Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pictures from Hawaii and a Giveaway!

As some of you may have known, I recently went on vacation in Hawaii where we spent 8 days on the beautiful island of Maui and then spent 4 on the Big Island.  Kick back and relax as I recap some of our adventures in Instagram photos...then scroll down for a special giveaway!

As always, the first morning on the island is an early one because your body is still not adjusted to the new time zone.  I took the opportunity to take in this gorgeous sunrise from near our condo.

After a perfect first day in Maui, we saw the sun do a full circle where it displayed this fiery "atomic blast" of a sunset.  Which do you prefer?  The calm pastels of sunrise or the fiery bold colors of the sunset?

Rest assured that there was A LOT of eating done while on the island.  No visit is complete without shaved ice from Ululani's.  This one was nearly the size of my head!  But don't worry, I shared it with 3 others :).

Another sunset was witnessed at over 10,000 feet altitude at Haleakala Volcano (no filters).

Some days started with rain.  But that was okay by me because with rain comes beautiful rainbows and there are many in West Maui!

Thankfully, the rain (mostly) held off for my brother-in-law's wedding which was the main reason that we came to these beautiful islands.  Here he is with his stunning bride.  It was a beautiful, intimate (9 guest) wedding!

We did the famed Road to Hana (for the second time) and thanks to Instagram filters, you'd never know how crappy and rainy of a day it was when we witnessed such beauties as the below Upper Waikani or Three Bears Falls.

We then said good-bye to our favorite island Maui and jet set off to the big island...

Err...did I say jet set?  I know it's only a 30 minute flight but imagine our surprise when we walked up to a 9-person prop plane!!  Seating was assigned based on weight so that the plane was balanced and I was right in the front.  I was cool to see all the plane gadgets and watch the pilots operate them but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly terrified at the thought of traveling in such a small plane.  Thankfully, it was an uneventful and surprisingly smooth ride!

First stop on the Big Island was spending a few days on the Hilo side where we were greeted by more lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls...

Akaka Falls is 427 feet tall...greater than twice the height of Niagra Falls!

And this one is called Rainbow Falls.  Can you guess why?

Yes, we went to the Volcano National Park and took photos of lava and the like but oddly, I don't have Instagram photos of those.  We went to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach where we saw 5 Hawaiian green sea turtles basking in the sun.  This looked like a baby and its mom or dad.  Super cool!

Afterward, we spent a couple days on the Kona side where we made like sea turtles and basked ourselves in the sun of the beautiful Kohala beaches.  When we couldn't take the heat any longer, we took in a bit of Hawaiian culture at Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park which is the site of an old refuge and former royal grounds.

And then came our last sunset (no filters)...goodbye Hawaii.  Aloha 'oe, Aloha 'oe...until we meet again!

Did you enjoy my Instagram photos?  If so, make sure you become a facebook fan because this is where I usually share these little gems.  Creating a blog post of non-food photos is for special occasions!

While we were on the Big Island of course we had to stop by a local coffee farm to try their famous Kona Coffee.  We chose a small, family-owned boutique type farm called Hula Daddy which was located up in the mountains above Kailua-Kona.

Now, Chris and I aren't exactly coffee drinkers but both of us came to appreciate the work that Hula Daddy takes to get a good brew.  For example, we learned that it takes a coffee tree 4-5 years before it matures enough to bear beans.  And then, that single tree will yield just ONE pound of coffee in a single year.  That is, if the beans aren't attacked and ruined by things such as beetles.  Coffee grows best in well-draining soil and so the young lava rock of Hawaii island provides a nice porous and nutrient rich growth medium for the plants to thrive.  It also needs to be grown within a certain elevation range to provide the proper balance of temperature, sun, and rain.  We learned that at Hula Daddy, they are an organic fair-trade farm (meaning employees are paid fare wages) and each bean is hand picked at the peak ripeness.  Pick too soon and the bean is bitter.  Pick too late and the bean is sour.  Coffee, we learned, is not like other fruits that can be picked early and then allowed to ripen off the plant.  

Once they are picked, they are hand sorted and sent to be dried.  Some brews call for the sweet berry and/or membranes to be left intact whereas in most cases, these are taken off.  A master roaster then uses heat to bring out the flavor and smell that we know and love.  Hula Daddy uses small batches (maximum 10 pounds) and then each one is personally tasted by the master roaster before being packed.  

Two types of coffee were available for sampling before and after the tour.  As a non-coffee drinker I appreciated the smooth, non-bitter flavor.  I learned that like a fine wine, coffee has a rating system and one of Hula Daddy's coffees is rated a 97!  We ended our tour with the most fantastic tasting chocolate covered coffee bean that I've ever tasted.  Yum!

The only way you can buy Hula Daddy's fantastic coffee is by visiting their farm or ordering online.  But here I am offering you another entering my raffle for a chance to experience this glorious coffee!  Their coffee is generally sold as whole bean because the flavor is better preserved that way.  However, at the farm you can buy some ground beans as a multi-pack.  So, I saved one 2-ounce bag just for one of my special readers!

Good luck and thanks for reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Melissa @IWasBornToCook said...

Wow, so many to list - the food in Rome's Jewish Ghetto really was amazing - especially the fried artichokes.

♥ 珊珊 Kawaii Kuromi ♥ said...

sucha a beautiful wedding! looks like you had fun. shame bout the rain.

♥ 珊珊 Kawaii Kuromi ♥ said...

oh and my fave... squid ink ramen in a neat lil restaurant in causeway bay in hk! so gd!

@SteveReddington said...

I LOVE Hawaii, wish I could return there one day! Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

Eva @ Eva Bakes said...

Hawaii is my favorite place on earth - my husband and I are retiring there (seriously). The best food we've ever had on vacation is garlic butter shrimp from Macky's shrimp truck on Oahu.

Tiffany said...

beautiful pictures!

Hezzi-D said...

The best food I've had on vacation was the fresh fish at Mama's Fish House in Maui!

JCHokie said...

Your pictures are gorgeous, looks like you had a wonderful trip! My hubby and I got married in Maui this past Sept. and spent two glorious weeks there. I love every moment of it. Kona coffee is also the best! Thanks for the giveaway!

rachel said...

Chocolate Monk Cake in Cleveland

TRUN said...

amarula in africa

Thomas Poti said...

I want some coffee!

Unknown said...

Interesting story on how coffee beans are grown and gathered.

Unknown said...

Blueberry Snow-Cone... I know its simple... but it has always been a favorite of mine and to find them anymore in next to impossible. I found one in Seaside, FL.

Unknown said...

Fresh coconut shrimp!