Room With A Rainforest View

As previously mentioned, our stay on the Big Island was split by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then packing up to head to the eastern side of the island to Hilo.  Actually we didn’t quite make it to Hilo, as we opted to spend the night closer to the volcano and stayed at the Volcano Inn, which is on Kilauea.

If you are expecting to see lava fields when staying at the Volcano Inn, then you’re going to be disappointed because it sits smack dab in the middle of a lush rainforest.  But we knew that going in and were excited by the completely dramatic shift from our Kona views.  All the colors were so vibrant–especially these red flowered plants–that they almost looked fake.  I totally kept touching them to make sure they were real!

Even more foreign was waking to the sounds of the rainforest.  We wandered down to breakfast, which included fresh banana bread and baked papaya with yogurt, bananas, and pineapple.  Since we were flying out to Kauai later that afternoon, we thought it was the perfect time to sample our fruit we purchased the day before from the South Kona Fruit Stand–and we didn’t want any of it confiscated at the airport!

After breakfast we went for a small hike into the rainforest, but were warned to stay on the path–which we did.  No one wanted to get lost because ain’t nobody got time for that: we had a helicopter tour and to find the Tsunami Clock of Doom before our flight to Kauai later that afternoon!

Soon it was time to pack up and depart from this perfect little hide-away spot, but adventure was calling!

trunk

PS–I would like to take this time to clarify a certain picture (above) floating around Facebook that was taken at the Volcano Inn.  Despite what the picture shows–we did NOT make April ride in the trunk of the car!  I assure you she made it safely back to Minnesota!

Aloha!

Flying High!

If you ever find yourself in Hawaii and the opportunity presents itself, I would highly recommend taking a helicopter ride.  And I don’t say this lightly.  I’m not the type of person who takes helicopter rides whenever the fancy strikes (and theoretically I could, since I live in NYC and the helicopter tour people love to hound every man, woman, and child as they get off the subway and ferry at South Ferry).

But Hawaii is so stunning and picturesque with tons of geographic diversity, we found ourselves saying several times “we should have also taken a helicopter tour here.”  Where we did take a helicopter tour was on the Big Island, over the volcano.  Well, not directly over the caldera–but around it–and it was spectacular!

Now would be a great time to remind everyone that I’m technologically challenged (read: I couldn’t get the video I have to post).  So this post is only going to include still shots in order to get this to you in a timely fashion.  I will attempt to update it later when I can figure it out without the tick tock of a clock reminding me to post this NOW!

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous.  I’m not overly fond of flying to begin with and in something smaller and more shaky than a plane was a bit daunting.  But our pilot seemed competent, had lots of credentials, and was not consuming mai tais, so after a safety video we donned our gear and boarded the helicopter.  Or well, helicopters–as we were actually split into two groups.

 

A couple of tests to make sure everyone’s headgear was working and we soon found ourselves wobbling towards the clouds.  As promised, once we reached our cruising altitude, the wobbling ceased.  Or perhaps it was the view that made you forget about the wobbling?  If so, it worked because my stomach stopped doing flips and the view was breathtaking!

 

We flew over Hilo and then headed towards Kilauea.  As we passed over the lava fields, our pilot dipped down several times so that we could view the lava flow at points were it had broken the surface.

IMG_4152IMG_4178

We circled around the caldera several times watching the lava breaking through in a circle.

 

We then headed back to Hilo and flew inland over the Wailuku river valley (and its waterfalls!) and then looped back out to the Hilo Bay.

IMG_4230IMG_4248IMG_4241

All too soon we found ourselves heading towards the airport and wobbling back to the ground.  And despite a few last panics of crashing and burning on our descent, we touched down light as a feather.

IMG_4221

Once both helicopters were on the ground and it was safe to approach, April and I met Christi and Tracy at their helicopter to end our fantastic tour with a final group shot before turning in our headsets and heading to explore Hilo.

 

IMG_4287

Aloha!

Kilauea

For the record, this isn’t what I wanted to share with you today.  But in the interest of actually getting something posted, I had to improvise (let’s just say wifi and technology haven’t been my friends this week!)

I could have easily made this picture a Wordless Wednesday post, but it was suggested to me last week that not writing in posts was “cheating”–so here’s my little blurb about this slightly fuzzy pic.

It is the glow of the Kilauea caldera from the Observation point at the Hawaii Volcanos National Park.  I’m 99.9875% sure April has a sharper picture taken with her camera rather than with my iPhone, but I’m 100% sure if I went looking for it, I would miss the deadline for posting this today!

