Hawai‘i – Big Island

Monday morning, 17th December (one week before Christmas), we woke up with a beautiful morning view in our bed and breakfast in Hilo. At 7:30 am there was tea and coffee upstairs. We spoke with our host about our plans for today and decided to visit a newly formed black sand beach and volcanoes national park. First the served us local tropical fruits for breakfast: strawberry papayas, banana, pineapple and passion fruit. Then they made us homemade coconut and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut or maple syrup and butter. Furthermore they cooked pineapple sausage. It was delicious and the view amazing!

Afterwards we packed our things and drove off to the local organic food store to get some things. Moreover we strolled along the big farmers market.

Then we headed towards Mackenzie State Recreation park. The time difference between Austria and Hawaii is crazy but we also have to get over the time difference between LA and Hawaii after yesterday’s flight. My mother said that she didn’t want to hear about the time difference, the only things that matter are sunrise and sunset now. The drive there was really interesting and we drove through a lot of rainforest. Especially we drove on a street which had be recently cleared of lava flows by bulldozers.

Then we finally reached the newly formed black sand beach. It was incredible, the current there was very strong and the wanes big but I quickly dipped into the water.

After the beach we drove all the way up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There we started at the Kīlauea visitor center. After an introduction we first head to the steam vents and sulphuric banks.

After a view into the big caldera we drove down the chain of craters road. There we stopped a lot of times at different craters and overlook points. Especially we hiked along one trail to a great overlook of the caldera at a different angle.

Then we came across sections of the flows from different years, the road goes through many different aged flows. Driving down there was incredible even though there is currently no hot lava emerging and flowing.

Furthermore we hiked to petroglyphs, ancient cravings of the Hawaiian people in the cooled basalt.

At the end of the road was the Holei sea arch, a arch formed by the volcano as well. There we hiked along the ocean and took in beautiful views.

On our way back we caught stunning views with the sunset.

We had dinner at the volcano house, a hotel and restaurant on the top of the caldera.

In the night we drove back home. Very exhausted we packed our things for tomorrow because we have to leave early for our snorkeling trip at the other side of the island. Then we figured out that we have to buy some things for tomorrow’s breakfast because they didn’t leave us much in the fridge. I found the next supermarket and we shopped there at 10 pm. Very tired and really exhausted we both fell quickly asleep after this long day when we got back to our bed and breakfast.

On Tuesday we woke up at 5:45 am and had an improvised breakfast before we left for Kona for our dolphin snorkeling trip at 8:30 am. The drive there was the same way over the mountain as on Monday from the airport to Hilo.

We arrived there at a little cute harbor. First thing we saw on the boat snorkeling trip with dolphins was a big green Hawaiian turtle right in the harbor. So we were constantly chasing a group of dolphins. They stopped at several spots and told us to jump into the water to swim with the spinner dolphins. We saw about 200 of them. It was amazing! I also could impress the tour guide with my monofin and freediving skills. We will see each other tomorrow and go some cave freediving and btw he is really handsome and cute too! Typical Hawaiian surfer boy! Furthermore, we got the chance to see a tigershark. But the most incredible thing today (and one of my life goals just came true!) was that we got the chance to dive with a 10m large whaleshark! Can you believe it?! It was crazy and I could record it all with my GoPro I could barely touch it’s tail. This was the most amazing feeling ever – pure euphoria! I have pictures and videos on my GoPro hopefully I get to download them the next days.

At noon we drove to our hotel but our room wasn’t ready yet so we spent the remaining afternoon at the pool there.

Then we got our keys but had to drive off to get something to eat because our next boat trip for diving with manta rays at sunset started at 4:30 pm. We ate at the harbor restaurant salads with fish and chicken before we met our boat crew. The boat tour was called hang loose. At first I was confused because I had to leave my fins in the car. It wasn’t a real snorkeling trip. Firstly we drove out with the boat and watched the sunset and some spinner dolphins jumping around. When we came to the manta ray bay they launched floating docks which emit blue light to attract phytoplankton where we had to grab the reels and hold onto them while laying flat on the surface. It was quite windy and really wavy though. The first time we didn’t saw a single manga ray. Then we tried another spot. After some waiting they eventually came: they are about 3 meters long, black with a white belly and black dots. They are filter feeders and feed on the attracted phytoplankton at night therefore the make backflips underwater to absorb them best. It was incredible and stunning to watch them doing their flips. I got a lot of good videos and pics on my GoPro!

The boat ride back was dark and very windy. At 9 pm we were finally back at our hotel and got to our room the first time. Totally exhausted from this long day we tidied the car and pit our necessary things into our apartment. Actually it wasn’t a room at a hotel it was a whole apartment for more than 2 people I would say. We have a whole kitchen, laundry, bathroom, living room and very big bedroom with balcony. The facilities here are very nice. I really like it. Just a few moments after unpacking we both collapsed on bed and fell asleep.

Wednesday we slept until we woke up naturally 7:30 am. Then I did some workouts and downloaded the GoPro pics and videos on my laptop. Afterwards we drove off to Island Lava Java Cafe for breakfast. We had hibiscus sparkling wine, fresh orange juice, coffee and tea. My mum had a veggie omelette with macadamia nut pesto and fruits and had a papaya half filled with yoghurt and a delicious nut granola. It was amazing!

Unfortunately, my freediving friend didn’t have time today because he was booked for another boat trip. But he recommended that we should drive to the Punaluu black sand beach. There green baby turtles broke out of their eggs just yesterday. Our way there less through rainforests with Kona coffee plantations, a lot of fruit stands, beautiful flowers and amazing views over the ocean.

Finally we reached Punaluu black sand beach. It is an amazing location and famous for its green turtles. In the beginning we didn’t see a single one on the beach but then I decided to go snorkeling. Snorkeling there is kinda funny because the beach due to volcanic activity has freshwater springs and this cold freshwater floats on top of the warm saltwater because saltwater is more dense. Therefore I dove down to the ground where it was warm hahahaha there were so many different kind of fish. In the end when I was giving up on my dream of seeing a green Hawaiian turtle I came across two big ones. They were grazing on the algae on the rocks and really cute. Got some good shots on my piper of them. My mother went also snorkeling an saw them. Before we left we saw a turtle on the beach and behind the beach appeared a beautiful rainbow – what a great coincidence for a good picture!

On our way to the next snorkeling stop we stopped at several scenic spots and at a macadamia and coffee plantation to get some original Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts, I love them. Finally we arrived at Two Steps beach. It is a beach consisting of black lava rocks and you can get into the water using two big lab steps. Snorkeling there is beautiful. There are so many colorful fish and big healthy corals.

Back at home we showered and got ready for our dinner at the Island Lava Java where we had breakfast today. Dinner was very good, we had risotto. Afterwards, we just strolled along downtown Kona and listened to a live band in a sports bar as well.

Before we got to our apartment we got some gas for tomorrow. After packing all things together we went straight to bed because we have to get up early for our flight to Kauai. I am very excited what Kauai, the garden island, has in store for us…

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