I mean, of course! You can see all the volcanoes and petroglyphs and ki'i that you want, but at the end of the day (and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day, and spontaneously on the way to every single other place) you're going to find yourself at the beach.
Living in our swimsuits as we did was actually pretty great for our luggage, as we only brought as much as we could carry onto the plane (since we used two different airlines, it would have cost a whopping ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS just to check a single bag for our trip. There was nothing that I wanted to bring that badly!). And when you're already wearing your swimsuit, well, when you pass that sign for the beach, you might as well pull off and jump in the water!
Big Island beaches aren't really the kind that Hawaii is famous for (well, other than the black-sand beach and the green-sand beach, of course...); the Big Island is just too new, and therefore too rife with sharp lava rock. I don't think we'd been on the island for four hours before I got my first cut on the lava rocks, and Will walked out of the water at that same beach with a cut on her leg just streaming blood--shark bait!
Also, FYI? Lava rock cuts hurt a LOT!
At Kiholo Bay, for instance, which we visited because Will particularly wanted to see the Queen's Bath, not only were we completely unable to find the Queen's Bath (although we did see wild goats), but Will, while wading out in the remarkably rocky surf, fell, cut herself and got a sharp splinter embedded in her finger, sat down on a rock in the water to tend it, got pulled out too far by an undertow in a wave that hit her, struggled her way back to the shallows, sat down to tend her finger, got pulled out too far by a wave again, repeat ad infinitum, while her grandmother and I were standing just on the other side of the sharp rocks shrieking at her (me with a lot of swears, I fear) to come back to the goddamned beach before she fucking drowned already!
Again, my swears. I was very upset.
It was only when I began to clamber across the sharp rocks, myself, that Will deigned to "hear" us and come back to safety. Even the most stubborn kid in the universe knows that if her mother has to come and GET HER, well, the universe has never seen the trouble that will then fall upon that kid.
And that is why we used to call the kid Undertow until, by her request, we changed it to Riptide, because she says it sounds cooler.
It took one and a half weeks for that lava rock splinter to work its way out of her finger, in case you're keeping score. Along with that, add the approximately 18 hours that it took for the child to thwart my explicit instructions to "please obey me in front of your grandparents so that they think that I know how to parent you." No problem, though, as I rarely fool anyone on THAT front, sigh...
Lava rocks notwithstanding, we did, of course, find some lovely beaches on the Big Island. Later that same day, after snorkeling and tide pools and Pu'ukohola Heiau and before petroglyphs, we found ourselves at Spencer Beach Park, a beach with sand, not too many rocks, plenty of shade, and tons of local families so you know it's legit:
|Even on this sandy beach, you see that there are still rocks. We didn't find a beach completely lacking rocks until Oahu.|
We found other beaches where it was fun to bob in the waves and play in the surf (Matt lost soooo many pairs of sunglasses on this trip!), but when it came to simply wanting to swim, our resort's pool was always a sure thing:
|Syd cannot get it through her head that she doesn't *really* need to hold her nose underwater anymore.|
But what the Big Island may lack in conventional beaches, it has in abundance in regards to specialty beaches! We didn't visit the green sand beach, because it requires a hike that the grandparents weren't up for (three miles down, and then when you're done and you're all hot and exhausted, you've got to hike three miles back up!), but we did spend a morning at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, which turned out to be by far my favorite beach on the Big Island:
Sea turtle! We saw LOTS of sea turtles in the water, but this is the only turtle that we saw chilling out on the beach. You've got to stay pretty far away from them, which is nearly impossible in the water, as you can't always see them until they're right up on you. Here on the sand, however, you can get a nice, long look through your telephoto lens:
There were turtles swimming all around in the water with us, too--you'd be bopping around in the waves, and then see a flipper or a head pop up a few feet from you.
|Probably looking at a turtle.|
|Just look at that sand. I LOVED this beach!|
Can you tell from these photos that the weather was just gorgeous? We only had a couple of rainy days during our entire trip. I'm looking at these photos right now, chilly in my sweatpants on this cold Indiana morning, and wishing that I was still there in the water.
At Spencer Beach Park, we met a haole family who lives on the Hilo side of the island. They told us that they were soon to move back to the mainland, to Idaho, in fact, so that their children could "experience the seasons."
I've experienced the seasons, and let me tell you, I'd rather be spending every single one of them in Hawaii!