Today Jess and I got up at the crazy hour of 5:45am (gak – this is a vacation right?) for our island bus tour. We did one of these on Maui last year so I felt I knew what to expect. I was mostly right but not completely. Instead of a bus for about 12-16 we were on a full size bus that was capable of carrying 57. We only were carrying 54.Yikes!
When the bus arrived to pick us and three other people from our resort up, we were the second to last to be picked up so seating was VERY limited. We took seats about midway down the bus but as Jess and I sat down we found that her chair back was broken. It wouldn’t stay in the full upright position. This made things quite awkward for the person seated behind Jess as she would have had Jess in her lap all day long. As a compromise, Jess was able to lean partially against the window and half against the seat without it falling backwards. No other seats were available for us to have together to we (Jess really) toughed it out for the whole trip.
Let me begin with saying that the trip took 13+ hours, the last 1.5 or so were dropping people off at the airport and various resorts. By the time it was done we were all exhausted, the least of all was Tommy our driver. After he dropped off all the tourists for the day he had to run the bus back to its location and then drive 50 miles home. like a 16 or 17 hour day for him. Let me say now, Tommy was awesome. He was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, myths and legends, state of the economy in Hawai’i, details on the past and present crops of the islands and which bathrooms were the cleanest.
This entry will be an abridged version of our activities as it is part a blur and partly because there is so much to talk about.
We started off in Kona (the dry side of the island) heading South. We leveled out and headed East for a period of time before turning Northeast. We stopped off in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park before continuing Northeast around until we hit Hilo (the wet side of the island). Hilo is the second largest city on the island behind Kona. After Hilo we turned and were now heading Northwest into the Waimea region. From Waimea we headed Northeast finally ending up in Kona again.
The big things that we did see on our tour were the black sand beaches of Punalu’u where in addition to the unique sand we were able to see a couple of sea turtles.
Heading Northeast we hit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park where we saw massive crater with gas issuing forth from it.
Further up the road we stopped off at Lava Tree state Park where we got to take a stroll through a lava tube. It was about 100 yards long, was damp and had tree roots hanging down from the ceiling.
We also stopped along the way at Monaloa Macadamia Nut factory where we had wonderful Kona Coffee & Macadamia/Coconut ice cream. Delish! We also stopped at the Big Island Candies where were walked thru and got samples for our troubles.
Our last stop was at Rainbow Falls but because of the time of day and weather patterns there were no rainbows out.
Finally we headed home. Later on we went out to eat at Rapanui. It is a local joint tucked into a small mall. The food was great. Jess had the Paw Paw chicken and home rice and I had the Pork Satay with home rice. This place was recommended to us along with the home rice. The rice was good but not mind-blowing.
Finally we head back home where we sleep the sleep of the dead.
More to come…