A pleasant surprise

In search of a new spot in Hawaii to experience, I honed in on the Hilo side of the Big Island. This would be the wet side! Hilo gets approximately 143 inches of rain on about 236 days per year. Compare that to where I live, Portland, Oregon, which gets maybe 43 inches of rain over 156 days per year. I keep trying to tell people… it’s not that Portland is so much rainy, as it is CLOUDY! Not kidding. Even with all that rain, Hilo still has 175 sunny days to Portland’s 144. Anyway, Hilo gets tropical rain, and also, I’m not afraid of a little rain.

So, the pleasant surprise was that it didn’t rain one drop while we were there the first week of November. They did have quite a bit of rain before we arrived, and a literal deluge since we left, but we were lucky I guess. I do, however, realize that part of the beauty of the place is due to that tropical rainfall. My uncle used to live in Kona, and he loved to talk about the fact that the island of Hawaii has 8 of the 10 climate zones recognized in the United States. I think climate zones are up for debate, but we did visit a few distinctly different climates while on Hawaii.

The other really nice surprise, was that Hilo was a great place to visit. Less touristy than most other parts of Hawaii, and a real home town feel. The food was universally amazing, the farmers market had THE best crafts, and there were so many fun things to see and do in the area. Since beaches aren’t really the highlight of this part of the island, we focused on everything else… waterfalls, volcanoes, gardens, a goat farm, forests, a cacao farm, two beautiful black sand beaches at sunset, and food, of course! Our airbnb was super nice and right on Hilo Bay. A very short walk into town.

The view of Hilo Bay from our airbnb rental.
The garden at the house was gorgeous with lots of beautiful flowers and orchids everywhere.
When I saw this hydrangea crown, haku lei, at the farmer’s market, I fell in love!
I don’t normally eat anything this color, but I wanted to try the ube (purple yam) ice cream at Makani’s Pineapple Shack in Hilo. Honestly, it tasted like vanilla. I do love animal cookies though! I hadn’t had one since my kids were little.
A lava tube waterfall on the Pepe’ekeo scenic drive right up the street from our rental,
Honomu Farm Goat Therapy
Fun treats inside… goat’s milk cheese, goat’s milk fudge, goat’s milk caramels, well you get the picture.
Honomu Goat Farm is on the way up to Akaka Falls Park. Gorgeous gardens here.
And that black sand beach, Kehena. I had to be careful with my photos as it is also a nude beach.
Kehena beach at sunset.
That black sand. The first black sand beach I was ever at, was in New Zealand. Same ocean, very different beach!
My silly boy admiring the cacao pods at Lavaloha Farms.
Nope, I did not know this is what cacao beans look like before processing. Little bitter nuggets covered in sweet goop! I liked them!
The Poke Market in Hilo has amazing, fresh fish with lots of fun toppings. 5*
Two Ladies Kitchen Mochi, a total highlight of the trip, and a treasure in Hilo town. Line out the door.
Thurston lava tubes at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
Active volcano at Kilauea

My favorite meal was at a little restaurant in Hilo Town called Moon & Turtle. So special!

Just one of the amazing dishes we tried: fresh caught mahi mahi with a decadent reduction sauce and spaetzle.

In order to earn our meals, The Peacemaker had me hiking every day. The most intense hike we did, was the Waipi’o Valley hike down to another black sand beach. The hike was unbelievably difficult. A lot of people hike down and get a ride back up in a 4×4. The Peacemaker wanted us to do the whole thing. By the time we made it back up, it was dark. The 800’ incline is at an average 25% grade, in some areas it is much steeper. It is a ridiculously intense uphill climb.

Waipi’o Valley from just below the viewpoint.
The valley from half way down.
The black sand beach at the bottom.
Wailoa Stream

On our last night, The Peacemaker and I drove to Mauna Kea Observatory and watched the sunset from way up the mountain.

Up on Mauna Kea
Our last sunset.

Wow we had an amazing time!

7 thoughts on “A pleasant surprise

    • Ooh didn’t think of that! Ouch, lol! There’s lots of shade at this particular beach, and a bit of a hike down to get there. It’s a very “hippy-ish” spot. Sam and I had a long discussion about the definition of hippy. This is a very interesting part of the island!


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