TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY SIX

Wednesday, 28 September 2016
LAUPAHOEHOE BEACH PARK
LAUPAHOEHOE BEACH PARK hawaii trek america sunrise
LAUPAHOEHOE BEACH PARK hawaii trek america sunrise
Being able to sleep last night was hard, my adrenaline was running for half of the night after the tsunami warning went off; it took me and most of the camp ages to eventually drift of into sleep. This made getting up in the morning extremely harder, all of us wanted to watch the last sun rise we would see on this tour, me and my tent mate finally mustered up enough energy to drag ourselves out of sleeping bags and was greeted with a few of others emerging from their tents. We walked down to the beach to get a good a view, with the waves crashing against the rocks and the day slowly emerging in the distance. We patiently waited for the dark and moody sky to lighten up, with a cloudy sky I wasn't sure if we would get to see much of a sun rise but we watched the sun fight to shine through the clouds transforming the sky into an array of different colours and its powerful light  eventually breaking through the clouds.

The first stop on our agenda was Waipi'o valley to do a shuttle bus tour, this was an activity included in the cost of the tour. Waipi'o Valley is known as the valley of the Kings, many years ago this was the capitol and home to many Ali'i. 
WAIPI'O VALLEY hawaii trek america

As we waited for the shuttle someone spotted these two turkeys and for some reason we were all incredibly impressed by them, they were huge but I feel I might be ignorant to how big turkeys can get, are they always this large? 
WAIPI'O VALLEY hawaii trek america

WAIPI'O VALLEY hawaii trek america
In my head I had imagined the tour to be in a open top jeep, it wasn't. It was a 4X4 closed van type thing (my automobile knowledge isn't great) with windows to peer out off. As we started to make our descent into the valley I could see why it wasn't, it was incredibly steep with the longest drop to the side. My parents did a hiking tour here and walked down and back up this, no idea how they managed that! 
WAIPI'O VALLEY hawaii trek america

WAIPI'O VALLEY hawaii trek america

Once we got into the valley you could see its beauty all around and describe by locals as being like heaven, although all of Hawaii feels like paradise to me. Our guide told us about the legend of Hilawe falls, which is based around two lovers although I won't bore you with the details this time, I love these legends but I am not sure you want to hear them all. People live in this valley which is mainly used for the growing of taro which is used to make poi a traditional Hawaiian food, it was interesting to see their way of life and hear about the hardships they may face. Waipi'o Valley gets a lot of rain which can often result in flooding which can cause a lot of problems as you can imagine, we got to experience the wet side of the valley as it began to rain, the ride picked up a little as we went through streams. Due to the rain over the last couple of days it did course one stream to burst it banks which meant we couldn't go any further which was a shame but something that can't be helped. 

Our tour guide was amazing and so full of knowledge about the wildlife in particular the many species of plants and flowers they have in the valley, it was enjoyable to hear him talk about it, although I would never be able to remember them all a few did stick out to me, in particular there is one that goes by the name Devil's breath (not sure on the scientific name) this particular flower can be used as a drug which is said to put people into a zombie like state where they pretty much have no control, scary yet fascinating. The valley is also home to wild horses which get to roam the valley as they please, although they seem fairly tame to be deemed wild. The tour wasn't as I had expected but I enjoyed it, I have mentioned in previous post that I learnt so much on this tour so hearing more about the plant life made me happy. 


If you go to any country you have to at least staple some form of new food, I tried so many exotic fruits here but this time I got to try something on the sweet and unhealthy side. We went to the tex drive in to get malasadas, a few other had already stapled these earlier on but I didn't, they come from Portugal made with milk, butter and eggs then fried and filled with a filling (well I guess you could just call them doughnuts...) I opted for a strawberry jam filled one and a vanilla milkshake, the malasada was a little on the sweet side to my personal taste. Tex drive in is hugely popular though so expect to be standing in the que for around 5 minutes at least. 

After the malasadas we headed to a supermarket to buy dinner for tonight event of stargazing! It took me so long to decide what to have so I make a last minute decision and got a vegetable pot and a loaf of 'fancy' bread to share. After lunch we headed for our camp site for the night, out of all the sites this was my least favourite, I wouldn't even class it as a camp site. When we arrived a family had taken over the pavilion, and one of only two toilets, the ground we had to set up camp on was on a hill which was filled with rocks and again the showers were outside. 

Once everything was set up a few of it decided to have a quick visit to the Lapakahi state park which took us around half an hour in total to look around. It consisted of the same things the majority of other historical parks had but personally this one was my favourite out the lot, there was more information about the site and artifacts. 


