Hawaii must be paradise. The licence plate on our rental car declared it and the tourist shops confirmed it. Licence plates don’t lie do they?
Was the entire Big Island paradise? This purported paradise certainly has many different looks. Here are photos from five different parts of the island.
The fancy resorts on the island’s west side attract a lot of tourists and for good reason. The grounds and golf courses are immaculate, the palm trees lining the fresh asphalt are neatly trimmed and we heard breakfast was $84. The sunset behind a planted row of palm trees is the iconic (or perhaps cliché) image of a manicured, postcard paradise.
An isolated, wind-blown outpost marks the most southern point of the Big Island and the entire United States. Huge black lava cliffs drop off into a dark blue ocean that never ends. There’s something mystical about looking down over that massive ocean and absorbing a tiny portion its immense size. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic since it’s the last photo before my injury on the trip or maybe I don’t get to see a lot of oceans on the prairies.
On the east side, daily wet weather feeds a rain forest and keeps water pouring over Rainbow Falls. The location adorns many tourist websites. It is beautiful but the idyllic scene losses some of its lustre as I struggle to get a clear view of the scene among jostling tourists getting requisite mug shots on a concrete lined-area a few feet from a parking lot. A natural paradise inside Hilo’s city limits?
On the northern side of the island, the Waipio Lookout provides a dramatic view of vegetation-laiden cliffs, black sand beaches and white-water ocean. The Waipo valley stretches endlessly to our left. Our Hawaiin-born guide drives us down the steep rocky path that drops 1,000 foot into the valley so we can ride horses past grapefruit trees, wild horses and thick vegetation. This is a unique experience.
Somewhere between the east and west coasts the curving road climbs to an area that looks suspiciously like cattle country. I really thot I had lapsed into daydreams when we drove by wild turkeys perched on a fence – sadly they left too soon. We passed this cactus a number of times before I finally had to stop. There’s something strangely appealing about a big, old cactus beside a rusting fence in Hawaii. Maybe the pull of irony is too strong but, of the five, this image brings back the fondest memories of a quiet county road in a peaceful setting.
Is Hawaii paradise? On this side of heaven each of us defines our own sense of paradise. I thought the Big Island was very nice.