We’ve been here just three days, but the island’s geography, flora & fauna and the friendly folks have charmed me into wondering how I can finagle myself some property here one day, only so we can fully explore every nook and cranny of the island. The variance of microclimates on the island offer everything from dry, cactus lined trails to deep Heart of Darkness forays into the jungle, perfect for the hiking and investigative spirit.

Day one was spent traversing a bumpy country road out to Maha’ulepu Beach and trail where we collected shells and sunbathed like lazy monk seals. With just a handful of people along the couple miles of beach, this was an ideal introduction to the coastal beauty of the island. We dipped our feet in at a buffered cove, but primarily stayed dry due to violent swells pounding the coast.

Day two we tried snorkeling for the first time, practicing first at the protected and manmade cove of Lydgate Beach, followed by an unlisted coastal volcanic pair of swimholes (one golden yellow, the other a deep emerald) found by utter chance at an unlisted area just past Hanalei Bay. Emily battled her fear of the fish and ocean that afternoon only because I found a plump sea cucumber to woo her into the waters of the otherworldly second emerald pool; it was in this pool I knew I had to graduate to a reef later. So we finished the day near Kapuhi Beach, surprisingly greeted by the relaxed topless atmosphere of nearby sunbathers and the gentle swells of a reef inviting me to my first open ocean snorkeling swim. All I can say is I’m hooked and plan to make it out to Tunnels Beach for more reef investigation later this week, hoping Emily will join me this second time around.

Day three we stayed near our monolithic dome vacation rental to hike up the Waimea River alongside the Menehune Ditch trail; primarily a local’s only hunter’s trail, we were left alone the whole day to wind alongside the lazy lime-hued river cutting through the towering ember black canyons dotted with unexpected native cactus; the hike rewarded us with red spotted frogs, gigantic tadpoles, rare azure tailed skinks (supposedly dwindling in numbers), a wild goat, countless birds and even the remnants of a waterway tunnel. I also faced my own phobia of heights by carefully crossing a questionable suspended plank bridge across the river, a small but exhilarating feat indicative of the spirit of this vacation thus far. We concluded the day in memorable fashion, hanging from the side of a truck after being offered a ride back home by a local driving back to town, taking pity on our spent looking condition. The spirit of the people and the island are doing everything they can to convince us we should one day live here, if not just for a short while. So pleased we still have a week’s more time to continue what might end up being a vacation of a lifetime.