.  But it was amazing and spectacular and awe-inspiring.  I left my camera in the car, so I don’t have any photos of it, but I took this photo from the US Geological Society that gives you a sense of it from above and this photo that gives you a sense of what it looks like when you are right up next to it.

30424305-044_large

 

img_2350

5.  Laupahoehoe Point.  As we were driving around one day, we saw a sign for Laupahoehoe Point.  We didn’t really know what it was but we decided to take the road down and check it out.  And we’re so glad we did.  It was this amazingly beautiful little area with impressive rocks and cliffs and insanely blue water.  We ended up staying there for a couple of hours and taking a million photographs and watching the waves crash.  There weren’t many tourists down there, but a lot of locals just hanging out.

IMG_1543

IMG_1553

IMG_1549

20140705_150623_resized

6.  Honomu Town.  On the way to Akaka Falls, there is a little town called Honomu.  We stopped there for lunch, and ended up spending an hour or so wondering through the shops and chatting with the people.  We fell in love with the little town, which seemed quintessentially small-town Hawaii and sweet and not overrun by tourists.  Everyone there was so nice, including a man who worked at the beauty shop and ran out to help our daughter when she fell down on the road and skinned her knee.  We ended up stopping in Honomu again on our way out of Akaka Falls for a cup of coffee because we didn’t want to leave it behind.  I don’t have any photos of it but trust me when I saw it’s worth a stop.

 

Listening: Two Songs

I’ve recently discovered a couple of new songs that I wanted to share.

The first one – The Heart by Needtobreathe – is one that they just started playing on my satellite radio station, and it’s seriously got me tapping me toes.  I love me an upbeat, happy, toe-tapping song.  It’s also kid approved, for what it’s worth.

The second one I heard when I was trying to get caught up on The Bachelorette the other night. (I know Andi eventually eliminates him, but I had a real soft spot in my heart for Chris the Farmer. Is anyone with me on that?) On one of the episodes, during one of the infamous – but awkward – private concerts, American Young played Love Is War. It sort of haunted me (in a good way) over the next couple of days until I took the time to track it down.  I’ve been listening to it over the last few days, and there’s something about it that has me hooked.

Have you uncovered any good songs lately?

 

Confession: 6 Random Crushes

Before we get started here, I have to remind you / make clear / reiterate that I’m a woman who happens to be happily married to a rather handsome fellow.  I’m a lucky lady.

OK, so moving on.

I started putting this list together in my head a few months ago when I was stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on my way home from work.  And I’ve been refining it ever so slightly since then.

Clearly, I have nothing better to do.   (Except that I do.)

It’s a list of random celebrities that I find attractive.  The key here is random.  These are not your typical celebrity hunks who immediately come to mind when thinking of celebrity hunks or who garner all of the celebrity-induced gossip magazine attention.  No Brad Pitt.  No Bradley Cooper.  No Chris Pine (although, truth be told, I’m still not sure I know who Chris Pine actually is…  Star Trek movie, right?).  All attractive…don’t get me wrong.  Just not the sort of list of random-ness I was putting together.

Anyway, here are 6 random guys that I have a bit of a crush on:

0432078439_11684731_8col

1.  Jimmy Fallon.  What can I say?  I have a thing for funny guys.  And also super nice guys.  I’m also not alone on this, apparently, since it looks like he made People’s list of sexist men alive in 2013.  This video of him singing Let It Go with Idina Menzel is just about the best thing I’ve ever seen.  I mean, seriously adorable.

jon_stewart_return

2.  Jon Stewart.  Like I said, I have a thing for funny guys.  This guy absolutely cracks me up.  And I’ve always found him to be rather cute… even back in the day when he was on MTV.  It’s OK by me that he’s lacking in the tall-ness department.

photo-credit-warwick-saint-extralarge_1361301956669

3.  Michael Buble.  I like listening to him sing, but I also don’t mind looking at him.  At all.  I’ve had a random Michael Buble crush from the beginning when I saw him on some random daytime television show and they were rambling on about him being the next Harry Connick, Jr. (also someone I find randomly attractive, for what it’s worth).  I’m not sure what it is.  There’s just something about him.  (I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so since his wife, Luisana Lopilato, is amazingly gorgeous.)

mark-ruffalo-670x350

4.  Mark Ruffalo.  I remember seeing Mark Ruffalo in a movie a long, long time ago (maybe You Can Count on Me with Laura Linney?) and being oddly drawn to him.  Hello there.  I’m still a big fan and get super excited when he pops back up in something.

AaronGilchirst

5.  Aaron Gilchrist.  This is going to be a random one for most of you out there, but Aaron Gilchrist is a morning new anchor on Channel 4 news here in D.C.  I watch the local morning news as I’m getting ready most mornings, mostly because of him.  I’m a fan.  (Blushing.)  I think he’s the only one on my list who isn’t married or otherwise spoken for (publicly).  Just saying…

image

6.  Kai Ryssdal.  We’ve previously talked about my random crush on NPR’s Kai Ryssdal (see here).  Well, it’s still going strong.  I {heart} this guy and his crazy economics talk.

OK, so who are your random crushes?

{Links to photos:  here, here, here, here, here, and here}