History, waterfalls, swimming with turtles, and LOTS of driving

The Puʻukoholā Heiau temple was built by hand using a 14 mile long human chain.

The Puʻukoholā Heiau temple was built by hand using a 14 mile long human chain.

We have been pretty busy the past couple of days.  We were on Maui for almost five months, so we had more than enough time to see all of the sights.  Big Island is at least three times bigger than Maui and we are only here a week, so we are trying to cram as much in as we can.

After spending our first full day at Volcano National Park, we didn’t push it too hard on day two.  We tried to stay fairly close to the resort.  We spent the morning at a local beach and then went into Kona to do some shopping after dinner.

Day three we were back on the road exploring the northern part of the island.  Our first two stops we learned about some of the history of the island.  The first one was Puʻukoholā Heiau – a temple built by King Kamehameha in 1791.  It was prophesied that Kamehameha would win the ongoing war and unify all of the Hawaiian islands if he built this temple.  People made a 14-mile long human chain and passed the rocks by hand.  The temple was started and completed within one year, and the prophesy came true.  Kamehameha won the war and was the first person to rule all of Hawaii.

Our picnic spot was the beach on the bottom of the Pololu Valley.  It was a steep hike down and back up!

Our picnic spot was the beach on the bottom of the Pololu Valley. It was a steep hike down and back up!

We also stopped at two very scenic valley overlooks on day three.  The first one was Pololu Valley.  We took a 1.5 mile round trip hike to the bottom of the valley to a remote black sand beach.  It made for quite a picnic spot!  After lunch (and some ice cream) we drove to our second scenic lookout – Waipio Valley.  We opted not to hike into this valley, but it was still a beautiful overlook.

Of all the waterfalls we have seen in Hawaii, Akaka Falls is probably my favorite.

Of all the waterfalls we have seen in Hawaii, Akaka Falls is probably my favorite.

We headed over to the Hilo side of the island for day four.  After a quick stop at the farmers market, we went to a roadside waterfall called Rainbow Falls.  It was a quick stop, but still a very pretty waterfall.  Then we headed north a bit and went to Akaka Falls.  Akaka is a very tall waterfall, said to be twice the height of Niagara Falls.

After visiting the falls it was time to go for a swim.  Beth heard from one of her coworkers about a place in Hilo that sea turtles like to go – Carlsmith Beach Park.  We threw on our swim suits and some water shoes and went looking for turtles.  We were not disappointed!

This turtle kept nudging both Beth and myself until we got out of his way.

This turtle kept nudging both Beth and myself until we got out of his way.

We only saw one turtle, but it was a very close encounter.  He started swimming closer and closer to us until Beth and I each grabbed a kid and stood on top of some nearby rocks.  The turtle still kept coming closer.  I don’t know if he was just curious about us, or if we were simply in his way, but he nudged both Beth and I on the leg until we moved.  It was neat and a little scary at the same time.

We ended day four at Ahalanui Park Hot Springs – a natural thermal pool where the water temperature is in the 90s.  It was a nice, relaxing way to end the day.  Plus Sawyer made a lot of strides in learning to swim.  He has been without a flotation device since we left Maui and he has been a quick learner!

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