This was something that was added onto the tour itinerary after I had booked onto it, so when I saw the updated version I was so happy to see this on here. Stars, planets and space fascinate me, I couldn't wait. I put layers on to keep warm, even bringing my sleeping bag along just in case! The drive to Mauna Key was the longest one we had on the entire tour, roughly taking around an hour. On the decent up, I had a not so pleasant situation with my vegetables which I chose for dinner, the altitude caused the packaging to explode and unleash a nice broccoli scent into the van much to the amusement of others which made me feel slightly embarrassed so I kept my mouth shut.

mauna key stargazing hawaii trek america

Once we had reached the top and got out of the van we had our dinner, I then went to have a wander around the gift shop before the sun was about to set, which caused me to loose everyone! I ended up buying a book on astronomy and a sticker to put on my water bottle. Since I was alone I assumed the majority of people had climbed to the top of the hill to watch the sun set, so I headed up. Due to the altitude I got out of breath so quickly, I thought it was just me at first but someone else later on said they felt the same. At the top I sat by myself for a while before I spotted some people from camp so headed over to watch the sunset with them. Just like this morning the sun was blocked by clouds but it was still breathtakingly beautiful, the colours, the mist created such an incredible sight. 
mauna key stargazing hawaii trek america

mauna key stargazing hawaii trek america
Before it got too dark we headed back down the hill and got a hot chocolate before we all sat huddled on a bench wrapped up in blankets to keep warm. The sky slowly started to get darker as more and more starts started to appear in the sky, when it was dark enough the show began. Using a laser we learnt about the Northern Star, we saw the Northern Cross and so many other constellations, there were satellites in the sky, Mars and Saturn were visible to the naked eye looking like tiny sparkly silver dots and best of all I got to see a shooting star, my first ever one, it lit up the sky and was gone as quickly as it appeared but it made my night. It was spectacular! 

To read about the rest of my Hawaiian adventure click here and if you want like to donate to my fund my travel for Costa Rica to work with animals click here

TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY FIVE

Monday, 19 September 2016
HILO BAY HOSTEL AND BEARS COFFEE
Having a bed for the night you would have thought after camping with no pillow I would have had the best sleep, well I didn't. Hilo is on the rainy side of the island and with a window left open it is loud and to top it off in the morning several really noisy lorries went past. 
trek america hawaii

In the morning a few of us decided to go get breakfast and opted for Bears Coffee. A little cafe just round the corner from the hostel. The food in Hilo is amazing and bears coffee didn't disappoint. I had homemade waffles with whipped cream, papaya and banana with an iced coffee. It was filling and delicious. 

Once breakfast was over we decided to walk down to a little farmers market, I love the idea of farmers markets buying local produce and supporting the community. This one didn't quite meet my expectations but there was lots of fruits and vegetables on sale that I have never heard of before. Along with the typical touristy souvenirs you find. I would have loved to have stayed a little longer in Hilo to have a look around some of the shops but we had to get going before most of them opened. 

When we were packing the van, there was a homeless man with the most adorable pup. It makes me sad but also makes me question where homeless people find dogs? But the guy was nice and I also really wanted to steal the pup. 

AKAKA FALLS LOOKOUT and HONOMU TOWN
There is a legend behind Akaka falls although I am told there are several different versions of the legend, the one I heard involves a warrior called Akaka who cherished both his wife and dog, however he was unfaithful and had two lovers who were said to be goddess' Lehua and Maile, when his wife would go to visit her family he would visit one of his lovers. One time his wife returned unexpectedly and calls out for him, he hears and feeling bad he begins to walk back to their home. On the way Akaka falls into a pool at the bottom of the waterfall and is transformed into a stone. His dog torn between fear and loyalty hesitates to jump in, the dog is then transformed into a stone at the top of the waterfall. His wife seeing all this tries to save Akaka but can't and is transformed into a stone near the edge of the falls. The two lovers wept so hard they turned into two small waterfalls along the gulch. I have no idea where these legends come from but I find them fascinating. 
trek america hawaii

trek america hawaii
The falls follow a short hike around the waterfalls, the first fall you will see if you turn right at the start of the trail is the Kahuna Falls which is 100ft, continuing on you come to Akaka Falls which plummets at 442 feet into a gorge. The falls and the hike are beautiful, there was such a lush rainforest and the most spectacular plants and flowers seeing these plants instantly made me think of Jurassic Park, this is how I originally envisioned most of Hawaii to look.

As most of you know may know I did the Southern Sun tour with trek america last year, that tour in comparison felt more action packed to this one even though you spent a lot of time in the van, the van was fun because it helped the group bond. However since we didn't spend a lot of time in the van on this one it also meant instead of services stations we got to visit small towns and see how the locals live. Today we visited Honomu town, a quaint little town full of rustic looking shops, full of trinkets and other wonders. There was this great antique glass shop filled to the brim with knick-knacks, retro clothing and other treasures to be discovered. 

trek america hawaii
For lunch we stop of at this really great beach park, our tour guide had also picked up some new fruit from the farmers market to try which were described as custard apples with a sticky sweet centre. What I loved about this beach park is that there was the family there, having a BBQ with their kids playing in the water and I can only imagine how fun that would be, to have this as your weekend all the time. Growing up in England I feel that is something I really didn't have. It was beautiful place with a stream leading down into the ocean. 

