Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hawaii- Big Island

We arrived on  The Big Island at Kona at about 8:15.p.m.. It was very dark. The Vog (volcanic smog) blacked out the sky. I was halfway through the airport before I realized it was open air- no roof.
We picked up our rental car and drove to our resort. Carmen misled us so we arrived at 10:02. Check-in closed at 10:00 so we had to find security to let us in our condo apartment- 2BR 2Bath, full kitchen, very nice.
As our condo was on a golf course that is where we did our walk/run early- well before the first tee time.

We then drove to a nearby supermarket to stock up.
We then drove to the beaches. We stopped at Hapuna stayed at Puako- less famous but we liked the shade the large trees near the shore provided. We read, snorkeled and ate our picnic lunch.

Upon leaving we drove to view some more remote beaches which appeared to be recent recipients of lava flows.

Back to the room, cleanup and then a drive to Kapua. We took the route through the center of the island for a different perspective.
Alii Drive in Kapua is the touristy strreet on the island. We first paid a steep price for parking then walked along the street. We chose Indian for dinner. I had lamb Korma- very good, Teresa had a differnet lamb dish. The garlic cilantro Naan was excellent.
After additional walking Teresa found gelato, I ate gelato- authentic!

We took the coast road back to the room.
In the morning we again hit the links for a walk/run, then to the fitness center for me; Teresa did yoga in the room due to lack of suitable equipment in the gym.
We drove to see some other beaches but ended up back at Puako.
At 4:20 p.m. we were picked up at our condo by a tour that took us to Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in the pacific. We were taken up to the summit  that is home to the most sophisticated observatories in the world. We saw the sunset from there.

 After that we were driven down a little for star-gazing, and that was impressive. The tour provided telescopes from which we observed the crescent moon, Jupiter and four of its moons, Saturn (obliquely), and two glomular star clusters.  The real show was the multitude of visible stars. Our guide had a laser pointer with which he pointed out various stars constellations, our angle to the Milky Way,  and passing satellites, including the Hubble telescope which was passing by just as it turned dark. We also saw the Southern Cross which I did not dream possible from this latitude.

In the morning our walk/run through the golf course ran into a flock of turkeys which were still hanging around late in the afternoon.

We drove south and visited the state parks, the most interesting  was the last, which was an ancient sacred place that provided sanctuary  for those accused of crimes and warriors fleeing battle.

We then went snorkeling at Two-Step Beach, so named  because the rock (lava)  formation naturally provided a flat two-tiered dive platform to enter the water for snorkeling.

In the morning we did the back nine for our walk/run. We read that the beach at Mauna Kea Resort was the best on the island. We also read resorts must provide public access to their beaches. There is a space limitation based on parking spots so going early helps. We arrived at about 8:20 a.m, there were about 10 spaces available. We camped under a canopy of three huge trees. The hype was not overstated. The beach was beautiful, reminiscent   of Lindos Beach on Rhodes. We walked, snorkeled, read, ate our picnic  lunch and I napped.

After cleaning up  we drove north to a scenic point to see the cliffs. We also walked down and climbed up from the beach.

We stopped in Hawi on the way back and ate in a Mexican restaurant; I had a shrimp burrito, Teresa had a chicken chimichanga.
The next morning was travelling day. We sidetracked to Waipo valley where we were quite lucky to catch the 9:00 a.m. tour. The steep descent took us to the valley floor which had been hit by a devastating  tsunami many years ago. At the floor, with no utilities, they engaged in farming. Wild  horses roamed free. It also had the highest waterfall in the US.

After that we headed to Akaka Falls and took that walk. One more stop along the way for a hike on a nature trail.

On to Hilo. We stayed at Maureen's B & B which was somewhat spartan but comfortable and convenient. The beach was across the street where we ended up doing some snorkeling and reading.
For dinner we went to Hilo's iconic diner, Ken's House of Pancakes. I had a bacon cheeseburger; Teresa had stir fry. No room for dessert.
In the morning we drove to Rainbow Falls where we waited a few minutes for the sun to come out from behind some clouds so we could see the rainbow in the mist.

Next to Boiling Pots and PeePee Falls (Pee Pee means "hiding" in this context)
We then went to a zoo which was small but had some interesting creatures.

We then drove downtown where we strolled, than ate lunch at Pineapples. I had fish and chips; Teresa had an avocado spinach salad.
Next to the airport for our helicopter ride.  It turned out to be a great experience. Our pilot gave a running commentary to our headsets and we had microphones to talk back and ask questions. He took us first to the area where the lava was turning the sea  into more land. We then flew to the site that was oozing out the lava where you could follow the lava trail.

He also flew us to see some waterfalls from above but I was waterfalled out at that point.
We drove back to our B & B and put in some beach time.
For dinner we drove toward the volcanic activity and ate at Kelio's, which was within  two miles of the flow and the closest tourists could get to it. We ate out on the porch by the glow of the lava. I had chicken parmesan; Teresa had chicken curry.

The next morning after breakfast we headed to the airport. Hilo airport is easy. We left the B & B at 7:30. By 8:00 we had driven to the airport, returned our rental car, obtained our boarding passes, checked our bags, cleared security and were relaxing in the very comfortable common area lounge.

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