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Monday, February 13, 2012

Big Island Circle Tour - Scenic Hilo


Driving around the Big Island of Hawaii it is difficult not to find something beautiful to stop and stare at, or a new beach to visit and a cool wave to dip your toes into.

Our drive around the Hilo area was no exception. It started out with a drive along the Hamakua 4-mile scenic drive, just north of Hilo on Hwy 19.  Look for the "4 mile scenic route" sign on the makai (ocean side) of the road which marks the beginning of this beautiful stretch of Old Mamalahoa Hwy.

Along this drive we stopped frequently to enjoy the 1-lane stone bridges, all of which were labeled "12 Ton Bridge," and pondered exactly which bridge was the infamous "12 Ton Bridge" folks jump off of, as none of them seemed to be boasting much water, despite the fact that Hilo is on the rainy side of the island.

Eventually we found it, the last bridge on the route, which did indeed have a large, deep pool below.  We opted out of bridge-jumping however, citing a fear of catching leptospirosis in the fresh water, something our farm in Honaunau warned us about.

{In actuality our fear of explaining to our family how we broke our limbs jumping off of a perfectly sound bridge was probably the real reason we opted out.}

Ua ka ua, kahe ka wai - The rain rains, the water flows

Our scenic drive led the way to a visit to Akaka Falls State Park, a 20 minute drive north of Hilo on Route 220, which ends at the park. We parked alongside the road outside of the park to avoid the $5/car parking fee, then paid our $1/person entrance feel to access the .4 mile/.6 km paved loop trail past both Kahuna and Akaka Falls.  When the trail branches, stay to the right to view Kahuna Falls first, as Akaka is more impressive so Kahuna will be overshadowed if you don't visit her first. 

Aside from the very impressive Akaka Falls with her 442'/135m drop, we also enjoyed the lush vegetation along the paved trail (much of which is, sadly, not native but rather planted years ago to create a lush, tropical jungle feel for visiting tourists). It is however still impressive nonetheless, and we were mouth agape at many of the gigantic trees in the park, including a banyan which had trunks on both sides of the Kolekole Stream which flows through the 65 acre park.

On our way back towards Hilo we stopped for what has become our new favorite tourist attraction - the local fruit stand, where Papa Bear has discovered the virtues of young, fresh green coconut. While he sipped coconut water I snapped pictures of my favorite tourist attraction, the Red Jungle Fowl, a pair of which were strutting around the fringes of the fruit stand looking for scraps.

The culmination of our day was spent wandering around the Rainbow Falls State Park, which is actually right in the city of Hilo itself. Here we happened upon our former WWOOF-mates also enjoying the park on their post-WWOOF-ing vacation with family.  Together we walked through the banyan tree forest and carefully climbed around the rocks on top of the waterfall. On misty mornings this 80'/24m falls casts a rainbow across the lagoon.  We happened to be there late afternoon, so we didn't get to witness this part of the attraction.  But it was well worth a visit nonetheless.
You don't have to travel far from Hilo to take in some amazing sights.  We spent the entire day within a 20-mile radius of the city. 


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy our Big Island Circle Tour Part I and Part III.  Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...


I've been looking for blog posts about Hawaii to feature on our site. If you're interested, you can drop me a line at Kate (at) Dwellable (.com)


Volcano Air Tour said...

Awesome blog for Big Island Circle Tour.

Victoria Strauser said...

Thank you Volcano Air Tour!

Julia watson said...

Good place to enjoy.

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks Julia, we really enjoyed the area, the tour and the island!

AvelineTorres said...

Nice blog with valuable information.

Emma McKenzie said...

I really like this place and post.Thank you so much for sharing.

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