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If you've just landed here without reading part one of this blog, click here jump over to Week One in Oahu! I promise it's worth the read!
Day 7 // April 13th:
Today we leave Oahu and head to the Big Island!
Before we dropped off our van, we stopped at this tiny little food truck village and found an even smaller little shack called Raised by the Waves to grab breakfast. 10/10! The best food I've had on the island. The line was long and it took forever to make (I can't stress how small this place is) but it was so worth the wait. Everything is vegan. And insanely good. I had the sunrise waffle, which is a gluten free waffle topped with tons of fruit, coconut whip, almond butter drizzle, hemp seeds, maple syrup and cacao. Holy smokes. Whatever your diet is, throw it out the window and get this. I promise it's worth it.
We ate, dropped off our van, and grabbed an Uber to the airport.
The flights between islands are super quick, so we landed on the Big Island a little after noon and headed to pick up our second van. Yet again, we were welcomed with open arms. Veronica and Jonathan quickly became two of our favorite people. We knew from the moment we met them that this would be a lifelong friendship! This van even has a name - NirVana!
This van company is called Big Island Camper Vans and as always, you can find them and a million other incredible vans and RVs by visiting Outdoorsy! Outdoorsy is sort of like Airbnb for camper vans and RVs. Get out there and explore! Use this link to get $50 off your first rental on any RV or Van on the site!
After learning about the van, Lindsay and I grabbed some food, got ready for our night, and headed to a Luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The Luau was so much fun and a great way to kick off our time on the Island! When we went to go find a place to stay the night, it was already pitch black, so we were blindly hunting for parking and weren't sure we would have a view when we woke up. I had pinned this pull off on Google maps while doing research, so we drove there, pulled off and went to bed.
And yet again, we ended up with one of the best views on the island.
Day 8 // April 14th:
We woke up to pink skies over the teal water of Hapuna Beach. If you want to camp here, I highly recommend it. You can find it by punching the coordinates 19.989318, -155.823637 into your GPS! There are dirt pull offs all along the road. Just make sure there are no signs saying "no parking" or "no camping" in the one you choose.
We started our day off with coffee at Kohala Coffee Mill which was in the sweetest little downtown area of Hawi. Their coffee was ridiculously good. Our first hike was called Pololu Valley Trail, which leads to a beautiful black sand beach. The trail says it's only a mile online, but we ended up going so much further than that, crossing the beach and up the mountain in the distance (you can see where we hiked to on the top of the mountain in the photos below!)
Along our hike we ran into a couple from Colorado who asked us to take a photo for them. We ended up chatting and realized they were originally from Boston! We hiked the whole trail with Susan and Tom, and even ended up finding out days later that I knew one of their nephews! What a small world! Lindsay and I agree that meeting these two was one of the absolute highlights of our trip. We hope to visit them this fall out in Colorado!
Susan and Tom recommended we stop at this little restaurant back in downtown Hawi called the Bamboo Restaurant. Their recommendation was on point, because this place had amazing vegan options including spring rolls! We indulged in a cheesecake sampler after our meal. Make sure you try the Lilikoi Cheesecake if you come here!
We headed back to Waikoloa Beach, which is right by where we had stayed the night, for an afternoon of relaxation. Susan and Tom also recommended a place called Lava Lava for dinner, which turns out to be the worlds most beautiful beach bar, so we went for pre-dinner drinks AND dinner later that night. Have I mentioned how much we love Susan and Tom yet?
While we were down at Waikoloa Beach, we even saw a sunbathing sea turtle! Honestly, day 1 on the Big Island was so good, we weren't sure it was beatable!
After dinner, we headed back to the pull off we had stayed in the night before because it was so close by and we loved it so much.
Day 9 // April 15th:
We started the day with an impromptu photoshoot for the van company and Ebags, because the view was too good to not utilize.
Today we had something big planned - SURFING!
We grabbed breakfast at the Kona Coffee + Tea Co, which was absolutely 10/10 - one of the best coffees I have ever had in my life. I got a Peaberry Coffee with Macadamia milk and it was out of this world.
Kahaluʻu Bay is a perfect place for surfing but also has a little cove, so before we went surfing I went snorkeling with my underwater camera phone case by Gdome. This case is super water tight and has a half dome over the camera so that you can get those really cool split shots in the water!
