We had never planned to go island hopping…but last week’s seven day boat ride, two rental car flat tires on two different islands, and the best display of local hospitality ever, we turned this opportune deal into an adventure of a lifetime!  But first off, HUGE MAHALOS to our friends who made this possible!  😀

Since we spent an extended weekend in Maui last summer (photos here http://fatlace.com/2013/07/maui-wowie/), we opted to spend those days exploring the cruise ship and their 24/7 all you can eat buffet! 

Next stop, Hawaii…the Big Island of Hawaii that is!  We started our adventures on the south end of the island, visiting Ka Lae (South Point, the southern most point in the United States) and Punaluu (the famous black sand beach).

For a change in scenery later that afternoon, we continued our adventure up the dormant volcano Mauna Kea which measured from its oceanic base is the tallest mountain in the world!

Although a first flat tire prevented us from going all the way to the peak, we made the most of where we were with an unplanned adventure to top of this little hill which rewarded us with some amazing landscapes!

I thought I saw a lot of stars atop Haleakala on Maui, but “Daaammn!!!” I thought as I discovered infinitely more here!

After our late night adventures which also caused us to miss the cruise ship as they departed Hilo for Kona (which is on the opposite side of the same island…promise we didn’t do this on purpose ;)), we eventually made our way back on the boat in Kona.  But before doing so, we made a pit stop at Mahukona.  While known for snorkeling, we decided to float around instead 🙂

Final stop, Kauai…the northern most island in the state of Hawaii.  Below are some quick pit stops before more adventures.

As we docked at Nawiliwili Harbor, “The Garden Isle” greeted us with ominous clouds.  So following the recommendation of our rental car shuttle driver, we headed west in search of sunshine towards the Waimea Canyon also known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Once we found the sun, we headed to Shipwreck Beach to cool off for a little.

Despite driving an entire hour to the north shore of Kauai just to find more ominous clouds, we made the long two hour journey all the way around the island to the west coast eventually settling at Polihale.  Once we arrived, wifey camped out while I went on a solo photo mission where I met Seattle based wildlife photographer Jon Cornforth who was flying his drone over the Napali Coast.

Miles of beach, amazing landscapes, no crowds, and friendly locals are the reasons why it was totally worth an adventure on five miles of unimproved road, which eventually caused a second flat tire on our way out later that night!

In addition to saving the best for last, the true star of these last 2 photos are the friendly locals who were hanging out on the beach with their Honda CR-V.  High on “life and daddy’s soda” (Mary Jane and Natty Ice) as they drove up to our stranded rental car, they did not hesitate to help!  Although we offered to repay them at the next gas station, all they wanted was for us to pay it forward – TRUE ALOHA!

As our vacation came to an end and the boat made its way back to Oahu, we cruised by the Napali Coast where the clouds broke for one photo.