Day 1,963 of Traveling the World | Big Island of Hawaii | June 17, 2023

🎶🎶 Dreams come true in Blue Hawaii…So sang Bing Crosby (first!) in 1937, followed by the very-popular movie and Elvis’ version. We are finding Hawaii very blue, very dreamy, with many things named Blue Hawaii, including the bottled water the hotel gives us as well as the helicopter tour company down the road. The Hawaiian archipelago is the most remote on the face of the earth. You wouldn’t know it by the number of tourists, however. It is busy and popular with so many travelers.

Driving all over the Big Island the past few days, we have found it to be very diverse. Parts of it have gorgeous coastal views, particularly as night falls. The northwest side consists of fields of igneous rock, looking like the moon, as we mentioned in a previous post. But then we passed through what just looked like the Midwest, with golden-grassed farmland on the north coast. After a while, that turned into forests that looked like Oregon. And soon, we were on the east coast, home to several waterfalls. We had been headed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the erupting Kilauea volcano. But it started raining heavily when we were still an hour away, so we reluctantly turned back.

Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls, on the Big Island’s east side, were both filled with travelers. There were beautiful white flowers vining all around us, falling in our faces. It was like a lush Shangri-La. The following day we drove to the northernmost point on the island, Pololu Lookout Point. It is possible there to spend the day hiking in the area, but it is via steep, rocky paths – not for us, so much. Afterwards, we visited the small villages of Kapaau and Hawi, took some “old-timey” photos, and stopped for lunch. It was a lovely drive.

Last night, for the first time, Mike went on dusk and night dives, with Aquatic Life Divers. They are the same company he went with last week for two morning reef dives. The dives yesterday were pretty special. He saw a lot of wildlife, including a lot of morays and a 7-foot Galapagos Shark…at least, that is what we think it was. That was surprising, as they are reportedly rare at that dive site.

But the most interesting part was the night Manta dive. We were told that mantas were discovered to be attracted to areas where lights shine in the water at night. It was first observed here when people at a well-lit seaside hotel saw large dark shapes in the water. They found that those were mantas and realized that their food, plankton, is attracted to the lights. That started the custom of putting lights out in the water at night and snorkeling and scuba diving to watch the mantas.

The dive site Mike visited, Manta Ray Heaven (aka Garden Eel Cove), has a large ring of rocks laid out on the sea bottom. Upward-facing lights are placed around the circle and some lights are on rafts at the surface, shining downward. In addition, each of the divers has a flashlight. Snorkelers float on the surface and divers sit around the circle at the bottom. Mantas glide slowly across the circle, just a few feet from the bottom.

As the mantas move across the circle, they pull up just high enough to miss the divers, sometimes doing a full loop and coming right back across the circle. Sometimes they approach the divers head on, and they can shine a flashlight into its mouth, seeing the wide chasm past the mouth and the tiny (about the size of a ping pong ball) throat at the end. If divers didn’t know that they were harmless, seeing the 8-foot animal coming directly toward them with a gaping mouth would be fear-inducing. But all in all, it is just an awesome experience. We should be posting some video of these dives on our Instagram site in the near future. Please take a look at @whereintheworldaremikeandjan.

Out here in the islands, the sun rises and sets gloriously – showing off in front of such large numbers of travelers. We have enjoyed photographing the sun more than anything else. There are a few sunset photos below – but keep in mind that these were chosen out of more than 200 shots! Yes, we are crazy – just call us “travelers.”

After an hour of driving north from our hotel, we were rewarded with beautiful views at…Pololu Valley Lookout.
…and a view of the lush valley, just opposite from the ocean view.
In the small village of Hawi, we passed this cemetery, the smallest we have ever seen. We counted 10 tombstones.
The northwest coast had lots of fields like this with views of the ocean, even giving grazing cattle that view!
This signpost announced the statue in the next photo, but the same sign design was used around the community to mark various landmarks.
King Kamehameha’s statue loomed larger than life over this small village.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue sits in the middle of Hawi in the most colorful way imaginable.
A great street name! On the way out of town, we also passed a street marked as Noname Road
A view of what Hawaii looked like 50+ years ago. We loved the covered wooden walkway with inviting chairs and old-fashioned stores.
In other words, don’t expect me to be here all of the time!
Just down the street from the statue of Kamehameha is this now-defunct pharmacy named after him.
You don’t often see kombucha and coconuts for sale, permanently, on a sign, no less.
This is the funky, interesting, and colorful interior of Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery.
Not sure how they are served!
… and they say knitting or meditating helps with stress!
It looks like the road will take you right into the Pacific, a la Thelma and Louise.
A pretty view of the mountains over the bay. The clouds here are awesome.
More of the lazy fields along the coast.
This is pretty Akaka Falls on the opposite side of the island from Kona, north of Hilo.
This is the path to Akaka Falls. The white vine flowers tumbling down were everywhere along the path.
Okay, okay, this is a series of photos that we found funny just outside of Akaka Falls State Park, particularly as there were no cows in sight.
…Number 2…
…Number 3…but also notice the adjacent sign, “Krishna Cow Sanctuary.”
…and Number 4…but no cows for cuddling here!
We stopped for a very good Mexican dinner in Hilo at Reuben’s Restaurant. It has been there for over 40 years, hence almost one-quarter of one million margaritas served! But we don’t know when they started counting.
Rainbow Falls, in between Hilo and Akaka Falls. No rainbows. It was raining steadily by this time.
Heading out to the first dive site last night, around dusk. During the dive, we spotted a shark just above us.
This was the site of last night’s manta ray dive, an incredible experience.
Not only donkeys…we saw a family of goats walking along the road, and there are also axis deer and other animals introduced from the time of Captain Cook’s arrival in the late 18th century.
We saw this rainbow the other day, just driving along the highway. It has rained here, most every day, for at least a little while.
Some small artificial waterfalls, installed as landscaping.
Driving home after some rain – this is around 7:00 pm.
We liked the lights shimmering in the water…oh, and the lights shimmering in the sky, as well.
This photo looks like the Midwest, not Hawaii.
…this one, too! A perfect ending to our day driving around the Big Island.

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