Here are some tidbits from LiveScience website about Kilauea (click here to read more about the eruptions of Kilauea):

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema`uma`u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

To the casual observer, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa, but geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system. Kilauea has had 61 recorded eruptions in the current cycle, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.

Native Hawaiian oral traditions record the extraordinary eruptive history of Kilauea long before European and American missionaries wrote about it in their journals. Scientific study of the volcano began when geologist Thomas Jagger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited Hawaii on a lecture tour and was approached by local businessmen. The Hawaiian Volcano Research Association (HVRA) was formed in 1909. In 1919, Jagger convinced the National Weather Service to take over the pioneering research, and in 1924 the observatory was taken over by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Also if you’re interested in seeing What’s Going On With The Volcano, click on the link to be taken to the National Park Service webpage for volcano updates.

Aloha!

The Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca

Let me start out this post with a bit of house keeping:

  1. Yes, I’m technically late with this posting….although I will argue that it’s still Saturday in Hawaii and since this post is about Hawaii, I’m using that as my justification for the lateness.
  2. When writing don’t forget to click save/update frequently, lest you walk away and the iPad goes into sleep mode and magically erases the last hour of work.  I know this is basic computer 101, but I’m so used to writing on the computer–which automatically saves it–that I forgot on the App, saving is manual.
  3. I realize as I’m typing this for the second time that I suppose I should have started with our time in Oahu, since that is where we started our trip. However, given the fact that I’m retyping this all again, I’m more committed than ever to start with the Big Island. Besides, I don’t know that I’ve ever written about any of my trips in order, so why start now?
  4. Just in case it wasn’t clear in Planning To Get Lei’d, the person who insisted we go to the Big Island so that we could tour coffee plantations was little ol’ me.

Shocking, right?!?!?

I’m just going to pause here for a moment and let all the people who actually know me stop laughing.

For those of you who do not know me and/or haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with me sans coffee, the easiest way to describe my love of coffee is to say that I’m 99.9738% certain that my blood type is C for coffee–or perhaps more accurately, K for Kenya and Kona, my two favorite types of coffee.

coffee

So there was no way in hell that I was going to fly allllllll the way to Hawaii and not go to Kona.  Period.  End of discussion.  Perhaps that is why everyone acquiesced to my suggestion of visiting the Big Island.  Of course, I could have easily made the entire trip about coffee, but I didn’t.  Since my darling friends were kind enough to agree to travel with me to the Big Island, I was kind enough to agree on visiting only one coffee plantation (the parameters set to me went something like “fine, we’ll go to A coffee plantation.  You pick.  You pick ONE.”)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m a big, fat tease and am NOT going to tell you about our trip to the coffee plantation–just yet.  First I want to introduce you to Hawaii, the Big Island.

The best part of the Big Island (aside from THE best pina colada I’ve ever had in my life) is that every where you go, Kona coffee is on the menu.  I was like a kid in a candy shop anytime we went somewhere and I saw it on the menu.  I mean, sure you expect it but when you get there and see that it is an actuality, it’s quite delightful.  Well, delightful to me–I’m not sure everyone else in the group felt the same!

IMG_4738

Here are some more delightful…or rather informative tidbits about the Big Island.  Most of my information comes from hawaii.com, which should be your first stop when planning to visit Hawaii.  And they’re not even paying me to say that, although I would be perfectly a-okay if they wanted to pay me to say that–and visit more often.  Just saying…

img_3982

  • Hawaii, aka The Big Island, is so named because it is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands.  Just in case you were confused, thought they were being ironic, or wanted to be argumentative.
  • It is just over 4,000 square miles and is the youngest of the islands.
  • It has 12 distinct climate zones ranging from rainforest to snowcap peaks.
  • It was formed with 5 volcanoes, although only two of them are still active.  One of which is Kilauea, the longest continuously erupting volcano in the world (this eruption phase started in 1983!).
  • One of the most fascinating aspects is how different the weather is on each side of the island.  Hilo boasts an average rainfall of 128 inches, whereas directly across the island a mere 75 miles away is Kawaihae, who only receives about 10 inches of rain a year!
  • It is home to four coffee regions: Kona, Ka’u, Puna, and Hamakua. There are approximately 790 coffee plantations (do you know how hard it was to only pick one?!?!?!) on the Big Island, however, the largest coffee planation is actually in Kauai!
  • The Big Island is home to both a green sand and a black sand beach (more about those later!).
  • The southern most tip of the Big Island is actually the most southern point in the United States.
  • And just in case you thought it was all fun and games and coffee, Captain Cook was captured, killed, and eaten at Kealakekua Bay (just south of Kailua-Kona).

img_3921

Aloha!