Just got back from Hawaii and I still have that blissed-out feeling you get after a few days sleeping to the sound of crashing waves and waking up to a killer ocean view. Generally, beach vacations aren't my thing, but this was a special trip (my birthday!) with some of my dearest friends who all live in LA.
While most of the group spent time soaking up the sun, I explored a chunk of the Big Island. A lot of people get freaked out when they fly into Kona where lava flows have left vast areas covered in volcanic rocks. It is dramatic and definitely amazing to see but it's not the lush green landscape people expect to find in Hawaii. In the low areas of the north west part of the island it is so dry, brown and almost desert-like it was hard to believe I was in the south Pacific.
All of that changes quickly once you gain a little elevation. Kona's hillsides are covered in coffee plantations and the little villages are so quaint and bohemian I thought I was in a Costa Rican surfer's retreat. Near Puna, in the south, I got a close up look at some the recent hurricane damage that took out acres of forest and left residents without power for nearly two weeks. Puna is also in the path of the Big Island's latest lava flow, which is slow-moving, but is expected to cut off main roads and threatens to destroy the town of Pahoa. Crazy stuff and I hope for the best for Puna.
The trip was amazing (including roadside huli huli chicken in Kona) and I feel so lucky to have great friends and family to help me celebrate. Mahalo.