By the time we arrived in Hawaii, it was past 10 pm and very dark outside. With already 7 hours of travel completed we now needed to make the 1.5-hour car ride to the other side of the island where my Uncle Chris and Aunt Theresa live. The whole way there we caught up and chatted about all the fun we would have. Occasionally he would point in a direction and say the ocean’s over there. It was black all around so we just nodded taking his word for it. With no real plans the next day we were encouraged to sleep in, but the singing frogs, crowing rooster, wind chimes and excitement to take our first glance at the Big Island was all too much to keep us in bed much past sunrise. And sure enough when we looked out our bedroom window there was the ocean, just as Chris had pointed out, but this time instead of a black void it was a beautiful turquoise blue, shimmering in the sunshine with enormously huge coconut trees and so much other vegetation surrounding us. We made it we were in Hawaii, the postcard version of Hawaii.
After taking inventory of the back yard, chasing some chickens around and getting to business opening fresh coconuts with machetes and tasting the most delicious bananas you’ve ever had, all grown from Chris’s backyard, we set out to get to the ocean that lay glimmering down below. Mentally prepared to get out there and do something but not so much practically dressed for such an adventure, we set out on a hike to get to the bottom of the valley. We each wielded our own machete that could have come in quite useful in this thick jungle trail, but we lacked the expertise on how to use them very effectively, because yes it is harder than it looks. We really did not get very far into the hike when we really began to understand what a jungle truly is.
One ruined pair of sneakers later, we decided to turn back and regroup with appropriate attire and a vehicle to transport us to our destination. Fueled by coconut water and bananas we set course for the ocean and enjoyed a very unique swimming hole situation in a cove, protecting us from the usual crash of waves. All around you could hear the intense roar of the ocean as it crashed into the cliffs of hardened lava. Up ahead you could even see the water rushing in and shooting up in spray as it made its way toward us losing power until it was a tame rolling by the time the waves got to us. We swam, explored tidal pools, played on the rocks, and enjoyed the view hardly believing that we were finally here. We stuck around until the kids got their fill, I personally could have floated in the steady rocking of the cove all day, but everyone was hungry and it was time to find lunch.
On our way out Chris took us to an amazing Banyon tree that sits near the shores, its branches reaching bending and twisting, begging for the kids to climb it. The tree was so large that its core felt like a cathedral with secret rooms branching off. It consisted of many levels all made accessible by the curving branches that made staircases and handholds with its branches beckoning you to explore higher and further until it seemed like you might be lost in the tree forever.
Water and exploration were high on our list of priorities for touring the island, so each day Chris brings us to a new place to swim, be it coast, island, bay, pool, waterfall, or river. We’ve lived in our swimsuits and have had nearly every inch of bodies burned by the sun and salt, but are happy none the less. To meet our quota for exploring, we traveled to Volcanos National Park to see the newly collapsed crater, after last year’s eruption on the island. We felt the intense heat from the steam vents and seen the destruction, but beauty that the lava leaves behind. There is a lot of love and respect for this place born of fire. Everywhere you turn there are shrines and offerings to the gods that are worshiped here. We are so glad to be here to see it and to appreciate it also.