In October, I embarked on a 3-week adventure in Hawai’i on the two least visited islands: the Big Island and Kauai. While I personally can’t attest to Oahu and Maui (yet), I full heartedly recommend trying out one of these islands. Before I left, people who had been to Hawai’i were most thrilled/jealous about Kauai-the adventure island. Unexpectedly however, I adored the Big Island and I have a big soft spot for the island now.
I loved the landscape diversity. Kohala has beautiful pristine warm beaches. But then Waimea was cold and all ranchland and green fields. From the luschious rainforests of Hilo, to the black-sanded valleys, the Big Island kept shocking me.
I loved the people. After a disappointing birthday for Josie, a bartender bought her a shot and then proceeded to make us his own special drinks. Our Uber driver the one night we went out kept us cracking up with her stories and gregarious personality. Our Airbnb hosts turned out to be good friends with each other who sympathized with our recent Peace Corps evactuation. Our hostel host was shockingly blunt pointing out the “weird” guy living in the hostel and obviously trying to pair us up with two cute boys. And the guy that booked our manta ray dive was our best friend in two seconds, chatting us up and showing us his zany cat: Little Butt.
Then their was the random fruit stand we found on the side of the road with fresh young coconuts. The lilikoi (passionfruit) lemondae in Kona. The awesome poke bowls at the farmers market in Hilo. The drive through coffee shack with bagels and the best dirty chais. The creative goat-cheese pesto sushi in Hawi. The fantastic creme brule with a viewpoint of the lava flow at Jaggar Museum. And the colorful shaved ices that felt like endless summer.
I loved the accessibility. No tours needed for the Big Island if you have a car. We drove to valleys. We went to cute little towns. We hiked in Volcano National Park. We purchased snorkels at a dive shop for $14 and splashed right into reefs on the beach. We put on our snorkels at one popular beach spot to find a turtle right next to us that we spent an hour swimming around with.
I loved the culture. Polynesian culture is everywhere in Hawai’i and I loved visiting spots of refuge and learning about the religious importance of Mount Kea. l loved that the one sandwich spot I went to was blasting Iz. I loved the liberal signs plastering restaurants and guaranteeing safe spots to anyone and everyone.
I loved how peaceful and happy and destressed I felt. We started off everyday meditating. Sometimes on the beach. Sometimes in a private room. Sometimes in the sunshine of our parked car. I loved the temperate weather and the constant sunshine. It was impossibe to feel sorry for yourself in Hawai’i and I felt myself starting to accept and heal from the Peace Corps Evacuation.
I loved how real and authentic the Big Island felt. Sure, Kona is touristy. But everything else seemed so local and real. I enjoyed feeling like I was experiencing life in Hawai’i and not being catered to as a tourist. And I loved how uncrowded and chill everything was.
A thousand wonderful memories paint my time in Hawai’i. From a state I had little interest in exploring (expensive and touristy!), Hawai’i ended up being my favorite destination of 2017. And the Big Island remains my favorite island. If only finding jobs there was easier…
Have you been to Hawai’i? What island is your favorite?