A Travellerspoint blog

First Day to Explore the Big Island

Beaches & Volcanos

semi-overcast 25 °C

First stop on this wonderful day is Queen's Bath, a lava tube flooded with fresh spring water. You can snorkel a long way in either direction from the access point, a skylight with a ladder. It's super freaky and we don't have our head lamps or snorkeling gear, so we hang close together around the sky lit areas.

Nate in Queen's Bath

Nate in Queen's Bath

Next we make our way down the beach to Kiholo Bay in search of sea turtles grazing along the beach. The turtles are plentiful drifting back and forth with the waves in the shallow water just off the beach. Further down one is sun bathing peacefully on the beach.

Green Sea Turtle at Kiholo Bay

Green Sea Turtle at Kiholo Bay

We stock up at another local organic market and then head up to Mauna Kea volcano, the largest mountain (by volume) in the world. Our minivan isn't meant for steep off-road climbs and we'll have to park it at 9200 feet, where we tour the visitors centre and cook up some veggie burgers for dinner. If we are going to make it to 13 796 feet we'll have to hitch a ride. It doesn't take long before we spot Jonathan (body surfer in his 60's with a bald head and wicked silver beard tied in 2 knots) and Melanie (main lander masseuse learning about Hawaiian energies). Both are super inviting, and clear room in their backseat for us two hitchhikers. They inform us of the Autumnal Equinox today where the sun and moon are aligned. It's really trippy at the summit, we are in another world scattered with space observatories.

Mauna Kea Cinder Cones

Mauna Kea Cinder Cones

Melanie, Nate & Jonathan infront of telescopes

Melanie, Nate & Jonathan infront of telescopes

Mauna Kea is one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky. The way that the air currents flow up and over this hump in the middle of the ocean without turbulence creates very steady star images. Instead of flickering and flashing and twinkling, the stars from atop Mauna Kea are sharp and steady, forming crisp, clear images for astronomers. “Twinkle, twinkle little star” does not apply here. As the sun sets and the moon rises, it is astonishing to be able to see the sun and moon at the same time but on complete opposite sides of the planet. We chat with our new friends, and take in yet another beautiful day. We slowly head back down the steep washboard gravel road to the visitors centre, where we use telescopes to peep at the man on the moon and other astronomical features. Jupiter and its moons are one of the awesome spots visible this time of year.

Mauna Kea Telescopes

Mauna Kea Telescopes

Mauna Kea Sunset

Mauna Kea Sunset

The Hawaiians have many stories of gods and goddesses and it is this Hawaiian mana (spirit) that permeates the Hawaiian experience. It's like the Hawaiian spirit permeates through the natural wonders – each waterfall, each rainbow, each sunset, each moon, each sky overflowing with stars that we experience. So much beauty...

Back to Waikoloa where our comfy bed at Tony and Michelle’s was waiting. We share our days highlights with them before crawling in for the night. Thanks guys for another wonderful couch surfing experience.

Posted by ontarions 19:34 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Off to Conquer the Big Island

sunny 28 °C

On the way to the airport we meet up with Teressa to get an adaptor that I forgot at her place. She ended up giving Julie her book on Hawaiian Huna, with some inspiring words inside the front cover. See you again soon! Then off to the airport. We slip in and out of terminals without a hitch and suddenly we are driving through relatively new sprawling lava fields of the Big Island. This island car rental company first tries to suit us in sporty Mustang convertible since they are out of compacts. That would be some kind of karma, since we had be ragging on all the tourists with Mustangs throughout our travels. Our next option is the stylish Toyota Sienna, a grocery getting, soccer mom minivan. Julie goes with the minivan, because of its practical use, good mileage, and roomy interior. Now we know why the Dickerts like their minivan so much! This one has 6 cup holders within reach of the driver's seat. Beats the zero cup holders in the 1994 Geoprism we had on Maui. Again, the things we take for granted!

Off to Tony and Michelle’s house, our next couch surfing experience on our travels. They have a nice pad and welcome us into their home. We chat about our travels and their travels for hours. It is really great going over our itinerary with them to add the local favs, which aren't touristy and are just as beautiful, if not more!

Posted by ontarions 19:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

North Shore Hostel

...so that is what showering is.

rain 25 °C

We have a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon, okra, cactus, potato and onion. Wow, eggs are awesome. The rain is falling and there is no sun is sight for what seems like the first time in forever. Julie wants to hit a church service, so out we go. After church and hanging out at the hostel for a couple hours, we head out in the rain again in search of the Iao Needle within Iao Valley State Park, a sacred place for Hawaiians.

