January 10, 2021

Hawaii 1.0

So how did a random trip to Hawaii come about??

I had been traveling the past four months and wanted to do something that would really challenge me. So on a whim I looked up flights to Hilo and, because they were less than $500 round trip, booked one immediately. I found an Airbnb and rental car and started to work on my research and itinerary. A couple of nights prior to take-off, my brother and I talked and he ended up booking a flight to go with me. Nothing came without challenge – finding a covid test (to which we ended up in Shreveport to complete) and packing bags under 50 lbs. But we did it and it was worth every single frustration and obstacle! Find my recommendations below 🙂

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Day 01

After a 17 hour trip (with a pit stop in Honolulu for some $13 hamburgers), we finally made it to Hilo. At pitch black o’clock, we found our little Airbnb nestled in the middle of the jungle and rested for the next day.

The only real plans consisted of a helicopter flight over the Waimea coastline, so the rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the backyard and wandering around downtown. We got our expensive meal, thrifted for a bit and tried some Kona coffee.

 

Day 02

Day two was for the Kona side of the island. We went to the farmers market first, something our host recommended if we wanted to feel like locals. we picked up some of the largest fruits we’d ever seen and hopped in the car to drive to Kona.

I’d heard about a few different beaches so we drove with the top off through Mauna Kea and over to the west. A majority of the day was spent at a little cove diving into the waves (losing sunglasses) and taking pictures of water against volcanic rock. we stopped for some snow cones before heading north to 49’s Black Sand Beach. Quite literally touching heaven the entire day.

 

Day 03

I somehow convinced Michael to attempt the Mauna Kea summit hike with me. I did quite a bit of research on the hike but none of it prepared us for the 14-mile, 7000 ft elevation gain we were about to endure. We arrived a little late (the hike was estimated to take between 8-10 hours), but started off strong and excited. The lower two miles of the hike was all sand, so the majority of our energy was spent before we made it to the rocky area. We packed six PB&J sandwiches, eight cliff bars, a container of nuts and a few gallons of water to eat/drink between the two of us. It was plenty and not enough all in one. The last mile of the trail is on a paved road, so after the first six, we decided to stop for awhile. The peak was below freezing and *windy* so we didn’t last long enough up there.

It was so rewarding but the hours after were miserable. Michael had a bad (blistering) sunburn and I had altitude sickness, so after consuming a pizza each, we crashed pretty quick.

No camera pics from this day. I decided against it with how heavy the food and water was. Being above the clouds was surreal so part of me regrets it, But the Lauren from the middle of the hike was (and is) very thankful.

 

Day 04

Because we were so exhausted from the summit hike, we took Thursday pretty slow. We woke up late into the morning and hung with our host’s chickens. Michael’s sunburn was pretty bad so we ate our farmers market finds on the covered porch in the company of some geckos. I’d planned one more short hike and went alone in the early afternoon. The Akaka Falls hike is less than a mile and paved the whole way, making it significantly easier than day three’s venture. If there’s anything about this trip that I could relive, it was this moment. I remember being absolutely speechless. The sun was peeking through stormy clouds, it was 65 degrees, no other visitors, just incredible. Everywhere on the island made us feel like we were on the set of Jurassic Park, but this especially was surreal. I found a little nook and watched the last of sunset (facing the east hahaha) before heading home.

 

Day 05

Our last day on the island, we went back to the farmers market for breakfast and souvie shopping.

It’s on my bucket list to visit every national park, so we made a trip down to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for a little bit of hiking before our flight. I wish there were words to describe how surreal it was to walk through the mouth of a volcano.

On our flight back to Honolulu, we caught the most beautiful sunset over Maui and it was the perfect ending to the perfect trip.

 

Recs – 

Airbnb: Waterfall Views
Farmer’s Market
Mauna Kea Summit Hike
Akaka Falls Hike
49’s Black Sand Beach
Helicopter Tour

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