We met up at Spencer's Beach Park, near Kawaihae on the other side of the island. The kids had chosen a perfect spot right under a huge shady tree. Believe me, shade is important on the hot dry side of the island! The main camping area was pretty crowded, but we were a little away from that, across the paved path and near the rarely-used tennis/basketball court.
A's new Giant Inflatable Rainbow Pegasus became our campsite's mascot. We pitched our tent next to their's and hit the beach. I dove right into the warm calm Pacific - and thus baptised, I was really feeling the beach camping groove.
Oh yeah, this beach has sand - lots of sand! - unlike our mostly rocky shoreline and pebbly lava beaches on the windward side of the Big Island. I love that feeling under my feet! Of course, it is prime sandcastle material, too. A and I also created some fantastical sand gardens as well.
Being on the west side of the island gave us a chance to see a spectacular sunset. No green flash, but the colors were stunning! We wondered if the lone sailboat would make it into the harbor as the light was fading and the waves were high. It did, eventually.
Night comes quickly in the tropics - not much in the way of twilight as the sun goes down in a more direct path and on the actual horizon. All was calm, the stars were bright, and we soon drifted off to sleep with the lull of ocean waves.
Then, about midnight, the winds started up. Mike and I had camped at Spencer's a couple times before so we knew about these nighttime downslope winds... however, we had completely forgotten how incredibly forceful they could be! There was a constant patter of leaves and twigs from our lovely huge tree overhead. The Giant Inflatable Rainbow Pegasus had to be deflated and stowed in the van. I must have missed that happening as I kept dreaming of it flying out to sea during my intermittent fits and starts of sleep. I was not the only one awake during this long tormented night; throughout the entire campground people were retrieving and securing loose items left outside and repounding tent stakes. At least our tents stayed up - there were a couple that completely collapsed with broken frames.
But oh, the feeling of an early morning dip in the ocean! The water was so calm after last night's extra-high tide plus storm swell waves that washed the entire beach clean and even splashed into the stone pavilion! Aches and tiredness from the long windy night were (mostly) washed away.
Later in the morning, we all hiked from Spencer's to Pu'uKuhola Heiau Historic Site and the shark bay below. No, we didn't go into the water there; it's full of black-tipped reef sharks! There is an ancient underwater heiau dedicated to the shark god in this bay, according to the informative signage along the trail. The shady grove of keawe trees offered much-appreciated shade, and thorns - ouch!
It was so hot and dry and brown in this entire area that we were really appreciative of our green and lush and wetter side of the island. There's no place like home. And there's nothing like a little time away to make one appreciate it all over again.