Friday night we finally made it to a Hawaiian sunset!!! We went back to Ala Moana Park to catch the sunset before heading to dinner.
I insisted on going out to dinner to celebrate the fact that the Mayans were wrong and the world did not end!! We went to Town in Honolulu. I found it online while googling for the best restaurants in Oahu. Apparently Town was ranked Top 5 restaurant of the year by Honolulu Magazine. For those of you who are live/from Ann Arbor – the Town reminded me very much os Sava’s. It is a very modern restaurant with fresh ingredients and small but yet filling portions.
Arugula Salad, which consisted of kabocha, fennel, pickled onions, almonds, and parmigiano. Doc got the ahi tartare with risotto cake & balsamic vinegar.
Risotto with grilled eggplant, mint, & pecorino. We went all out – since the world did not end – and even got dessert. For dessert we had the “milk and honey” buttermilk pannacotta with nalo meli honey. It was divine!
The winter solstice is a pretty big deal in Persian culture therefore I was adamant on celebrating it even though it is just Doc & I in Hawaii. We bought a pomegranate [yes just one because groceries are super expensive here!], sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds/almonds, and we couldn’t find an actual watermelon we bought watermelon juice. Since we didn’t have a Hafez book to do Fal-e-hafez (fortune telling based on Hafez poems) we googled a website that apparently does fal-e-hafez for you virtually! We ate our pomegranate, read our poems, ate some sunflower seeds and watched Real Housewives of Miami on Bravo. It was a very unconventional but yet memorable winter solstice!
Today Doc & I took a day trip to the Island of Hawaii aka Big Island!!! We left Oahu at 5am and returned at 9:30pm. It was a very productive, busy, and adventurous day! Let me just say that this whole day was planned by Doc – I had nothing to do with it. I just stated that I wanted to see a volcano and some black sand beach. Doc did all the research and executed the whole day – we hit some bumps in the road [literally] but it was a memorable day!
The day started out at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We were there bright and early at 7am – which meant that it was freezing cold. We were some 3000 feet above sea level therefore it was 50 degrees and super windy! Doc & I were not dressed properly – but we dealt with it. The park is accessible by car via the two main roads – Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. Visitors are able to stop along the way at various portions to explore the trails. Our first stop was Jagger Museum to view the main crater Halema’uma’u. Second stop was the Kilauea overlook where we were able to see the Kilauea Caldera as well as the Halema’uma’u crater. Then we went on the trail for the steam vents, steaming bluff, and sulphur banks. It reminded of of earth science and organic chemistry class. The sulphur banks were amazing to witness but at the same time it smelled like rotten eggs! Amazingly there was some orchid flowers along the trail – which was unexpected. After the trail we drove to the Thurston Lava Tubes – several hundred years ago a river of red lava rushed through the tubes. It was pretty neat to be able to walk through it!
After the volcano viewing we were off to the east side of the island to Waipio Valley. The valley is 2000 feet below the terrain. Getting down to the valley was an adventure – not in a good way. Now that I look back at it we were pretty stupid and could have gotten ourselves killed – but oh well. Only four wheel drive vehicles are allowed to go on the road to get to the valley and apparently rental cars are not allowed – that didn’t stop Doc. She rented a Ford Escape for this very reason. Now keep in mind that I own an Escape and honestly it is a reliable car especially driving it in icy MI winter – however I have never driven it in the road conditions that Doc drove at the valley. The road down to the valley gains 800 vertical feet in 0.6 miles at a 25% average grade. Basically think San Francisco roads but not asphalt and one way. By some miracle we made it down safely into the valley. We thought we were in the clear but then we had to drive the car across a river – a river with a rock bed. I closed my eyes and started praying as Doc drove the car through the river. The whole time she was chanting “Built Ford Tough. Built Ford Tough.” It was worth it to drive down to the valley. We were able to see various fruits such as star fruit, bananas, and coconut. We also saw the waterfalls and the Taro plants that are grown in the valley.
Doc read reviews of people raving about the ice cream at Hilo Homemade Ice Cream Cafe. Since I am a major ice cream lover we headed there for a taste. It is a little mom & pop shop but the ice cream is divine!!! They have all these amazing local flavors that I have never tasted anywhere else! They had a dragon fruit flavor that was bright purple color and apparently it was the natural color! No food coloring or fake stuff added! All natural and tasty!! Doc ordered the Kona Coffee and Salted Caramel Mac Nut which was delicious! I wish I could go back every day for ice cream there!
My sole mission on the Big Island was to see black sand. Waipio was a bust because we never made it to the beach. Therefore I googled to find the best black sand beach on the Big Island and that was Punaluu Black Sand Beach. After our ice cream we headed to Punaluu to see some black sand. It was 60 miles completely out of the way but that didn’t stop me. Doc was a little peeved but when we got there she said it was totally worth it! We were very lucky because in addition to the black sand we got to see green sea turtles on the beach! Double win! Even though they had a giant sign that said it’s prohibited to take black sand from the beach – that didn’t stop us. I wanted a little souvenir for myself so yes I took some sand. I do it on all my travels to the beach – I always bring some sand back home – it’s my thing.
After the beach we drove back to the Volcanoes National Park to see the crater at dusk. It was an amazing view! Pictures don’t do it justice – it was by far the coolest thing to witness!
After our pit stop at the park we zoomed back into town to grab some dinner before heading to the airport. We ordered food to go from Hilo Bay Cafe – it was highly recommended on Yelp & Zagat. We ordered the Warm Garlic Shrimp Salad & the Ahi Poke. Both were delicious! It was our first Poke eating experience but it definitely won’t be the last!
It was a wonderful day and I’m ecstatic that we had a chance to go to the Big Island and see what it had to offer! I can’t wait to come back next week to the Big Island with my Mama & Lil Bro when they visit!
Today reminded me of the quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Doc and I set out to North Shore with an itinerary that consisted of viewing the sea turtles, hiking to Waimea falls, going to the beach to soak up some sun, and eating dinner at the Poke Stop. All that got derailed thanks to our dear friend RAIN.
On our drive up to the North Shore it was rainbow paradise! During our 45 minute drive there was constantly a rainbow in the sky. In Haleiwa we pulled over and took some pictures of all the pretty colors in the sky.
Next we went to go catch a glimpse of the Sea Turtles at Turtle Beach in Laniakea at North Shore. We were not so lucky because there were no turtles on the beach. We were able to view them in the water & occasionally they would poke their heads out. There was a lady who worked for an organization – not sure of the name – that gave some information about the sea turtles and suggested that we stand back to allow the sea turtles to have a way to enter the beach. However we were not lucky to see any turtles on the beach today – maybe next time.
We drove toward Waimea Falls to start our hike however it started raining. The information desk mentioned that since it has not rained in a while there was no water at the falls. But he was hopeful that the rain from today would be beneficial. He suggested that we save our money and not a pay an admission fee twice [because we plan on going back with Mama & Lil Bro when they come] since there was no water. He was very kind in telling us that at the gift shop they had admission tickets as stocking stuffers which you could purchase for $5 – regular admissions is $15. Thanks to him we saved over $50!! I LOVE employees that give insider info to guests – thanks awesome guy at Waimea Falls!!
It continued to rain at North Shore therefore we did not go to the beach. We decided to head back to the apartment. I zonked out and had a siesta while Doc caught up with some computer work.
Tomorrow is a big day for us and we are prepping for our adventure!! We have a jam packed day of activities & I can’t wait to share all the things we do!