Black Sand Friday

Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. A sacred place for Hawaiians, it was also the capital and permanent residence of many early Hawaiian Kings. © Carl Amoth

Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. A sacred place for Hawaiians, it was also the capital and permanent residence of many early Hawaiian Kings. © Carl Amoth

Ok, so maybe it isn’t quite as exciting as getting up at 4:00 a.m. for Black Friday Sales, but spending a day exploring yet another magnificent slice of Hawaiian beauty certainly hit the mark for us.

Our time zone change has us up at 6:30 a.m. every day (for those of you that know me well realize this is NOT my vacation wake up time). The good news is it provides us ample opportunity to drive around this vast Island. Did you know that ALL of the other Hawaiian Islands could fit inside the Big Island? It’s true.

We weren’t up for a big brunch this morning and opted instead to try out a recommendation I received from Kevin, who I met down by the pool the previous afternoon. He and his wife have been coming to the Big Island for 11 years and have been married for 40! Needless to say, he has a good lay of the land around here.

Kevin recommended breakfast at Island Gourmet at the Queen’s Marketplace where he said we could get a full, delicious (generous portion) breakfast for $6.99. He was absolutely right on all counts. the breakfast sandwich was an actual sandwich not a muffin or biscuit and thoroughly LOADED with delicious sliced ham, a fried egg and cheese. It came with hashbrowns and at that price, it was an absolute great deal. I ordered a piece of chicken. I know, I know, for breakfast? Yes, but I didn’t realize how big Carl’s breakfast was going to be, or I would have just shared.

I love this market as it is filled with all types of tempting delicacies. WAY TOO MANY temptations. Chocolate Macadamia nuts, Chocolate TOFFEE Macadamia nuts, salami, cheese, Pringles (did I mention Pringles? Lovely, lovely Pringles?) Those of you that have followed previous blogs remember my affinity for Pringles, the ubiquitous vacation snack that can be found just about anywhere in the world, but I digress.

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Waipi’o River, Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We are off and driving heading Northeast again today with our sites on Waipi’o Valley. As is our normal routine, I read the tour books on upcoming sites and Carl drives. It is the perfect arrangement. Part of my reading is taking in our friend, Charlie Oliveria’s, fantastic and detailed notes and recommendations. Charlie moved his family over to the Big Island to live for about a year and as such, he was able to provide an insiders view as to how we could best spend our limited time. One of his notes stated that we must go into Waipi’o Valley. The book also says that in order to do that, your car MUST have 4WD. We don’t have 4WD, we have a Ford Fusion with an engine that has slightly more power than a motorcycle’s. However, the book does provide the name and location of shuttle service that will take us into the Valley.

 

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1,450 ft Hi’ilawe Falls, Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We headed to Kukuihaele and as luck would have it, we arrived about 15 minutes before the next shuttle with Waipi’o Valley Shuttle Service. After detailed conversation, Carl elected a customized shuttle option which would allow us more time in the valley and hence more photo time. This is a guided tour, and although we are typically more of a “go it alone” type of couple, this did appear to be the best option to get into the Valley. We were asked about bug spray, and of course we didn’t have any and OF COURSE I’ve already been bitten three times just since getting out of the car. The shop didn’t carry bug spray but instead had homeopathic drops that allegedly work instantly when taken orally. We had no choice, so we gave it a try. Ok, maybe it helped some, because perhaps I would have been eaten alive (Mosquitos love me… bleh), but I still got plenty of bites throughout the day. Carl—as usual—NO BITES. Not one. argh…

 

One of the wild horses of the Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii.  © Carl Amoth

One of the wild horses of the Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We were so extremely fortunate to have Douglas as our driver and guide. His knowledge and ties to the Island provided an optimal experience both in emotional connection and knowledgable education. His Uncle lives in the valley on the side of the river with no power, phone, water services etc. We actually saw his Uncle a couple of times riding along on his ATV with his long grey dreadlocks flowing behind him.

Coast along theWaipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Coast along theWaipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Because of Douglas’ ties to the land through his Uncle, we were allowed to go to a protected area. As we move down into the valley, Douglas is a consistent stream of history and facts. We learned about the noni fruit. It is used as a natural anti-inflammatory medication, but has also been known to improve immune systems, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. However, you must first get by the horrific smell of this “fruit.” It really smells like Limburger cheese, so potent that you can’t hardly get the smell out of your nose. I will stick to Advil, thank you very much.

We also learned about the sleeping hibiscus flower that is a red flower that hangs upside down and looks like it never opens up. According to Douglas, if you pull the blooms off the stem and suck the nectar, it’s a natural energy booster.

Douglas and Bev with a rare double hibiscus flower, Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Douglas and Bev with a rare double hibiscus flower, Waipiʻo Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

As we neared the bottom of the Valley, Douglas identified a carnation double hibiscus flower that he has only seen growing in Waipi’o Valley. He provided each of us with a bloom to press into a book (later he even gave me a magazine and napkins to use for this purpose so I wouldn’t ruin our guidebooks). As previously decided, Douglas dropped us off at the river so Carl would have more photo opportunities in this beautiful, isolated location. We made arrangements to be picked up later in the day after spending time at the beach which was just a short 15 minute walk from the river.

The black sand beach was gorgeous and the sand was so very fine and soft. There were surfers, boogie boarders and body surfers out catching waves and thankfully I had brought beach towels with me and enjoyed sitting and watching the surfers and the waves. The water, although initially feeling a bit cool, was really quite warm after the first 30 seconds or so upon entering. This was an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable day and a pleasure to watch the young kids take joy in natural surroundings. No technology here.

Black Sand beach of Waipi'o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Black Sand beach of Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

As promised, Douglas was there to pick us up and take us out of the Valley and he also presented us with detailed recommendations on other sites to visit during our trip. He was truly a stellar guide and I would highly recommend this service to anyone visiting the Island. Our bond was so quickly and intensely formed that Douglas kindly invited us back on our next trip to take us with his family on a personal trip to the beach, even providing his home number.

Sun setting off of the Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Sun setting off of the Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

We are excited to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up for our dinner with Daerick and Nedrra Lanakila, friends of Carl’s (now mine) that he had the pleasure of meeting during the time he lived in California’s Bay area. We met them at Roy’s for dinner and it felt as if I had known them for years – you know, those kind of people that you just instantly fall into step with? The talk flowed easily and freely and before we knew it, the restaurant was closing and we were one of the last two tables to leave. The food was delicious, and the company simply delightful.

Surfing the Waipi’o Valley coastal waters, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Surfing the Waipi’o Valley coastal waters, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Kids playing on the Waipi’o Valley beach, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Kids playing on the Waipi’o Valley beach, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Surfer in the tube. Waipi’o Valley beach, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

Surfer in the tube. Waipi’o Valley beach, Big Island, Hawaii. © Carl Amoth

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