Best Flight Ever
Our trip to Big Island started with an absolutely amazing flight from Maui to Kona. And that is coming from a former flight attendant ;-). So, if you are ever flying between Big Island and Maui, we strongly recommend booking with Mokulele. The plane we flew with had space for about 10 people and flew probably a little lower than the bigger planes do. We had a spectacular view over Maui and were welcomed to the Big Island of Hawaii with sight over the famous lava fields. The whole flight took us about 50 minutes. That is about 15 minutes longer than the flight with Hawaiian would be, meaning we had 15 minutes more to enjoy!
From Cows to Rainforest
After we picked up our rental car we took the northern road through Waimea to get to Waipi‘o Valley on the northeast coast. The drive over there was absolutely scenic and really diverse, just like we were used to from Maui. I would describe Hawaii’s diversity definitely as one of its highlights. Every ride we took so far, was already entertaining by itself and offered lots of surprises along the way. But like I said, we started our drive on the East Coast in the middle of huge lava fields. To our surprise, we soon reached an area which reminded us very much of home. There are grass green willows with cows strolling around and enjoying the day. In Waimea, you are about 1000m a.s.l.. There are some hills, forests of needle trees and even mountains/volcanos close by as well as in the distance.
As we came closer to the coast again and therefore also lost some altitude, nature turned from the Swiss-farm-like area to one of a tropical rainforest. That is also where we reached the Waipi‘o Valley. Before the road leads down into the valley there is a viewpoint with an amazing view over the famous valley. There is also a picnic area where we had our packed sandwich (unfortunately there was only one left, as we got hungry along the way). There are a few roads on the Big Island of Hawaii that are only accessible with a 4wheel drive. The road down to the valley is one of them. While there are some roads which are really only accessible with a four-wheel drive, there are others, that you can still pass with a regular drive if the weather wasn‘t too bad the days before. However, this one is too steep to drive a regular car and it is actually prohibited to try.
After we sucked in all of the beautiful views, we started our journey to the south. This part of the day was my absolute favorite! As we drove back the one road we came from, we noticed a little road leading in an amazing forest of really high trees, all looking alike (I didn‘t find out, what they are). So, we took this road an continued on exploring. After a little while, we spotted little yellow fruit on the side of the road and stopped. Turned out these were all Guavas! The feeling of being on a tropical island couldn‘t get more real! Of course, we continued to drive this road and kept looking for more fruit. In the end, we found about 1 kilo of the sour-sweet fruit – not only a fresh but also an extremely cheap snack on the expensive Hawaiian Islands! We then continued our drive south and took the roads towards the coast whenever we could. Some of them were surrounded by the thickest rainforest you can imagine. At one place, we even found another two avocados next to the road. Jackpot!
About 45 minutes before we reached Hilo we stopped at the ‘Akaka Falls. They are nice to see, surrounded by the green colors of the rainforest. We only could see one of the two falls, though. The sight of the other one was blocked by huge fern, huge trees, bamboo trees and liana. I would say, if you are passing by, they are definitely worth a stop, but I wouldn‘t take a long ride just to get there. If you are there, make sure to park outside the gate. Like that you will only pay an entrance fee of 1$ per person and not 5$ per vehicle. Also, the fruit stand around the corner of Akaka Falls is way overpriced. We bought some fruit there because we brought down the price a little but two out of the three oranges we bought there were sour like lemons (to give would kind of a scale how sour these oranges were: one of us usually doesn’t mind fruit with a sour touch, but still could not eat the fruit).
So this first day on the Big Island was already amazing! Exhausted from a day full of new impressions we fell in our bed and were already looking forward to the next day in the Volcano National Park.