Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hawaii: The Big Island

The Whole Collection of our Favorite Big Island Pictures and Videos Can Be Found By Clicking Here

Gary and I recently returned from spending ten days on the Big Island of Hawaii. We spent half of our time on the West side of the island based out of Kona in a condo overlooking the ocean.
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We spent the other half of our trip on the East side of the island where we stayed in the Harmony House, a bed and breakfast that overlooks a beautiful and happily noisy 120' waterfall. We kept the windows open and heard the sound of the waterfall, frogs and birds all night long in our dreams.
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On the Kona side we spent quite a bit of time in the water. We snorkeled at a few different locations and saw gorgeous fish, coral and giant sea turtles. We also went together on two day SCUBA dives and I went by myself (with a dive master) on an evening and night dive.
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The main feature of the night dive was Manta Rays. A 10' wide ray swam within inches of my head dozens of times while feeding on the tiny plankton that were attracted to our dive lights. It was amazing to have a creature that weighs over 1,000 pounds right over my head like that. I was deeply moved by the experience. In a couple of weeks I will have a video of that dive to share. I told Gary that Manta Rays are the gentle giants of the sea like Newfs are in the dog world. His response: "Unless you're a plankton!"
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Our other favorite stops on the Kona side were Puuhonua O'Honaunau National Historic Park, Kona Joe Coffee Factory, a hike down a cliff to the black sand beach of Polou Valley, and Honomalino Beach another black sand beach off the beaten path.

Polou Valley:




On the way to Hilo side we went to Kalopa State park and hiked a beautiful nature trail.
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We spent the next day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. One of our favorite things at the park was the Kipuka Puaulu (also known as Bird Park) trail. As we walked through the lush green forest we could hear Hawaiian song birds non-stop. It seems like an enchanted forest. Since the trail is off of the main park road we had the whole thing to ourselves which made it even more dreamlike.


Kilauea Iki Trail was our other favorite trail in the park. It starts off in a verdant rain forest and works its way to the crater's edge. After descending about 400' we reached the bottom of the crater. It felt like we had landed on another planet. The contrast between the moon like landscape of the crater floor and the lush rain forest above was startling. The crater had its own special beauty: warm steam vents, piles of lava rock, plants growing in precarious places, cracks that seemed to go down to the center of the earth and beautiful lava formations.
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That night we drove to the coast to see red hot lava flowing into the ocean...another amazing experience.
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On the Hilo side we also had the best snorkeling of our lives at the Waiopae Tide Pools. We saw the largest Green Sea Turtle ever, gorgeous coral and an amazing variety of fish. My all time favorite was the parrotfish which was dappled in pink, light blue, purple, green, orange and yellow. Our book described this place as otherworldly and that was a perfect description.

Parrot fish:


One day was mountain day. We drove up to 9,000 feet to the visitor's center on Mauna Kea. There we got to look at the sun through a special filtered telescope. We were lucky that we got to see a solar flare happening during our visit. We also did something few people do on this island. We drove up to over 11,000 feet on the sister mountain Mauna Loa. There isn't much up there besides a handful of scientists from around the world conducting atmospheric tests, but we enjoyed the view.
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The drive was on a one lane road that deteriorated more the higher we got on the mountain (see video). Thankfully we didn't run into any cars because there were very few places to pull over since both sides of the narrow road were surrounded by rough lava formations.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is also near Hilo. It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. It's sometimes called Eden by the Sea. It has a nice waterfall, beautiful coast line, parrots, a couple of streams and lots of beautiful plants like the ones pictured below

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Onomea Bay can be viewed from the gardens
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Bamboo Hugger
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Our Hawaiian Vacation ended on a sweet note as we were entertained by musicians and dancers at the airport.


When we got home we had a wonderful reunion with Katie and Louie. I think we both got a month's worth of kisses in the first five minutes that we were home. We all missed each other and are so happy to be back home together at the Happy Haus.
For More Hawaiian Fun Click On This Link

Aloha

3 comments:

Ellen Crane said...

wow... looks like you all had a fabulous time! Great pics, great fun! Thanks for sharing it.. we love it there too!

JackDaddy said...

Wow, fantastic pictures. Thanks for sharing your vacation!

Monica said...

Awesome! So pretty and vibrant!

Monica

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