Awake in Hawai'i

In May 2015, I splurged on a week trip traveling alone across the big island of Hawai'i. It was one of the best vacations I've ever taken. If you ever get the chance and budget to travel by yourself, I highly recommend it.

I flew in from SLC > LAX > KOA, and rented an economy, 2-door, white Kia. My adventure started on the West side of the island, then I spent 2 days less than 2 miles from the active Kilauea crater near Volcano national park, and rounded off my trip on the Eastern side, in Hilo, before driving back across the north end of the island to fly home from Kona.

I visited farmers markets, spent days walking and drinking cold brew along the coast, found the best meals, and took way too many pictures. I ate tiny lobster tails, fresh poke and watched dolphins swim in the bay.

A woman sold me a "Kim Kardashian" scented perfume made with all natural flower oils, she said it was made with Kim's supposed favorite perfume concoction, but I can't remember what's in it. Pikaki (jasmine)? Geranium? Orchid? It's green, tropical and I savor it like a family heirloom.

In the jungle near the volcano, I had a spiritual reawakening. I never considered myself much for spirituality, tend toward magic, but the feeling was unmistakeable. I wrote a poem about it; my friend Brinley published said poem in her zine on Leaders and what makes a leader, "Lead | Protect". (Buy it if you want when she gets back from vacation. Maybe I'll share it online if enough people are interested.)

It was hard to avoid the lingering marks of colonialism on an island otherwise isolated in the vast Pacific. Hawaii is a magical place, its people, land and animals deserve protection and respect.

Listed below are a few favorite meals and activities from my trip, in honor of my two favorite travel activities: eating and wandering.

Island Snacks

  • Acai with agave, cacao, banana, mixed berries and nuts
  • Kona coffee-fashioned cocktail at happy hour on the beach
  • Poke at the poke shop, a bbq'd ahi belly and raw ono

Island Adventures

  • A swimming spot respectfully shared with me by residents I befriended at a Kava bar in Kona, HI
  • A helicopter ride from Kona, over the volcanoes, up along the northeastern end of the island where Jurassic Park was filmed, as well as Captain Koji's special, a felled WWII bomber plane lost in the overgrown jungle
  • Papakōlea, the green sand beach, a half-day hike near the southern-most tip of the island
  • The seahorse farm near Kona's airport
  • The Kīlauea Caldera and Halema'uma'u Crater in Volcano National Park
  • Akatsutka Orchids greenhouse near Volcano, HI
  • Black sands beach and rainbow falls near Hilo, HI

A couple quick travel tips

  • Keep an eye out for cheap tickets using apps like Hopper, or scoure online travel blogs for tips on when quick sales are happening.
  • Save money in a separate savings specific for travel.
  • Give the locals your money and don't be stingy.
  • Have fun, and most importantly, be respectful.