We arrived on “the Big Island” mid-day on an easy inter-island flight through Honolulu. After stopping for groceries and getting settled in we still had some daylight to spare, so we relaxed by snorkeling at Kahaluu Beach, less then 10 minutes away. One reviewer said this is like snorkeling in an aquarium and we completely agree with them.
Over the course of the week we drove the entire perimeter of the island and across the middle, putting on a butt-tiring 200 miles one of the days. With a lot of world yet to see we may not be back, so we figured that we should explore as much as we could while we’re here. Carpe Diem!
It is very interesting to see the variety of contrasts on this island from barren fields of lava rock, to deciduous forests, rainforests, rolling farmland, developed and undeveloped beach. Many times we saw cows or horses grazing on huge parcels of oceanfront property!
Since we have visited the Southernmost Point in the U.S. (continental, that is) we had to visit Ka Lae, the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii and of the 50 states. Other highlights of the week include:
- Mauna Kea – At 13,796 feet above sea level it’s the tallest island-mountain in the world. When measured from its oceanic base, the total height is 33,476 feet – making it taller than Mount Everest. The peak also houses the world’s largest astronomical observatory operated by 11 different countries. It was a rare and memorable moment to stand on top taking it all in, and being higher than the clouds.
- Volcanoes National Park – It’s a good thing we really wanted to see the volcanoes because we had to push through 40 mph winds and spitting rain. As one park ranger noted about the rain, “It’s the more authentic rainforest experience!” We’ve seen volcanic rock that’s millions of years old, but what really struck me here was touching lava that erupted from Kīlauea in 2003. Just nine years ago, the material I’m holding in my hand was somewhere in the center of the earth.
- Snorkeling – We snorkeled several times during the week and only scratched the surface of what was available. It was so convenient! You step in from the beach, put your mask in the water and boom – surrounded by a colorful array of fish, coral and eel.
I guess it’s a sign we’ve done vacation right when on the last afternoon laying on the warm black and white speckled sand we both drifted off to sleep after snorkeling. When I woke up I couldn’t help being reminded of this quote:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, covered in scars, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘Yahoo! what a ride’. ~Unknown