My ‘ohana in Hawai’i

In Polynesian culture, the concept of family includes many non-blood related aunties and uncles who all contribute to the upbringing of the children. In Hawaii this wider term for family is called ‘ohana (the ‘ is a punctuation mark indicating a pause, it’s usually used in the middle of words such as Hawai’i). Well I’ve found my ‘ohana here, in Kailua-Kona, Big Island.

Now you see why it’s known as The Big Island. Yup, it’s the biggest. Actually, it’s officially called Hawaii, the same name as the whole island chain of Hawaii. Confused?

The house is made up of the beautiful Liz who scuba-dives with manta rays for a living and taught me to hula hoop in her front drive, Cathy Liz’s mum who wears only white and is eternally positive about everyone, Tyler the master chef with his broken arm and enormous heart, his brother Cory with his wild waist-long blonde hair and killer abs, and the boys’ mother Julie, a hippy at heart who looks after us all and takes me to art fairs.

I’ve been here a week and every day they’ve taken me on adventures I couldn’t have possibly found on my own. Here’s me hula hooping at the house:

I was watching the ocean as I hula-hooped.

A couple of Fridays ago on Coyote, a boat in the Waikiki sailing regatta:

Alec who I met once before: “Hi Cory? There’s this cute English girl coming to Big Island, can she stay with you?”….. to me: “He says you can stay…”


My first glimpse of Cory is from fairly far off down the airport road. With his bare chest, amazing hair and most of all, his 70s military Jeep with no windshield, he’s pretty easy to spot. He picks me up and deposits me at their gorgeous house where I meet the gang plus Joao who’s flying back to Oahu that night. But not before he takes me to the most beautiful beach, a slither of white surrounded by hectares of churned black lava flow.

Kua Bay is OK! We swam out to a big rock, climbed it and jumped off, then back stroked back to the beach.

That evening is Mothers Day and we have a big meal with some of the guys’ friends from where they come from – Colorado.


I hung out at the house, started a painting for these guys and then went snorkelling with manta rays at night. Manta rays are up to 12 feet across and feed on plankton. The snorkelers float on the surface of the water pointing torches down. Scuba divers sit below on the seabed directing torchlight up. The light attracts plankton and the manta rays open up their huge mouths, swirling and diving between the lights to filter through as much of their microscopic dinner as possible. The grace and elegance of these creatures is something to behold. Have a look here: Manta Ray Ballet


Sorry, but nothing really happened.


The Cory Hike. After picking up Lucas, we deposited the Jeep at the trailhead to the Captain Cook Monument and trundled down the two mile trail to the coast. We then struck out right, walking over swirling lava flows of black with white arcs of stranded storm beaches striping our path. Bleached out Kiawe (kee-ar-vay) trees twisted out from rock cracks like white fire and the aqua sea pounded the caves and crevices to our left. The highlight was reaching The Grotto – a massive collapsed roof sea cave with a lava tube inside it. We tied our essentials inside a series of air filled bin liners and swam across, climbed the rock face to reach the lava tube and hiked 400m inside it. Lowlight was Cory’s interesting cliff jump which after a momentary lapse of concentration once in the sea, resulted in a heavily bleeding head. But he was fine, just a black eye for the next few days. The Cory Hike also involved rolling down the hills of an exclusive golf course and hitchhiking back to the Jeep.

Down near the monument

And at the end of the tunnel lay:

Gorgeous bleached wood

Our path along the lava field was dramatic.

Cory doesn’t do fear.

See the dark space on the right of The Grotto? That’s the entrance to the lava tube. Quite a hairy scramble up to it. And of course, the swim to it in the first place.

Not just the preserve of festival fun, you can roll down hills any time.

And back to the Jeep via lifts from a couple of pick up trucks. Seven hours later. Good hike!

And back to the Jeep, isn’t she cute?!

That was a week ago, but I’ll be surprised if you’ve read to this far. I’m off to watch a Will Farrell movie.