|to Maui||to Kaua'i|
|8:00 AM||arrive at Hilo, Hawai'i|
|all day||rent car, explore southeast coast|
|5:00 PM||return car|
|6:00 PM||leave Hilo port|
To bed: 10:39 pm, Got up: 6:59 am (6:56 asleep)
Steps: 11,672 (5.48 miles)
Having learned our lesson on Maui, we arranged for a rental car in Hilo through Expedia the day before arriving in port ($30 for the day). The rental cars are at the nearby airport and we just missed the free shuttle from the boat, got tired of standing in the sun, and took a cab over instead. This had the unplanned benefit of not having to wait in line with other shuttle-riders to get our car. We then proceeded to drive 2 hours down the coast (once again to the end of the road), to Hawaii's green sand beach, Papakolea - one of only 4 such beaches in the world. The road ends at a dirt parking lot, and the beach itself is another 2.75 miles of VERY rough (well, rough for vehicles, anyway) terrain away, but... you can get a ride for $20 per person roundtrip, which is WELL worth the cost! According to our driver, this area of the island has been designated as native Hawai'ians land. According to the internet, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) manages certain public lands in Hawai'i (including this area) on behalf of native Hawaiians. Our driver told us the group offering rides out to the beach are all from one local family that has ties back to ancient Hawaiian royalty. Various sites online indicate that a permit is needed from DHHL for vehicular traffic and/or that persons offering rides from the parking lot are "doing so illegally". I don't know if the family with the fleet of beat-up pickups has permits, but I recall our driver saying something to the effect that they were the only ones allowed to drive there. Whether they see it as their right because they are native Hawaiians and it is their land, or because DHHL permits it, I'm not sure. All I know is we most likely wouldn't have gotten to see the beach without them.
We spent about an hour at the beach, then a very bumpy 20-minute ride back to our car. From there, we drove about 45 minutes back toward Hilo and stopped at a black sand beach (Punalu'u Beach, north of Naalehu). It was not nearly as impressive as Papakolea, and we only spent a few minutes there before jumping back on the road toward Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
We reached Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at about 3 pm. We were about an hour's drive from Hilo, and had to return the car and be back onboard by 5:30. This gave us only about an hour in the park, so after stopping briefly at the Kilauea Visitor Center, we drove 20 minutes in along the Chain of Craters Road to Pauahi Crater, stopped for photos, then turned around and drove back out again, stopping at Lua Manu crater along the way. The Thurston lava tube was closed due to earthquake damage, but we wouldn't have had time to visit it anyway.
|Pauahi Crater||Lua Manu Crater|
|7:00 AM||arrive in Kailua Bay, Hawai'i|
|morning||tender into Kailua/Kona, take local trolley to Kahalu'u Beach Park for snorkeling|
|afternoon||relax on boat|
|5:30 PM||leave Kailua Bay|
To bed: 10:25 pm, Got up: 7:11 am (7:31 asleep)
Steps: 7,442 (3.49 miles)
The ship can't dock at Kailua, so you have to take a tender boat to and from the pier. I wanted to do at least a little bit of snorkeling while in Hawai'i, and there didn't seem to be much else to do at this port; all the car rental agencies are at the airport 30 minutes away, so this is not a good port for renting a car at, which is unfortunate, as there were additional things we could have seen if we'd had a car. In particular, I would have liked to visit Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park (Place of Refuge) which a friend told me about. Instead, Chad visited the Kona Brewery, and the rest of us rode the local trolley ($2 per ride) down to Kahalu'u.While waiting for the trolley, we stopped at the local Maui Divers Jewelry to see if the keys we got on the ship that morning would unlock their 'Win A Prize' treasure chest. I think they said the odds were 1-in-20, and my key was a winner! There were several different types of trinkets inside to choose from, and I selected a small necklace pouch.
When we arrived at Kahalu'u, I rented snorkel equipment from the rental truck there (including a 'prescription' snorkel mask - not perfect, but functional). As cold-natured as I am, I only lasted about 30-45 minutes in the water, but I saw quite a few fish and got some halfway decent photographs with the waterproof digital camera I bought for the trip, so it was worth it. And as I said, there really wasn't much else to do there.
|Convict Tangs||Yellow Tang||Tangs|
|Orange Band Surgeonfish||Reef Triggerfish||Tangs & Triggerfish|
|Redlip Parrotfish||Bullethead Parrotfish||Bullethead & Threadfins||Threadfin Butterflyfish|
|Yellow Tangs, Convict Tangs, Redlip Parrotfish, a Saddle Wrasse, and I think the spotted fish on the right is a Brassy Chub|
|a Black Durgon in the foreground, with Convict Tangs, a Yellow Tang, a Moorish Idol, and some Brown Surgeonfish|
|Convict Tangs and some Yellow Tangs. I think that may be a Brown Surgeonfish way in the back and the spotted fish behind the Yellow Tang is possibly another Brassy Chub.|
|Convict Tangs and a Brown Surgeonfish|
After eating lunch at Kahalu'u, we took the trolley back up to Kailua to the local Walmart where I bought some Kona coffee for a friend and a souvenir mug for myself. We met back up with Chad in line for the tender boat, and made it back onboard in time for Mom and I to go to the Ribbon Lei class. Another souvenir lei for both of us! Mom & I also went to a Harry Potter Movie Trivia game, where I tied with another group for first place (if only I had remembered Swedish Short Snout as the 4th of the Triwizard Tournament dragons!) After dinner, we listened to some old-style country (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash) at one of the bars.
leaving the Big Island
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