We packed up our gear and headed for the bay. Geoff had hired a couple of double seater kayaks and this completes the last of our wish list activities – kayaking in the sea.
The bay is home to the Captain Cook Memorial, often spinner dolphins and magic snorkelling. And were in for the entire treat!
We launched on one side of the bay and had to paddle across the other side to view the memorial. Its in a difficult location and only accessible with a big mountain hike or by sea. We chose the sea route, same as Cook. The view looking back to the island is magic. We had a great view of all the homes on the volcano slope. Big Island is made up of five volcanos. Two active, one extinct and two dormant. They all join together to form the biggest and newest island in the Hawaii group. Plus one more is forming now off this coast as a result of constant lava pouring out into the ocean creating a new mountain. It has been geologically fascinating to be on this island. Seeing how people have adapted to live on such a harsh environment. How the island has settled and vegetation begins to take over. Even the farm we are living on is covered in lava. The plants just work their way through and take over.
I think we made about five attempts to paddle to the memorial however we kept being welcomely interrupted by a pod of about 20 Spinner Dolphins. It was the same group we snorkelled with yesterday in the other bay. We knew this because the same little super energetic and cute baby was playing just the same, plus the one spotted one. It was awesome. Us out at sea with a pod of happy dolphins. They swam past and around. Sometimes they left and came back. Sometimes we paddled after them or just waited floating about resting. The mother and baby put on a good show flipping and somersaulting close to our kayaks. After nearly a couple of hours we declared again ‘lets go to the memorial for a look’.
The memorial is great. Gracie and I swam to shore and took some photos. It was a moment, to stand the spot Captain Cook had been negotiating with the locals and receiving repairs to his ship. It too was the last place the man who found Hawaii and Australia lost his life.
We got in for a snorkel and tethered the kayaks around our waist, towing them along as we enjoyed the coral. Again it was magic. Full of colour in shades of brown, tan, green, whites and yellows. The fish were pretty plentiful. We followed another eel, saw a bright yellow trumpet fish and the awesome large red Ina Ula Sea Urchins. Geoff even picked one up for a closer look. We could feel it crawling across our hand. The spikes are thick and hard like stone.
We paddled back, returned the kayaks and headed back to our B and B. We had showers, packed up and said our farewell and thank you to Miles and family. Bailey was sad to be leaving Sean as they wanted to spend more time together and climb a coconut tree.
We headed back towards Hilo this time through the middle of the island via the massive extinct volcano Mauna Kea. On the way we travelled through more crazy errie lava landscape. This time it looked like a black river that had set in time. We got out and climbed over this ancient flow site. You really get a bit lost for words taking it all in with the what, when and how questions all flying around in your mind. We also seen some black horn sheep.
Mauna Kea is 3850 metres up. Its a bit of a deal to drive up because you rise very quickly 4kms. Such as our story, snorkelling this morning to the top of a volcano in two hours. We were advised to stay one hour at the half way point to allow our bodies to acclimate. We all suffered the effects of mild altitude sickness – feeling a little sick, light headed, unable to concentrate and lethargic. The weather change was mentally dramatic. From warm tropics to cold torrential rain, through thick fog to 3′ and just snowing at the top. It was nearly too much. It was bloody freezing and our heads were feeling weird. We stopped for sunset and got out of there.
Mauna Kea is actually for worlds tallest mountain at 10 kms high when measured from its base at the bottom of the sea. Only 4kms is visible on land. How is that for a massive volcano! It is also home to some of the worlds most powerful telescopes. They alone are pretty impressive structures. We spent one hour in the visitors centre to acclimate and checked out the interesting displays, tried astronaut icecream and watched a video.
It was now about 8pm at night and what a day we are buggered! Like I said, from coral to snow. Phew! Who would have imagined Hawaii delivered so much contrast, and we thought NZ was epic. In Hawaii the natural extremes I think are possibly greater. In one day you could fly over lava, snorkel, bask in the sun, visit a waterfall, walk in a tropical rain forest, , get rained on, drive through a black lava wasteland and play in snow.
We are now back at Uncle Billys in our lovely lava beach view room and all packed. Yes we did it… Tomorrow is fly out day.