|Blue flowers on a vine|
Entrance of Hawaii
Tropical Botanical Garden
A must see
Our favorite of the three Hawaiian islands: folks thinking and living outside the box and uncertainty due to active volcanoes…
The very nature of having active volcanoes at your doorstep gives the Big Island a completely different feel. The uncertainty that it brings to everyday life means people live more in the moment, enjoying what is there right now for it may not be there tomorrow. We visited a small town that lost many of its homes and the world’s longest black sand beach to hot lava around 1990-1992. We were able to speak with the ‘survivors’ who stated it was the slowest natural disaster. They were able to walk alongside the hot red lava engulfing everything giving you time to think how bad it will be once it’s over unlike a rapid tornado.
|Volcanic rock arch|
|Sheer volcanic coastline|
The youngest of the islands at a mere 800,000 years it is not only the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, it is the largest island in the US. It is nearly twice as large as all other Hawaiian Islands combined. Although it is 7 times larger than Oahu, Oahu has 5 times the population! So large in fact that all growing zones are found in the many microclimates created here. On the west side you’ll barely get 5 inches of rain while the east side can receive over 130.
|Gigantic (see cars to left) monkeypod tree|
|Day gecko - brightly colored|
|Playing hide and seek|
|Rose of Siam from the ginger family|
|Bat Plant - very unusual flower|
|Hanging lobster claws|
|Dreaded snails that eat your gardens/flowers, etc|
|Another beautiful banyan tree|
|... and designs|
|Onomea waterfalls - part of botanical garden|
Closer one in bloom, flowers on trunk!
Farther one covered with cannonballs
the size of grapefruits
This island is built from five separate volcanoes (oldest to youngest): Kohala (extinct), Mauna Kea (dormant), Hualāli (active), Mauna Loa (active) and Kilauea (active and has been erupting continuously since 1983). Since some volcanoes are still active, the Big Island is getting bigger every year. About 22 miles SE lies an undersea volcano called Loihi. Erupting regularly and still over 3,000 feet below sea level, the Big Island will have a sister island popping over the watery horizon sometime in the next 10,000 to 100,000 years.
Mauna Kea is the tallest sea mountain in the world, with a summit that stands 13,796 feet above sea level, and rises over 32,000 feet from its base on the ocean floor, making it taller than Mt Everest. It is the most massive mountain in the world, covering half the island. The Big Island is home to the southernmost point in the US (Ka Lae) as well as the southernmost bar in the US.
|Akaka falls 442 feet|
|Rock 'egg' coming out of red clay|
|These signs are seen in many locations|
Another reminder of life on the 'edge'
|From a distance, Kilauea Caldera|
Halema'uma'u Crater - smoke - can only see red
colors at dark
|So moonscape like Kilauea Iki Crater|
Smoke puff in center
|In the crater|
|Ohi'a Lehua tree prevails in Hawaii's volcanic soil|
|Close up of flowers - all stages at once (bloom, bud, etc)|
|In the plant kingdom|
Ferns are first to come back
|Thurston lava tube - nowhere as exciting as Tahiti's|
Although our dream was to see lava flowing into the sea we didn’t have the opportunity. The lava hasn’t reached the ocean for about 10 months now. Things are always in flux with active volcanoes and right now the lava is following a different, non-reachable, path.
The Big Island is also home to one of the largest ranches (Parker Ranch at 175,000 acres or 11% of the island) in the US. Today the ranch is a Foundation Trust committed to the betterment of the community of Waimea (Hawaiian cowboy town) as well as providing perpetual support for beneficiaries engaged in healthcare, education and charitable support.
|Pu'uloa Petroglyphs, a few of the 23,000!|
|Road Closed - what's your first clue?|
|Inevitable migration over the road to the ocean|
|Mike in the midst of lava swirls, ocean waves, sky clouds|
|They have not reopened the road since |
and probably not anytime soon
|Lava 'mushrooms' created by lava flowing |
around tree trunks
|Same phenomenon in the woods|
The island is known for its astronomy and numerous telescopes are operated on the summit of Mauna Kea, where atmospheric clarity is excellent and there is little light pollution. They even make you go down the hill 30 minutes before sundown so your car headlights don’t mess with their telescopes.Although tourism is a great source of income, they focus more on sustainable tourism here than on the other islands.
