Triple-grope We are heading back to Hawai'i. Yeay! The last time we were here was 2003 (You can read about it here). We have another super early flight out of SJC. The most direction-impared limo dude manages to get us to the airport on time. TSA line: 50 million people. TSA first-class line: just the two of us. Whew! Though we both do get selected for the cancer machine; we both opt for groping. Assana's gal, nice and shy. Dan's guy, not so shy! He gets double checked on his crotch. Sorry baby!

Crazy Island Hawai'i is such a fascinating island. Its diversity of climate zones, landscape, temperature, culture, sights… the ranges are large and extreme. You can find 10 of the 15 climate zones, and its rainfall ranges between 10 and 280 inches! There are rain forests and super-barren-nothing-will-grow-here lava covered areas. You can find super fancy pantsy food, and then there is the loco moco, etc. Our dear friends Sheri and Larry are joining us for this trip, and Larry is a [State of] Hawai'i virgin. We are all excited to be factmos. Thanx, Larry, for being such a good sport about it!

Tipsy-the-Turtle Another interesting thing about The Big Island is that it is nicknamed "The island without beaches." We tend to agree. There are beaches, but many are tough to get to. Having said that, each has its own fun moments for us. First we go to Kuki'o beach. That's when we realize our new close-toed-but-open-on-the-side shoes don't really work: the side openings are large enough for pebbles to get in, but not to fall out! The beach is too rocky to lay on, and the ocean too rough to snorkel, but we do see a gaggle of turtles just off the coast frolicking in the waves. Then we see Tipsy-the-turtle stranded on the banks way up on the almost vertical shore. Hmm… is he stuck? Is he dead? We approach slowly; he blinks at us, but doesn't move. We take the chance and carry him down to the water… the moment his flippers hit the water he perks up. We watch him swim around with his buddies for a bit, and and, whether you believe it or not, as he is leaving he waves his flippers goodbye! Bye Tipsy! Nice meeting you!

Ouch Then we go to Pebble Beach, which is at the end of this super steep road - you lose 1500' of elevation in 6000' of driving - and is supposed to be super violent with waves. Well, it is not so violent, but the entire beach is pebbly [yes, hence the name]. Dan gives Assana a Hot Stone Massage - her favorite spa treatment - except that the stones are too hot and she burns her skin! She will definitely remember this the next time she whines about the spa stones not being hot enough!

Virgin Snorkel Kahalu'u Beach is right in town it isn't much of a beach: just a bunch of rocks. It does have great snorkeling and this is where Dan gets is first taste at it! Well, also his last taste for the trip, but not because he didn't like it!

Noni Polulu Beach is at the north end of the road, and requires a 15 minute hike down a super steep rough trail. We met our first noni fruit - a warty fruit with a disagreeable aroma - on the hike. The beach is a black very fine sand beach. At the slightest breeze the sand was all over the place! Sheri and Assana still find sand in their ears!

Easy Relative all the other beaches, Hapuna is the easiest to get to, and with its white sand it is the what one would imagine Hawai'i to be. Turns out everyone else thinks the same! We also go to Mauna Kea whose access is thru Mauna Kea Resort. The Book warns about the grumpy gate dude. We drive up and demand access to the beach, which they can not refuse! Grumpy gate guy sends us to grumpy parking lot guy who ma'm's Assana! Whatever. We end up lounging and napping on the beach in a dappled shady spot for a few hours! Ahhh… so nice! Assana and Larry do a bit a snorkeling and they see a bunch of turtles! (Or possibly they harass the same one! Unclear).

Hilooo We have plans to spend two day on the Hilo side of the island. We head out early so we can get breakfast on the road. There are scattered clouds around… a few minutes off the Waimea turn off and it starts to drizzle… just about the same time the mockery of Assana's accent starts. Another hour and it is pouring rain… The mockery continues. Our first thought is that this is normal since we are cutting thru the rain forest to the other side. We even tough it out for the Botanical Gardens. But the rain, she keeps pouring. Noni! It can't rain… we have helicopter plans! We meet Larry's old buddy for lunch in Hilooo before our helicopter appointment; the rain, she keeps coming down. Noni!! Finally our helicopter folks cancel. Noni! The mockery, she does not stop! Noni!

57 Like the rain isn't bad enough, the temperature drops to 57 degrees at Volcanoes NP. And of course we are not dressed for cold. A drive down the Chain of Craters road takes us back to the sea level, the lava, the gay cruise rainbow and warmer temps. With the helicopter cancelled the only hope of glowing lava was has is the night hike at the park… and it does not disappoint despite the 50 miles an hour wind, and the cold 57 degrees! We are also treated to a beautiful half-circle moonbow! The next morning - still 57 degrees - we couldn't get out of there fast enough! As we head towards the lower elevation the rain stops, the sun comes out and the temperature rises. Guava!

Southernmost We stop by the southernmost restaurant in the US - Hano Hou in Na'alehu - eat some yummy southernmost pie and coffee, on our way to The South Point, is the southernmost point of the US. Aside from being the southernmost point, this spot has the most amazing waves. They are massive and super crashy. We remember that the last time we were here it was also wild, but this trip is different. There is a high-surf advisory in place which we assume contributed to the craziness.

Super Foodies Sheri and Larry are foodies. What happens when you travel with foodies? You end up eating at every fantastic eating establishment on your route. Armed with their iPhones and every rating app available they do an incredible job of pulling out the best of the best. We eat at small holes-in-the-wall like Island Fish & Chips where we had fish'n chips made with Ono - ohhh nooooo - and fancy restaurants like Pahu i`a at Four Seasons Hualalai (where each drink cost as much as the entire fish & chips order). Thanks guys! Your are amazing.

Thanks! Best xmas gift ever! Thank you so much, George, for this generous gift, a trip to Hawai'i. And thank you Sheri and Larry for being such fantastic friends and cool travel companions, not to mention all the food research and planning. We had a great time traveling with you, and hope to do it again soon.

References & Links