We were welcomed on the Big Island by the heat and humidity and darkness. It was midnight our time as we got our rental van and headed to our rental on the beach. We made a quick stop at Wal-Mart for the next mornings breakfast and the kids loved seeing the strange fruits and food.
Our place gave us a WARM welcome, as in no A/C, no windows open, stiflingly hot. I began to doubt the wisdom of booking a place outside of a resort. But by the end of the trip I wouldn't have traded our spot for any of the resorts. I fell asleep that night to the beautiful sound of the ocean. Morning light showed us our amazing view and we had to explore. We got so caught up in the tide pools, geckos, and rocky beaches that we were a little late for church.
I soon learned that A/C in Hawaii is a rare commodity due to the expense of generating electricity. I had expected to find it everywhere but in our 5 days we really only felt it in the van. Anyway, at church there was a woman sitting in front of us with two beautiful little girls. The 3 year old was pretty busy and eventually found her way to our bench, where Natali and Emily gladly welcomed a distraction. After a while the little girl leaned over to Natali and said, "You are Elsa. And she (pointing to Emily) is Anna." I suddenly looked at my girls and couldn't help put smile. Emily had asked for two braids in her red hair that morning and Natali although not blond had a long french braid coming over her shoulder. I could see the resemblance.
After church we hit the road for Volcanoes National Park...(At this point I stopped writing to take care of kids and now 6 months later my recollection is not so great) Volcanoes was so cool. We loved seeing all the different rock formations but the best part was seeing the glow from the active volcano. No actual lava was seen but it was amazing how mesmerizing the glow was. We watched it for quite some time. The Park was Mack's favorite part of the trip. I don't know if it was the volcanoes or the lack of sand and water.
We woke bright and early and headed to the boat. To my amazement and relief the Dramamine worked like magic. We motored around quite a while before we found a pod of dolphins. Then we put on our snorkel gear and hopped in just in time to see dolphins flying by. It was so amazing. We could hear them and see them and swim by them. Once they were out of sight we climbed back in, caught up with the dolphins and did it again. I could have done it all day! I can't even express how fabulous it was. There was one time when I could hear them but couldn't find them any where. I just floated and listened then realized they were right below me, just much deeper. Emily and Kate preferred watching the dolphins spin and jump from the boat. But everyone jumped in at some point and we all loved it. Definitely a highlight of the trip. My one regret was not buying an underwater camera. I wish I could have captured the memory!
One of Emily's goals for the trip was to see sea turtles. Greg thought that would be a long shot but in the end we saw tons of sea turtles.
One of our last visits was to Pu'uonua o Honaunau National Historical Park where we learned a lot about Hawaiian history and saw some sea turtles in the clear water.We also did a lot of snorkeling, visited Hulihue'e Palce, souvenir shopped, visited a macadamia nut factory, swam in the pool, tried real coconut, took Natali to do baptisms in the Kailua-Kona Temple, and just enjoyed the ocean.