I spent four full days on the volcano isle, aka the first chakra of the Hawaiian islands. I stayed with a friend in Hawi (“Hawvi”). This is the rainy north west tip of the island. And when I say rainy, wow! It seemed to shower every hour or two. Pretty cool hearing pattering off the roof onto the decks. I had a guest room to myself, but stepping outside I was met by three enormous labrador retrievers, which was loads of fun. I love how dogs are always enthusiastic! Kind of contagious.
My days on the island were absolutely packed, and fortunately (to speak a little astrologese) I had some very pleasant aspects coming to term while I was there. From the moment my plane touched down, I was in the water or peacefully watching it. The Big Island is just that. Compared to Maui or Oahu, it is thrice the size, so getting from Hilo to Kona, or even just up to Hawi takes 90 minutes. But the driving time is worth it as I had time to think and the scenery is out of this world.
Landing at Kona airport, I found myself in a massive lava field, miles across. I believe those flows were from the past few centuries. I love the Kona airport though. You will think you have gone back in time or that you are deep in the south pacific. Anywho, driving out of the airport my friend and I headed south. Our first destination was the Coffee Shack which is above Kealakekua Bay. They are renowned for their mud, but I had a delicious chai (not a mud fan). The view was exquisite though. Most of the roads on the island are not at sea level, so we were 600 meters above the bay and the ocean stretched mysteriously into a foggy, distant horizon.
Next we headed down into Kealakekua for check out the water. Apparently there is decent snorkeling there if the conditions are perfect. If not, then you can be smooshed against some rocks and that did not sound fun, so we opted to check the next place. But I promised the locals (seen and unseen) that I would be back. So it was on toward Keauhou Bay. And let me tell you what, those conditions were perfect.
Snorkeling is best under direct sunlight, as the colorful fish really stand out. It was awesome. I saw at least a dozen different species, but I never saw a turtle. I was a bit jealous though, because my friend was in the water for five minutes or less and reported catching a glimpse of one. Due to their just returning from the endangered species list, you are not allowed to touch them, but it is always fun to see them gracefully gliding about.
Then we drove on Ali’i Drive, which is the sea side drive through restaurants, the Kona harbor and resorts. Great views of the ocean! I planned possible future visits and then we headed north to Hawi.
The Big Island, in my opinion, is the most unique of all the islands. I attribute this to the fact that the island is still growing! The volcanoes are definitely active as I witnessed. Therefore half the island or more is a dry volcanic desert. Although, it is fascinating to see the lava change colors with different flows. In this desert are scrubby, hardy bushes and cacti. And sometimes it is so dry, the cacti die, which I found sad. But then you also have views of the four mountains (from Kona) – Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and Kohala. Two of these giants are 4000 meters high and Hualalai is often encapsulated in clouds, so you can catch a glimpse of a peak, bisected by cloud, rising up.
As soon as you approach Hawi though, the rainforests are in full swing. I love the disparity in the landscapes, which change so dramatically in just a few miles.
This was day one. I will post more soon. Thanks for joining me.