Hawaii · Travelling · USA

Days 41 to 45 – The Big Island, Hawaii

Day 41 – ‘Hawaii’ or ‘The Big Island’

Today I headed back to Honolulu and flew south to what is technically known as ‘Hawaii island’ but everyone seems to call it ‘The Big Island’. I had another car hired and they kindly asked if I would I like a convertible. After thinking to over for 3 milliseconds I said yes. brrm brrrm. It is a Mustang and very fun to drive!

There are only really two towns one the island, Kona-Kailua and Hilo. I landed in Kona-Kailua and had a look around then headed north. I couldn’t check in til 4pm so I decided to tour the island. It seems that the west side has all of the beaches whereas the east side, where I am staying, doesn’t. However, I have had enough beaches for now so that was OK with me. I stopped for a quick break at Makelawena Beach and then headed across the centre of the island. The weather immediately changed and I had to put the roof back up due to rain, drizzle and fog! Like being back home.

I stopped in a lovely little place called Waimea and chatted to a woman who had spent part of her childhood in Yorkshire! Then arrived on the east coast and headed south towards Hilo, the other big town here. It is very noticeable the lack of people, and tourists here which is great. Also the landscape is very different, gone are the white sand beaches and huge green tropical mountains, replaced with black volcanic rock.

I am staying in an AirBnB, have my own little cottage in an amazing tropical garden with huge jackfruits, pineapples, avocados and lemons growing all around. At night you can hear the frogs and birds chirping and croaking and it is pitch dark too.

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Day 42 – swimming with turtles

Today I did something amazing. I swam with turtles in the wild. I drove to a local swimming spot called Carlsmith Beach Park. It has very shallow water, protected from the waves by rocks so is the perfect place to swim. I thought it would be good but had no idea how good. After swimming around a bit I caught sight of some beautiful rainbow coloured fish, and shoals of all manner of tropical fish, which was great. Apart from the snappy beaky one that came swimming up to me in a rage and gave me a good peck and made my leg bleed!

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Then a lady next to me said, ‘Hey, there’s a turtle’! and as I looked down underwater a huge Hawaiian green turtle swam beneath me! It was amazing. Over the next half an hour turtle after turtle swam around, beneath and past me. Some were huge, well over a metre long. It as such a privilege to see them, they are magnificent.

After that I am not sure anything could top my day, but I did some cool stuff. I drove into Hilo and had a look around. It feels very different to Oahu, lots more homeless people, more closed down shops, definitely more hippy and laid back too. I then drove to a nearby tourist spot called Rainbow Falls and then headed back south to a hippy town called Pahoa, as it has a cool veggie type wholefoods store.

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Rainbow Falls

I ended the day doing some volcano stuff! I found some lava-fied trees that were caught by lava and turned black and to lava ash which were cool to see, then I hit the south coast where all the volcanic activity was last year. You can walk across newly created lava fields, on land that didn’t exist before the eruption. There was also no-one there, so was great to have the place to myself. Standing on the rock hard terrain you really get a sense of the power of the forces that created the land. You can see lava flows that missed a house by a couple of metres, and the owners are still living there! Not sure I could be brave enough!

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Tomorrow I am visiting the Volcanoes National Park to see the volcano up close and personal!

Day 43 – volcanoes!

Started out early and drove 45 minutes south west to the Volcanoes National Park. As it is a National Park you have to pay to enter, $25, which pays to maintain the park. As I got there early it was pretty quiet. There are two ‘calderas’ there, which is the name for the floor of the crater of the volcano. The first one erupted last year and spewed lava for days, which hit the sea and destroyed 700 homes. It is still steaming and looking at it you can definitely feel the might of it and also the fact that it could erupt any minute. Luckily it didn’t.

I then walked about 40 minutes down onto the caldera of the other crater, which last erupted in 1959. It felt pretty amazing and weird to be walking across the top of a volcano! There is life there too, small plants and shrubs living amongst the hardened lava. Life finds a way…

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Hawaii is a beautiful chain of islands but what makes it so special is the diversity of landscapes it has, from rainforests and mountains on Oahu to black sand beaches and volcanoes here. It would have been wonderful to witness active eruptions but at the same time terrifying so I was fine seeing what I saw!

