A Virgin Thirsty Thursday

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

Remember last week when I said that you couldn’t go to Hawaii and not have a Mai Tai (or Man Tai, if you’re autocorrect!)?  Well, I’d also like to say that you cannot–under ANY circumstances–go to Hawaii and not have pineapple.

Unless you’re allergic.

Even if you think you hate pineapple, eating them in Hawaii just might change your mind…or your life.

Pineapple in Hawaii is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.  Even the sweetest, best tasting pineapple you’ve ever had stateside pales in comparison.  In fact, if pineapple is your favorite fruit, you definitely want to make a trip (or yearly trip) to Hawaii.

I’m pretty sure we had fresh pineapple juice nearly every morning we ate out for breakfast.  I’m not sure you “squeeze” a pineapple, but whatever they did, it was pretty damn delicious!


This one is from Island Java Lava (home of amazing pancakes and deeeeeeelicious coffee!) and the hardest part was trying to make it last through breakfast because really, I just wanted to do this:

Aloha!

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Eggs ‘N Lava Java

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If you are thinking I’m going to talk about eggs or maybe even coffee, you would be wrong.  Today I’m going to talk about pancakes.

For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pancake that I didn’t like.  But, OMG, Hawaiian pancakes are just absofuckinglutely amazing.

You might say that it’s just the scenery.  And I can’t argue, the views are spectacular–and we did make it a point to visit as many restaurants with an ocean view as possible.

But no, you would be wrong.  What makes them so scrumptious are macadamia nuts + coconut syrup.

That’s right, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup.

Like these that we got on the Big Island at Island Lava Java in Kailua-Kona.  The pancakes were light and fluffy and the macadamia nuts and bananas and coconut syrup just made them sing!

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But ever so slightly better are the Macadamia Pancakes at Eggs ‘N Things in Honolulu.  The macadamia nuts are cooked into the pancakes, which make them taste even creamier.  Apparently they were so good that we totally didn’t get a picture of them!  But I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I went to their website and pulled this picture.

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You would think (I thought) that the coconut syrup would be too sweet and cloying, but it wasn’t.  However, you do have to like coconut.  If not, both places offered a variety of fruit syrups, which we also tried and liked.  We just thought the macadamia + coconut combo worked the best together, which then led to a hunt for the perfect coconut syrup to bring back stateside…

If you asked me, I don’t think I could actually choose which breakfast spot I preferred.  They were both delicious and thankfully, they are on different islands (Oahu and Hawaii), so I don’t actually have to choose!!  😉

Aloha!

 

 

Room With A Rainforest View

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As previously mentioned, our stay on the Big Island was split by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then packing up to head to the eastern side of the island to Hilo.  Actually we didn’t quite make it to Hilo, as we opted to spend the night closer to the volcano and stayed at the Volcano Inn, which is on Kilauea.

If you are expecting to see lava fields when staying at the Volcano Inn, then you’re going to be disappointed because it sits smack dab in the middle of a lush rainforest.  But we knew that going in and were excited by the completely dramatic shift from our Kona views.  All the colors were so vibrant–especially these red flowered plants–that they almost looked fake.  I totally kept touching them to make sure they were real!

Even more foreign was waking to the sounds of the rainforest.  We wandered down to breakfast, which included fresh banana bread and baked papaya with yogurt, bananas, and pineapple.  Since we were flying out to Kauai later that afternoon, we thought it was the perfect time to sample our fruit we purchased the day before from the South Kona Fruit Stand–and we didn’t want any of it confiscated at the airport!

After breakfast we went for a small hike into the rainforest, but were warned to stay on the path–which we did.  No one wanted to get lost because ain’t nobody got time for that: we had a helicopter tour and to find the Tsunami Clock of Doom before our flight to Kauai later that afternoon!

Soon it was time to pack up and depart from this perfect little hide-away spot, but adventure was calling!

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PS–I would like to take this time to clarify a certain picture (above) floating around Facebook that was taken at the Volcano Inn.  Despite what the picture shows–we did NOT make April ride in the trunk of the car!  I assure you she made it safely back to Minnesota!

Aloha!

Flying High!

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If you ever find yourself in Hawaii and the opportunity presents itself, I would highly recommend taking a helicopter ride.  And I don’t say this lightly.  I’m not the type of person who takes helicopter rides whenever the fancy strikes (and theoretically I could, since I live in NYC and the helicopter tour people love to hound every man, woman, and child as they get off the subway and ferry at South Ferry).

But Hawaii is so stunning and picturesque with tons of geographic diversity, we found ourselves saying several times “we should have also taken a helicopter tour here.”  Where we did take a helicopter tour was on the Big Island, over the volcano.  Well, not directly over the caldera–but around it–and it was spectacular!

