We rented a house South of Hilo in Kapoho (near the turtle) so we could explore "Old Hawaii". We were looking forward to teaching Charlotte to snorkel and thought this would be a great location for snorkeling.
Flying into Kona is so different from the other Hawaiian Islands. The runway is surrounded by lava rock... it seems so wrong. After leaving the airport we saw lot's of graffiti. White coral stones are used to spell out words on the black lava rock. Interesting form of vandalism... The Hawaiians are so eco-friendly. :)
The drive to our rental house: Pahoa-Kapoho Road
I'm not sure if it's because I live in a desert that I get very excited about green tree's. But the way these giant tree's on Pahoa-Kapoho Road form a tunnel and shade the road is truly majestic! This is why we chose to stay on this side of the Island. We went on several amazing drives like this one within minutes from where we stayed.
We rented the Hibiscus Housein Kapoho and stayed on the second level. With all of the foliage surrounding the wrap around patio it felt like we were in a tree house. Besides the chorus of insects and frogs it was really quiet and on a clear night the sky is dotted with countless stars. The Hibiscus House has a relaxing tidal pond out front (one of the advantages of living near an active volcano is naturally heated ponds)and a washer and dryer which came in handy. We liked the location and Charlotte loved having room to wander. She also liked playing with all of the Geckos...
Lava Tree State Park
Tree molds formed in the Ohi'a Forest in 1790 when lava flow swept through. It's a really nice trail with a close view of Hawaii's tropical plants and beautiful tree's. Great walk for kids.
Charlotte size church in Pahoa
We spent a lot of time at the very relaxing Hot Pond in Ahalanui Park. It's a geothermal pond mixed with sea water right off the ocean. We liked it so much we went in the morning and evening when we could. It was also a great place to teach Charlotte to snorkel.
In between our soak's in the HOT POND we drove the Red Road. It's especially pretty between Kapoho and Kalapana. We saw beautiful views of the black lava rock and blue water.
Black sand beach... Clothing optional.
We drove until the road ends in Kilauea. The lava made it's way into the area from 1983-1991 and took out 181 homes and eight miles of coastal highway.
We walked on a trail through the lava fields that ended at this beautiful Black Sand Beach.
Volcanoes National Park
Warning signs of Volcanic Fumes are placed throughout Volcanoes National Park. While on the Chain of Craters Road we saw signs warning us to keep our windows rolled up and to recycle our air. You start to wonder... should we even be here? :)
Thurston Lava Tube
A highlight for Charlotte at the National Park was the Thurston Lava Tube. We walked through the rain forest before we entered the 500 year old lava tube. We ended up exploring it twice; once in daylight and later that night. Make sure you take a flashlight if you go at night. It was nice to have the Lava Tube to ourselves once the sun went down!
Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook
Pu'u Huluhulu Cinder Cone
Chain of Craters Road
Holei Sea Arch
Charlotte about to take flight with all the wind.
Village of Volcano
We left the park for dinner and went to the nearby Village of Volcano. This would be a great place to stay if your wanting to stay near the park. The village is small but very charming and has a hand full of Bed and Breakfast. We ate dinner at Volcano's Lava Rock Cafe.
I couldn't resist the explosion burger!
Crater Rim Drive- Steam Vents
After dinner we drove the Crater Rim Drive. We stopped to see the steam vents before heading to the Jaggar Museum.
We arrived around 6:15p.m and stayed for a while watching the orange glow from the crater. The lava lake in the vent fluctuates from 230 ft to 500 ft below the surface.If you go make sure you bring a jacket. Once the sun went down it got chilly.
Hilo- Banyan Drive
Hilo's Hall of Fame
From 1933-1972 Hilo's visiting celebrities planted Banyan Tree's on Banyan Drive. We saw tree's planted by Babe Ruth and Amelia Earhart. Others include Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, important religious leaders and politicians.I was surprised to see Heber J. Grants name on one of the trees. He was a prophet of my church. All together there are 50 Banyan Tree's.
Onekahakaha Beach Park
Great Tide Pools for kids in Hilo.
The Hamakua Coast is a beautiful drive through jungles and waterfalls with stunning views of the ocean. There are several plantation towns along the way. We stopped at the Akaka Falls and after lunch drove to the Waipi'o Valley.
The scenery changed as we drove a few miles inland past ranches before arriving at the Akaka Falls. It was a beautiful short hike to the falls and perfect for kids. Hard to see but I'm on the right with a huge Banyan tree.
Charlotte was a little thirsty!
We were happy we had a 4 wheel drive so we could drive down into the Waipio Valley. The drive is steep and the road isn't great but it's worth driving down to see the beautiful Valley.
One of the more popular beaches on the Big Island. We were happy to find a beach with sand. :)
Charlotte boogie boarding
Kapoho Tide Pools
We had so much fun snorkeling in the Tide Pools near our rental house. It's a great area for snorkeling and really calm which was nice for Charlotte.
After snorkeling we went to theCape Kumukahi Lighthouse that escaped the 1960's lava flow. The lava literally went around the Lighthouse then rejoined and entered the ocean. We drove along the ocean through lava fields and swam in Champagne Pond... another thermally heated fresh/sea water pond.
Maku'u Farmer's Market in Pahoa
Hmmm... Charlotte in Shave Ice Heaven!
Charlotte found a coconut purse.
Ho'okena Beach Park
We wanted to see spinner dolphins so we drove to the pier near Kealakekua Bay and rented a kayak. Once in the water we were circled by a pod of spinner dolphins. A spunky baby dolphin belonged to this pod and lucky for us was a show off and gave us a great show! We also saw the Captain Cook Monument in the bay... he was killed here in a fight with the Hawaiians in 1779.
Funny sign near the bay. I love the part about the toothless lady.
Recommendations for the Big Island: 1. This was our first visit to the Big Island and we quickly learned there is a reason it's called the "Big Island". The Hilo side doesn't have great beaches and it took a few hours to drive to a good beach on the Kona side. If we were going to visit the Big Island again we would spend our last few days near a great beach on the Kona side. 2. Rent a jeep so you can go off-road.