I then headed back into Hilo as I fancied a swim. I started at Richardson Beach, known for its coral reef and fish. I did not know there were reefs here, and it was only about a five minute swim out to see it too. I saw some beautiful corals and loads of multi-coloured fish too. I then drove five minutes back to the beach I visited yesterday, Carlsmith Beach. No turtles today but loads of great fish again.

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Carlsmith Beach Park

 

Day 44 – Up north

Lots more driving today, the car tells me that by the end of today I have been in the car for 14 hours! It really is the Big Island. I drove up north to a place called Waipi’o Valley. I did stop on the way at a few choice spots, one of which was this cool river which had carved a tunnel through a rock face and had become a waterfall.

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Waterfall

Anyway, Waipi’o Valley is famous around these parts and often features in marketing for Hawaii as a tourist destination. It also has significance to generations of the first Hawaiians and apparently there are lots of burial sites in the valley. I did not attempt to walk down to the valley floor as I saw two people who had just climbed back up and they looked they had been run over. Twice. The views from the top were stunning, see below.

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I then drove back to a small town called Waimea, a place I stopped at on my first day. A very nice lady chatted to be who owned one of the shops, admitting my Celtic knot tattoo. She had Welsh and Scottish ancestry so we had a chat about the homeland for a while! I gave her my blog address so she may even be reading this – hello!

Then I headed back to Hilo via a very windy and mountainous road. One minute it was sunny and then suddenly the fog rolled in and it was like driving across Dartmoor! Very eerie.

As I have done so much recently I decided to end my day at the cinema watching Dark Phoenix (X-Men). I have lots to say on this film but I won’t bore you haha!

Day 45 – a chilled out day

Day 45 feels significant. In my mind I think I am away for 90 days so this feels like I have hit the halfway point. Also it is my last day in Hawaii before I fly out to California tomorrow. Am looking forward to being back in my hood again and staying with my best girl Liz.

Looked round Hilo again, chilled by the seashore, read my book, watched some mysterious weasel like animals running havoc and being attacked by birds! There are so many interesting animals here. In the park there were some beautiful vivid yellow birds twitching around. In my cottage there are loads of green and red geckos which I have learnt to tolerate as I can’t keep them out! At night there’s a chorus of all sorts of noise that does not stop until morning! My animal expert source (mum) assures me they are frogs.

Another thing I noticed today is how much freedom local children seem to have. Parents tend to let them do what they want, I saw a young boy about 3 years old running around today barefoot on razor sharp lava and having the time of his life!

I have enjoyed my time in Hawaii, I would recommend coming here in a heartbeat. Maybe slightly out of season as it is now hitting peak season and is very hot. I would have loved to have visited some of the other islands, particularly Maui and Kauai. Maybe another time. Hawaii really is unlike anywhere I have ever been, so green lush and tropical, with stunning landscapes and wildlife. You forget when you are here that you are marooned in the middle of the Pacific, about 5 hours flight from anywhere.

Heading back to Kailua-Kona tomorrow and flying to LA and the next leg of my adventure 🙂 Aloha!

 

Hawaii · Travelling · USA

Days 36 to 40 – O’ahu, Hawaii

Day 36 – twice

The longest day ever. It has been like Groundhog Day. I took off from Osaka Wednesday evening at 10.30pm and after an eight hour flight landed in Honolulu at 11am. Wednesday morning. So I have pretty much lived this day twice.

Picked up my hire car and headed east to the small town of Kailua. I did not want to stay in Honolulu or Waikiki as they are too busy and this place seems perfect. I have my own place, a small cottage which is two minutes from the beach. Oh and what a beach. Stunning white sand and crystal blue warm water to swim in. As I was pretty jetlagged I crashed on the beach for an hour or two and swam in the sea. Heaven.

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I then meandered down to Lanikai beach which is just south of here and another beautiful place. The backdrop to all this is some huge mountains which I am looking forward to exploring. It looks so wild and tropical, unlike anywhere I have ever been.

