Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Big Island - Paradise Found

Does it seem like I could come up with a less cliche description for The Big Island than "paradise"?
Yes, perhaps it does. How is "magical"?  No better really. Well, there is always some truth in the cliches, so I will just stick with "paradise" for now.  The above picture was the view from our deck. I cannot imagine a more perfect view - both ocean and palm trees - and slightly to the right were the mountains, which almost always had some clouds hanging over them, threatening rain, in fact, sometimes, you could see it was raining up there.

We saw this green sea turtle as we were out walking on the hotel grounds. We were in front of the hotel, exploring the tidepools and lava formations when we saw this one, and another slightly smaller one. They were beautiful.  We did not get too close, as they are endangered, and there are laws protecting them, plus we did not want to disturb them. (My phone camera zoom is actually pretty good!)  Later in the day, when out snorkeling close to this spot, we actually swam with them.  That was the most amazing thing ever!  The appear to fly through the water. It was just like being in Finding Nemo with Crush. :) 

We arrived in the afternoon on Wednesday, had most of Thursday and Friday to relax, snorkel, shop and just be.  Friday night we took a dinner cruise, which was our first actvity of what was a slightly over-booked, but hugely fun vacation.  The boat was VERY bouncy while still at the dock, but OK once we got out of the harbor. I do not tend towards sea-sickness, but that would have gotten to me fairly quickly if the whole trip had been like that. Fortunately, once we were underway, it smoothed out, we had beautiful Blue Hawaiians, saw some whales breach with the setting sun as a background, then enjoyed a good dinner and entertainment. 

Saturday was an all-day (14 hours!) volcano and lava tour.  We went to Volcanos National Park, which is in a temperate rain forest. We saw the Kilauea caldera - a big crater that is still sending up a steam plume, walked through a lava tube, which is like a cave made by lava, and eventually walked on a lava bed that has been active right up until the Japan earthquake. 

The picture above shows some of the kids toys on lava rock with the forest in the background. The most impressive species was the tree fern, which grows up to 20 feet tall!  Vicki had the idea to ask the kids for a small toy each that we could take pictures of at different locations so they would know we were thinking of them. 

This was surreal...we were literally standing at the edge of creation. Yup, that is the end of the road, and the bumpy black parts are the top of a lava field. We stood on what had been an active flow just two weeks prior. (Yes, the sign does say to stay on the road. Our guide had special permission to take us a bit further on foot.) New earth being formed right here.  I put my hand into a crevice and could still feel the heat. A worker threw a cup of water in a crack and steam shot up.  The top of the lava is very brittle, shiny and crust-like. Easy to break.  There was black lava as far as the eye could see...barren, isolated, almost like a different planet. Contrast that with the picture at the top of this post.

Ah - I realize I have not even mentioned kayaking through the old sugar cane irrigation ditches, or seeing the eels, or swimming with the mantas  (great creatures, poorly - and dangerously - executed tour concept), the white, black and green sand beaches, or the southern-most bakery in the US....I may need another post in a week or so to cover some of the extra details!  Tonight is the first night we went through our 500+ pictures and they are great reminders of all the fun adventures we had.

I am very grateful for this wonderful vacation, and the very special woman I was able to share it with.

1 comment:

Lynilu said...

Oh boy, that brings me memories from last fall. So nice! BTW, some of the lava near Kona (I don't remember where you stayed) is very dangerous. Staying away from it is necessary because it is very sharp, cuts like glass! My friend carefully approached a piece of it with a piece of paper and the paper was shredded! I couldn't believe it!

I was amazed with the climatic differences around the island. Just a fascinating place, isn't it? And you both look so relaxed and happy. I'm happy for you that you made the trip. I'll bet you go back, too! I know I would!

I agree with you .... there are many words to describe it, but "paradise" says it in a word. So nice, so peaceful!