Day 3, Friday, May 12, 2017
After we left Mauna Kea, we headed over to the East side of the island to Hilo – the wet side of the island. We made a brief stop at Rainbow Falls. We walked out to see it, just a hundred feet or so from the parking lot and it was gorgeous! And then, just like that it started raining hard – showing us exactly why it is called the wet side of the island. Of course, I had left my rain jacket in the car because it came on that quickly!
In Hilo, we stopped at a place called Cafe 100, that serves Loco Moco, a Hawaiian specialty. Loco Moco features brown rice served with gravy, a fried egg and a hamburger patty. There are lots of people who claim to have “invented” Loco Moco, but it is generally agreed that either Cafe 100 or another place in Hilo, the Lincoln Grill, first made the concoction in 1949. So we ate the ORIGINAL Loco Moco! Cafe 100 offers a plethora of variations, including subbing out the hamburger patty with spam (do this!), or vegetarian Loco Moco. It was tough to make a choice! I have to say, while interesting, and while I always love trying the local fare, Loco Moco probably isn’t going on my list of favorite must have foods. It was kind of a meh for me. I guess not everything while traveling knocks it out of the park…
After lunch, we were on the hunt for turtles! We went to Carlsmith Beach Park in Hilo, and there were several big turtles there! They were quietly munching on the algae on the rocks, and several swimmers were out in the water with them. Remember in Hawaii, it is illegal to harass sea turtles or approach them, but these turtles were so friendly they didn’t seem to mind people standing in the water watching them. I was so happy with the photos I got there! We also saw a Black Crowned Night Heron and several ducks hanging out in the park. Next time I go I definitely want to swim here!
We also visited the Liliuokalani Gardens, another park in Hilo, which has a couple of really interesting draws. One is the Banyan trees that are planted here. Each of the trees were planted by a famous person back in the 1940s and 1950s, and each tree is marked with the name of the person who planted it. Richard Nixon and Babe Ruth both planted trees here! Oddly, I took exactly no photos of these banyan trees, so you will have to take my word for it, and check them out yourself. The other interesting draw here is the Japanese Garden. I do have to admit I was pretty confused when I saw people fishing in the pond, until Brent let me know that it does not have koi in it.
We got out and wandered around at the park, checking out the kids who were jumping off a stone building into the water, and also a young man fishing with a net. He would throw the net into the water, then get in the water to gather the net back in, being very careful not to tear it on the lava rocks! We didn’t see him catch anything but it was really cool to watch!
This is also where I saw Common Myna birds, Turtle Doves and Yellow-billed Cardinals, a bird native to South America but introduced to Hawai’i. They were all so neat to capture!
We still had more adventuring for the day, so we couldn’t linger too long!