Hawai’i, the Big Island, has ten different climate zones and we experienced them while in Kona and Hilo. We left the warm 85+ sunny weather in Kona and headed to Hilo where the weather was cool, overcast and it often drizzled rain. Quite a contrast for us and I really didn’t have enough warm clothes for that side of the island to be comfortable.
We drove north from Kona taking the slow route to Hilo, stopping at points of interest along the way. One particularly beautiful spot was this overlook of the Waipi’o Valley with a waterfall nestled near the ocean cliffs. It is a difficult trip down the road into the valley and since we did not have a four wheel drive vehicle, we didn’t even consider attempting it. We were told the people in the valley do not have electricity or any modern conveniences and are very content with their isolated lifestyle. Even with the heavy mist, it was a beautiful sight.
Later we stopped at Akaka Falls State Park where we took a beautiful circular walk amid a lush tropical setting to see the falls. The falls plummet 442 feet into a stream eroded gorge. It is said that this is the Big Island’s most famous waterfall.
We arrived at Volcano Village next to the entrance to Volcanoes National Park. Here we stayed in a sweet little cottage in a rainforest setting. This park was our main reason for coming to this side of the Big Island. We will tell you all about the park in our next blog entry. For now I will tell you more about other adventures on this side of the Big Island.
We drove thirty minutes back into Hilo, known as Hawaii’s Little Big City, to explore more of that area. We had hoped to get a view of the current lava flow, but streets were blocked off for blocks near the flow with guards stopping anyone but residents. We did see where they have taken precautions around electrical poles in the little town of Pahoa which is the town being
threatened by the approaching lava. We saw on TV that a new shopping center in Pahoa is expected to be destroyed by lava if the current rate and direction of flow continues. The island continues to grow due to volcanic activity, but sometimes at a great expense to its citizens.
Like Kona, Hilo is a port city and we saw a cruise ship docked. Hilo is nestled on the slopes of three volcanoes and has a population of around 41,000. It is one of the wettest towns in the United States. The University of Hawaii has a campus there as well as on other islands. Hilo was hit by tsunamis in 1946 and 1960. A couple months ago a hurricane hit Hilo and we saw evidence of the damage, especially to trees.
Bill was especially fond of some huge, lovely trees called Monkeypod we noticed around the town of Hilo.
We drove to Rainbow Falls, an 80 foot tall falls located in Hilo, where it is said you can often see a rainbow when the morning sun shines through the mist. Since it was late afternoon we didn’t see a rainbow but it was still beautiful!
Also we drove to a lighthouse on the easternmost point of the state of Hawaii called Cape Kumukahi. Since this is where the sun first shines in Hawaii every day of every year, it is of spiritual importance to native Hawaiians. In 1960 Kilauea erupted, destroying a town near the lighthouse and crops nearby. Just as it appeared the lighthouse would be engulfed by the lava, it split into two streams and flowed into the sea on either side, sparing the structure. People were amazed by this phenomenon and felt it was a message from the god Pele telling them of the lighthouse’s importance to the people.