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Big Island, Hawaii 2016 Part 2 – Travel Tuesday

Big Island, Hawaii 2016 Part 2 – Travel Tuesday

Welcome to part 2 of our Hawaii 2016 recap! Click here if you need to read part 1. Last week’s post was about our time spent in Hilo and the surrounding area. This week is about the next half of our trip.

Driving from Hilo to Waimea

We made a ton of stops when we traveled from Hilo to Waimea. Our agenda for the day was as follows:

  • Breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo – this was fun, but not superb by any means. The milkshake was great (because… of course you need a milkshake with breakfast – ha!)
  • Brief stop at Rainbow falls in Hilo – Don’t just stop at the waterfall – there is a great path off to the side of the waterfall viewing area that takes you to a magical tree-filled area and then further to the swimming holes above the waterfall. Note: there are signs saying it’s dangerous… but we saw people swimming anyways. Okay, I’ll share a picture with you of the forest area – it was just that cool:Hawaii 2016
  • Akaka Falls State Park – This was a fun little hike with a loop trail. It was definitely less than a mile total and all paved paths. If I recall there are some stairs.
  • Laupahoehoe Point Park – A wonderful park with some nice views, but not a thing that I’d recommend as a “must-do” when you visit the Big Island.
  • Red Water Cafe in Waimea – Once we arrived at our next Air Bnb in Waimea, we decided that we needed to get some dinner and splurge. We went out to Red Water Cafe which was so pricy, but so delicious! There was also live jazz.

The wedding was the next day, and for the sake of not sharing all my friends’ stuff on this blog, I’ll ignore the actual wedding day in this post. Let me just say that it was beautiful, fun and I’m so incredibly happy for the couple!

Kona Coast State Park/Makalawena Ahupua’a

Definitely go to Kona Coast State Park/Makalawena Ahupua’a if you get a chance. You’ll park at a little state beach park and then immediately turning to the right and walking on the dried lava beds over to a beach that you can’t get to unless you hike or have a jeep! Here’s the honey along the hiking path:Hawaii 2016

The beach you’ll be wanting to get to called Makalawena Ahupua’a and there are plenty of guides online for how to get there. Google it. But, in case you aren’t sold yet…. look at this beauty!

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Pristine sand, few people, and beautiful sea and surf.

We met up with the bride and groom and some of their friends the next day to go with Alii Ocean Tours on a snorkel adventure – we even saw dolphins! Somewhere during our time in Waimea we also went to another Baha’i event – this time a Musical Fireside with Red Grammer! He happened to be doing some school workshops and put together a nice fireside at a local Baha’is house.

Scuba Diving with Manta Rays

We went diving with Jack’s Diving Locker and I enjoyed every bit of it. Their staff are professional and funny, charismatic and trustworthy. We did a two-tank dive so we got to dive before the sunset, have dinner, and then dive again after the sun went down to see the manta rays. It was absolutely one of the most incredible and breathtaking experiences of my life!

Hawaii 2016

The mantas are huge. And one swam right over my head… like a foot above me! When you go night diving with mantas what you do is go to the bottom and sit down. We all have flashlights to help us see, but the guides have huge lights to light the area. There is also a huge light floating up top to help bring the plankton so the manta rays come to feed. We are instructed to sit still and not try anything stupid. As I mentioned: manta rays are big. They can hurt you without realizing it! Also, they have this sticky stuff on them as a protective measure. If we touch them, it can ultimately cause them harm from losing the sticky stuff. (At least… I think that’s how it works!)Hawaii 2016

We had a few days before our flight after scuba diving, so we took it easy and went to a few beaches, including returning to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park which was where we went snorkeling with the bride and groom a few days earlier. We had previously boated into the cove, but this time we had to hike in! It’s about 2 miles each way from the highway and it’s not paved and there are some ups and downs along the way, especially at the end when you are making your way down to the beach.

In all, it was a fabulous Hawaii trip, albeit a little long… Either way, we had some great adventures. I can’t wait for my next night dive!

Ahi Poke Recipe

Ahi Poke Recipe

When we were in Hawaii, we had ahi poke quite a bit. There are literally dozens of recipes that you can follow. All of them come back to one thing: fresh, chopped, raw ahi tuna.