We was meant to be doing an optional activity today of some water activities but due to the rain and the water levels rising it got cancelled. It was slightly disappointing but also not the end of the world. Instead our guide took us on to the Onomea trail. The trail took us to this secluded beach where I took of my shoes and went paddling in a little pool, it was here that I somewhat started to feel like an explorer. We climbed up this hill and whilst most of the group went to sit by the sea I decided to go venturing into the rainforest behind me and I did all of that with my shoes still of, thankfully my feet weren't ripped about. I love the ocean but my heart belongs to forests; I could have spent hours getting lost in there the only thing missing animals to discover. 


WORLD BOTANICAL GARDENS and LAUPAHOEHOE BEACH PARK


The tour included a trip to the botanical gardens which began with (you guessed it) another waterfall; I can't complain though, waterfalls are so beautiful! Next up we did a maze and our tour guide turned it into a little competition; whoever got out first wins a prize! So me and this guy are ready to run into this maze, which was pretty small and you can see people standing up in it, and I was thinking to myself 'yeah I've got this, I know the maze trick' (placing my hand against the wall.) We were both running around like crazy whilst others took it slow, a few hedge jumped but everyone made it out apart from me and two other people, the three of us united to try and get out to no avail, we ended up going back to the beginning feeling like complete failures. It was a lot of fun though. 

The plants were spectacular, my favourite was the eucalyptus tree which honestly looks like someone has painted it, really strange and unusual. I ended up working around by myself for a while and I enjoyed the alone time. I also stumbled across some coconut trees with lots of coconuts on the floor so I ran under these so quickly in fear of one of them falling onto my head. I wish we had more time to look around the whole of the gardens but Hawaii itself is full of so many beautiful plants and trees wherever you look.

Our campsite for the night was the laupahoehoe beach park, the name might sound familiar in 1946 on the 1st April a tsunami hit here. At the time there was a school house which ended up getting swept away killing 24 people, 21 of those being school children, it was so haunting and sad to think about. Hawaii now has alarms that ring out in event of a tsunami. The camp grounds were really nice but again pretty basic with outdoor showers and restrooms with a toilet and sink but you can't really moan when you are camped right next to the ocean. It was my groups turn to cook dinner again tonight and we made a stir fry with tofu for the veggies, afterwards a few of us stayed in making friendship bracelets and chatting away. Starting to feel pretty sleepy I decided to head to bed at around ten pm so I grabbed my wash stuff from the tent and cautiously walked over to the restroom, I had been warned that there was frogs or toads all over the walls; I have a massive fear of them but thankfully I didn't encounter any. Whilst I was brushing my teeth the tsunami alarm went off, it was loud and I was like what the hell. I looked outside to see everyone running, I panicked and grabbed my stuff and ran over to everyone else. By this time the alarms had turned off and even though we could hear the crashing of the waves we had no idea what was going on, we stood around for a couple of minutes watching everybody else leave the campground which made me feel more eager to get out of there. Our guide decided it was best to leave until we knew for sure what was happening so we all hopped into the van to find out. Thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm but honestly I have never been so scared in my life, some nice locals told us it was a malfunction and the had been in contact with the police. It is a scary realisation that the people of Hawaii live with this factor, with the chance of this happening every day. We ventured back to camp, feeling nervous about falling to sleep which wasn't helped by the rain that had begun to fall.

To read about the rest of my Hawaiian adventure click here and if you want like to donate to my fund my travel for Costa Rica to work with animals click here

TREK AMERICA, THE BIG ISLAND, HAWAII. DAY FOUR.

Friday, 16 September 2016
Half way through the tour and in the morning we packed up camp filled with excitement and anticipation since tonight we would be staying in a hostel! Don't get me wrong I love camping but going without showers for two days and being pretty hot and sticky was not attractive, my hair also managed to become filled with sun lotion and morph into a greasy yet frizzy mess. I was so eager to wash it! 

trek america hawaii

Our first stop of the day were hot springs which was completely unexpected it wasn't on the itinerary, but that's one of the great things about these tours, the guides will take you to different places so no tour is ever the same! The springs are located next to the ocean with a small inlet that lets tropical fish swim into the springs. Like I said before I felt dirty, so I was the first to climb into the springs in an attempt to feel clean, and to my surprise the water was nice and warm it felt good. It was like taking a lukewarm bath. I think if I lived near these hot springs I would go down there everyday I felt so relaxed with the sun beating down on us, surrounded by palm trees and the gentle crashing of waves, if only all my mornings started like this. 

