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A Lighter Shade of Sand

Hapuna Beach Hawaii

If you’ve been following along on our trip around the Big Island of Hawaii you may have gotten the impression that all of its exotic beaches are exotically hued. We’ve written a lot about black sand beaches and even an incredibly rare green sand beach. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t regular old white sand beaches here as well.


In fact, Hapuna Beach (shown above) regularly appears on various international “Top Ten” lists. With wonderful sand and beautiful water there’s little wonder why it is one of the island’s most popular. That it’s convenient parking makes it far more accessible than those other beaches we’ve discussed doesn’t hurt either.




Limited Edition, Green Sand Beach

Papakolea Green Sand Beach Hawaii, Big Island

It is a long, hot, dusty walk. But considering that it leads to one of only four green sand beaches in the entire world, it’s tough to complain.

The others, we’re told, are Talofofo Beach in Guam, Cormorant in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet in Norway. Now that we know of them, they’re definitely on our “to-do” list. But having just visited Papakolea Beach on the southern shore of Hawaii’s Big Island, we’re happy to report we’ve now visited twenty-five percent of the globe’s green sand beaches.

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Hawaii’s Painted Church

St Benedict Painted Church, Kona, Hawaii

(click to enlarge)

Tucked deep within the jungles of Kona, Hawaii, this simple wooden chapel is hard to find and even easier to overlook. There is nothing about its exterior that commands attention, except maybe for the stunning views of Kealakekua Bay that are seen from just about everywhere in the area. To understand why travelers go out of their way to get here, you have to step inside.

Once you do, the reason the officially titled St. Benedict’s is more commonly known as “The Painted Church” becomes clear. Colorful murals, depicting both biblical scenes and architectural elements mimicking grander cathedrals, canvas the interior of this humble church from floor to ceiling.

St Benedict Painted Church Exterior, Kona, Hawaii

St Benedict’s Painted Church, Kona, Hawaii

It is said that the self-taught artist and priest John Berchmans painted the murals with ordinary house paint to help teach biblical stories to his illiterate congregation. Translated bibles and Hawaiian newspapers, however, predated Berchman’s arrival on the island by 70-odd years, indicating the paintings were done at least as much for their aesthetics as for their utility. And if beauty was reason enough for him to spend years painting it, it’s more than enough reason for us to go out of our way a bit to see it.

The argument I’m glad I lost

Black lava and green trees

Something Shannon neglected to mention in her awesome retelling of our Hawaiian lava trek is that we almost didn’t go. And had we not gone, I’d have been to blame.

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Kilauea Lava Flow at Night

Pele Puts Out

Hike to Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

It’s one of the most awe-inspiring sights I’ve ever seen: molten lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean. From our front-row seats near the edge of a cliff, we watched in wonder as Pele, the volcano goddess of the ancient Hawaiians, performed spectacularly.

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