As I attempt to tell about our adventures on the big island, Hawaii, it is becoming very clear to me that really capturing the adventure is quite impossible. But I also realize, as I go through the photos, that I am so glad we took so many pictures and wrote down a rough outline of what we did. It is fun, even just a few months later, to look back on this wonderful trip and reminisce.
We arrived late at night on the Island of Hawaii. Not only were we scheduled to leave late afternoon, but our plane was delayed which made us even later. The airport on Hawaii was so unique. It was almost entirely open air, something we had never seen before and so cool. It definitely made you feel like you were on vacation!!
We checked into our condo and grabbed a quick bite to eat at McDonalds because we were hungry and it was so late. That may not sound like a very exciting place to eat, but we discovered something about Hawaiian McDonalds that we did not know. Instead of just the regular apple and cherry pie desserts they have on the mainland, they had coconut cream pies. I hadn't had a McDonalds pie in years, but we were intrigued and decided to try one. Let's just say we bought another. DELICIOUS!!!
When we awoke the next morning, this was the view that greeted us!!
Not too shabby, huh?!
The island of Hawaii is such a diverse place. We knew that ahead of time, but seeing the landscape with our own eyes really brought it home. It's also a much bigger island than the others we saw beforehand. I wanted to include a map to refer to for our travels.
We flew into Kona on the west side of the island and stayed there as well.
We decided, the first day, to drive up around the top part of the island and then come back on a recently improved road that cuts through the center of the island, Saddle Road. It was a very long day, but we saw some amazing sites,
Heading up the road along the western shore...you can see the lava flow that goes all the way to the ocean in some places
Just where the road turned toward the east side of the island, we were able to visit a fun little macadamia nut factory. They had every conceivable flavor of nut there (free samples). Lets just say we may have eaten a few two many and we definitely bought some!!
As we traveled on the road across the top of the island, we went from lava flows to barren landscape. It reminded me of some of the desert hill country in Utah and Idaho.
Then, about a 20 minute drive away we saw this view that rivaled the Nepali coast. It was remarkable how quickly the landscape changed.
A stand of eucalyptus trees near the northeastern shore
In Honoka'a we stopped at Tex Drive-in for their famous malasadas.
These are Portuguese filled donuts to die for!!! Soooo good!!
One of our guide books had suggested taking a little side trip to visit these two waterfalls.
They were breathtaking, and the little hike we took to get to theme was amazing.
Worthy of a selfie, I think
Some vast bamboo stands
A huge banyan tree
Almost to Akaka Falls
Another huge banyan tree
Another photo heading down the trail
You can't see how far down this waterfall goes in this photo, but it was crazy deep!
Some bananas along the trail
And some very lovely flowers
We traveled to the city of Hilo on the east side of the island. We didn't spend a ton of time there because there was not a lot of daylight left, but we were able to see the beautiful Rainbow Falls.
Such a beautiful and powerful waterfall
A side shot....can you see the people sitting out on those rocks next to the falls?
The stairs to get up to the upper viewing point were pretty cool.
Pe'e-Pe'e Falls in Hilo
OK....another selfie before heading back to Kona
Just a gorgeous view near Pe'e-pe'e
Heading back across the island center, we again encountered the lava rock. Here, you can see small plants growing amongst the rock.
As the sun went down and the volcanic mist called vog began to creep over us, the scene became very surreal and spooky.
A shot of the sun disappearing
Combined with the steep grade as we approached the west side of the island, I was very glad that Steve was driving. I kind of freaked out and was sure that we were going to crash. Thankfully, there was a car not far in front of us whose taillights helped us see where we were going. Not gonna lie. I was pretty scared. But soon, we got beyond the vog and started seeing lights indicating that civilization was approaching. I was very glad to get back to our resort.
One of the things we were most looking forward to on the Big Island was snorkeling. The site we had read about that sounded to best was a place called Captain Cook. It is the site where the explorer was killed but the native people after a misunderstanding. Some of the reports on the place said that it could be difficult to access. So we decided to book a tour on a covered raft that took us not only to Captain Cook but also to Two Steps which we had also heard good things about and another stop also another spot we weren't familiar with. We had a wonderful time. Each place had something different that we liked. I think we actually saw more interesting fish at Two Steps than at Captain Cook, but both were wonderful!! We had so much fun.
Jill on the boat
Two Steps - This snorkeling area is adjacent to The Place Of Refuge. We visited the site later in our trip. The water was amazingly clear and there were so many different depths to explore. I think these were the most colorful of all the fish we saw in Hawaii.
