I got back from the Big Island last Tuesday and I really do want to write all about my adventures because it was such an amazing trip, but it is so hard for me to find time this week. For those of you who don’t know, I have just enrolled to KAUST, a university in Saudi Arabia where I will go to grad school to study Marine Science and Technology. As you can imagine there is a lot I need to do to prepare for this trip, and you bet that I will be posting many blogs about this adventure! Also, I have been working on a video of my trip, so please be sure to check it out, click here
The last day I left off writing about the Big Island was day three, one of the busiest and most fun days of my trip. This whole day was unplanned, but I had my rental car and Hawaii Revealed guidebook so I had a sense of where I wanted to go. The end goal was to get to Pulolu Valley, and be back by 8:00 PM to check into my hostel (which means finally a shower!!) My day started at 7 AM at a bakery in downtown Kona called Evolution Bakery. This is a fully “plant-based bakery” meaning it is all vegan. I still want to write about my experience being vegan and why I choose to avoid consuming animal products, but again life is crazy soo I will work on that in the future. Anyways, I highly suggest this bakery to any person, no matter if you eat meat or not, because the menu was so big and they had the best baked goods ever. Check out the menu here. I couldn’t find the whole menu online, but I can tell you their homemade bagels are amazing, which I had in the form of a breakfast sandwich with tofu-scramble and pesto-cashew sauce. Might sound weird but it was incredible, it was called the Ghandi breakfast sandwich I believe. I also got a chocolate coconut baked good to go for later (how could I resist?!) With a gameplan to head North, my first stop was Kua Bay. According to the internet, this beach gets super crowded, so get there early (I also read the gates don’t open until 9 AM but I got there at 7:30 AM and it was open). I got a really good parking spot, headed to the beach, and snorkeled on the right side of the bay. I actually came across another solo traveler I met the day before on my manta night dive-such a small world! I took a quick 20 minute powernap, explored a little of the coast, and continued on my way.
At breakfast, I talked to a really nice local girl who recommended that I checked out Puako Bay, which I found with the map on my phone. I went to the beach and it was a bit too windy and no people (so I didn’t feel safe to snorkel) so I kept exploring the road it was on until I came across another shoreline access sign. I went to this beach (known to locals as beach 69). This was much better, it had a $5 parking fee (free for locals) but the water was crystal clear and it was just an overall very beautiful spot. I was taking some photos of a tree next to the water when I heard someone say my name. I know I talked about small-worlds earlier, but I came across a Dickinson College classmate at this super random beach on the Big Island. I sat and chatted for a little while catching up on life in Hawaii, and then continued along my way.
The next stop was a quick visit to Hapuna beach, a more well known spot on the island. I was only here for less than an hour, just having a snap and taking in the view. It is definitely a more touristy spot than the other beaches I visited, but it was big and sandy and the ocean was looking super beautiful. Again, there was $5 parking which is free if you live in Hawaii.
(I typed the above text a while ago and life has been insane as usual so I am just getting back to this, my bad!)
After Hapuna I continued driving North, stopping in Hawi for a quick bite to each. Obvs I was too frugal to actually buy lunch here so I made my 100th pb&J and it was quite delish. At around 1:00 I finally made it to the end of the road, to Pulolu Valley. At first when I pulled up it looked like it was about to storm, and I was super bummed. But as soon as I started the hike down to the valley the skies cleared and stopped raining, making for a beautiful hike. I highly recommend this hike to anyone. Take your time, bring water, and go slow. It is a bit slippery but super worth the views! It only took like a half hour or so to reach the bottom (and I took a lot of photos). Check out the views!
