One of my Dad's high school friends and her family decided to take a vacation to the Big Island of Hawai'i, so we arranged to spend some time with them on Sunday last week. The Ay's went to church with us, then we came home and ate Hawaiian Haystacks for lunch. In our yard, I climbed a tree adjacent to a coconut tree (I haven't mastered climbing the actual coconut tree yet) and cut down a few coconuts for them, and everyone was pretty impressed with my mad coconut skills ;). After getting a bit more acquainted with the Ay family, we decided to go up to Volcanoes National Park to hike around for awhile before they had to go home.
There, we hiked through the Thurston Lava Tube (a cave made by lava), on to the Kilauea Iki Crater trail, (it was my third time hiking it), and finished by taking shelter from the rain at the Visitor's Center. While looking at a 3D map of the island there, we made plans for the week ahead with their family, because we had such a great time.
So on Tuesday, we met them and some of our other friends at Punalu'u Bakery on the south side of the island. I had fun hanging out in the garden under the gazebo , talking with my friends and listening to the live Hawaiian music playing. After our brunch at the Bakery, we fueled up Kevin (our friend's jacked up Suburban), and headed off to South Point.
The Southernmost Point of Hawai'i happens to be the southernmost point of the whole U.S., and my dad, a handful of our friends, and I jumped off it! My friend Grayson and I were the first ones to jump off South Point, and it was AWESOME! The cliff is somewhere between 30 and 40 feet high, and the water is about as deep too. The second time I jumped in, I took a snorkel mask with me so I could see. The water was crystal clear! I could see all the way to the bottom and even though there wasn't much to see other than rocks, reefs, and a few small fish, it was still pretty cool to be able to see that deep and to know that I was in open ocean. The only way out of the water and back up onto the cliff was up a rusty and rickety ladder. The choppy water and instability of the ladder made the ascent difficult, but everyone made it out ok.
After everyone who wanted to jump off the cliff did, we all headed up to the Green Sands Beach parking lot. The road to the beach is not a road at all, and required clearance and possibly four wheel drive, so all the kids piled into Kevin, and the parents had to go in the shuttle truck. We rocked out and had a ton of fun driving to the beach in Kevin.
At the Green Sand Beach, it was hard to tell if the sand was green or just a weird shade of brown, but everyone still had fun messing around in the waves and on the sand hill leading down to the beach. I tried to body surf some of the waves, but they didn't curl quite right and covered me in sand every time. We played Nerd-Circle and Ninja in the waves, and then raced down the sand hill into the water. The sun was starting to set, so we headed back to the parking lot and continued home from there.
Our last day with the Ay's was on Thursday, and we spent it in Hilo. In the morning, we went to the Pana'ewa Zoo, and then over to the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory. It was interesting to see how the mac nuts are processed and the huge amount that goes through the factory every day. Although the zoo was pretty cool and so was the factory, my favorite part of the day was going to Honoli'i and body boarding.
While I have been in Hawai'i, my favorite thing to do has been body boarding. It is so exhilarating to ride a wave, and it is like nothing else I have experienced. Honoli'i is basically a sandbar at the mouth of a river, where the waves that would normally stop at the breakwater in the bay go straight up onto the sandbar. Almost all of the surfers in the Hilo area go there, and the water can get pretty crazy sometimes. When we got there, I jumped straight into the water with my board and fins. It was pretty hard to get behind where the waves were breaking (the "green zone"), and I got pounded a few times trying to get out there. I only caught two waves, but I still had a great time. On my second wave, I rode it all the way in and onto the rocks. The Ay's were leaving right as I came in, so I didn't really get to say goodbye, other than waving at them while trying not to get knocked over by the incoming waves.
I had a great time showing the Ay's around Hawai'i, and also getting to go on so many adventures in a week! I hope we will get more visitors soon and be able to help people around the locations we visit! Aloha!