Hilo: Days 2 and 3

Two days ago, I planned on taking the bus to the Volcanoes National Park. As my good fortune would have it, I was able to get a ride from a Canadian couple, Christian and Rebecca, who were going to the same place with a car.

The drive was about 40 minutes from the hostel in Hilo to the park. Once inside the park, we stopped by the visitor center and listened to the ranger talk about the hiking routes. Christian noted everything and acted as our guide.

First, we walked through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was only about a three minute walk through it. Then we hiked for about an hour and half at the Kilauea Iki Crater, the smaller of the two craters. On the hike, I learned that Christian and Rebecca are from Toronto. Christian is a data scientist at Spotify and Rebecca works as an emergency room nurse. They are both in their early 30s.

Thurston Lava Tube

We saw some interesting tropical plants on the Crater Rim Trail before walking on the Kilauea Iki Trail, which was more barren.

Interesting plant in the park

Hiking on the Crater Rim Trail by Kilauea Iki

Me, Rebecca, and Christian

Stacked rocks mark the trail at Kilauea Iki

It was lunch time when we finished the hike. We stopped at the Volcano House so I can buy something quick to eat. Christian and Rebecca had brought sandwiches, where as I only brought a bottle of water. I ended up eating a chocolate bar and a bag of potato chips for lunch.

I was glad I came to the park in a car and not on the bus because the next few places required a car.

Christian drove us to the Kilauea Outlook so we could see the bigger crater, then we went back to see the Steam Vents, which were two holes in the ground that had steam coming out. Not too impressive to me.

Kilauea crater

Kilauea in more detail

One of the two steam vents

The last stop on the Christian and Rebecca tour was to see the Holei Sea Arch. The signs on the road indicated which year the lava flow was. We also stopped at one of the lookouts before arriving at the sea arch.

With the Pacific Ocean in front of me and the lava rocks underneath my feet, I felt a sense of peace as the sea breeze blew. I can take many photographs to show the place, but you have to be here to witness the wind and the smell of the ocean.

Holei Sea Arch

Christian and Rebecca also introduced me to some music when I was riding in the car with them. I learned about a Toronto band called July Talk. One of the singers sounded a lot like Tom Waits. Christian also informed me about Tower Hill and the Great Ocean Drive in Australia after I told him I will be going there near the end of my trip.

After we came back to the hostel I was hungry. I had the largest bowl of spicy tonkotsu ramen at Kenichi restaurant, which was less than a block from the hostel. I didn’t do much after coming back to the hostel so I went to bed soon after.

Yesterday, I didn’t do much. I considered renting a car from Turo.com and go up to Mauna Kea to see the stars after sunset, but it was expensive to rent a car for just one day. Also, I was tired from the day before.

I walked to the Island Naturals market again and bought a purple potato tapioca pudding, a salmon bento, and three bars of chocolate. I plan on giving two chocolate bars to Christian and Rebecca for letting me tag along with them to the park.

I ate the salmon bento for lunch and decided I need some quiet time so I started reading a book called The Good Life on my Kindle.

A Couchsurfing host named Alex had contacted me before my arrival in Hilo. He texted me to see if I want to hang out at a river with his boyfriend, Jay. I said sure!

Alex and Jay, along with their two dogs, picked me up in the afternoon. We went to a spot that’s not far from the Boiling Pots waterfall, but this spot seemed to be a secret area only the locals know.

We had to walk on a muddy trail. I slipped and fell as soon as Jay told me to be careful. There’s a bruise on my lower back now. We also had to wade across the river. I’m very bad at swimming so Alex pulled the floaty while I hung on so that I could get across to the other side. The other side was a beach and a waterfall. Our efforts were greatly rewarded.

Wade across the river

Jay and Alex

I mainly chilled by the edge of the water while Alex and Jay went into the water more often than I did. Alex is from South Carolina and has lived on the Big Island for ten years. Jay was born in Hilo. They enjoy their island life and find it to be much slower than on the mainland.

About 20 minutes later it started to rain. We decided to head back before the water rises too high for the river crossing. Alex and Jay dropped me off at the hostel soon after. I enjoyed the brief time I spent with Alex and Jay. I hope I get to see them again some time soon.

For dinner, I walked to Van Vietnamese Cuisine to get a banh mi sandwich and some shrimp spring rolls. The spring rolls with the peanut dipping sauce were very good. When I came back to the hostel I ate the purple potato tapioca pudding and the rest of the lychees that I bought from the farmer’s market the other day.

I was the only person in my dorm room last night so it was great having the place to myself.

This morning, I woke up around 5:45. I gave the chocolate bars to Christian and Rebecca. They were very appreciative. We bid farewell since they were in the midst of packing and trying to catch their 8 AM flight.

Today, I have a 2:20 PM flight from Hilo to Honolulu. The Hawaiian Airlines app kept crashing on my phone so I couldn’t check in beforehand. I will have to get to the airport a little early.


  1. Well it seems Jay and Alex are living my dream, swimming at tropical waterfalls with their dogs. Goals.


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