Hawaii: Nature close-ups and sketches

On our first Saturday on the Big Island, Erik and I drove down the eastern coast, where there are lots of little scenic byways. We bought arare shortbread (delicious!) at a small farmers’ market next to a gas station, got a little more sun than was good for us, and visited a beautiful botanical garden that I have no photos of because my camera battery died. (I’m hoping to get back there another day to take photos. It’s a stunning spot with a fascinating backstory.)

Before the garden, though, we were driving along the highway when we spotted a sign for Akaka Falls. That sounded good. We drove uphill through a tiny town (Honomu, population 541), then turned onto a small road that went for a long time. There was no sign of the falls, nor of anything really, just empty fields dotted here and there with houses and a couple of fruit stands where guys made the shaka sign at us as we went by. After some time we came suddenly upon a “road ends” sign, and sure enough, the road dead-ended into an unexpectedly busy parking lot with restrooms
and info signs for the falls.

Akaka Falls is a single-drop waterfall twice the height of the much more famous Niagara Falls, and you can see it from a “trail” that is really an easy, smoothly paved, 0.4-mile (0.64 km) loop.


It’s not so often that such dramatic sights are so easy to get to, which probably explains the (at least) two busloads of Japanese and Korean tourists.


Fortunately, they mainly clustered around the overlooks, so the trail itself was relatively peaceful. This was my first good look at Big Island flora — a crazy abundance of foliage in every shape and size, punctuated with the bright colors of berries, flowers, or bugs.














Yep, all of this was along one 0.4-mile bit of trail. As we got near the end of the loop, my battery ran out (my camera informs me of this by displaying the text, “battery exhausted,” which always makes me feel like I’ve wearied the poor thing) and I took out my sketchbook instead. I tried to capture the intensity of all that plant life, but the real thing is so much more chaotic and vibrant.