The Big Island - Volcano


Helicopters in the morning, airports in the evening…and Walmart, Target and an iHOP in between


MG indulges my love of markets and we go to the local Volcano market, which is up and running by 6:30.  It’s bustling with locals and feels as though the whole town has come to socialize and stock up on local produce and treats.  We wander the stalls, share a delish hot breakfast sandwich and then it’s time to leave Volcano.  We need to go back to the Hilo airport for our volcano-waterfall helicopter tour.  On our 45 minute tour (Blue Hawaiian Helicopters) we fly over the most geologically active environment on earth (the Kilauea volcano), which has been continuously erupting since 1983. We see lava flows, tropical forests and cascading waterfalls, as our pilot describes some of the history and culture of Hawaii.  At the present time, a helicopter tour is the only way to see flowing lava.  MG and I are seated in the front with the pilot.  Initially, MG is “shutterbugging” all over the place.  Then, when I see his camera resting in his lap, I know he’s feeling motion sick as the helicopters is maneuvered to allow all passengers a good look at the lava.  After the thrilling ride, a little fresh air helps both of us recover. 


Taking off to Puna

We get back in the car, heading north from Hilo to Alaska Falls State Park in Honomu.  It’s an easy half mile walking loop through the rain forest, during which we pass the 100ft Kahuna Falls and the impressive 420ft Alaska Falls.  We have lunch nearby at the Woodshop Gallery & Café.  MR P90x’s diet coke and plate of chicken, rice and salad looks funny across from my vacation meal of lemonade and a hamburger. During lunch we are impressed with our “efficientness” – the market, a helicopter ride and the falls, all before lunch.  Post lunch, however, we find ourselves with extra time to kill before we check back in at the Hilo airport.  With time on our side, we take a detour off the Mamahahoa Highwas and follow the scenic route through Pepe’ekeo.  Similar to the Hana Highway, we slowly make our way through the narrow streets, stopping at What’s Shakin’ for yummy guava smoothies. 

Back near the town of Hilo, we stop in Onekahakaha Beach Park, but the beach is rocky and filled with locals enjoying a Sunday at the water.  Next we stop at the tiny Mokuola Island (or Coconut Island), connected to land by a footbridge, near Lili’oukalani park – it’s also filled with locals, but we find a spot to sit and people watch for a while until we are both ready to leave.  On the footbridge back to the car, MG spots one and then another giant turtle.  We watch them as they swim in the shallow water and pop up periodically for air.  As we watch, a local walking his dog stops to see what we are looking at and tells us that there are turtles up to 4 times bigger in the area. 


Unexpected sighting at the Coconut Island

Officially out of local sights and not enough time to see a movie, we wander around both the local Target and Walmart.  I explain to MG that these stores have everything a person could possibly want…and more.  To demonstrate my point, I hold an absolutely enormous container of cheese puffs in one arm (not hand, arm), an equally large containers of chocolate covered cookies in the other are and sneak in  multi-kilo bag of pretzels in one hand (only in the US is this possible J ).  Our flight to O’ahu makes dinner challenging…but we agree that we should grab something before we leave, so to complete our US experience (and with no other restaurant options available), we grab breakfast for dinner at an iHOP. 

Early evening has arrived and we check into the airport for our flight to O’ahu…I’m embarrassed to report that I am that person - repacking my bag in the airport check-in to redistribute the weight (but in my defense there is no line behind us, and I do manage to avoid the additional charges).  Again, the inter-island flight is short and we’re soon in a cab and on the way to the Best Western Coconut Hotel near Waikiki beach.  Not feeling well, I am instantly curled up in bed when arrive, while MR P90x diligently completes 90 minutes of yoga into the late evening. Both exhausted we fall quickly asleep.