We arrive on the Big Island and check in for our first night at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The entire complex was so huge that they had a small tram service that made regular stops back and forth to all the various parts of the hotel.
They gave us this map upon our check in. Click here for the official hotel photo gallery if you want to see some really good pictures of the resort.
This was the view from the small balcony of our hotel. Gotta love the hubs travel benefits…can you say automatic upgrade if there is one available! Yea for and ocean view. We slept all night with the lanai door open listening to the waves and the breeze rustling through palm trees outside.
We did a bit of exploring of the hotel facilities on the first evening but we opted to grab a late supper and then hit the ground running in the morning. I will say that the hotel was beautifully landscaped and awesome to look but I am glad that we had only booked one night there. I was not impressed with the service at either of the restaurants we visited nor was I overly impressed with the food. In my opinion it was all window dressing with not much attention to detail. The late supper we got was not very good and the overpriced breakfast we got the next morning was about the same as well.
From an outside observers opinion just about everything we we saw in Hawaii was very expensive. They wanted $25.00 for one adult for the breakfast buffet and even ordering off the regular breakfast menu it ended up costing us the same amount. With two breakfast entrees and two cups of coffee our total was $50.94 for the hubs eggs over medium and bacon and my Eggs Benedict (and my hollandaise sauce is much better by the way!!!), one cup of coffee was $6.00. Thankfully the hotel had given us two $10.00 coupons so the damage was just over $30.00 plus the tip…still HUGE for a breakfast meal.
We chose this hotel because it was very close to the airport and it was easy to pick up the rental car. We checked out the next morning and headed around to the Ka’u & Puna side of the island where our rental condo was!
As we drove around I was a bit taken aback at landscape. It was very different than I had anticipated. I had this tropical paradise in my head from all the movies I had seen. Vision of South Pacific and Father Goose were seared into my brain.
Don’t get me wrong the Hawai’i landscape was beautiful but very different from what I expected.
It was mostly large, massive and ancient lava flows that went on for miles.
Most of the coastal areas were high rocky cliffs with crashing waves.
We made a stop at one of the National parks on the way to the condo. Pu’uhonuo o Hōnaunau National Historic Park. We were even able to use the national Park Pass we picked up at the Grand Canyon last summer, it was still valid. We used that puppy about three or four times total while were visited the three different island. HUGE savings and the best $80.00 we ever spent!
Pu’uhonua which was a place of refuge. This site is one of the only ancient historic places of refuge left in the Hawaiian Island. It was fascinating to walk around and imagine what life was like back in the days when the ancient Polynesian culture was all there was. The puuhonua, or place of refuge was a place very much like a sanctuary. If someone one found themselves in a situation where a law had been broken or they had done something that was worthy of death, and from what I can determine just about everything involving any infringement on the royal family brought about a sentence of death. One account I read about was a servant inadvertently stepping into the shadow of the king and he was sentenced to death. Paying attention to where you stepped in those day I think was a really good idea.
Well this national park was a place of refuge. If the offending person could make it to one of the sanctuaries then they had the opportunity to be exonerated, to be saved from certain death. The received sanctuary and protection from the crime they had committed.
These wooden images are called Ki’i and their purpose is to stand watch over the rebuilt temple.
Just a little comic relief
It once held the bones of 23 ali’i or Noble Chiefs.
Offerings were left to honor the the gods which looked like this. If you look very closely at the larger picture of the temple you can see a tiny glimpse of one of the traditional offering. This is a picture of what they looked like. We saw this one the day we visited the Volcano National Park, I can only assume that some one left it in honor of Pele the goddess of the volcano
It was a wonderful glimpse into the culture of the Islands before things began to change.
From Pu’uhonua we then went to our condo. I am a regular listener to Clark Howard and he recommended this website for vacation rental by owner which was wonderful and we were very pleased with the condo. The internet was horrible but I guess when you are in on a tropical island out in the middle of nowhere you can make allowances, beside vacation is time to unplug, and unplug I did in a big way!