Now would be a great time to remind everyone that I’m technologically challenged (read: I couldn’t get the video I have to post).  So this post is only going to include still shots in order to get this to you in a timely fashion.  I will attempt to update it later when I can figure it out without the tick tock of a clock reminding me to post this NOW!

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous.  I’m not overly fond of flying to begin with and in something smaller and more shaky than a plane was a bit daunting.  But our pilot seemed competent, had lots of credentials, and was not consuming mai tais, so after a safety video we donned our gear and boarded the helicopter.  Or well, helicopters–as we were actually split into two groups.

 

A couple of tests to make sure everyone’s headgear was working and we soon found ourselves wobbling towards the clouds.  As promised, once we reached our cruising altitude, the wobbling ceased.  Or perhaps it was the view that made you forget about the wobbling?  If so, it worked because my stomach stopped doing flips and the view was breathtaking!

 

We flew over Hilo and then headed towards Kilauea.  As we passed over the lava fields, our pilot dipped down several times so that we could view the lava flow at points were it had broken the surface.

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We circled around the caldera several times watching the lava breaking through in a circle.

 

We then headed back to Hilo and flew inland over the Wailuku river valley (and its waterfalls!) and then looped back out to the Hilo Bay.

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All too soon we found ourselves heading towards the airport and wobbling back to the ground.  And despite a few last panics of crashing and burning on our descent, we touched down light as a feather.

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Once both helicopters were on the ground and it was safe to approach, April and I met Christi and Tracy at their helicopter to end our fantastic tour with a final group shot before turning in our headsets and heading to explore Hilo.

 

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Aloha!

The Tsunami Clock of Doom

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The picturesque town of Hilo has been hit by three major tsunamis in the last century.  With no warning system and the largest wave, the first tsunami hit in 1946 and was the most deadly. The second hit in 1960 with a 35 foot wave, stopping the town clock at the time it was hit (1:04am).  The third was in 1975 and with the smallest wave of the three, caused the least amount of damage.

The clock is called the Hilo Clock–or more dramatically the “Tsunami Clock of Doom.”

Of course when I heard there was a such a thing called the “Tsunami Clock of Doom,” I felt compelled to see it (and may have been a tad bit insistent about it).

It sits along the Mamalahoa Highway in Hilo and I have to confess that we drove right past it several times before realizing it stands along the highway by the golf course, right before you cross the Waiākea Pond.

If you’re interested in reading more, I found an article in Hawaii Magazine with details about all three tsunamis:

April 1, 1946

  • Time struck: 6:54 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
  • Maximum wave height: 50 feet
  • Damages: $26 million ($300 million today)
  • Deaths: 159

May 23, 1960

  • Time struck: 1:05 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile.
  • Maximum wave height: 35 feet
  • Damages: $24 million ($171 million today)
  • Deaths: 61 people

November 29, 1975

  • Time struck: 3:35 a.m. (Hawaii Standard Time)
  • Source of tsunami: 7.2 magnitude earthquake off the southeastern coast of Big Island of Hawaii.
  • Maximum wave height: 26 feet
  • Damages: $1.4 million ($5.6 million today)
  • Deaths: 2 people

To read the full article, click here.  And if you wanted to read more about the clock, go to Roadside America’s website.

Instead of being restored, the clock was left with its hands frozen at 1:04 and now stands as a memorial for those who perished in the tsunamis.

Aloha.

 

Green Sand

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It sounds like something you could only see in the Emerald City or along the yellow brick road, but in fact, all you have to do is go to Hawaii, Guam, Norway, or the Galapagos Islands.  As fortune would have it (although at this point it shouldn’t be a shocker), we were on the island of Hawaii.  Along its southern shores near Nā‘ālehu is Papakolea Beach, better known as the green sand beach.

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And yes, the sand is actually green.  The green hue comes from olivine and, while it’s not the easiest beach to get to, it is totally worth the effort!

As you will recall in the last post, we were heading south down the western part of the Big Island and turned off the main highway to follow signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.

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A few winding turns and suddenly we found ourselves at the green sands parking lot.  But here’s the thing: the parking lot is about 3 miles away from the beach.  The general public is not allowed to drive directly there.  You can totally hike it, however if that’s what you want to do, you need come prepared and make sure you carve out a good chunk of time because it is a lot more rugged than the yellow brick road!

OR you could buy a ride to the beach in a van from a kid who looks about 14, but assures us he’s 16.  Trust me when I say that it’s the best $15 you’re going to spend in Hawaii.

