We arrived in Hilo just before noon, and the skies were hazy with what had been described to us as “vog”, or “volcano fog”, caused by the still-erupting volcano on the other side of the island. About which more later.
Above is the view from the port side of the ship. Below is the view from the starboard side.
We disembarked from the ship, and walked into a large concrete hall, where we found the welcome murals.
We boarded a bus for the short ride into town. When we got off the bus, the downtown area was just across the street. To be honest, we didn’t think much of the town of Hilo. To us, it looked rundown and in need of a facelift. At least where we were, the buildings looked old and tired, and rust was evident everywhere. [but that is probably not unusual in a town on an island in the ocean, where they are surrounded by salt water]. The first thing we saw across the street was this.
Most people are familiar with farmers’ markets, where local farmers gather to sell their produce and other merchandise to the people in cities. This, however, was a very unusual farmer’s market, where the items for sale were somewhat unfamiliar to those of us who live on the mainland.
You would expect Maui onions, which don’t have very far to travel. See the big roots called taro? Those make the island food called “poi”, which, from its description, is pretty awful. But it was very popular in the islands through history, and seems to still be an island staple.
I was just flabbergasted at the size of those green onions in the foreground. They must have been two feet long from one end to the other! There were flowers, and other island products in addition to the various fruits and vegetables.
We left the farmers market to walk through town and see what we could find. We knew that Hawaii is a very liberal state, almost entirely governed by Democrats. So this combination of signs did not surprise us.
Here are some of the sights from our trip around the central area of Hilo.
I got a kick out of the pineapples on the side of this building. How very Hawaii! Actually, pineapple is my favorite fruit, and was a staple of the breakfast buffet on the Crystal Symphony. It was also the end-of-meal palate-cleanser in the Churrascaria restaurant aboard ship. I got my fill of pineapple on this cruise, and now that we are home, I miss my daily ration of pineapple!
We had a nice lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Ocean Sushi. Then, it was back to the ship for our cruise around the island of Hawaii to our next stop at Kailua-Kona. Leaving the harbor, some of the vog had cleared up.
Nice views from those houses! The sun was setting as we left.
As the sun was setting, we left the rail and went back inside for dinner. But after dinner came the very best part of the cruise for us. After sunset, we approached the other side of the big island of Hawaii. Here is our first glimpse of the most important part of our cruise, the part that everyone had been waiting for.
Yes, this was the first sight of the still-erupting Kilauea Volcano. We were still fairly far away, but we could hear the sound of the lava hitting the salt water, and we could smell the sulfur in the air, too. It’s hard to capture the entire experience on film, since it involved all your senses. But this was something that we will never forget. Here are some of what I think are my best volcano pictures, but they don’t really do it justice.
You’ve heard the phrase “fire and brimstone”? Well, this is real, live, fire and brimstone.
Needless to say, anyone who could, found their way to the top decks of the ship, close to the bow. This is the passengers crowded at the bow of Deck 12, the Sun Deck. There was excellent commentary by the resident scientist on the ship, describing what we were seeing and hearing, and providing some background history of the geology of Hawaii.
Finally, though, the Captain came on the loudspeaker and informed us that, due to the water around our ship becoming too warm (!), we would have to leave the area and proceed on to our next destination. So we left, motoring around the Big Island to our next, and final port of call. But you know what the topic of conversation was all the rest of that night!