The morning of our final full day on the Big Island was a slow one. Again, no set plans, no itineraries. But we did want breakfast. So, that’s the first thing we did. Ken’s House of Pancakes was great. Solid breakfast in a 1950s style family diner. I had french toast, Mr. Mussack had 1/2 of an order of corned beef hash and 1/2 an order of a Loco Moco. Let’s just say there wasn’t anything to take home.
Instead of going back to the hotel, we wandered west of Hilo to Rainbow Falls. The reviews weren’t stellar but we didn’t really know where else to go. I wasn’t super impressed by the waterfall (can you even believe a girl from Nebraska is saying this!?) but mostly because we had jumped off of a 40ft cliff and went night snorkeling with giant manta rays only days prior. I wanted outstanding. I wanted intrepid.
My interest for adventure was piqued ever-so-slightly by this GIANT banyan tree. I seriously think it is the biggest I have ever seen. At first, I just wanted a photo by it for scale, huffing at the previous tourist who was gleefully swinging from the giant branches. I have learned that messing with the banyan trees is frowned upon in Oahu, I was assuming on the Big Island too. But as I got closer and the branches seemed much lower and the pathways started to open up I couldn’t help but to climb up a couple feet, then a couple of meters and if it weren’t for Mr. Mussack frowning at me (just like I had done at the other tourist) I would’ve climbed all the way to the top. I was just in awe of the immensity of this beautiful tree, it was a 10 year olds dream.
I guess climbing that banyan tree did the trick. I frolicked (literally, because I also tripped) down the path back to the car and as soon as Mr. Mussack started the engine my GPS was set for the next adventure. I had set our destination but we had the opportunity to take the scenic route for four miles. (ALWAYS TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE) We stopped where everyone else was stopped to overlook the coastline. Meh, looking is boring, so we explored down into the valley. While others took photos of the waves breaking over this little inlet from the road, we took photos ON the inlet. I am starting to make us sound full of ourselves but this is what these posts are all about. I want you to DO something. Hike, snorkel, dive, climb. I just want you to keep looking for the scenic route and the hidden pathways. (but I also want you to be safe and do your research, hike/swim/adventure within your abilities)
We continued on our way and my GPS directed us to Akaka Falls. This is the highest waterfall in the United States. We each paid $1 to walk the 20 minute loop, it was neat but I KNEW there was probably a way to get to the bottom. Unfortunately, we never found it but we decided to continue our drive north.
An hour or so from Akaka Falls we arrived at Waipio Valley, the Valley of the Kings.
I MAGICALLY CONVINCED MR. MUSSACK TO HIKE DOWN THE TRAIL. Hiking the road down isn’t the issue, it’s hiking up the 3/4 of a mile with an average 25% grade that he didn’t want to do and I don’t blame him. I just hated the thought of getting all of the way around the island, and having this short but slightly strenuous hike be the only thing we didn’t do.
This was another unique and beautiful black sand beach. If you’ve been to Bellows Beach on Oahu, it was really similar to that. Long beach, high winds, fairly shallow waters and a forrest lining the edge.
We watched the waves and ate a few granola bars and made our way back tho the trail. You’ll never guess who we ran into!? I am not even kidding, this is Christina and Lucia, the couple we met our first night while night snorkeling and the third day while jumping off of South Point. I was really freaked out. So much so I didn’t get an email address or phone number to keep in touch, just a quick photo of them passing us with their Jeep. (we declined the ride). So, if you know these two wonderful people, tell them we say Aloha!!
Last view of our energetic trek uphill. It must have been the crazy Monster Lemonade thing Mr. Mussack bought me, but I practically ran up this road. Like, it took us 18 minutes when the guard told us it would take 45.
My favorite coconut air freshener.
The northern side of downtown Hilo.
We made it back to our home away from home at around 4pm. A good, long day of exploring when nothing was on our agenda. I suppose now is when I should tell you about our lodging accomodations for the last two nights on the Big Island. This is the Wild Ginger Inn and Hostel. It wasn’t bad for $65 a night and a continental breakfast. I think Mr. Mussack would argue that the best part of the Wild Ginger were the Coqui frogs. I know, locals and other visitors would slap us(the hotel supplied earplugs for this specific reason) but if only for two nights, we enjoyed the calming sounds of innumerable croaking amphibians.
Our last meal was at Cafe Pesto. Two small pizzas and one of their appetizer breads rounded out with beer and a wine flight. Great food but we definitely paid more here than any other dining experience. I think it was worth it. We took one last selfie before we walked back to the Ginger. We fell asleep to the sound of Coqui frogs and the next morning we were headed back to Oahu.
Here are my final tips for the Big Island of Hawaii feel free to add your own in the comments:
- Waipio Valley is the other place I wanted to mention the use of a 4WD vehicle. As stated before, Harper’s doesn’t allow you to drive down the path here, but if you are renting from another company and you cannot complete the hike, I would suggest the mobile route.
- Get suggestions for hikes and restaurants from locals. Although we did a lot on the the Big Island I couldn’t help but wonder about all of the adventures we didn’t even know about.
- Bring a blanket and thermos of hot chocolate to Mauna Kea. OR coffee, obviously I could have used that.
- Bring a hiking pack with the essentials. Ours includes extra sustenance, water, a first aid kit, fire starter, compass and toilet paper amongst other things.
- You are a visitor and people live here. Leave it better than you left it, no trash or otherwise left behind and being kind to everyone is the best policy. You don’t know what kind of hour/day/life they’ve had and your bad attitude isn’t helping anyone. You’re on vacation for goodness sake, just smile, say thank you and spread Aloha.
Mahalo, Big Island, for the amazing experience. Mr. Mussack and I will always be fond of the memories you’ve given us.
Until next time, continue to Just B the magnificently dynamic island you are.