It wasn't long until we had to drag ourselves out, the slight feeling of being clean soon vanished as I got changed in a dingy toilet cubicle complete with nice holes so people could easily see in!

I mentioned in a previous post that something I was looking forward to was going inside a lava tube so when I found out that today we would be going down another one I was so excited!! Our tour guide told us to bring a torch and that flip flops would be suitable footwear. We made our way down steep steps then lead to the caves opening, again beautifully overgrown with vines and plants, we was given around half an hour to go into the cave and have a look around. I think the lava tube itself is around 25 miles long and if I had the time I would have loved to have attempted that. 

kaumana caves trek america

Why my tour guide said it was okay to wear flip flops I do not know, I wore dainty sandals and the first thing I realised was that this was a BIG mistake the floor was so rocky and jaggered, as we ventured further in the tube changed in size from being openly large to having to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through spaces, only a few of us ventured in as far as we could before we ran out of time. We stopped to turn our flashlights of to take in the darkness and the eerily silence of this place and imagine how hard it would be to find our way out of here if all of our torches died. It was humid and sticky. We spotted roots of trees that had forced themselves through the ground, into this vast tube and somehow managed to plant it roots onto the rocky ground. What I loved most was seeing how lava had carved its way into the land with the roofs being so smooth in comparison to the floor. I am really quite proud of myself for managing to do this in sandals although I did bang my head a few times and came out with a few cuts and scratches, it was one of my favourite things that we did on this tour. Unfortunately I didn't get too many photos inside the cave but if you want to have a look do a google search, you won't be disappointed! 

Due to being ahead of time those of us who were booked onto the helicopter ride still had time to go to the rainbow falls lookout, it was a beautiful and very picturesque setting although I couldn't see any rainbows. Near the falls is an area covered in Banyan trees, I am not to sure about the history/life of the banyan tree but I do know they aren't native to Hawaii. However they are without a doubt one of the most incredible trees I have ever seen with branches coming of in all directions, they are also insanely big. I am pretty sure they also produce some form of fruit which smells incredibly bad once it has fallen to the ground and begins to rot but it is easy to get past this to admire the beauty of the tree.

Afterwards we did a quick food shop and the four of us who were booked onto the helicopter flight was picked up by a taxi here. We was booked onto the circle of fire tours which covers the most geologically active environment on earth for volcano activity (all so I am told.) 

This was my first helicopter ride ever, I was nervous and excited. I always see helicopters and think they always look so wobbly and unsteady I wonder what it feels like. After a health and safety induction and being weighed we were ready to board. We opted for an eco-star helicopter that gave better viewing. I was also sat in the front in the middle so I had incredible views. The ride felt surreal, if I had to describe it as anything I would say this is how I imagine floating to feel like, I remember looking down at the trees below moving so fast yet thinking to myself surely we aren't moving that fast when will it pick up speed to be told we was moving at 100mph! Our pilot was awesome too, full of information and super friendly, apparently this company was used to film areal views for Jurassic Park which is pretty cool. I don't know how many of you have seen the news over the last couple of months about the lava flow reaching the sea in Hawaii for the first time in a couple of years, this guy was telling us how you can hike up to the flow and get within arm distance of it which is actually pretty scary but something I would have loved to do. 

trek america hawaii lava helicopters

Anyway this was one experience I won' forget for a lifetime and the icing on the cake was getting to see LAVA, it is one of those rare things you think you will never see but we was extremely lucky. The pilot told us he had been out flying half an hour before we got there and this particular flow wasn't there then. The pilot described lava in such a perfect way, it is scary and destructive yet seeing lava is seeing the world being created, the beginning of new life and in years to come when maybe we will all be dead and gone the lava we saw here today will be apart of new land, home to new life. It really is incredible. 

Since we did the helicopter ride and everyone else went straight to the hostel I was feeling slightly eager to get there, have a shower and get ready. I was waiting for a shower for half an hour but when I got in there it felt SO good to not have to shower in a swimming costume and to have a good clean, to dry my hair afterwards and for it to feel clean, smooth and soft! The hostel is really nice as well, so if you happen to be going to Hilo I would recommend this one. 

We ate at a place called pineapples and it was so busy on arrival that our group had to be split up to be seated. Whilst we waited though we ordered cocktails, I can't recall what I ordered but it had gin in it and it was good. After what felt like a long wait we were finally seated, I ordered a tofu red thai curry and it was GOOD, so good I wanted more. I can see why this place is so popular, it was divine. You know when you eat something so good you spend days thinking about it, it was like that. When I came home from Hawaii one of the first meals I made was me trying to replicate this meal. After our meal we all headed back to the hostel and I stayed up taking advantage of being able to charge my phone and gopro. 

Have you been to Hawaii before?

To read about the rest of my Hawaiian adventure click here and if you want like to donate to my fund my travel for Costa Rica to work with animals click here
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