Our flight is at 11:20-am on Hawaiian airlines which is celebrating 90 years of operation. Bernie is keen for home now. Martie is still enthusiastic to explore.
This next leg to Big Island was a later add on and we
haven’t researched it satisfactorily. Our arrival is on the wrong side of the
island and had we flown in on the other side to Kona, we could maximize our
time here. In Kona one can swim with the Giant Manta rays at night. These
gentle giants can weigh up to 3000 pounds and have wingspans of 25 feet.
We could also have flown directly to the mainland of the USA after our visit. From Hilo, however, we must fly back to Oahu, then to Seattle and then on to Washington. Not only a waste of time but a tedious and long-winded process at the end of our journey. Bernie is reaching for the chainsaw.
Hilo is wet. It is the second wettest town in the United
States after Ketchikan in the state of Alaska. It receives an average of 130
inches per year with some areas getting as much as 300 inches. It rains three out
of every four days.
We visit Rainbow Falls that drops 80 feet and plunges into
a lava cave below on the Wailuku River.
The surrounds are very pretty, lush and green and with the sun and clouds we are expecting a rainbow and we are not disappointed.
Next, we stop at the Boiling Pots upriver deciding if our
visit is worth the risk!
These are cavities within the lava flow of Mauna Loa
through which the river flows, creating turbulence and eddies. We visit both
these places in dry weather, however, in both instances we are drenched by
sudden downpours before arriving back at the car.
There are three route options to cross the island from
Hilo to Kona. Since we will be taking the Southern option from Kona to the
Volcano National Park tomorrow, we opt for the slightly shorter central route,
the Daniel K. Inouye Highway or Saddle Road, which will take us between the two
highest peaks on the island – Mauna Kea (13,796 feet) towards the north, and
Mauna Loa (13,679 feet) towards the south.
We interrupt our driving to walk a short stretch of the
Volcano trail mainly inspecting the koa trees and other flora and hoping to see
a bird or two. The air is loud with bird song, but they are evasive.
One can drive up Mauna Kea almost the entire way to the
summit in two hours…… from sea level to almost fourteen thousand feet. What
We would like to go as far as the astronomy centre. The
Onizuka Centre for international astronomy is about halfway up Mauna Kea.
Currently the centre is closed due to a difference of
opinion between science and culture. There are many ‘unhappy campers’, slogans
and placards and the Hawaiian flag, not the USA flag, on display at the
junction of the Mauna Kea Road which is closed and there is some police
presence. There is also a big sign saying please don’t take photographs without
asking permission! This pair of Nene were much more accommodating and posed
lovingly on the side of the road for us, their science and culture in perfect
This entire island is bizarre. Basically, you are on one huge volcano which is giving birth to more land and can do so at any time. The last eruption was in 2018. All the terrain advertises the frequency of eruptions. The Kona volcano erupts the most regularly which is every twenty years. Currently it is two years overdue. We take the rainbow as a sign that we won’t disappear in a cataclysmic eruption in the next day or two.
On this side of the island, Kailua-Kona, the drier side
of the island there is much more tourism infrastructure and we are also amidst
the coffee plantations. Here we sample our first Kona coffee. Heavenly. It is a
fine coffee. Very delicious. Easy on the palette, strong enough and smooth.
We also enjoy some retail therapy buying matching shirts
and dresses for the family. This had started at the ABC shops in Oahu, but we
couldn’t find all the required sizes and the correct match.
We continue along the Hawaii scenic byway stopping here
and there and also for a much-needed pint of local ale.
Our B&B is outside the small town of Captain Cook. We
are greeted by wild pigs, a donkey, a horse and jungle fowls. It reminds us of
the Bremen ‘travelling musicians’ statue. The road is quite a challenge.
We check in and almost immediately leave for dinner at the historic Manago hotel, a rustic hotel where we appear to be the only visitors among the locals. Crackling pork chops for Bernie and seared tuna for Martie.
Our waiter informs us that as a young lad his parents used to bring him here and his grandparents his parents before him. The hotel is the oldest hotel in Hawaii and was started in 1917.