palm trees against blue sky in Hawaii

Hawai`i, Hawai`i

Birthday Piña coladaIn January, we visited Hawaii, starting on the island of Hawaii, popularly known as the Big Island.

We stayed for a couple of nights in Kailua-Kona on the west of the island. The second day there was my birthday. It was the first time I’ve ever been somewhere warm on my birthday. We spent the evening drinking cocktails by the sea while watching the sun set. It was a glorious way to spend a birthday; far better than being in the cold of a British winter. Also, a tradition was born of watching out for the green flash as the sun disappeared over the horizon.

Me in my HossThe next day, we hired a car. The only vehicle they had left was a convertible Ford Mustang. Oh noes.

Once I worked out how to make my new Hoss go (saying “giddy-up” doesn’t work), we set off on our road trip anti-clockwise around the Big Island.

Our next stop was Volcano, but we stopped off along the way at the black sand beach. These aren’t quite as common as in Iceland. In fact, they’re very precious about their black sand because they only last about ten years after their creation. Black sand is made from lava. You must rinse off all traces of black sand from your person and possessions before you leave the beach. However, as with all sand, no matter how well you rinse it off, you’ll always find some when you get home.

Our sat-nav told us about a green sand beach: very rare, indeed. It’s another kind of volcanic beach. The lava of Hawaii is basalt, which contains olivine, a green mineral. The green sand of the green sand beach is made from olivine. We didn’t go there because hire cars, even 4x4s, aren’t insured to go there; you have to drive to the start of the track that leads there, and see if a local with a 4×4 will take you. We weren’t sure how many locals there’d be in January.

Black sand beach

We stopped off at the black sand beach, where we drank coconut water straight from a fresh coconut, made a small black sandcastle and saw green turtles. One turtle was feeding on whatever they eat around the black rocks; the others were basking in the sun on the black sand. The turtles are protected in Hawaii: you’re not allowed to go within a certain distance of them. We accidentally got a bit close to the one in the water: they look like rocks. There is a special area marked out with rocks on the sand where they like to go; people aren’t allowed in. They’re very big on conservation in Hawaii.

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