Monday 23 May 2016
We are only in Kona for three full days, four nights, and trying to decide which tour to do today was hard. There were two tours, a Big Island circle tour and a volcano twilight tour – I really wanted to do the volcano twilight tour so I could see the red lava glow of the crater in the Volcanoes National Park, but I also wanted to see other parts of the island that I wouldn’t get to see on that tour. I would’ve loved a tour that combined the two but I couldn’t find one. So, I asked Peter what he would prefer and he opted for the circle island tour. And that’s what we did.
The tour was with Wasabi Tours with a pick up time of 7.20am. We headed in a clockwise direction up the coast stopping to pick up four more people in Waikoloa and all up I think there were about twelve people on the tour. The coast north of Kona is full of rocks and lava from the more recent eruptions of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes. I loved the rocks and the looks of the rocky landscape. And that, across the water, is Haleakala on Maui. When we were on Haleakala the week before we could see Mauna Loa on the Big Island.
Not long after when we spotted a harbour off to the left, we turned right and drove through Waimea and the lands of the Parker Ranch. Going from the west coast and across the top towards the wetter east side of the island it was raining when we drove through Waimea so I was unable to get much in the way of photos.
We stopped at Waipio Valley which was a gorgeous view and the sky had cleared up a bit for us.
When we left Waipio Valley we were heading to our next stop, Akaka Falls and drove through the town of Honokaa.
When we arrived at Akaka Falls we could see the top of the falls from the car park in the distance.
There was a short walk down to the lookout point
On the way to the falls there was water in other places
A banana tree in flower
The falls were bigger than I expected, and noisy
On the way out of the falls we stopped off at a fruit stand we spotted on the way in. Peter bought us some fresh lychees and a bunch of apple bananas. The apple bananas are very small and their peel is very thin and they are so yummy. The fresh lychees are so much nicer than the ones you get in tins.
On the way in and out of the falls we passed through the town of Honomu
The next stop was at Rainbow Falls in Hilo which we had already seen the week before when the ship was docked here. It’s a lot smaller and a lot less spectacular that Akaka Falls.
The top of the falls
Looking the other direction, away from the falls
We drove through the outskirts of Hilo and were on our way to Volcanoes National Park. Not far from the park we drove through this place, I had to take a photo and message it to our 17 year old son back at home, named Kurtis.
We arrived at Volcanoes National Park and had lunch in a picnic area not far from the entrance. Lunch consisted of a bento box and was delicious.
After lunch we drove to Halemaumau Crater where the main attraction is the crater. At night you can see the red glow from the crater but we were here in the early afternoon so no glow was visible.
This place is amazing, like a desert wasteland
Looking in the other direction and there is Mauna Loa
The volcanoes of the Big Island – Mauna Loa is the largest, bulkiest volcano taking up a huge chunk of the island, though Mauna Kea is a little higher above sea level.
Driving along the road there were steam vents
We went to the Thurston Lava Tube, our guide taking us in through the back way and out through the front
The walls of the lava tube
Our next stop was the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach which had pebbles, black sand, a lot of wind, wild water but no turtles. Turtles can often be seen here but today we were out of luck.
Not far from the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach we stopped off at a bakery. I bought a loaf of fruit bread to have for breakfast and a couple of cakes to have for a snack later tonight. Being a bakery it was kind of weird not to see any sausage rolls or meat pies like you do in bakeries at home.
We were on the way back to Kona and the sun was getting low in the sky
Even though I enjoyed our tour and loved seeing the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park I really do wish I had gone on the twilight tour and seen the red lava glow at the crater.