Hawaii Vacation ’12

This might seem off topic since I’ve been mostly focusing on food for this blog, but I always intended to write about my adventures as well! I spent 2 days on Oahu and 5 days on the Big Island for a family vacation last month! I save the best for last, so read on!

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At some scenic viewpoint overlooking Honolulu/Waikiki

I really hoped to skydive over the North Shore again, but my new rig wasn’t ready yet and I didn’t have a chance to jump on this trip. I was only a little disappointed though. Let’s be honest, the main reason I insisted on stopping in Honolulu was to eat at one of my all-time favorite restaurants – Alan Wong’s. They never disappoint! The chef’s tasting menu blows me away every time I eat there! I was pleasantly surprised this time that pretty much the whole meal was gluten free! But you’ll see that the meal was certainly not paleo. Definitely worth it and I didn’t get sick! Each course was flawless and the wine pairings really complemented the food.  Can’t wait to go back!

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1st Course: Trio of Appetizers - Seafood salad on soy milk panna cotta, Kona lobster "Vichyssoise," Peterson Farm egg flan

 

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2nd Course: Crab "Tofu" Agedashi - Tofu-like spinner crab mousse, Kona lobster medallions and lump crab meat, kudzu dashi

 

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3rd Course: Bubu Arare Crusted Diver Scallop - edamame truffle sauce

 

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4th Course: Butter Poached Kona Lobster - Hamakua Heritage eryngi mushrooms, green onion oil

 

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5th Course: Pan Steamed Opakapaka, Short-Tail Pink Snapper - Shrimp pork hash, truffle nage, gingered vegetables, tapioca pearls

 

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6th Course: Char Su Colorado Lamb Chop - Kabu mostarda, cardamom greek yogurt sauce

Hello best lamb chop I’ve ever had! I’m definitely going to try using cardamom the next time I make lamb!

 

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7th Course: Kula "Strawberry Romanoff" - Big Island Dairy goat cheese panna cotta, Kula strawberry-hibiscus consommé, goat cheese sorbet

 

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The best chocolate covered macadamia nuts ever!

 

I discovered that not all musubis are the same! Here I thought that musubi = a slice of spam slapped on sushi rice with a band of nori. NOPE! There were so many flavors to choose from at Mana Bu’s! I especially enjoyed the unagi, baked salmon, and spicy tuna. The whole strawberry mochi was really good as well! I was most definitely going for local food and didn’t concentrate on staying paleo the entire vacation.

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Then we made our way to the Big Island where my adventure really started. Not much notable food there. Except for the loco moco or moco loco or whatever it’s called. DISGUSTING. Meat(s) of your choosing on rice topped with fried eggs and drowned in massive amounts of brown gravy. I feel sick just thinking about it again. I tried it because it’s one of those classic Hawaiian dishes or whatever, but yeah… never again!

We stayed at the ginormous beautiful Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. This is where I got all my exercise – having to walk like a mile to get to anything! I wish I was exaggerating! Ok, I’m probably exaggerating.

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Hapuna Beach was wonderful! I even managed to get several shades darker from my usual glow-in-the-dark pale. I still have tan lines! I spent one day on the beach stocking up on my vitamin D. One day of R&R is usually all I can handle on any vacation. I’m really bad at the whole sun bathing thing. SO boring.

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I want to be back on this beach!

 

With absolutely no rental cars available on the whole island during our first couple of days, we went on a circle island bus tour.  I don’t know about the rest of my family, but I had an awesome time. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in one day in a long time. I won’t disclose why since it’s one of those “you had to be there” things. Plus I’m pretty sure we would have never made it around the island with our own car.

I loved the black sand beach! Felt awful with bare feet, but it was sooo pretty!!! Especially with the gray skies that day. My pictures look black and white! I was super bummed that we didn’t see any turtles on the beach.

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We also stopped by the volcano national park. I wish we could have had time to do the lava boat tours where you can see flowing lava! But all we saw were smoking craters. I’m surrounded by volcanos where I live – Rainier, St. Helens… no big deal. We also stopped at a lava tube. The bus driver said it would take 20min to get through so I was expecting this epic lava tube hike, but no… it was like a 2min walk through a very boring tunnel. 20min for all the senior citizens on the bus tour maybe? I mean, let’s be honest, who else goes on bus tours? Anyway, I was expecting something more like the Ape Caves in WA, which I recently found out is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental U.S.!

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We visited the Dole pineapple plantation and learned a lot about pineapple. Who knew that they don’t ripen further after being picked? So eat your pineapples right away! The pineapple soft serve there was one of the yuckiest frozen treats I’ve ever had. Don’t get it. I’ll add pics later.

We definitely experienced a downpour of rain in Hilo! 200+in of rain a year and a lot of people live there! Crazy! We stopped at these waterfalls. I think it’s called the Rainbow falls? I don’t really remember.

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One thing I don’t have a picture of is the 40,000(?) acres of land that is the cattle ranch. There is so much land that it looks like there aren’t many cows! All the cows looked happy and relaxed grazing on the grass with their cow buddies. Yay for happy cows, right? NOPE! Apparently they don’t slaughter on the island. These cows get shipped to the mainland feedlots where they are grain finished and slaughtered. The now (ruined , in my opinion) meat is shipped all over the country, including back to Hawaii! Ridiculous, isn’t it? I felt so bad for the cows. So glad we have many happy local cows in WA!

And now for the very best part of my trip: NIGHT DIVE WITH MANTA RAYS!!!! This was the whole reason why I made the family go to the Big Island. This was one of two reasons why I became SCUBA certified! I recommend Wanna Dive because they have a small 6 person boat for a much better experience than the bigger boats of other companies. I was worried about not being able to cross this off my bucket list, but as soon as our boat pulled up to the dive site, we saw a manta ray on the surface! Then I saw 3 at a distance during the first dive in the late afternoon. I actually kinda hate diving – it doesn’t matter if I’m in the Puget Sound or in Hawaii, I am guaranteed to be freezing. But I was super excited when it finally became dark enough to dive in! All the divers from the various boats sit at the bottom (about 35-40ft down) with their lights pointing up while the snorkelers hang out on the surface pointing their lights down. The manta rays of Kona have learned that plankton love dive lights so they show up at this spot every night to feed, giving us a spectacular show!

I am sooo glad I took my GoPro! I didn’t expect to get such great footage! We saw 9 manta rays and a big swirling column of countless fish. It was truly one of the most beautiful and most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. These creatures are HUGE and soooo graceful. It’s surreal having them graze the top of your head and swim straight towards you with their giant mouths wide open. Can I go on my “save the oceans!” rant now? 🙂

In case you were wondering, the other reason I started diving was to see whale sharks. I hope I can make that happen this year so I can quit diving once and for all! Haha, just kidding…maybe.

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One Comment to “Hawaii Vacation ’12”

  1. I was in Maui in April. Life changing. Your dive looks absolutely magical! Thanks for sharing!

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