Friday, April 27, 2007

Hawaii trip - day 6, part 1

Friday, April 13

We had been on the Big Island since Tuesday afternoon and we hadn't seen the volcano yet. I guess that kind of narrowed it down as to what we'd be doing on Friday. Since neither of us thought much of the drive south through Kona on Wednesday, we decided to take the "other" route to Volcanoes National Park, east through Waimea and then southeast through Hilo. This would give us a chance to visit two other attractions on our "to do" list: the Waipio Valley overlook and Akaka Falls.

We arrived at the Waipio Valley overlook around 9 am and stood around for 15 minutes or so, enjoying the view. The scenery is similar to what we had seen the previous day at Pololu. However, Waipio Valley features a road you can drive clear to the bottom -- IF you're properly equipped. We knew in advance that the rental car companies didn't allow their cars in the Waipio Valley. Even if we hadn't known, the ominous "25 % grade" sign probably would have deterred us from proceding further. When we arrived, we were the only ones there, but we knew it was time to leave when several carloads of people showed up.

Waipio Valley overlook - Friday, April 13

driving south on Highway 19 along the Big Island's east coast
Next, we drove southeast toward Hilo. We took a short side trip up to Akaka Falls State Park. Akaka Falls is a dramatic 400-foot waterfall in one of the many valleys draining water into the Pacific on the island's northeast coast. There are actually two waterfalls -- Akaka Falls and the smaller Kahuna Falls. The state parks facility provides a paved pathway to access good views of both with little physical effort (walking distance - less than 1000 feet). During our visit, the weather alternated between light rain and mist. We were sure that this was very common. There were enormous trees and plants with huge leaves everywhere we looked; we felt like we were in a jungle or a rainforest. This was the most crowded of any of the tourist attractions we had visited so far. (A couple of tour buses arrived around the same time we got there). But the crowds weren't too bad, and the scenery was well worth the stop. We were as impressed with all the vegetation as we were with the waterfalls!

The path to Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

All these branches were part of the same tree!

lots of green leaves

Akaka Falls flora

Next stop: Hilo (for shopping and lunch) and then the volcano! Stay tuned...

np: Waylon Jennings - "Are you sure Hank done it this way" on KHYI 95.3-FM
nr: Ruby El Hult - Northwest Disaster

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