The Big Island Part III: Skies and Roots
During our last couple days on the island, we made time for mellowing because vacationing in Hawaii without relaxing is like traveling to the Black Hills and passing on Mount Rushmore. However, we did also allot for a few other appropriate pastimes.
We used our first morning back in Hualalai to get a bird’s critique of Hawaii via a two-hour helicopter tour. Although this entire ride was magnificent, two parts were particularly captivating.
We circled the Pu’u O’o vent, Kilauea’s current spilling site. Unlike Halema’uma’u, Pu’u O’o is typically a blazing spectacle. It has been endlessly erupting since 1983 but its ceaselessness sometimes gets overlooked because of its inaccessibility. Although you can’t reach Pu’u O’o on foot, from the air we saw its molten stone lighting trees on fire. It was pretty unbelievable.
My other flight favorite was Waimanu Valley. We looped through this fantastically lush and vertical gorge, awed by its delicate waterfalls. One of those was Waihilau Falls, the 13th tallest waterfall in the world at 2,600 feet. Soaring through Waimanu felt like floating through a tropical dream.
Following our chopper excursion, we toured Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. Ocean Rider has essentially stopped the harvesting of wild seahorses for aquariums by raising their own. They breed 30 species of seahorses on their farm and we got to hold one, or at least pretend our fingers were coral while it curled around them.
The next day, for our final outing, we visited Hulihe’e Palace in Kailua-Kona. Hulihe’e was built in 1838 and was a preferred vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. We had a tour guide all to ourselves there and learned a great deal in the hour or two we spent roaming its history.
That about does it for our Big Island explorations. On a closing note, as I already mentioned, it would be a shame to travel to Hawaii and not unwind a bit. If you visit, don’t let the laidback spirit of those islands roll off you. Instead, drink up the easy-going culture like a glass of delicious fresh-squeezed guava juice. You won’t regret it. We saw and experienced plenty on this trip but we didn’t skimp on the relaxation. In both my professional and nonprofessional opinions, we achieved Big Island hemolele.