Day 37 – Kailua and the east coast

Since the beach at Kailua is approximately 2 minutes from my place, I decided to hang out there for the morning. Though there are a number of tourists here in Kailua, it isn’t too bad and doesn’t feel swamped so I picked a nice spot with my chair and my book and chilled for a few hours. The sea is beautifully warm, has small waves and is great to swim in. I have yet to see any fish or turtles though.

In the afternoon I headed up the coast in my hire car. There are some lovely spots to stop at and take in the view. The centre of the island is dominated by tropical mountains which are stunning to see. My first stop was Kualoa Point. The highlight was being surrounded my flocks of cool birds, one of which is the Red Crested Cardinal, so I am reliably informed by an ornithological source (ie my mum).

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My next stop was this beautiful bay called Kahama Bay. there was hardly anyone there, which seems amazing as it was so great but hey I wasn’t complaining! My final stop was He’eia State Park, where I met lots of chickens and feral-looking cats!

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Heading home I jumped in the sea for an evening swim and a can of local beer on the beach. It’s a hard life.

Day 38 – Kailua and the Pill Box Trail

Started the day back at Kailua Bech, though this time more in the shade as I somehow managed to catch the sun a bit yesterday, I guess the rays in Hawaii are stronger than in Asia. There wind had died down so that meant perfect swimming conditions, the sea was so flat it was perfect. I read that this beach is Barrack Obama’s favourite beach in Hawaii so I am in good company!

I then walked up to the main town for some retail therapy, visiting my good friend ‘Wholefoods’! Even though it was only a 40 minute round trip I was so hot by the time I got home. I waited a couple of hours until 5pm before attempting my big adventure of the day – The Pill Box Trail.

This is a roughly 45 minute hike up a nearby mountain. The reason for the name I that there are two WW2 pill boxes up there, the second being at the top. Well parts of it were super steep, but luckily it was pretty quiet on the trail as the weather has not been that sunny. However, near the top the heavens opened – more of that to come! As I climbed up I was rewarded with fabulous views across the coast as well as inland to the rainforest. It was pretty exhausting and hot but well worth it.

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However, on the way down, let’s just say the rain has turned the once stable path into a little bit of a mud slide in parts, and wasn’t that fun getting back down! In parts I slid down grabbing trees as I went! I am laughing now but Lordy it was quite the rollercoaster :-0. By the time I got to the bottom I was covered in more sweat that I thought humanly possible, so I jumped into the sea which was the perfect antidote!

Day 39 – Travels around the island

Today I jumped in the car early and headed out to a beach known for its wildlife, Laniakia Beach on the west coast. It is famous for the local Hawaii Green Sea Turtles, as they like to eat around the area and also haul themselves on to the beach to bask. Unfortunately none were there during my two hour visit. However, I did swim twice in the rocky coves and saw lots of different tropical fish up close which was amazing.

Once the crowds started to arrive about 11am, I jumped in the car and headed north, with no particular plan. The entire west coast is very popular so I carried on driving until I found what I was looking forward. And boy, did I hit the jackpot! I found this amazing place called ‘Malaekahana State Park’ and I had it almost to myself! I think as there are so many great beaches here you can still find these quiet out of the way spots. I set up camp and spent about three hours enjoying the peace and the view as well as swimming in crystal blue water all by myself 🙂

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On the way back down south I stopped at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. it was mainly a tourist trap selling food and trinkets, but I did learn that there are lots of famous Polynesian American Football players!

Day 40 – Kailua

40 days away feels like a milestone. It has been a great trip so far, I think I am about halfway through so lots still to look forward to. Very quiet day today, partly because I am still suffering with jetlag and so slept really badly last night so feel zonked. Just chilled on the beach today edited my video (see above). I also prepared a pop quiz for Elizabeth Hurst and she has damanded one or said I can’t stay with her. This time next week I will be back in my favourite place, Laguna Beach, OC baybeee!

I have really enjoyed Oahu, particularly the beautiful beaches. Tomorrow morning I fly on to ‘the Big Island’, the most southerly of the Hawaiian islands. From what I know it is quite different, less beach life and more tropical mountainous scenery, volcanoes and lava so I am looking forward to that!