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The Big Island, Photo Essay

The Big Island, Hawaii’s youngest island is growing up. I had been to a few of the other islands that are a bit more touristy and more in line with what you think of as tropical paradises. My only preconceived notion of this island where I watched the Ironman triathlon on television, where the cycling leg with racers battling hot temperatures powering through asphalt roads winding through exposed jagged lava fields. The lush portions of the island found on the north and east side of the island simply did not resonate with me.

Because The Big Island is so large compared to the other islands, it’s climate zones are expanded too. For instance, when you see lava fields you see expansive fields that go on forever, or at least go on from the volcano into the sea while adding acreage along the way. The saying about why real estate is a good investment, “because they ain’t making anymore of it” does not apply to Hawai’i. The new lava piles on top of the old creating higher land mass and more shoreline. So there is tremendous upside while living with and active volcano. It just may take a few million years to catch up and mature like the other islands.

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The first day of the trip, we work up early to catch the sunrise helicopter tour. We had terrific weather for viewing the volcanoes and taking in a birds eye view of the coast line, lush valleys and waterfalls. It was a great way to put everything into perspectives and get a better feel for the island’s many attributes and relative vastness .

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour

While I have spent my younger days, surfing in California with a couple of small scale surf trips to Costa Rica and even Hawaii, I have not done any snorkeling or scuba diving. With winds blowing and kicking up the sea state, our tour sunset adventure seemed suspect. Captain Dan, sped the ocean going fishing boat through high waves that steadied the side to side yawl of the boat but felt more like a roller coaster ride than a lift to an serene snorkeling spot. Sea Spray doused the group and I was relieved to have packed my cameral gear in the Rockagator backpack, that is essentially a dry back with all the straps and features of a backpack. This gave me the flexibility of hands-free mobility when I needed it or I could remove and secure it to stations on the boat, knowing my gear going to be safe and dry while the sea state and windy conditions tested the limits.

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When we arrived to the location, the group was briefed about how the operations works. Lights are placed in the water which cause plankton to photosynthesize as if it were day time and rise to the surface. Manta Rays see this happening and can’t resist an evening snack so they swim, glide, barrel roll towards the light for all the divers and snorkelers to see. What I did not realize as an eye glass wearer, is that masks are available were various prescription strengths and if you ask before leaving shore, there is a good chance you can have something that will work for you…I stayed on the boat for this adventure but got some pretty cool photos nonetheless. Here’s the link to the guide service

I was a bit skeptical about Snorkeling with Spinner Dolphins a few two days later. I knew the daylight would help a bit with my nearsightedness compared to the night time. Being a day wiser and learning lessons from the Manta adventure, I did ask about a prescription masks and tried on a few options before leaving shore this time… and so glad I did. While it wasn’t perfect, I could see clearly for about 20 to 30 feet. I could easily see the individual markings and twinkling eyes of the Spinner Dolphins that were swimming circles around and under us. I could also see the colorful fish and other sea life like the starfish and octopus our guides located while feeding along the jagged lava reef bringing it to life.

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Hiking and Waterfalls.

The Big Island has many hiking and waterfall chasing options. For a short day hike, we took drive up to the north west tip of the island through a cool little town Kohalo and found the trail head that would take us down to rocky beach. We followed the trail descended a few hundred feet that was well traveled and learned it was a popular surf spot too. Once at sea level there were tall trees and a river feed from inland waterfalls. Campers had made good use of the trees with hammocks and swings.

On a separate excursion, I drove to the Rainbow Falls, which was just few miles east of the town Hilo. These falls were well marked and easily accessible in more of a rain forest environment.

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For this trip, some of the essential gear I use the made the trip just a little more fun include:

Olukai (Anywhere Aloha) PUHALU LEATHER  (super comfortable and looks good, especially in a resort environment.

Rockagator (Backpack and duffle) --great for transporting essential camera gear and keeping it safe and dry, especially important when exploring ocean / rainforest environments

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