The Big Island – Hawaii – Day 4


First stop of the day was Lava Tree State Park (free entry & parking).  The reviews made me think we’d only want to be there about 15 minutes, but the path was actually longer than we thought and it was very pretty.  Imagine slow moving lava surrounding and burning trees as it progresses towards the sea. The surface of lava often cools and hardens while lava may continue to flow underneath. We really enjoyed the stop.   

We kept driving down the road because we saw lava flows that appeared to cross the road that we wanted to check out.  The original road was indeed blocked, but they re-routed it and we were able to drive through a lava field which was pretty cool.  We saw a few areas that the lava flow actually missed and they seemed like an oasis in the middle of the desert.  We even saw a home that had lava flow nearly completely surrounding it.  Luckily, lava flows pretty slowly and few people die from it.  The trail was slower and very scenic along the coast. 

Our next stop was Rainbow falls then Boiling Pots & Pe’epe’ee Falls.  These waterfalls were very pretty, but we didn’t get much hiking in since the view areas were just on the side of the road.  We love the stories that the Hawaiians tell about how these were natural features were formed.  Akaka falls from yesterday was formed by a lady who turned herself into a crying rock at the top after her husband jumped off after being unfaithful.  Boiling pots were formed by Maui as he attacked a giant lizard who was trying to flood out his mother who lived in a cave near Pe’epe’e falls. He couldn’t get to the beast so he asked Pele to send lava balls into river so it would be forced to leave.  The Hawaiians have a rich history that they’ve passed down verbally (since they didn’t have a written language until after Christian missionaries came to the island).  

Rainbow Falls
Boiling Pots

Kaumana caves were much better than we expected.  We had heard you can’t go very far because you go into private property so we assumed it would be a small and fast trip in the cave. 

The first cave got pretty low about half way in, so Jeri turned around.  The rest of us pressed on and made it to the end (it may have gone further but we didn’t want to crawl on our stomachs to see).  There was a lot of dripping water from overhead as well as a small river flowing through the middle of the cave in sections.  The second cave had more water which gushed into the cave from cracks in the wall and formed a small waterfall that we had to climb up.  Katrina brought her water shoes so she just walked in the water while the rest of us tried and mostly succeeded not to get wet.  This cave ended in a collapsed section where you could actually climb up into the jungle so it was decently well lit.  We expected to stay here about 30 minutes, but each cave took about 30-45 minutes to explore. 

Most of us got minor injuries: I fell down once and got two cuts on my right hand.  I had a flashlight that just wasn’t bright enough and my eyes hadn’t adjusted.  I thought I was stepping onto something and it ended up that the ground was much further down than I had thought.  Bryan & Jeri hit their heads on the top of the cave.  Caleb scratched up his leg. Only Katrina survived unscathed.

We were pretty hungry after caving so we grabbed lunch in Hilo. We found a Little Caesar’s pizza for Caleb and the rest of us ate at a Thai place.  Everybody enjoyed it which was great when kids are trying new foods. We took the food to Coconut Island because they have a platform that you can jump off. There was one at about 10 ft and a higher one about 20 ft in height.

Coconut Island

After eating and jumping, we explored the nearby Japanese gardens.  I’ve always enjoyed gardens and the Japanese variety are near the top of my list.  The bamboo groves, statues, ponds, and trees all make it a beautiful experience.

We love animals, especially Jeri, so one of our goals of this trip was to see as many wild animals as we could. We heard there are often turtles at the Richardson beach park and it wasn’t far from here, so off we went.  It took a while to find them, but there were 3-4 turtles basking on the rocks and in shallow ponds. It was fun to watch them just let the tide and the waves roll over them without so much as a thought. 

I wanted my kids to try some official Hawaiian shaved ice, but unfortunately it was after 5pm and a lot of things start closing down in Hawaii at this time.  Finally, on our third attempt, we found an open store called Hawaiian Brain Freeze Shaved Ice.  We each picked a different flavor/color in the kid size. They were very big and sweet and most of us couldn’t finish them.  We spilled a few times in our rental so we decided to stop in a grassy area and eat there.  We mixed and matched our four flavors to create some new exciting flavors and had a great time with much laughter and way too much sweetness.  

Hawaiian Shave Ice

We drove to our next Airbnb very near the entrance to Volcano National park. The location was awesome and it felt like we were in a jungle. The name of the Airbnb was “The Jungalow”. This home like many others collects rain water to use played a few rounds of Monopoly Deal and watched Happy Feet before going to bed.

The Jungalow

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