Monday, May 15, 2017

Ten Days in Hawaii - Day 8: Waimea

Doug and Ev were up early for their snorkeling trip, but the rest of us got up later and were in no rush to hit the road.   Here are a few pictures Ev took of their morning snorkeling.

There is a head sticking up in the center of the picture almost to the horizon that is Doug's.
There's a sea lion in the surf.

Who decides to take a nap on the beach.
Time for breakfast.  You can see there's a cruise ship anchored in the bay in the background.

Heather, Cathy, Val and I left around 9:00 for our road trip to the northern part of the island.  We followed an inland route which took us above Kona, and for the first part of our trip the vegetation was tropical.  Further north we passed through a volcanic region with evidence of lava tubes and channels along the road.

As we drove further north the terrain looked more like what you might find in the western mainland as it was rolling hills and grasslands.  The grass was lusher, but if you were dropped into that area you would never know you were in Hawaii.  As we neared the northern crossroads town of Waimea, we started to see cattle grazing on the huge 180,000 Parker Ranch that has a history dating back to the early 1800’s.  The story of the ranch is very interesting, but rather than try to recount it here, follow this link to read about the ranch history.

It was a wonderful drive through this land of rolling hills and green grass with a view of Mauna Kea in the background.  Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano and is the highest peak in Hawaii at 13,802 feet high.  It is actually much higher as it starts at the sea bed and if measured from there, it stands over 33,000 feet high.  Its footprint covers about 23% of the Island which is impressive, but not nearly so impressive as Mauna Loa to the south, which covers over 50% of the island.

Waimea is a crossroads of the northern part of the island as you can choose to go to the Northern Coast, The East Coast or West Coast from the town.  We had planned to eat lunch in Waimea, but it was too early so we decided to go east and see Waipio Valley.  The drive east was equally beautiful with the vegetation growing more lush as we traveled east.

At the end of the road was the Waipio Lookout where you could look down into the beautiful Waipio Valley.  The view into the canyon and up the coast was stunning.  Unfortunately, the only way down was on a very steep (25% grade) four-wheel drive road.  They actually had someone checking and you weren’t allowed on the road unless you had the proper vehicle.  You can also hike down, but that wasn’t for us.  I would love to go back and explore that area in a future visit.

Pictures don't really do this beautiful spot justice.

Cathy, Heather, Val and I.

There were several cats around that seemed to call the lookout home, but this one clearly did not like having its pictures taken.

After we had marveled at the view for a while we headed back towards Waimea.  We stopped in the town of Honokaa and made a few purchases in some of the shops and then it was back on the road to Waimea.  By now it was lunchtime so we stopped at a restaurant Heather had read about online called The Fish and The Hog.  As you might guess they specialize in fish and pork and we sampled both.  Val had a fish sandwich, Cathy had pulled pork, Heather had a French dip brisket and I had fish tacos.  The fish of the day was swordfish, which was excellent and Heather and Cathy said their pork was very good also.

After lunch, we drove north out of Waimea to the North Coast town of Hawi.  The road was along the spine of an ancient volcanic ridge and was a beautiful drive.  At one point as we crested a ridge there was what looked like a very large mountain in the distance, which was actually the island of Maui, which is only 30 miles away.  We had read in our "Hawaii The Big Island Revealed" guidebook that there was a gourmet ice cream made on the Big Island called Tropical Dream that was sold in Hawi so we decided to stop there for desert.  I’m not much of an ice cream eater, but I got a hot fudge sundae made with coconut, almond, fudge swirl ice cream and it was very, very good.  Val got the same, but not the hot fudge.  Heather and Cathy decided to pass on desert, but when the sampled ours, they couldn’t resist and got their own.  It was well worth the stop.

From Hawi we drove east to the end of the road to another lookout where you could see Pololu Beach.  It wasn’t as spectacular as Waipio, but it was worth the drive.  There is a trail down to the beach, which provides more spectacular views, but it was steep and no one wanted to take the walk.  I walked down a little ways and even the short walk back was very steep.

Polulu Beach
The trail doesn't look that steep, but I discovered just how steep it was coming back up.
It was getting late so we decided it was time to head back home.  We turned around and drove to the west side of the island and turned south.  This area between the north end and Kona is not the most scenic, but has many of the nicest resorts on the big island.  We made no more stops except in the traffic through Kona and were home just before 6:00.

Doug and Ev were a little disappointed in their snorkeling spots today, but still had a good time so we all had an excellent day.  It was a quiet night and everyone went to bed early as we are getting up early to have one last morning of snorkeling on our last day.

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