Hawaii: The Big Island: Hamakua

When your destination is the end of the road, you know you can’t get lost. Highway 240 dead-ends at the Waipi’o Valley lookout. Looking out from the top of cliffs is spectacular. The ocean’s shade of blue rivals that of Crayola, and the greens of the valley equally vibrant. Waves crash along the black sand beach 2000 feet below.

Waipi'o Valley Lookout

The Hi’ilawe Falls are nestled in the Waipi’o Valley and I wanted to see them. At 1450 feet, Hi’ilawe Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state. It took us around 45 minutes to climb down the one mile 25% grade road to where we could see the falls from a distance. (There isn’t a trail to get to the foot of the falls.) During periods of heavy rain you might see two streams flowing down the cliff.

Hi'ilawe Falls

After catching a glimpse of the waterfall we headed to the black sand beach where we stopped and ate our packed lunch. Don’t forget to look up and see how far you hiked! On our hike to the beach we saw wild horses and the skeleton of a jeep that we can only infer fell down the cliff.

Waipi'o Valley

Hiking back up the 2000 feet was not a picnic. It was slow going up the steep road, and the temptation to hitchhike a ride back up very great. We stopped often along to the way to rehydrate and snap some more pictures. I have to admit, that I was impressed it still only took us 45 minutes to make it back to the Wiapi’o Valley lookout.

Akaka Falls State ParkIf you don’t want to make the exhausting trip to see the Hi’ilawe Falls, there is a more beautiful and easily accessible waterfall in Hamakua. Akaka Falls State Park is home to not only the most beautiful waterfall on the island, Akaka Falls, but also Kahuna Falls. Both are located along a boardwalk trail Circle Route. Catching a glimpse of Kahuna Falls from the boardwalk isn’t easy and the waterfall is only 100 feet, but “why not?” Continue to follow Circle Route to Akaka Falls, stopping to look at the fauna of the rain-forest around you.

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls

Hawaii: The Big Island: Ka’u

I thought it would be fun to check out the three different colored sands on the Big Island – black, white, and green. South Point, in the district of Ka’u, is the home to one of only four green sand beaches in the world. I wish I could tell you that the olivine sand is stunning, but regrettingly I cannot.

To get to the green sand beach you must drive ten miles down South Point Road. At this point you can continue to go straight a couple hundred yards and stand in the southern most point of the United States or you can go left for a mile to park for the green sands beach Papakolea.

Once you park your vehicle it’s a 2.5 mile hike to hit the green sands. If you decide to take this trek, don’t do it in flip flops, and have water with you. Even though we had a beach day planned, we were still prepared with hiking boots in the car. The walk is windy but beautiful. The color of the water is unrealistically turquoise and the power of the waves stunning. So the trip wasn’t a complete loss. Note: These photographs have not been edited or changed.

Turquoise Waters

Our day to the southern tip of Hawaii was the day of my birthday. And I’m going to admit off the bat that I was a big birthday baby. I had really wanted to sit by the hotel pool and have a couple daiquiris, but at the same time I didn’t want to waste a day either! So we decided that we’d come back to Kailua-Kona before dark; which actually put me back into my rush rush rush mentality. But on the way to the car from breakfast we found sea turtles Seth and Sandy! (previous post) An hour and a half later we finally hit the road. 

South Point

About a mile into the walk to the green sand beach I’d called it quits. There was another beach I’d wanted to see that was known for sea turtle spottings and still wanted to get back before sunset. The sand we’d been trekking through was a greenish-yellow, if that counts?

At Punalu’u I was relieved to see a turtle feeding in the rocks and laying on the beach and another laying on the beach. This sand was the blackest of the previous two black sand beaches we’d seen on the trip. It was what Stuart pictured in his mind. 

Punalu'u Turtles

PhotoGrid_1378952743416After the beach and after coming to terms with missing sunset in Kailua-Kona, we decided to stop at the Southernmost restaurant in the US, Hana Hou, in Na’alehu. It was here that we tried the Hawaiian fast food Loco Moco. Traditionally Loco Moco is white rice, brown gravy, hamburger patty, two over easy eggs. There are variations that change out the meat choice. Our waitress said that their best was with shredded pork. Stuart and I shared a large plate of it, and still couldn’t finish it – serving sizes in Hawaii are huge! I wasn’t completely convinced by the ingredient list, and it’s not the most beautiful of dishes, but let me tell you – it’s surprisingly delicious, and comforting.

The day may not have gone as I’d planned, but a “bad” day in Hawaii is never a bad day. And a day seeing sea turtles is a good day. The sea turtle, or honu, is a symbol of longevity and is the guardian of family.