Monday Musings from Melinda by LHS Contributor Melinda M.
This summer, we had visitors: our two teenage nephews from Maui who had never been to Hilo. Time to break out…The Tour!!
At first, I wasn’t sure it was necessary. They are Hawaii-raised kids, how different would Hilo seem? You know the answer: very, and in ways I hadn’t realized until it was under way. Here’s what I mean:
Waterfalls: The boys arrived after and during several days of rain – which I realized they don’t get too much of in Lahaina. So we showed off Boiling Pots and Akaka Falls. I’m not sure how much either interested them, but it’s on the tour, so we do it.
Mauna Kea Star Gazing: We drove up to the visitor center at 9,000 feet in the dark, arriving to a packed crowd around 8:30p (when I had last been here, it felt like a well-kept secret. While it’s not any more, I still highly recommend it). For these city-ish boys, just seeing the stars splayed across the sky was literally awesome. Most impressive was looking through high-powered telescopes and seeing celestial objects: the rings around Saturn, the stripes on Jupiter, and the individual craters on the moon. And for these coastal kids, the cold mountain air was just as much a part of the experience. We always have gloves, hats, and scarves for our justifiably unprepared guests and our girls made sure their part of this tour – the $1 hot cocoa – was not forgotten.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: My husband gave the royal treatment by taking the teens camping at Na Makanipaio campground, where the campsites are first-come, first-served and modestly priced.
The campground is clean, safe and has flush toilets — not exactly roughing it. It’s across the highway from Halemaumau Crater so at night, the reflection of the lava lake lights up the sky. The next day, he took them on our standard park tour – the visitor center, Jaggar museum and a hike along the Kilauea Iki trail and through Thurston Lava Tube. Having never camped, nor visited Haleakala on Maui, the experience and environment really impressed them.
Richardson’s Beach Park: What a shock to these Maui boys – a beach (mostly) without sand? Yup, that’s how we roll here. And of course it rained, but we didn’t leave. A true Hilo beach experience.
Hapuna: Just to show them we know what’s what, we took Saddle Road to the white sands of Beach 69 and Hapuna and stayed until sunset. I realized on the daytime drive through expanses of native forest and nighttime drive on 55 miles of unlit highway that even this was something they can’t experience on Maui.
Kapoho Tide Pools: We don’t take all of our visitors here…it all depends on how long they stay and how comfortable they are at snorkeling. Swimming through the coral canals, these boys were impressed to see how big the fish they know from home can get.
The size of this island is astounding and I kept reminding them: you are only seeing a small fraction of it! We didn’t even visit Hilo town! All for the next tour….