32 Years in 52 Weeks – Hawaii – Kona, Molokai and Kauai

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We are Don and Lisa DeLucia and we have been to Hawaii 5 or 6 times in our lives. At one point Hawaii was the go to place for our vacations when not caving. Then we found that there were some of the longest lava tubes in the world under that black rock.

I digress, I have to stay on topic here. So our first trip to Hawaii was to Kona (known as the Big Island), Molokai and then Kauai. Our goal was as usual to see as much as we could and come back with a slide show for the grotto (our caving club).

Back in the 1980’s the Internet did not exist in a public form, so all of my research was done reading library books and asking friends. In today’s world I’d be done with research in about an hour, but back then you used leads to get another lead and so on. I poured over maps, read multiple travel guides and realized that along with our snorkeling and hiking gear, we’d better bring our caving gear.

We flew from LAX to Honolulu, about a 6 hour flight and had a short layover before catching the island hopper to Kona. Getting out of the plane was akin to going out in August in Pittsburgh. The humidity was daunting! I told Lisa that we’d better spend most of our time in the water or darkness which ever was more handy. If I’ve never admitted this before, I do not like humidity.

Getting on the plane was easy and the flight was very short. We were greeted by lei’s and kisses from the local hotel association and immediately directed our attention to picking up our rental car and checking in to the hotel. Once that was out of our way, we were off to explore.

We drove south out of the town and were greeted with picturesque views from every vantage point and turnout. We were in wonderland. Our plan was to drive over to Hilo and scope it out. The side of the island we landed on was arid for a tropical island, but the Hilo side was the polar opposite.

The drive was 2 hours plus, but it was early in the day and figured it was worth it. When we arrived in Hilo, we got out our map and checked out Kaumana Cave. The entrance was in the middle of town and it had a parking lot, sign and metal staircase leading in to a vegetation filled collapse. We decided to go up flow as down flow was pretty crowded. We managed to spend a number of hours exploring and found quite a number of skylights and collapses some filled with anthuriums and orchids. Needless to say it was quite a find and we loved it!

We drove out of Hilo and up the mountain to Volcanoes National Park. It was quite the change going from lush Hilo, to the stark lava fields of the park. Our first stop was Thurston Lava Tube. It has pavement and lighting and quite a number of stairs. We were prepared with our camera, tripod and flashlights and took our time taking it all in while shooting photos.

The rest of the park will change as time goes on so enjoy the beauty of that area circa 1985. An example of the change is noted when Lisa and returned to find what once was an interpretive center was now four concrete walls and twisted rust metal. The park is dynamic and lives up to it’s name at every turn. After the quick tour of Volcanoes we drove down to the trail-head to see the flow hit the water. The walk back then was a quarter mile and well worth it. We hit there at twilight which made the colors that more intense. Gone was the steam the obscured the view of the flow and it was absolutely beautiful! We high-tailed it back to the car and drove back to Kailua-kona.

In the morning we spent some time snorkeling in front of the hotel which was quite the place. We saw an octopus and moray eel. We then packed and boarded a puddle jumper to Molokai. Back in the 80’s there was a moratorium on building which allowed only one hotel on the west side of the island.
We flew in to the only airport on the island and got a rental car right away.We drove to the hotel and checked in. The room had four open side and the birds and geckos loved our room. I can still recall the birds songs in the morning.

We woke early and drove to the east side of the island, waving to the locals and stopping at a very crowded fast food joint. We got steamed rice and Portuguese sausage which seemed to be the locals staple. After we ate we finished the drive to Halewa valley. The valley had fallen victim to a tidal wave in the 60’s and was in the recovery stage. The houses and church we decimated and the vines and grasses were taking the land back; sticking out of every thing they could. Our goal was a spectacular waterfall we found while doing our research for the trip which was about a 2 mile hike up the river. Along the way thee was plenty to eat, and the singing birds made us think of paradise. The waterfall was impressive and well worth the hike. We swam and then took photos reveling in the isolation. There was not a person or sign of man anywhere.

After spending about an hour at the falls, we hiked back to the rental car. It was time to snorkel and see what Molokai had to offer. We were surprised to find a huge drop off and huge fish! The bottom was about 50 feet deep it was cool. That night we ate and drank outside at the hotels restaurant while watching the sunset. I have to say that it was very romantic and I wouldn’t had wanted to share it with anybody but my beautiful wife. The next morning we had an early flight to Kauai so we packed after dinner and got a good nights rest.

Kauai was, well a zoo. It was the hustle and bustle we wanted to avoid. People everywhere and most trying to sell you something. We got to our hotel room, dropped our baggage and then went for walk along the beach. Wow, it was crowded. We were on Kauai to see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific by helicopter. Which we did that afternoon. If you can afford this excursion it is well worth the money. The Canyon is a geologic work of art and the distinction of being the wettest place on earth. It is not all navigable by foot but by air you see it all in all it’s glory!

We came home the next morning to our Redondo Beach home, wanting to return to Kona and Molokai and possibly visit Maui, but those are other adventures unto themselves.

Let’s go!

Don

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