Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Big Island: Trip Report, Part III

The most direct way to get from Hilo to Kona is via Saddle Rd, but since we were children-free, we took the scenic route up north along the Hamakua Coast and it turned out to be a very good choice. It was possibly my favorite day from the trip!

The first stop, even before we reached the town of Hilo, was the Mauna Loa Visitor Center. We were there for one thing and one thing only – free macadamia nuts!

We drove 3 miles through macadamia nut orchards…
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ate lots of nuts… (my favorite is onion and garlic, just like how I like my potato chips.)
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and bought some island treats to take home, for us and for our parents. Right now we are working through a jar of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and the kids love them. They ask, “Can we have a choco nut after dinner?” all the time. "Yes, if you finish all your food." I didn't think they would be such good motivators ;)
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After Mauna Loa, we continued up north and drove the 4-mile scenic route on the Hamakua Coast. The narrow road twisted and turned through lush tropical rainforest. We saw little waterfalls along the way. At least I did. Luke had to kept his eyes on the road.
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Just like in 2007, we stopped at Onomea Bay for a little hike. It was as pretty as we remembered!
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OF COURSE.
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Shortly after the 4-mile drive, we saw the very popular What's Shakin' food stand. I've read that their smoothies were the BEST so that was what we got. It was pretty good -- made from fresh fruits, likely all grown right on the trees behind their property. It was $7, but on that hot day, it was worth every penny.
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While drinking the smoothie, we walked around the property and took pictures of exotic flowers. You can't come to Hawaii without getting a shot of plumeria!
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Next we went to Akaka Falls State Park. It was a short but worthwhile hike through lush vegetation to see two waterfalls.    
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It was a total accident, but we ended up saving $5 since the parking lot was full and we had to park outside of the gate. It was still $1 per person for admission fee, though. Regardless, just a little tip for your future Hawaii trip!
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Ok, we are near the end! At the top of lists for awesome Hawaii sights -- Waipio Valley Lookout! Since the steep road that led down to the valley floor was accessible only by foot or 4-wheel-drive vehicles, we just captured the view from the top.  
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The path to the lookout was already steep enough for me!
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Our very last stop, before finally heading to the Fairmont Orchid, was historic downtown Honokaa. This place was filled with quaint shops and all around quiet rural charm.
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We browsed a bit and got ice cream (lychee flavor I think?). 
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So all in all, it was a wonderful day of just driving around the island aimlessly and hanging out with the hubs. xoxo

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