Popolu Valley & Beach Heaven

Today was a relatively big day.  We started bright and early by heading north east towards the Kohala ranch lands to bring Sarah to Paniolo Ranch for her morning horseback riding adventure.  Then me, Chris and Amelia went North to the top of the island, a small town called Hawi, and then cut east.  As we moved east we went from desert, to grasslands, to rainforest!  We ended up at the Popolu Valley Overlook – the most amazing views!! Amelia LOVED sitting in the wind.  After taking pictures from the top, Chris took the 40 minute hike/photography journey to the bottom and black sand beach, while Amelia and I stayed up top, enjoying the wind and having a snack.

We then returned to the town of Hawi and took a stroll down the singular street (small town, no street lights, one main drive), taking some pictures as we went.

We returned to the ranch to pick up Sarah – who enjoyed her ride and gorgeous views found on the ranch.

After returning home and having some lunch, Ray, Sarah and I went to the “owner’s beach” – a key card only access beach for Mauna Lani guests.  To our surprise it was relatively uncrowded.  Sarah and I enjoyed some time swimming in the ocean, and when we came back in, Ray went out to do some snorkelling.  Unintentionally both me and Sarah fell asleep on the beach on the lounge chairs, and were woken up by Ray just over an hour later.  There are no words for how wonderful it feels to take a nap, on the beach, in the sun, with a cool breeze to keep you from overheating.  It was absolutely magical.

Tonight was date night for me and Ray.  We made reservations at a place called Merriman’s, in the town of Waimea.  This restaurant is a foodie type high end place, where all food is locally grown in Hawaii and most of it is organic.  The chef is a 3x James Beard nominee, and we first heard of him on Top Chef.  So we were excited to experience the food.  I had Ponzu marinated Mahi Mahi for dinner (so good) only to be surpassed by the Coconut Creme Brûlée! Wow!!  Ray couldn’t choose, so he ordered the trio, which was a steak, Mahi Mahi, and of course the practically rare sashimi grade Ahi Tuna (his favourite part).  The funniest part was that we saw Conan O’Brien and his wife walk in for dinner just as we were finishing!!!  That’s right – we were dining with the celebrities!  It was just a fun added bonus at the end of a great meal.

On the way back we wandered through a few shops in the Queen’s Marketplace and Mauna Lani shops….AND….Ray bought me my UKULELE!!!!  I’m so excited to learn how to play.  It was the one thing I really wanted in Hawaii – so look forward to many years of Alyssa’s Ukulele stylings to come!!

meri 1

Tomorrow is our last full day in the Kohala area – my one goal for the day is to finally photograph a Hawaii Sunset.  Fingers crossed it’s a good one!

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