There is a 4 hour time difference - ie in Sydney it's 7pm but in Hawaii it's 11pm (albeit it's 11pm the day before) so another one of those going back in time experiences - leaving Sydney at 430pm Saturday arvo and arriving in Honolulu at 530am Saturday morning. Our plan was to stay on three of the islands - big Island, Maui and Oahu - and we caught a connecting flight to Hilo airport on the Big Island.
We stayed at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, which is a nice comfortable hotel with car parking (as we decided to hire a car on each island). Of course, the bummy thing about a morning flight is that we can't check in for ages, so after we got our car we went to do a few small sightseeing things before we checked into our hotel.
We dropped by the Rainbow Falls (which had no rainbow since it was cloudy) and had lunch at Kuhio Grille, which served traditional Hawaiian fare as well as some a mix of other dishes. Their specialty is the one pound laulau, which is steamed meat in cabbage, cooked for ages till it's soft. It had a very home cooked feel to it and was quite satisfying! Also, Hawaiian fried rice which uses spam instead of ham or bacon, and the serves were so big we took some home and ate it for dinner. The kids were too tired to go out for dinner after check in and so that worked out well.
The next day we were up early and went to the Kaumana caves which were cool except we didn't have a torch, so we didn't go very far into the caves. The torch on the phone just doesn't cut it.
Met an Australian couple (from Sydney) there - there were heaps of Aussies around!
After that we headed out to the Maku'u Farmer's market and had a big brunch of chocolate banana crepes, takoyaki, poke bombs (which looked like raw seafood on salad in a beancurd cup), taro pearl tea and chocolate fish shaped waffles as well as a plate of noodles. Stuffed after that! Looked around the markets but didn't see much I wanted to buy, so we headed off to the Lava Tree state monuments.
Lava trees are formed when lava pours over existing trees and cools around them and then the inside tree gets burnt and you are left with the volcanic stone mould of the tree. There were a lot of those trees here, but of course there has been substantial recovery too.
We visited the Kapoho Tide Pools for a play in the water. Apparently they are warmed by some thermal vents, but I didn't notice any particularly warm spots. Lots of reef fish and
Next we went to see some of the Black Sand beaches. We visited two of the less frequented ones - Kehena and Kiamu - though Kehena was popular with the nudists! Kiamu wasn't much of a beach - mostly a lot of lava formations and a tiny beach but nothing really to swim in. There were people swimming at the Kehena beach as well as a bunch of bongos being played. Picked up some vegan ice cream there which was quite nice.
Then we were off to the boat to see lava! This boat takes you quite close to the lava and we had to be at the meeting point by 430pm. After a quick pep talk about safety and getting wet, we boarded a metal boat which had a cover but open sides - similar to the boat ride in the Tasman sea with Bruny Island Cruises. The weather was actually very good and the seas calm so the ride wasn't as wild and bumpy as the Tasmania's, and also because the seas were calm we didn't get as wet. We had big spray jackets to keep us dry in Tasmania (supplied by the company) but because it was so warm in Hawaii, it doesn't matter if we get a bit wet, we didn't even feel cold! The kids enjoyed the ride - it was like being on a Disney ride.
The lava hitting the water made clouds of steam which could be seen from a distance.
The guide took a bucket of water from the sea for us to feel the temperature, and it was as hot as a hot bath! We stayed there for almost 40 minutes taking photos before he took us back. Everyone was really impressed with the sight.
It was late so we had dinner at KFC - they had some different things to us, Nashville hot and Honey Mustard chicken. Time for a big sleep for a big day tomorrow!