Distance from San Francisco, CA to Hilo, Hawaii – 2,005 Nautical Miles – Speed 18.0 Knots
A picture perfect day in our first stop in Paradise.
The island of Hawaii sports five volcanoes. We are witnessing a rare phenomenon today as two of these volcanoes, Mauna Kea ("White Mountain)(with the Observatories on top) and Mauna Loa ("Long Mountain") are both cloud free today. We usually are unable to see either volcano when we visit the Big Island. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano and is the tallest mountain on Earth (Over 10,000 meters from ocean floor to peak) and the tallest point in the Hawaiian Islands (13,803 ft above sea level). It gets it name from the snow appearing on its upper elevations. Mauna Loa is an active shield volcano and is the largest volcano (mass and volume) on the planet.
The whole crew is touring today – “'Akaka Falls, Macadamia Nut Factory and Tropical Gardens”. The timing is good because we don’t have to be on the pier until 9:50 AM, which gives me enough time to run upstairs and get breakfast. When I got up there at 6:30 AM, the place was full – doesn’t anyone sleep in anymore. I found an interior table for two and was able to enjoy a quiet breakfast.
Still cannot talk so I started a Z Pack as a preventative measure – probably viral but just in case.
Our guide and driver, Earl, is interesting enough but he speaks in a slow monotone and he can put me to sleep pretty quickly. We’ve never been to our first stop ‘Akaka Falls.
You can't see the falls from the entrance to the site - just luscious vegetation everywhere. To get a close-up of the falls, you need to use the walkway and stairs, which will lead you to a lookout.
The place was crowded but not packed so we got some nice pictures.
Our next stop was the Vayera Zoo and Tropical Forest. Not feeling so hot, I opted not to walk the grounds. Everyone else checked out the animals and plants.
The bus then took us to the Lili'uokalani Park and Gardens in downtown Hilo. The beautiful Japanese Garden themed park (the largest outside of Japan) was donated by Queen Lili'uokalani and built between 1917 and 1919. It features ponds, bridges, statues, pagodas, and a Japanese Tea House. We had some free time here to explore the gardens and take some great shots.
Our final stop was the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, where we spent 45 minutes trying all flavors of nuts. We got our escort goody bags and Macie took her chances with the oysters and came away with two black pearls.
We rested in our room until dinner which was interesting tonight. We pre-ordered Kosher meals – 6 Prime Rib and one Salisbury Steak. We also got, but did not order, three orders of vegetarian stuffed cabbage. Everything came wrapped (airline meals).
Opening the packages was not as difficult as it generally is. I think everyone liked the meat and I made a hamburger out of the Salisbury steak and the challah the Maître D made for the table (two in fact). Fries with my burger and a starter of a salad with Thousand Island made for a pretty good meal. All in all, although the staff worked hard to smooth the process, overall satisfaction was low so I don’t think we will be going that route too often.
Showtime tonight was “The Alley Cats” – A Capella Quarter from Southern California. I'm pretty sure we have seen them before – maybe under a different name - but they were entertaining.
Back to the room to rest. Still can’t talk.