Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The "Best" of Hawaii - Part One

To me, traveling to other parts of the world is like meeting your best friend for the first time.  Always exciting, and creating memories that will last a lifetime!  I have to admit, I get a little crazy when it comes to picture taking, though.  Is it normal to amass over 500 images during a one week vacation?  For me, nothing less!  It's just my way of cherishing and being able to "remember" it all.

Our trip to the Big Island was no different.  This was our 4th time to the Hawaiian islands and after much "research" we decided to stay on the big island for several reasons.  First, we've never been there.  That's good enough reason for me!  Second, our traveling friends had already booked their trip, choosing to stay in a wonderful condo complex south of Kona, a bustling mecca for shopping and restaurants.

We chose to stay in a resort complex (no cooking for me, this trip) further up North on the sunny Kohala coast, about 30 miles from the airport.   We drove up the coast, and scanned the landscape, all the while thinking it looked alot like Nevada.    Area 51 meets Hawaii!   It was the remnants of huge lava flows with sparse grasses struggling to stay alive.  Wow...not lush like you would imagine Hawaii to be.  What we found out later was that the big island has several micro climates and you didn't need to drive very far to experience them.

Our hotel, the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort, was a lovely property.  What made it special, though, was the beach setting.  Serene, quiet, romantic, and very relaxing!  Exactly what we needed.   Each day we wandered down to the beach and took our daily walk, sometimes taking a morning dip in the warm crystal clear water.  Standing knee deep you could see the schools of fish swim by.  The perfect way to start the day.

Most days we snorkeled which is one of my favorite activities in the world!  On days when we chose to sight see, we'd throw the snorkel stuff in the back of the car, just in case!   One of the "hidden" snorkel spots we found was less that 2 miles away, called Puako Bay.  We took the road less traveled, to the left, which took us through a charming community, general store, marina and a spot where mostly scuba divers entered the water.   The access to the water was easier than it looked.  At first glance, I hesitantly waded into a sheltered hole surrounded by sharp lava rocks.  This tiny entry, about the size of a hot tub, made it super easy.  Of course, the locals explained the best way to enter so our bodies would not be shredded against the razor sharp rocks, and prompted us to try it.  Very much worth the effort.

On another day, we took the road to the right where a trail led down to a gorgeous crescent shaped beach, secluded, except for Sundays.  The snorkeling there was some of the "best" I've ever done.  And the reward was being able to swim with a sea turtle!  Very cool!

I'll have several posts on our recent vacation in Hawaii.  There was so much to see and do.  Here's a few of my favorites:

The BEST snorkeling beach was Puako Bay

Puako Bay

The BEST walking sandy beach was right outside our door, Hapuna Beach.

Hapuna Beach

More to come....

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