First thanks again to the people here who answered my many questions as I struggled with deciding if we should come and scrambled to make last minute changes. We have been in Hilo. I'm so glad we came though bit feels strange having a great time here with my family while being so close to so much destruction and sadness for many.
We landed in Kona and could definitely see the vog from the plane. Wizzed through the rental counter and were on the road in no time. It was an orange level vog day and obscured the view from the mountain. Drove straight to snorkel Bob's to go ahead and get our gear for the week. Parked at the first spot we saw people eating out over the water and what we discovered to be Huggos on the Rocks. We were starving so we decided to grab a bite. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, the crashing waves and our Ani Sandwich, and mostly the view and atmosphere, the live musician. It was a wonderful welcome to the island. One daughter ordered saimin which she loved. The horzizon was gray for sure but the water was beautiful and none of us were bothered at least in the hour or so we were there. Snorkel Bob's hasnus in and out in a minute then we were on our way to Hilo.
I must admit at this point I started having big regret about cancelling our Kona stay as we were having such a nice time, but on we went. The drive across saddle road was so interesting seeing the roads change from vast lava fields to lush green. The vog was heaviest as here as we got toward the east side like a blanket over the valley. It obscured the mountain views. I was worried what the air would be like in Hilo but once we arrived it was like a whole new world.
We arrived at the Castle Hawaiian Hilo which exceeded my expectations for the cheap price. The location surrounded by water, coconut island and beautiful parks and banyan tree is lovely and we have had several strolls around the area.
The next day we were greeted with beautiful blue skies after a morning rain got going and headed to some waterfalls. We saw Rainbow falls, Peepee/ Boiling Pots, and Akaka Falls all amazing both the falls and grounds. I think my favorite was the scenic loop drive at Onomea Bay. We had no idea we were in for such a treat. The drive was lovely and we stopped at the bay overlook and saw a path down we decided to take. Wow was it beautiful. We kept going through 3 different coves on the bay and a little part of if went along the Tropical Botanical Gardens.
Drove back and relaxed for a bit before heading to Carlsmith Beach Park. No bacteria advisories so we felt fine with it. We really enjoyed it. The water was sooo turquoise, many families out enjoying themselves and it was a perfect place for our girls to practice snorkeling for the first time in the sheltered cove. I saw a huge sea turtle right away and a few fish. Finished our day with dinner at Naung Mai Thai Kitchen which we all enjoyed.
Our last full day we started by strolling around the hotel and surrounding parks. We stopped at Suisan fish market where a friend told us we had to try the poke and it did not disappoint. Huge servings too and very affordable. We even got our girls to try it and they are now poke fans.
Then we headed to Richardson's which supassed my expectations by far. It was not crowded and we were able to find a great shady spot right by water. The little black sand beach was nice. I read that the snorkeling here was just ok though one of the best on the east side. WOW! If this was just OK, we are going to in for a treat on the west side. We saw sooo many fish. Just about every fish on the fish ID card from Snorkel Bobs, huge parrot fish, big schools of fish, octupus, way more coral than I expected. SO fun and our girls were amazed. We've only snorkeled in Mexico and wondered if we might be disappointed but we had an amazing time. Love the Hawaiian trigger fish so pretty! We finished up the day with dinner at Cafe Pesto which we have mixed reviews.
We had a lovely stay here in Hilo and I'm glad we ended up spending an unplanned extended stay here. Before coming I keep looking at the windy app which would show poor air but was reassured the air here is usually nice, and it sure was. Blue, beautiful with occasional quick rain. Today we will drive the north route to the Kohala Coast for the rest of our stay.