Our Big Island adventure began with an unexpected upgrade at the car rental counter; a Mustang convertible at no extra charge? Yes please! We spent the majority of our time cruising around the island taking in as much scenery as we could and enjoying the top down.
Some notable points of interest were Rainbow Falls, although we caught it on a muddy day, and the drive on Mauna Kea, the largest mountain in Hawaii and home to the largest telescopes on earth. Unfortunately, they had closed the road to the top when we were there.
We also had the opportunity to explore the black sand beach of Punalu'u. It was incredible with its fine black sand and the lava flows that had cooled into wavy, black rocks. Any trip to the Big Island of Hawaii should include a stop at this rare sight.
The highlight of our trip was our snorkeling adventure. We headed out to the Captain Cook Monument and saw a wonderful array of tropical fish and sea life, but certainly the giant Manta Rays made the entire trip worth it. They swam right up to our boat!
While the lava was not bubbling over, our trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was very exciting. We have always appreciated when people gather around nature to be entertained and amazed. The caldera was smoking heavily during the day and, as the sun set, you could see the orange and red glow get brighter and brighter.
The most thrilling volcanic display for us was the landscape itself. Driving around the island, it was incredible to see how quickly and intensely the terrain changed. One moment, we were in the rainforest visiting an incredibly lush Botanical Garden and the next thing you know you’re in a black desert wasteland that feels more like driving on the surface of Mars. As it rained and the water seeped into the ground, steam would rise all around the highway as a result of the heat from the underground rocks, resulting from the volcanic activity.
Big Island was a must see for us and we are so glad we visited!