April 2, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 3

As we have discovered, a week long stay wasn't enough to see everything the Big Island has to offer. What we had was just a sampler and there are many more areas to visit next time. In the meantime, here are a few more highlights from the Big Island.

tourists and cliff divers at South Point
early morning breakfast stop at Aloha Lehua Cafe
in Pahoa on the way to Lava Tree Park

Lava Tree Park in Pahoa was another off the beaten path attraction and a pleasant stop on our day drive around Puna. It was a quick and easy walk around the circular path that can be done in less than 30 minutes. The signs and posters were very informative with all the details describing how the lava trees were formed.

Lava Tree Park and signage

Hamakua Macadamia Nuts ~ factory tour,
tasting and shopping
We had a relaxing drive and visit to the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company located in Kawaihae on the northwestern side. The production area was bright and very clean. It was fun to see and taste the many interesting flavors of macadamia nuts at the store.

Dan'o Doner's Mediterranean afternoon snacks in Waimea
Akaka Falls ~ a spectacular sight more than 400 feet 
in height is a popular tourist destination
these homes close to the beach (top photo)  
seemed to be buried by lava rocks in Puna
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden 
colorful orchids at the botanical garden
The $15 admission fee may sound steep but this well-designed botanical garden in a rainforest setting was worth a visit. We enjoyed about 3 hours leisurely walking around and admiring the many varieties of exotic flowers, tropical plants and trees along the garden paths. Bugs and mosquitoes were not a problem when we were there in January but we read that they can be bothersome during the hot and humid summer days. Visitors are advised to bring (or purchase from their store) mosquito repellent and bug sprays just in case.

Punalu'u black sand beach 
One of the best attractions in downtown Hilo is the Hilo Farmer's Market. Wednesdays and Saturdays are the big market days where over a hundred vendors congregate to sell their specialties. We checked it out on a less busy Saturday afternoon and a few more vendors were still there. We bought papayas (a bargain at 6 pieces for $2) and rambutans (shown below).

tropical fruits from Hilo Farmer's Market
We strolled around Queen Liliuokalani park in downtown Hilo (shown below) on a weekend. Many locals were out there having picnics and enjoying the sunny weather with their families. There were a few paddleboarders and kayakers on the lake as well. The park has a neat Japanese Garden on one side with a bright red pagoda, a popular site for weddings, wedding photo shoots and other events.

Queen Liliuokalani park in Hilo
farewell to Hilo dinner at Pond's ~ classic island cuisine
along Kalanianaole Avenue 
I guess I have to say the island's name is spot on, it's really that big! We covered only half of it so hopefully our next visit will take us over to the Kona side. We were happy and comfortable in Hilo. It was a convenient base for us to visit the Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Kea, both on top of our list of attractions to see. Aside from that, it has always been our preference to stay in low key and less crowded locations away from the more touristy spots. Our off the beaten path travel destinations may be boring :-) for those who enjoy more amenities and activities that bigger resorts offer. We look forward to returning to Hawaii. We plan to visit the other islands someday but for now, I believe we have found our paradise in the Big Island :-) Aloha and Mahalo!

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