THE BEST $15 YOU’RE GOING TO SPEND IN HAWAII.

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So we paid the kid $15 each and piled into a dodgy van packed with other tourists.  We were hoping beyond hope that we didn’t just spend $90 to be kidnapped and sold into slavery.

I liken the trip to driving in the back pasture of the ranch–despite being on some sort of semblance of ruts that look like a road–you will hit every bump along the way.  And our driver liked to drive fast.  Not 85 mph fast, but when you’re bouncing around on a makeshift road in the middle of rugged terrain even 15 mph feels like 85 mph and like we were making jumps even the General Lee would have problems navigating!

Despite only being 3 miles away, the drive was a jolting, bumpy, sometimes laughing, sometimes praying 30-40 minutes.  When the van stopped,  we were let out at the top to a stunning view.

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But of course, we weren’t happy just standing at the overlook point–we had to go down and check it out.  So we carefully made our way down, down, down the steep path to the green sands below.

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We made it to the bottom and hit pay dirt, uh, sand!

Sure enough, it wasn’t an optical illusion–it was green!

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We cooled off by wading around in the water, especially April who got splashed by a wave that was deceptively big.  There were a few people swimming the rough waters, but for the most part everyone was there to take a gander at the green.

We eventually trudged back to the top where our ride was thankfully still waiting and the driver was happily taking what he called “the money shot” for everyone.

green beach

The ride back was just as bumpy and laughter-and-prayer filled as the ride out.  We passed several groups of hikers and as we bumped along discussed if they’d make the hike all the way there and back or if they would cave and ask for a ride.  There were several in each group, especially the latter as their dress code suggested that they were in for a painful walk.

Just a tip if you’re planning on hiking it to Papakolea beach: take water and wear appropriate footwear (hint: wedges are NOT appropriate footwear).

Regardless of how you get there, it’s definitely worth the trek!

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And with one more thing crossed off our To-Do in Hawaii list, we were ready to get back on the road and tackle the next one!

Aloha!

A Little Geography Lesson

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I don’t know about you, but when I think of the location of the Hawaiian Islands I tend to think of it as smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due west of California.

However, it is actually a little bit further south than “due west of California.”  Okay, quite a bit south of “due west of California.”

The Hawaiian Islands lie just below of the Tropic of Cancer–so if you want a “due west of” think Southern Mexico. To put it in USA geography terms, Key West (the Southernmost point in the continental United States) lies north of the Tropic of Cancer.  In fact, Hawaii is so remote that it is not even considered part of the North American continent (see the map from World Atlas below)!

USA map

The reason I’m mentioning this is because we decided to split our trip to the Big Island by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then a night in Hilo.  April & I were in charge of selecting the route and finding fun things to do along the way to Hilo.  We opted for the Southern Route, which afforded us options to drive through the mountainous terrain of Kona, the overlook of Kealakekua Bay (where the fate of Captain Cook was decided), the volcano lava fields, the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company, a green sand beach, and the actual southernmost point in the United States.

After we left Greenwell Farms, we headed south down the main “highway.”  Actually, highway was a bit of a stretch–much like our “yacht” in Greece.  Winding, narrow two lane road is a bit more accurate, but it was scenic, so we didn’t care!  Or perhaps Tracy did, since he was the one driving….but we girls didn’t mind one bit!  😉

Our first stop came only a few minutes down the road when we drove by the South Kona Fruit Stand.  We decided that smoothies were the perfect thing for our trip south, along with some very interesting fruit we had never heard of…or heard of but never tried, like lilikoi, star fruit, and dragon fruit!

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With smoothies in hand and fruit in the trunk, we continued south along the Mamalahoa Highway taking in the picturesque coastline views on one side and the lush mountain on the other side.  Our next destination was Nā‘ālehu, home to both a green sand beach (more about that later) and Ka Lae, the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island, thus is the southernmost point in the United States.

Why, yes, I do like saying southernmost–thankyouverymuch!

So we turned off the “highway” onto an even smaller road and wound our way here and there whilst following signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.  We actually went to the beach first but it is deserving of its own post.  After our trek to the beach, we stopped at Ka Lae for a glimpse of what seemed to be the edge of the world.

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For those of you who would love the chance to jump off the edge of the world, there was even a platform–and a group of people willing.

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And just in case you didn’t feel like scaling the steep wall back up or drifting out to sea (although I don’t see why not, after all the Kiribati Atolls are only 1200 miles away!), there was even a ladder to help you.

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I peeked over and decided I was perfectly happy not jumping and drifting off to sea and/or climbing the ladder of death back up.