We took a surf lesson with Kahaluʻu Surf and Sea, and the instructors were actually amazing. I never thought I'd have the balance to actually surf, but I stood up and rode a few waves in! I would probably do it again. But man was that an arm work out.
For lunch we stopped at Kona Crust, because we hadn't had pizza in over a week, and we might have died if we hadn't eaten immediately after surfing. Guess what I got on my pizza? If you judge me for having pineapple on my pizza in Hawaii, you're out of your mind. (Although I think pineapple belongs on pizza in every state personally)
We ended up booking a Hip Camp for the night because we wanted to stay on a farm. If you've never heard of it, use this link to sign up and get $10 off your first booking! It's basically the Airbnb of campsites!
We stumbled upon Luana Farms which hosted by a guy named Colin. The drive to get there was honestly insane. The road up to his farm was so bumpy and steep that we almost turned around. But the top of the hill was so worth it. The farm was beautiful and it was the perfect place to camp. Colin showed us what he was growing, and how to crack open the macadamia nuts. We had some friends joining us, the owners of Big Island Camper Vans, as well as another couple who was renting a van from them, Becci and Spencer. We did a mini shoot with Veronica and Jonathan, and made a fire to hang out by for the night! Look at that sunset!
Day 10 // April 16th:
We got up super early, before the sun rose over the mountain, to get a head start on the day. Our first stop was Menehune Coffee. I know I've said this before, but I mean it this time. This was the best cup of coffee I have ever had in my entire life. I loved it so much that I bought a very expensive bag for my dad.
Our first stop of the day was Honaunau Bay in Captain Cook, better known as Two Step. This place is raved about for snorkeling! We snorkeled for a little bit, and then Veronica and Jonathan met us for another mini shoot for Tiki Brands and Mighty Swell.
Head over to my Instagram to see videos of the fish we saw snorkeling!
We headed straight for South Point after snorkeling. This is the most southern spot in the US! It's well known for its huge cliffs and deep, clear waters. This makes it popular for jumping. Lindsay wanted to jump so badly, but I convinced her to stay on land with me by pointing out the fact that that they have a first aid box the size of my car for injuries. We did watch someone jump while we were there, though. It was terrifying.
There is so much wide open space here, I wish we had an extra night to stay. I think this would have been one of the best places on the island to boondock.
After spending some time exploring South Point and shooting photos of the van, we got back on the road to finish the trip to Volcano National Park. This was something I've wanted to see forever. I'm obsessed with Volcanoes and we ended up in Hawaii while there was active lava on the island. Pretty cool!
On our way in, we stopped at Volcano Village for lunch at Lava Rock Cafe. I had a Taro burger which I thought was really different!
Next door was the cutest little shop called Kilauea Kreations. I figured this was the perfect place to get something for my nephew and boyfriend. While we were checking out, we got to talking to the owner of the shop, "Auntie Laura". She asked us about our van and was shocked to hear that we were two females camping alone. She reached into her own purse and pulled out her pepper spray. She wouldn't let us pay her for it, and insisted we take it. Every time something like this happened in Hawaii, I realize just how different these Islands are. People here are so caring, and take care of one another. Thank you, Auntie Laura, for keeping us safe on our adventure!
We finally made it to Volcano National Park! It was cool, but honestly under whelming considering how excited I was for it. The lava was active but you can't see it from the park overlooks, and there was no way to hike down to it. We went to the steam bluffs and lava tunnels which were both pretty neat. We also saw the funniest looking bird I've ever seen. If you happen to know what this is, please let me know!
We had a recommendation through the van company for a Hip Camp for the night called Wicked 8 Ocean View in Pāhoa. What we found when we arrived was honestly unbelievable.
In 2018 a series of volcanoes ripped through Pāhoa at Lelinai Estates, covering 700 homes in its flow. Stacy, the owner of the Wicked 8 property, was one of the lucky ones who still has access to her property. She gave us a tour of the volcano behind her house, named fissure 8, and it was like nothing I had ever seen in my life. Even Volcano National Park couldn't compare to how fresh and untouched this land was. The volcano is literally still smoldering right below your feet.
These photos don't even do this place justice. Every inch of that barren land was covered by homes just 3 short years ago.
