Hawaii Trip, Day 6: Driving to Hilo & Botanical Gardens

Having explored the area south of Kona, we headed to Hilo (which is on the opposite side of the Big Island) taking the Nourthern route. Hilo is the rainforest side of the island, and we were excited to see more lush landscapes. (photos from today are on Day 6 on the Hawaii Trip Gallery)

We briefly stopped by Dolphin Quest to pick up our DVD and checked out the unimpressive tidepools while we were there. But at least we got to see a friendly sea turtle at the private hotel lagoon. The drive to Hilo was beautiful – the landscape became less lava-laden and increasingly green and forested the further east we went. In the northern part of the island we saw several cattle ranches, which were established in the area long ago. As we entered the Hilo area, the jungle had become astonishingly thick around the highway. We checked into our hotel, the Dolphin Bay Hotel, and then headed 5 minutes back up the highway to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (at Onomea Bay). (We had tried to find it on the way to our hotel, but completely missed it – it’s not at all well marked from the highway, with the clearest indicator being a sign for a “four mile scenic road”!) The botanical garden was definitely a highlight of our trip – (see http://www.htbg.com/) the land was purchased in the late 1970s and turned into a botanical garden by an enthusiastic retired couple. It’s now a non-profit nature preserve and sanctuary. It’s got over 2000 species of plants on a 40 acre valley. Some of the most impressive specimens (to us) were a 90-or-so-foot mango tree (we had no idea they got that big) and an enormous monkey tree. We also learned a lot of the names of flowers we’d been seeing, such as the ginger plants, so we really enjoyed that. It was also amazing to see philodendrons climbing the trees everywhere and happy epiphytes attached to the trees all over. There were even spectacular waterfalls and ocean views. It took about two hours for us to walk around it all, taking our time as we went. We’d highly recommend it to anyone going to the Hilo area.

After the gardens, we headed a little further up the scenic road to stop at a smooth/sandwich shop (which the hotel staff had recommended). It was a nice cool treat after walking for hours. Looking around, we noticed the smoothie shop had several banana trees nearby, an avocado tree, a flowering tree for making leis, and other fruit trees not too far away – perfect location for a smoothie hut! Andrew got an incredible tuna sandwich with fresh veggies and fruits, while Teisha got a turkey hot dog (she has a weakness) also with fresh fruit. (And, again chilled green tea!)

We headed back to the hotel and wandered around downtown Hilo for a while (just a few blocks from the hotel). We soon found that Hilo shuts down about 4PM/5PM, so pretty much all of the shops were closed… It was even in between lunch and dinner time for most places. It seemed odd that the town was so deserted, but that’s how it is in Hilo – it’s a bit of a sleepy town. Eventually we got dinner, splitting a delicious seared ahi burger with amazing onion rings (not that greasy, unlike most mainland ones). And, wandering back to our hotel, we collapsed!

One Response to “Hawaii Trip, Day 6: Driving to Hilo & Botanical Gardens”

[…] Hawaii Trip, Day 6: Driving to Hilo & Botanical Gardens […]

Paradoxdruid’s Rants » Blog Archive » Hawaii Trip 2013, Summary! - October 17th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

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