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A few more quick shots and then we were on our way–having crossed off another item on our Hawaiian to-do list!

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Thirsty Thursday Beer Flights!

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

Well of course we couldn’t go alllllll the way to Hawaii AND make the trek to the Big Island and NOT go to the Kona Brewing Company.  I mean, that would be nearly as sacrilegious as skipping out on the coffee plantation tour.

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Besides, we all love beer–especially Tracy and I (okay, not April–she only likes, on exceedingly rare occasions, scotch).  It’s our (Tracy & my) thing.  For example this year I got him a home brewing kit for his birthday.   At this point, I’m sure Christi wants to kill us both.  Don’t bother writing in to defend her–she’s already told me as much (which is EXACTLY why I forgot to mention to her what I sending for his present!).

Point being that we couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to imbibe in some delicious Hawaiian beer–and tasty food to boot (get the fish tacos!)!

Of course as soon as we sat down and opened the menu, we realized that our biggest problem was going to be narrowing down our beer choices.

With so many beers on the menu, we knew that we had only one option: the sampler.  And by “the sampler” I mean we got two samplers because we wanted to try as many as possible–besides we were all sharing (aside from April).

Our selections were the following (in no particular order):

  • Fire Rock Ale
  • Koko Brown
  • Wailua Wheat
  • Pipeline Porter
  • Lavaman Red
  • Duke’s Blonde
  • Lemongrass Lu’au
  • Longboard Lager (alas they were out of the Hula Hefe–I’m mentioning here because we selected this to replace it when our waitress delivered the sad news)

Also a great time to make a public service announcement: if you think you might want to write about something in the future TAKE NOTES.  Because I distinctly remember thinking “these are so fabulous, I won’t forget….” and then here I am frantically trying to remember (although some might point out that if I had written about this a little closer to the trip, it might not have been an issue).

We all tasted and compared and tasted and discussed and tasted and swapped glasses around and tasted and bartered to finish off our favorites.  In the end–because we couldn’t just sample the beer, we had to also drink it!–I chose the Wailua Wheat, hoping that the fruity wheat beer would pair nicely with my fish tacos (it did!).

My final rankings were as follows (hey, I’m doing good to remember mine, there is no way I can remember Christi or Tracy’s–although I’m fairly certain that the Porter was Tracy’s favorite and the Brown was also Christi’s least favorite):

  • Pipeline Porter
  • Wailua Wheat
  • Lavaman Red
  • Duke’s Blonde
  • Longboard Lager
  • Fire Rock Ale
  • Lemongrass Lu’au
  • Koko Brown

What I enjoyed about the first three is how smooth they were.  The porter tasted like silk and coffee and it was magical.  The only reason I didn’t get a pint of it was because after two samplers, I was starting to get full and I need to save room for a pint + tacos!  Plus it would have totally overpowered the tacos.

The Lemongrass Lu’au was interesting.  It was crisp and clean and the ginger and lemongrass added a very different flavor profile.  I’m very glad we tried it, however, I don’t know that I could have finished a pint of it.

Yes, I deliberately left a lot of space before the Koko Brown.  I disliked it immensely.  Now before you start yelling and screaming at me, I fully and proudly admit that I am biased. I HATE BROWN ALES.  Based on the other beers we tasted, I’m sure it’s a good brown ale–I just hate them.  So if you’re one of those weird people (I’m not judging…much) who enjoy brown ales, pleeeeeeeease don’t let my dislike stop you from trying it.

All in all, we had (at least I had) such a great time and if you enjoy beer, the Kona Brewing Company should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Hawaii!

Hipahipa!

 

 

 

Kilauea

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For the record, this isn’t what I wanted to share with you today.  But in the interest of actually getting something posted, I had to improvise (let’s just say wifi and technology haven’t been my friends this week!)

I could have easily made this picture a Wordless Wednesday post, but it was suggested to me last week that not writing in posts was “cheating”–so here’s my little blurb about this slightly fuzzy pic.

It is the glow of the Kilauea caldera from the Observation point at the Hawaii Volcanos National Park.  I’m 99.9875% sure April has a sharper picture taken with her camera rather than with my iPhone, but I’m 100% sure if I went looking for it, I would miss the deadline for posting this today!

Here are some tidbits from LiveScience website about Kilauea (click here to read more about the eruptions of Kilauea):

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema`uma`u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

To the casual observer, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa, but geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system. Kilauea has had 61 recorded eruptions in the current cycle, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.

