Monday, December 24, 2007

Day Four in Hawaii

Day Four:

The best thing about this cruise is that every morning we were in a new place, a dream indeed and this morning we were in Hilo, Big Island. After breakfast we were off the ship and ready to explore Hilo.
We had previously reserved a rental car with Thrifty and the shuttle was waiting for us. A quick check-in and a red PT cruiser later we were on the road heading through lush, green, rainforests. Our destination - the Volcanoes National Park. We stopped at the Visitors Center to pick up some maps and watch the 20 minute long film - “Born of Fire…Born of the Sea.” It really opened our eyes into the history of the land we were standing on and the areas we were about to see.

We were back in our car, heading on. Our first stop was the streaming bluffs and sulfur banks. The vegetation here is a stark contrast and between the top and bottom cliffs of Kilauea Caldera we could see volcanic gases seeping through the cracks. And yes the stream was indeed a blessing when winds picked up speed. It was quite windy and cold at the National Park and we wish we had the sense to bring a jacket in addition to to our rain ponchos. Hawaii brings to mind the amazing beaches, white sands and swaying palms and the sun shining but on top of the volcanoes and mountains the air carries a chill to it, the wind speed quite high. Quite a contrast. We enjoyed a mini sauna at the streaming bluffs before heading over to see other sights at the National Park.

As we drove along the area, there were numerous outlooks, where we can see hot gases streaming out, green sulfur deposits along the sides, the air filled with the smell of sulfur, the land uneven with lava flows. We took a short detour from the Crater Rim drive, to go to the very end of Chain of Craters. The views as we drove down to sea level, the views were spectacular and remains of villages covered by lava stood out. And at very end and at sea level the road closed due to lava flows, we spot a whale - magnificent as the sea arch there. This is one place on earth where the power of nature is truly felt.

Tired and exhausted after these long drives we drove on and soon were out of the Volcanoes National Park. With time still left we decided to head out to the famous Akaka Falls. But first a quick stop at the famous Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory.Some samples, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, macadamia nut icecream we were off. The drive to the falls is beautiful. We could see the blue waters, the cruise ship doting the horizon, lush greenery, pretty bridges and an occasional waterfall. The drive took us around 25-30 minutes and with scenic detours and outlooks all around it was well worth the drive.

The small parking lot was filled when we arrived, slight drizzle and we started our walk down to the falls. The trek down is along a well paved concrete trail with handrails and it takes less than 5 minutes to feast our eyes on the 420 feet falls. It was amazing and well worth the drive. And there was one awe-struck kid who asked his mom " who designed this" and that pretty much sums it.

Back at the Hilo airport, we returned out rental car and were back to board our ship. At the pier there were florists selling pretty cabin bouquets and soon there was a $10 bouquet gracing our stateroom. Dinner at the Lanai and the day was almost over!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The volcano national park is truly amazing. we hiked down one of the craters and it gives you a different perspective looking at the huge cauldron. Sux that the lava flow has moved and not visible at this time :-( Akaka falls is a nice drop and nearby we also visited the rainbow falls. The kona side is very different with some nice beaches and you can see snow on top of mauna loa ! who would have thought of a snow peak next to a beach ! Glad you guys had fun in Hawaii. wish you Mele Kalikimaka and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (merry christmas & happy new year in hawaiian) and many more travels !