The west shore of the Big Island is very different to the lush east shore – here it’s stark and arid. Lava fields abound. Black lava is literally piled up across great swathes of land, making it often look like a black bomb went off, which it basically did. Kailua-Kona, the only touristy town on the entire island, chills out in the shade of a looming volcano.
We arrived on Thursday evening and, having left the bags at our Airbnb, we headed straight to the local running store for their Thursday night group run. The Big Island Running Company is a tiny store but it’s flipping awesome. Within twenty minutes, the guy there had kitted Big Brother out in his first ever pair of proper running shoes. I had the pleasure of running the 5k training run with him and he knocked 5 minutes off his Batemans Bay park run time. We were so proud we nearly burst. The store had 60% off shoes, so somehow we all ended up buying new running shoes. I can’t deny that it was awesome. I got a pair of Brooks Cascade trail shoes for when we get back to the UK!
The very next day, the Dude, in love with his bright orange New Balances, requested we go for a family run, and Big Brother didn’t look too horrified. So we headed out to Kekaha Kai park as Google Maps showed a path through the lava fields. Reality was brutal – the pathway was entirely made up of small lava stones, it was almost impossible to run there. We did manage a 1.4 mile out-and-back and then I ran the unpaved road back up to the main road. We finished by me hopping out the car 2.5 miles from our Airbnb and running the flipping brutal hill back to the house. So much sweat.
I also packed in a few other runs – two early morning jaunts down Ali’i Drive, home of the Ironman World Championships (and basically just a street through hotels).But all in all, this week, I notched up 29 miles which is my biggest week for ages. I was super happy about that. I also got 100% comfortable with running in a sports bra (and hiking/swimming/generally prancing about in a sports bra) because it was so hot!
The other big deal this week was that Big Brother learned to ride a bike. On Sunday, whilst the Dude and I went to church, the Husband and Big Brother rented one of those hour-rental city-bikes and when they picked us up, they wore massive grins and were super proud of themselves. This is such a big deal, learning to ride a bike. We went back later for him to practice and he was off and away, with a humongous smile!
What else did we do?
We hiked the 1871 trail at the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, the ancient Hawaiian place of refuge. It was incredibly hot, we nearly melted…
…we found the wonderful Hapuna Beach….
….we ate delicious burgers at Village Burger (they had a choice of TWO home-made veggie-burgers!) and lilikoi cheesecake…
…we headed up to 9,000 ft one night to star gaze up the Mauna Kea volcano (we took warm clothes and were still freezing in June)….
…we saw turtles…
…we ate fried ice-cream which was unfortunately the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten…
…we splashed on beaches….
…we watched the sunsets…
It was pretty lovely.
I have to be honest, the Big Island proved to be my least favourite Hawaii island – and the Husband said the same thing independently. We are all really glad we got to see Volcano National Park and its wonders, but the island wasn’t particularly beautiful (unless you like lava fields) and it proved incredibly hard to find places to run, hike and cycle unless you wanted to go on busy roads or lava fields. This really bewildered us and maybe we just missed some obvious places, but that was what we found. The Husband actually said that now he’s seen Kona, he’s not as bothered about qualifying for the Ironman here…which is somewhat of a relief to his competitors 🙂
We are, as always, grateful for the opportunity to see a new place and for the good time we’ve had here, but if ever we come back to Hawaii, then windward Oahu, Maui and Kauai will be calling our names.
However any time on Hawaii is good time. Mahalo, Hawaii…California, here we come.