It is not very often that you begin to enjoy a place even before you get to it. In the case of my Hawaii trip, that was exactly what happened. I just knew from the very moment that we had zeroed in on holidaying in Hawaii that this would never be a mistake. Coming back to experiencing the place, even as we checked-in our luggage at a California airport, I could feel the holiday spirit seeping into me.
We had chosen to fly Hawaiian airlines and everything about it spelled `fun’: from the logo — that of a lady with a hibiscus in her hair — to the uniforms of the staff (those floral and oh-so-Hawaiian ones) and from the packaging of the food to the water and cookies you can purchase during the flight.
We were going to Big Island and since we didn’t find a direct flight to the eastern most island, we flew to Honolulu, Oahu and from there took an inter-island (smaller) carrier to our final destination.
Wasn’t it lovely to be in Honolulu too! Hawaii indeed: with people dressed so casually, a lot of people in those aloha shirts, flip-flops (back in India, we actually call them Hawaii slippers 🙂 we really do), sighting the Honolulu airport shuttle (Wiki Wiki Shuttle) with flowers painted on it, et al.
Our flight from the capital city to Kona Airport in Big Island was around 45 minutes but it felt much shorter than that. We took off from a seaside runway and could clearly see the Pacific Ocean all the way through as we weren’t flying too high. On our flight back a few days later we would also spot a couple of other Hawaiian Islands.
Oh! I must tell you about the drink I had while on the inter-island flight. It was a concoction of the juices of Orange and Passion Fruit and it was one of the most refreshing and best- tasting juices I have ever had.
When we landed in Kona, I found that the airport was very different from the one we had just taken off from. If Honolulu airport looked bigger and more of a commercial type of port, this one looked smaller and lovelier, reflecting more of ‘all things Hawaiian.’ There were coconut trees and a whole lot of tropical plants to welcome us. The airport itself is a collection of smaller buildings with tiled roofs that look like huts from afar. You get into it and see a waiting area that is an open-air one and there is a low wall made of lava rock. So Big Island!
The Kona Airport is like one of those smaller airports where you just alight right into the tarmac and walk inside, only here they are airy buildings. As we entered, my eyes fell on stalls selling Hawaiian shirts and Leis and right in the middle of that little building were the figures of 3 hula dancers. Oh…the Hawaii I had always wanted to see!
For our stay in Hawaii, we chose a resort on the Kohala coast on the western part of Big Island and around 20 minutes drive from Kona airport. Once we had claimed our baggage, we crossed the road on the other side of the airport and took a shuttle to the rental car offices, a block away. A few minutes later I could see what a big deal this was – the rental car business. Americans love driving around and since it’s not possible to drive from the US mainland to these islands in the Pacific, rental cars are a big game here. I presume it is not any different near the Hilo airport on the other side of Big Island or even in the other Hawaiian islands.
|From Highway 19: The Pacific Ocean and the rocky shores of Big Island, black from volcanic activity
A little over half an hour later, we were in our rental car and driving northward along the west coast. We were on Highway 19. On the right side, all we could see was pitch black lava rocks, bordered by what looked like some volcanic mountains in the far end. On the left side of the road there were some more of those rocks and the blue Pacific Ocean. Soon we began to see white spots against the black rocky landscape. In a few minutes we realised that the rest of the way was going to be like this. What we were seeing were little white stones used to make words and symbols on the dark background. In some places it read Hawaii and Aloha. Then there were names of people. However, the rest (read most) of it were love declarations. Later a native Hawaiian would tell us that the graffiti on the highway was actually done with corals that were washed ashore.
|Graffiti on lava rock
After miles and miles of this graffiti-in-white, we began to see some green come into the view and soon we were turning off into Waikoloa Beach Resort. And there was more holiday spirit in the air. I couldn’t wait to officially ‘see’ Big Island and take in more of the Hawaiian spirit.
PS: If you wonder why there are pictures of the Hibiscus everywhere, the flower grows aplenty here and it is Hawaii’s state flower.