We landed in Hawaii last night at about 7pm and had a short drive from the airport. We ended up (I ended up) upgrading the car to a huge silver jeep. My rationale was that it would be better for the environment and more economical, not to mention the space we’d have inside!
We started the day driving to Hanauma Bay but couldn’t get anywhere near the carpark as all the tourist wankers were already out in force.
We decided to drive a little further down the road to go to the ‘Blow Hole’, a notorious spot where whales and their calves can be spotted. Unfortunately we weren’t there at the right time of year. There was a picturesque beach/cove right next to it which we decided to sit on for an hour. There was a few little waves that washed up into the bay, like a natural wave machine. We jumped off the rocks into the crystal clear green sea and then ate our lunch on the sand. The heat was a lot stronger than in LA, a real penetrating sort of burn but so good after a dip.
After that we shot over to Hanauma Bay but still couldn’t get close so had to walk half a mile to get there. It was totally worth it- the view from the top was quality.
We had to watch a 10 minute video on what not to do, basically don’t stand on the reef because it is alive and provides food for the sea life.
We got into the water with the full attire- flippers, snorkel and mask looking like the rest of the tourist wankers. After 5 minutes I couldn’t see or breathe so we got out. I decided to ditch the flippers and just try the mask. I spent about half hour in the reef (seeing loads of people standing all over the reef! WHY?!) then eventually I ended up alone. I saw an array of colourful fish, it was like a slimy breathing skittle factory submerged in a shallow reef. As I was heading back in I literally bumped into a sea turtle. It was the most surreal moment. I looked around and I was alone. I followed him for about 40 minutes whilst he chewed the reef and cruised about enjoying himself. He eventually got used to me and I felt like we were pals. I finally left him and headed back to shore feeling stoked that I now had a friend with flippers.
We went for breakfast in a a place called ‘Lulus’ in Waikiki just down the road from our hostel. I had stuffed french toast with whipped cream and maple syrup - what a start to the day, I was pumped full of sugar and hit a sugar downer 20 minutes later. Luckily we were on our way to the North shore!
The drive took about 40 minutes and took another 40 minutes to find our hidden tent in the jungle. There were two gates with pass codes, a load of houses and farm land and then a little pathway next to one of them that led to our little house. It was ultra cool, like an african safari tent on stilts complete with kitchen, bathroom, running water, electricity and a view of the mountain.
We went to Waimea bay straight away to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as we got there the lifeguards were spouting out ‘we have had numerous broken necks, dislocated shoulders and DEATHS at this beach. The water is NOT safe for small children. Only enter the water if you are a confident swimmer.
Of course I was going in! There were kids in there who were about 12, granted there were locals and knew what they were doing but I thought fuck it it’ll be good fun! After 10 minutes of bobbing about and not braving a barrel that land directly on the sand I came out and convinced Aimee to go in. As soon as we got out past the set the lifeguard announced ‘Urrrm folks, we’ve got some huge waves coming in, a real big set so stay away from the water’..
I was directing Aimee and telling her to duck under the waves before they broke and she did a good job. Our stuff was just over a huge sand bank but the waves were so big they started washing over it and sucking peoples belongings back with them. All I could hear was Aimee squawking ‘THE CAMERAS! THE BAGS! THE SANDWICHES!’ I explained I couldn’t get out right now to save any of it. The waves then surprised us and as they were bouncing off the bank came back out to sea so we had waves hitting us from all directions.
I could see Aimee’s face go from pure joy to total panic. She told me she was shattered and couldn’t swim anymore. I tried to keep her calm and said to just swim to shore. She was staring at the lifeguard hut and later told me she wanted them to come in and save her. I think because of the panic she was taking shorter breaths and wasn’t getting enough air to swim normally.
Aimee held it together and we swam in luckily we had a break in the sets and managed to get out unscathed.
