The first time we visited the Big Island of Hawaii was on December 31, 2018. We began 2019 with about a month of exploring all of the major islands on as limited a budget as possible, managing the effort only via the support of friends, the CouchSurfing website, and a few camper van collaborations.
Funnily enough, Hawaii was not the actual destination at all. Back then, Sophie’s US visits were subject to an ESTA visa waiver which allowed her 90 days at most and required an exit ticket to somewhere not including Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Our actual destination was Australia, but noticed it was cheaper to stop in Hawaii. Then we saw how cheap it was to fly from one island to another… just like that a stopover become an extended visit exploring paradise.
We fell in love with the Hawaiian islands as most do, but also as many have discovered, each island has its own energy, its own “mana”, that calls you differently.
Maui, though stunning, never felt right. The people and interactions we encountered there were strained and often stressful. Things felt rushed and superficial in a way we didn’t feel on any of the other. The vibe was just all wrong.
The Big Island, meanwhile, was the opposite. From the second we stopped off the plane and into the “airport,” which felt more like an open-air terminal, we felt the aloha. There was a calm and excitement that never went away throughout.
Flash forward to 2022.
We had no idea back in 2019 that this stopover would be the last time Sophie would set foot in the US for two and a half years.
Now being forced to remain in the US until immigration processes conclude, adapting to a new home and city and pace of life, we were beginning to go a little stir-crazy when an opportunity to return to the Big Island too good to pass up fell into our lap. A friend reached out with an invitation to housesit for a week with a car provided. We checked flights, only $150, and decided this was too good to pass up. Just like that, we answered the call of the Big Island once more.
It was important to us to use this time for relaxation, which is not our way. Typically, we cram every waterfall, beach, landscape, and destination into a jam-packed itinerary wherein our cameras never stop firing. It had been on our minds that travel had become something mentally handcuffed to work, especially following the 6-month journey with Michelob.
What we needed was quality time together and to try and untangle photography, blogging, and FOMO (fear of missing out) from travel, which was once synonymous with liberation.
The only thing we really wanted to do at any point in our time was to see the lava lake at Volcanoes National Park – how and when were complete mysteries.