Big Island road trip

08/29/2014 - 09/03/2014
by Andy

Day 1 - 2 East Coast

We took an afternoon flight from Lihue via Honolulu to Hilo, Big Island, from where we went straight to the hotel. The next day we drove along the East coast of Big Island in our rented car and made many stops along the way, we visited the Hawaii Botanical garden, which is really nice, close to the ocean with great variety of flowers, then we continued towards Pololu Valley Lookout, there is a trail going down to the beach, great place for sunset. On the way back we stopped at the Waipio Valley Lookout, which is one of my favorites with another beach in the bottom, though this area might be private. 

Day 3 Volcanoes National Park

Today we went on exploring the Volcanoes national park. We were a bit scared whether we would be able to get there along the east route, since a week ago Big Islands was hit by the Category 1 hurricane and some roads were still impassable, but we did. Later we used the main entrance to get there, we started at the visitor center to check out the current status and from there continued to Kilauea Iki trail, great trail down to the crater. From there it was really close to the Lava tunnel, which was also nice to see, but bit more touristy. Along the Chains of the crater road we went down to the coast and to the Holei sea arch. Last time we hike from here to the active lava flow, but current surface activity was way too far away so we did not go further. On the way back we did a short hike around steaming vents and ended up at Kilauea Overlook, where we waited till sunset to see the red lava down the crater. After that we returned to our accommodation in Hilo.

Day 4 Watterfalls, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea

Today we explored the nearby waterfalls (Akaka falls and the Rainbow falls), both were really nice, at Akaka falls there is a short trail up to the falls that goes through very nice nature and at Rainbow falls, above them, there is a huge tree worth seeing. From there we continued up to Mauna Loa observatory, there was also a trail head to climb Mount Loa, but the hike takes long and we did not have much time, so we drove there just to acclimatize a bit. The road up to the Observatory was amazing, curvy, with numerous dips and really fun to drive. From there we continued to Mauna Loa, we made a brief stop at the Visitor center and then continued in our small sedan up to the Observatory at 4205 m above sea level. We made it up even in this type of car and the view were really nice. We waited here for about 2 hours, did a short hike up to the summit and then just waited for the sunset. Gladly we had warm clothes since the temperature dropped to about 5°C. On the way down we made many stops to watch the falling stars, we wanted to use the telescopes at the visitor center, but it was already in the clouds so we would see nothing. 

Day 5 From Hilo to Kona

Today we spend a lot of time on the road since we needed to get to Kona from where we took another flight back to Honolulu. Along the way we stopped at a black sand beach, southern most point of the USA, from where it was about one hour hike to the Green sand beach and at the end of the day we stopped at a secret white sand beach, which we found amazing, even though the beach was not as private as it was during our first visit.

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