One of the best places in Hawaii to get a sense of that sort of paradise—raw, exposed and sweeping—is on the Big Island, the youngest—and, well, biggest—of the islands. The Big Island is perfect for embarking on adventures, whether you decide to soar over the island on a helicopter tour or kayak your way across its cerulean waters (just like I did on my last trip).
A fellow travel writer, Margery, and I began the trip with a Volcano and Valley Landing helicopter tour with Paradise Helicopters.
But no matter how hard we tried, none of the photos we took of ourselves were without some company, even when we landed in the Honokane Valley.
…And at the end of the tour. Oh well. We tried.
We saw some amazing sights during the tour (but sadly, no oozing lava), like a smoking-hot crater.
Lava rocks have such a distinctive appearance, don’t they?
A view of Waipio Valley, also known as the Valley of the Kings. I actually hiked around the rim of this valley last year.
Also, who knew baby pineapples were so cute?
A fresh-picked gardenia, also from the Honokane valley where we landed
Beautiful lava stones lined the river that ran through the valley.
I loved how peaceful it was in the valley and how the houses there seemed both lived-in but untouched.
Rust from all the rain gave this house a distinctly orange hue.
Later, we saw the Waikoloa Coast from up above.
At the Sheraton Keauhou, I saw some beautiful hibiscus…
…And a beautiful sunset.
The next morning, I kayaked out to the Captain Cook Monument where we were forewarned about encounters with Hawaiian monk seals.
But I didn’t pay attention to the sign until we actually came face to face with one, the adorable “B19.”
One last shot of the beach before I left for Maui...
Next up, whales, shave ice and ukuleles from Maui.
(All photos (c) Deanna Ting)