The last couple day spent in Hawaii were certainly among the best. After our adventures with dolphins and great food on Wednesday, we anxiously anticipated our adventures to come on Thursday. We started the day of by heading north to the tip of the island. We enjoyed a short hike together down to the beach where they filmed some of Jurassic Park. It was a little eerie, though, because there were hardly any people in the park at the end of the trail. There were hammocks and swings and other fun things to play on, but no people. Other then the pictures we took the experience turned out to be mediocre, hiking around we even thought "this bites." Speaking of bites, Lauren ended up with mosquito bites from her ankles all the way up to her bum. I won't mention how, but it makes for a very distinct and not so fond memory of that portion of the trip. Anyway, we took a few pictures and hopefully you can see why the hike was barely worth it and some resemblance to the landscape in Jurassic Park!
After our north-island fun we spent an hour or two at our favorite spot, Kua Bay. Following that pit stop we headed back to the Kona Brewery for some more grub. Because we got pizza the night before we figured we try our luck with something else. I decided on a delicious pulled pork sandwich and Lauren got the club. Both hit the spot and prepared us for the highlight of the day, night swimming with manta rays!
We set out around sunset and cruised with our group to a cove about 15 minutes north of the Marina. At first we were a little worried because dozens of other boats were there waiting for the action to begin and it seemed unlikely that we'd all see the giant mantas. The captain/crew gave us brief instructions about how to best attract the beasts and we all plopped into the dark ocean water. It was really unnerving at first. Every person was given a high power, waterproof flashlight and each group was to surround a giant floating ring and shine the light in the middle. Imagine a giant flower with humans for petals and ten flashlights for the stigma. After a few minutes of focusing our lights together, plankton began to collect in the light. Like a phantom a 12-16 foot giant manta ray emerged from the border of our light ring and swam straight toward us. With a mouth as big as a small coffee table it looked as if the beast would swallow Lauren whole! It was headed straight for her! All of us could hear her screams as she shrieked through the snorkel. At the last second the manta arched back, swallowed the majority of the plankton that was collected in the light, and continued to perform several rolling backflips right in front of us. It was incredible. It felt like we were swimming with aliens. Lauren and I both loved this trip and highly recommend it.
We hustled home, went to bed, and slept in Friday morning! It was great. By this time we had been going going going for the last 6 days and needed a break. We moseyed on down to a place that we'd heard about, but never knew when to plan it into our schedule: it was called two-step. The name seemed interesting and we heard there was stellar snorkeling so we figured we'd give it a whirl. We drove south for about 30 minutes and loved the beautiful hawaiian coastline. South of Kona seemed to be much less populated and more rural, so the landscape seemed very untouched. It made for great pictures and a stress-free drive.
We showed up at two step and were a little hesitant. It didn't look like the snorkeling would be that good, but as soon as we jumped in the water we knew we'd made the right decision. Beautiful coral, gliding turtles, and schools of radiant, tropical fish had us captivated the entire time we were there. Also, there was a portion of the bay that gradually descended into the ocean, which was great for diving deep and checking out the scenery 35-40 feet below the surface.
It's been fun to recap some of the important moments of this trip, but there is so much that cannot be accounted for on a blog. The sounds, smells, air, and feel of the island can most accurately be described by one word, paradise. We hope to go on another trip together in the near future but who knows when that'll be. The nice part about our adventures on the Big Island is that we created enough memories to get us through the years when we are tied down with work/school/and other commitments that won't permit this sort of vacation. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we're glad we made the effort to save up, plan, and enjoy it while we can!