We woke today to the sound of heavy rain on the roof which actually eased over breakfast. The sun came out and suddenly we saw the beaches opposite the house in a new light! Blue sky, blue sea, welcoming looking snorkelling coves. Ideal for us to be able to make use of all the water sports kit in the basement - a kayak, SUP, boogie boards and snorkelling kit.
Meanwhile, Rainbow falls called - best seen early morning with the sun on your back for the best view of the rainbows formed in the mist thrown out from the waterfall.
The falls were beautiful, if a little disappointing in their concrete paths and view points. We went on to travel up river to see the 'Boiling pits' and read the myths associated with them about Demi-gods and giant lizards and hot stones from the volcano goddess Pele. Above that were the Pe'epe'e falls. The water was surging through the waterfall, making it look very different to the pictures in the guide book.
After that we drove back through Hilo and set of to drive up the Hilo-Hanuka'a Coast - famous for its waterfalls, botanic gardens and lush vegetation. We watched the surfers at Honoli'i, the sea looking rather reddish brown, partly due to the now overcast sky and partly due to the turbulence in the water from the rain soaked hillside.
The next section involved a 4 mile scenic drive along the Old Mamalahoa Highway past the Botanic gardens and arriving at the highly recommended 'Shakin' Smoothies'. We pulled in and ordered some amazing smoothies - Bill chose Mango, Kathy the Banana and Macadamia and the boys Peanut and Chocolate.
A light drizzle of rain began as we took our seats on the covered veranda overlooking the gardens. Avocados were dripping from the nearest tree. Mike noticed a small rabbit crouching under a picnic table, presumably sheltering from the rain.
Within moments the rain was crashing down, thunder boomed around and lightning flashed. The thunder at times was so close it rattled the floor boards under our feet. Mike watched in horror as a girl from the kitchen approached the rabbit, machete in hand. With one swift movement she swung it from over her head to despatch the poor mammal with a single blow. It was a coconut.
As the storm seemed set to continue we bought a set of turtle playing cards from the shop and resumed our game of 'Hawaii!' A group of girls nearby were also playing cards, incongruously wearing bikinis as other cars arrived, swooshing in with windscreen wipers flying back and forth, dashing across the car park with kagouls and umbrellas.
Eventually the rain eased, but that was not the last we would see of tropical storm Rita....
We drove on up the, Coast, taking detours up small roads to see waterfalls. Akaka falls were particularly spectacular at the head lush valley full of huge Banyan trees and exotic bushes and flowers with loud birdsong and well hidden birds! The water crashed 420 feet into the roaring pool below.
We stopped at Kolekole for our picnic lunch. The guide showed a pretty waterfall flowing into a small pool and onto a river with gently sloping gravel beach - a favourite place to swim. It was deserted when we arrived - the quiet pool was a raging torrent of fast flowing brown water, presumably the effect of the recent storm.
We sat and ate our picnic but the visit was short lived as the heat and humidity meant that we rapidly craved the cool comfort of our air conditioned car!
Further north we came to Nanue Falls. The guide recommended two treks. One up stream to reach the upper falls. This involved walking through the river and was recommended only if water flow was light. The lower falls could be accessed by a steep slippery path and it was this one that we followed - or so we thought.
The boys lead as we battled our way down a steep bank through dense foliage, vines and fallen branches. Having gained the river bank we clambered over the slippery rocks beside the fast flowing water until we reached the top of Lower Nanue falls. They simply fell away beneath us. Vertigo inducing, but a great photo opportunity.
We clambered back to the car, covered in mud and bits of twig and leaf!
After looking at the guide book later we discovered that the path was actually on the other side of the river, but we thought ours was much more adventurous!
Onwards to our turn around spot - the Laupahoehoe point. A scene of past devastation during the 1960 tsunami. This was a very spectacular rocky point with rugged rocks swept with surf and wind.
We set out to explore, but once again were soon beaten back by another heavy rain storm. We decided to drive home for a late afternoon enjoying watersports at the beach opposite our house.
This plan was thwarted by further activity from tropical storm Nora.
We arrived home to heavy rain which became heavier, hammering down on the roof of the house. Then the thunder and lightning resumed creating a theatrical light show around the bay!
Chris and Kathy ventured out during a lull in the rain, wearing swimsuits and under an umbrella. Within seconds there was another bright flash of sheet lightning followed rapidly by a loud clap of thunder, there is a yell from under a nearby shelter and we scramble back indoors!
So much for the afternoon of watersports!
The storm continued and actually became more and more dramatic. The lightning illuminated the whole bay almost continually with sheet lightning and occasional fork lightning. Thunder rattled and boomed all evening.
Compensation came in the form of another cosy evening in Lilikoi House, writing postcards, updating the blog and playing 'Hawaii!'
During the game our mobile phones suddenly sounded siren alarms alerting us to a flooding risk! Time to drive into town for supper to see what was happening. We liked the sound of the Hilo Burger Joint and we made a good choice. After a spectacular drive through flooded streets with sheet lightning all around we arrived in a crowded bar setting, to an exciting menu and a charming waitress, there was even live music from Damon and the Dragons!
Burgers with blue cheese, bacon, mushrooms, avocado, mozzarella, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and sweet potato fries. They also served 'Big Wave' beers.
Pretty perfect end to the day.
The storm continued as we drove home so we drove along the coast to try to capture some photographs of the dramatic scenes.