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Big Island, Wrong Name.

In Sina's Posts, Tamás' Posts, Trips on June 12, 2012 by SN

We decided to get an overview over Big Island and rented a car for the day to explore its northern part. After checking the distances we found that the island’s name should involve the adjective huge and refrained from our initial idea to drive around the island because we do not want to spend our vacation in the car.

When we rented the car, we met Jordan. His is just one of the many stories of Hawaii we encountered. Originally from San Francisco, he moved to Kona because he and his girlfriend could not afford to live in the Northern California city anymore. His student loan played a role in that. He has been living on the island with his girlfriend at their parents’ home for seven years now. We also met another employee at the car rental agency who was born on the island. We were surprised when she told us that her first language is English just like the language of many other Hawaiians. She explained that the native language had been prohibited in the first part of the 20th century in order to speed up the Americanization of the Hawaiian territories.

Road to the Top on Lava Fields.

Driving the Kaloko Drive up the Hualalai Volcano, one of the five volcanoes on Big Island, we were stunned by the rich variety of vegetation and climate zones. We drove through rain forest, saw Alaskan fire grass, African monkey pod trees, passed the temperate climate zone or as my geography teacher would remind me, „die gemäßigte Klimazone“, and of course tropical climate. Sometimes those changes occurred even within 5 minutes of driving. Incredible.

The Island of Orange-Colored Tree Stems.

Mr. Lava Lava: Tamás on 1801 Lava Stream.

From Hualalai, we went along the top of the mountains to Waimea, where we had lunch at the Hawaiian Style Café. Tamás had a Hawaiian Plate, which, as we later realized, checked off 4 of 5 items from Lonely Planet’s list of essential Hawaiian dishes at once. Waimea reminded us of the Irish hills and dales with its ranches and grassy treeless landscapes. It is also known as the home of the Hawaiian cowboys, and feels very different from life at the shore.

Incredible Views: Mauna Kea Volcano with Observatories on Big Island.

Desert, Big Island.

We took the scenic but very windy Kohala Mountain Road from Waimea down to Kapa’au near the northern tip of Big Island. A drive that yet again lead us through lava wasteland one minute, and sceneries that reminded us of home five minutes later. We stopped frequently, but literally had trouble opening our car doors due to strong winds. Having arrived in Kapa’au, we headed a bit further east, to the end of that road, to see the stunning cliffs of the Pololu Valley, a set of cliffs which drop vertically more than 100 meters down into the ocean. The bottom of the Valley has a great black sand beach, but we did not hike all the way down. It reminded us of one of those valleys from Jurassic Park. As it turns out, that movie was shot on the island of Kauaʻi, another of the Hawaiian Isles, so the comparison is pretty accurate.

Windy Hills and Dales: Big Island Green and Sister Island Maui in the Background.

Stunning Cliffs: Pololu Valley.

Returning along the northwestern shoreline, we had a coffee break in Hawi at the cute Kohala Coffee Mill, which, of course, serves the locally grown Kona coffee. They had 100% Kona brew, compared to the cheaper 10% blend (meaning 90% are ‘regular’ coffee beans). Despite being local, pure Kona coffee is far from cheap. At the supermarket, 10% blend costs about the same as any other coffee, while pure Kona starts at around $20 per pound.

We then stopped one more time, to see the sunset at A Beach in Waikoloa (a common nickname, because no one can pronounce the original name ‘Anaeho ‘omalu Beach) and drove back over lava fields from several outbreaks in the 19th century.

Sunset, Sina, and Plumeria.

For more pictures, please visit Tamás’ Flickr page.

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