Lava-rock desert. shave ice. fresh papaya. Mauna Kea. sea urchins. offroading stark volcanic terrain by 4×4. teeming, technicolor fish. green-studded cliffs: This is Hawai’i.
Adventures spawn more adventures, and so when the opportunity to experience Big Island was so graciously and generously offered to me by Julie and Michael – fellow wanderlusters whom I had befriended on my recent travels to Brazil (they, too, have an unparalleled gusto for life and a thirst for cachaça!), I accepted without hesitation.
They greeted me with a fresh lei at Kona International Airport and we celebrated our reunion with generous pours of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The following day, we started our endless summer with an inaugural summit of Mauna Kea by 4×4. Standing at 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level, we admired its snow-capped patches, sacred lava land, and bigass telescopes. After descending the White Mountain, we made our way to stunning Waipi’o Valley in the Hamakua District where I experienced some of the best hiking Hawai’i had on offer.
We trekked down the super steep but short and paved road (which, according to Wikipedia, is the steepest road of its length – gaining 800 vertical feet in just half a mile – in the United States and possibly the world) to Waipi’o Beach, a black-sand beach set against the backdrop of saturated emerald valleys and an authentic semblance of solitude. Just behind us lay the woods, full of spirit and winds that spoke to us in haunting volumes; it resembled a page out of LOST (clichéd, I know, but true).