Oh Tropical Storm Darby! Moving to Hawaii from Kansas/Missouri I am very use to wild thunder and lightning storms as well as tornado warnings and watches.
However, Darby was threatening to cancel my first trip to “The Big Island” aka Hawai’i. My friend Rebecca planned what was looking to be a great trip, but once the news of Darby started coming in I knew some of our plans would have to change.
The morning of my flight my aunt started texting me about Darby, and asking if I was going to “reconsider” my vacation (Darby was set to hit the Big Island the hardest). I figured I had already paid for the flight and might as well go even if some activities got canceled. (I mean we can always hunker down and drink wine and watch movies right?)
When my friends (Rebecca, Morgan, and Jack) picked me up from Kona airport there was no sign of Darby! It was sunny and warm, so we set off to kill time with a few drinks and a view before swimming with manta rays.
Upon arriving at the manta ray swim, I was feeling great with my pineapple juice, vodka and lime drink (a happy hour well knock-off the restaurants $12 drink), and was chatty enough that I got shushed by one of our guides. Thankfully he thought our group was fun and talked to us most of the boat ride.
The manta rays were huge! 10-15 feet wide and while at first they were a few feet below us, our guide took us to a second spot where the rays came up within inches of our chests and faces. It is definitely an activity I recommended for anyone who is comfortable in the water!
Our guide who decided we were a pretty cool group, got our numbers, and promised that if he had time the next day he would take us to some caves with fresh water in them. Because Darby cancelled our hiking plans (the hikes were on the side of the island getting hit hardest with rain and would have been dangerous due to flash flooding) we decided the caves would be a great alternative.
The wet cave was beautiful. The water was cold, but the way things lit up with our flashlights was stunning. Rebecca and Morgan had tried to find the cave during a past visit, and never found it, as really you need a local to help navigate. Our guide had brought three people from one of his our tours who were in town visiting, and they were a blast to hang out with as well.
After a few hours in the cave we headed to Kona Brewing Co. for drinks and dinner (kind of a must-stop place on the Big Island). At dinner we decided the next day we would attempt to get to the top of Mauna Kea for sunrise.
Unfortunately Darby had washed out some of the roads up to Mauna Kea so we couldn’t climb to the top. However, a friendly park ranger point out a ridge that we could watch the sunrise from. Bundled in two pairs of leggings, two sweatshirts, a winter coat, and wool hat I watched my first sunrise on the Big Island. (The cold is no joke-I was missing my ski coat and gloves from back home!)
Breakfast at Ken’s Pancakes topped off the morning, then back to our accommodations for naps after only 3 hours of sleep.
Side Note: thankfully Rebecca and Morgan have a friend whose family lives on the Big Island. They were gracious enough to let us stay in the studio apartment on their 40 acre property with a view of the ocean (when it isn’t too foggy), three beautiful horses, and one loving dog named Kayla.
While my first trip to the Big Island was short, and plans got changed due to weather, I had a great time! AND I will definitely be back. The landscape was so different from Oahu, but had the same aloha spirit that I love in the islands.
(more photos to come)