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Mau’umae Beach is my favorite on the Big Island (Hawaii). It’s secluded, sandy, and I can usually have it all to myself on a weekday if I get there early enough. The water is almost always calm so it’s a great place to snorkel. If you happen to be there during the winter months, keep a lookout for whales or dolphins just offshore.

Getting to Mau’umae Beach requires a short hike from Spencer Park or you can drive from the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. If you’re coming from Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, you will need to get an access pass from the guard shack and they only give out 10 passes per day so go early. Once you have your pass, follow the road for approximately 300 yards and take the second right turn. Continue across two small wooden bridges until you arrive at the unpaved parking area above the beach. The trail down to Mau’umae Beach is marked by a sign.

From Spencer Park, park at the far left side of the parking lot and take the coastal path for about a quarter mile. Fishing is popular along the hike and the views of Mauna Loa are spectacular!

Mau'umae Beach hike ~ Ala Kahakai Trail Fisherman and mauna loa

Along the trail to Mau’umae Beach, woman fishing and Mauna Loa in the background.

If you’re on the Big Island, I highly recommend you visit this small, secluded and beautiful beach.

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Puako Rental House welcome sign

When I was younger, there was no question that I would stay with family and friends when ever I went back to the Big Island (Hawaii) for a visit. But with a family of my own now, and my desire for more privacy, I usually book several different places to stay. The island is big enough to warrant moving locations to be closer to either the volcano or the beaches.

Puako sunset favorite sunset

Sunset view from 118 Puako Beach

 

On our July visit, I booked an AirBnB vacation home for the first time. I’m thrilled to say the seven night stay at a two-bedroom, two bath beach house in Puako was a big success with everyone.

Puako John and Logan waiting on sunset

Waiting on Sunset in the Puako Beach House Yard

The location couldn’t have been better for us. We could see the ocean from the living room, patio and master bedroom. I love waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on shore. We were able to go to several beaches in close proximity to the rental home.

Puako biking holding hands 10

Bikes come with the Beach House rental

Upon arrival to the island, my brother loaded me up with all kinds of local foods for us to feast on while we stayed at the house. He thought of everything ~ fruits, main meals, coffee, desserts, vegetables, chips, etc. Yum! 118 Puako House came fully stocked with essentials so be sure to check in and then do your grocery shopping.

Puako House Bird

A Daily Visitor to the Beach House

Birds aren’t the only visitors to the beach house. Keep an eye out for unwelcome critters especially the dreaded centipede. They are red and nasty looking. Always check your shoes before you put them on and check your bed too. Anywhere they may hide ~ don’t come away with a painful bite.

Patti at sunset puako

If you book a home in Puako, be sure to rent one on the oceanside. The ocean breeze makes it much more comfortable during warmer days.

 

 

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Having grown up in Hawaii, I’m used to the occasional earthquake, big surf, an active volcano and unpredictable weather. And then there’s the ever-present threat of a tsunami. While having dinner with my brother this past week, he recounted his story of surviving a 7.7 earthquake, landslide and the largest locally generated tsunami to hit the Big Island in the 20th century.

In 1975, over Thanksgiving weekend, my older brother and cousins decided to go camping in Halapē which sits at the base of the 1,000 foot cliffs of Puu Kapukapu. There were eight hikers in his party ~ most between the ages 19 to 25 and one brought his dad with him. They also had four horses. This is his account as he told us the other night over dinner:

On Friday, 28 November 1975, they hiked in the early afternoon to fish and pick ‘opihi. Once the fish/’opihi were on ice, they had a campfire dinner. He was still awake when the first earthquake hit in the early morning of 29 November. Actually, it was a foreshock measuring 5.2. The second earthquake, measuring 7.7, is the one that rocked the entire area. It bounced the rock he was sitting on so that it moved in a circle. He tried to hang on but after a few seconds he found himself on the ground.

His group, along with the Boy Scout troop also camping in the area, ran for the trail that would lead to higher ground but there was a horrendous noise coming from the mountainside which they knew was a landslide  ~ the large falling rocks impeded their ascent. They turned around to avoid being hit by the boulders, but someone screamed they saw the ocean rising. There was no time to do anything else, the wave smashed into the cove and swept him away. He was tumbled under the waves until his need to breathe began urgent; he was certain he would die. His thought was “I now know what it’s like to drown.” He swam as hard as he could to get to the surface and, miraculously, made it to the top long enough to take a big gulp of breath before the second, and much larger, wave slammed into him. He was tousled towards the rock and hung onto a big boulder. His ability to hang on to the boulder is what saved him.

