We docked in Hilo at about 9am and we were up having breakfast on the rear deck by then. Weather was mixed at this point, some sun, some cloud but hot. We went ashore and were picked up by Enterprise and taken to their office. They had messed up the booking (not very impressed with them all round tbh) but they gave us an upgrade to a new Jeep Cherokee which was very nice and comfortable, leather seats and all. The display screen including the reversing camera was amazing. Incredibly clear, much better than the one on our car at home.
We headed north out of Hilo along the coast road to go to the Waipio Valley which is a major beauty spot on this part of the island. A sort of Hawaiian Valley of the Kings. Unfortunately as we started to drive north the clouds came lower and lower and then the rain set in. Rain of a tropical downpour variety and not in a shower either. In fact it never stopped. It took us about an hour to drive the 46 miles to the valley lookout point where according to the photos an amazing green Grand Canyon like vista lay beneath our gaze. But…. not today! We could barely see a hand in front of our face and we got soaked doing that. Headed back to the cute little town of Honokaa which was like a time warp of the 1920s. Wooden shops and sidewalks, little wooden theatre… restaurants and antique shops. Not overly gentrfied either and no modern chains in sight. Unfortunately no wifi in sight either but we lived with that. It was bucketing down naturally so we had lunch in a place called Grandma’s Kitchen which was great. Owned and operated by a long time Hawaiian Portugese family who’s ancestors had originally come over to work in the sugar industry that was dominant on the Hilo coast. Amazing portions. Far too much but all very good. I had a burger, jettisoned the bun and it was plenty. Bob had a pastrami sandwich which was so huge it nearly broke his mouth and also a side cup of asparagus chowder.
Down the coast road again past so many creeks, gulches and rivers and lots and lots of waterfalls and cascades. No wonder everything is so green. We turned inland at Hilo and went out to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Plantation. We went here last year and it’s a nice visit. You drive through about 3 miles of macadamia nut trees first, just as far as you can see in all directions. Then there is the factory (you can self tour) and the Big Shop. They really have it together in this place. There are something like 25 different flavourings of the nuts: plain; salted; butter; Kona coffee glaze, wasabi; garlic onion; milk chocolate, dark chocolate; coconut chocolate – more than I can rememember. And they have free samples of them – freely given, as much as you like. After about 3 minutes of reckless gorging you feel totally sick and then become bewildered trying to work out which flavours you want to buy and then which pack size you want to buy in. Should you buy one of the (many) variety packs or should you buy single flavours???? And then of course there are the other products: Macadamia nut chocolate coated shortbreads, Macadamia nut and fruit granola, Kona coffee, Macadamia nut honey – oh a whole raft of stuff!! We spent about $80 and staggered out with our bags, no doubt a walking advert for incipient diabetes. I just remember we didn’t buy enough last year…. they were lovely at Xmas. Dear friends expect to get some 🙂
The sun came out for a while here and that was nice. It was boiling. We drove back into Hilo for our final stop. I blush….. Walmart. They have a brilliant one here. It’s got a liquor store inside it instead of having to trog off to a seperate heavily guarded shop like in most of the mainland USA ones. We bought a 1.75 litre bottle of Gordons gin for $18. Got 2 of those! Ridiculous price. And a 1.75L bottle of Mondavi Cab Sauv for about $9. Got loads of bottles of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and cream (my chosen brand) for about $8.50 each which is a hell of a lot cheaper than the UK where it tends to be about £11. Can’t remember what else….. ah some flipflops… Bob got a nice Hawaii t shirt and a new cap as he donated his best one to Neptune a few days ago. Unwillingly obviously. May have to go again in California because I didn’t manage to get into the clothes bit in the time we have and I like to buy my pyjams from Walmart. They have great cotton ones.
By the time we came out, it was bucketing down again. We took the hire car back and they drove us back to the ship. We got soaked just walking to the gangway. Supposed to be a tropical party on deck tonight but I think that may change.