Monday, March 22, 2010

welcome to the island of hawaii...

Often called the Big Island or Hawaii Island...this island is larger than all the other Hawaiian islands combined. So what exactly is it that draws visitors to the big island of Hawaii? Apparently it's the smoking volcanoes with their jets of fiery red lava...that are the biggest drawing card. (We passed on the tour of the volcanoes...since we had been there on a previous visit.) Where once the economy was driven by sugar is now mostly about tourism.

I'll take you on a brief tour of the island today...and then re-visit a few of my favorite spots another day. We stayed on the Kona area where it is hot and dry. If you were expecting palm trees and lush rainforests upon would be in for a surprise.

The area around the airport appears rather I would imagine the surface of the moon to look! From the slopes down to the sea...everything is volcanic rock.

Kailua Kona is all about hotels and cruise ships...the centre of tourism and also the prime coffee bean growing area. Not far from our resort is a sheltered snorkel spot...Kahaluu Beach Park (sometimes called Turtle Bay).

Fed by a fresh water spring...these waters are almost always calm, with colorful corals, rock formations, and hundreds of species of fish. Oh...and did I mention sea turtles?

We swam with the fish...and the turtles...every few days. I invested in an underwater camera...thinking I might capture the reality of what it really is like under the water...but lets just say it was not a Canon!

These fish swam about right near the shore...easy to photograph without getting wet.

The southern tip of the Big Island is the most southerly point in the USA. It's rather a remote little landmark...poorly marked and down one lane dirt roads...but with a little determination, even Canadian tourists can find there way there.
It's a popular fishing area...and the home of wind farms...since the wind never lets up.

We reached the end of the trail...parked our vehicle...and hiked an hour along the coast to Green Sands Beach.

The wind howled the entire sunglasses are permanently sandblasted...but the views were breathtaking and seeing the green sand was worth the effort!

Green sand is formed by the gemstone olivine (also called peridot) and has been brought to the surface through volcanic action. This particular beach is the most well-known and beautiful...but there are many pockets of green sand on the Big Island.

We had our lunch on the beach...watched someone spear-fishing...and then began our trek back down the long and windy trail. We took note of the signs warning us that it was an offense to remove any sand. We tried our hardest to leave it behind...but it seems we had no choice in the matter!

Though the big island of Hawaii is not known for it's fabulous sand does have one of the world's top-rated beaches as it's own.

Hapuna Beach is part of a state park...and has a 1/2 mile beautiful white sand beach. The turquoise water has perfect waves for bodysurfing or boogie boarding fun. We spent a wonderful day at Hapuna.

The eastern side of the Big Island is a whole different world from the desert area where we stayed. It is in this tropical rainforest that Hilo is situated....Hawaii's second largest city. It happens to be the wettest city in the USA...and maybe the world...with an average of over 200 inches of rainfall per year. Hilo has also taken the brunt of several tsunamis...160 people lost their life in 1946 and another 61 in 1960. We arrived in Hawaii the day after the tsunami scare of 2010...though all was well this time, a major evacuation took place along all coastlines of the Big Island. The resort at which we stayed had also been totally evacuated.

If you ever have a chance to visit the Hilo sure to check out Rainbow Falls right in Hilo.

Or...take an eleven mile drive north...and visit Akaka Falls, a scenic attraction that draws more than one million visitors every year.

Though zip-lining had never been on my radar screen...I somehow found myself in a group of a dozen zip-line enthusiasts on an adventure on the North Kohala Coast.

This area lies about ninety minutes north of the Kona Coast...a beautiful area of rainforests, waterfalls, and canyons in a wild and uneven terrain.

Our adventure included a half-hour trip into the hills in an army vehicle...eight ziplines and a suspension bridge. The course begins with shorter ziplines...and ends with one that is more than 1500 feet long. By then there is no turning back!

Having survived the zip-line adventure...we drove to nearby Waimea and cattle ranching country. The interior of the island is mostly pastoral meadows and rolling hills...and much of it is owned by the largest private ranch in the United States...the Parker Ranch.

We had visions of touring the we had done about a dozen years ago...but found that visitors are no longer welcome on the ranch and tours are a thing of the past. The ranch can trace it's origins to one John Palmer Parker who arrived on the island from Massachusetts in 1809. He befriended the King...and eventually married the daughter of a Hawaiian chief. In 1847 he purchased the lands that were to become the Parker Ranch. That is more than 160 years ago...and the ranch still has over 50,000 head of cattle and 500 we are told.