We headed back to our tent in the woods and bought some steaks from the shop on the way back. After food we were invited over to our neighbouring tent for some drinks with our new American friends Ben & Angela. They made us some margaritas and we lit a campfire under the stars. Apart from the bugs constantly landing on you, and the pregnant tarantula that I nearly sat on it was a perfect evening.
We woke after a sleepless night, interrupted by bugs, hens and cats getting our steak out of the bin from the night before. We headed up to Pipeline to see the waves. There was a huge swell and the waves were 20ft. It was pretty incredible. I’ve watched a lot of pipeline competitions at home but to see them in real life was ace. There were a few snapped surfboards that day and some people getting huge barrels.
It wasn’t safe to swim in there and after Aimee’s episode at Waimea we decided to find a more swim-friendly bay. We headed to Turtle Bay which was quite pleasant. We saw a team who were filming for GoPro with a guy and 2 dogs who all surfed waves on a stand up paddle board. They were having the best day ever. We headed home and stopped off for some chicken and spuds for tea. We ended up having an early night in and erected our mosquito net as we were getting a tally of bites from the past 2 nights.
Today we decided to get in the water. Aimee was keen for her first surf lesson so we headed to Haleiwa, a quiet little surf town with a cove on the North Shore. We had read about Uncle Brian’s Surf school and he just so happened to be there.
Aimee’s instructor was called Bobby, he was a full dude; if he was anymore laid back he would’ve fallen asleep. He told me how he only rode waves at Pipeline when it was at least 30ft. Nutcase.
I hired a board as I explained I knew what I was doing.. (That proved to be somewhat untrue) and we paddle out. Aimee was standing on a wave in the first 3 minutes. She looked pretty stoked and I was pleased for her. A few minutes later I caught my first wave and rode it pretty far, I was pleased with myself and the photographer was cheering me on. That was it for me, the rest of my waves were shit and my neck, shoulders and stomach were in agony from all the paddling, must have been all the shit food I’d consumed in America (my excuse). Aimee was getting a lift back to the waves every time with Bobby but all the paddling was doing me in. About an hour in Aimee was paddling back to shore and Bobby told me she was sea sick. HA. seasick, on a chuffing surfboard.. Only Aimee Bannister
I didn’t last much longer. We paddled in and sat watching the surf. Bobby told us that his family was from Wales and he loved Aberystwyth… sorry come again, Aberystwyth? In Wales? I suppose where ever you live in the world you get sick of it. I think he was over Hawaii.
We then went for some Mexican food in a restaurant in the town. We were so hungry we stopped in the first place and hit a wall after the first few mouthfuls of food. We headed back to the cove and attempted to sleep, getting drowned by the water every 5 minutes we decided to move up the beach and into the shade. Aimee was still seasick at this point so we went home to freshen up and decided to head to Turtle Bay resort to watch a new surf movie release.
We got to the bar and there were no seats, so we attempted to get into the restaurant. The wait was 45 minutes so we decided to eat in the lobby. It turned out to be real good food and we had a local Hawaiian singing us songs with an acoustic guitar. After we ate we went to watch the movie and before it started I could see Aimee falling asleep on her feet so we drove back to the lodge and went straight to bed.
SundaySunday we set off in search of some wifi! we were in the middle of the jungle and could have been easily killed without anyone knowing - and I know my mum would be worried! So we typed Coffee and Bean into the sat nav and spent some time there letting our families know we were alive and well.