Native Hawaiian oral traditions record the extraordinary eruptive history of Kilauea long before European and American missionaries wrote about it in their journals. Scientific study of the volcano began when geologist Thomas Jagger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited Hawaii on a lecture tour and was approached by local businessmen. The Hawaiian Volcano Research Association (HVRA) was formed in 1909. In 1919, Jagger convinced the National Weather Service to take over the pioneering research, and in 1924 the observatory was taken over by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Also if you’re interested in seeing What’s Going On With The Volcano, click on the link to be taken to the National Park Service webpage for volcano updates.

Aloha!

Colorful Beaches

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When most people think of Hawaiian beaches, they probably think of something like this:

Or perhaps this:

But what about something like this?

If you’re saying to yourself : “Self, that sand sure looks black,” you would be correct!  It is, in fact, a black sand beach (which shouldn’t surprise any one who read Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca).  But here’s a fun fact that might surprise you about Hawaii: all beaches are public.  ALL OF THEM. It doesn’t matter if they are on a military base or in a fancy gated community, they all have to have public access.  ALL OF THEM.

This is quite handy knowledge when you’re planning beach activities and have never been to Hawaii.  It was also information that we did NOT have at the time of planning our Hawaiian vacation.  All we knew is that we had never been to a black sand beach before and we definitely wanted to visit one while we had the opportunity.  We found several north of Kailua-Kona and randomly picked the one closest to where we were staying.  It was in Kamuela and called 49 Black Sand Beach–so it sounded perfect, after all “black sand beach” was in the name!  As we turn off the main road and are making our way down a tiny winding road, we notice that dead ahead is a gate with a security guard.  We were a little hesitant, as our information on said-beach never mentioned anything about it being private or in a gated community.  We pull up to the gate, thinking perhaps Siri was a bit lost, with the plan of asking the guard for actual directions to the beach.

Instead we were handed a visitor pass to put in the car and given directions to the visitor parking lot and were told to stay only on the visitor walkway to the beach.  So we drove to the visitor parking lot, put our pass in full view on the dashboard, and embarked upon the visitor walkway.

SIDENOTE: I just googled “49 Black Sand Beach” to make sure that I had the right spot and here’s what Luxury Big Island has to say about the community where this beach is found (aka why we had to stay on the visitor walkway)–

The community of 49 Black Sand Beach is an ultra-exclusive private enclave of just 49 custom homes and home sites nestled atop rugged cliffs on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. Inspired by its sensuous and unparalleled natural landscape, 49 Black Sand Beach overlooks the Honoka’ope Bay and its exotic and unique 800-year old black sand beach. The community as a whole sits on 60-acres of private oceanfront property, 18 of which are on beachfront bluffs with the remaining home sites found fronting the Mauna Lani South golf course. Ideal for those seeking complete isolation from the hustle and bustle of the city, potential buyers will find the community of 49 Black Sand Beach to perfectly blend picturesque natural surroundings with all the amenities and luxuries you would expect of a world-class resort.

Annnnyway…

Along the visitor walkway, we passed by some workers who were de-coconutting the trees (yes, I’m sure there is some official phrase, but basically they were disposing of all the coconuts which had either dropped or looked like they were going to drop onto someone’s car or head or small child).  As we passed by Christi made a comment about how fun it would be to crack one open while glancing at Tracy expectantly.  I’m not sure what she was expecting him to do–pull a coconut-cracker out of his pocket?


But before he even had the opportunity (he’s a magician, it could have actually happened!), we heard a voice from behind us say: I can open one for you.  We all turned around to see one of the workers weilding a large machete.  We agreed because, well, when in Rome Hawaii…and who tells someone with a machete “no”?

With a couple of well placed whacks, we had a coconut to drink!   We passed it around, so we could all try it.  It was warm but delicious.  However, it definitely needed some rum!


With our coconut in hand, we continued down the visitors walkway.  Suddenly, it opened into a span of black sand and blue water.  It was stunning.  It was mesmerizing.  It was hot.  Really, really hot.  Which makes total sense, since it was black sand and a warm, sunny day.  But it’s not something your brain fully comprehends…you just think oooohhhh…beach….let’s take off our shoes and walk run squeal and haul ass quickly to the cool water looking like an over-animated cartoon character.


We poked around for awhile, however, beach itself was a bit too warm to lounge around on for a long period of time–plus we had other things to see, places to go, food to eat, and beverages to drink! We soon headed back up to the visitors walkway.  As we passed by the workers again, our machete man waved his machete at us–which we totally interpreted as “do you want a coconut for the road?”  We just waved, thanked him again, and happily walked back to the car.  One coconut, a man with a machete, some hot black sand, and cool, crisp water made for a perfect Hawaiian experience.


Aloha!