This is me trying to get far, far away from the never ending rain happening outside, by reminiscing about sunnier times. My Hawaii trip was more than a year ago now, back in December of 2015, but seems like forever ago. By no means am I a regular in Hawaii, I have little memory of my visit there as a toddler, so it was essentially “my first time”.
We started off in Kona, the Big Island. Kona is less beach and more volcano, setting the tone of what there is to experience. The island has its own weather system in each area, experiencing more rain than I had expected and making me glad I brought a rain jacket. Kailua, Hilo and Waimea were all nice places to visit, while viewpoints around the coastline were plenty.
We spent a day out at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, with its unique landscape, hiking through a crater, seeing lava tubes and the active volcano. There were a lot of activities to do, especially for the outdoorsy folks, and definitely worth a day or two.
Hands down, I think the highlight of the whole trip was going up Mauna Kea to watch the sunset and stargaze. This was a whole afternoon-evening affair, as it was a 4+ hour ride up and down, plus stops and some stargazing. Getting to the peak requires a 4×4 vehicle, as the terrain (and road) changes all through the drive up. There was a section near the top that looked like another planet and apparently NASA does a lot of tests as the topography is quite similar to that of Mars. It was kind of like going from the set of Jurassic Park to the Martian.
Being the highest peak of Hawaii, it was COLD. We started out in short sleeves and ended up in huge parkas. The air got thinner as we neared the top, meaning our movements had to be slower. Despite the cold and lack of oxygen, the view above the clouds was breathtaking. Skies were the clearest up at the peak, with observatories/telescopes from different countries set up to learn about the goings on of the universe. What a feeling it was to feel so dwarfed by everything.