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Photos and story by www.larryturnerphotography.com
High on Adventure, October/November 2013


Hawaii Big Island cowboy     Hawaii Big Island dolphin

This will be a photo essay illustrating a visual story as I am more of a photographer than a writer. I had the pleasure of my son Steen's company two out of my three trips to Hawaii's Big Island over the last year, beginning with November 2012. Last May and June I spent a month there, most of it with my son and his girlfriend Hallie, who hails (from all places) from a ranch family out of Turner, Montana. Hallie, at 19, is the executive sous chef of Montana's Culinary Institute and my son the executive sous chef of the highly regarded Cafe Kandahar (www.cafekandahar.com ) in Whitefish, Montana. These images were photographed during our most recent trip to the Big Island.

We flew to Hilo which is the nearest airport to my sister Nancy and brother-in-law Rod McCollam's Volcano home. If you don't have a fat pocketbook, staying in Hawaii for a long stretch requires some savvy budgeting. Limit your fine dining and take advantage of the wonderful farmer's markets throughout the island (Hilo and Kalapana are my favorites). We picked up fresh papaya five for a buck and took advantage of the many food and drink happy hours. Especially great on the Kona side was Huggo's On the Rocks where you can get $3 fish tacos, $3 well drinks, wine and a great mai tai for $5. Ask for the local's rate—we had an in with my sis—when inquiring about lodging. Also, check out the airbnb (www.airbnb.com ) and vrbo (www.vrbo.com ) listings for the region of the island where you wish to stay.

The nice thing about the Big Island is that there is such a variety of climate and land zones, all within an easy day's drive from one's lodging. You can be hiking in the mountains in the morning and basking on sunny beaches in the afternoon. The snorkeling and diving throughout the island is world class. It's best to buy your snorkeling gear upon arrival and store it at a friend's when leaving. We were actually able to borrow gear from our friend Tim Eakins in Hilo,

During our stay we experienced a variety of activities, from hiking out to the active Kilauea volcanic flow into the Pacific (accessed via Kalapana; guides are available at Uncle Roberts; www.kalapanaculturaltours.com ) ) to attending a Paniolo Rodeo on the northeast part of the island (Honoka'a). Favorite snorkeling beaches were Punaluu's Black Sand Beach (be careful of the rip tide) on the south island, Place of Refuge on the southwest island, Hapuna Beach on the northwest island, Richardson Park out of Hilo and the Tide Pools on the east island between Cape Kumukahi and Kalapana.

Volcano National Park is a must-see. Hike the Kilauea Iki Trail, take the Chain of Craters Road to the end and do some hiking/exploring, eat and drink at the Volcano House with spectacular views of the active volcano (the night scenes are incredible here), explore the Crater Rim Trail and take a night outing to Jagger Museum where you're just a mile from the active crater (make sure you do this though when the prevailing winds are blowing the gases away from your viewing location; the Park will actually close off this area if conditions are dangerous).

Unlike most tourists, I actually prefer the Hilo side to the Kona side. Kona has more sunshine but Hilo has more access to a variety of activities. North of Hilo is the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens (another must-see; plan at least half a day) and numerous waterfalls, including Akaka Falls. You'll pass through the picturesque town of Honomu en route. Stop and take a walkabout through the town which has charm and several amenities along with a zip-line company and a great bakery and ice cream shop. Just out of town en route to Akaka is a wonderful fruit stand where you can get fresh coconut and other tropical delights. My son and I especially enjoyed Wednesday's Kalapana Market where you'll get a feel of old Hawaii. There's live music, great food and many enticing vendor items for sale. This is the place where hikes to the lava flow begin.

A great thing to do is to take the first tour (it takes several hours) and then come back to the market for some r&r pleasures. There is an easy walk to the rugged lava coast from Kalapana. You can do the sunset and also the market. I've seen many whales off of this coastline. The Hamakua Coast is well worth one's time, along with the famous view of the Waipi'o Valley. Make sure that you stop at Tex's (Honokaa) for the Portuguese pastry malasada (beyond yummy...especially the mango and lemon). If you're into a Hawaii Disneyland type experience, go to the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Kona side where you'll find dolphin shows, endless shopping, great restaurants and incredible sunsets. It's spendy here but if you want to be deeply pampered, go for it. Stop by the Big Island's only winery: Volcano Winery (www.volcanowinery.com ), sample their offerings and say hi to my sis Nancy! And by all means stay at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona. Get a top floor with an ocean view. You'll love it, as we did, and this can be one of the splurge parts of your journey.

My son, Hallie and I most enjoyed the slower Hawaii...snorkeling, the beach, hikes, drives on the back roads and the simpler cafes and watering holes (yes, do stop at the Southernmost bar in the USA in the wonderful town of Naalelu). Okay, let's let the photos do the talking now.

Hawaii Big Island Condos  Hawaii Big Island palm trees  Hawaii Big Island fruit stand

Hawaii Big Island fruit  Hawaii Big Island night

Hawaii Big Island   Hawaii Big Island

Hawaii Big Island sunset   Hawaii Big Island kids

Hawaii Big Island surfing    Hawaii Big Island surfing

Hawaii Big Island beach    Hawaii Big Island smoke

Hawaii Big Island surfer on rocks    Hawaii Big Island rocky shore

Hawaii Big Island forest road     Hawaii Big Island church


Hawaii Big Island yellow birds  Hawaii Big Island waterfall  Hawaii Big Island baby

Hawaii Big Island rodeo     Hawaii Big Island rodeo

Hawaii Big Island stormy sky     Hawaii Big Island cemetary

Hawaii Big Island shore cliff     Hawaii Big Island author and son

Hawaii Big Island night     Hawaii Big Island evening shore

Hawaii Big Island flowers     Hawaii Big Island fish cleaning

Hawaii Big Island volcano glow     Hawaii Big Island surfers

Hawaii Big Island hot lava     Hawaii Big Island body surfer

Hawaii Big Island surfing     Hawaii Big Island dolphin tank

Hawaii Big Island hotel pool     Hawaii Big Island dolphin

Hawaii Big Island offshore surf    Hawaii Big Island tree

Hawaii Big Island couple  Hawaii Big Island palm tree sunset  Hawaii Big Island native regalia

Hawaii Big Island surf shop     Hawaii Big Island outriggers

Hawaii Big Island lasso woman     Hawaii Big Island girl with braids


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