Trudging down a water-logged street in Vancouver’s West End, peeking out from under my umbrella, clutching a bag of groceries, trying in vain not to soak my sneakers, it’s hard to believe that only three days ago I was standing on the eerie bluffs of South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. I even delayed unpacking my suitcase, just to let the aroma of sunscreen, salty seas and plumeria unfurl from my wrinkled sun-dresses, with hopes of it permeating every corner of my small, cozy apartment. It’s hard not to feel the sting of the post-vacation blues, especially when you return to winter after a stint somewhere tropical. However, my memories and photos are a delightful silver lining. My holidays are always chock full of adventure, dramatic landscapes, and fascinating people, and with my trusty Nikon in hand, I did my best to capture the beauty of my favourite Hawaiian Island.
Waipio Valley is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking hikes I have ever had the pleasure of toiling through. A steep descent snakes down to the valley below, with the vegetation growing more lush every step you take. Battered four-wheel drives whined their way up and down the sharply carved road, and toothy locals grinned at us tourists, our faces red and balmy with perspiration, we were surely a comical sight. Near the bottom, the path splits. Continue onwards along the road, and you will end up in a quaint farm village. Veer to the right, and a ruddy road will take you to a secluded beach, with cascading waterfalls on either side.
“Paniolo” is the Hawaiian word for cowboy, and a gentle ride through the rolling hills of northern Hawaii made me understand why one would want to spend their days herding cattle in this mountain paradise. With shades of green teasing the imagination, meadow flowers strewn about like a delicate carpet, soft winds blowing tuffs of cotton across the sky and the rhythmic thud of hooves in the moist grass below, my time there was like a postcard come to life.
Captain Cook is a charming little town about half an hour from Kona, on the Western shore of the Big Island, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. As grand as its namesake, the waters are teeming with Humpbacks, dolphins, and various other cetaceans. Watching angry waves grasp at the rugged shores was a favourite past time on those quiet days.
There is nothing I love more than getting off the beaten path, which is why I love the Big Island so much, there’s ample opportunity. Makalawena Beach is not one of those beaches you can just roll up to in your rental car. You have to negotiate a rather craggy and unpaved lava road, and an additional twenty minute walk across yet another uneven lava path, and with the sun glaring down over head, there is an inclination to feel like you are being cooked! But the reward is worth it, with pristine sand and azure seas awaiting.
How many times in your life will you ever be a hair’s breath from a live volcano? I seem to have a hankering for feeling harmonious with mother nature, but only when my heart is racing a mile a minute, be it walking with lions, or trekking alongside the roaring Jinsha River, or yes, feeling the warmth of rainwater being heated by lava in the earth below.
I wanted desperately to ascend the tallest island mountain in the world, but a snowstorm was to make it impossible. But there was nothing disappointing about this spectacular view from a look-out point just 500 feet up from the visitors centre. Mauna Kea is home to one of the world’s most impressive telescopes. One day, I hope to spend an evening nestled in a cozy sleeping bag, an inky sky above me, bursting with stars.
It’s no secret Hawaii is a botanists dream. As a humble amateur photographer, I could scarcely do justice to the myriad flora I stumbled across over the course of my visit. Trying to capture their complexity became a fun hobby.
Whether it’s getting lost on a rugged lava road, or amidst the pages of a salacious, swashbuckling book, there are few places I would rather get lost, than anywhere on the Big Island of Hawaii.
*All photos were shot with my Nikon D80