Thursday, July 24, 2014

Big Island- Day 5

Today was the 5th day, and we were staying in Hilo. It was time for us to go snorkeling somewhere real, not just on a regular beach. To this end, we called Body Glove Cruises early in the morning and booked 4 seats. The ship docks directly next to our hotel, saving us from a walk. Once we arrived at the ship, the crews enthusiasm was infectious. They really loved what they were doing! 

We boated out for about an hour to a little area on the side of the coast. After a brief explanation of how to snorkel, it was time for use to get out. It was awesome, since I saw lots of fish and other wildlife. Within 30 minutes, however, it was lunchtime. Burgers and veggie burgers. The veggie burgers were amazingly good, especially after snorkeling.

After eating, I decided to jump off the top deck of the ship, where a little platform and a waterslide existed. It was my first time in memory ever doing anything like this, and it was awesome. I jumped off lots of times. After jumping, I went back to snorkeling.

Soon, however, it was time to turn back. We got back on the ship for the boat ride back. After returning to shore, we returned to our hotel. My dad and sister both decided to go on a submarine ride, so off they went. My mother and I packed up our bags and moved everything to the car for our imminent move to the Hilton Waikoloa Resort, about 30 minutes up the highway and out of town.

After the 2 explorers returned from the submarine, we shifted over to Waikoloa Resort. This was one of the most luxurious places I had ever stayed at.  To get to our hotel room, we had the option of taking a boat, riding a tram, or walking the .8 miles through a museum gallery walk. The hotel was made of 4 buildings but had 7 or 8 pools, including 2 for kids with water slides. In addition, it had a lot of beachfront property and quite a few restaurants and boutiques.

            However, at this point, it was closing in on late evening. We needed to eat, and so went to a pizza/Italian place. One of the coolest items in the restaurant was their Macadamia nut sauce, a Hawaiian only specialty.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Big island, Day 4

Day 4 started the same as Day 3; we were back in Hilo again; this time for a zip lining adventure! But first, we had some time to kill, so we went to the “famous” Hilo Farmer’s Market. There were some interesting sights to see in the market; this included cool stone weaponry and the usual tourist items: tees, braclets, etc.

Our zipline experience; known as Zipline Through Paradise, started from  a nearby “adventure" store similar to REI. It (and we) departed the store in a van, and drove 30 minutes along very bumpy roads to the company’s private property on the outskirts of town. Peacocks roamed the starting area, where we were given our safety and equipment briefings. 

One of the best things about this zipline was its stopping system: completely hands free and handled by the employees; it uses the basic principle of magnets: like repels like. This magnetic breaking system gave us the freedom to spend the entire time enjoying the ride. WE began on some bunny “slopes” but quickly ventured off to some very cool lines, one of which was a half-mile long and went over a waterfall! The views from the zipline were great and we got to see some really cool views; in retrospect, it was one of the best things we did on our vacation.

After the zipline tour, we decided to take a longer, more scenic route home. The problem with this was that most things in Hawaii close really early; the things we wanted to visit were no exception. One of the Big Islands best waterfalls, Umaumau Falls, is located in an “Adventure park” of sorts and has an admission fee.  It too, closed, while we were driving slowly and leisurely. However, we did get to visit Akaka falls, the same one that we saw by helicopter.  After that, it was a long drive back to our hotel. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Big Island - Day 3

Day 3 was an earlier day; we were planning on driving to the other side of the island to get to Hilo for a Helicopter ride. We had breakfast (bread and butter and milk) and then drove off upward, towards a road that didn’t exist on Apple Maps: Saddle Road. This road essentially goes right across the middle of the island horizontally, making travel time much shorter from the previous circuitous path. We arrived in Hilo at 12 for a 2 o clock helicopter ride, and needed to find things to do.  One problem was that there was a cruise ship at port; all the major activities were full!

Our first attraction, and a very very cool thing(s) to see, was Banyan Drive. This is a road with lots of Banyan Trees on both sides, planted by famous people of the 50’s and 60’s. (think Amelia Earhart and Babe Ruth) These trees were enormous and there were a lot of them, making it quite an interesting thing to see. They were like organic skyscrapers.

After that, we hung out at a nearby garden named Queen Liliuokalani gardens. They were made in the Japanese style, and were a nice place to take pictures! After the gardens, we went out to Saddle road but took a different exit to go look at some cool waterfalls.

There were 3 sets of falls along this road; we visited all 3. They were quite interesting to look at; but we had to rush just a bit to get back to the airport in time.

We arrived at the airport and got ready. We listened to the orientation before heading out. I put on my Go Pro and took videos as we flew over the volcano and to the sea and a burning forest and also visited flew over a lot of falls. After getting out of the helicopter, I thought it was alright, but my dad thought it was the best thing. Looking back, though, it was quite overrated for its price of close to a thousand dollars. I think it would be a really good thing to see if there was actually a lot of lava flowing or erupting, but this wimpy orange glow was extremely overrated.

We drove back to our hotel, had dinner, and went swimming and exploring around the town. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Island - Day 2

Today we woke up and ate our previously purchased milk and Krave while sitting on our balcony. My dad and I got ready first and drove out to a nearby Starbucks while the other 2 showered. Soon after returning to the hotel, we were on the road to Hawaii Volcanos National Park. We went down along the southern coast of the island, stopping and checking out various scenic points and things along the way. We made a 12-mile detour off to a place my Dad had previously researched, South Point.

This is the southernmost point in the United States and is a very scenic area. A 3 mile hike leads you to an area known as the Green Sand Beach, which is an apt moniker. Although we did not visit due to time constraints, it seemed like a very cool place to go.  After South Point, we finished the drive to the Park. 
Once inside the park, the first thing we did, just like always, was visit the Visitor Center and grab maps and information (and a junior ranger package for my sister) At this point, we were all starving, so we eat at the only restaurant in the park, the Volcano House. Although the food took forever, costed a ton, and the portions were small, there was no complaint. We were sitting in full view of the Kilauea Volcano and its steaming vent!

After eating, we ventured around the park and down the famous Chain of Craters road. The Chain of Craters road essentially takes you down a lot of volcanic landscape and lava flows and around a few older craters of past eruptions It ends slightly before the area where some lava flows ended up covering the near the coast, with a walk (that we skipped) down to the covered parts of the road itself. There is a very nice sea arch visible here.
We came back up , and ventured around the other side of the park, walking through the steam vents, before ending up at a museum, where we listened to the end of a rangers speech. We got a good look at the steam vent from a different angle.
At this point I was starving, and the rest of my family was not that far behind me. However, there was nowhere left to eat, since the park is in a secluded area and Volcano House was closed. We ended up rushing to a nearby general store with prices akin to a highway robbery. We finally ate chips and Cadbury for dinner, or at least until we drove back to Kona.

On the drive back, we stopped at a black sand beach for my first extraterrestrial experience: The black sand was radically different and cool.