We left Honolulu to head to Hilo which is located on The Big Island. That’s where Annie & Teacher Gerald live and they were kind enough for us to come to stay with them for almost three weeks. The flight was right under an hour and we arrived at dark so not much to see till the next day…
The next day we just hung out and for dinner, we went to downtown Hilo to have Mexican. The umbrella trees are so huge and absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t miss this great photo opt with the umbrella tree in the background. The drinks and the company were awesome that night!
On Sunday we went to one of the littlest church’s we have visited in our travels. We were greeted by the members and John & I both got a lei and during mass a nice aloha from everyone. We felt very special.
After church we went back and got Gerald & Annie to check out the black sand beach and a drive around the Island…the weather was beautiful and we were ready to do some exploring. Gerald has lived in Hawaii on/ off for years. So he was an excellent tour guy. Our first stop would be the black sand beach…
Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the Big Island. The area is amazing with its coconut palms and if you hang around long enough you probably will spot some large honu ( Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles), basking on the beach. You may be tempted to get some black sand to take home but don’t do it! It is against the law. The black sand is made of basalt ( formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium-rich lava ) and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. This volcanic activity is in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. You can also see Hawksbill basting in the sun as well and they are one of Hawaii endangered sea turtles too. The swimming area is very rocky ( we actually did not go in the water ) and can be a little challenge to swim in but I will say there were lots of people in the water. The beach also has a large amount of underground fresh water that flows in it. The freshwater is very cold ( we can attest to that we stuck our feet in ) and looks almost like gasoline mixing with water. Legend has it that in the time of drought, the ancient Hawaiians living in the area would dive underwater with a jug to get their freshwater. In Hawaiian language puna lu,’u means spring ( water ) diver for. How cool is that?
It was a beautiful drive up to the bakery and back to Gerald house the scenery along the way with glimpses of the ocean are amazing. The countryside is green and beautiful and Johnny felt like it was just like what you may see in Ireland as well.
The next day we went to downtown Hilo to check out a park that John had thought he had visited before. Come to find out it was not the same place but we enjoyed the park just the same. We also came across a beautiful Saffron Finch…The gardens are 24 acres that have Eco-style Japanese Gardens built between 1917-1919 and are said to be the largest such gardens outside of Japan. The Saffron Finch is native to South America, it is believed that the Finch was first introduced to Hawaii in the ’60s and has been comfortably at home ever since.
Johnny helping out on the weed whacking at Gerald & Annie’s house. They went shopping so he did some weed whacking to help Annie out. That all she has been doing since we arrived. 😂😂 Come to find out Gerald has some health issues and was unable to do much while we were visiting. Probably not the best time to have company for them but like I said they were both such great host/hostess we are blessed!
The next day we got up early and headed out to Kona. It was a two-hour drive to the other side of the island. Hilo is considered the rainforest part of the island where it rains an average of 200 days a year. The foliage in Hilo is luscious, green and huge with black sand for beaches amazingly blue waters where on Kona you have brown sand and be a landscape with blue waters as well. The drive would take us through the middle of the island where we would see the many signs of the once erupting volcano from the black lava and ugly landscaping that is left in the aftermath. Once we got to Kona the scenery changed a lot.
Our next stop would be where we were going to the Luau…we wanted to check it out before Mel & Bill arrived to make sure this was a good choice. It is an amazing resort. We toured the resort and as you see from the pictures the resort was amazing. We could not wait to come back in a few weeks for the Luau…after that we went to drive by the condo where we would stay the night of the condo. It was not a good choice ( we ended up being able to cancel – thank god ) then we drive down by the water to have lunch. Even though our choice of restaurants was disappointing we still enjoyed our view and the few hours we spent in Kona was fun with some good shopping.
Time to head back to Hilo. This time we drove up the coast instead of driving back through the center of the Island. So much to see such little time to do it in…
The next day we decided to go check out the area beaches in Hilo…not realizing that all the beaches on the Hilo side actually had black sand. Our first stop would be Richardson Beach and it was a pretty cool spot. In one area of the beach, there was actually some pools of water that looked like a lagoon…we walked through the water ( a bit chilly ) but beautiful blue water. On the other side, we spotted some sea turtles and some gals doing a test on them to see how they are doing. I guess it was a study for one of there college classes. Pretty cool none the less. The ocean here is spring-fed by freshwater that also forms many ponds ( lagoons ) at the beach and nearby. The spring water is cold, with ocean water being warmer makes for a great day in the water as it is shallow and almost current -free. A good place to snorkel as well …
After our beach visit, we headed to a different part of Hilo to check out Rainbow Falls. This was a very cool place to visit. Waterfalls were definitely on our bucket list seeing a rainbow made it just that much cooler. The falls cascade over a lava cave which according to the legend is home to ancient goddess Hina, the goddess of the moon. The waterfall itself is a mere 80 ft high and the Hawaii name is Waianuenue…in the Hawaiian language, the falls are called “rainbow [seen in]water”
Next on our list would be Volcano National Park. We headed out early one morning to check it out and for me to get my stamp in my passbook for National Parks. We got lucky enough to catch a ranger going on a hike to the summit. The park encompasses two summits of the most active volcanos in the world- Kīlauea and Mauna Loa…in 2018 Kīlauea erupted. From May through August, large lava flows covered land and destroyed 700 homes in the nearby residential area..at the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes, and a massive collapse of Kīlauea caldera. Along the hike, we learned about the oldest lodge that they have in the Park, one of the huts that the Polynesian use to live in and a view of the summit where it collapsed. After our hike, the ranger played a nose flute…it was a common courting instrument also known as ’one hano ihu. Very interesting and unique experience watching someone using there nose to play the flute. Who knew 🤷♀️
Our next trip back to the park would be with Teacher Gerald & ( Annie ) as our guide so it was much more exciting hike. We drove through the military base first and parked the car to head to the summit.
After the hike, we took crater road all the way to the end to visit the sea arches. What an amazing drive that was all the way to the ocean. It the Holei Sea Arch they are about 90 ft high and have been around only in the last 100 years. This beautiful formation has a limited life span. The sea arch will eventually crumble and will no longer be a feature of the Park… However, another will replace it as the cliff slowly migrates inland.
In just a few days our friends Melissa and Bill will arrive and we will have another 8 days to explore the more of Hilo and Kona with them. This will be there first time visiting Hawaii as well ( mine too ) but not Johnnys. So I am going to leave you here, for now, the last part of the journey will be next….stay tuned ✌️