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How I Unwind: Relaxing and Exploring the Big Island of Hawai’i

Karin Jacobson about me travel

Jewelry design doesn’t really have an “off season,” but just like most folks I am susceptible to the lazy, laid-back allure of summer vacations. Which means thiswanderlust’s heart demands travel! I am just back from a girls’ trip with my cousins, Jean and Kathy, on the the Big Island of Hawai’i and it was GLORIOUS. We spent loads of time catching up and relaxing against postcard-perfect backdrops, but also had some great adventures. Read on to find out what we saw, ate, and experienced!

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation beach fun with cousins
Our first day, we beat the heat while enjoying the view by tucking three people into a two person cabana ... very cozy! 

Relaxing by .... Exercising?

I know, I know, most people don’t work out while traveling. But since I sit at my bench most days designing and creating, I jump at any opportunity to move my body, even when I’m away from home. So my cousins and I did a lot of swimming and snorkeling—an unspoken requirement for any Hawai’i visit—at various beaches and marine reserves. We saw lots of sea turtles, both in the water and on shore, and they’re utterly adorable in person! By law, you must keep your distance from them, so although they were thrilling to see, we were very careful not to get too close. While snorkeling, we swam among hundreds of beautiful tropical fish which felt like moving among a living rainbow of sea creatures.

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation sea turtles
Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation marine reserve beach
I didn't have an underwater camera, so I didn't get pictures of the gorgeous fish, but I did snap some photos of the sea turtles when they came on shore!  The second couple of pics are from a marine reserve park where the snorkeling was fabulous.

We also took some yoga classes during the trip including my first stand-up paddleboard yoga. Quite the balance challenge, as you can imagine, though I’m proud to report I managed a headstand! It was a little hard to concentrate on the yoga because I was staring over the edge of my board into the crystal clear water at swarms of tropical fish … and hoping for another sea turtle sighting. (No turtles this time, but the fish were gorgeous.)

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation SUP yoga
Paddleboard yoga was super fun! Our instructor was taking photos and managed to capture my headstand ... which was lucky, because it lasted approximately one second!

History and Archaeology on the Big Island

Eager to explore as much as we could, we rented a car and visited beaches around the island for more swimming and snorkeling. We also visited a coffee farm—where they roasted their beans, so it smelled just as heavenly as you might imagine—and Lapakahi State Historical Park, which has an archaeological site that included an ancient Hawai’ian fishing village.

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation Lapakahi park and coffee farm
You can still see where the houses once stood in the ancient fishing village at Lapakahi State Park; coffee "cherries" still on the tree waiting to ripen and become Kona Coffee.

The areas near the active volcano were generally closed so we didn’t get to see any molten lava. Volcanoes National Park has been on my list of places I’d love to visit for years, so I guess I’ll just have to go back! But even though we couldn’t see lava in it’s red-and-runny state, we did get to crawl through a “lava tube,” a giant open cavern that’s created when a river of lava passes through an area. Plus the area around the airport and en route to our hotel on the west side of Hawai’i was almost all lava fields – it looked like Mars!

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation Lava tube
The lava tube was right on the side of the road, so we pulled over to have a look.  It was huge and looked like something on another planet.

Naturally, we ate as much as we could cram into our bellies, including poke (raw fish - like sushi, but in a bowl), kalua pork (a smoky slow cooked pork), and all of the fresh pineapple I could get! One of my favorite Hawai’ian treats is fresh, local pineapple dusted with a powder made from Li Hing Mui - a sweet and sour and pickled dried plum, originally introduced to Hawai’i by Chinese immigrants in the 1890s.  The taste is puckery and a little odd...but totally addictive.

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation Hawai'ian food
So much good food to enjoy!  Clockwise from top left: fresh coconut; kalua pork with rice and kimchi zucchini; calamansi (a lime-like citrus) ice cream; tropical cocktails; a (not so) well rounded breakfast featuring pineapple with li hing mui powder; and a poke bowl with rice and fresh tomato salad.

Design Inspiration in Paradise

This was another trip where I brought my sketchbooks along, but in the end, I mostly just relaxed and unplugged. My cousins had flown in from Houston and Santa Cruz, and I decided that it was much more important to spend quality time and catch up with my family. I snapped plenty of photos of the gorgeous surroundings, though, and wouldn’t be surprised if something I saw on the trip emerges in a future design.

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation
Okay, I didn't get any work done at all ... but I did take photos of a couple of 'vintage' pieces that my cousin Jean has collected over the years.  Everything looks good against a Hawai'ian backdrop!

Now I’m back home, feeling relaxed and refreshed…and just a little bit jet-lagged! As I dig back into designing, I’m excited to see if my Hawai’ian adventure will spark any new ideas.

Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design Hawai'i vacation flowers everywhere
There was beauty everywhere I turned.  Inspiration for a new piece?  Maybe!

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