(Sorry for the delay on this post. We were having some technical issues on the ship.)
In Hilo, from sunup to sundown, we had been up and moving for the two days we were there! The first morning, we woke up pretty early to see the sunrise as we were pulling into port. Unfortunately, it was a little overcast so we didn’t see it even rise. But, while we were waiting, we saw a humpback whale breach at least twice which made it worth it (I don’t have any pictures of it sadly).
Once we finally docked, it took forever to go through customs and check out, so we waited on the boat for an additional 2 ½ hours until we got to touch land (I felt like I was rocking until well into the afternoon, even on solid ground) A group us of decided to wing it for the day, so we took a taxi to downtown Hilo and ran a few errands (Bank, Post Office, ect.) and we found the best restaurant ever. It’s a total dive, but if you’re ever in Hilo, you need to go to Hilo Shark Coffee Café. It had amazing sandwiches and homemade ice cream and coffee.
After lunch, we decided to head to Richardsons Beach for the afternoon. A few of them rented snorkel equipment in Hilo, but I chose not to because it was a little overcast. When we reached Richardsons, we were immediately directed to a small lagoon in the rocks where 4 giant sea turtles were just chillin’. We jumped in and got some pictures before some of the group got into the water to snorkel. While that was happening, my friend Amanda and I were approached by an older Hawaiian native (don’t worry, it was a public beach, so it wasn’t sketchy). We ended up having a long conversation with him, and he was sweet enough to give us handmade hair pins. We then took more pictures of the ocean (saw another whale off the shore) before heading to Wal-Mart to stock up on snack food and other necessities. We got back to the ship in time to shower and hop back on a taxi to go out to dinner at Cronies, a local sports bar.
The next day, we woke up at 6 in order to catch a cab into downtown to go to the Farmers Market. We ate our breakfast there, trying the local cuisine with papaya, star fruit and pineapple. Our initial plan was to catch the bus up to the Hawaiian National State Park where there is an active volcano for the day, but we were really nervous that we were going to be late to the ship*. We ran into a few more SASsers who were planning on getting a tour. So happy we did, because our guide was able to take us to the Park, two waterfalls, downtown for lunch again, and we got back to the ship by 3:30 (well before the time the ship left.)
The next day we stopped in Honolulu to get fuel (5 tons worth) but we ended up staying in port overnight to wait out a storm that was in the middle of a Pacific. We left mid-afternoon the next day and have been going faster to catch up. Normally, the ship has been moving half speed so we have enough time for classes, but I personally think that we should be moving full speed, have longer class periods, and be able to have more time in ports.
If the past two days of Hilo are any indication to how the rest of the trip goes, I won’t ever want to come home! I am having an amazing time and meeting tons of new people every day. We have 9 days between Hawaii and Japan, and I don’t have any concrete plans. If you have suggestions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me! I would love to hear them!!
“Travel can be one of the most rewarding things of introspection”- Lawrence Durrell
*Every 15 minutes that you are late, you get an hour of dock-time in the next port