Couchsuring & Camping on Kona

What is Couchsurfing? For the founders, it was vision of a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfering isn’t just about a free place to stay, it’s about sharing your life with new people from all of the world as well as fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.

The couchsurfing.org site provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. In March 2013, the website had 6 million members in 100,000 cities worldwide. Tom & I have had an account for close to a year now (our cs account) and have hosted and/or met people from Germany, Belgium and Seattle. 

Our first surfing experience was in Kailua-Kona, the center of commerce and of the tourist industry on West Hawaiʻi. Our generous host, along with his partner and son, live on an acre of land with a starfruit tree, beautiful outdoor lanai, inground pool & a beer fridge full of local brews. Tom & and were absolutely spoiled by the experience and can’t wait to do it again on the other islands!

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T’s gratitude’s & highlights

Snorkeling at white Sands Beach (aka Magic Sands beach because the sand disappears at certain times during the year). Unlike many east coast beaches, the Big Islands beaches are full of natural shade trees that provide a perfect setting for watching the ethereal sunsets on the water.

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Sneaking into the Hilton Lagoon & bourgeois-ing it up. R practically ran head-first into an eel (much to T’s enjoyment)! While it is a terrifying-looking creature, I’m sure did not intend any harm (at least, I’m pretty sure it didn’t).

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R’s gratitude’s & highlights

While I’m not a proponent of keeping animals in cages (esp. when those animals are as intelligent as dolphins) it was incredible to be so close to them.

#dolphins are smarter than dogs (& cuter) @leafitalone

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Spending time sunning and swimming at Kahalu’u beach. T introducing me to snorkeling – the clear waters here are teeming with bright tropical fish & large green sea turtles.

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This sign.

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Hawaiians LOVE Spam. Hawaii consumes more Spam than any state in our union — in total, 7 million cans a year. I found Spam flavored macadamia nuts….it makes me happy just knowing they exist.

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After couchsurfing for 4 nights we camped out at Spencer Beach where we itroduced some island kids to s’mores. It’s not a thing here like it is on the mainland and the children flocked to us like seagulls to fish for the rest of the time we spent camping here. It was the most expensive camping experience so far ($40/night) BUT we bamboozled the park ranger and got two nights for the price of one. Small victories ;).

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….and the Thorn (quite literally)

Tom was attacked by a sea urchin! ….well, sorta. He accidentally kicked a reef during one of our snorkeling trips and the reef kicked back. Sometimes called sea hedgehogs, sea urchins are small, spiny, globular sea creatures and they are the self-imposed protectors of coral reefs. Their spines inflict a painful wound when they penetrate human skin, but are not dangerous if fully removed promptly – although the purple ones do tend to tattoo their victims (now both T & I have foot tattoos!). One panicked drive and visit to the ER later and things were back to relative normalcy, although I’ll never look at sea urchin the same way again. o.O

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Hanging with Locals

The best thing about having friends who live in the area is that they can take you to all the cool places that only the locals know about. Palmer is a friend of mine from way way back (as in grade school). He was stationed on Oahu while he was serving in the military. He’s been out for a few years now and is studying marine biology and geology at Hilo University on the BI where he met his partner, Emily. As you might imagine, given their majors, not only did they know about the local spots, they had a wealth of knowledge about the island’s geology and marine life. Staying with them was like having personal tour guides for ‘off the beaten track’ adventures. T & I can’t thank them enough for their generosity, but we can certainly try! Muchos gracias amigos!

T’s gratitude’s & highlights

Taking “controlled” risks by jumping off a bridge.

Jumping off bridges @leafitalone #CrazyTown #Hawaii #the big island

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Completing a rigorous 9 mile hike on the pu’u oo volcano trail (which we originally thought was only 5 miles).

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Tea tree oil application to the mite bites (we counted a total of 36 bites- ouch!)

Palmer chopping down a sugar cane stalk, stripping it and giving it to us to chew the raw sugar stick – that’s service!

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Seeing the sunset above the clouds at 9,000 ft elevation at the Mauna Kea Observatory

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R’s gratitude’s & highlights

Surviving the steep road that leads down into the Waipio valley. The road gains 800 vertical feet in 0.6 miles – if classified as a road, it would be the steepest road of its length in the United States and possibly the world. Also, of course, the exotic black sand beach in the valley.

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Gorgeous flora & sights at Akaka falls

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Also completing the 9 mile pu’u oo volcano trail hike!

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Handing out candy to the ridiculously cute trick or treaters (I haven’t had the opportunity to do this since I lived in VA, over 3 years ago, and I missed it!)

Acro show presented by Yoga Centered at the Black & White festival in Hilo, HI (and realizing that my & T’s acro abilty was on par with nearly all of the performers!)

And the Thorn

While completely sober, I tripped and fell down a small, outdoor, wooden staircase that was slippery with dew and had no railings. Luckily, I broke my fall; unfortunately, I broke it with only one finger…can you guess which one? T has been doing anything that involves dexterity (zippers, filling up camel packs, opening food packages, even tying my shoes) which he doesn’t mind at all but which makes me feel a bit like a little useless blob. Hopefully this sprain will heal quickly!

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Tom’s Nature Photography – 1st Installation

T bought a Sony Cyber Shot to do some amateur photography during our travels. We have a multitude of scenic photos to share that don’t fit well in any other part of the blog, so we’re putting them here. Enjoy!

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