While I’ve been to Oahu and Maui numerous times — and consider Kauai my happy place — Hawaii, on the other hand, has been a bit of a mystery to me.
We took an early winter vacation to the Big Island, going on long (and admittedly painful) hikes, looking for lava, staying in cottages at small bed & breakfast retreats, and eating shave ice wherever we went (which is possibly the most important thing about vacationing in Hawaii).
Our nine-day trip began on the Kona Coast, where we stayed on a plantation in Captain Cook. After our time on the island’s west coast, we drove down — through South Point and Green Sand Beach — and east to Volcanoes National Park. After spending a few days hiking and lava-viewing around Volcano, we passed through Hilo and went around the island, eventually arriving on the Kohala Coast, where we spent our final two nights at a posh resort on the only white sand beach we saw.
Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate and it rained for much of the week, but that ultimately wasn’t too bad, as the cooler temperatures made our hikes more bearable.
Here are some photos from the week, taken with my beat-up iPhone 5s. The quality of these images is poor, and these days I’m not really enthusiastic about taking pictures (kind of how I’m apathetic about writing). But I hope they give you an idea of my time on Hawaii — as well as the island’s varied and distinct landscape.
The cottage at Ka’awa Loa Plantation: home for the first four nights on the Kona coast.
With Dazzle, the plantation’s friendly resident cat.
A palm tree at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
A boat on display at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park.
The living room of the main house at Ka’awa Loa Plantation.
Outdoor shower at Ka’awa Loa Plantation, a few steps from the hot tub.
The leafy interior of one of the outdoor showers.
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, one of four green sand beaches in the world. Stopped here during our drive from Captain Cook to Volcano.
Another perspective from Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach is the southernmost point in the United States. Feels a bit like the end of the world.
A quick stop at Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach, before arriving at Volcano.
While exploring Volcanoes National Park, we stayed at Lotus Garden Cottages B&B for a few nights, in the rainforest of Volcano.
The exterior of Hula Moon Cottage.
Pre-volcano breakfast at Lotus Garden Cottages.
The path to Pu‘u Loa, the site of ancient petroglyphs carved into lava rock.
The petroglyphs at Pu‘u Loa (or, volcanic emoji).
The landscape of Volcanoes National Park, somewhere along Chain of Craters Road.
Primary lava rule: don’t annoy the goddess Pele.
View at dusk at the Kalapana Flow area, where lava is flowing into the sea.
After our time in Volcanoes National Park, we drove through Hilo to Umauna Falls, where we ziplined over falls and swimming holes.
A flower on the grounds of Umauna Falls.
We finally saw the sun on the day we left, on the beach of the Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast.