|Breakfast: French toast made with Taro bread from Punalu'u Bake Shop; Scrambled eggs from their own chickens in the yard, and bacon! YUMMY! Fruit platter had the ripest pineapple, lychee, plums (from their own yard), and papaya|
We bid farewell to our wonderful hosts and their awesome pups, and set out to our last destination on the Hilo side: The 'secret' Champagne Pond. To get to this little gem, you have to drive all the way to the most Eastern point of the island, and park on a remote gravel road, then walk ~1.5 miles to the pond. The pond is surrounded by private estates that are closed to outside traffic, but the pond itself, which is part of the coastline, is public access, so walking and bypassing the private land is the only way to get there. Well, unless you have a giant 4WD truck (which Hawaiians on the Big Island love, and for good reason). Then you can drive the 1.5 mi instead of walking. We found the stroll to the pond mostly pleasant - the scenery of the jagged coast was very dramatic, and cool ocean wind made the walk not too scorchingly hot even in today's sunny, cloudless weather. The only 'pain point' is the sharp lava fragments underfoot. Hubby wore water shoes to save having to lug his shoes, but his feet suffered... The destination was definitely worth the trek! The pond looks so serene, and the water is heated from the volcano, so it's at a comfortable temperature for soaking in all day long... the best part? We saw a SEA TURTLE!!! It came into the pond to chill, and I was so excited to see one in the water while I was swimming, that I almost yelled while still underwater, and swallowed some salty water...
After lounging around in the water for so long that my fingers started to get puffy, we left the pond and hopped back into our car to begin the drive around the Northern coast of the Big Island once again, this time directly headed for the Waipio Valley. Waipio Valley is a private chunk of land that looks very idyllic from the lookout. According to the guidebook, residents of the valley are not too welcoming to visitors and tourists, because they don't like to be disturbed from their paradise-like way of life by intruders who have too many questions and not enough of a sense of fashion... So we didn't try to descend into the valley (not like we had enough time, anyways) and just snapped a few photos at the lookout. The day was a bit overcast, so the photos really don't do the valley's serene beauty justice.
Most of the remaining day was spent driving to Kona. While passing through Waimea, it rained a little and brought us a view of an ENTIRE rainbow. Yes, one where you can actually see both ends of the rainbow! And also later on while passing near Mauna Kea again, we saw a double rainbow. It's interesting how rainbows never cease to capture the imagination. No matter how old you are, or how many times you've seen a rainbow, or how cynical you've become, still a rainbow in the sky will extract excited gleeful cries of "ooooo loook, a rainbow!" from onlookers. I guess maybe it's because even though rain can be gloomy and foreboding, as long as the sun keeps shining there will always be beauty in the end. :D
If you thought that was the last of the photo ops today, you're wrong. We arrived in Kona around dinner time, and got to Ana'eho'omalu Bay (or just A-Bay) just in time to catch the sunset. It's true what they say, this place is a photographers heaven for sunset photos. Any idiot who has a camera and a finger and isn't blind can capture beautiful photos here. Exhibit A below:
What a beautiful start to our time in Kona.