I woke up at 6:30am to the sound of Kai telling people through the open ‘window’ to the downstairs kitchen to please check the sign, because cooking was not permitted in the kitchen until 9am. Had it been 8:30am, I know she wouldn’t have said anything, but that was just a little too early and we could hear everything. Luckily they very quietly stopped and I was able to get back to sleep. It was around 8:30am when I woke up again, this time ready to start the day.
We began planning our journey with lots of indecision about what to do. We had a lot of flexibility but we were torn on whether to move along or spend another night in the same area.
Before making a decision on that, we got dressed and went downstairs to reheat our leftovers. Kai was in charge of that, and also of going through all the airbnb’s snorkelling gear that they offered for loan. Kai found us two masks, snorkels, and flippers, and cleaned them up beautifully for us. During that time, I was reading a book on Hawai’i history of colonization and giving Kai the synopsis.
There was a hidden waterfall nearby which we stopped at.
We started our day with the hike to Akaka Falls, which was a great park with $5 entry per vehicle. We weren’t expecting to walk much, but the park was cool and lovely, with lots of foliage overhead and very humid, as Hawai’i mostly is.
With the airbnb we were given a coupon for the Low Store, a little corner store that sold shave ice and other goodies. We got a free muffin and iced coffee to share, and we also each got a shave ice, the first of many of this new obsession! We noticed they had musabi for sale, a spam sushi snack, but we passed on that. We ate our shave ices and hung out with the store’s cat and a little lizard friend.
Once on the road, we took the scenic route and stopped at Rainbow Falls, which was so beautiful. We enjoyed spending some time by the falls and then went to see the trees in the area, which were unlike anything I’d ever seen, giant entangled trees with hundreds of trunks combined together and reaching up to the sky as far as you could crane your neck overhead. Totally engrossing.
Kai and I then drove to Kealoha State Park to try out our snorkel gear. I hadn’t snorkelled before, except maybe when I was really young in a public swimming pool, so I was really excited and nervous to try. We took our time getting our gear on and made our way to the water. It was a busy area but the little inlet we explored didn’t have any other swimmers. I got into the water with my flippers and then pulled the goggles down and placed the mouthpiece between my lips. Immediately, I began to take shallow, gasping breaths – I couldn’t breathe. A panic attack swept over me and it was everything I could do to quell it before it overwhelmed me. Kai was great and calmly supported me through it, but I had ripped all the gear off my face and couldn’t stop the tears in my eyes. I think what triggered it was just the sensation of having something cover so much of my face. We took several minutes while I decided whether I would go ahead and try again, or withdraw. Since I’d been so looking forward to this and I know Kai had as well, I knew I would have to give it a proper try.
I engaged my meditative breathing and replaced the gear. It took a few tries but finally with Kai’s amazing support I was arse-up and face-down in the water! At first, I wasn’t breathing deeply because I didn’t trust the snorkel, but eventually I slowed down and filled my lungs, finding that I really enjoyed the experience. I couldn’t hear anything outside the water, and I followed Kai along as she did her thing. I even tried taking a big inhale, holding my breath, and jackknifing into the water to dive down to see the fish, then coming back up and blasting the water from the snorkel. Though the water wasn’t very clear, and neither of us could see all that well without our glasses, we did see fish and some coral. We spent about three hours in the water before calling it. It’s interesting because Kai is like a portable space heater – she’s always warm, and I’m always cold, to the point where she will lay on my side of the bed while I’m getting dressed and ready to sleep to warm it up, and then move for me to crawl into her warm spot (isn’t she such a sweetheart?). And yet when we’re in the chilly water, I can stay forever and tolerate much colder temperatures, whereas she gets chilled pretty quickly. Aren’t bodies fascinating?
We made a stop at the local Goodwill and I’d really hoped to find some cute stuff, but I found their prices high so we moved on.
Dinner was at Kosmic Kones, an old-school style diner where you order at a window and pick up at another one. I ordered some kind of fish sandwich and fries, and we both got soft serve sundaes for dessert. Again the open-air restaurants with a lovely evening breeze coming through made me wish we could have that back home. After dinner, we hit up a grocery store and I got some wine and snacks.
We’ve decided to go back to the previous airbnb Hamakua House, but instead of staying in the main house, we rented one of the private cabanas with hammocks – yes, hammocks! I had never slept in one and I was nervous that I would have a brutal night. But they were really comfy once we got in and settled, and there was a tonne of extra blankets. I had my article for the local online news source ( to write, so I wrote about the power of breath and the relationship between rising sea levels globally and the flooding at home in Huntsville. Here is the article – it didn’t get a lot of traction but it’s one of my favourites that I’ve written.
I got to enjoy the wine afterward, which is so much cheaper, generally, than in Ontario. We enjoyed the hammocks and listened to the crashing rain on the cabana roof, and the trills of the coqui frogs.
However… I had gone out to pee and upon return, had broken the net zipper. I struggled for about ten minutes to fix it and gave up, and then Kai gave it a go. She was pretty determined to fix it, but after about twenty minutes, I texted the property manager to see if she had any tips. No response, and Kai went another round. By that point, I was done with the situation so I reclined in the hammock and waited for Kai to move on. She definitely had bush-dwelling mosquito life on the mind, where an open screen means being attacked through the night by the bloodsuckers. Hawai’i isn’t like that, but I think we forgot that. Eventually she did have to give up and went to bed. And a couple mosquitoes did come in, but nothing distressing.
I slept brilliantly in the hammock – I couldn’t believe it. Sign me up for hammock life!