We had a lot of people asking about the LA video but we didn't have any decent Wifi in the tent so we had to wait until we were back in a hostel. After Facetiming our families we headed to Waimea Bay for a chill. It seemed to be our favourite beach and it was pretty central - you remember, the one I nearly died at the first time we went.. yeah that one. So obviously I was cautious about going in the sea with the huge waves that nearly took me just a few days before. I settled for eating and reading on the beach. Then I got bored and wanted to move on - so we decided to check out Waimea falls - a small trek to a waterfall just minutes from the beach. It took roughly 30mins to walk it. It was a nice walk, an educated walk - each plant had its very own name sticker and there were birds from all over the world. The waterfall was great - not too big and not too small. We had to wear life jackets into the surrounding pool to Craig’s dismay - he felt like a tourist, one of Craig's many fears. But I loved it - you didn’t even have to try and stay afloat! Lazy oaf I am. On our way back it started to pour down. So we headed home. We’ve been super lazy this trip and although Craig has worked out now and again - I haven’t even lifted a finger - unless it was to eat cakes or biscuits. So we decided to have a quick 30 minute circuit workout. And after that we had some steak and eggs! We’ll be massive bodybuilders in no time!
Monday we had an early start - we were flying to another of Hawaii’s islands called Hilo - also known as Big Island (as it was the biggest of them all). We were up at 5am, packed and to the airport, dropped out car off and sat on the plane. The journey was only 40 mins, I seemed to blink and we were there. We picked up another rental car (honestly could not have done this trip without the cars!) - a little Mazda 2 and set out to find our next home - Lava Rock Hale. We were staying in a little round outer house in, yet again, the middle of nowhere. The sounds and rustling outside was awesome in the nights when we were tucked up in bed - but the bugs (again) weren’t. It was a house in one room - apart from the toilet which was a short trek outside the house - this didn’t go down well in the night when I got scared and asked Craig to take me to the toilet - he was NOT happy that I woke him up and wouldn’t take me. I just imagined the wild pigs that the owner had mentioned sometimes wander around - I imagined them biting my ankles.. and I would not be going to that toilet in the pitch black on my own.
We had an outdoor shower which was very cool. There is no light pollution in Hawaii and every night you can see the stars and the milky way - and we could see it all from our shower.
The roundhouse was stocked with everything we needed from a kettle, cooker fridge to plasters and bug spray (fully equipped with swatter!)
The first day we got there is was lashing down. We’d checked the weather before hand and it was to rain the whole time we were there -great. We sat tight, had some specially grown Hawaiian coffee in bed and got cosy- our own little tea party. When the clouds parted we went out for a nose. Trying to find the beach we drove past loads of huge trees that had been blown over and bits of debris all over the floor - then we remembered that a hurricane had hit Big Island just weeks before we got there. We found the beach (well rocks and sea) and pottered about for a while before going grocery shopping for the 4 days we’d be staying.
We wanted to do some snorkelling so used the trusty sat nav to take us to a cool snorkelling beach spot. I blew up my rubber ring and we were ready to go. The beaches in Big Island aren’t all sandy like you’d think - there is a lot of rocks and massive rock pools (like swimming pools) with water so clear you can literally see everything in there. Craig got impatient when we were snorkelling and decided to go over the wall of the rock pool and into the ocean to look for fish and turtles. The wall was quite big and I get a bit sea sick when I’m in the ocean so I stayed put, and to my amazement - bumped into a massive sea turtle. I’m not going to lie - it scared the shit out of me, the shear size of it. I’d seen the pictures of the turtle Craig found back in Honolulu but this one was 4 times the size of it! I didn’t know what to do, my first thought was that he might bite my legs so I jumped on my rubber ring and swam off calling out for Craig who’s head was just over the side of the rock pool. There ended up being two down there. It was literally one of the best things I’d ever seen. We just turn up at this derelict beach with rock pools and bump into turtles, huge turtles swimming - it was amazing how calm they were, just munching away at the reef minding their own business.
After spending the day there - with pretty good weather, of course, it started to rain. So we packed up and headed back to our roundhouse.
We settled in with some coffee and crisps and watched a DVD until we fell asleep. Dawn of the dead - what a weird ass film.
We had big plans for Wednesday. We asked some locals where the best place to jump off cliffs into the sea was - they said South Point - south of the island a 40ft drop into the ocean - right up Craig’s street. So we decided to go there on the way to Kona - a cool town on the west coast of the island. It took around 2 hours to drive to South Point but it was a simple straight drive there. Craig got his adrenaline rush and people around couldn’t believe he was going to jump. It was a massive drop! No chance would I do that. This kid is insane.
