Writing about a place is a new thing for me. So please bear with me, as I figure out what’s enough, too much or unnecessary. Moving forward, my intention is to write small pieces about single experiences, but I could not leave this great place without acknowledging some of its greatness.
For the past two months I have been living in Pahoa, in the Puna District of the Big Island of Hawaii. Its old buildings and an old world style atmosphere made it the perfect place for me to escape New Brunswick’s winter. Pahoa is apparently known as the Big Island’s hippie or outlaw capital, which I will tell you translates to amazingly friendly people. My morning runs, through Hawaiian Beaches, were filled with waves and alohas from my neighbours, as they sat out enjoying the start of their day.
This part of the island has been through a difficult 2018 as well, with the eruption at Kīlauea Volcano. On April 30th the crater floor of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō collapsed, two days later the summit lava lake began to drop and by May 3rd the first fissure opened in the residential neighbourhood of Leilani Estates – the neighbouring community of where I am staying. By May 15th the number of fissures increased to 20, as the lava head for the ocean. This event has created approximately 875 new acres of land on this part of the island, has destroyed almost 700 homes and displaced almost 2000 people.
As I understand it, many native Hawaiians believe that lava is the physical embodiment, of the volcano goddess Pele. Therefore they will often leave flowers as a gift to keep her happy. It is a beautiful experience to see plants and flowers left by locals on random hiking trails or next to 2018 lava eruption areas. It reminds me, as a tourist, that the locals have a deep sense of respect for this place they call home.
There are multiple climate zones on the big island, from the humid tropical climate on the windward side, to the arid climate zones of the leeward side. I left here one day during heavy rainfall and spent the afternoon on the hot sunny beaches of the west side.
Some of my favourite local finds were –
The Tin Shack Bakery in Pahoa – they have the best vegan sandwiches and salads. I spent my birthday there and also cheated with a lilikoi passion fruit jam on top of some amazing cheesecake.
The Hilo Farmers Market has the best assortment of fruit and veggies for this vegan+ (explain that on another post) girl.
Hawaiian Balsmatic had my two favourites, Lilikoi and Spicy Mango balsamic, made in Hawaii with love, by a fellow Canadian.
If you plan to visit, Puna Rocks .
I highly recommend Love Big Island Hawaii Travel Guide. A sustainable travel guide and itineraries for the Big Island of Hawaii. This website is very well done, whoever designed it has some mad skills. It is broken down by destinations, things to do, 1-7 day itinerary recommendations, etc. It is very well designed and easy to navigate.
I also picked up a paperback guidebook, check out Hawaii The Big Island Revealed The Ultimate Guidebook. This book is not only full of information, on activities, island dining and where to stay, it is also downright funny. Check out their website as well for other island books.
I am leaving this week, to head north to Honokaa. I hope to experience the same welcoming spirit that this beautiful part of the island had to offer. I am more clear every day that community is one of the most important parts of life. It is my hope that the more I travel, the more comfortable I will become with being a part of these local communities and getting to learn about where I am living from locals.
Aloha my friends