Volcanoes and Kona coffee; that was essentially what the Big Island of Hawaii was in my opinion. I had always wanted to see live lava flow and douse myself daily in Kona coffee. I was checking out trips from Singles by the Bay Travel Club and spied their too good to be true 8 days on the Big Island trip that promised me adventure, so I saw lava! My journey began in Hawaiian time for 11 strangers; myself in a luxury home overlooking the Kona coast and siren evacuations triggered by the March 2011 Japan Tsunami. Yes, the day of our arrival was the devastating earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that also struck the Hawaiian Islands.
We were up just shy of dark o’clock each morning, gathering our gear, packing lunches, water and cameras. Our first stop was Volcano Park for a 4 mile Crater Hike. As we stepped downward further into the crater we walked past lush flora and plant life, tentatively wondering what they were. We rounded a corner and found ourselves staring out at a stark landscape. Flat, dry and filled with lava rock formations we pondered the sensibility of our decision. The other side seemed so far off in the distance you could barely see other people. No turning back – we set out and climbed up every structure we could to look into fissures hoping for some lava flow. No lava that day but our reward after a victorious crater hike was being able to relax in the naturally heated Thermal Pools about 45 minutes south of Volcano Park.
Every day brought a new way to stretch our boundaries, experience something new and find strength both mentally and physically. Whether it was in a 1-mile decline that led to Waipio Valley, trekking across sandy beaches to discover hidden places, or traipsing over lava rock to ancient petroglyphs; we had the impression that Pele was offering up her best to us as a reward. Some of our hikes and snorkeling led us to unusual findings from the waves that had pounded Kona days earlier. Fish, crabs, sea life and other sunken oceanic debris that found itself stranded on lava rock a mile or more inland. I am not athletic but I found myself wanting to get further outside of my comfort zones and have a full experience. My first encounter with kayaking was daunting. I admit I almost bailed a number of times, thoughts of capsizing, getting stuck, and drowning peppered my mind. We were paired up so that everyone had a partner who was more experienced so they could tutor those of us who were not.
Having a partner that was encouraging and thoughtful gave me confidence to pretend I knew what I was doing. It felt exhilarating to be in that kayak and glide across Kealakekua Bay. We paddled to the right to survey the remains of a rooftop, cars and other wreckage that was swept into a rock wall by the Tsunami. A cooler sat next to a bathtub, and fragments of wood were scattered in the water. We paddled on to reach the white obelisk on the shores and after some avoidance and a not so gentle verbal shove; I donned my gear and quite ungracefully flew into the water. My experience with snorkeling has usually been about 3 minutes of Darth Vader breathing and a frog like float that leaves my butt sticking out of the water. Yea, I’m that girl. This time was different, I found myself breathing normally, evenly, and swimming in the water as I followed the schools of fish beneath me. It was beautiful, looking at these amazing colors beneath a wet surface. There were so many of them and I wished I had brought a water camera!
When I found myself over 33,000 miles high on top of Maunakea just a day or two later looking out over the most incredible sunset I have ever seen I wrapped my arms around my knees and let out a contented sigh. I surveyed the clouds and earth below me, drank in the vibrant colors this young Hawaiian Island offered to us. Climbing lava rocks, scaling a steep incline at Waipio Valley, snorkeling at 3 beaches and a successful kayak trip. Adventure indeed, I was handed an experience that I never anticipated but haven’t been able to shake since. Photographs dot my home that remind me, even for the not so graceful at foot, there are still journeys and escapades to be had.
About the Author: Janet Atteberry is a member of Singles by the Bay Travel Club and writes many great articles about her experiences on our trips. An excellent writer & amateur photographer, she always adds a great dimension to our groups with her wit and sarcastic sense of humor. Thanks for another great trip review Janet!Read More »
An exciting and adventurous travel couple share their story…
Many of us dream about taking a long extended vacation to go out there and see the world but that plan always ends up being shelved simply because it seems more practical to earn the moolahs first and travel later. However, this is when the cycle begins where you would prefer to see your savings grow in the bank and that’s when you lose sight of your original plan and end up being a hamster running on a treadmill everyday not seeking to get out of your comfort zone to experience what the world has to offer.
Not wanting to lose sight of their dreams, a Singaporean couple decided to apply for a working holiday visa to the UK to work and travel the cities of Europe in the hopes of broadening their horizons and seeing the world.
On Feb 2009, leaving everything dear to them on the sunny island of Singapore, they stepped forth into the grey and gloomy skies of London. Taking on unfamiliar jobs to fund their impending travels and making new friends with their colleagues and housemates while simultaneously exploring UK cities and even travelling as far as Egypt. Travelling is not only their favorite pastime, being avid fans of the English Premier League, they are able to Fulfill their to-do list, including catching the long-awaited chance to watch their favorite football clubs clash against each other. But their main highlight of the trip was starting their two and a half month backpacking trip across Europe – an adventure of a lifetime!
Off they went when they flew to Porto, started a blog series called ‘Railing Thru Europe’ and slowly railed their way across Europe – from the fashion capitals of Paris and Milan, to the highest point of Europe in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, to trailing the gothic and mysterious Brasov, to the cruise rides in-between the Scandinavian countries and watching with hundreds of people as the sunsets into the horizon in Oia, Greece where even spending a week is never enough for them.
Reluctantly, they left Greece to take in the sights and sounds of Istanbul. They stepped foot on the continent of Asia after spending more than a year in Europe before heading back to the UK where they spent their remaining visa days in historical and beautiful Edinburgh. Here they waited for the first fall of snow and spent a “real” white Christmas before heading back home to their sunny island.
2 years of wanderlust travels may have put them slightly off the tracks of the rat race but it was without a doubt the best time of their lives by far. Do you need that extra push? That extra motivation to drop whatever you are doing and pursue YOUR adventure of a lifetime?
Maybe, just maybe, reading up on travel blogs like ourjotterbook.com or other similar travel diaries might just be that extra bit to inspire you.Read More »