It was another 1.5 hours to Kona where decided we’d rent jet-skis and have an afternoon driving round the ocean - easier said than done. It took ages to find the jet ski rental shop, stopping every 5 minutes to ask for directions - sat nav being a knob we just decided to give up. It seemed like we were driving all day, we were both tired and just wanted to get out of the car. We were in Kona and settled for the beach. We had a little swim and wandered around the cool surf shops until we bumped into the jet ski rental shop - which was closed. Perfect. Craig was so annoyed that we wasted the whole day driving. So we took our moody butts home. Fail.
We drove 40 minutes to the nearest Starbucks to let our families know we were still alive. After a quick FaceTime we headed for Rainbow falls - a big waterfall just minutes from where we were staying. After a short trek into the woods and nearly being savaged by wild dogs we were there. We had to cross a river (just get in, no bridge - it wasn’t deep though) climb a few rocks so Craig could jump off the highest point. The weather wasn’t the greatest again, we kind of got used to it. As Craig did his thing jumping off the rocks into the waterfall I had a boring read (my book is really good though - Gone Girl - give it a go!)
We headed to another little beach on the way home - Richardson Bay - it was the only beach we’d come across with sand - black sand! Craig snorkelled with a turtle again (they are literally everywhere!) and we did a last food shop getting the ingredients for spaghetti bolognese (which was friggin lush).
Bed early as we were flying back to Honolulu tomorrow in preparation for our flight to Japan on Saturday.
Friday we heard on the news that we’d just be missing a terrible storm that was to hit the island on Friday night. I thought we might not be able to fly and that they might cancel the flight, but all was well and we got up and out easy enough.
We headed straight for the beach which you could see from our street. It was a lush little beach, white sand and lined with palm trees. The sun was pumping - thats more like it! There was also a wall so far into the sea - you could swim to it and sit on it in the middle of the sea - until a big wave came and knocked you off! We splashed around for a bit got some sandwiches to eat and headed back to the hostel.
We stayed in a hostel close to the Airport for easy access in the morning. It was called the Polynesian Hostel and got a bad vibe from it straight away as the guy on reception was a dick head and we were on the fourth floor - heavy bags - no lift. We stayed in a private double room with a shared bathroom. It was okay i guess - no air con, just a fan that blew hot air around the room. Ive never sweat so much sleeping. The room and temperature outside was just so sticky and humid.
We decided we needed to get out of the room, and there was a firework display on at 7.30. We said we’d go watch the fireworks on the beach and head into town for some food. The guy at the reception said that the fireworks could be seen from anywhere on the beach - so we walked for a while, got some Hawaiian coffee and some macaroons (omg salted caramel). It started raining and we sat underneath the lifeguards hut on the beach eagerly awaiting the fireworks - a real cosy spot. 7.30 came and we could see flashing lights - but no fireworks? They were actually going off behind the building to the right of us! We legged it over but they finished before we got there. absolutely knob head giving us wrong information - oh they can be seen anywhere along the beach.. knob.
We had a little browse around the shops and settled in Changs for some food - amazing food! we were peckish not overly hungry so we ordered 3 starters - We had dynamite shrimp (not as spicy as it sounds), spare ribs and dumplings. Best food ever - a definite must go if your in Big island! We had some cocktails and banter with our waiter who was a funny guy.
Got to bed and had a good old sweat out.
Today we fly to Japan. I’m really excited, this was the place i chose as the destination I wanted to go to most in the world. (Craig’s was Hawaii). Early start, get the fuck out of that sweatbox hostel and to the airport we go!
As we sat waiting for our gate to be called we realised there was not one single white person on this flight. Only Japanese people. We got stared at. A lot. But the food on the plane was good! We had chicken and pork dishes with rice and shrimp and fruit and chocolate nuts.