Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lua pele – The Big Island

Our annual vacation to Hawaii usually involves hanging out on Oahu for three weeks. This year however, we decided to venture a little farther afield and we took a 4 day trip to the Big Island. It was an expensive little jaunt, but totally worth it in the end.

There are basically two places to stay on the Big Island. Kona or Hilo. Everyone we asked that had been there told us to stay in Kona, so instead of doing a little of our own research, we just took the advice we were given and booked a hotel in Kona. Then we started reading. We found out that this trip was now going to involve a lot of driving. Nothing is close to Kona. Hilo – where most of the waterfalls are, and all the good botanical stuff is a 2 hour drive. Volcano National Park is a 3 hour drive. We did not want to waste hours in the car with two kids on this vacation and were so mad at ourselves for booking our stay without doing our own research. Kona was great, but we wasted so much time driving, I kind of wish we had found someplace in Hilo (but I understand there aren’t a lot of choices in Hilo which is why everyone stays in Kona).

We had three things planned for this trip. Of course the Volcano. This was the biggie. It was the thing everyone was looking most forward to. THere was non stop chatter about the volcano and lava and smoke and whatever else you can think of that has anything to do with a volcano for weeks leading up to this trip. And let me tell you, Volcano National Park did not disappoint.

Elephant Tree

Elephant Tree

I had to take a picture of this tree. It was right outside the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube. I thought it looked like an elephant.

Thurston Lava Tube

Thurston Lava Tube

I’m still not sure how lava tubes are formed. Clearly at some point there was lava flowing through this sucker. It was pretty massive. Impressive that so much “earth” could have flown through there at one time.

Devastation Trail

Devastation Trail

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Prior to the 1958 eruption of Kiluea Iki this area was a rainforest. After the eruption and subsequent lava flow this is what is left. It’s unbelievable how much destruction there is from an eruption.

Trees swallowed by Lava

Trees swallowed by Lava

It took us a while to figure out what these were. The structures covered in lava are trees that did not burn quickly enough when the molten lava hit them. The lava just surrounded them and hardened and this is what was left.

sounded very ominous

sounded very ominous

This sign is what greeted us at the end of the Crater Rim Drive. THere is a five-mile hike across very rocky lava fields to the ocean where the lava is still flowing and creating new land. At one point there was a housing development in this area that was completely devastated just a few years ago by new lava flow. In just a few years the lava has created approx 64 sq miles of new land. Crazy!

Road to No Where

Road to No Where

Road Closed

Road Closed

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Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater

This crater is currently still active and can be viewed from a number of vantage points. It just looks like a big smoking hole during the day, which in and of itself is neat, but it is really awesome at night.

Halemaumau Crater  by Night

Halemaumau Crater by Night

After the day we had at the National Park we decided to take it a little easier. We drove to Hilo and toured some waterfalls, went on a few nice hikes and saw some really unique flowers and some of the most beautiful orchids at the Botanical Gardens

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Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Apparently if you arrive at Rainbow falls on a sunny day, and there has been substantial rainfall, you will see a spectacular rainbow forming in the spray.  Clearly we were not there on a sunny day, nor after a period of heavy rain (although the nigh before I could have sworn the whole island was going to be flooded based on the amount of rain that came down)

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

Our last day on the Big Island we did what my kids would probably say was the highlight of the entire trip. We visited a Seahorse farm. I have to admit it was pretty darn awesome (expensive but awesome). The farm breeds seahorses for retail sales so that they do not have to be removed from their natural habitats in the ocean. It was a fascinating little out-of-the-way place to visit. And we got to hold a seahorse

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Aloha Kakou – Part I

Vacation.  Oh how I love thee.   I have always loved travelling.  Travelling is not the same as it used to be and I don’t think that is something I can get back, no matter how hard I try.  I have kids, and when it comes to vacations I just have to accept it.  Sure I can go away without my kids, but they are always in the back of my mind, and well then there are family vacations.  So vacation is what it is now.  Travelling is what it is.  Its still awesome, just in a different way.

