Day 3 on Hawaii's Big Island and our last full day on the Hilo side.
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Big Island Vacation Itinerary
Many people find that day three is when they really start settling in and getting into their Big Island groove. Your body is (hopefully) fully adjusted to Hawaii Time now. Maybe you're even getting into the slower pace of life that we call Island Time (see Hawaii Living: Island Time). There's still so much you want to do and see but taking it slow is the only way to go here.
Well, we can start going slow after we get your blood pumping this morning with a white knuckle ride on a zipline! There a few zipline options on the east side of the Big Island but Skyline Eco Adventures - Akaka Falls will kill two birds with one stone. First up, you'll get to zipline which is an incredible experience. Second, you'll get to see the Big Island's most popular waterfall, Akaka Falls, at Akaka Falls State Park.
Okay, now we'll slow down a bit with a trip to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. This a 40 acre botanical garden set in a valley that is a natural greenhouse filled with fertile volcanic soil and home to over 2,000 species of plant life. It's also a 501(c)(3) Scientific and Educational non-profit, whose mission is to serve as a nature preserve and sanctuary, a living seed bank, and a study center for trees and plants of the tropical world. It's a fun and educational walk through nature, Hawaiian style.
Since you're still at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and paid for admission, you might as well leave your car parked in the lot for a few more minutes while you go check out Onomea Bay Beach which is right across the street. It's a short trail down to the bay and while it's not a place to swim, it's more raw nature at its finest.
When it comes to the forces of nature, even the Big Island is a tiny spec in the massive Pacific Ocean and tsunamis are a real threat here, as they are in all of the islands and many coastlines around the world. So take a trip to the Pacific Tsunami Museum whose mission is to educate and bring awareness to the devastation that tsunamis do to avoid future loss of life. This is an educational stop and while tsunamis are known for their destruction, there is a lot of fun and interesting knowledge to gain here. The Museum also serves as a living memorial to those who lost their lives in past tsunami events, including those right here in Hilo.
Astronomy buffs should now head over to the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and be sure to bring the whole family on this one as they have plenty of hands-on exhibits that kids will love. This is the perfect place to learn all about the stars, planets, galaxy, and beyond. Be sure to make time for the planetarium show too. Far out, man!
This morning you ziplined through Akaka Falls State Park and got a taste of an epic waterfall from above. Want to see another one? Then drive over to Rainbow Falls. You can literally park your car, walk a few feet, and see a gorgeous 100 foot tall waterfall. As the sun reflects on the waterfall, a rainbow is visible in the mist and that's why it's called Rainbow Falls.
If you can't get enough of falling water, check out nearby Pe'epe'e Falls & Boiling Pots which is just a few minutes away from Rainbow Falls. The waterfall isn't the most spectacular but the "boiling pots" can be when the river is really flowing. When water is rushing through this area it tends to bubble around and look like a bunch of huge boiling pots of water. You might see some locals swimming in here if things aren't crazy, but stay out of the water as it's very dangerous to swim here and the rocks are also very slippery. Bring a camera and enjoy the views from a distance.
A final stop on our Hilo tour today ends at Queen Liliuokalani Gardens. Hopefully you've made it here before the sun has gone down so you can walk around the park and enjoy a gentle Hawaiian breeze before you go and get some dinner. This would be your final night in Hilo as tomorrow we'll be doing a few more activities and then heading over to the Kona (west) side of the island.
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