As you may know, I had the privilege of spending 3 weeks in Hawaii this month. What an adventure! The first two were spent working, but for the last one, the boyfriend flew out and we spent 6 amazing days traveling around Hawaii (aka the Big Island). Home base was between Kailua Kona and Keauhou (KEH-ah-hoo) Bay, on the west side of the island. We spent the first two days in Volcanoes National Park, in the southeast corner of the island. The day after we got back to the west side of the island, we hung around town for the most part. By far, the most exciting part of the day was snorkeling with sea turtles! I kid you not, I swam with sea turtles. Like this guy! The day after that, we drove a loop up the north coast to see Pololu Valley, Waipi’o Valley, ‘Akaka Falls, and the Mauna Kea Observatory. The north shore is made up of rocky cliffs jutting out into the ocean. Between the cliffs there are gorgeous, lush valleys, some of which are home to black sand beaches. Pololu and Waipi’o are two such black sand beaches. The sand really is black. Promise. Waipi’o was an exciting valley to get into, as it required a drive down a mile long hill at a 25% grade. The picture doesn’t do the scariness of this road justice!Worth it? Most assuredly! We followed the island around to the west side, toward Hilo, and saw ‘Akaka Falls on the way to the Mauna Kea Observatory. On our trip up Mauna Kea, we witnessed the most gorgeous sunset. We were trying to race the sunset up the mountain, so that we could get the best view possible. I’d say we won. About halfway up the mountain, at the visitors’ center, they have high powered telescopes that the public can use for free. It was a planetarium, only in real life. No projectors. Actual stars. After another lazy day of the pool and watching movies, we took our last full day on the island and headed south. First up: kayaking and snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay. Speaking of, if you’re ever on Hawaii, I shamelessly recommend Aloha Kayak for all of your kayaking and snorkeling needs. They were wonderful, and gave us a great deal on a rental. From there, we headed down the coast to South Point, the southernmost point in the entire United States. Jeep ad, anyone? 🙂 It was so windy there all the trees grow to one direction (west). While there, I went cliff jumping! I jumped right off that fishing hoist/platform. Thirty feet to the ocean, off the southern most point of the US. Bucket list! After that adrenaline rush, we went to a green sand beach. The sand is green because really small green gems mix with some white sand and some black sand. The result is a green tint to the sand. It was a perfect way to spend our last full day on the island! We rounded it out with a Hawaiian pizza (recipe forthcoming, when I can figure it out) and a huge slice of mud pie (think mocha ice cream meet Oreo cookie crust meet chocolate ganache, and then throw some whipped cream on top). It was an amazing vacation on so many levels: great company, beautiful scenery, tasty food, lots of adventure. If you’re headed to the Big Island, get the book The Big Island Revealed. It is the only guidebook you will need. You can quote me on that.

If you’re interested….a tour of a Hawaiian Coffee Plantation and Taking Better Vacation Photos.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

One of the big things on my bucket list is to see all of the national parks in the US. This week, we toured Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. So cool!

We hiked around and through this crater, right next to the steam vents. That’s right. Steam comes out of the ground. And you can walk right up to it. And peer into a crack in the earth.

Like this. Check it!

The big plume of smoke in the backdrop of this one is the active volcano. A couple of weeks ago, it stopped flowing lava, so we didn’t get to see any. I was pretty bummed about that, but there isn’t much you can do about it.

The park also has green, jungle like terrain, but I don’t have pictures of that. It’s just not quite as interesting, when contrasted with steam coming out of the ground.

I wanna know: Have you ever been to Hawaii? What was the coolest thing you saw?

Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee

This week, I got to tour a coffee plantation. So cool! I’ve never heard so many numbers and statistics and words that all related to coffee. I can’t remember a thing! All I know is that it tasted oh-so-good.

This is Dave, owner of Heavenly Hawaiian. He so kindly toured us around his home and his land.

That’s what a coffee bean looks like when it’s on its tree. When it’s red, it’s ripe and ready to be picked.

After being picked, it gets hulled from the red shell, and this is what is left over. It all gets laid on these floors to dry. Every hour or so, someone needs to go rake the beans so that they dry evenly.

Under the tan casing, the raw (green-ish) coffee bean resides.

It then gets bagged for shipping to a vendor or roasted on site.

Coffee cupping! The best part. Dave and his wife kindly invited our whole group into their home and served us coffee that had been grown and roasted on their plantation.

Can’t argue with the view off their beautiful porch!