We took a three day Hawaii Big Island vacation right before quarantine hit and the world shut down. Three days is not a lot of time, but if you know the squad, you know we packed in full days of sightseeing, eating local foods, and vacationing in each of those three days of Big Island travel.
We were not going to waste a second of our last days of pre-COVID travel. We had no idea how much travel would change after this trip.
Fun things to do in Big Island, Hawaii
- Where to stay in Kona
- What to eat in Kona
- What to eat in Hilo
- Papakolea Green Sand Beach
- Manta Ray Snorkel
- Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
- Volcanoes National Park
- Akaka Falls
- Rainbow Falls
- Kaumana Caves
Things to Do in Big Island Hawaii
Aloha fellow travelers. Welcome to this weeks episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we are taking you to big island who Waihee. We were on the island for three full days. The trip though was a total of five days when you count travel. And we’re going to share with you our tips on how to make the most out of this trip,
4 (1m 16s):
Brittany and I took this trip to Hawaii ourselves, but originally our travel plans didn’t have us going to Hawaii. Brittany and I were originally scheduled to go to Hong Kong and due to current world events and the outbreak of Corona virus in China, our flights to Hong Kong were canceled. And even if they weren’t canceled, obviously we weren’t going to go and just err on the side of caution. But when our flights got canceled, our airline allowed us to either postpone the trip to another time or we can reschedule to do other flights. So in that moment we just decided to ourselves, let’s go ahead and go to Hawaii.
3 (1m 54s):
You guys made that call in early February.
1 (1m 57s):
4 (1m 58s):
Change. It was the first week of February. Yeah.
3 (2m 0s):
And then took this trip
4 (2m 2s):
3 (2m 3s):
And you actually left San Diego just before things with coronavirus started getting really crazy where they locked down the whole state. Really?
4 (2m 12s):
Yeah, we were leaving at that time. Things had already started to get really serious in Italy and the United States was starting to experience more and more cases. And the day we left truly was the day that our governor issued pretty much a statewide lockdown at that point. So Brittany and I were already pretty much gone and at the airport leaving when everything here in California and in other states was shutting down.
2 (2m 37s):
I was texting you guys practically every hour because the reality is things were changing by the hour. I was hunkering down in your guys’s house with agent power, keeping him safe and quarantining by myself. But that being said, I’m super interested in hearing all about this trip because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be one exciting. And then two just interesting with the state of affairs.
1 (2m 59s):
Yeah. So let’s get right into it. So big island Hawaii was really interesting because they have so much diversity of landscape. The big island has several different sand colored beaches, desolate, volcanic lava, field terrains, and also really beautiful lush green rainforest.
4 (3m 16s):
That was a real big contrast. Cause I know we all did our squad trip to co white and I felt like that island was completely tropical and lush green like rainforest jungle vibe fields. But depending on where you were on big island, it just had different feel for different locations, you know, really tropical beaches and desolate, volcanic landscapes. And then the jungle. It was really weird compared to my first Hawai experience, which was all tropical rainforest.
1 (3m 46s):
And one of the reasons why we picked big island specifically was because on mine and Jamal’s bucket list, we want to hit all of the national parks and on big island, there is a national park it’s called Volcanoes National Park. And so that was one of the big reasons why we picked this island to go to.
4 (4m 2s):
So we flew out on a Friday and our flight had us going from San Diego to San Francisco and then San Francisco to Kona, Hawaii, which again is on Hawaii, big island. And as we mentioned earlier, that’s pretty much the day that everything really started to change and accelerate real fast here in the United States in terms of our response to Corona virus and the pandemic happening. So Brittany and I were pretty much at the airport when the lockdown came in. But even though that was the case when we were there, the airport had a really eerie vibe, it was empty. There was nobody there and it just felt surreal
1 (4m 43s):
Walking through the airport. There wasn’t a lot of people, the people that were there were wearing masks, the workers weren’t wearing masks, but they were directing us to the next agent. They were kind of keeping the line going really quickly. So we weren’t close to each other. The security lines were 100% empty and they were also advising not to put your stuff in the baskets that they provide to put your phone and anything that you have out into your carry on so that it’s not touching other surfaces. Interesting. Yeah. So once we got to the gating area, there wasn’t a lot of people at the gate, everyone was pretty spread out. In some cases, some of the flights looked to have like maybe 25% of passengers just in the boarding area.
1 (5m 28s):
So it was very interesting.
4 (5m 29s):
Yeah. So on our flight to San Francisco, I would say it was maybe about half full and being on it was a little bit scary. Cause I was thinking to myself, am I being silly, going out and traveling right now? And obviously we knew how serious it had been in other locations. And we knew it was maybe a matter of time before it spread in the United States, but it just was really odd being there. It was almost like I’m excited to on my trip, but yet it was really eerie at the same time. But I tried to get myself in the mode of like, all right, I’m already here. I’m going to be landing in Hawaii. Let’s get looking forward to it. So we ended up landing in Kona, but by the time we got there, it was the evening and we just picked up our rental car and headed straight to our hotel.
4 (6m 19s):
And where did we stay? Brittany?
1 (6m 20s):
We stayed in Kona at uncle Billy’s hotel.
4 (6m 26s):
You know, it was okay at the point of us booking our hotels. Cause again, we readjusted our trip from Hong Kong to Hawaii in early February, pretty much the first week at that point where like, I don’t really want to spend time somewhere expensive in the hotel. Our Hong Kong trip was supposed to be short, really for us to go to Hong Kong Disneyland, get it over with. So we’re like, let’s just put ourselves in a decent hotel and this was in a popular touristy area, but the hotel was definitely old. It was sufficient. But for what Hawai prices are, we didn’t want to go like too crazy. So how was the hotel we survived, but I mean, it wasn’t luxury compared to when we were in the timeshare and quiet, you know,
2 (7m 9s):
Questions for you guys. One, what kind of rental car did you get? And number two, did uncle Billy’s have a breakfast buffet.
1 (7m 18s):
So we got just a normal four person sedan. So we didn’t get a Jeep or a four wheel drive vehicle. And actually that’s a really good point Xena, because we should have, I would have been more comfortable had we gotten a four wheel drive vehicle and to answer your second question, no uncle Billy’s did not have a breakfast
2 (7m 38s):
4 (7m 39s):
But they did have free coffee in the morning. So that was all right,
2 (7m 47s):
4 (7m 47s):
Coffee. That was the highlight.
1 (7m 49s):
But before we get too far into the episode, I do want to point out some tips and things to bring. So because Hawaii is a big island, we did not want to stay in one particular spot. We wanted to see highlights of three different areas. And since we were hotel hopping a lot and we planned to go to the beaches, I would recommend bringing your own beach tells. Cause if you’re not staying put in one place, you can’t bring the towels from the resort. If you’re not going back to that resort. So Jamal and I both packed two beach towels each and I felt that was a necessity. Also, if you are prone to any motion sickness and you plan to do any water activities on a boat, definitely bring Dramamine and sunscreen as well because Hawaii is a tropical island.
4 (8m 34s):
Definitely bring some reef and ocean friendly sunscreen. Okay,
1 (8m 38s):
Good point. We did specifically by reef friendly sunscreen, cause I want to protect our beautiful mother earth and environment. So I did do my part on that. We also brought flashlights and the reason why I say flashlights is we talked about the interesting terrain of Hawaii and how there are a lot of the fields. Well, they also have lava tubes and they’re basically caved. So if you want to go down into those areas, you need to have flashlights with you. And it’s just good to have in general. And also because it’s so tropical always bring an umbrella to Hawaii.
