Hawai’i.  Messing around on the Big Island.

Our cottage near Hilo.

Although the act of traveling is starting to improve, it is still more difficult than it was five years ago, the last time I visited Hawaii.  This trip was put together on fairly short notice, a month or so, and it required creating a Clear account (for vaccination records) and then a State of Hawaii account into which you loaded your Clear account.  All of this paperwork was only a slight deterrent, but time consuming.

We flew from Portland, Oregon nonstop to Kona.  From Kona, we drove approximately two hours to the east side of the island where we had our accommodations.  We had booked a VRBO in the small community of Kea’au, a cottage on the grounds of a former sugar plantation.  Gisella was a gracious hostess, even giving us a tour of the Big House, situated on 10 lush acres.

The Big House on the former sugar plantation.

Our first full day we spent in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.  Upon arrival a park ranger told us that the lava flow had stopped at 1:39 am that morning, and was no longer visible.  Oh well. 

We viewed the Kilauea Caldera (Kaluapele o Kilauea) from the Crater Rim Drive viewpoints and walked the Crater Rim Trail.   We walked through the Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) and the trail to the petroglyphs (pu’uloa). 

Steam vents along the trail.

There was an obvious temperature drop between the coastal town of Hilo and the Kilauea Visitor’s Center at 3,980 feet elevation.  At times it can be cool, rainy, and cloudy at the entrance of the park and the higher elevation trails.  It was quite sunny and warm when we walked the trail to the petroglyphs near the coastline.  Five years ago I saw the lava flowing into the sea, but the park is worth a visit even if you don’t see lava flowing. 

The crater rim trail.
Lava tube entrance.
Inside the Lava Tube.
The boardwalk around the petroglyphs.

The Volcano Art Center, in a small original building next to the visitor’s center is also worth a visit.

The Volcano Art Center near the park entrance.

The park entrance was a short 30 minute drive from where we stayed, and Hilo was just 7 miles.  Hilo has a farmer’s market, which we visited on a Wednesday, one of the ‘big’ days.  It had fruits and vegetables, local coffee, flowers and vendors selling t-shirts and every other possible souvenir.  Although it was not the local season for some fruits, they were there, so those had to be imports.  We bought fruit and coffee beans.  They are proud of their coffee, charging upwards of $25 for 8 oz of beans.  Being on vacation, we splurged and tried three different beans;  Volcano, Wai Puna medium roast and Wai Puna Peaberry.   

Hilo is a cute little town with a lot of historic buildings, murals, and small shops.  We liked the artist co-op and the natural and organic shop.  I can recommend the banana chocolate smoothie at the Puna Chocolate Company, breakfast at The Booch Bar, and the Mai Tais and sangria at Pineapple’s.  The best dinner of the trip was the Mahi Mahi at Jackie Rey’s.

A mural on the side of a building in Hilo.
Mushroom omelette at The Booch Bar.
The Mai Tai at Pineapples.
Banana chocolate smoothie at Puna Chocolate Company.
The grilled mahi mahi at Jackie Rey’s.

The day we cruised the farmers market, we also made the short drive north on Highway 19, turning off on the Scenic Route, to the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden.  Founded in 1978, it opened to the public in 1984.  It was a beautiful and relaxing spot to spend the afternoon.

A scenic view along the Scenic Route off highway 19 north of Hilo.
Australian fern tree.

Near a small park across from the Hilo Airport, we even saw a turtle.  There is much to do in and around Hilo. 

The King Kamehameha statue near downtown Hilo.
Bridge from 1938.

When we weren’t exploring we were relaxing at the cottage. The plantation house and cottage sit in the middle of ten acres. We loved the lush feeling and even enjoyed the chickens who came to visit.

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1 Response to Hawai’i.  Messing around on the Big Island.

  1. Teresa Favazza says:

    Nice birthday vacation with beautiful flowers, delicious food and relaxing moments. Like the sea turtle!

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