South of Kona there are a series of nearby beaches. Place of Refuge is a Pu’uhonua o National Historic Park and it is adjacent to Two Steps Beach, a popular snorkeling and scuba diving spot. Further down the road is Hookena Beach Park where I photographed some locals and their boats.
That morning I spoke to a lady on the beach who said “I don’t do drugs, but there are some trippy looking trees up at the North end of this island. Just drive past Hawi until the road ends.” She forgot to mention the steep trail down to the beach. The banyan were photographed on the Hilo side of the island earlier in the week.
Last night it rained 6 inches (15 cm) in my neighborhood. Streets flooded and the lights went out for 8 hours. That did not stop me from going out to some art gallery openings.
The Big Island is mostly covered by lava fields and volcanic ash. The beaches are no exception. Few of them are sandy.
Today I will be traveling back to Texas, where everything is bigger. I have a lot of photos from Kona and other areas yet to blog.
I met the girl backpackers at the visitor center and a few hours later saw them crossing a lava field off Chain of Craters Road on their way down to the shore. That is one long hike and some very fit women.
It’s about 95 miles from Hilo to Kona over scenic roads, going through Waimea. The day began with a stunning view of Mauna Kea from my hotel room watching light from the sunrise move down from the summit. Akaka falls and its surrounding rain forest are on the way, followed by miles of lava fields. In Kona on the pier both the mood and climate are completely different.
After a short stop at Rainbow Falls I headed for the Saddle Road to visit Mauna Kea. There is a visitor center about halfway up to the summit from the main road. The road surface then turns to gravel and is steep for 5 miles. My rented Hyundai Elantra barely made it because the minimum speed to produce enough power was also fast enough to overpower the suspension. The final 3 miles is very steep, but paved. The summit is at an oxygen starved 13,796 feet (4,200 Meters). The final photo is one of the spectacular views from my hotel room in Hilo.
This is a magical place where molten lava and poisonous gases spew forth from the ground. Nature is at its peak of fury here. The message is we are nothing. In minutes one passes from desolate inhospitable areas at altitude to lush rain forests and pacific beaches. The landscape is unreal often covered by lava flows.