4 (9m 10s):
Oh yeah. The umbrella came in handy several times because it’s Hawai. It’s always pretty much going to rain on you. And if it’s not all day, it’s at a certain point of the day, it may come down. But Brittany mentioned the lava tubes. We’ll get into more details of what those are later and explain them more in depth. But those are some good tips to just remember, definitely bring some towels and everything. We went over. It’s going to make your trip a lot more enjoyable. So in the morning getting our day started on Saturday, we had a specific thing that we were going to do in the evening, which was snorkel with manta rays, which we were really, really excited about. And that was the main thing that we knew we wanted to do in Kona.
4 (9m 50s):
There were some other stuff too. So to fill our day, the first thing we did was find a breakfast spot that was close to our hotel. Your pancakes look, yeah. You saw my Instastory with my pancakes. We went to island Java cafe and they opened at 6:30 AM on Saturdays. And yes, my pancakes were bombed. They were just regular pancakes, but they were topped with bananas and macadamia nuts and they had a coconut syrup that was just absolutely delicious. What did you get, Brittany?
1 (10m 19s):
I got the island Benedict and Jamal this entire time had been telling me he had a hankering for pancakes. He really wanted pancakes. So that’s what we went and got. And we ended up splitting the items. So we both got the best of both worlds.
2 (10m 32s):
Okay. I can’t get past the fact that you said coconut syrup,
4 (10m 37s):
Coconut syrup. It was pretty good. They brought that out and I said, no doubt, I’m going to eat this, but do you have regular syrup too? And I did it like a little pixie action and it was actually quite delicious. But you know, when we got there in the morning, I couldn’t tell if it was because it was such early morning and people are on island time over there. You know, they live a relaxed lifestyle. Start their day. I was like, are we the first ones here? Because people are really just staying at home because at that point, you know, a lot of cases hadn’t really hit Hawaii in terms of coronavirus or is it just early as it because of that. And so it was really tough to tell, but a cafe and restaurant that we were at had amazing ocean views just right across the street was the ocean.
4 (11m 19s):
So it was a really nice breakfast and a good way to start your day. So if you’re in Kona, I would definitely recommend island Java cafe.
1 (11m 26s):
It was only a few minute walks from our hotel. So Jamal and I didn’t even drive there. We just walked from the hotel and then walked back and then we headed up north to her Poona beach. So again, we’ve said Hawaii is famous for its different colored sand beaches. And I wanted to hit a white sand beach, a black thin beach and a green sand beach while on this trip. So this day we were going to the white sand beach of her Poona beach.
4 (11m 52s):
Poona beach is located north of Kona. How long of a drive would you say? It took us to get there Brittany
1 (11m 58s):
4 (11m 59s):
And when we got there, you do have to pay to park. It’s $5 for parking, but it is one of Hawaii’s famous white sand beaches. And we got there relatively early in the morning. There were lots of people on the beach. I wouldn’t say it was packed by any means, but definitely a normal amount of peoples. I don’t know if they were taking social distancing at that point seriously, or if that’s just the normal beach crowd, but everyone seemed to be pretty spread out and mining in each other’s space.
1 (12m 30s):
Yeah, I would say so
4 (12m 31s):
Too. Yeah, but the beach was really nice, beautiful, soft sand. And we really enjoyed our time out there.
1 (12m 37s):
Yeah. The soft sand was amazing and it was nice and warm even early in the morning and on our way to the beach, this is when I realized like this island is so much different than Kauai. We pass by lava fields and it was just so desolate on our way up. So it was different change of scenery for sure. But it was nice to see something different. And I really enjoyed my time at that beach before we went to key holo bay
4 (13m 4s):
bay is between Kona and kupuna beach. So we started a little bit more north worked our way back down south to Kona. And in the middle again is key holo bay. But the reason why this is famous is you can walk on a beach front and it’s known for Hawaiian sea turtles that come up onto the sand. I know when we were there, it came. I was thinking of you because I know when we were in choir, like I want to see a sea turtle. We were looking for them when we were doing the Nepali coast tour, we were looking for them when we were at Queen’s bath. And I was like, Kim missed out on this because there were sea turtles and they’re famous for lining up on that beach.
1 (13m 42s):
Cute. And one thing I want to say getting there is I was able to put key hello bay into my GPS. And I would recommend downloading Google maps on the offline maps because I did lose reception several times in Hawaii. Luckily I was able to do the entire island of Hawaii and download it all at once. And the road you go down is unnamed. It’s just an unnamed gravel road and you just approach it. And it says turn right.
4 (14m 8s):
Yeah, it’s off of the main highway, but there is no signage for it. It’s just a gravel road. So you could think that you’re going the wrong way, but you just go straight as far as you can. And then you will see some people have parked there you’ll know you’re pretty much at your end because there are port-a-potties there just as well, but it leads you to the beach. And from there, you do have to do a little bit of hiking to get to the area where the sea turtles are. And I just want to say Brittany and I were in flip-flops cause we had gone to her Poona beach beforehand. So we’re like, oh, you know, we’re going to another beach. We’re in flops. But this beach was a little bit more Rocky and maybe tennis shoes might’ve been better.
4 (14m 51s):
Cause even walking barefoot in it at some points was kind of painful to do to,
1 (14m 55s):
It was so weird. You would cross portions where it was Stan and it’s okay to walk in flip flops and barefoot. Then you would pass areas that were like pebble, like, and it hurt your feet a little bit more. And then there were parts where you could only cross on the lava beds, which definitely hurt your feet. So it was like, what pair of shoes do you bring? Because your foot flops saline, do you so good? Barefoot only does so good. And then at some points, if you’re wearing tennis shoes, your shoes might get wet. But we finally came across our first sea turtle and it was just basking in the sun, enjoying life, a big one.
4 (15m 30s):
It was actually quite large because we’ll talk about it in a minute. But we went along further and saw some more and they were small in comparison to this one. I’m trying. How big would you say it was?
1 (15m 40s):
Three, four feet.
4 (15m 41s):
Yeah, it was rather large, but this one was just basking on the beach. It wasn’t even really moving. When we had first saw it, we looked at it for a little bit of time and was admiring it and it hadn’t even moved only on our way back when we were going back to the car, did we finally see it move? And even when it did, it was like barely moving to like lifted its head up or unclosed its eye and then closed it again. So it didn’t really have much action, but we continued further north on the beach after we had passed that one. And this is where we saw more. We ended up getting to the portion where it truly is a bay and it’s really unique. You see a lot of people’s homes in there. It’s not like a big like residential community, but there’s homes along the beach that are like bungalow style.
4 (16m 24s):
And these are real people’s homes. And I’m thinking to myself, look at this. This is somebody’s backyard, this beach right here with all these sea turtles. But when we got to the bay portion, we were able to stand in a little tidal pools. And that’s where we saw like three or four turtles, all swimming in there at once. So we were able to get in the water with them. I mean, obviously we weren’t touching them. You want to respect their space, let them be. But we were able to just get in the water with them. And then from above, just kind of like watch them swim and do their thing. It was really, really cool.
1 (16m 49s):
Yeah. Because they like to go to those tide pools to eat. So there loved to swim around and get some food. They were popping their little heads out of the water. So it was really cool. And I would save those turtles were probably only like two feet, maybe a little bit smaller. So definitely a lot smaller than the other turtle we had previously seen. And the sea turtles was the highlight of keyhole bay.
4 (17m 12s):
Well, that’s why you go to this place. You don’t go there for the beach. Let me tell you that you go there to see the turtles on the beach itself. Yeah. So after key bay, we decided to work our way back into Kona. And we specifically wanted to go to Kona brewing company. I mean, when do you know the squat or any one of us to take a trip and not get ourselves some drinks?
2 (17m 36s):
Every time you have said Kona, I have thought about Kona brewing.
4 (17m 39s):
We went to Kona brewing. And as a matter of fact, when we got there, they are actually working on building a new location right by the current one itself and making it a little bit larger. But you do have to get there because even though it is a brewery and a taproom, you do have to wait to get inside to get a seat. Like it is a restaurant. It is a restaurant, but it’s not like other taprooms, especially ones here that we’re familiar with in San Diego where you can just go in and have a seat and just get a drink. This is like restaurant style. So we did have to wait before we went in,
1 (18m 9s):
But it is all open air. So it’s not like a true restaurant. Cause it’s all located outside.
2 (18m 15s):
I remember you guys saying this place being busy because at this point, you know, again, hour by hour, things were coming out about the situation and I’m texting you guys and I’m asking you guys, is it busy? And you’re saying basically everywhere. We’re going. There’s no people except for Kona brewing.
1 (18m 31s):
Yeah, definitely. A lot of people at Kona brewing. So Jamal and I just stopped in there for a quick drink. The food though, smelled amazing. There’s a pizza that came out next to us. That smells so delicious. But we ended up just getting drinks. I got two drinks. My favorite was called Wailua wheat and oh my God, it was so refreshing and delicious. I wish I had gotten two of those.
2 (18m 55s):
Was that like a whipped beer, half advisen
4 (18m 58s):
It was a waste. And you would’ve liked this place a lot, Kim. Cause I mean, we know what beers Kona has and they usually sell the variety pack here when you get a 12 pack, but they sell a lot of stuff that they only sell on the big island and at their brewing, that’s unique to that area. So you can get an extensive list of completely different beers that here on mainland USA or anywhere else where you can find Kona beer. You’re not going to find the varieties that they had there. And the food smelled delicious like Brittany was saying, but we didn’t get food there because we knew we wanted to get some authentic Hawaiian pokey. So we ended up getting our drinks before we moved on to get some pokey,
1 (19m 36s):
Really good point. So I ate my heart out in pokey. I went for it. I got two different types of pokies. I got this book people, it was delicious. And then we went back to the room and we took a nap and I woke up and I finished what I hadn’t eaten. And let me tell you that was my mistake.
4 (19m 55s):
Big mistake for Brittany. Well, we’ll tell you, why do you remember when I said that we were going to be going night snorkeling with some manta rays. This is where Brittany eating in that last little bit of food comes into play.
2 (20m 6s):
Oh my God, did you get sick?
1 (20m 9s):
Well, the whole story, the whole
4 (20m 11s):
2 (20m 11s):
Don’t leave out a single detail.
1 (20m 14s):
So Jamal and I had actually booked a small group, Manta Ray Snorkel, which the boat was only supposed to have less than 10 people on it, but they have to have at least six people to operate. And because of everything that was going on, people canceled. And so we got booted from our original reservation. Luckily the company we booked through, which was on biter, reached out to us and they said, Hey, we can’t operate our boat. We don’t have the minimum capacity, but we do work with a sister company and their boats still running. Do you guys want to get on that boat? And we said, yes. And so they actually gave us a discount on the price. So on the boat we went on, there was maybe 20 people on it, I would say. And it wasn’t a large boat.
1 (20m 55s):
It’s pretty small, but there were a lot of people and everyone is excited to do the night snorkel with the Manta Ray.
4 (21m 2s):
Yeah. And before we talk about the experience with the Manor is I want to say something about it. This spot in Kona is really unique for the evening. Snorkeling with the manta rays now manta rays feed on plankton and plankton like to be in the sun. They actually photosynthesize for energy like a plant. So they need the sun. And usually manta rays will feed on them during the day, you know, close to the surface of the water while they’re getting sun. And they noticed a while ago that off the coast of Kona, when they built a resort hotel, they put up a bunch of lights and those lights drew the attention of the plankton. And then they noticed that the Manor rays were feeding outside of their normal feeding hours during the day.
4 (21m 48s):
And like, why are they feeding that night? And they realized it was because of the lights. So when you do the evening, snorkeling with the manners, all these companies that do it now, they actually have specific little plank boards that they make with ultraviolet light. And you hover around that and you hold onto it and it creates a light source. So the manta rays come to you while you’re actually in the water and will eat the plankton bright up next to you. It’s really cool. So it’s specifically unique to Kona. You can’t do that on any of the other Hawaiian islands or areas in Hawaii,
2 (22m 22s):
But why was it a mistake for Brittany to finish off the pokey?
1 (22m 25s):
So I woke up, I ate it and we drive to the Harbor and I pop a Dramamine because I am prone to motion sickness and we get on the boat and get on. I’m like, okay, I’m cool. I’m cool. We make it all the way out to where we’re going to drop the anchor. And I’m like, I’m doing great. This is fantastic. So they released the man-made rafts that hold the lighting and they tell us everyone needs to get on and hold on to a red tube that was tied to it. And then they say that you have to use a noodle to put your feet on so that your feet don’t dangle in the water, you basically have to like, or horizontally on the top of the water, only putting your face in and not flailing your legs down because if your feet are down, you’re going to scare off the Manta Ray.
1 (23m 12s):
They don’t like the flailing there. They don’t want to approach the light if there’s a whole bunch of feet dangling down. So you basically have to lay horizontal on the surface of the water. And so basically Jamal and I got into the water first it at night. So the tides, you know, get a little rougher at night and we’re bobbing up and down in the water and I can only be horizontal and I can’t sit up. So basically anything in my stomach is trying to come out because I’m not at the angle to sit up
4 (23m 41s):
Well. So before we continue on, well Zaina, before we continue on with that, let’s actually talk about seeing the manta rays first. Cause I guess you can imagine where it’s going, but it was so cool. So again, the lights lit up, you can see the small little plankton and all of a sudden, then you start seeing a little bit bigger fish that are snacking on the plankton itself. And then eventually the Manor rays come and these animals they’re huge. I mean, they’re like eight to 10 feet across. They’re just coming, swimming under you. They’re like a black and white color. And then they come up to the light and they start doing like flips as they eat the food. So they’re literally like a foot away from you.
4 (24m 21s):
You could touch it. Obviously you shouldn’t reach out to touch it. That
1 (24m 24s):
Was one of the rules you could not
4 (24m 25s):
Touch the yeah, but there was maybe like three that came up to us and started doing some feeding and wow. What an experience like honestly, it was fucking bad-ass. I didn’t have no other way to describe it than that. Did
2 (24m 38s):
You have your GoPro?
4 (24m 39s):
I intended on bringing my GoPro and I completely forgot to bring it at which I am really, really disappointed about.
2 (24m 46s):
Whoa, you forgot to bring it to Hawaii or you forgot to bring it that night and left it
4 (24m 51s):
1 (24m 53s):
Yeah. What a rookie mistake. They did tell us that the largest Manta Ray in the area is like 16 feet long across. So they were saying that’s longer than the boards that we were holding on to across. Like it wouldn’t even fit all the way under us if it were to go across us.
2 (25m 10s):
Which movie is this one from? That’s a huge bitch. Thank you, Jamal.
1 (25m 16s):
But these Manta Ray were impressive. They’re mostly black, but they do have like white patterns on them. And they were telling us that each Manta Ray has a specific pattern. No Monterey has the same pattern. So it’s kind of like a thumb print in a way. So they actually have been able to track and name the manners in the area. And when they’ve come up to feed, they do what they call barrel rolling, which is a type of flip in front of us. And one Manta Ray did a double barrel roll. So we got to watch it flip right in front of us or right under us twice.
4 (25m 46s):
It was really cool. So, you know, they allow maybe about 45 minutes in the water and they let us know that, okay, we have about 10 minutes left and maybe five minutes after he said that, I told Brittany, I was like, oh, you want to just go in and kind of beat the rush and get on the boat. And she’s like, yeah, yeah, let’s go ahead and do that. So we swim up to the boat and then we get in and the crew helps pull off our wetsuits cause they didn’t give us a full body wetsuit. It was more like a wet suit that covered a torso and arms. And it was more like shorts, not full like pants. So they help you pull that off. So as soon as I got on the boat, first, I’m starting to go get her towels and get everything ready for Brittany and I, and as I’m getting on the boat, I look back and I see Brittany’s not on the boat and I’m wondering what’s happening.
4 (26m 31s):
Cause she was right behind me.
1 (26m 32s):
So get back to the boat, I’m on the ladder. And as I’m on the ladder, I realize my pokies not going to stay in my belly. Oh
2 (26m 41s):
1 (26m 42s):
So they had told us if anyone’s going to get sick, get sick off the back of the boat and aim for distance. So I just stayed on the ladder and I aimed for distance
2 (26m 53s):
1 (26m 56s):
I fed the Monterrey and the fish and the sea that night.
4 (26m 60s):
Yeah. I definitely didn’t even see Brittany puke off the back of the boat before she got back on. But I mean, we’re talking about the manners, but like I said, they had other little small fish that were eating the plankton and they were there consistently. And then at some point like C2 worms were there like long little worms and it’s crazy that you see them and you’re like, what are these? Like where did they come from? And then again, keep in mind. I don’t want to say it’s like a black light, but they use like a really blue lit light. So just with the dark fastness of the ocean that you’re around in that light, every way that it’s colored under there, it’s completely amazing.
2 (27m 35s):
I just like to say that Brittany really completed the circle of life with that pokey by putting it back where it came from. I
1 (27m 42s):
Know. Right. So
4 (27m 44s):
I was going to say, not only that Zaina, but eventually we got back on the boat and I’m like, oh, are you okay? She’s like, I need another Dramamine. And then she’s like, oh, I’m not going to make it. And then she ran to the back and then I really watched her throw up and I was like, oh, poor things. So she still had more, once she was on board, did
2 (27m 60s):
She get good distance?
4 (28m 1s):
You know, not at this point, at this point she was kind of like,
1 (28m 4s):
And the edge of the boat into the water. But yeah, I mean, we weren’t going anywhere. Everyone was still getting on the boat. But what I will say about this company is when you get back onto the boat and they help you take your wetsuit off, they do have a hose and they hose you down with warm water. So that you’re not so cold because it’s at night, it’s a little bit chilly. And they also had snacks on the boat. They had chips, fruit, roll-ups ginger ale, all sorts of soda, water, alcohol, no
4 (28m 34s):
Alcohol. When he got back on, they even had hot, hot
1 (28m 36s):
Chocolate. Yeah. They had everything. And on our way out to do the Manta Ray Snorkel, we saw dolphins that were jumping in the waves that our boat made right next to us. And we also saw wheels in the distance. So it was pretty awesome. Overall, even though I got sick. Yeah,
4 (28m 54s):
Yeah. Twice we saw some humpback whales and it had a little baby calf. They were saying like, it’s at the end of their season, pretty soon they’re going to be leaving this area. But to see those stragglers was pretty impressive. And by stragglers, I mean the whales that really hadn’t left the area quite yet. But the dolphins swimming like in the wake of the boat was really cool to see also. And this was on our way going out to get in the water to snorkel. So it was still daylight at that point. But normally, you know, when I’ve been fortunate enough, a few times to be in a boat and dolphins are swimming in the wake. It’s usually at the front, these ones were riding the back wake and there was two of them. So they were just taking turns like hopping in, hopping out, diving in, diving out. It was really awesome.
1 (29m 35s):
They were with us for a solid few minutes where we got to watch them. They were trying to eat your puke. This is way before I
4 (29m 44s):
Was going out.
2 (29m 45s):
So when you guys were in the water, how was it like the water itself?
1 (29m 49s):
It was a little chilly, but the wetsuit helped. I would say the hardest part was having to lay flat in the water. That was the hardest part, just cause you’re bobbing there and you’re not at the right angle.
4 (30m 3s):
Even for me, someone not prone to motion sickness. I would say the lane flat was the hardest part. And what I mean by that is there so many people around that rectangular board that has the light that you’re laying out on the surface straight. So eventually your arms even get tired holding the board itself. And it’s actually like a workout. When I woke up the next morning, I really felt like I did an impressive chest and shoulder day, you know, like I really felt it in my
1 (30m 32s):
And your arms. Yeah. There was actually someone worse off than me. I think someone wasn’t even able to get into the water because they got sick on the way out and I’m not sure they even got in the water. So yeah. I still think it was worth it. But moving on from my barf, we made it back to the hotel. And the next day, what we wanted to do was move areas. We wanted to go to volcano, which is the city and it’s right outside of Volcanoes, National Park and Hawaii. But on our way there, we wanted to hit a green sand beach because like I said earlier, we wanted to hit up different colored sand beaches and the beach we were wanting to go to specifically with called Papakolea Green Sand Beach.
1 (31m 13s):
And it involves a five mile out in back height.
4 (31m 16s):
Yeah. It was five miles round trip. And just to put into context, green sand beaches, I think there’s only four of them in the entire world, correct? Only four and one in Hawaii. The other one in the American territory of Guam. So the U S technically has half of the green sand beaches. So it is on the Southern portion of the big island. So as we were working our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this was obviously along the way and a must do on our list and you park off of a gravel road and then you have to do the hike to get to it. And the hike is really unique. You can stay along the coast or you can go a little bit inland.
4 (31m 59s):
It doesn’t matter. You see the path diverge so many different ways, but it all meets up back to one area. So I mean, you can take any way you want and it’s going to get you there regardless, but you really are supposed to hike, but locals that live there and that area, they will take their cars out there, even though they’re not allowed to, but they charge you anywhere between 15 to $20 per person, each way to save you from doing the hike yourself,
1 (32m 24s):
If you wanted to. Yeah, but Jamal, I chose to do the hike and it was a really interesting landscape because it looks like a piece of California, the way that you’re on like a coastal cliff. But when you look down, there’s still lava bed rocks. And then when you’re not looking out at the ocean and you’re looking inland, it was like rolling green pastures. Like it really reminded me of Northern California is rolling Hills in the Vacaville area. If anyone’s
4 (32m 50s):
Vacaville Fairfield or even Dillon’s beach for that matter, you know, here in California, it had that coastal hilly vibe. So really just dramatic different landscape that you had there. But the green sand beach, you actually have to hike down to it. So you’ll know when you get there because that’s the only beach you actually see. Cause everything else is just rocks. And then when you get to that area on the trail, you look at it and you say, how the hell am I supposed to get down there? Because where the trail is, you can either hike, volcanic rocks that are super sharp all the way down. Or you look at the very end and you say to yourself, well, that’s a cliff, it’s flat, no rocks, but that is incredibly steep. So like, am I supposed to go straight down the cliff or slide?
4 (33m 33s):
And so we saw a couple people on there and we were just looking at it. We’re like, how are we supposed to do this? So yeah.
1 (33m 38s):
I told Jamal, I think you have to go down the cliff. And he goes, are you fucking crazy? There’s no way you have to go down the cliff. Let’s go down on these rocks.
4 (33m 46s):
Well, cause if you saw the cliff from the angle, when you come up on it, you’d think it’s so steep. It looks so steep. It’s like, how are you supposed to do that? Where are you supposed to get any grip? It’s like a sheer cliff, at least from the angle that we were at.
1 (33m 57s):
So I said, okay, Jamal, I’ll follow you down these rocks. And we bolstered over volcanic lover rocks and they are super sharp. So Jamal and I wore flip flops this entire hike. And I think that was kind of a mistake. I wish during this portion, we did have real tennis shoes, not necessarily hiking shoes, but tennis shoes to protect your feet because I got scraped and I started to bleed because of,
4 (34m 24s):
Well, during the normal hike, you really don’t need the tennis shoes. Flip-flops are sufficient. And at some points we even took off our shoes and walked, but tennis shoes, if you’re going to do the bouldering way down.
1 (34m 33s):
Yeah. So we finally make it down to the beach, probably took us an extra 15 minutes or so. And once we got on the beach, there’s a guy on the beach and he goes, Hey, you know that wasn’t the way down. And we look up and on that cliff, I told Jamal that we were supposed to go down. There is a partial ladder. That’ll help you get down to the area,
4 (34m 53s):
Very partial ladder, the further the steep part. But then when you’re actually on the beach and you get closer, you can tell it’s not as steep as it really looks because it’s basically shaped like a little, you like a little half you Crescent, if you will. And it just looks incredibly steep from the angle of the path when you approach. So I just want to encourage everyone. If you think the only way down is the rocks, which Brittany and I did that is incorrect. Keep walking. You will find those stairs again. They’re very, very partial. And then you do have to go down the cliff, but it’s not as steep as it looks from that angle. And you know, instead of the 15, 20 minutes that it took Brittany and I to get down there, when we decided to leave, it literally took two minutes the correct way.
1 (35m 39s):
And I would recommend going here very early in the morning when we got there, there was five other people only on the beach besides Jamal and I. And when we left, there was probably over 20. So get there. First thing, it’s not a very large beach. Again, the sand is green and the right light and beautiful turquoise waters, right on the beach side,
4 (35m 59s):
Kim, this beach would have been right up your alley. I can tell you that it would have been right up your alley.
1 (36m 3s):
There were two girls on the beach that were like posing and taking sexy pictures. And I just imagined you and their spot.
2 (36m 11s):
All right, where are we going? Next on the silent
4 (36m 13s):
We were working our way, like we said, to Volcanoes National Park. And along the way, we did some research on places maybe where we can stop eat. And that’s something that again is really unique to big island. And I just want to relate this back to Kauai, because again, those are the only two islands that I’ve really been to on Hawaii, but it felt like at least on why they had the one main road, but at least consistently on that main road, within regular intervals, you can always find food and other things, not so much here. So on the Southern tip of the island, we found an area that we wanted to eat at and it was called Punalu a Lua. Am I saying that correctly?
4 (36m 55s):
Punalu up bakeshop and it’s fame to claim, is it as actually the Southern most bakery in the United States?
1 (37m 2s):
Yeah. While we were on that, Papakolea Green Sand Beach. I told Jamal congratulations. We have made it to the Southern most tip of the United States because when we were in the Florida keys, they have a little monument that says they
3 (37m 14s):
Claim to be the Southern most
4 (37m 16s):
Well of the contiguous United States. So of the connected 48, but truly this spot and Hawaii is the Southern most portion of the United States.
1 (37m 25s):
And I also congratulated him that we made it to 25% of the world’s freeing sand beaches.
2 (37m 30s):
Oh wow. Congratulations. He had some kind of applause sound effects.
4 (37m 37s):
1 (37m 38s):
You go. So we made it to the Southern most, a bake shop in the USA and they are famous for a pastry called malasadas. And these pastries are originally from Portugal. They’re like a sweet bread. And they were actually brought over by the Portuguese immigrants who arrived to the Hawaiian islands to work on the plantations in the late 18 hundreds. So they have the original bread, but they also have ones that are filled with strawberry filling, apple, filling chocolate filling. So delicious.
4 (38m 8s):
These were pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed these sweet treats a lot and I would definitely recommend it. I mean, if you’re going to be driving around the big island, there’s so few places to actually stop for food and other things, except for the two main cities of Kona and Hilo. So when you going this direction, I would stop here. No doubt about it.
2 (38m 29s):
Is it big enough to where you eat one or they’re tiny where you get several,
1 (38m 33s):
They’re not tiny, but we got three each
4 (38m 36s):
And eat them all at once though.
1 (38m 38s):
Eight one right away. And then we ate one, I think that night and then one the next day. So we spread it out there, probably the size of a Costco dinner roll,
4 (38m 48s):
Just to put it in a little perspective for
1 (38m 50s):
Ya. So after we picked up our sweet treats from the bakery, we headed on a route to Punalu up black sand beach, and this beach is also famous for their sea turtles. And one of the reasons we wanted to go there.
4 (39m 2s):
Yeah. One of the main reasons, again, seeing more sea turtles and two black beach. So this completed the trifecta for Brittany and I, white sand beach, green sand beach, black sand beach, but seeing the turtles was really, really cool. I mean, I know we talked about seeing them before, when we were at key holo bay, but seeing them here was definitely a lot cooler because we saw more than an concentration on the beach itself, not necessarily swimming and the water and they were a little bit more active, but this beach was incredibly popular. I would say the sand wasn’t very soft. It was more hot because it was a black sand beach and it was even an overcast day or at least at that portion when we were there, it was so in terms of comfort of the sand to really be like, ah, this is a beach day.
4 (39m 49s):
I wouldn’t choose that beach for that, but definitely to see the sea turtles. It was really cool.
1 (39m 53s):
Yeah. And there was one area where there were three sea turtles aligned together and they do recommend you stay 30 feet away just to protect their space, but you can get in the water if you want. There was turtles in the water. So if you bring your snorkeling gear, if you have time, you can pop your head in the water and probably see a few turtles. Oh, that’s so cute. So next we headed at Chu Volcanoes National Park. And this was, again, one of the main reasons we picked this island and the park is actually open 24 hours because there are options to stay in the park, whether it be the campground or the lodge that they have there. So the park is open 24 7. And one of the first things we wanted to do is see some of the steam bents and see the crater rim of the volcano while we were there.
4 (40m 39s):
Yeah. And if you guys remember a few years back here in 2018, this volcano had a major eruption in Hawaii. It’s obviously an active volcano and pretty regularly active, but the last time it erupted, it erupted a lot to the point where it became dangerous. They had to close down the national park. They had to evacuate people living in the area. So definitely do keep that in mind, but it was just such an amazing park to go to. We saw the steam vents. We were able to kind of see down into the crater. Brittany had done some research on what hikes she wanted to do for the area. And when we got there, we had no clue that the hike that we wanted to do was partially closed.
4 (41m 21s):
We could only do half of it due to the fact that it was still closed from the previous eruption two years ago.
1 (41m 27s):
What was the trail called?
4 (41m 29s):
Small. I mean, it’s going to be a tough one for me to pronounce all. I could tell you that, but it’s the Halima Ooma, Ooh trail. And we’ll spell that out here in the show notes for you, but it is supposed to be a lot longer, but because it was shortened because of the volcanic eruption, it ended up only being 1.8 miles round trip. And it took us about an hour and a half, right? Brittany?
1 (41m 52s):
Yeah. About an hour and a half. And on the national park website, they do list it as a one point mile round trip hike because of the other areas that are closed. So I’m sure when the, all of the trails are open, they will adjust the mileage on the website, but they do have it, correct. You’re only able to do the 1.8 miles round trip currently, and to get to this trail, it was a little tricky. So you have to go inside the volcano house, which is the lodge and walk through the lobby. You’re going to pass by a visitor store on your right and your left. And you’re going to go into the lobby where people are just sitting and looking at the view, there’s going to be an exit door there on the right-hand side, you’re going to go through it.
1 (42m 35s):
And right, when you go through that door, you’re going to be on the crater rim trail. You make a right and in a few hundred feet, you’ll see a sign for the trail that we were going on. So it’s super cool because you start on the rim and you hike down into a really lush green rainforest. And it was so beautiful and isolated. There were not many people on this trail at all.
4 (42m 60s):
I think we only cross paths with two different hiking parties. When we were on the trail. Keep in mind, Brittany says the rim trail. We’re talking about the rim of the volcano itself of kilowatt area. And you can see down into the volcano, but it does it, no justice. You know, at the top, it’s really lush green rainforest and we’re hiking our way down. And originally this hike is supposed to take you through the caldera of the volcano itself, fully across and make a loop. But unfortunately we couldn’t do that. It’s just now an out and back, but you hike down into the rain forest, just beautifully lined pathway down arch tree covers.
4 (43m 41s):
At one point, we pass through a stone wall with Moss on both sides and
1 (43m 46s):
You can hear the birds chirping.
4 (43m 48s):
Yeah. You feel like you’re in a completely different world. And we kept going down and down and down. And finally we got to the dead end where they say you can’t hike anymore. And do you wanna know what the dead end was telling me? It is the very bottom and caldera of the volcano itself. So when you get out there, you just step out of a tropical lush rainforest and you look at something that looks literally like the apocalypse is just straight black, volcanic rocks, dark. It was overcast. It was eerie. And I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Like I just literally walked out of a jungle and now I’m in open nothingness of what looks like death.
2 (44m 29s):
Did you guys get pictures of that? Oh yeah. It’s interesting
4 (44m 32s):
1 (44m 33s):
It was a sight to be seen and there’s a no one else at the edge of this caldera with us. We are all alone. There’s no one else in sight and it’s crazy. So we hiked back up. And the next thing we really wanted to do was go inside of a lava tube. We went into the Thurston lava tube at Volcanoes National Park wall. We were on the island. I actually Googled the national park. And that came up when I was doing the research for this island in February, that part had still been closed. So it was really interesting that we were able to do it last minute.
4 (45m 9s):
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to do this. And I know we were talking about lava tubes earlier and Brittany said, you know, bring a flashlight. Well, when we get to the city of Hilo, we’re going to talk about another lava tube that they had, where it’s really not lit up. And you do need a flashlight to see it. But in the national park, I think from eight to eight, they have it lit up. So you can walk through it and you don’t need a flashlight, but I would still recommend having it because it gives you a better view. You can flash your flashlight onto the ceiling, see other things. But if you have time constraints and you can’t get there during those hours where it’s lit up in the national park, then you for sure really will need those flashlights. Otherwise you’re not going to be able to see anything, but the lava tube is really cool.
4 (45m 50s):
It’s actually formed naturally on the volcano itself. And basically as the lava’s flowing, you could think of a volcano as a river. There’s the main river pathway, which is at the top of the volcano, but there’s tributaries of the river where they come in on the side and they flow. So those lava tubes really that hot magma it’s underground. And it creates like a tube of a cave because it’s so hot. As it’s flowing, literally carves a cave underground. And while it’s still hot in the center, it solidifies on the outside creating like a little tube cave. So when we were in there, it was just so incredibly, like you need to just think, wow, I’m walking through this area where literally magma that’s thousands of degrees was flowing.
4 (46m 37s):
Not too long ago.
1 (46m 38s):
It was crazy. So from where we parked, it was a half mile hike to the lava tube. And the lava tube itself is a half mile. And when you get to the entrance, you pass on this bridge to get inside the entrance. And all of these lush green plants are hanging down in front of the cave and it just looks so beautiful, but eerie at the same time. And then you step inside of the lava tube and the lights are like a orange, red hue, and it just lights up the pathway. And it’s so interesting and eerie to be inside. How
3 (47m 14s):
Big would you say the lava tube is?
4 (47m 16s):
You know, lengthwise? Oh gosh, I forgot how long they said it was. I would say maybe it was 600 feet
1 (47m 24s):
4 (47m 24s):
And maybe a little bit longer. Oh yeah. It was so tall. I mean, you could definitely fit a train through there. That’s how wide it was.
1 (47m 31s):
Yeah. There is one area where they have it blocked off because the ceiling comes down on one side. And if you were to walk on that side, you might hit your head. But for the majority of it, you could just stand and walk normally through it.
4 (47m 43s):
Yeah. It was pretty wide. And they make that as a one-way you have to enter in through and then hike out through the back and then you come around. So it’s a quick little hike. If you want to even call it a hike, it’s more an activity to see than anything else. But I want to give a little squad tip. They do have a specific spot where they say there is parking for the lava tube. And then that’s where Brittany was saying, from where we parked, it was a half mile hike to it, but truly they have parking right outside the entrance to the lava tube, but it’s really, really limited. And they only allow you to park there for maybe 20 minutes. And once you enter the lava tube, it’s about a half mile in and out on their little round trip.
4 (48m 24s):
So if you park in the main parking lot, not the up-close one, it’s going to be two miles long, cause half mile to get there, the half mile of the lava tube, half mile back. So a mile and a half, two miles.
1 (48m 35s):
Yeah. So after that, can we thought of you? And we went out to dinner, we had tie tie, tie, bistro, and bar.
4 (48m 44s):
It was pretty good, but I want to say this around Volcanoes National Park. There’s really not a lot of stuff there. I feel like the majority of people that go either go for the day and pass through, or they’re staying on the national park grounds and eating at the volcano house or the cafeteria that the national park has food place. We ended up getting Curry and pad Thai, which was incredibly delicious. But in terms of the city around Volcanoes National Park, there’s maybe only like four or five restaurants and a lot of them close early and Thai food was the most ethnic thing that you can actually find. And of those four restaurants that they have in that area, that was only one of two that was open at that time when we were done with it.
4 (49m 31s):
So our choices were limited. So any of our fellow listeners who go keep that in mind, food options in the area of Volcanoes National Park are really limited, but good. I’ve enjoyed the Thai food very much.
1 (49m 44s):
Yeah. I really enjoyed it. And one tip for you guys is I actually got an email from the lodge we were staying at. And they basically said that in this area, there are no streets that are lit at night. So it can be really hard to see where you’re going and they recommend getting there early. And that also a lot of restaurants and shops closed early. So make sure to plan accordingly. And so Jamal and I, when we got to volcano, we said, let’s go check into our hotel room first, grab our key, figure out where our room is, how to get there, then go back into the park. So we, at least we have a reference of where we need to go later and we are so glad we did. And I want to give a little shout out to the lodge that we stayed at.
1 (50m 25s):
We booked it off of Expedia and it called kilowatt hospitality group. And it was a really cute lodge
4 (50m 33s):
Yeah, it was really quaint. I liked it. You know, where it said to go to check in. I thought that’s where we were going to be staying because when we arrived, there’s a parking lot. There’s the lobby. You can tell there’s actually other rooms that says guests only in certain areas where they have the little pond and place to sit, et cetera. And when we checked in, she said, okay, well, you guys, aren’t going to be staying here. You’re going to be staying about a mile down the road on a different street here. They have different locations where they have the rooms and hotels, et cetera. And ours was really cool. It was on a really narrow road. Wouldn’t have found otherwise if I was looking for it in the dark. So again, glad that we did it earlier in the day and really glad that they reached out to let us know that it’s difficult to find things at night there, but it was almost like a dorm in the sense that you had a key to get into a main area.
4 (51m 23s):
And in that main area, they had a little seating area, piano, a communal irony board. If you needed it, they had silverware bowls and plates because they included that in your room, but they had extra sitting out there and then you had your own separate key to get to your room. So it was really little quaint village lodge of sorts. And I really enjoyed being out there.
1 (51m 43s):
Yeah. And they also have a microwave and a little refrigerator for you, and it’s just really cool. There’s a little patio area. And again, you see like the lushness of the island, so definitely recommend staying there. I really enjoyed our little stay when we were there.
3 (52m 1s):
What else did you see on the big island?
1 (52m 3s):
So we spent the night in volcano and then the next day we went back to Volcanoes National Park. And this is probably one of the best hikes I’ve ever done, period. It was one of my favorite hikes. It was called trail and it was a four mile loop and it took Jamal and I about two hours to do it. And again, you start on the rim of the volcanic crater and you hiked down into the rain forest and you start to get views of the caldera, but we’re looking now at a different caldera than what we were looking at the day before. And once you get to the very bottom and it looks like that vast openness of nothing, there are little rock piles that are your trail, and you get to walk all the way across the top of this volcano.
4 (52m 51s):
You know, this trail that we did, the kilowatt eeky. If we were able to do the full trail of the one that we wanted to do the previous day, I think this is the same thing, just a smaller one. Originally the one that we did the day before is also supposed to be a loop. You hike down from the rim, into the crater itself, walk across the crater and caldera, then hike back out. So this one I think is exactly like the one we did the day before, just shorter. And if we were able to complete the whole thing, but I like this one. So so much the trail actually starts right by the lava tube, the thirst and lava tube that we did the day before.
4 (53m 33s):
Now, since it’s a loop, you can start and go in any different direction, but I would recommend starting on the lava tube side. And the reason why is the descent into the caldera from that side is a lot more steeper and it’s longer. So to hike back up that one, it’s going to take a little bit more energy. Whereas when you hike out, if you go in that direction that we’re talking about, it’s definitely a steep and it’s a shorter climb to get out. And then it’s still at an inclined, but very, very subtle getting your way out. So it’s a lot easier to do it in that direction. Inca flat. Yeah. We remember that same from our Machu Picchu, Inca trail hike, but amazing to just walk out of the rain forest and all of a sudden you’re on a volcanic caldera.
4 (54m 20s):
Like it’s so eerie because I’ve never seen a landscape quite like that. It’s very apocalyptic and like death, but in a very beautiful way, it’s really weird.
1 (54m 30s):
And in some areas you can actually see steam coming from the earth. Like you can see it come up and it’s just amazing to see that. And then there are areas that are super flat in there, areas that you can tell or popped up from the volcano, you are hiking over the rubble of it. So it was amazing.
4 (54m 51s):
Yeah. Some areas are flat. Some of them look like shards of black glass, you know, they’re really sharp and it could cut you. And it’s just a very surreal contrast of landscape. I loved it a lot. And you know, I do want to go back to Volcanoes National Park and I would even do these hikes again. I mean, that’s how much I really loved them. They were really, really cool.
3 (55m 8s):
Why did you guys choose to do the park two days when it seems like you could’ve fit all this into one?
1 (55m 14s):
Well, because the day before the drive from Kona to volcano would have taken us about two hours if we had driven straight through, but we did that five mile hike. And then we went to that black sand beach. And so with all of the driving and the hiking that we did, we couldn’t fit both of these hikes in the same day. So that’s why we decided we’ll stay in volcano one night and do the four mile hike. The following day. We did it. First thing in the morning, we actually got to the trail head about 6:00 AM and completed the hike, went back to our hotel and showered before we went to Hilo, which was the other big city we were going to visit on big island.
4 (55m 55s):
Yeah. So, like I said, a little bit earlier, the two main big cities are Kona and Hilo and Kona is more resorty and on the west side of big island, whereas Hilo is more residential and on the east side of the island, now I knew of those two big cities, but I didn’t realize that Hilo didn’t really have a lot of touristy stuff. It’s something that we discovered when we got there. I mean, there’s definitely a couple of things to see. We stayed the night there as our last night. And for any of our listeners, I wouldn’t recommend that at all. I would recommend pass through Hilo, see it, but there’s not really a lot to do to stay there.
4 (56m 36s):
It was really weird. I didn’t feel like I was in Hawaii when I was there.
1 (56m 39s):
It was a very interesting field. Like all of the buildings were very old. It didn’t look as welcoming as Kona. And I’m glad we went to see what we saw, like the highlights in Hilo or their waterfalls. And I’m glad we saw them. I just wish that I knew it. Wasn’t going to take us that much time. And we had driven back to Kona.
4 (56m 59s):
Yeah. Because when we first got into Hilo, after leaving Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we wanted to stop at the Mwana LOA, macadamia nut factory that they have there. You know, Hawaii is very famous for their macadamia nuts. So we went to go see their factory and you can’t really go in, but you can look at it from the outside and they have glass and you can see the production line on the inside, but they have a really cool visitor center where you can get tons of samples of the nuts, whether they just be the regular nuts, honey roasted flavored ones, chocolate covered macadamia nuts. So we went to go check that out because it was along the way. You’re not really going to spend that much time there.
4 (57m 40s):
It’s more just to get souvenirs and some knots if you want some. But right after that, we went to Akaka Falls. And I loved this a lot. This was the highlight of Hilo. And if you do this, you’re definitely going to see pretty much all that there is to see in Hilo. There’s a couple of the other things that we’re going to go and talk about, but this is definitely the main one. And if you just did one thing, I would do this over. Anything else?
1 (58m 4s):
Yeah. Akaka Falls was amazing. So you do have to pay to get in. So if you’re walking in, you have to pay a dollar per person. If you don’t park in their parking lot, because their parking lot is pretty small and fills up quickly. If you do park in the parking lot, you have to pay $5 and there’s bathrooms there as well. But there is actually someone Manning the little ticket machine for you to go in. So once you get your ticket, you’re going to go down a set of stairs. And you’re going to come across a sign that says this way to Akaka Falls or this way for a circular route. And it says recommended route. So Jamal and are like, all right, let’s take the recommended route. So we go down some more stairs and we see a smaller waterfall and it was in this lush rainforest area.
1 (58m 48s):
Again, super, super beautiful. Then we climb up a whole bunch of stairs and go around the corner and we get our first glimpse looking down into Akaka Falls. And it was gorgeous. The falls are like 450 feet high, approximately, which is at double the height of Niagara falls.
4 (59m 10s):
So it was devil the height to Niagara falls is clearly not as wide. It’s more like a narrow stream, but it’s just so tall. So grand, so beautiful, especially the scenery that’s around it. And I really do like that recommended route. I mean, they tell you to take that because there is that secondary waterfall, but what you can see of it, it’s at not that good of an angle. So you really don’t get to see much of it. But I do recommend taking what they say is the recommended route, because when you go that way, the view that you get coming up to Akaka Falls is just amazing. You’re at the top of steps and then you can step down into it and you just get an amazing view.
4 (59m 50s):
And if you do the circular route and go the shorter way and come from the opposite direction, I just think the climactic view is not as impressive and a little disappointing. So when you come from the recommended route, it’s just absolutely amazing.
1 (1h 0m 4s):
Yeah. So to do the circle route in total and get back to our car, it only took us about 30, 35 minutes. So I was actually intending that this might take us longer, but I was happy that it didn’t cause we were able to then go to Rainbow Falls.
4 (1h 0m 19s):
Yeah. Rainbow Falls is another one of the waterfalls in the Hilo area. And believe it or not, we saw a rainbow come off of Rainbow Falls and that’s where it gets its name. But it’s not as impressive as Akaka Falls. You really come up to a parking lot. It’s just right there. You don’t have to do a path or anything like that. Like you do at Akaka Falls and definitely a lot shorter. It’s only an 80 foot drop, but the waterfall flow does seem to be a little bit wider than Akaka Falls. It’s just not as grand, but it’s nice because it’s more direct in the city where Akaka Falls is not. But that’s why I say, if you’re going to do one or the other do Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls is cool, but nothing in particular that I think is like, wow, this is special.
