Hawaii, The Big Island - Part 3
Our fifth day on The Big Island was dedicated to exploring the Green Sand Beach, called Papakolea, on the southernmost point of the island. One of my favorite things about this beach, besides, obviously, the dreamy green sand that gives this hidden gem its nickname, is that, you have to work to get to it. The only parking lot is 2.5 miles from the beach. Now, this isn’t one of those situations like Waipi’o Valley where, if you do have the proper 4 wheel drive vehicle, you could potentially drive your way to the beach. Oh, no. The locals won’t allow it. They will, however, offer to give you a ride - for $20 each way. So, that IS an option. Just like Waipi’o Valley, though, I highly recommend you choose to hike your way there. The hike to Papakolea is a little tricky. The terrain is quite uneven and the wind blows incredibly fiercely, but, the views along the way are ridiculously stunning. A dirt path guides you along the coastline the whole way. To the right, the deep blue ocean glistens with tiny sparkling flecks in the sun. To the left, rolling hills of green surround as far as the eye can see. Taking the walk allows you more time to really drink this beauty up with your eyes, and imbed the visual in your mind’s eye. Trust me, you’re going to want as much time to soak up the wonder as possible. Plus, I think the challenges that arise along the way definitely add to the feeling of accomplishment that washes over you when you reach the destination, and you first lay your eyes upon the emerald sand below in the valley. Not only was the color of sand totally mind-boggling, but the ocean appeared in a particularly moving hue of blue. It reminded me of the bright blue color of those fla-vor-ice popsicles I ate when I was a kid. For a place so remote, I found it so fascinating that the valley walls had been naturally sculpted to resemble stairs. It was like Mama Earth had intentionally formed in such a way to guide us to witness and enjoy her beauty; and enjoy, we certainly did. Besides appearing absolutely stunning to the eye, the green sand felt perfectly warm and playfully squishy beneath my toes. The bright blue waves cleansed my skin and fortified my soul. Once again, my inner child felt free to play at will. My heart felt as though it was wrapped in a giant, cozy embrace.
I would have been totally content to spend the entire day there, however, the beach itself is not very large and it soon became crowded with many different groups of people. Personally, I find that hoards of people can detract from experiencing as intimately of a connection with nature than when you have more privacy, so, if you feel the same way, definitely make sure to get to Papakolea early! Plus, there are no facilities (i.e. no restrooms, nowhere to buy food or water), so eventually, it does become time to head back so that you can refuel. Thankfully, after the heart-opening 5 mile round-trip adventure, there is the most perfect little place to stop for nourishing food and beverages and, it’s only a short drive away - Ka Lae Coffee. Pete and I chose to fuel up with a nutrient-dense smoothie and mocha latte (which were SO GOOD), but, they honestly had so many delicious sounding options, it was hard to ultimately decided on those. Almost better than the beverages, though, was the serene garden to sit and drink them in. Sitting at the cutest little picnic table, bright flowers and luscious plants of all colors and kinds surround you as the songs of birds ease your mind into utter peace. It felt like a scene out of a fairy tale. That evening, we had reservations for dinner in Kona, an almost 2 hour drive away, so soon it was time to pack up and make our way towards the last leg of our adventure. After one of the most sensational meals we’ve ever eaten at Ulu, a restaurant rated one of the most romantic in the world, we headed to bed with full hearts and bellies to get a good night’s rest before our last day on The Big Island.
Our departing flight wasn’t until 10:00pm, so thankfully, we had one last full day before we had to leave. We didn’t want to stray too far from the airport though, so, we decided to spend our final day at Kiholo Bay, a place we had heard was fantastic for snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles, only 15 minutes from the airport. Kiholo Bay was yet another magical, hidden location we had to work a bit to get to. The closest parking area is an approximate 1.5 mile walk along the beach away, and oh my GOODNESS is the experience worth every step. Kiholo Bay is a true paradise. Dark, saturated black lava encloses the picture-perfect turquoise blue bay. The lava rock provides a napping sanctuary for the local sea turtles, while lush, green trees provide a relaxing space in the shade for yourself at the water’s edge. Glance land-side and soak up panoramic mountain views. Hop in the water and swim inches from sea turtles and vibrantly colored fish. This place was filled with excitement. I felt totally uplifted just being there. Kiholo Bay is a literal heaven, and I will say without a doubt in my mind, my favorite place I have ever gone snorkeling.
After our sunscreen ran out, we headed back to the place our trip began, Pine Tree Cafe. I ordered another delicious Ahi Poke Bowl lunch, and again after, we grabbed some lattes at Kona Mountain Coffee. This time though, instead of scurrying off to our next adventure, we took our time, sipping our yummy drinks out on Kona Mountain Coffee’s patio, soaking up the warm afternoon sun.
As afternoon turned to early evening, we decided to bring our trip to a proper close by heading to the beach. We had about an hour or so of daylight left, so before our 8 hour plane ride, we found a sturdy tree, hung up our gymnastic rings and enjoyed some mindful movement playtime. As the sunlight began to dim, we brought our movement session to a close, so we could pause and truly admire the extraordinary sunset happening before our eyes. As we sat there and watched our final day on The Big Island come to a close, I was utterly moved by how wonderfully shaken my soul was by our trip. It’s not even enough to say that there’s something special about the Hawaiian islands, because, there’s something more than special - there is something totally extraordinary about that land. I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to visit. I will always remember the feeling of how openly Hawaii welcomed me with her warm embrace, and how deeply Hawaii inspired my heart and soul with her limitless beauty.