Big Island of Hawai'i

Big Island of Hawai'i

Recently my children and I traveled to Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i over the holidays. Kinda weird seeing palm trees with Christmas lights and tiki torches around a Christmas tree, but it sure was fun.

Great restaurants in Kona. Some of our favorites were the Fish Hopper Restaurant (great service and delicious food and drinks like my daughter is enjoying),

Kona Brewing Company (super pizza!) and Huggo's on the Rocks. At night get a table by the rails and watch a waitress toss scraps to feed the eels below.

On Sunday I went to the oldest Christian church in Hawai'i, Mokuaikaua established 1820, the building was built in 1836.

As a wedding photographer from Eugene Oregon, I've hired twice to photograph gorgeous outdoor weddings on the islands. One on Oahu and one on Maui. Love them all. This time, I was able to create a beautiful family portrait of the Kragness family on a sheltered beach north of Kona. Typically there would be dozens of people there, but the State had shut down the beaches on the night of Dec 31st, which meant we had to park outside the gate and walk in, so it really served to our advantage, especially with a gorgeous sunset.

Being on Big Island of Hawai'i gives one a wide range of climates from snowy peaks to volcanic lava to misty forests with waterfalls and of course stunning beaches. This one, Hapuna Beach, has been named best beach in the world and gets high reviews on Trip Advisor.  I can see why, as the sand is clean, soft and he beach goes on for hundreds of yards (we took the family portrait just south of Hapuna).

One of the first things we did was a Snorkel and Manta Ray tour (one in the day, the later at night). Great clear water with tons of fish near the Captain Cook monument. Taken from the boat en route, this picture portrays the verbal tradition saying the land form represents Pele, the goddess of fire. She is lying on her side, head on our left, shoulder, hips and feet.

A place of interest near Kona is the City of Refuge. Well worth the $5 entry fee. First few images are Color infra red which gives me another dimension of feeling that standard color.

Hawaiian gods. With my daughter Sophia and son Harrison below:

An ancient Hawaiian game played on rocks.

From there we continued south to the Punalu'u black sand beach, one of the most famous in the world.

The Sand is very fine and soft as Sophia's feet can testify to.

This beach also is home to many large Honu (large Green Sea Turtles), protected by rocks and signs asking tourists to stay back.

Sophia took this image:

Her good friend, Alexis, joined us on the trip and LOVES the color black, so this was the beach for her.

This area was just behind the beach. Definitely NOT in Oregon anymore.

From there we drove the Green Sand Beach staging area. Unless you are a wild person with a sturdy 4 wheel drive or want to walk 3 miles each way, you pay locals to drive you down to the beach. It was like Mr. Toad's wild ride. Well worth the $20, maybe even more than seeing the beach itself. This was truck 8 of us stood on in back and 2 rode up front.

And those brown ruts? That IS the trail down.

OK...Green Sand Beach. I would call it greenish sand beach or gold sand beach with a touch of green. Only 4 in the world, so worth checking out. Harrison and I went swimming, sorta.

Most tourists stay on Kona, although the only other time I was on the big island, (many many years ago when the population was 1/2 of what it is today), I stayed in Hilo. Boy the island has changed a lot since then, but still has the huge Aka'a falls and Rainbow Falls (below) as a great attraction.

This image was taken in color infra red.

The photograph was taken near Hilo showing the snow and observatories on Mauna Kea, the largest mountain (surface to peak) in the world.

Our primary purpose of going to Hilo was to take the Lava Walking Tour. Our group Kalapana Culture Tours, made the 2 hour trek each way highly interesting.

Even after just 2 years of lava flow, life returns.

When I was here years ago, this area was all forest at a much lower elevation.

This lava was backed up causing rope like ridges that was very difficult to walk on.

Our tour group was limited to 20 people with the 2 tour guides. As we got closer to the fresh lava, the smell of sulfer hit me.

I wanted the sunset tour for the dramatic effects.

Our guide took us directly to the flowing lava. The temperature of the lava is 2,000 degrees. 3,000 if in a lava tube.

While the lav was moving very slowly (like warm peanut butter), the hot rocks under my feet melted part of my rubber shoe tread.

Taken with Color Infra Red. A whole new world that the guides had never seen before.

When I took the image below, my eyes couldn't see the lava between the cracks, but the infra red could.

The last day I was there (before flying out to Germany...another story coming later on my blog), we toured the oldest Coffee Plantation on Hawai'i. Greenwell Farms.

This photograph shows the bean prior to riping.

Machines can't pick the berries. Pickers are brought in from other countries. They go from nation to nation as professional coffee bean pickers (they are paid by the pound).

Every 3 years, they cut the bush down to the stump to promote more healthy growth for the following years.

Here they are taking the berry skins off the beans.

Here are the beans in their various stages, from berry to bean to dried to roasted.

From dried to bags to ship all over the world. Kona Coffee is considered one of the best.

Our tour guide showing off Pear Bananas, just one of hundred of varieties of bananas and the most tasty.

They also grew a lot of large and gorgeous avocados there.

Some gift shop samples.

Had a great time in 5 days (Harrison stayed on 2 more days and Sophia and Alexis had 4 more days, 2 on Maui). The smells in Hawai'i are like anything else. Hope you can enjoy it soon too.

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