Exploring the North Side of the Big Island

Waking up at 9 AM after a long day at the Volcano National Park yesterday was refreshing. I don’t like to waste precious vacation time sleeping but sometimes we need a good rest so we can recharge again! It was too late for breakfast so we decided an early lunch at 10 AM at Da Poke Shack! Ever since we had pokes at Suisan Fish Market, we were craving for delicious poke and had high expectation of the Da Poke Shack based on ratings on Yelp. Here we go!!! Da Poke Shack was hidden inside the parking lot of an apartment complex so pay attention to the sign!

There are two picnic tables outside to enjoy the poke.

They just opened at 10 AM and when we walked in, we saw two guys cutting out fresh fish to make poke, that is how fresh their pokes are – never frozen!

So many choices of pokes!!!

And so many choices of sides!

Their poke bowl (rice + 2 choice of pokes, and 1 side) is more expensive than Suisan’s – $11.99 vs $7.99. Here’s what we ordered for a total of $23.98:

The left bowl were Dynamite and Shack Special and the right bowl were Pele’s Kiss and Wet Hawaiian. All were delicious but our favorite was the Shack Special – it was sweet kind and not too oily. I preferred Suisan because I like their spicy poke, their portion is huge, and inexpensive. Da Poke Shack has more choices but their scope is smaller and more expensive. Either one, you can’t go wrong! Me eating at the outside of Da Poke Shack 🙂

We were full and start our mini road trip to explore the North Side! We drove all the way to Pololu Valley Lookout (a little more than 1 hour drive). In the past two days, we went to the East side to Hilo and then South side to Volcano National Park, now North side – its landscape completely different! It was so green!

We arrived at Pololu Valley Lookout, there was a very small parking lot at the end of the road but it was packed when we got there. We waited at least 10 min for a spot, should’ve park on the side of the street like others.

I like the view of Pololu Valley Lookout than Waipio Valley Lookout.

There were people getting ready to hike down……we weren’t that adventurous! We passed by some 4×4 safari jeep with tourists on the back as well. Time to drive back and then visit the beaches on the famous Kohala Coast! Ahhh don’t forget to pike up a This Week – Big Island magazine, on the back, there is a nice map! We basically followed and tried to visit each listed beach on the map!

First beach on the way back from Hiwi was Kapaa Beach Park. The road driving down to the park:

Please do not use the restroom here, hubby said it was disgusting!!! The park has limited facilities beside some picnic tables and it’s not even sandy beach.

Waves were pretty strong and another couple there said they spotted a whale and we waited but it never surface 😦

We took few shots and left, driving back up to the main road, we pulled over….I just really like those trees! And to get the perfect angle sometimes it takes some effort 🙂

Here’s the result:

Does this look like a volcanic island to you?

Next stop: Mahukona Beach Park

It was pretty small and rocky beach but few locals were there!

There is a railway company building there, is that a museum?

Third, we visited Spencer Beach Park – a much bigger park with more facilities and more locals. There were even tents there for campers!

We spotted a huge tree trunk! It made such a good prop for photo haha!

It was late in the afternoon around 3-4 pm and since the beaches on the Kohala Coast are on the west side of the island, the sun direction made the color of the water to be darker – not the turquoise colored that I would like to picture 😦 Best to visit during the morning!

With that said, we decided to continue our beach tour tomorrow. On the way back, we stopped at a supermarket and bought some drinks and hubby bought a pound of marinated cooked squid or octopus for his late-night snack. I didn’t try it but he said it’ll be great if he can grill it! It got cloudy as we head back and saw the sun trying hard to peek out!

Since no more blue sky, we stopped at Kailua-Kona for some souvenir shopping – ABC store to get more dried fruits! I also bought a inflatable float for French Polynesia. Then, we walked around the town and visited more shops. The flowers on the wall really caught my eyes!

Historic Hulihee Palace across from the street:

I was thirsty and best timing to try out the famous Kona Coffee! I am not a coffee addict but wanted to try it out. I ordered the iced latte, it was absolutely refreshing, not too sweet and not too heavy!

We checked out the shops along that street but we didn’t find anything interesting for us to bring home.

But the purple flowers are so cute!

We walked back and passed by Hulihee Palace again!

After the walk, it was time for dinner haha, we went to Phuket Monkey Thai Restaurant. I love Thai food and there are so much Thai restaurants on the Big Island! Phuket Monkey is located in a shopping plaza which made parking convenient!

Inside looked like a fast food place…

They do not have a restroom in the restaurant, you need a key to access the restrooms located in the plaza, few steps out of the restaurant.

We ordered a seafood tom-yum soup….oh yea one thing I found different on the Big Island is the Thai restaurants have “soup” as an entree with no noodle or rice. I found it hard to be a meal! I ordered the pad kee mao (yes again) to share with hubby’s soup. The soup is around $20 but at least it’s huge:

My pad kee mao doesn’t taste like pad kee mao 😦

and roti (soft chewy Indian bread), the bread was the best of the dishes we ordered! It would be perfect if we ordered a curry dish to dip with the curry sauce!

We managed to finish the big bowl of soup haha, the tiny abalone shells, never seen so small before!

Of the 4 Thai places we tried so far: Lemongrass Bistro, Thai Thai (Volcano), TK Noodle, and Phuket Monkey, this is average. Total for our dinner plus tips: $44.

After dinner, we made a stop at the supermarket in the near-by plaza and bought a box of my favorite Hawaiian sweet pineapples as dessert for tonight 🙂 It was $9.99 and almost 3 lbs? Our late night snack – my pineapples and hubby’s marinated squid that he wished he has a grill!

We didn’t do much today as compared to the previous full-itinerary days but we enjoyed the slow-pace as well. Tomorrow will be more beaches, praying for good weather!

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