Turning 50 in Hawaii – Week 1

by Hillary
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On November 2, 2015 I turned 50. I knew that I had to do something to take my mind off the fact that I’d reached the 1/2 century mark and decided a month in Hawaii (the Big Island) would be just the ticket. Granted, I’ll be in debt for the next couple of years, but who cares?

There’s so much to do and see on the big island that I broke it into 3 sections. The first week near Captain Hook on the west side, the second week in Hawi on the north side, and the last 2 weeks in Pāhoa on the east side.

Here’s the start of week 1. I’ll be adding as I go. 🙂
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I stayed at a cabin at the South Kona Coffee Rentals in Captain Cook. It certainly was a jungle!

Captain Cook is obviously named after the famous explorer who met his demise here after exploiting the good will of the Hawaiians. Here’s an interesting “this day in history” article from www.History.com.
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Ho‘Okena Beach Park in Captain Cook was my first snorkeling spot. The water is unbelievably warm and clear. Of course, this was in the news the next day: “Big Island officials close Hookena Beach Park to reduce dengue fever threat.” It’s too early for symptoms – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that an infected mosquito didn’t dine on me.
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Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historic Park in Captain Cook is a great place to visit to learn about traditional Hawaiian life. Right next door is some great snorkeling but be careful where you go in – sea urchins are everywhere.
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These images were taken on the 4 hour “Morning Adventure” boat ride/snorkeling trip provided by Sea Quest Hawaii. The trip was only $89 for the 4 hours plus beverages and snacks – an amazing deal in my opinion.
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This was taken on my way to Volcano National Park. I love how you have the lava flows with nothing growing then you see something like below.
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Volcano Nation Park obviously has an active volcano. 🙂 A section of the Crater Rim Drive was closed and I couldn’t find the hiking trail I was looking for so I headed up the Mauna Loa Road – a scenic drive that offers spectacular views through ancient forests and recent lava flows and ends at 6,662′ at the Mauna Loa Overlook.

The Mauna Loa trail continues up to the peak of Mauna Loa at 13,679  but I only hiked up the trail about 1/2 mile past the 7,000′ marker. I’m still working on getting a good picture of Mauna Loa but I’ll get it!
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The ride down the Mauna Loa Road. It’s a 1 lane road that’s very narrow and very curvy. You have to be extra careful because there are many places that 2 cars can’t pass by each other.
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The last day in Captain Cook I took a 2+ mile trail down over the lava flow to the ocean. The trail started right next to the driveway of the place I stayed in. I left early in the morning and wondered down to the rough lava cliffs.
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You can see that there’s not a lot of options for getting into the water but after a little exploring, I found a painted white line that I followed to about the only place for miles that you could get in and out of the water mostly painlessly. The trail went over the bridge you see in the picture above and to the opposite side.
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This rope was the easiest way to get out of the water. The water wasn’t overly calm but the snorkeling was amazing. I had to catch a wave just right to get back up – with only a scratch or two to show for the effort.
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This is the view looking towards the area I snorkeled in. I waited until the afternoon clouds rolled in before attempting the hike back up. Even with the clouds, I had to stop and cool down quite often.

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