When most people think of Hawai’i they think of white sand beaches, surfing, luaus with beautiful hula girls, and pineapples. I think of three extremely loud and blonde children, along with their beautiful parents and grandmother. Yes, haoles (or white people) in Hawaii who go to school, work at the schools and pay all the taxes, live there full-time.
My great-aunt/godmother, the kid’s tutu (grandmother) moved to the Big Island in 2007 for his job. They were each other’s best friend and he, my Uncle Dean, passed away in January 2009 after getting caught on his boat in a storm and saving three kayaker fishermen. She was on the boat and swears his spirit abled her to climb the 80 foot or so cliff as she was overweight at the time as the possibility of her doing it herself is extremely minimal. It is because of her that there is so much love in this family. From a scary first marriage, brain cancer, this mess, and so many more crazy adventures, this woman is one of the most interesting people I have met to this day. She works at one of the public elementary schools and the kids there absolutely adore her. She has two sons: Ben and Hugh. Ben married his high school sweetheart like my parents, and have three kids and have a farm in Kona with bunnies, goats, chickens, pigs, the whole nine yards. Hugh lives in Reno where most of his family lives and has a little girl. Juju (my great-aunt) as a little turtle tattoo for each of them on her ankle.
This is just the beginning of the reasons I love Hawai’i, more specifically the Big Island and Kailua-Kona. I first visited Hawai’i in 2007, then 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, and just wrapped up 2017. I don’t spend the entire time tanning or attempting to surf. I go to bed at 9:30 pm because of the time change, eat at Teshima’s, the best Japanese restaurant in the United States that was started by a woman who lived to be 106, some scuba diving, more eating, buying local, renting local houses not fancy ignorant-tourist packed hotels, learning the history, basically when in Rome. I’ve been to the luaus, seen the pig on an open flame, been to the top of Mauna Kea, chatted with the locals when they were protesting the building of the world’s largest telescope on actual sacred land, not some random rock or flower thanks. I’ve done scuba dives with the super endangered Hawaiian monk seal, reef sharks, sea turtles, yelled at tourists getting much less than 20 feet from a sea turtle, spinner dolphins, frog fish, picked trash off the bottom, just everything.
In 2013, I was severely depressed when I went to Hawaii. It was the type where I felt fake and gross every step I took, tried to take selfies with my cousins, but ended up being the photographer rather than having any photos taken of me. One night we all went out to dinner and there were ten of us and my cousin Michelle started telling me how wonderful I am and how I’m such a fantastic role model and she hopes her girls grow up to be like me. I had to excuse myself to go cry. I did not want them to be like me. I wanted them to be better than me. These two girls and their little brother mean more to me than possibly anything in the world. I would seriously do anything for them. They make me feel like a goddess, loved unconditionally beyond comprehension, and so freaking happy whenever I am with them.
Every trip has gotten better and better. We’ve gone with family friends and cousins and shown them what an amazing place it is, even when you’ve got some moths and geckos in your room constantly. We’ve seen manta rays performing that would put Cirque du Soleil out of business, lava flows, marine life, I cannot stress how much I love this place. I just wrapped up senior year spring break with the best people in my life in my favorite place for my mom’s birthday. We rented this stunning house where you can see whales off the coast, had a pizza that could barely fit in a Subaru, watched movies, ate macaroni salad, swam in the ocean with mantas rays, slept in the hammock, jammed on the ukulele, woke up at 1:15 to travel to the other side of the island to get on a boat at 5 am, and this all was within 24 hours. Here are some more pictures so you can maybe understand why this is the best place on earth.
This trip was eventful from beginning to end. The first five minutes of getting to the house I twisted my ankle. The gate was locked and so I was walking around it through the plants and as a stepped on the slate edge, it broke and I went down. The last day we were on Ali’i Drive going through the market and one of the girls found a money clip on the ground and I tracked him down via Facebook, his company business card, it was a mess (she did end up getting $20 from him for finding it so thank you Doug from Nebraska). It was a lot.
So, this how my 11 days went on the Big Island:
Thursday: Houston – Denver – Kailua-Kona; 65-pound flower arrangement
Friday: Family swim day, a pizza that barely fit in a Subaru
Saturday: Sleeping and relaxing
Sunday: My cousins the Turner’s get to Kona, relaxing and eating
Monday: Target, beach, sea turtles
Tuesday: Green Sand Beach, dubbed “Keolani” by local guys, Black Sand Beach
Wednesday: Valley of the Kings
Thursday: Morning dive, night dive with manta rays
Friday: Woke up at 1:15 am, to drive to the other side of the island and get on a boat at 5 am. Saw the lava shooting out of the cliffs with a fire hydrant; Southern Most Bakery in the USA; ‘Akaka Falls; Luau that night with fire twirlers and hula
Saturday: Family over again for swimming and my cousin Ben performed acupuncture on Duncan
Sunday: Went to my cousin’s house after packing up and saved a chicken from a part Rottweiler dog by throwing guavas at him; went to the street market; my cousin found a guy’s money clip on the ground and it took us about 2 hours to find him and give it back; left that night
Monday: Landed in Denver around 6:30 am, and home around 11:45 am
Hope you at least enjoyed the pictures and the links. Hawaii is my second home with so much more to offer than we give it credit for in tourism.
Aloha wau iā ʻoe