We took an early afternoon flight from Honolulu to Hilo, on the “big island”; here, we’re promised scenic coastal roads, Kona coffee plantations and – most importantly – volcanoes, at Volcano National Park. If we’re very lucky, we’ll get some astronomy time in at Mauna Lea, too.
Once we’re landed, it’s amazing how quiet Hilo is: the airport (an international airport, allegedly) is deserted; our fellow ~40 passengers have quickly evaporated in the Big Island air, leaving us alone to travel out to Banyan Drive and our hotel.
The hotel, although in the midst of renovations (detailed on the front cover of the local paper), is very nice: a huge and bright open air reception area welcomes us before we check out the room and its “partial ocean view”. Outside the hotel, we can see all of Hilo Bay and that wedding preparations are underway. Later in the afternoon we spot an altar outside and witness a real-life Pacific island wedding. Not a bad way to go.
Before the evening is out we inspect “Uncle Billy’s General Store” next door to the hotel and an apparent one-off shop with an unlikely amount of own-brand goods, including t-shirts, bread and ice-cream. Afterwards, Uncle Billy’s Restaurant (he must own this town) provides local music to accompany an excellent seafood meal. On the way home, we notice the town is so quiet you can hear the local bird life singing at night – and it’s wonderful.
We’re not in Waikiki anymore!