Hawaii Odds and Ends

This will be my last Hawaii post, which makes me very sad. It was a fantastic vacation, and I love reliving it as I write my blog posts. I posted a bit out of order, so for those of you who are interested in what the complete trip looked like, here’s a quick overview. I felt like we had a great mix of interesting activities plus downtime.

Day One: Midday arrival at Kona airport. Baggage was a no-show. Delicious late lunch in Kona, arrival at Mermaid Dreams B&B, fun Christmas Eve dinner with owners and other guests, up until 1am waiting for baggage to be delivered.

Day Two: Scrumptious Christmas morning breakfast at the B&B complete with adorable geckos (to observe, not to eat!). Morning drive down the coast, afternoon pick-up for Mauna Kea Summit tour. Sunset at the summit of Mauna Kea, then chilly stargazing partway down the mountain.

Day Three: Beautiful drive from Kona to Hilo. Picked up my parents from their hotel, ate terrific fish & chips in Hilo, visited the small but fascinating Pacific Tsunami Museum, picked up Dirk & Tracy from the airport, checked in to our beautiful airbnb in Pahoa, dinner at a nice Thai restaurant in Pahoa.

Day Four: Walked through the Lava Tree State Monument Park in the morning, then visited two beautiful Puna beaches – Isaac Hale and Ahalanui. In the afternoon, Dirk, Tracy, Domingos, and I went on the lava field hike. Absolutely unforgettable experience!

Day Five: We spent the whole day in Volcanoes National Park, driving from sight to sight. Incredible place.

Day Six: Helicopter ride in the morning, a walk through Lili’uokalani Park in Hilo, then a fantastic lunch at Hilo Bay Cafe, followed by a stop at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.

Day Seven: Breakfast at the little farmers’ market in Mountain View before touring the Hilo Coffee Mill. Lunch at the excellent Cafe Pesto in Hilo with my cousin and his wife, and a relaxing afternoon hanging out with them.

Day Eight: A relaxing morning, followed by a scenic drive along the southeast Puna coast. We stopped at the MacKenzie State Recreation Area and the Kaimu Beach Park, and then had a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner at Kaleo’s Bar & Grill in Pahoa.

Coconut panko crusted calamari appetizer
Kalua pork wontons
Spicy furikake ahi with lobster beurre blanc and mushroom stir-fry
One of three desserts we shared!

My personal favorite: banana spring rolls

Day Nine: Akaka Falls State Park in the morning, followed by snack at Mr. Ed’s Bakery in Honomu. After walking along a few Hilo beaches and gardens, we had a late lunch/early dinner at Ken’s Pancake House, one of the few places open on New Year’s Day, then dropped my parents and Domingos off at the airport.

Day Ten: After packing up and checking out of the airbnb, Dirk, Tracy, and I headed off for our last day. We had coffee in Hilo, then Tracy and I left Dirk there to wander while we went to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which was absolutely stunning. After, we met up with him for some fun shopping. I had an incredible sandwich for lunch at the Surf Break Cafe – grilled Hawaiian sweet bread with lilikoi cream cheese.

I purchased a beautiful small painting in a Hilo gallery (after texting Domingos to make sure he liked it, too).

The farmers’ market in downtown Hilo had some stalls selling beautiful jewelry, so I was unable to resist a few choice mementos. (No photos; I’m writing this blog post while in Savannah, so I can’t take pictures of the jewelry, which is back home).

After we dropped the rental van off, we walked to a fusion sushi place just a block away from the Hertz office. It was called Sweet Thunder Sushi and it was fantastic! I wish we had discovered it sooner. I ordered the “Kulia”, which was spicy ahi poke, shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, red onion, and a delicious garlic sauce on top. Each creation there can be ordered as a poke bowl or roll. I also had some really tasty bacon stuffed mushrooms.

Anyway, it’s a hole-in-the-wall place that is totally out of the way, but it’s worth your while to make your way there if you’re in Hilo!

After we ate, we grabbed an Uber to the airport and made our respective ways home. I loved the big island and Domingos and I plan to go back for a much longer visit someday.

I’ll leave you with a lovely shot of the Rockies when I had a Denver layover on my way home.

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