Today our first stop was to some beautiful gardens called Mauka Gardens. This place was located on top of a hill and had such incredible lookouts over the ocean. They had all sorts of fruit trees and every flower and plant you can find on the island. They grow coffee bean trees and brew the famous Kona coffee there. Also we saw macadamia nut trees and got to crack open our own nuts to eat. At the bottom of the gardens there is this infinity pool and shop where you can taste authentic Kona coffee and purchase it as well.
Afterwards we grabbed some sushi and took it to the Sheraton Resort to check out where we would be doing our Manta Ray dive that night. We walked around a bit and Adam walked me through what would happen that night. I was so nervous to do this, but after our walk through I felt a little more at ease.
We went home and rested up a bit and got ready to head back when it was dark. The Sheraton has lights on the back of the resort that shine into the ocean for the Manta Ray dive. They have an excursion that you can buy for about $100 a person and they take you in a boat to that spot and give you a pool noodle thing to help you float and wait there for the Mantas to come up to you. You can do that or you can just climb out on the rocks and swim to that same spot with a flashlight and get the same experience for free, which is what we did. It was so crazy. I still can't believe that I did it. I am so scared of the dark ocean and the creatures that live in it. But I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I sucked it up and did it. I am so glad I did because it seriously was the most incredible experience! The Manta Rays came within inches of us and were bigger than I have ever seen! Eric wore the go-pro and got it all on camera. I tried to upload the video but it says its too big, so here are some pictures from the video...
This was by far the coolest and scariest thing I have ever done. What a thrill!
Today Adam let us take his car on a road trip around the Island. The plan was to drive 2 hours south to Volcano National Park, then an hour or so north to Hilo and then 2 hours back to Kona making a complete circle around the Island. On our way we were just driving down the hwy when all of the sudden we saw a zebra. We both were in shock and knew we had to turn around to see them. The only animals we have seen this whole trip are goats, dogs and chickens, so this was so random and funny. Not only was there a zebra, but a donkey, buffalo and bulls. Crazy!
One place I was to told to go to was Black Sand Beach in Puna. This beach was on the way to the Volcano so I made Eric make a pit stop to check it out. Holy smokes this beach was amazing. I felt like I was walking in a postcard. Off of the coast we could see whales in the distance and we saw some more turtles come up to the shore to hang out in the sun.
Now onto the Volcano. This is one place that you have to visit if you ever come to the big island. Its so interesting to see first hand how this island came to be. The volcano covers about 50% of this the Island and is still active, erupting every couple of years. In fact there was flowing lava in one area of this island while we were there.
People on this Island act like they have never seen a baby before. Everywhere we went people were stopping us to see Cambria and some even took pictures. Weird.
This side of the Island is a rain forest. It is so strange to see how drastically different the sides of the island are. One side is a desert covered in lava rock and the other is humid and wet and forest like.
Behind me is a giant crater. Seriously its huge! So weird that lava once was erupting right here.
We ate at a restaurant that over looks the volcano. I guess at night it glows red from the lava.
This is a steam vent. You can't tell from the picture but its really hot and wet. We walked away feeling like we were sweating.
We ate a traditional Hawaiian meal. Its all really good except for the pink yogurt called poi. Its nasty.
We walked through this lava tube. There was a bus full of Asians that got out right as we were walking in. They were so slow and had to stop for every little thing and we felt rushed the whole time. My pictures didn't turn out great because of it, so I took these off the internet.
Last stop was Hilo. Hilo isn't that great. Its kind of run down and there are a lot of bums around. We stopped at the farmers market and bought a bunch of fresh fruit. They chopped open a coconut for us and we drank the milk right out of it. We also bought a bunch of souvenirs here. It was getting dark so we made a quick trip to the boiling pots and rainbow falls. It was pretty dark so the pictures dont do it justice.