As colder weather invades the northern hemisphere, I’m drawn to thoughts of balmy beaches and caramel colored sunsets like the ones we relished on the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. Year-round the temperatures range from the 60’s at night to the 80’s during the day. Climate perfection! My disability and wheelchair are obstacles in travel situations, but thankfully with focused effort, they can usually be overcome. We’ve trekked across the Pacific several times for both business and pleasure. We were blessed with great situations that made the Hawaiian paradise an affordable excursion each time.
Transportation is an extra challenge with a heavy non-collapsible power wheelchair. When our plane arrives at most destinations, we wait for the chair to be brought to the gate, or I get off the plane and use an over-sized airline wheelchair while we wait for airport staffers to bring my chair. The airline’s ‘manual’ wheelchairs make my small frame feel like a floppy Raggedy Ann doll. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use the airline’s chair when we arrived in Kona. Other passengers disembarked via the stairs while I anxiously waited for a makeshift jet-way/lift-truck that raised my chair to the plane and lowered me to the tarmac. It was the first time I’d felt like merchandise in Home Depot. See the Orange and White on the lift-truck? Home Depot colors, too!
Our next challenge was a short wheelchair accessible ride to our condo on the Kohalo Coast. We splurged for the ramped van rental during our stay to make sight-seeing more convenient.
Pre-planning and research is definitely a must. There are merely a few rent-able wheelchair vans on the island!
We settled into the fully equipped timeshare unit that Brent’s sister and brother-in-law let us use…did I say blessed? Beaches are fabulous for relaxing, but we needed adventure.
We booked a wheelchair accessible snorkeling tour out of Kona. The boat had a ramp for my chair and extra men to help lift me in and out of the water for snorkeling.
I made a superb cart for snorkels, masks and fins, too. And in case you are wondering, no…I don’t use fins, and Brent shouldn’t need any with his size 15 feet!
The snorkeling excursion was a little choppy, but I managed not to suck water in through my snorkel and afterwards we enjoyed the cruise back to Kona together.
When we took a gander above us, we only saw the feet of fellow snorkelers on the upper deck. Darn. It was not accessible!
We employed a not so accessible mode of transportation in a helicopter.
Only the brute force of several men could get me in the ‘Madge-sized’ seat! ‘Blue Hawaiian Helicopter’ staff were exceptionally helpful and accommodating.
On our two hour tour we got a bird’s eye view of the lava fields. They were accessible by helicopter, but too dangerous for walking or four wheeling!
Hot lava flowing into the sea.
We headed up the coast toward the fertile Waipio Valley. Note the other helicopter in the distance for perspective of the valley’s enormity.
We marveled at the stunning waterfalls.
Hawaii is truly a paradise. Winter is a lovely time of year to visit not only for the perfect climate, but also for the peak whale watching. Whether you are walking or wheeling, Hawaii is a destination for a bucket list.
Waiting for warm weather,