So much happened on Day 3 that I'm going to split the day up into three separate posts: The Drive, Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden, and Kilauea (the volcano).
We left our resort at 7 a.m. to make the long drive around the island. (You can click on the map to make it bigger.)
The first pictures here are taken in and around the town of Waimea. This part of the island is where most of the ranching takes place. Parker Ranch is also located in this town. We tried to see the ranch, but the signs weren't all that great, and we missed it.
We're on the road heading East from Waimea toward Honoka'a.
Beautiful, green pastures lined this stretch of road.
But they soon turned into wooded stretches of highway.
We turned off onto a little road to try to get a better view of the ocean. We didn't find any spectacular views here, but lots of neat plants and other vegetation.
We drove along the ocean for quite a few miles here as we made our way South East toward Hilo.
This side of the island is the rain forest. Beautiful vistas, but not many places to pull off of the road to enjoy!
There were huge gorges full of palm trees, coconut trees, ferns, and who knows what! They were amazing to see.
We were even able to catch some views of waterfalls while driving!
There were a few, not many, spots of cleared land for agronomic crops. We never saw any signs as to what was being grown at these farms.
Ooo, another waterfall!
We think this was a banana farm.
We had now turned off of the main road and were heading up to Akaka Falls.
More pasture land and beauty as far as you could see!
This field used to be where sugar cane was farmed. Cattle are now grazing on it.
We've arrived at Akaka Falls and we're making the hike down to see the waterfall itself.
We crossed streams.
And tons of bamboo.
There were also so many ferns! Fern trees, even! This reminded me a little of Fern Gully!
This waterfall was only one of the two or three waterfalls that are in this park. As luck would have it, the other part was blocked off for maintenance and it started raining.
The rain didn't last long, though, and by the time we had make the three mile drive back down to Hakalu (the little town on the main road), the rain had stopped. Travis thought this was the neatest looking tree. I'm not sure of the name, but it has one main trunk in the middle and then the branches send out these massive roots down to the ground to help hold the tree up. So, it really looks like this one massive tree is made up of hundreds of small trees. Pretty neat!
We took a scenic route out of Pepe'ekeo. Little did we know that it was the road that we needed to get to the Botanical Gardens!
The road was full of so many neat plants. (We can't help ourselves...we're plant nerds, I guess!)
We then arrived at the Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden. As mentioned above, this place deserves a post all to itself!
Here's a little peek at the gorgeous orchids!
After we spent a couple of hours at the Botanical Gardens, we kept driving toward Hilo. We found a little place to eat in town that reminded us of Freebirds once we got inside, so we had burritos!
Once we finished lunch, we headed toward Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. We made one quick stop at Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, but didn't take any pictures there.
A preview of the massive volcano! Kilauea also deserves its own post!
Once we got out of Volcanoes National Park, we headed South West toward Na'alehu.
The landscape was changing again. We were heading further away from the rain, so it was much drier on this part of the island.
We drove along the coastline for a short while before making a turn toward the West.
This picture was the last taken on this day. We were losing daylight and had decided to stop and eat. We didn't get a picture of it, but we ate at the Southernmost Bar in the United States! It was a little dive, but it was an experience!
We drove the remaining hours in the pitch dark. We were able to see some of what we missed in the dark on Day 4 when we spent the first half of the day looking for coffee farms. But more on that later! After 14 hours on the road, we were glad to be back at the resort. It had been a really long, but interesting, day!