You may remember that I confessed my completely rational childhood fear of being buried alive by molten lava a while back. Once I got over my crippling belief that the sunset was actually the red glow of magma coming to get me, this was not a fear I struggled with on a daily basis (I’m far too busy dealing with my fear of clowns and dentists for things like lava these days).
Anyway, cut to B and I planning a vacation to Hawaii. The Big Island, to be precise. Like any good tourist, I booked tickets and a hotel, bought the highest rated guide book out there and immediately read none of it. I always tell myself I’ll read it on the plane, then I feel all pressured because B expects me to be the tour guide but I haven’t actually planned anything and I don’t speak the language and can’t figure out the currency and I’m a total failure at tour-guiding. I find that history is dead set on repeating itself, so I didn’t read the stupid book on the plane because we watched Battleship (aka The Worst Movie Ever Made) instead. Then I ate some soggy crap I bought at the airport and read a magazine and BAM we were there. And it was dark, so we got food and crashed, vowing to explore in the morning. Imagine my surprise when I woke to discover the ENTIRE F*ING ISLAND is covered in lava. And roads. But they had to move the lava to make the roads.
Lava. Lots and lots of it.
That’s not actually true. About 7 square inches of the island are covered in coffee plants that make delicious coffee and that is secretly the entire reason I wanted to go to the Big Island to begin with. (I should note here that I’m not a complete twit and I knew that there is an active volcano on the island and that there was even the possibility that I would be lucky enough to get in a small watercraft at 4 in the morning and go play in the white water to see lava flowing into the ocean. I figured I’d be so excited about the ridiculousness of everything I just said to forget my fears and be in the moment.) However, the lava knew I was coming and ceased to create life altering dramatic experiences for tourists a few days before we arrived. It’s thoughtful like that. So, we set about exploring and, as always, eating our way across one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And we went to the volcano and I didn’t even have a (visible) panic attach or accidentally knock anyone into the volcano. That would have been awkward.
For the record, B gave up being vegetarian for vacation (and I ate fish for almost every meal). He started things with a bang at the Hawaiian Style Cafe:
I’m fairly certain that’s fried rice, spam, fried chicken, pork chops and a fried egg topped with gravy.
Mine is healthy. It has fruit on top.
Banana mac pancake goodness
There was fruit. Under a tree. On a road that I’m fairly certain was not on any map.
Beach picnic of local poke and cold beer
- Followed by a nap with this view
Hey look! A sign for things I will NEVER DO.
And a cute little lizard having lunch. I’m all about cute (cuz I’m gonna get to the terrifying part later).
This place is why I want to marry Yelp. Without Yelp, we would have driven right by Super J’s. Turns out, they were on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” and will play you the clip while you eat your food without asking. But they’re so awesome that you won’t even care. You’ll wish you were in on the secret and didn’t end up here because you were both starving and cranky and willing to go to the first place a phone told you wouldn’t make you sick. They serve 2 things. Have them both. Be forewarned that your spouse will randomly say Lau Lau completely out of context for the rest of the trip.
Chicken Lau Lau (I couldn’t bring myself to eat pork…but there is no veggie option at Super J’s. When in Rome and all that…)
They hope this will last “3-4 days”. Sometimes they run out.
warm malasadas. like donuts, but good.
Beyonce and Ben Affleck have a show-girl cousin in Hawaii.
The weirdest thing I ate in Hawaii…it’s a grilled cheese. but opened faced. with an elaborate salad on top. huh.
Flaming coffee and salad sandwiches? Ok. I’m game.
It was at this point in the trip that we headed to the other side of the island to “see the volcano”. My fears were abated because everyone we’d asked (and I asked everyone I met) said the lava wasn’t flowing this week. Of course, they said it like it was the most disappointing thing ever, rather than celebrating the fact that there was no possible way they’d end up vaporized on their way to work.
Seriously? What the CRAP!??
Even the museum people know middle earth is a magma bomb.
We visited this museum (of terror) after deciding we’d join an unsanctioned illicit hike to the edge of the volcano after nightfall. Because I completely lost my mind. And it was glorious.
The following conversation took place immediately before we saw this:
Me: Did I ever tell you about how, when I was a kid, I was convinced that the sunset was a lava flow coming towards my house that would trap us?
B: I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that.
Me: yeah, I saw it on 3-2-1 contact.
B: You saw the sunset turning into lava on 3-2-1 contact?
Me: No, I saw lava. The sunset thing was a product of my very healthy but overactive imagination.
Me: So, in my nightmares, my family would be in a VW Beetle and the lava would cool over us and we’d be trapped. Which is weird, since we never had a Beetle.
B: That’s the weird part?
Me: Holy crapballs!!! It’s like Hawaii staged this to screw with me!
B: Who are you?
So, that happened.
This was remarkably terrifying but actually very cool once B convinced me that there were not families trapped in cars under the lava.
remarkably good Thai food in Volcano Village
One of the top three meals on the island. Grilled hebi sandwich and yucca potato salad.
Cafe Pesto. Decidedly touristy sounding, but recommended by a local. And delicious.
more hebi. I didn’t know what it was either.
Our last real meal was at the Four Seasons for lunch. Everyone told us it was worth it…and it was.
This is a seafood hotdog and sweet potato (though I think they’re yucca) chips. The best part about this meal was the view. And the cute little fry basket the chips came in. I’m a sucker for packaging.
Oh, and this. I heart spicy drinks.
Everywhere we went, the people were amazing, the scenery beautiful, and the experience remarkable. There was a lot more food and even some activities, but I didn’t get photos of it all, including my top 2 meals on the island. If you find yourself in this lava encrusted paradise (and you should), make sure to check out The Blue Dragon – hands down the best meal we had in a fun, locals atmosphere. If you’re looking for fancy with a view and don’t mind paying hotel prices…the Water’s Edge at the Hilton Waikoloa is pretty damn fantastic. And no, none of these places are paying me to say anything about them. They should though. Seriously.
Mahalo, Hawaii. And thanks for all the fish.