Stephanie and I got in, and it was already very late. We spent a long time at the rental car place, since they didn’t have the cars ready. Once we got to the time share we were so ready for sleep that we just said hi and slept.
Day 2 we decided to go to the volcanoes. We had breakfast with everyone, and Jeff did a great job cooking it. We talked with everyone and it worked out best for us to go to volcanoes the first day. We left and spent some time in Hilo area, first going through an amazing lava tube cave. The cave had an amazing set of hydrophobic bacteria, which had tiny beads of water in patches. The brown bacteria appeared as gold because of this, and the grey bacteria appeared silver. We met an interesting woman from Alaska who’s friend was waiting in the car, and she didn’t want to do the cave by herself. We went through one collapsed area, and met with a second, but decided to turn back.
We went to an amazing place for lunch, Paul’s Place. This was a tiny hole in the wall restaurant that was in the front section of a very small hotel. The food was amazing, and the service was excellent. There were only 3 tables, and they appeared to enjoy their work. They took off early that day, and turned away a few people saying that there were reservations when there weren’t. I’m glad Stephanie made reservations, as we were the last people they chose to serve that day.
We then headed to the crater and did the Kiluea Iki hike across the surface of a frozen lava lake. This lake was like the surface of Mordor, and surrounded by jungle. The hike was pretty spectacular. We then went to dinner at a Thai restaurant, and the food was pretty good. After dinner we went to the observatory, and waited for the sun to go down. After sunset we saw the lava lake lighting up the steam/sulfur dioxide coming out of the caldera. It was a pretty amazing sight, but didn’t change much, and you couldn’t actually see the lava, so we left quickly.
On the way back we stopped by the Mauna Kea visitor center, which is at about 9000 ft above sea level. We had to drive through the clouds to get to it, and it was a harrowing experience. We got to see some pretty amazing sights, despite the clouds coming up and covering the view some. We saw that Venus was at about 3/4 full, since it has phases like the moon does. We also got to see Saturn. This was something that I really wanted to do since we were there during a new moon. Kim and Benjamin were there before we showed up, and they got to see a good view of Jupiter. We got back late, and went to sleep.
Day 3 we got up early to go to Pololu Valley. This is a tradition, that we’ve done every time going to Hawaii since the second time we went. The first time we did horseback riding in Waipio, which is in the same series of valleys, but on the other side of that section of the island. The beach was pretty full, and a lot of people had been camping there. We got there early enough that we got a parking spot, and the hike down and across the valley was pretty nice. My dad did surprisingly well on the hike. We then stopped by Hawi for lunch, and of course went to the Bamboo. The food there was great, as expected. There wasn’t much choice for Steph, but she found something she wanted. We headed back, and stopped by A Bay. We looked around for Turtles, and eventually found some as we were just about to leave. We got a good walk along the beach, and found a section that had a lot of green sand. That night Stephanie and I relaxed a good bit in the Volcano Tub, which was very nice. I was able to spot a satellite, and the part of the stars that were not covered by clouds were amazing to view.
Day 4 we had a bit of a relaxing day, and went to Mauna Kea beach in the morning. We did some snorkeling and had a pretty good time there. There were a few cleaner wrasse that refused to clean us, despite some decent attempts. We must not have had enough parasites on us. We went to lunch with my Mom on a nice walk to the Queen Shops.
That night we did some amazing night diving, first a manta ray dive, where we saw two manta rays. On the way to the ‘campfire’ we saw a tiny octopus, about the size of a golfball. The first we saw just as sitting down, and it came right over my head. We then waited 25 minutes without any other rays showing up. I blew a lot of bubble rings, and a few of them stayed together for a long time, making it about 15 feet up.
On the way back to the boat we saw a cleaner shrimp station, and they wouldn’t clean us either. We then got into a big storm of krill, which attracted another ray, which was adorable. It was swimming around all over the place.
The second night dive was a black water dive, where you go into deep (7000 ft) water, and hang off the boat. This is to see the deep sea creatures that come to the surface during the night. This is mainly jelly like creatures, and they are very unique and amazing to see. We saw one that was about 6 feet long, and made of hundreds of segments. Once we got back on the boat, we saw squid in the water. These squid were small ones, only about a foot and a half long. The crew turned the lights off on the way back, and we got an amazing view of the stars, since we were a couple miles off the coast. I had a fantastic dive experience with them, Big Island Divers.
On day 5 we had breakfast late, and the other young ones went zip lining. We decided to go towards Kona, and stopped by the sea horse farm. It was interesting, and Stephanie really enjoyed it. We grabbed lunch in Kona, and Stephanie noticed that the city was mainly a tourist trap. We headed back and took a well needed rest time. For dinner we went to the Four Seasons and witnessed one of the most glorious sunsets that can be seen. The clouds were arranged just right with high altitude clouds along the horizon, but no clouds past the horizon so the sun could shine back on the close clouds and turn them amazing red colors. The dinner itself was very nice, and probably one of the top 10 meals I’ve ever had.
On day 6 we took steph to the Airport, and got Jeff signed up on the car. Then I relaxed and did pretty much nothing all that day. I played cards with my dad after a nice lunch at another Thai restaurant. We then had a really tasty meal prepared by Jeff.
On day 7 I headed back. Kim and Benjamin drove to the airport and we stopped by Kona for about 30 minutes before getting on the plane.