March 26, 2013

Northern Big Island to End the Vacation

Filed under: General — mmrobins @ 2:11 pm

From Hilo we headed north along the Hamakua coast. We didn’t stop a ton of places like the big waterfalls since we had been there on our last trip, and while they were nice, we didn’t really feel the need to stop again so that we could see parts of the island we hadn’t before. We did see a new waterfall with a ropeswing at the base at Kolekole Beach Park, where we at lunch and swam.

We spent a few nights camping at Kalopa Park, which is higher in elevation and in a forest, so similar feel to parts of Volcano Park and cold at night. The campground is small with only 3 sites, one of which had a family with kids Geneveve played with the first night. The trails around the area are a bit overgrown with forest and the info on them seems really outdated, but they’re nice to walk around. The staff all seemed really excited to be outside while we were there because they said it had been raining for most of a month straight, so we lucked out with sunny weather.

From the campground base we made a day trip to the Waipio valley. We had been here to the overlook on our last trip, but we didn’t descend into the valley. The road down requires 4WD, not because it’s poorly paved or anything, but apparently because it’s so steep you need low gearing. We walked down, and it really is quite steep, even if it is only a mile. At the bottom we went to the beach, which is pretty nice, but I’m not sure it lives up to the hype. One of the things about the Waipio valley is that it’s supposed to be somewhat isolated due to it’s relative inaccessibility, but there were a lot of people there, more so than at some other little beaches we found. I’m guessing farther back in the valley is quieter and pretty, but the roads back there are supposedly private. I think if you really want an isolated valley experience you’ll have to do the overnight hike to the next valley over.

We drove through Waimea on the way to our next campground, but really didn’t see much worth stopping for. It’s strange in that the area seems to be a giant cattle ranch with grassy and brushy open fields, not what I would expect in Hawaii.

Spencer Beach Park was our next stop, and the campground on the island we had heard the most good things about. I’d say it lived up to it’s reputation. It’s got a lovely little beach, decent open camp space, and a nice pavilion. At this point in the trip we were pretty much ready to just setup camp and lay on the beach – which is what we did. Geneveve lucked out in that the family camping next to us had a 2 year old boy and a 6 year old girl who was great at playing with her. We setup the hammock, and proceeded to mostly lay there or on the beach with an occasional swim or meal. At night we chased little crabs on the beach with flashlights, and Geneveve was even brave enough to catch them herself by the end.

After a few days camping, we checked into a bed and breakfast near Puako to get cleaned up and pack for our flight home. We took a day trip to Hawi, and hiked down to the Pololu valley. I would recommend doing this over going to the Waipio Valley any day. Hawi is a cuter town than Honokaa with some really good restaurants, and the Pololu valley doesn’t have a road to it. The hike down is easier and shorter than to Waipio. The downside is the beach isn’t as nice – really rocky and not for swimming. But if you just want a pleasant valley hike, this is great.

We saw a bunch of whales during our time near this part of the island. We even saw them jumping out of the water, albeit quite a ways off shore. At one point we just pulled off the highway to watch them swim, surface and spout for 20 or so minutes.

We also hiked to Kiholo bay one evening around sunset. There’s a cool lava tube you can swim in called Queen’s Bath, and the bay has a ton of turtles. It’s a weird hike as there’s a bunch of super fancy houses along the way. We parked up near the highway since around 6pm they close the gate to the little dirt road that goes down near the ocean, and we wanted to stay to watch one of the better sunsets we had on our trip.

And now we’re back home. I think we were all ready to go home after a month away. Spring is in full swing here in Portland with flowers in bloom everywhere, so I think we got back just in time to miss the end of winter. We’ll be carless for a month before we go to visit my parents where our car is, but I imagine that will be pretty easy.

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks, Matt, for the update. Geneveve must be accustomed to camping and traveling.

    Comment by Marty — May 16, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

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