Friday, May 6, 2011

Hawaii Day 5-- Drive to Kona

Our last day in Hawaii was a drive around the north end of the island from Hilo back to Kona. There are several sites to stop and see along the way, and this drive takes you even more closely along the coast. After breakfast, we made one stop before we hit the road. We wanted to pick up some treats for those who'd helped us on our way by driving us to the airport, babysitting, and taking care of our house, so we stopped at the Mauna Loa nut factory. This was a large macadamia nut factory on the outskirts of Kona. The self-guided tour was kind of a bust, but they did let you walk past the windows and watch the workers hulling, separating, and canning nuts. At the gift shop you could buy any type or variation of macadamia nuts. We chose the chocolate covered nuts to bring home and a can of nuts which disappeared before we got out the plantation gates.

As we headed back across the island there were several waterfalls to stop and see within the first few minutes. The first was Rainbow Falls State Park. This is a waterfall like you might see around here-- fairly small with a few other tinklers around it. Perhaps even better than the falls, we enjoyed the hike. To call it a "hike" is generous, I don't think we were ever more than a half block from the car, but we did see several kinds of lizards and this is where I started the idea for Mark's Leaf Collection.

Rainbow Falls

Natalie swinging on a vine like Bear Grylls.

Randy inside the roots of a huge tree.

A lizard

The next waterfall was much more impressive. Akaka Falls is 422 feet from top to bottom. There is a short hike here to a second waterfall as well, but Akaka is the attraction.

Akaka Falls

The next stop was the botanical garden. We liked our walk around here, and I really wanted to take the 3 mile zipline tour, but it took about three hours and Natalie didn't want to sit in the car while I zipped around the rain forest canopy. There was a waterfall here called Umauma Falls. It is a tiered waterfall that was quite beautiful. The botanical garden was very quiet, with few visitors around, but a bit ghetto this time of year. If our visit had been in the summer, I think we'd have enjoyed it more. There is a large hedge maze, trees (and birds) or about every variety, and many spider webs. Our favorite tree by far was the rainbow eucalyptus, which looks like someone splashed it with paint. When we first saw it, we thought we'd stepped into a Dr. Seuss story. Our second favorite tree was the one that was too poisonous to even touch. Notably, Mark's leaf collection continued to grow here.

A gecko

Umauma Falls

A pretty flower at the botanical gardens--I think it's a hibiscus.

The rainbow eucalyptus tree

The last stop on the way back to Kona was at Hapuna Beach. As you've probably gathered if you've read the last 6 blog entries, we are not much for beach sitting. Don't get me wrong, I love sunburns, sand in my crotch, and overweight/underdressed people (in that order) but going to the beach is last on my list of things to do. So basically, we stopped and walked this beach in about half an hour in our shorts and t-shirts and avoided the swimsuit scene all together. I will say this is the most amazing beach I've been on. The sand was like silk and the water and waves were gorgeous. If I were going to "Go to the beach" (which you won't talk me into) this is the beach I'd go to.

A scenic overlook of a black sand beach.
Hapuna Beach

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