Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

On the Lookout for adventure

Big island's fierce oceanside at its finest, rawest

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DURING our last few days on the island of Hawaii, we were being lazy and lounging about, drinking mai tais and soaking up the last bits of sun before heading back home to Vancouver, where vitamin D is scarce in the winter months. Our friends, whom we were travelling with but had to leave a few days earlier, encouraged us to get off our behinds and head north for a road trip to Pololu Valley Lookout.

We said goodbye to the resort-filled Kohala Coast and ventured inland to Waimea. The landscape changed quickly and dramatically, as we climbed from the barren black lava rock of the coast and entered lush green hills, with twisted trees leaning so far over horizontally, I was amazed to see their roots still firmly planted in the ground.

IF YOU GO

-- GETTING THERE: Take Route 250, the Kohala Mountain Road from Waimea to Hawi, which is approximately a 40-minute drive. From Hawi, turn right onto Highway 270 and continue to the end of the road at Pololu Valley Lookout, approximately a 10-minute drive.

-- EATING THERE: Sushi Rock (sushirockrestaurant.net) is in Hawi town in North Kohala.

-- PRECAUTIONS: Strong currents and rough surf, so use caution. Swimming not recommended. There are no bathrooms and no other facilities, so bring water with you. Trail is slippery and muddy when wet.

We stopped at a viewpoint overlooking the ocean and got out of the car to take photos. As the wind pushed us close to the edge of a cliff, our skin met the cold gust with goose bumps and we scrambled back into the car, hearts thumping.

Our drive continued through Waimea, with tranquil pastoral landscape, dotted with farms, ranches, horses and Angus cows, to Hawi, an old sugar town turned small artsy village in North Kohala. The main drag in Hawi is filled with galleries and cafés.

We stopped for lunch at Sushi Rock, a small restaurant with the slogan, Come Taste the Love. Sushi Rock uses local and organic ingredients and their rolls are giant taste explosions.

One of the more popular rolls we tried was the Bombay Sunset -- Ahi tuna, curry slaw, Fuji apple and seared tenderloin. My six-year-old gobbled up his brown rice teriyaki beef bowl in two minutes.

Bellies filled, we hopped back into the car and drove another 10 minutes to the Pololu Valley Lookout. We found parking along the side of the road and took in the view of tree-lined cliffs plunging into the ocean, waves crashing into the valley below.

The 20-minute descent into the valley is steep and good shoes are recommended, although my ever-resistant-to-proper-shoe-wearing son managed it in crocs.

The soft black sand is a welcome greeting after such rocky and rough terrain and a stream flows gently from the valley and feeds into the ocean. Large oval-shaped rocks line the beach, many piled on top of each other to form sculptures. We set to work, each creating our own artistic formations. Then we sat, air full of spray, and listened to the loud pounding of the waves.

This is Hawaii at its finest and rawest.

No white sandy beaches or gently swaying palm trees. Here, the ocean is fierce, the waves are powerful, the energy rough and untamed.

As I began my slow ascent back up, my son was already miles ahead of me, turning and peering down laughing, wondering why I was moving so slowly.

Sweating and gasping, I made it to the top, taking big gulps from a water bottle.

Then I sat back down in the car, rolled down the window, took a deep breath and felt more awake than I had the whole trip.

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 E4

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