That, my an overview of the Big Island of Hawaii...and ends our tour for today. I looks more like a social studies lesson than a vacation. We'll return one day soon...for a second look. You wanted to see every flower I documented...every fish that I tried to photograph...and all the feathered friends that gathered near my chaise lounge...and those hundreds of sunset shots...right? I'll try not to disappoint you!

Have a fabulous Monday...


  1. Loved my "re-visit" to the island of Hawaii. Thank you.:-) Our daughter lived in Hilo for a year and taught at a small Christian school that is no longer there, so we visited her and the island. Such a difference from side to side! and so many beautiful things contained on such a small space! First time around I was so amazed to find such a huge, successful cattle ranch on the island - I guess all the beauty of water falls, beaches of all kinds and colors, flowers, etc. were expected, but a cattle ranch?! Now I anxiously await the next episode of your travelogue. :-)

  2. I love your social studies tours. You are the best travel writer I know and I find I have more questions answered here than any sites I check for info. This has been an island that we've been thinking of visiting in the next few years and you do a very good job for their tourism.

    I'll be back alright for the rst of the story.

  3. What a wonderful tour. I love seeing the world through another blogger's eyes. You really trekked about and I hadn't put in my "stuff I know file" that Hawaii boasts the southern most point in the U.S.A....
    Love that green sand beach and the waterfalls!

  4. much more interesting to visit a place when it is your daughter's home! We have been to the Big Island several times...with our friends who lived there for a short period of time when they served with YWAM. It's nice to have 'local' tour guides! I understand that there are 13 climate zones on planet earth...and 11 of them can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is quite amazing!

  5. I loved your brief tour of the island and the lovely photos with it.
    Will be checking for the rest of the story..

  6. I love these blogging tours!
    Someday I'll visit Hawaii, but for now I'll depend on you to show me what I'm missing.

  7. Looks absolutely beautiful-thanks for taking us on the tour! :) Makes me want to go back.

  8. Beautiful... informing! With the peridot being my birthston - the green sands beaches sounded interesting. At the end I miss-read your feathered friends as weathered friends...and thought you were just trying to be funny about your friends (our age group) spending time in the sun...and maybe you have some of those pics too?

  9. You're absolutely right, Judy. I did love this post, and I will love seeing every flower, fish and feathered friend you encountered.

    Green sand? Who knew?! And, the waterfalls are gorgeous.

    Kona is my favorite coffee of all.

  10. Hi Judy, thank you for sharing a bit of your Hawaii with us. As I've never been, it was all new to me. I enjoyed your narrative and all the good information. And the beautiful scenery too. That one island has quite a diverse landscape.

  11. I enjoyed seeing The Big Island through your words and camera lens Judy.

    My son and daughter-in-law honeymooned on three Hawaiian islands, but did not stay long on the big island, but they do hope to return one day.

    I also know a woman who was the daughter of a "Nisei" -- a second generation Japanese who grew up in Hilo, Hawaii. She runs a ballet school here in Brooklyn, and has written a beautiful ballet dance tribute to WWII Japanese American Veterans.

    Seeing all your wonderful photos and learning more about Hawaii from your commentary makes me hope to see it myself. The turquoise water and lush greenery are so beautiful!

  12. Loved seeing this via your photos and descriptions. I hadn't realized how varied the big island is in climate, etc. Sand-blasted? Oh dear! Hope that they weren't your best sunglasses, but better them than your eyes! Lovely colors in the water...since my hubby is reading a book about Krakatoa, my eyes perked up. Ha!

  13. Your foot tour has more experiences to offer than our 2 hour helicopter tour. Oh well, we touched base and made some wonderful memories.
    The Island of Hawaii is an ever fascinating piece of geography....from the lava flows to the lush green farm lands.

  14. I completely enjoyed your tour and beautiful photos. We went a couple of years ago and visited the big island and also Oahu. I loved everything about the trip. The scenery is gorgeous, the rainbows plentiful, the fresh fruit delicious and that wonderful Kona coffee. We are talking about another family vacation and both of our boys want to go back to Hawaii.
    I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

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'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson