Hawaii trip - day 5
We weren't ready for another full morning at the beach, so after breakfast we set out to do some sightseeing. Our objective for the morning was to visit the Pololu Valley overlook on the far north end of the island. One of the amazing things about Hawaii is how drastically the climate and vegetation can change in just a few miles. This seems to be true of all the islands, but was especially noticeable on the northern part of the Big Island. We drove north from Kona through semi-arid conditions resembling the Davis Mountains in far west Texas (mountainsides covered with yellow prairie grass) but over a stretch of less than 10 miles, the vegetation and cloud cover increased dramatically as we entered the island's "wet side". A series of valleys along the island's northeast shore funnels the watershed from the Kohala Mountains down to the Pacific Ocean. The Pololu overlook, located a few miles east of the town of Hawi, provides an elevated view of one of these valleys and the dramatic seaside cliffs which border it; and provides access to a hiking trail leading down to a black sand beach below.
We arrived at the overlook around 0900 and found just two other vehicles at the parking area. We could see someone down on the beach, and decided to walk on down the trail. It took us about 25 minutes to reach the bottom. Near the bottom, we met three other people who were getting ready to hike back up, and then we walked out onto the beach.
K wanted to do some shopping, and I didn't want to risk adding to my sunburn by going to the beach during "high sun", so I joined her for a trip down to Kona to check out Hilo Hattie's, kind of a one-stop tourist gift shop for shirts, coffee, macadamia nuts, and all things Hawaiian. Later, we treated ourselves to some "plate lunches" at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, a nice "no frills" local eatery near Hilo Hattie's, and then started back toward the hotel. On our way north, we stopped to look at a lava tube that we had noticed north of the airport.
fractured earth north of Kona
Back at the hotel, I got some drinks and headed to the beach while K took a nap back at the hotel. Later, we had dinner at the hotel's steak house / sushi bar, and then we went to bed early, resting up for what would be our most ambitious day of sightseeing on Friday. Stay tuned for the next report...