April 7th-12th, 2004
Hawaii is composed of eight islands, the most familiar probably being Oahu, Maui, and Big Island. Big Island is the one we chose to visit on this trip. According to the map, it's about 93 miles long and 76 miles wide (4038 square miles). However, it seems much larger when you start driving because the road winds up, down, back and forth along the coastline. Of course, this offers grand views of the coastline, paths of old lava flow, and rain forests.
The island is even enchanting at night! I am so used to living in big cities, that the lack of lights at night almost took me by surprise. You could see all the stars twinkling in the sky and the moon beautiful as ever. For this reason, the Mauna Kea mountain on the island (13,796 ft above sea level) is host to an observatory for astronomical study.
A couple of other things I thought were intersting about the island...
Day One, Wednesday - - -
For once, my flight preparations did not involve any kind of tribulations. I arrived on time for my flight, which left the gate on time, and made my connecting flight. However, my sister did not get off so lucky!
My mom and I were flying together to Honolulu airport on Oahu. Then we were to meet up with my sister and her husband for the small flight from Honolulu to the Big Island. Arriving in Honolulu with time to spare, we headed straight for the ice cream counter! As my mom and I sampled each others' ice cream we kept a vigilant watch for my sister, but by the time last boarding was called they still hadn't arrived. I even tried her cell phone, only to receive the answering service.
On the ground in Kona airport on the Big Island, we still hadn't heard from my sister. I decided to call my brother to see if he knew anything. Sure enough, my sister called to tell him that her flight was delayed 4 hours due to mechanical problems. Oh well, my mom and I would have to entertain ourselves for awhile...
The drive from the Kona airport is almost like being on a foreign planet. There are black lava rocks for miles in all directions. Planted at the airport entrance, in stark contrast to the black rocks, are beautiful bright pink bouganvilla plants. Then you see the Hawaiian form of grafitti... pure white rocks used to spell names across the fields of black rocks.
The hotel was absolutely beautiful. The front desk was open to the waterfront,
along with the breakfast patio and bar lounge. Each evening, there was a
hawaiian singer and hula dancer entertaining in the bar area as the sun set over
Day Two, Thursday
After breakfast on the patio, we loaded up the car and headed north on the west
side of the island. Our first stop was at Lapakahi State Historical Park, which was
the sight of a 600 year old Hawaiian fishing village. There were markers showing
where the vegetables were grown, the houses stood, the stone alter to the fishing spirit,
and the water well. The landscape was so picturesque, it was easy to see why the
spot was chosen for settlement.
At the northern tip of the island, we turned off and hiked along the waterfront.
The dirt road we followed had huge mud puddles. A few of the puddles we had
trouble getting around. Then came the biggest puddle of all which was lightly
crusted on top. We got through it without too much trouble, but the return
trip was a different story. As my sister's husband found out, the mud was very
wet the second time around. I collected a few rocks and strategically placed
them along the way, but we came back with quite the muddy shoes!
Back in the car, we headed for the next little town.... and lunch!
I picked the grilled mahi-mahi fish with fresh fruit salsa on top.
It was an excellent meal, but the serving a little small for my appetite :)
after the morning hike. I think I inhaled the whole plate in 15 seconds flat!
Next stop was the Polulu Valley overlook at the northeastern tip of the island. There was a trail which led down to the waterfront, but we chose to stay at the top and view the beauty from above.
Day Three, Friday
Friday we decided to spend the day in the town/area of Kailua-Kona. We found breakfast at a cheap little buffet and spent the morning wondering around in the shops. After lunch we headed for the chocolate factory and came back with plenty of chocolate macadamia nut sweets. In the afternoon we relaxed poolside at the hotel sipping fruity drinks (I think that's required when you're in Hawaii)!
Day Four, Saturday
Saturday morning we set out early to make our way around to the west side
of the island. There's a lot to see on the west side of the island, including
waterfalls, the volcano park, and orchid fields. As we went up in elevation
on the northern side of the island, the drops of rain began to fall. First stop
was the town of Waimea for a quick breakfast. Diligently, we continued on in the
rain to the Akaka Falls State Park. There are actually two falls at this park,
but this is a picture of the 442 foot drop of the Akaka falls. As we pulled into
the park it was pouring down rain, but we (ok I) refused to leave without seeing
the falls! We patiently waited for the rain to subside because there was a
short walk to the falls. Perseverance pays off, I got a good rainbow picture
as the sun came out. However, be careful about lingering too long since the
rain is never too far off. It started raining pretty heavy as we made our way
back to the car, which was pretty funny because my sister and I were huddled underneath
one jacket as we dashed along.
On the far west side of the island lies Rainbow Falls on Wailuku River.
As we walked around the falls, the drizzle began to get a little heavy, so we
headed under the trees and came across this cool tree. Once the drizzle
cleared out I did get a few good shots of the waterfall and surrounding vegetation.
In the afternoon, we headed south along the highway to the Hawaii Volcanoes
National Park. Upon entering the park, there is a visitor information center
which tells about the history of the volcano, surrounding vegetation, and the
Nene bird which likes to live in the barren land. It is possible to hike around
the volcano park, but you can also drive to the various sites. The first stop
on the circular drive are the steam vents. As the drive continues, the growth
thins out and begins to resemble the moon.
The Halemaumau crater is so expansive it's hard to capture in a picture (1600 meters wide by 85 meters deep). The site of the most eruptions at the summit of Kilauea volcano, it was once filled with molten lava. In 1924 as the lava drained away, groundwater seeped into the volcano causing steam explosions. At that point the crater was 410 meters deep, but due to numerous subsequent explosions it filled in to the present day size. Although the volcanos are active, there weren't any viewable lava flows.
On the ride back to the hotel, we stopped off at the Panalu`u black sand beach...
It was quite windy and a little cool from the rain so we just took a few pictures. This area is also a protected habitat for green sea turtles, but we didn't see any.
Worn out from our day of sightseeing, we decided to hang out at the hotel bar and have a quick dinner at the hotel grill restaurant.
Day Five, Sunday
Easter Sunday was spent by the pool and swimming in the ocean.
It was a little overcast, but a great way to spend the last day
on the island!
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