1 (1h 1m 6s):
Yeah. It’s still nice to see. And only an eight minute drive from Rainbow Falls, we went to the Kaumana Caves and the Kaumana Caves are another lava tube system. When you get there, there’s a really, really steep ladder down. And this lava tube is not lit at all. So this is where I say, bring a flashlight for this portion.
4 (1h 1m 30s):
Yeah. And it’s a lot smaller than the Thurston lava tube. That’s at Volcanoes National Park and the rocks are more jagged and a lot more difficult to reign. So it’s going to be really hard to traverse them. And it’s not like it is a Volcanoes National Park where you can walk through an exit on one side, these will really dead end on you and you have to walk back. But it is definitely difficult to walk. It’s slippery in there and there are a lot more . And so again, if you’re only going to be in Hilo and not go to Volcanoes National Park, I mean, check it out just to see a lava tube. But if you’re going to do Volcanoes National Park and see it, these ones aren’t necessarily as impressive.
4 (1h 2m 13s):
And I will say this, those three things are the highlight, the Kaumana Caves Rainbow, and Akaka Falls. Other than that, you know, no disrespect to Hilo, in my opinion, definitely pass through city on big island.
1 (1h 2m 27s):
I would agree. So we had to make the best of her situation cause we were staying in Hilo for the night. So I told Jamal, Hey, do you want to get some shave ice? And he was like, all right, let’s get some shave ice. How can you go to Hawaii and not get shave ice? So we headed over to the Hawaiian brain freeze, shave ice and ice cream shop. And we got coconut and Mingo flavors with the snow cap on top, which is the condensed milk topping it. And oh my gosh, it was so good.
4 (1h 2m 56s):
The flavors of the coconut and mango together with the snowcap really made the whole shave ice experience. And if you’re going to go to Hawaii, I learned this when we were in Kauai, definitely have to get shave ice that’s for sure.
1 (1h 3m 9s):
And in Hilo, we actually started to see the effects of the Corona virus pandemic, where actually a lot of restaurants and shops were not open and closing down. We actually tried to go to a different shave ice place and they were closed. We wanted to go to another restaurant for dinner. They were closed. So I think we started to see like some of the shutdowns and closures of restaurants while we were there.
4 (1h 3m 34s):
Yeah. It started to pick up. I mean, I feel like on our trip when we were at Volcanoes, there was still people there, but not really a lot. Didn’t really catch a lot of people on the trails themselves. But this is where it did start to feel like, okay, stuff’s really happening. I know you’s Anna, you are keeping us updated on what’s happening here. Even though I was checking the news. So, I mean, it was just such a surreal experience to be there while this was all happening. And then when we come back, it’s on lockdown, there’s food, supply shortages, and just really, really crazy. I’m definitely glad to be home as fun as that trip was. But interesting times to be traveling or had traveled.
2 (1h 4m 10s):
I was worried about you guys coming home or like being quarantined or something like that, because this is Monday. And as of Monday in California, basically all breweries wineries, it was all closed down. And then restaurants could only be filled to half their capacity. And then on Tuesday, the governor gave an order that no more restaurants at all by midnight later tonight. So it was like just what a changing landscape. And it was worried about you guys, but you guys got home. Okay. Yeah.
1 (1h 4m 39s):
We left Hawaii on March 17th and that’s when all of this was happening. But before we close out this episode, I do want to mention the two restaurants we did get to eat at on our last night. And the first one was Jackie Ray’s Ohana grill Hilo. Cause she does have one in Kona and we got the Kalua pork spring rolls and the coconut crusted calamari from there. And oh my God, I would recommend an eat double of both of those.
4 (1h 5m 8s):
I just saw your face on that one saying it when Brittany described it. And you’re like, what the fuck? That sounds delicious. And let me tell you something.
2 (1h 5m 15s):
4 (1h 5m 16s):
Yeah, well, not only that the Kalua pork spring rolls, I thought to myself like, okay, pork spring rolls. What’s this going to be? It was pretty much like shredded pork and a spring roll, but they had an amazingly sweet chili dipping sauce and oh my God, it was so, so good. But we originally wanted to go there because we saw on their menu that they had fish and chips and I’m a sucker for fish and chips. Brittany likes it, but she has to really be craving. And we’re like, oh, we’re in Hawaii. Let’s get some good fish. And so they show that on their online menu, but do keep in mind, they only offer it during the lunch and a happy hour portion of dinner. And by the time we got there, they were no longer serving it. So we’re like, all right, well we want fish and chips.
4 (1h 5m 57s):
We saw a second place that has it. We’re already here. Let’s just get those appetizers. And they definitely didn’t disappoint all of the food that came out on the menu look super good. It is expensive. We just didn’t want to spend that much necessarily sort of like, all right, let’s get some good apps. And then we moved on to the bay, front fish and chips. And this is where we got our fish and chips entree. And it was absolutely delicious. Yeah,
1 (1h 6m 21s):
It was, we got like four pieces of fish and fries and Cole slaw for like 15, 16 bucks. It was worth it. And I definitely recommend it if you are craving some fish and chips while you’re on big island.
4 (1h 6m 34s):
That’s the good thing about Hilo too. As again, I said, it’s more residential and not touristy area. So you will find some good mom and pop restaurant shops when you’re out there. But in terms of, again, stuff to do, don’t want to slam on Hilo. But I just want to advise people do keep in mind, good place to see a few sites, but definitely pass through city for sure.
1 (1h 6m 57s):
And so the next day we just woke up and we drove back to Kona to fly out. And literally from Hilo to Kona, the entire drive was all lava field terrain pretty much the entire way.
4 (1h 7m 10s):
Yeah, because of the highway that we took, took us through the center of the island. Whereas originally when we went from Kona to Hilo and was making that route, we took the coastal route through the south. So this one, we literally cut through the middle of the island, what a dramatic different landscape than what we saw. When you go in around the edges.
1 (1h 7m 28s):
In fact, Sienna, we were talking with you through the phone and you kept cutting in and out because of the great reception we got in Hawaii.
2 (1h 7m 37s):
Correction, you kept cutting in and out.
4 (1h 7m 41s):
Well, that’s true, but you, but you were at our house and our house is notorious for bad reception too. So it could have been either or a combination of
2 (1h 7m 48s):
3 (1h 7m 50s):
Any last thoughts about Hawaii. Sounds like you guys had a really fun trip.
1 (1h 7m 53s):
We did have a really fun trip. I feel like you could do this island in three to four days. I don’t think you need an entire week spent here. But if you do do an entire week, I would recommend island hopping.
4 (1h 8m 6s):
Yeah. Absolutely. Big island is really, really nice, but again, only been to big island and Kauai, but from what I know of, you know, Maui and a wahoo, they definitely are different in different ways, but I could see spinning a week at those places based on what I know and what I know now, big island definitely. You don’t need to spend that much time there, but there are very awesome highlights to see. I hope we shared that with you and helped inspired you guys on how to do big island. Right? When you guys go.
3 (1h 8m 36s):
I do think that you would have had more fun had the other members of the squad, but on the trip, but we’ll save that for another day.
4 (1h 8m 43s):
We, we would, but again, we were supposed to be going to Hong Kong and where you wanting to come to Hong Kong Disney real quick for like two days and then fly right back.
3 (1h 8m 53s):
You never know.
4 (1h 8m 55s):
Alright, well you should’ve came to Hawaii then when we told you we were gone, just bought that ticket.
2 (1h 9m 1s):
All right, guys,
3 (1h 9m 2s):
Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode. Please keep the adventures going with us. Follow us on Instagram at Travel Squad, podcasts, and subscribe to our YouTube page at Travel Squad Podcast.
2 (1h 9m 13s):
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4 (1h 9m 20s):
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1 (1h 9m 26s):
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3 (1h 9m 33s):
Ooh, that’s exciting.