Wicked 8 doesn't have the most amazing view from the van window, but honestly it was worth the stay to see fissure 8 up close. Stacy made us a fire at night and was super hospitable, so the view was irrelevant!
Day 11 // April 17th:
We got to enjoy the morning exploring Stacy's farm and hanging out with her animals before hitting the road again.
We headed into Pāhoa for breakfast at a place called the Tin Shack. I think this place was the best food on the Big Island. They had a vegan breakfast sandwich with homemade cashew cheese, veggies and sprouts on a homemade bagel. It was unreal. There was the sweetest older man there sipping coffee and playing his guitar, too. 10/10 for food and atmosphere.
Our first stop of the day was the Hōlei Sea Arch Hike. If we had done more research, we probably could have fit this into day 10 and saved ourselves the extra drive back to Volcano National Park. If you're planning to do this trip, do yourself a favor and do all of the National Park in one day.
We planned to hike the Puna Trail on our way back to Pāhoa but when we got there we saw a ton of glass all over the parking lot. We decided it wasn't worth the risk of getting broken into, so we skipped the hike and headed to Kehena Black Sand Beach. Fun fact - this is the only nude beach on the island! While we left our suits on, it was still a beautiful little cove, and despite the harsh waves, tons of people were swimming!
Pro tip - if you want to get some sun, go around or before noon. There were patches of sun in the afternoon, but they were all filled up with other beach goers by the time we got there.
I had been looking for the perfect backdrop for this Tiki Brands shoot before we left for our trip, and stumbled upon an Airbnb listing for a lava house. The owner, Lauren, was so incredible to work with us to make sure we had room for the van the day of our arrival. Unfortunately she couldn't be there due to a family emergency, but she explained to me that they are working to turn the property into a sustainability center! She and her husband Matt did a great job with this property and I can't wait to come back someday to see how their sustainability center is coming along.
Day 12 // April 18th:
Pāhoa seems to be the best place for food on this side of the island, and we had seen a restaurant that was packed when we drove by the day before, so we stopped there right as they were opening this morning. The place is called Pele's Kitchen and honestly it was such a great impromptu breakfast stop!
They had a gluten free vegan pancake as well as passion fruit lilikoi syrup. Oh, heavens. Hawaii isn't good for my hips.
We needed a few things for our last day, so we stopped at Rufus’s Market, which is a tiny little version of Whole Foods... but better.
The morning was beautiful, so we started the day with some beach photos. Carlsmith Beach Park was the only beach I could find that had white sand for photos, and when we got there, we realized the only white sand was on an island in the bay. Luckily it was an easy walk through waist deep water, so we packed up everything we needed and carried it over to the little island. What a cute spot!
We basically had this whole little island to ourselves, so we hung out all morning and enjoyed the last day of sun.
Heading back to the East Side of the Island, we started with Akaka Falls State Park Hike. There was so much foliage here and a few really cool water falls. A pretty easy hike, if you can even call it that, but lots of stairs!
The Booch Bar is known for it's vegan lunches, so naturally I made Lindsay join me. I got a vegan Reuben which was to die for.
Our final hike for the day was Rainbow Falls, where we met up with Veronica, Jonathan, Becci and Spencer again for some van photos.
Becci and Spencer gave us a tip that they had parked in the Mokaoku area earlier in the week, so Lindsay and I grabbed some take out from Lucy’s Taqueria and headed down to see if we could find somewhere to boondock.
We found a parking lot right by Coconut Island (19°43'42.0"N 155°04'04.4"W) that turned out to be perfect! We had a great view of the water and the lot was pretty quiet after nightfall aside from a few people fishing.
Day 13th // April 19th:
Our last morning in Hawaii was a sad one. We grabbed coffee at the Sippin Siren and dropped our van off with Veronica who took us to the airport. We had booked flights to the wrong airport (the Big Island is actually pretty darn big) so Veronica, being an incredible saint of a human took us all the way back to Kona.
Overall I can't imagine a better trip. Camping for almost two weeks in the most beautiful state in the US was as amazing as we had expected it would be. Looking back, I can't believe how many people we met who will stay in our lives forever. It always blows my mind when you come home from a trip and your life is changed forever in such a short amount of time; full of new memories, experiences and people. I feel so fortunate to have been able to travel throughout all of Covid, having gotten Covid before it was even announced in the states. Thanks for coming along with me on my journeys via my blog!