My one complaint was the very high prices of just about everything.
We made a stop at a local grocery store to stock up on supplies for the condo. Just check out the prices….
The condo was very small but clean and it had almost everything we needed.
This was the view from the back patio where I drank my morning coffee and we had our breakfast every day!
a zoom of our view from the back patio!
The condo was about a mile from the Black Sand Beach.It really was black, the sand was much larger and much more coarse that regular sand and this early in the season the water was really really cold! No swimming for this girl for sure!
The was the pool area of the condo. From here you had a very good view of the black sand beach.
All total we spent about six days on the Big Island.
We spent a day at the Volcano National Park.
This is on the top of the volcano at the Jaggar Museum over looking the main crater called Halema`uma`u, to my husbands dismay there were no active lava flows during our visit. It’s all a matter of timing. Had we been there four months ago we would have had a ring side seat for some really nice ones, or so we were told!
This is the Steaming Bluff, on the caldera's edge…kinda cool…
They had Lava Tubes, this one is called the Thurston Lava Tube. Lava tubes happen when the lava travels at such a fast rate that the outer edges cool off before the inner tube does and then when all the lava flows out there is a deep tunnel with in the ground. It was like walking through a deep dark wet dripping tunnel, there were times when the water in the tunnel floor was ankle deep. At one point I had to take my sandals off and just wade barefoot through to avoid getting my shoes ruined.
Pu`u Loa Petroglyphs, facinationg. If you have time click over to the link and read about the very interesting history that surround these ancient symbols. It will surprise you as to what they really mean.
A park ranger told us that the volcano started it's most recent cycle of eruptions back in 1982 and has been erupting on a very constant basis ever since. This lava flow came straight down the side of the mountain and then ran right over the road for about 12 miles.
This road is closed y’all!
At the Jaggar Museum they had lost of scientific equipment and some very interesting facts about the volcano. Check out the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, they have some cool time laps movies of volcanic activity and you can get lava flow updated if you are planning a future trip.
We made a stop at the only winery on the Big Island, The Volcano Winery, I found this picture online as I forgot to take one.
I did get a picture of a few of the vines growing out front, I reminded me of our time in Napa and I came hoe with a bottle of Pinot Grigio to remember the occasion.
We went out to South Point, it is the most southern portion of the United States. My advice don’t stand to close to the edge or the nearly 50 mile an hour wind could just blow you right off, not kidding here. The winds were brutal and a bit scary!
I think the most beautiful scenic vistas we saw on the Big Island was Waipio Lookout. It really was breathtaking.
Then there was Akaka Falls State Park, go there, it is a definite must if you ever get the chance!!!!!!
I have never experienced anything quite like it. It was truly like walking through a lush tropical paradise, the foliage, the bamboo, the huge fern trees, the flowers, the orchids, the waterfalls, an endless display of lush tropical amazing-ness! The walking path is a very short, probably less than a half a mile and it was very easy, there were several sets of stairs but nothing to horrible. But at every turn there was something amazing to see or photograph. The waterfalls, there were two of them were spectacular! It is defiantly the highlight of our time on the Big Island for me anyway!
See the small red flower in the middle!
Look a bit closer…IS GOD COOL OR WHAT!
If you ever get the chance to visit Hawaii I found a lot of very useful information at this website, I was able to order several very helpful planning guide that we had in the car with us as we drove around. The maps and the information they included hit all the highlight and practically everything we saw or visited was mentioned in the information they sent me. So I highly recommend this site and all the information they provided!
You can also check out this website for the Hawaii Natural History Organization as well!
All total we spent six full days on the Big Island, we probably could have done it in maybe four days, five to be sure. It was defiantly an experience of a life time and one that I will remember for a very long time.
Our next stop is the island of Oahu, so I’ll be working that post up next.
Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, The Dole Plantation, Waikiki Beach…
Blessings & Mahalo