It took a little longer getting back to the top, I was definitely glad I had my camelback filled with water, such a lifesaver! When I reached the top I was sweating up a storm and determined to find a waterfall. Across from where I parked my car was this adorable local lady in her driveway who suggested I walked along the riverbend that’s just down the road and I could find one there. I took her word for it and pulled over on the side of the road just a three minute drive away. There was nobody there, but I saw what appeared to be a path that lead to the stream. I told myself I would follow the stream for 15 minutes and if I didn’t find a waterfall I’d turn around. Note that I travel alone, so this was more of a safety thing. if I was with others I probably would venture farther. Lucky for me, exactly 14 minutes after I started I heard the telltale sign of a roar of a waterfall. At this point there was no trail I was just tripping my way around the slipper river. I probably should have worn watershoes, sidenote to anyone who decided to try to find this spot! But I had the waterfall all to myself and it was so much more beautiful than the usual ones I visit on Oahu. This one was super wide, clean, and the best part was how I had the view to myself!
You might think that at this point I would be done for the day. But nope, I was feeling ambitious I took out my Big Island guidebook for suggestions on where to visit next. I found a recommendation to check out the Puʻukoholā Heiau. This was right along my route to return South, and it was very easy to get to. This heiau name means “Temple on the Hill of the Whale”. It was by far the largest heiau I have ever seen, and it was so amazing that this entire temple was built with no mortar in less than a year! Also- there was an additional heiau built right next to/ in the sea dedicated to the shark aumakua. I am not going to lie I shed several tears here, it was a super spiritual place with amazing mana. I highly recommend checking ti our, you will be in awe. In additional to the impressiveness that people could lift rocks this big, I found out that The red stones were transported by a human chain about 14 miles long, from Pololū Valley to the East. 14 miles long!!!! That is amazing am I right! If you are interested in visiting, check out this site with more info.
I highly recommend you do the quick “interpretive trail” and check out the little museum and catch up on some ancient Hawaiian history. They seriously nailed sustainability, and it is something our culture needs to strive to connect back to this mindset. After the Heiau I remembered reading that there was a petroglygh trail near Waikoloa. I had accidentally turned down this road before and saw the trailhead, but wanted to ensure I had enough time to do Pulolu before doing this trail. I returned to the petroglygh trail, ignoring signs that said not to do the trail in slippers (my mistake). This is another must see, quick trail. If you are interested in finding it I used this super helpful site. I have seen petroglyphs before, but never this amount in one area. It was crazy to see such a massive lava field with all of these amazing historical petroglyphs. It hurt my heart to see a huge bright green golf course just steps away. I can’t imagine what history has been lost due to hotels, golf courses, roads, and all our building. Also- golf courses do not belong on a lava field, I don’t even understand how they grow grass in these areas! What a waste of resources (OK sorry end rant). The petroglyphs are super cool, go see for yourself. Oh- and please where sneakers. I tripped over rough lava and bled all over the trail.
Was I done after this trail? Of course not! On my way back to my hostel I noticed a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road, and I don’t like missing out, so obviously I had to check out what was going on! I ended up walking into this really cool lava tube with a few collapsed roofs. I kept following it back and back farther and farther until I was on my hands and knees (foot still bleeding) but I made it to where I couldn’t go any farther back. It was so beautiful. There are definitely better lava tubes on the Big Island but it was a nice unexpected visit. There were some people singing beautiful chants in the cave, it echoed off the walls and made for a lovely show.
The rest of the evening was situating myself into my hostel (Koa Wood Hale) and then eating Thai Food. I was lucky enough to have the dorm room to myself! I accidentally booked the “mixed dorm” (both genders) which apparently has a low demand, which worked out well for me! The hostel was only $25/night. For me it was so worth it to not have to sleep in my car, and get to have a shower!! (the first of my trip–yikes). I have no complaints about the hostel, reading the reviews I was nervous with it saying it was the “worst and grossest hostel ever” but I had clean sheets, clean bathroom, room to myself, it was all good!
I spent my evening walking around downtown Kona and ate vegan pad thai as I read through my Big Island guide book to get some inspiration on what to do the next day. Better late than never. To those of you who made it this far in this post, I apologize for the lateness of this post, as well as how brief I had to make it. I have just been on so many adventures this past month and have so much more to share with you!