Ioa Needle

Ioa Needle

Ioa Needle

Ioa Needle

Iao River at Ioa Needle

Iao River at Ioa Needle

Taro Crops

Taro Crops

A thousand yrs ago the Hawaiians would gather in Iao Valley to celebrate the bounty of Lono, god of agriculture. The mana is hawaiian for garden, the photo shows plants in tiered gardens used by the Hawaiians. Kalo (taro) was the staple crop, and the wetland variety was cultivated on levelled earthen terraces. Water was diverted from the stream to flood the terraces though ditches. The Iao Needle is not hard to find, the 2250 foot felty-green pillar of a mountain attracts a lot of attention from tourists. During warfare, the peak of the Iao Needle was used as a lookout by warriors. One bloody battle that took place here was when Kamehameha (Google him) conquered over the Maui warriors in his drive to control the island chain.

Volcanic Rock Wall Construction

Volcanic Rock Wall Construction

On the way back from the Iao Needle, we check out some Hawaiian masonry. These volcanic stones look like they have be harvested off a beach somewhere. Well done.

Posted by ontarions 19:04 Comments (1)

Escape the Grove

semi-overcast 27 °C

The third and final night wasn't as peaceful as the previous two. A group of boy scouts and leaders set up camp beside us, and we listened to repetitive campfire songs all evening which are still stuck in Julie's head. We are excited to head back down off the mountain, to regain the moisture in our skin. It looks like we aged 10 years being up here, our hands are all wrinkly and dried out. On the way back down the mountain we make a quick stop for more cactus fruit, being careful of its prickles.

Cactus Harvesting

Cactus Harvesting

Our next stop is the Maui Swap Meet at the community college. It's a huge collection of clothing, food and collectables. We pick up some good deals and then head to the North Shore Hostel, our home for the last two nights in Maui. We hit the hot showers to scrub off the build up of sunscreen and 3 days of nastiness. This beats showering under a tap with cold water on Haleakala. This makes us realize what we take for granted in life.

The list of internet “to does” is a long one, so we get to work blogging, skyping, and booking accomodations and activities for the Big Island. We eventually head out to the Saigon Cafe for a bite, being that we ate camp food for the past 5 days, we needed a change in flavor. Julie sweats her way through a “mild” yellow curry dish of mahi mahi, and then decides to steer clear of curry form here on. I slap all the hot sauce on the table onto my shrimp, yummy.

Posted by ontarions 18:36 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Hosmer Grove continues.

semi-overcast 25 °C

Yet another morning preparing for a full day of trekking. The Halemau'u Trailhead starts at 7990 feet and descends around 1000 ft to the Haleakala Crater floor within the first couple miles. We pack everything from sweaters to rain gear for the day trek, since the blazing sun can quickly give way to ominous storm clouds. We reach the Silversword Loop after about 4 miles. The Silversword is a threatened plant that thrives here. It is only found three places on earth, here on Haleakala, on Mauna Kea (Big Island) and Mauan Loa (Big Island). The Silverswords have a very shallow root system to catch moisture in the loose cinder and one long tap root to anchor the plant in high winds.

Nate Looking into Haleakala Crater

Nate Looking into Haleakala Crater


Switchback Trail into Haleakala Crater

Switchback Trail into Haleakala Crater


Silverswords in Haleakala

Silverswords in Haleakala

Leleiwi Cliff in Haleakala

Leleiwi Cliff in Haleakala

We continue on and take the trail that leads us through the harsh environment of vast lava fields and around the 'Halali'i cinder cone. We trudge though dusty cinder, wind blowing it in all directions and turning our legs red. You can see for miles across the crater and we see almost noone on the trails. But we did cross paths with Jack and Lisette from Edmonton again. (We met them our first day on Maui in Olawalu). We pass by many beautiful Amau Ferns, some of which have bright red leaves. This color indicates the youngest leaves on the plant, and they slowely turn green with age. The climb back out of the crater is exhausting, Julie looks back down into the crater from the top and can't believe how far we made it.

Black Lava Fields in Haleakala

Black Lava Fields in Haleakala


Halali'i Cinder Cone

Halali'i Cinder Cone

Amau Fern

Amau Fern

A side note about Haleakala:
Haleakala really doesn`t have a crater like Mt. St. Helens does. The top of Haleakala eroded over thousands of years as the ice cap melted leaving a "crater" behind. The melting ice cap created streams, which are now dry river and creek beds. After the ice cap melted and formed the “crater”, many more smaller eruptions formed the cinder cones dotting the inside and outside of the huge volcano. Total trudge 14 miles today.

Posted by ontarions 10:39 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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