Today Doc & I took a day trip to the Island of Hawaii aka Big Island!!! We left Oahu at 5am and returned at 9:30pm. It was a very productive, busy, and adventurous day! Let me just say that this whole day was planned by Doc – I had nothing to do with it. I just stated that I wanted to see a volcano and some black sand beach. Doc did all the research and executed the whole day – we hit some bumps in the road [literally] but it was a memorable day!
The day started out at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We were there bright and early at 7am – which meant that it was freezing cold. We were some 3000 feet above sea level therefore it was 50 degrees and super windy! Doc & I were not dressed properly – but we dealt with it. The park is accessible by car via the two main roads – Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. Visitors are able to stop along the way at various portions to explore the trails. Our first stop was Jagger Museum to view the main crater Halema’uma’u. Second stop was the Kilauea overlook where we were able to see the Kilauea Caldera as well as the Halema’uma’u crater. Then we went on the trail for the steam vents, steaming bluff, and sulphur banks. It reminded of of earth science and organic chemistry class. The sulphur banks were amazing to witness but at the same time it smelled like rotten eggs! Amazingly there was some orchid flowers along the trail – which was unexpected. After the trail we drove to the Thurston Lava Tubes – several hundred years ago a river of red lava rushed through the tubes. It was pretty neat to be able to walk through it!
After the volcano viewing we were off to the east side of the island to Waipio Valley. The valley is 2000 feet below the terrain. Getting down to the valley was an adventure – not in a good way. Now that I look back at it we were pretty stupid and could have gotten ourselves killed – but oh well. Only four wheel drive vehicles are allowed to go on the road to get to the valley and apparently rental cars are not allowed – that didn’t stop Doc. She rented a Ford Escape for this very reason. Now keep in mind that I own an Escape and honestly it is a reliable car especially driving it in icy MI winter – however I have never driven it in the road conditions that Doc drove at the valley. The road down to the valley gains 800 vertical feet in 0.6 miles at a 25% average grade. Basically think San Francisco roads but not asphalt and one way. By some miracle we made it down safely into the valley. We thought we were in the clear but then we had to drive the car across a river – a river with a rock bed. I closed my eyes and started praying as Doc drove the car through the river. The whole time she was chanting “Built Ford Tough. Built Ford Tough.” It was worth it to drive down to the valley. We were able to see various fruits such as star fruit, bananas, and coconut. We also saw the waterfalls and the Taro plants that are grown in the valley.
Doc read reviews of people raving about the ice cream at Hilo Homemade Ice Cream Cafe. Since I am a major ice cream lover we headed there for a taste. It is a little mom & pop shop but the ice cream is divine!!! They have all these amazing local flavors that I have never tasted anywhere else! They had a dragon fruit flavor that was bright purple color and apparently it was the natural color! No food coloring or fake stuff added! All natural and tasty!! Doc ordered the Kona Coffee and Salted Caramel Mac Nut which was delicious! I wish I could go back every day for ice cream there!
My sole mission on the Big Island was to see black sand. Waipio was a bust because we never made it to the beach. Therefore I googled to find the best black sand beach on the Big Island and that was Punaluu Black Sand Beach. After our ice cream we headed to Punaluu to see some black sand. It was 60 miles completely out of the way but that didn’t stop me. Doc was a little peeved but when we got there she said it was totally worth it! We were very lucky because in addition to the black sand we got to see green sea turtles on the beach! Double win! Even though they had a giant sign that said it’s prohibited to take black sand from the beach – that didn’t stop us. I wanted a little souvenir for myself so yes I took some sand. I do it on all my travels to the beach – I always bring some sand back home – it’s my thing.
After the beach we drove back to the Volcanoes National Park to see the crater at dusk. It was an amazing view! Pictures don’t do it justice – it was by far the coolest thing to witness!
After our pit stop at the park we zoomed back into town to grab some dinner before heading to the airport. We ordered food to go from Hilo Bay Cafe – it was highly recommended on Yelp & Zagat. We ordered the Warm Garlic Shrimp Salad & the Ahi Poke. Both were delicious! It was our first Poke eating experience but it definitely won’t be the last!
It was a wonderful day and I’m ecstatic that we had a chance to go to the Big Island and see what it had to offer! I can’t wait to come back next week to the Big Island with my Mama & Lil Bro when they visit!