Beach Week: Pololu Valley & Sunsets at A-Bay


Watch out, holiday traditions! Though I love decorating trees and eating gingerbread as much as the next girl, my favorite December and January pastimes have to be my Big Island family’s “Kona traditions”–places we visit and sights we see on a semi-annual basis when we travel from rainy Volcano to the other side of the island.

Over the past few days, I’ve posted photos celebrating Hawai’i’s aquamarine surf and golden sand–and I’ll conclude my “Beach Week” by showing off another Kohala Coast color palette. While the beach in the early morning is gorgeous, there’s beauty to be found elsewhere on the northern side of the island, from the valleys and mountains to the water during the last light of day.


It’s been about three years now since I first visited the Pololu Valley lookout, an astounding overlook that’s a fairly sizeable drive from the Waikoloa area. Back when my family briefly moved from the Big Island to Honolulu, my favorite O’ahu spot was the Nu’uanu Pali lookout, where you could gaze out over a rugged cliff at the whole windward side of the island (while laughing at how the wild winds made your hair look like a 90s troll doll’s).

Pololu is kind of the Pali of the Big Island: it offers gorgeous views and enough wind to make you wish you weren’t wearing shorts and slippers.


There’s a beautiful meeting of elements in Pololu: black sand and sea, mountain and valley, mist and blue sky. Someday I’d love to hike down into the valley itself–but we’ll save that for a future trip when it’s a little less windy!


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m still learning how to master the wonders of my DSLR camera: and night/low-light photography continues to be my most challenging quest.

Sunsets in particular are the bane of my existence. The colors look so bright, vivid, and stunning to my eyes, and I’d give anything to capture that on camera–but often the gorgeous hues I see highlighting the waves with gold like an illuminated manuscript remain elusive.


To catch the evening’s light show, we made our way down to Anaeho’omalu Bay (a.k.a. “A-Bay,” a nickname I always found fun to say as a child), a beach in Puako near Waikoloa. It’s fairly rocky and probably not my favorite place for a swim, but the views are gorgeous, and it’s a wonderful place to watch the sun disappear below the horizon.


A few days ago, as my flight from Honolulu began its long and winding journey to Chicago, I watched from the air as the sunset engulfed my island home. We flew past Lana’i, Moloka’i, Maui, and Kaho’olawe, and in the distance I could still see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa wrapped in pastel clouds. I have to admit that I may have broken down just a little bit on the plane, moved by this beautiful scene of Hawai’i saying goodbye to me.

One of my goals for 2016 is to determine–honestly and openly–whether or not I really want to stay in New England for the near future. If not, I’ll do whatever I can to find a new home, one where I’m not literally thousands of miles from my family and where I don’t spend nearly half of the year struggling with winter depression.

Whatever I decide, I’m glad, at least, that Hawai’i will always be a home for me. I was born in the middle of the Pacific in a land of volcanic warmth, in a place like no other, and I know that won’t change: no matter how many years I spend in the cold and snow.


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