It’s quite astonishing what you get whenplacing five people in a rented car on an island for a day. An island with diverse terrain ranging from snowy,mountain peaks and black, lava rocks to palm-lined beaches and lush, green rainforest. Such extremities rarely ever exist in a single place, but that’s precisely what I got a taste of on the Big Island of Hawaii.
There could not have been a better starting point than Kahaluu Beach along Kona’s Coast. Armed with cheap goggles and snorkel, I waded
along grey sand that resembled gravel and waited for the last possible moment to don my flippers
before diving beneath the surface.
Perfect visibility in the aqua-marine water allowed me to explore this
tranquil underworld with its lemon, butterfly fish and red bunches of
coral. All around me creatures rapidly
went about their business almost oblivious to the human observation. A multi-colored big-lipped fish floated by
nonchalantly, whilst tiny schools rushed past in a wave of bubbles. If it wasn’t for leaky goggles and a friend hilariously
getting bit by a fish, I may have stayed down there.
The ever changing scenery beside the road
never failed to amaze me. A thrift
store, country town and horses in grassy meadows overlooking a cliff all went
by before the car pulled up at Panaluu Beach.
A black sand beach with rocky waters and tall palm trees awaited
me. Just as I dipped my hands into the
hot, metallic sand I noticed two green, sea turtles (also known as honu in
Hawaii) basking in the sunlight. Acting
like a well-behaved, informed tourist, I resisted the urge to touch them and
took many photos instead. The beach was
not ideal for swimming, so I occupied my time by picking up dead palm branches,
imagining a Crusoe desertion scenario and trying to spot swimming turtles.
I had heard great things about the Hawaii
Volcanoes National Park and viewed mind-blowing pictures of its Kilauea Volcano
(home of Hawaiian Volcano goddess Pele), but it never once occurred to me to
check the visiting times. Road tripping
was all about the spontaneity, adventure and random arrival times. Before dusk and after dawn it’s impossible to
glimpse the red, molten lava flowing into the sea in all its glory. A tad disappointed, I continued towards the
summit’s crater where ashy fumes steamed through its vents. Leaning across an iron bar, I received a
natural steam facial accompanied by a sulphur stench that Kilauea
brought up. There is something
exhilarating and terrifying about being in such close proximity to a
continuously erupting volcano spewing steam
and lava. I felt vulnerable and curious all at once.
Just when I thought the humidity seemed unbearable, we reached the rainiest part of
Hawaii. Hilo is situated on the east
coast and due to heavy rainfall has clumps of tropical, rainforest surrounding
it. Away from the sun-worshippers,
tanning tourists and exotic beaches of Kona I walked a few steps from the
parking lot and leaned over the wall’s edge to take in the vast, rushing water
that was the Rainbow Falls. I tried swinging from the vine of a gigantic tree
that seemed to have been there from the beginning. The red sun had all but disappeared when I
returned to Kona. Yellow, burnt orange
and pink streaked the sky in celebration of another beautiful day in Hawaii.
All photos in this post were taken by Amy Carter Pitotti
http://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm Check out the website for safety tips and
ways to plan before visiting the park.