Twenty percent of its electricity comes from the clean heat emerging from mother earth below. Some people are fighting the expansion of such projects opting rather for not so clean diesel consuming generators… Not sure that one makes sense in an environment like this beautiful island.Some banyan trees lining Banyan Tree Road near the ocean’s east side were planted by people like Richard and Pat Nixon, Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, and Franklin Roosevelt.
|Tough to grow in black sand|
Replanting near black sand beach
|This church had to be moved twice to stay away|
from the encroaching lava - it was saved!
The very nice Lyman Museum’s Missionary House was also visited by a known person, namely Mark Twain. This house is the oldest standing wood structure on the island and was just about demolished when a new road was going to be built where it was standing. The owner had the house cut in ½, rotated 90 degrees and moved away from the road for safekeeping.
Visiting the various stores around town looking for locally made items we see a store that sells hats, rugs, and hats that look very much like what they make in Rurutu. We check it out and it turns out that they do – what is amazing however is that the lady who owns the store sells these items for 10 times the price you would buy them in Rurutu. She says she’s helping them keep their art alive – I say she’s helping her wallet a lot…
|Kapolo tide-pools - great for snorkeling|
|Japanese-like gardens in Hilo|
Much like in French Polynesia, there used to be a lot of sandalwood on the islands and there is a movement to bring it back. It is very time consuming for all saplings have to be protected from the wild goats, pigs, moles, rats, and sheep around the island. Each plant needs a companion plant to grow well so much trial and error is part of this lengthy process. One of the things that may help keep sandalwood trees from being cut down are the nuts they produces. They are supposedly delicious tasting like a combination of coconut and macadamia nut. If they could get money for the nuts while the tree reach maturity to be cut for wood they probably could make a go of it.
Another important tree to that region is the Koa tree and very few remain. Seeds are eaten by non-native species of animals (in this case mostly cattle) and birds making it nearly impossible to germinate on their own, needing the intervention of man… It is similar in strength to walnut but it is also a tone wood meaning it sounds very good when turned into a string instrument like a ukulele or a guitar.
|Kaumana tunnel - yep the ground is that red|
|View of Mauna Loa from Mauna Kea|
|One of the many smaller craters along the way|
|Offering on top of a hill overlooking Mauna Loa|
|Wild sheep crossing lava field|
|Nearly 200 of them|
|Tiny blue and white church by ocean|
We have toured the whole island and want you to enjoy the pictures that best show what we saw.
|Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Park (Place of Refuge)|
|Place of Refuge 'totems'|
|Place of Refuge wood sculptures|
|Ranger helping with fishing the old way|
A long line braided with pandanu leaves to float ahead
of people forming a circle to push the fish and
some turtles to beach
|Probably 400 feet of line cast off|
|Line is all in the water|
|Closing in on the fish|
|Bringing it back to land|
|In the ever diminishing circle yellow tinged water|
|Final product - all caught were safely returned to the ocean|
|Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site|
Double-canoe pirogue to take people on tour of bay
Exact replica of ones used by natives in the past
|Pu'ukohola Park - Mailekini Heiau Temple|
Said that rocks were hand-carried from 30
miles away in 1790
|Same park - offerings over the ocean|
|Lapakahi State Historical Park|
Golden wheat to black volcanic rocks to blue ocean
|Reconstruction of original dwelling|
|Well preserved for being nearly 100 years old|
|View from our room in Puna|
We stayed at an intentional community
The ocean is 4.3 miles away!