This past weekend, Josh and I headed to the Hilo side of the Big Island for four days. Our Friday started out with our flight leaving at 5:30 a.m. So, Josh had set his alarm for 3:00 a.m. so we could get up, finish packing and be ready to leave around 3:45 a.m. for the airport. Well something happened and it didn’t go off so we woke up to the doorman from downstairs at 3:50 a.m. calling to let us know that our cab had arrived. We flew out of bed, grabbed our stuff and somehow made it to the security line at the airport in 25 minutes. Definitely an interesting way to start your vacation! But we made it!
We landed in Hilo around 6:30 a.m., grabbed our bag and got the rental car (a Jeep Wrangler…which turned out to be key for our weekend adventures). Now, many of you reading know our luck with rain and vacations (re: Kauai part one and our Molokai trip in December). Well, turns out this trip we would also be blessed with a TON of rain. Almost the moment we got in the rental car it started raining…to which Josh’s response was “Well they must have known we were coming”.
We ended up at a place called Ken’s House of Pancakes (recommended from online reviews and the lady at the rental car place) for breakfast. It was exactly what we needed…mostly I needed the coffee!
After breakfast, we headed to Sports Authority to get Josh a rain jacket. It didn’t open until 9:00 a.m. so we had some time to kill. What might you do in the pouring down rain waiting for a store to open in Hilo? Why take a car nap of course! So that is what we did. We took a nap in the Sports Authority parking lot for an hour (Yes, I’m sure to anyone who witnessed this we looked creepy. No, we didn’t really care because we were tired 🙂 ).
After our trip to Sports Authority, we were ready to start exploring Hilo. Our first stop was Rainbow Falls. It is possibly the most beautiful and unique waterfall I have ever seen. There is a cave underneath the falls where King Kamehameha is said to have buried the bones of his father. The cave is huge and, in my opinion, what makes this waterfall so unique. We ventured up the trail to the left and found a GIANT banyan tree! I doubt we will ever see anything quite like it again. The picture of Josh standing next to it really puts how large the tree is into perspective.
After visiting Rainbow Falls, we headed about a mile up the road to Boiling Pots and Pe`epe`e Falls. It REALLY started to rain, so we took this time to change into rain jackets and hiking shoes. After waiting for the rain to stop (it did not…only slowed down) we went to see what these two attractions were all about. While they were beautiful, we didn’t get to hike down to them in the rain. Using our better judgment we decided to skip the possibility of hurting ourselves on the slick rocks hiking to the falls on our first day there (and by we I mean me, because I am the less graceful one).
About another mile up the road was Wai`ale Falls. We stopped and viewed it from the bridge. We didn’t hike for the same reasons as before since the conditions weren’t that great. It was beautiful and impressive with how much water was flowing. Rainbow Falls, Pe`epe`e Falls and Wai`ale Falls are all along the Wailuku River. Pretty magnificent span of nature along that river!
After we finished exploring the waterfalls, we headed back into Hilo for lunch. We decided to eat at Island Naturals Market and Deli. I had a Taro Burger and Josh had a mix of stuff from the “create your own lunch” area. The burger was pretty tasty. I LOVE veggie burgers and wasn’t sure what to expect…but it was pretty good! We then decided to ruin our healthy lunches with a stop at Big Island Candies to see what it was all about. Along with tasting a multitude of different cookies, chocolates, etc., we were able to see their operation through big glass windows. It was impressive!
Once we had tasted our way through Big Island Candies, we headed to check out Kauamana Cave. The cave was created by the Mauna Loa lava flow of 1881. Kauamana Cave is a 2-mile long lava tube with an interruption, which is now the entrance to the cave. When we entered the cave we had two options, to the right is a large opening and to the left is a smaller one. We went to the right first and looked around. Josh went a little farther than I did..it was creepy…and I’m claustrophobic…and way more afraid of the dark than I previously thought I was. We then explored the part to the left and both went pretty far into the cave. At first it looks like it doesn’t go anywhere, but once you crawl through a pretty low overhang, it opens up into a huge, open cave. We could have spent hours exploring, but with the cave being pitch black and only having one flashlight and no extra batteries, we stayed for an hour or so and then headed back up to daylight.
After being in the cave with one flashlight, we decided a second trip to Sports Authority was necessary for the day. This time, to purchase me a headlamp. Being in darkness like that with only one flashlight for two people made it rather difficult. So we ventured back into Hilo, purchased a headlamp (no nap this time), said goodbye to Hilo and headed towards Pahoa.
Pahoa turned out to be a pretty cool little town. At first, after reading in my guidebook on the way there that it was known as the Big Island’s outlaw town full of guerilla gardeners, dreadlock enthusiasts, FBI fugitives and the never-bathe crowd, I was somewhat concerned. Even more concerned when I realized this is where our B&B was located. However, no concern was needed as this turned out to be an excellent people-watching experience in a pretty dynamic town. Pahoa is a real hippie town…I’m talking organic loving, no-bra wearing, “I think I’ll smoke this illegal substance in my car”, hitchhikers everywhere kind of town. It definitely made it interesting!
After passing through Pahoa, we decided to have one last stop for the day before checking in to our B&B. We were excited because it had stopped raining and this seemed like a great time to go spend a half hour or so in Lava Tree State Park. Lava trees form when pahoehoe lava (lava with a smooth, shiny or swirled surface) covers wet trees. As the lava drains away, it leaves the tree entirely encased in a thick coat, hardening around the tree. The park was an easy 20 minute stroll around sections of lava trees. Pretty incredible to see. Towards the end of our stroll it started pouring (naturally) so we raced back to the car and headed to our B&B.
We checked in to Hale Moana, our B&B, met the owner and saw where we would be staying. It was great! We had a private entrance and a small studio room. We would be eating breakfast out in a screened in porch area and both the front and back yards were incredibly gorgeous with unique flowers, rocks, etc. It was a beautiful place to stay!
We showered and changed and headed into Pahoa to a restaurant called Kaleo’s Bar & Grill at the recommendation of Petra, the B&B owner. It did not disappoint! I got soup and salad and Josh got fish. It was delicious! The pictures below do a much better job of describing it than I ever could.
Dinner was the end of an incredibly busy first day on the Big Island!! We headed back and crashed in preparation for the next few days ahead!