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The Fourth Day ...
It's time to move to the west side of the island where the
most recent resorts have populated the area. It's a long drive
from Hilo to Kailua-Kona. We had an early start at 8AM and it
took us about 2 hours to get to the Honaunau Bay, our first stop
of the day.
- Pu'uhonua o Honaunau
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, also called Place of Refuge, was a
haven for the lawbreaker and war-vanquished. A massive
stone wall, built about 1550, separate the Royal grounds
from the pu'uhonua. The pu'uhonua was a sanctuary that
provided the people with a second chance. This place
became a national historical park in 1961 to maintain a
setting where many of the old Hawaiian ways carry on in
the modern world.
Due to the high tide conditions, only the royal grounds
portion was open and the Pu'uhonua beyond the Great Wall
was closed today. It's nice place to walk around and see
all ancient Hawaiian traditions after a couple of hours'
- Atlantis Submarine at Kailua-Kona
One of the main reasons we went to Kailua-Kona was this
submarine tour. It's a very different experience that
first we had to board a shuttle boat to go to the ocean
where the submarine was waiting, and we transferred from
the boat to the submarine across the deck, and then we
climbed down a ladder and entered the submarine. Atlantis
Submarine is a 48-passengers submarine with windows in
front of each passenger. We did not expect we can see so
many fish although they were so difficult to photograph.
We stayed at the depth around 60 to 70 feet most of the
time, and we went down to the ocean floor at 102 feet.
Iris was disappointed that we did not see any shark
(according to the guide, the chance to spot a shark is
roughly once a month). The diving time under the water
was about half an hour, and the total duration of the
tour (including all transportation) last about an hour.
- Luau at Royal Kona Resort
We walked around the Ali Drive along the coast, and then
checked in the Royal Kona Resort, where we will attend
the Luau performance and also stay for a night. We were
relaxed in the hotel room (it's too cold to swim) and
played a few card games which Linus and Iris has been
asking for many days already.
The Fifth Day ...
- Royal Kona Resort
The view from our room balcony was fantastic that I did
not have to go out to get any better pictures.
- Kona Coffee
Between 800 and 2000 feet, Kona is coffee country. Here
grows the only coffee commercially produced in the United
States, and Kona Coffee is widely considered the best in
the world. There are quite a few of coffee farms in the
Holualoa area, and we had no idea which one we should go.
The first coffee farm we saw on the road was Kona Blue
Sky Coffee Company, which provided free coffee tasting, a
7-min video about their coffee, and a free tour in their
backyard with a few sample plants.
- Kiholo Bay
From Highway 19, there is a narrow 4WD dirt road leading
to the coast of Kiholo Bay. Although it does not have
nice fine sand beach, it is a fabulous place to wander
around and it is much quieter than other popular beaches
that you can own the entire beach and don't need to share
with anyone else.
- Hapuna White Sand Beach
Hapuna Beach is one of the best and most famous white
sand beaches on the Big Island. In one of the tour books,
it says: "If you close your eyes and picture a
perfect beach, there's a good chance you'll see Hapuna
beach in your mind". It's half a mile long and 200
feet wide with fine white sand slopes gradually into the
ocean. Clear, clean and excellent water conditions make
it even more perfect. The only problem is that it was
really crowded although Linus and Iris did not mind at
all. They also rated Hapuna Beach as their number one
favorite beach on the Big Island.
- Sunset at Anaeho'omalu Bay
We had an early dinner at the shopping center at the
A-bay since both Linus and Iris were both exhausted after
a few hours on the beach. After dinner there was still
about 15 minutes to sunset, and we rushed to the A-Bay
beach just in time to get the sunset. Iris wanted to
follow me but she could not catch up with me because it
was late and I was running. She started to complain and
wanted to go to the restroom, so I had to let her go back
to find Linus and Mom on her own. It's when Iris lost her
way and a new story about palm tree monsters was born
The Sixth Day ...
- Rainbow Falls
||Rainbow Falls is very close to
Hilo downtown that it is one of the most popular
attractions around Hilo. You can tell its
popularity by checking its parking lots and
number of tour buses. It is in a nice forest
setting with a bridge overview the water falls.
However, the sun was still not completely out of
cloud and there was no sign of rainbows.
- Boiling Pots and Pe'epe'e Falls
A mile up the road is Boiling Pots and Peepee Falls
(don't laugh, it pronounces peh-eh peh-eh, not pee-pee!).
There is a short trail that leads down to the river and
rocks below the viewing area. The trail is narrow and
steep with high grasses all around. Linus gave it a
rating of level 4, but both Linus and Iris handled it
very well (so did I). We hiked around the rocks across
the river, and got a nice view of the Pe'epe'e Falls.
- Kaumana Cave
Since Linus did not like the Thurston Lava Tube in the
Volcanoes National Park because it was illuminated too
well, I chose Kaumana Cave to try out our flashlights.
Created by the Mauna Loa lava flow of 1881 that traveled
25 miles and threatened Hilo, this lava tube skylight is
saturated with green. The entrance of the cave is via a
steep staircase and leads to a total darkness. Iris was
already scared when we just stepped down the stairs.
After walked into the cave for about a hundred feet, we
could barely see anything although we had a powerful
flashlight. We were not the type of true explorers and we
decided that we had already taste the darkness of a lava
tube, and it's time to turn back.
- Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
After a brief break in Hilo (where we could not find any
decent shops to kill some time), we headed north to the
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Onomea Bay. I highly
recommend this garden to anyone who likes plants and
flowers. We spent almost 2 hours on the garden's
self-guided trails and wandered around all the exotic
tropical plants, flora and fruits. Not only I took plenty
of photographs of these flowers, both Linus and Iris also
fight for the camera to take shots of their own
- Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls can be reached by an easy 5-min walk from the
parking lot of the state park. It plunges 420 feet in a
lush vegetation surrounding.
- Hilo Bayfront Beach
After a full day's journey of waterfalls, we went back to
Hilo to take a break, and then went to the Hilo Bayfront
Beach to let Linus and Iris to play on beach for the last
time on this trip. The beaches in the Hilo area are not
as famous as the ones in Kailua-Kona area because the
water is much colder and the sand is not as fine as well.
But Linus and Iris still enjoyed
The Last Day ...
- Sunrise at Volcanoes
||I decided that I needed to do at
least one sunrise at the Volcanoes even though it
was drizzling in Hilo in the early morning at
about 5:45AM. When I got to the Volcano House
before sunrise, it was still cloudy and windy, so
I kept going to the Thurston Lava Tube where I
did not get any good pictures the other day
because there were just too many tourists then.
With no other people in sight, I could take a
long 15-sec exposure as shown here on the left.
After walked back from the lava tube, the sky had
cleared up a little bit, and I drove back to the
Volcano House and got my only few shots of early
morning in the Volcanoes.
Going Home ...
||I have planned this Hawaii trip mainly
based on a terrific tour book "Hawaii
The Big Island Revealed, 3rd Edition", by Wizard Publications.
Hawaii islands are truly a paradise for winter vacations.
With only 5 full days on the Big Island, this trip was
still not long enough to explore all the places we
wanted: for example, the Saddle Road and the summit of
Mauna Kea, the beautiful and peaceful Waipi'o Valley, the
northern part of Kohala area, the mysterious Green Sand
Beach, and more up-close views of live lava, and so on. I
have promised Linus and Iris that we will come back again
when they are old enough to go up to the summit of Mauna
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