I awoke early before we docked so I decided to walk while enjoying the sights of arriving into Hilo. I took pictures of a wonderful morning sun and then as I turned a corner I saw a rainbow. This was a sign of the magical day ahead.
After 3 miles, it was time to wake the teenager. We had a quick and light breakfast in the Marketplace. Ricky’s tours was picking us up in the terminal at 8:30.
We found Ricky waiting for us in the terminal and he took us to his van which was more like a bus. We were to be his only two guests today. VIP baby!
He drove us along Banyan drive to see the tree planted by different celebrities such as Babe Ruth and Amelia Earhart. We then stopped at Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. It is a beautiful park decorated with Japanese statues and bridges. Ricky said he usually gives 20 minutes there but we could do longer since we were his only guests. We did the entire path around the park. The fish and crabs were entertaining to watch as we crossed the little bridges and stones.
Next stop was Rainbow Falls. This was a nice quick stop to get a picture. We could see the rainbows the falls made. After some pictures, we hopped back in the van for a 30 minute drive to Akatsuka Orchid Gardens.
The Orchid Garden stop was our least favorite stop. The flowers are beautiful but after a quick stroll around we were ready to go. If you wanted to buy an orchid, you can have it shipped Fed Ex. We did see one orchid that when it is in bloom is $20, 000. Yikes!
Mauna Loa Factory was our next stop. There you could sample dozens of different varieties of macadamia nuts. They were tasty! We enjoyed the sriracha and Maui onion varieties. We made some purchases. They have a snack bar and this is where Ricky stops for lunch. I think we were slightly ahead of schedule since we did not stay long at the orchid garden. I wasn’t very hungry and neither was Veronica. She did try a macadamia nut ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and rolled in macadamia nuts. She said it was alright but nothing special. We met Ricky at the van and he gave us cold bottled water as well as some chips to snack on.
We made the drive back towards Hilo. Ricky took a scenic road which was very windy with lots of one lane bridges. He stopped a lookout point for a quick photo. From there it was on to Akaka Falls State Park.
Ricky asked if we’d like to go down to see it on the short hike. Yes please! He purchased the tickets and off we went. It is a .4 mile hike that you can see Kahuna Falls and the towering Akaka Falls, 442 feet of pure beauty and power. It is one of the most famous waterfalls in Hawaii. You can see it in the opening part of Jurassic Park. Well worth the stairs and climb to see this stunning site!
Ricky magically appeared after we returned and we made our way to Richardson Beach Park. It is the closest black sand beach to Hilo. Turtles are commonly seen here but alas no turtles were seen. Ricky taught us about the black sand which is lava and how there is bits of green in the sand as well which is olivine crystals. It looked like a popular spot with small coves and tide pools for kids to swim in.
It was back to the Crystal Symphony. I would highly recommend Ricky’s Tours. He has a wealth of knowledge about Hawaii. He narrated the entire trip. He taught us about the other islands, Hawaiian rulers, volcanos, flowers and his own family history. A great guy so if you are ever on the Big Island, give him a try. The price for our private tour couldn’t be beat!!!
We were a little hungry after the tour so we went to lunch at Trident Grill. We had not sampled their food yet so I tried a garden burger and Veronica had a hot dog. A nice quick lunch. I went for another walk while Veronica napped. I came back to dress and shower for dinner and then woke my girl from her rest. While she dressed, I went to the Cove to have a cocktail and enjoy some piano music before dinner. Tonight, I tried the Grapefruit Negroni. It was a slightly more mellow version of the classic. Veronica joined me ordered the L’air du temps.
We dined in Waterside with our favorite waiter Viktor once again. We both ordered all our dishes from the Modern side of the menu. We both started with the Ahi Tuna Tartar and Scallop Crudo. Veronica had the prosciutto di Parma and I chose the clear soup which was Pheasant Essence. For our mains, Veronica chose the venison tender loin and I had the seared Tiger prawns. Viktor also brought us the pan fried calf’s liver which he told us reminded him of his grandmother’s preparation from the Ukraine. How could we not try it? The garnishes were outstanding and Viktor teased us about not leaving any of the onions. The liver itself was probably the best I’ve tried but I cannot say I’m a fan. Veronica thought it was good but she was full from the venison which she preferred. For dessert, I had mixed berries and Veronica had opera cake.
I heard you could see the volcano from the other side of the dining room. While waiting for dessert, I popped up to the promenade deck to snap a photo. This was a small tease of the night ahead.
After another fantastic meal, we went up to deck 12 to watch the lava flow. We were there around 8:45 and quite a crowd was gathering. It was spectacular. I was completely in awe of the beauty and power of this sight. The only thing I compare it to is watching the glaciers in Alaska. One of the lecturers provided commentary from the bridge. The smell fo the gasses was intense but I couldn’t pull myself away from the railing. The red lights, clouds rising up, all against the black darkness with the sounds of the sea mad this a once in a lifetime thing to witness and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. We stayed in viewing range for 30 minutes but had to leave due to the engines overheating from the water temperature.
Tonight’s show was Imagine by Illuminate. It is a show designed by from America’s got Talent. It is a dance show but in the dark. The dancers wear costumes that light up that weigh 20 pounds each. The choregraphy is very intricate as all the dancers are on stage in the dark at once. A great light show but how can you follow Mother Nature’s show we just witnessed?
Veronica went back to the cabin but I took a quick stroll about. I grabbed us some popcorn from the theater and returned to get a little more of I, Tonya completed. Well, there’s always tonight.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.