For Hilo, we decided to forgo the ship’s excursions and create our own so we could see everything we wanted to see. We found a private tour guide who knew the island very well, would drive us wherever we wanted to go, provided lunch, and was very reasonable. In fact, the cost was the same as the ship excursion but we saw much more. He provided us with a wonderful tour and was very open to some last minute changes. We highly recommend his tour to others. Contact Warren Costa at nativeguidehawaii.com .
We met Warren outside the pier area at a store just across the street. He started by taking us to a black and green sand beach. Very cool stuff. People were surfing there.
Next we went to see a lava tube. We didn’t get to hike inside it but it was pretty interesting to see so close to residential housing. When we were about to leave, I realized this would be a perfect place for a geocache and checked my phone app. Sure enough, there was a small one hidden in the cave. Warren had no problem with us taking the time to find it and sign the log. We got to walk on hardened lava there as well.
Off next to see Rainbow Falls. It’s quite lovely and there really is a rainbow in it. As before, there were chickens roaming around freely. LOL After getting our fill of the view and power of the falls, Warren and I sneaked around the parking lot to find another geocache. Score! Nope, not telling you where it is.
On to the Mauna Loa nuts plantation and store. We had heard that Spam was a big thing in Hawaii and that there were Spam flavored nuts and chips. Warren thought we might find them there. No luck on that but it was fun checking the place out.
After a nice picnic lunch at a park, we were off to Volcano National Park. We were able to use Bernie’s senior pass to get in free. This is an active area so you need to be careful. The visitor’s center offers a great view of the crater. No lava to see but lots of steam coming out. We got plenty of time to look at all the exhibits and didn’t feel at all pressured on our private tour. On the way out of the park, we stopped by the side of the road to see steam vents that had randomly opened up. Oh my! Don’t get too close or breathe that gas coming out because it is deadly.
For more pics click here.