I had an exciting post planned for today, but unfortunately due to powers beyond my control, that post had to be postponed for a week. :( But! That gives me time to finish telling you about my Hawai'i trip from the end of this past summer--about high time, too, since it's not really summer anymore.... *sad face*
(If you missed it previously, catch up on Part 1 of the trip here.)
First off--the food! Oh my, I was in tropical fruit heaven. Having spent good portions of time growing up in a tropical country, I know that there's just nothing like the fruit available in tropical locales, and I *loved* being back in a place where I could eat passion fruit all day every day without breaking the bank! Not to mention the apple bananas, and the sweet pineapple and the mango and dragonfruit and starfruit! (Hold the papaya, please. I've never been a big fan.) Also, I noticed one morning that all of the fruit I'd been eating was yellow. Huh.
Tip: fresh passion fruit mixed with lightly sweetened iced green tea = divine.
Then, there were the desserts: (No, we didn't eat gecko--this little guy was just hanging out on my chair at the donut shop.) For one, the malasadas--Portuguese donuts filled with oozy and jammy fruit fillings (our favorite was the blackberry). We tried a couple malasada places, but we thought Baker Tom's was by far the best. It's half malasada stand, half autoshop garage, which makes for quite an interesting roadside vibe.
Also, mochi! Like, some of the best mochi I have ever had, from Two Ladies Kitchen--soft and fluffy, some stuffed with red bean and juicy fresh strawberries, some lightly flavored with passion fruit or peach--made pretty much on the spot for you as you wait. So deliciously subtle and melt-in-your-mouth-y. I was sad that the mochi wouldn't stay fresh enough for me to bring some back for my dad, a huge mochi fan.
And how could I forget the shaved ice! Trying this famous shaved ice place took us five tries! Every time we drove by, it was closed. And then it just so happened that the next time we tried, it was Memorial Day, and they were closed. Then, we went and the store was actually open, but they didn't start serving shaved ice until 2pm, so we got a "please come back later." Finally--finally, we got our Itsu's shaved ice. I got passion fruit and pineapple, of course. As much as I adore passion fruit though, I think I've discovered that pineapple is the superior shaved ice flavor!
When we weren't stuffing our bellies full of any and all famous island desserts we could get our grubby little hands on, there was--of course--the ocean. This is where the Big Island definitely was not like what I expected Hawai'i to be. Where there were beaches, they were made of jet-black sand or porous black stone, made when hot lava hits the cold ocean water and cools so quickly that it shatters. Not all of the beaches on the Big Island were like this, but most of the ones where we were on the eastern side of the island were.
The same forces (read: volcanoes) that made the black sand also created these wonderful areas packed full with deep, wide, and geometrically-heated tidepools that made for some wonderful snorkeling. My favorite, favorite, favorite part hands-down of the entire trip was swimming with the magnificent (and large!) sea turtles that frequent these warm spots. It's amazing to see a turtle serenely glide past you underwater just bare inches away while looking at you warily out of the corner of one eye. I think the one I encountered was probably wondering what bizarre and awkward creature I was flailing alongside him.
There were so many other really cool creatures and coral in the tidepools. It was my first time snorkeling, so seeing all of the life underwater was just nothing short of spectacular. If only the lap pool I usually swim in were so interesting, I might actually go work out more!
The last day we were in Hawai'i, we splurged a bit and did the whole "resort" thing, just to have had that experience. Mauna Lani, the resort we stayed at, also had good open-ocean snorkeling, so I got to see some unimaginably giant coral out there. At one point, I even saw a huge glittery rainbow fish that reminded me of this book that I used to read when I was little, but he swam off way too quickly for me to point him out to my snorkeling companion.
Finally, the last night, I was walking out on the beach on my own when I was rewarded with a gorgeous, traditionally-Hawai'ian sunset. Mostly I just stood there gaping at it, not even taking any Instagram photos on the phone to live-tweet, but of course, I couldn't help but sneak one last shot with my camera.....
...And that's it for Hawai'i and the summer. It's been a wonderful one! 'Til next year....
more Postcards from Summer 2011: