My grandmother used to tell me about her Hawaiian great-grandfather, who drove long-ago tourists up to the Volcano in a horse-drawn carriage.
Back in the late 1800s, the journey from Hilo took two days, with an overnight stop to rest the horses and travelers. But once they arrived, the landscape undoubtedly looked very much as it does now.
Still an otherworldly land worth visiting, the unique Volcano area is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Sprawling, huffing and erupting within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea and Mauna Loa exhibit nature’s drama in action. But while change and creation, and birth and destruction, are part of the park’s inherent nature, I can still see what my ancestors very likely saw: a moonscape in places, where ghostlike trees hold their ground as ethereal steam swirls from a landscape pocked with vents….
One of my many hats has me, along with Kris Bordessa, operating the website Big Island On The Cheap, a place for all things free/cheap/discounted on the Big Island. And right now, in honor of Merrie Monarch week, we have some contests going on. All you have to do is follow the links to the contest posts, and then enter your name in comments there to possibly win one of our random drawings.
We’re also giving away the computer scrapbooking program Digital Scrapbook Artist – and if you don’t win, we also have a 15 percent off discount code for you to buy your own copy.
You may rest at night because I give you my personal word that when you enter, we only use your email address to contact you if you win. No shenanigans there.
And if you do mosey on over to Big Island On The Cheap, remember that it’s Merrie Monarch week over there and we have all sorts of Merrie Monarch special features. Enjoy the magic of the hula festival vicariously! See you there.
Both contests end at midnight, Hawai‘i time, on Saturday, April 18th.
It’s almost Merrie Monarch week here on the Big Island. I love this week, when Hilo town shimmers and comes alive with people and flowers and hula everywhere.
Over at Big Island On The Cheap, we are going to be hitting Merrie Monarch hard. We’ll have a bunch of features — where to eat, half- and full-day trips to take around Hilo, all the exciting things going on with Merrie Monarch itself, some great local coupon deals that are exclusive to our readers (whether residents or visitors), and some other surprises, too, which are already in the works.
Another place I sent my mom and her friend recently, while they were here touring the Big Island, was Ahalanui Park. It’s next to the ocean down in Pahoa and has a lovely, thermally heated pond.
The pond used to be part of someone’s estate down there in volcano country. Long ago owners enclosed the ocean end of the natural pond with rocks. They left a channel between the rocks, so the tide still moves in and out throughout the day. Now the pond is part of a county park.
The water feels delicious, like a very, very warm bathtub that never goes cold. And the setting is beautiful. Slipping into this water, in my book, is just about perfect.
Once I took a visiting friend there around lunchtime and we sat there, soothed and happy, talking until it got dark.
My mom and her friend loved it, too.
We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
My mom, who lives in California, is spending a month up at Volcano, housesitting for a friend. She is loving the cool, crisp weather and the absolutely beautiful rainforest location.
This week she has a friend visiting her and they are having fun touring the Big Island.
And because my mom has never lived here (it’s my father’s family that’s from here), she’s been calling me and asking for ideas. I am enjoying thinking about fun things for them to do.
Last night the question was, “Where should we go to eat some good seafood?”
I suggested the Seaside Restaurant in Hilo’s Keaukaha area. The casual, easygoing restaurant has enormous fishponds and raises its own fish. Before or after you eat (or during if you have a young one who gets a little too restless; I speak from experience) you can wander their boardwalks and look at the fish in the beautiful big ponds.
The best time to arrive is at dusk. Ask to sit “outside,” which, it finally occurred to me once, is actually inside. It’s sort of an enclosed patio, I think. Perhaps it was once outside. Anyway, they’ll know what you mean and seat you by the windows where you can see out.
There is a tree growing in the middle of the vast fishponds, and at dusk a rather enormous number of white egrets land on it. They flutter around the tree, looking for fish. It’s quite a sight to see all that shocking white out there on an unlikely tree in the middle of the water.
And the fish is very good. I usually order something furikake-encrusted.
When I suggested the Seaside and told my mom how to get there, after having dispensed some other touring ideas in the last couple days, she joked, “You should be a travel guide!” And I thought about how much fun it is to share all the great places we enjoy visiting here on the Big Island.
In the last couple days they’ve gone up to Waimea and toured the historic homes there at Parker Ranch, brought us malasadas from Tex Drive In in Honoka‘a, and checked out beautiful Akaka Falls, inspiration for the beautiful song of the same name. Here is someone named Rachel singing that classic song. I just pulled the video off YouTube on a whim — but what an incredible voice! Rachel, you’re amazing!
Coming soon on our Hawai‘i travel agenda: throwing the prawn traps into our stream, to be followed by a delicious, and very fresh, prawn dinner.