At the beginning of May, Michael and I travelled west for a childfree vacation in Hawaii. We split our time in the 50th state between two islands—the Island of Hawaii, aka Big Island, and Maui. On the Big Island we were seeking adventure. There, we opted for local accommodations and stayed in a wonderful Airbnb guesthouse in Pāhoa on the Hilo side of the Island—we slept to the sound of rainstorms and singing birds, and woke to peaceful mornings with views of aged lava and a tropical garden.
I've always been inspired by volcanoes—the world at work—and a big reason we decided to visit the Big Island was for the opportunity to explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which did not disappoint. While at the park we hiked trails to experience steam vents, walked through a lava tube, and then drove down to the coast to see the Hōlei Sea Arch and where the lava is actively entering the ocean and expanding the island. We also visited the Jagger Museum, which has the best overlook right now for viewing the active crater and bubbling, red lava. (Several roads were closed at the time of our visit due to volcanic activity). While we weren't able to take the famed Crater Rim Drive, we were able to go on the Chain of Craters road, which was spectacular—and despite a major climate difference, this road trip had me reminiscing of our time in Iceland. We wrapped up our time at the park with a meal at the historic Volcano House, which has great views of the Halema‘uma‘u Crater.
On our second day, we started with breakfast an Paul's Place in Hilo town. This three-table restaurant was so charming and felt as if we were dining in Paul's home; after a delicious meal and a wonderful conversation with Paul we headed to the Hilo International Airport to take a helicopter ride over the island. This was definitely one of my favorite things we did the whole trip. We flew over the active volcano crater and also where the lava enters the the ocean—and it was really powerful to see the volcano sights from a new view. From the helicopter we also saw a number of waterfalls and towns, and got a really great sense of the impact of the volcano and the climate diversity across the island. After our helicopter adventure we drove across the island to the west coast. There we visited the Kona Brewing Company for lunch and to taste some local beer, and then after lunch we made our way to the famed coffee region along the Mamalahoa Highway. We toured the Greenwell Farm, which has an impressive history of farming on the island with an legacy that traces back to 1850. After the coffee farm tour and tasting, we headed to Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, which has preserved ancient Hawaiian society, and features a temple, village, royal grounds and sanctuary or place of refuge.
On our third day, we woke up slowly and then went in search of waterfalls. First we made our way north along to the coast to Akakka Falls State Park. Once we arrived, we took an easy walk to see two falls and an abundance of lush vegetation. After Akakka we made our way back toward Hilo to visit Rainbow Falls, which flows over a natural lava cave. Finally, we wrapped up our day with a walk around Liliuokalani Gardens, which honors the Japanese heritage of the island, and then we enjoyed sushi for dinner at the Hilo Bay Cafe, which overlooks the Hilo bay.
Following our adventures on the Big Island, we made our way to Maui. We stayed at the lovely Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, which is on land that was once a pineapple plantation. In Maui we were intentionally laid back—we spent time poolside with a piña colada and good books, took walks along the coast on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, decompressed in the spa for much needed pampering, shared slow meals focused on conversation, strolled through Lahaina Town, and enjoyed a Hula Girl boat trip and snorkeling in the bluest waters.
During our time in Hawaii we learned that the word aloha has several meanings: hello and goodbye, and it also represents a relationship with nature and a responsibility to love unconditionally. During our time away we re-centered and focused on seeking balance; now that we've returned home and back to our routines, I'm trying to simply remember to live with aloha.