Our second adventure-filled day on The Big Island saw us meeting up with a local guide, driving an hour North, and then leaving the car parked on the side of a dusty road. We were headed out for a day of trekking and exploring around the West coast of the island.

The first stop was a lava tube cave - molten rock had hollowed out the ground, but then moved on before solidifying. I've never been in a cave like this before. Everything was perfectly smooth where the lava had been, despite being porous rock. And there was perfectly still, crystal clear water filling it about a third of the way up. We saw evidence of people who had obviously gone swimming or partied there, including a series of unlit candles that marked the path inside.

Lava Tube Cave in Hawaii

Due to the wet and rocky nature of the hike we were told to leave our cameras behind and rely on the guide. His camera - although waterproof - did not do that well even with a flash. So these pictures are going to be a bit lower in quality than I'd like. This is the best shot I could find of inside the lava tube cave.

After getting out of the cave we continued on foot throughout a rocky, forested area. It had a bunch of wild animals, but was dry, with packed dirt under our feet and dust in the air.

Hawaiin Goat

The number one thing I did not expect to find in the Hawaiian wilderness: goats.

Eventually we found the beach of Kiholo Bay, and along with it, several celebrity houses. An interesting (and useful) fact is that all the shoreline in Hawaii is considered public land, so while the private properties could be set back a ways, there were no private beaches. This meant that we were free to walk up and down the sand without fear of trespassing.

We found another cave, this one almost entirely filled with water and actually named with a small wooden sign that simply read "Kalealele." These neat little random finds meant that we could've spent the entire day just searching the coast.

After moving along the beach for at least an hour we came across a more preserved area where development wasn't allowed. We saw lots of schools of fish and these metallic looking silver-black crabs (my best guess is they were the baby version of what the locals call a'ama crabs) crawling around the wet black stones of the shore.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron and Sea Turtle

A black-crowned night-heron and a sea turtle, staring each other down. This bird is common in some parts of the world, but a rare sight in Hawaii.

About 100 yards off the coast was "turtle island," an unofficial name for a small piece of land that sea turtles liked to visit. So we did the only logical thing we could do: we swam out to it. We weren't disappointed, as we saw half a dozen of the creatures and managed to get quite close to them.

Swimming to Turtle Island

This is us making our spontaneous swim out to turtle island. Despite not being that much water to cross the current was still extremely strong.

Tired from a day of hoofing it, we went to explore some nearby resorts, including the Mauna Kea Hotel. There I was introduced to the "Trent Jones" which is the Hawaiian version of an Arnold Palmer, using pineapple juice instead of iced tea. I was disappointed: it's not nearly as good as it sounds.

Scarlet Macaw

The Mauna Kea Hotel had a lot of animals in and around it. We saw huge orange fish in ponds on either side of a walkway, and this scarlet macaw was just hanging out in a tree, no cage or anything.

Our last stop was Hanupa Beach State Park. We got in for free because our guide had a Hawaiian driver's license. Making the tourists pay instead of the locals seems like a smart way to fund it. We simply relaxed and enjoyed the ocean with everyone else.

Hanupa Beach

The ocean from Hanupa beach.