While we waited for our laundry, we set off on a repeat of a trip we made something like 25 years ago. On that long-ago trip, we left Hilo traveling east along the beach road, and continued all the way around Cape Kumukahi to the Chain of Craters Road in Volcanoes National Park. This time we had to make that trip a bit differently.
First, the rude dirt road that used to traverse the coast east of Hilo to Cape Kumukahi is now gated off just a couple miles east of Hilo. We couldn't go far that way at all! Even that short trip was kind of mind-blowing, though. On our past visit, most of that was wild, overgrown land with some homeless people living near the beach in giant concrete drainage pipe sections. Now it's a large and upscale development, with fancy houses, paved roads, and beautiful beach side parks – very, very different from what we saw on our last visit to this area.
We drove back to Hilo, up to Kea'au, then down Kaloli Drive to the shore. After that we could take various roads all the way along the shore to Cape Kumukahi. This area was even more mind-boggling to us. The last time we were here, it was a mix of wild land, small farms, and sparse downscale housing. This time it was a densely populated suburb with a mix of midscale to upscale housing, mostly on lots of an acre or less. We did run into a few short stretches that looked mostly like it used to, but darned few. There were hundreds of lots for sale. The highway from Kea'au to Pahoa, is now a six lane superhighway, where it used to be a narrow two lane road – and no wonder! All those people who live down there have to use that road to get in or out of the area. The area of our memories is almost completely gone, and the aggregate population there must be something like 10 or 12 times what it was.
We got done with all this around 1 pm, a bit too early to pick up our laundry, so we decided to eat. Guess where? If you said “Suisan for poke!”, you win the prize! For the third time now, we got a two choice bowl. Today I had ahi Hawai'ian and ahi sesame shoyu; Debbie had ahi sesame shoyu plus spicy lobster salad. Both of us thought our selection this time was the best of our three. We drove down to Richardson's Ocean Park on the far eastern edge of Hilo to park and shovel poke into our faces. It's a beautiful spot, and it wasn't very crowded. We faced the ocean as we ate, and watched a seabird catching fish in a fish pond, a photographer flying a drone over the breaking waves, and the waves breaking on the rocks. We also saw, quite accidentally, a humpback whale breaching a few hundred yards out from the beach. We saw a second one do the same a few minutes later.
We only saw a few birds on the whole day's outing, but we did see two separate io (Hawai'ian hawks). They're not too common, so that counts for something. We also saw some yellow-billed cardinals just north of Kalapana, so now we've seen all three cardinal species present on the Big Island.
After our feast we drove into town and picked up our laundry, then headed to Da Hawai'ian Brain Freeze Shave Ice & Ice Cream to get a cold treat. They serve ice cream and sorbet from Tropical Dreams, which we know from previous trips is a superior product – especially the sorbets. Debbie had a Kona Coffee ice cream cone, and I had a mango sorbet cone. Yummy, those were!
Tomorrow we're going to head back down toward Pahala and that gorgeous road we found – birding and sight-seeing are in our immediate future...