Part 2 of my trip to the Big Island (see part one here)
Our next stop was Volcano National Park. Along the way we saw the Green and Black Sand beaches. We also visited South Point, the southernmost point in the USA where we saw some crazy people jumping from the cliff into the Pacific Ocean. There was no danger of me taking the plunge. I am not even sure if a younger version of me would have made that leap.
Upon arriving at Volcano National Park Visitor Center, I learned the lava flow had moved to a place that was remote and difficult to reach. The options were a 4-hour hike or a 2.5 hour bike/hike combination. Both choices looked intense to me and I was not prepared for either option. In the end, I decided not to make the trek to the lava flow. My hope was to see the lava on a helicopter tour scheduled a few days later. We were able to see some lava glow from a crater near the Jaggar Museum later that night. We took the Chain of Craters Drive and hiked down to the bottom of a crater. When visiting the park, keep in mind the location is at 4000 feet and it is cold. You will need to step up your clothing game from swimsuits and beach attire.
We stayed at another Airbnb in Volcano Loft House. This place seemed new and beautifully decorated. It is located very close to the National Park in a jungle like sub-division. If staying here, you need to follow Dan’s directions as Google Maps has it wrong. There are not many places to eat in Volcano and the few restaurants have strange hours. I recommend preparing meals in your cabin.
Our last stop on our Big Island adventure was Hilo. I heard Hilo received a lot of rain but was not prepared for 2 days of a steady downpour. We stayed at a quaint place called Aaron’s Cottage. This lodging is in Hilo near a “secret” beach. Aaron’s Cottage is a collection of cabins located around a common kitchen area. The mysterious beach was as short walking distance away. There was a claim that sea turtles rest on the beach, I did not see any during our time there.
We decided to make the best of a rainy situation by visiting the many waterfalls near Hilo. By donning our rain jackets, we were good to go. We were able to take in the following waterfalls.
- Rainbow Falls
- ‘Akaka Falls
- Pe’epe’e Falls
- Umauma Falls
- Hi’ilawe Falls
After observing the beautiful waterfalls, we visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. The entrance fee was a bit steep, however, the gardens proved to be worth the cost. I am not a flowers or garden sort of person, but this place was impressive. They have a really nice waterfall as part of the tour. The facility is well maintained and has an interesting history.
Another rainy day activity was visiting the Ahalanui County Beach Park. This beach park is unique in that it sports a volcanically heated oversized tidepool. The water was at a comfortable, at least for me, 90 degrees. You can hear and see the waves breaking just beyond the rocks. There is a lifeguard on duty, making this a great family location. There was some sign about bacteria in the water and the need to rinse off after finishing. I forgot to rinse but no issues so far.
We planned a helicopter trip to see some additional waterfalls and volcano lava. Due to a maintenance issue, our trip was rescheduled to our last day in Hawaii. As I mentioned it rains a lot in Hilo and on this day, it was raining in buckets. The visibility was limited, so I was not surprised when our helicopter tour was canceled. So, I never got to see that lava I was hoping for. Still, our vacation on the Big Island was wonderful.
Make the most of this day!