Hamakua Coast, Hawaii
After the leaving the highlands around Hawi we were craving some beach time, and of course more delicious food, so we continued around the coast of the Big Island. Here are the highlights from the Hamakua Coast. Pololu Beach: It lies deep within a gorge and is a popular overnight camping spot for local teenagers because it's secluded. The hike down is seriously steep, but the signs on the way mostly warn you of the dangers waiting below: Rip Tides! Strong Currents! Falling Rocks! Of course, we scoffed and carried on since it looked like paradise. But it turns out there is a bit of a rip tide situation to be wary of. Ken's brother, Simo, who is a firefighter and 6'3 struggled to swim ashore after being swept away on his boogey board. (Tip: if you feel yourself being pulled further and further away, try swimming parallel to the shore for a little bit rather than toward it, in order to cross the sand bar causing the rip current) Other than that, we confirmed it was paradise down there.
Waipi'o Valley: The "Valley of Kings" surrounded by 2000 ft. cliffs is best seen on horseback. It's a beautiful, secluded community of taro farmers living entirely off the grid, once the favourite retreat of Hawaiian royalty. The guided ride takes you on jungley paths, past ubiquitous Hawaiian waterfalls and through a river that, in parts, almost reaches the saddle. The horses love the opportunity to cool off, and so might you. We went with Na'alapa Stables.
Lunch in Honoka'a: We took a chance on a tiny lunch place called Simply Natural. It was a one-woman operation, with wonderful service and open face sandwiches (Ken’s favourite!) grilled to perfection. I had a tuna melt with sweet chilli, tomatoes and cheddar. Next time, I’d go for breakfast and try the banana taro pancakes with a smoothie. Very veg-friendly too.
Road trip Snack: We had to taste test the infamous malasadas, sweet Portugese pastries, from the Tex Drive-in. We tasted maaaaany, but the prize goes to the mango-filled doughy treats.