I’ve just started making ahi poke at home, and my husband and I love it! In fact, we just saw a recipe in Sunset magazine for Poke Nachos… which we’ll have to try soon.

Ahi Poke is delicious, but you have to take certain precautions.

  1. Buy fresh ahi tuna and use it that same day! Fish doesn’t last very long in the fridge – just a couple of days. If I’m going to eat something raw, I make sure to eat it the same day I buy it! Also, try to make sure that it’s “sashimi-grade” ahi tuna that you buy.
  2. Eat it pretty quickly after making it. Ahi poke is not a meal that you want to make and marinate over a period of hours of days. Give it 15 minutes at the most to let the flavors set in.

We love this recipe and I usually make it with brown rice and then buy seaweed salad at the grocery store to go with it. I could make my own seaweed salad, but that seems like too much work! 🙂

Also, this recipe is super quick to make – it takes much longer to make the rice than making the dish! I’d recommend making your rice earlier in the week or earlier that day. 15-30 minutes before you want to eat, start making the ahi poke.

Ahi Poke with Brown Rice and Seaweed Salad

Ahi Poke Recipe


  • 1/4 of a sweet onion, diced
  • 12 oz fresh, lean tuna, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, just a pinch


Add tuna, onion, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey to bowl. Mix it together gently. Season with a small pinch of salt and crushed red pepper. Take a quick taste and adjust with more of the sauce/seasoning ingredients as needed.

Eat immediately or let sit up to 15 minutes at room temperature.

Serve on top of rice and enjoy!

Big Island, Hawaii 2016 – Travel Tuesday

Big Island, Hawaii 2016 – Travel Tuesday

We went to the Big Island in Hawaii in February of this year. I know, I know… I’m very behind in posting a recap! We planned the trip so we could attend a destination wedding, but it turned into a nearly three week trip of awesomeness. One we landed on the Big Island, we headed over to Hilo where we’d be for a week. Here are some of my favorite moments from that part of the trip.

Liliuokalani Park and Gardens

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Liliuokalani Park and Gardens are beautiful! They are located in Hilo and are a fun spot to wander for a couple hours. It’s completely flat and well-maintained so you can wear flip flops and stroll.

Hawaii 2016

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

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The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a nonprofit botanical garden and nature preserve. It’s located north of Hilo. The paths are paved within the garden, but there are very steep portions and I highly recommend tennis shoes instead of flip flops. There are also mosquitoes aplenty – so load up on that bug spray!
Hawaii 2016

loved the botanical gardens and we could have easily spent a whole day there. I think we spent about 4 hours besides the driving time.

Volcano National Park

We spent two partial days exploring Volcano National Park and enjoying all that it has to offer. The views of the volcano were fun, the hikes were nice and the Volcano Restaurant was incredible! If you have the time, make reservations for Volcano Restaurant. The food was great and the views can be stellar. Make your reservation for sunset – you’ll see the crater start to glow. Unfortunately for us, it fogged over as soon as we sat down! That  can happen from time to time.

Here is a selfie with the smoking crater in the background. 
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At night you can actually see the red glow emanating from the crater!

Hawaii 2016

Baha’i Devotional in HiloHawaii 2016

We were able to get in touch with some local Baha’is and were invited for dinner and devotions in Hilo. It was great to meet some other Baha’is from another part of the globe and found out that some of them actually have family in Seattle! What a small world.

Green Sand Beach

We drove to the south tip of the island and hiked to Green Sand Beach on our last day in Hilo. It was by far one of three stand out moments of the trip. (The other two being the wedding and our manta ray experience – see next week’s post.)

To get to Green Sand Beach, you drive to the south tip of the island and park your car. You then either hire a jeep to take you out or you hike the three miles. We opted to hike! We did catch a ride back at the end.

Hawaii 2016

This is us about halfway along the hike. If you do the hike – bring plenty of water and sunscreen. My shoulders hated me after this!Hawaii 2016

Here is our first view of Green Sand Beach in a beautiful cove! The water looks so majestic and the sand has olive undertones. (See below for the close-up of the sand!)

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An obligatory green sand selfie:Hawaii 2016

We drove to the southern most tip of the island after that, which happens to be the southern most point in all of the United States. With a flair of creativity, it’s name is South Point.

Hawaii 2016

Check in next week for part two of our Hawaii 2016 recap!