Today we will take a 12-hour tour of the Island of Hawaii. We are traveling with others on a big 40-passenger bus. Our driver is “Junior.” I won’t even try to write his full name. He is native Hawaiian and an expert on Hawaiian history and events. And very funny!
We have somewhat of a crisis to start the day because Payden has to take a test for her college class online; access to the test doesn’t start until 7:00 a.m. and the bus is scheduled to pick us up at 7:45. With lots of praying and encouragement from her friends, Payden finishes the test by 7:45.
We are the first on the bus and with 13 passengers. Junior is impressed with the size of the group and introduces us as “the family” to the other passengers when they embark. By our last pick-up we have a full bus.
We start off along the northwestern Kohala Coast of Hawaii and Junior begins to explain the formation and history of the island. We travel along the northern side; learn about the new industry (Koa tree forestry) which has replaced sugar as the top Hawaii export; learn about the Palmer Ranch and the introduction of cattle to Hawaii in 1837; and see the waterfalls along the Hamakua Coast. We stop for lunch in Hilo at the Astronomy Center and the Big Island Candies for wonderful cookies, Kona coffee, and dark chocolate macadamia candy. Then on to Rainbow Falls waterfall for pictures.
After Hilo we traveled to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to view the active Kilauea volcano. Since it is active, and the volcano hole has been eroding, we are unable to get close to the crater, but you can see the smoke coming from it. We visited the visitors’ center and Jaggar’s Center and the underground volcano tunnel. For detailed information about the Volcano, see here.
Leaving the National Park, we stopped by the Black Sands Beach (yes, the sand was actually pitch black) and the famous Punalu’u Bakery for fresh Hawaiian bread, cookies and, of course, more Kona coffee.
Heading up the western side of the island, we learned about the major lava eruptions and flows through the southeast section and then drove through coffee country.
It was a great journey with lots of history, scenery and fun with Junior.