Unbelievably, only two of thirty-two campers perished in the tidal wave. The US Geological Survey estimated the second wave was 14 meters high (just shy of 46 feet). This tsunami was caused by the largest locally generated earthquake (part of Kilauea Volcano) ever recorded in Hawaii history and because the epicenter was only 19 miles from my brother’s location, the waves hit within a matter of minutes. Many of the surviving campers were hospitalized for broken bones, concussions, etc. My brother walked away with one or two scratches. He has one heck of a guardian angel watching out for him. It gives me the chills just thinking about it.

tsunami evacuation zone sign

We are currently staying at a beach house right on the water and we see the tsunami signs all along the road. On Friday night (9 July 2016), the tsunami sirens, located directly across the street, jolted us out of bed. We were especially alert due to the story of the 1975 tsunami we had just heard. I’m proud to say the only thing I grabbed was my purse ~ thinking that I needed my license to drive. We headed for higher ground while listening to the radio for further instructions. Turns out it was a system malfunction but I’m not sorry we evacuated ~ better safe than under water.

There’s a scene in the movie Leap Year where the lead male character asks “if your apartment was on fire and you had sixty seconds, what would you grab?” ~ I’m happy to know the only thing that mattered to me was my husband and daughter.

If you’re ever at the beach in Hawaii and there’s an earthquake, don’t hesitate ~ head for the high ground!!

Photos of the aftermath (courtesy of the Pacific Tsunami Museum):

Hawaii Beach after 1975 Tsunami

 

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…Aloha Hawaii. It’s rare for my family to veto me when it comes to travel locations but half way into my Tour of France planning, I got the word that neither my husband nor my daughter wanted to spend their vacation on an extended road trip. They both preferred two weeks on a beach in Hawaii. It’s been six years since I’ve seen my Big Island family and friends so I immediately changed my focus to Hawaii.

I’ve booked my first AirBnB! I was very apprehensive due to several horror stories I’ve read but, even though it’s called the “Big” Island of Hawaii, it’s really a close-knit community. Once I found the “perfect” place to rent, I contacted a friend who lives in the same town & wasn’t surprised that he knows the owner. I feel much better about prepaying the entire stay when it’s the friend of a friend.

A few photos from our previous visit to Hawaii to get us into the Aloha-Spirit…

 

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As we drove into Split, I could immediately see why Emperor Diocletian chose the Illyrian province of Rome for his retirement town when he voluntarily relinquished his reign of the Roman Empire in 305. It’s a beautiful city located on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea.

Split Croatia Hotel Slavija
We stayed at Hotel Slavija which is located within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. This was the view from our balcony. We loved being centrally located and walking out of our room to wander through all the alleyways.

The UNESCO designated complex is not a museum but full of shops, restaurants, bars, and apartments. There are about 3,000 people living within the palace. We took a tour with Mirijana and wandered through many of the passageways hearing about not only ancient Roman history but an update on current Croatian events, too.  It was obvious our tour guide, Mirijana has a passion for her city and history.

Diocletian Palace Alleyway

Diocletian Palace Alleyway

Jupiter's Temple, Diocletian's Palace

Jupiter’s Temple, Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian's Palace Wall

Part of the wall in Diocletian’s Palace

Cathedral in the Diocletian's Palace

In the middle ages, the Cathedral was built around Diocletian’s mausoleum which is an interesting twist of fate since he persecuted Christians at an alarming rate.

Klapa Cambi Singers

Klapa Cambi singers ~ we came across this group of a cappella singers while on our tour. The sound and setting was spectacular!

An Archway in Diocletian's Palace

An Archway in Diocletian’s Palace

Looking out to the Adriatic sea from within the palace.

Looking out to the Adriatic sea and harbor area from the palace.

Along the promenade at sunset ~ located just outside of the Palace walls.

Along the promenade at sunset ~ located just outside of the Palace walls.

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Being from Hawaii, I don’t worry much about natural disasters. Whether it be earthquakes, tsunamis, lava flows or the every few decades hurricane. Lately, it seems every time I call my brother or cousin who live on the Big Island (Hawaii), it’s to ask them about a natural disaster. Last month there were two hurricanes heading their way and now it’s a change in the lava flow which is heading directly for the area of Puna (specifically the town of Pahoa) where my brother’s family lives. Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983 so the islanders will no doubt take it in stride and know everything will work out as it should.

Volcano Lava Flow river
Lava River

Caution sign at the Volcanoes National Park
Not for the faint of heart or health

Volcano Lava flow 1994
Lava Flow

Overlapping lava flows
Overlapping Lava flows

Crater at Kilauea
Lava Crater

Lava reaching the ocean
Lava Reaching the Ocean

Lava walking
Walking on the Lava

Offerings for Pele
Offerings to the goddess of fire, Pele

Beautiful drive coming from Kalapna area
Beautiful drive in the Pahoa area ~ hope it’s not affected by the current lava flow

Rock at Puako
Puako Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Another gorgeous sunset at the Mauna Kea
Another gorgeous sunset at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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Guam: Fadian Cove

Fadian Cove
Fadian Cove, Guam

Ague Cove
Ague Cove, Guam

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