Akaka Falls - a State Park just north of Hilo that is a quick, pleasant hike!
cheating a bit because the itinerary weâve been following is from our last trip
in 2005. This was the first time we
didnât get over to Hawaii, âthe Big Islandâ â so named because as all of the
other Hawaiian Islands are eroding away into never-never land, Hawaii continues
to grow (it is actually bigger than all the other islands combined). There are many facets to the Big Island :
Kona is a tourist mecca; you can see snow in Hawaii
by visiting the splendid Mauna Kea Observatory, and; Hawaii is home to numerous ranches and
âHawaiian cowboysâ (paniolo).
But for me the standout
attraction is Volcanoes National Park, home of Kilauea,
the worldâs most active volcano.
a spectacular destination that came back to mind, thanks to Elke (Sunflower300)
as she makes me incredibly jealous with plans to return to Hawaii soon!
Kahuna Falls - another gem in Akaka State Park.
We stayed in Hilo each time we were fortunate enough to
experience this national park. I love
this town â it is very small and has a laid back vibe that is much more relaxed
than in Kona (and if memory serves, Kona is the driest city in the US while Hilo
is the wettest!). While very convenient
to the national park, you can also head north out of Hilo to witness some magnificent water falls.
There is plenty to do at Volcanoes National Park if you enjoy hiking
Steam vents are everywhere and
lend a surreal atmosphere to the setting, accented by the pungent odor of
sulfur (seems like you are sucking on a pack of wet matches). There are miles of trails and you can avoid
the tourist masses by striking out on foot.
The trails can be a bit tricky to follow since the entire landscape is
smooth rock, but there are plenty of cairns
and there is actually a bit of wear from countless footsteps that make the
paths discernible if you really look. I
will never forget the woman in heels who was resting her butt on a cairn with a
huge purse we encountered â we told her we were hiking and she expressed that
you couldnât see any trails. I countered
that there were plenty of cairns,
to which she replied âwhatâs a cairn?â
My response, of course, was âyou are sitting on one!â
Volcanoes National Park
My wife and I hiked about ten
miles here during that inaugural visit in 1995 and had a blast.
Of course we brought the flower leis we had
been given a couple days before and sacrificed them to Pele, the Hawaiian fire
goddess who lives in Kilauea. A native Hawaiian friend insists that we
enforce this ceremony, which only involves placing the lei on the ground and
thanking Pele (although she tells us that Pele appreciates a little nip of gin
with the lei!). Even if you donât strike
out on foot, be sure to visit the Thurston Lava Tubes, which are readily
accessed by vehicle and a fun investigation (formed by massive lava flows where
the outer crust solidified while the rest kept on running to leave the inside
Dad sacrificing his daughter to Pele at one of the steam vents in Volcanoes National Park.
Last time I was actually here was 2000, so I
hesitate to try and provide to many details for fear that they are stale. But if you plan to visit Hawaii,
please check out the Big
Island and its amazing