We just returned from our annual family vacation to Hawaii.  My older sister lives in Hawaii with her family, so it is a great excuse to get away from the frozen tundra that is the GTA and get a little Vitamin D.   Every year my parents rent a  beach house on the North Shore of Oahu, just north of a town called Kahuku on Kawela Bay.   It is a little slice of Heaven.  We generally just go and hang out, but this year was a little different, so I’m going to spread out my posts about our trip and do it in three parts, since we were there for three weeks, and each week was different from the other.  Its  mostly about the pictures (I have over 750, I went a little crazy) because really no one wants to hear my silly stories about the plane trip, or getting up early, dealing with jet lag, cranky kids, expensive groceries yadda yadda, it’s the pictures.

So here is the first week of our trip

A House with A View

A House with A View

That is the view from the Lanai of the beach house.  Its spectacular.  Its beautiful when its sunny, its amazing when its stormy and windy.  It’s just crazy awesome

No waves

No waves

Kawela Bay

Kawela Bay

A while ago I read a book by Alan Brennert titled Honolulu.  It’s a fantastic book and has a great history of the island.  A major part of the book discusses what life was like as a worker on a sugar cane plantation.   Although we had been to Oahu 5 times prior to this trip, we had never discovered the Plantation Village historical site.  It was a great place for myself and my kids to learn about plantation life and what growing up on a plantation meant.   We had a wonderful tour guide, Espe, who did in fact grow up on one, and she really gave us a good idea of what life was like for those families.  It was fascinating.

Plantation Village

Plantation Village

One of my kids favourite places in Honolulu is the zoo.  It is a pretty awesome zoo as far as zoo’s go.  Everyone (at least in Toronto anyway) is always saying how amazing the Toronto zoo is, but it’s not.  Its horrible, at least in comparison to the Honolulu Zoo.   At the Honolulu Zoo the animals are always very active, they don’t seem to be stressed out in any way and they are always on full view.  We saw so many amazing things this year.  We heard some crazy birds making some really loud calls, we had an orangutan come up to the fence (which was about three feet away from us) and make a very loud call, and then there are monkey’s.  The monkey’s and lemurs are so cool.

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In the water about 50 ft off the shore, there is a very large reef.  When tide is low, which isn’t often on the north shore in the winter (its known for its huge swells), you can walk on this reef and explore (its not coral its volcanic so nothing is being destroyed by walking on it).  It also means there are nice shallow pools that are extremely calm.  It’s the perfect place to just hang out and cool off.

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My kids are getting older and slightly more bold.  This year they decided that snorkelling was on the docket.  Just south of the house is a place called Shark’s Cove.  It is a very rocky outcropping in the ocean just off shore.  When the waves are big, it’s a scary place.  When the waves are small it is the perfect place to snorkel.  It has all kinds of sea life, including Hawaii’s state fish the Humahumanukanukaapuaa (say that 10 times fast).  My kids gave it a go.  One kind of successfully, the other one not so much.  My little one did not like it all.

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We usually just hang out at the beaches close to the house but this year we decided to adventure to other beaches on the island because of stormy weather on the North Shore.  It’s amazing how different the beaches are in the South (and how different the weather is) than the North.  They are so calm, the water is beautiful and warmer and the colour is spectacular.  Everything a nice tropical beach should be.  One of our new favs is Waimanalo

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That would be my little head bobbing around in the ocean

Our first week came to a close and we were off to go and check out the Big Island and the Volcano.  Stay tuned for Part II

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Abandoned

I go and start this new blog and then I essentially abandon it.  I didn’t do it on purpose.  Life just got in the way, and trying to blog on an Ipad with a touch screen keyboard is pretty much my definition of hell.

I have been in Hawaii for the last three weeks.  I just got back around 1 am on Sunday morning.  I’m still running on fumes and am five hours behind.  Jet lag has a strong hold on me.

I will be  back in the next day or so with a post about my vacation, I love travelling more than anything in life (well except my family and dog maybe) and love talking about, love talking about doing it again.  I always have some vacation planning going on in the back of my head.  So I will for sure be back with the entire lowdown on my three weeks in Paradise.

If you are reading my blog I really do appreciate it, and sorry for the abandonment.