Captain Cook Monument - Dedicated to the explorer and discoverer of the Hawaiian Islands. We did not go ashore but rather, hopped into the water and saw some gorgeous fish. As we got close to the shore, we saw a ton of spinner dolphins. They were amazing to watch from the boat. Wish we could have gotten a photo of them. They are small but jump out of the water and spin. Heading back to the dock at the end of our tour, we also happened to see several bottle nose dolphins. They are huge!! Our guide said that the sighting was extremely rare. The day we snorkeled was our anniversary. 33 years. We ended the day at a great little restaurant called Jackie Rey's just up from where we were staying. What a fun way to cap off a beautiful day!
The next day was Sunday and we attended the church up by the temple. Such an interesting and beautiful building. The chapel had huge windows along both sides. After church we headed out to see the south side of the island and Volcano National Park. We knew that the time to see the lava was after nightfall so we figured starting out a little late wouldn't hurt us too much. Her is some of the scenery along the way down.
Steve in a lava flow
Me with the black sands beach in the background
Very black sand
Some hardened lava still showing the flow lines
Steve looking out over the vast lava flows and our rental car
Even amongst the devastation of a lava flow, nature finds a way to create beauty
One of the many craters along crater row
A nice couple took this one of us in front of a crater.
This was a cool crater into which a later flow came
A sign telling of an eruption in 1959 of Kilauea Iki
The floor of Kilauea Iki - the path going across it can be hiked.
We didn't have time to make the trip down and hike it, but Steve hurried down so that he could at least see the bottom of the crater. I opted out because I knew I would slow him down.
A closeup of the crater floor
My view from above
Steve and I were able to hike through a lava tube. These tubes were formed when hot lava flowed through and the outer edges cooled against the surrounding earth forming a tube where the lava had come through. Pretty cool.....well, now.
Steve at the crater floor
Interesting where the flow meets the vegetation
Looking toward the opening in the crater from the far edge
And a more detailed view
Some of the interesting, red flower bearing bushes that grow amidst the lava
Steve, during daylight hours, with Kilauea steaming in the background.
The active opening in the caldera is one of the few places you can see evidence of lava flowing in the park. There are other places, but not accessible to visitors.
Steve at the steam vents.....this reminded me a little of Yellowstone Park
Steam rising off in the distance
Looking toward Mauna Loa from Kilauea near sunset
These next photos were taken from the visitor center viewing area. You can see the wide caldera with the smaller active vent where the lava is active. As it got darker, it's red hot glow became brighter and brighter. It was so fun to watch that we didn't want to leave.
Early on in our volcano viewing
Getting darker and more exciting
Tons of visitors sharing in our excitement
Every once in a while there was a big splash of lava that could be seen above the rim of the vent.
I just happen to catch this one.
So much fun
Darker and darker= brighter and brighter
Another amazing view...
....and one more. We loved the volcanoes!!
The drive back across the island after dark was a little intimidating, but it was well worth it!
Monday was our last full day in Hawaii. We ventured down the coast, bought some more macadamia nuts, and headed to The Place of Refuge. This is the ancient site near where we had snorkeled at Two Steps. Near the entrance to the site you can see the swimmers and snorkelers in the water.
The black volcanic stone is very prevalent here and the whole coastline is built up like a wide wall along the water.
Here's Steve on the black lava rock going out toward the ocean
The Place of Refuge is the site where any person could come if he was running from the law, had broken a law, or was in trouble with someone for wronging them in some way. Even if you were in trouble with the king, if you could make it to this place, your wrongs were forgiven and you could not be harmed. Interesting. This photo shows the width of the walls of the city.
One of the reconstructed buildings at the site
And another view of the volcanic rock forming a wall and also the ground.
That night, we tried another cool thing. Night swimming with manta rays. It was pretty fun, though we only got to see a couple of rays. Definitely a once in a lifetime activity.
We were able to spend Tuesday morning attending an endowment session in the Kona Temple. It was the perfect ending to an amazing time in an unbelievable place. We had brunch at a fun little beach cafe we had found earlier in our time there called Island Lava Java. It didn't disappoint. Then we flew from Kona back to Oahu and then on to Atlanta and then home. SUPER LONG FLIGHTS!! But, when you live on the east coast, there isn't really any way around that.
It was an amazing adventure. So thankful we got to go!!