Aloha! Once you arrived to Hilo, go through the small open airport. There should be palm trees slightly swaying high as if they were overseers of the island. If they are swaying, it should rain soon, but it rains often on the leeward side of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Don’t think this day is a bust. Rent an economy size car, leave the airport, and cruise onto Kamehameha Avenue through Hilo’s downtown. Notice how the place gleams with history along the ocean. Unique shops line the area with different kinds of woodwork, glasswork, and jewelry. Do not be overwhelmed. Instead, find a little native man under 4ft tall, by the name of Kumu. He will have a small dog in a coconut bra. Buy some strawberry papayas from him and only him. Eat them. It’s okay.
Leave Hilo and hop onto Highway 19. Remember not to pick up hitchhikers. It could be the fire goddess, Pele. Not too far away from Hilo is Rainbow Drive, a huge waterfall that falls 80 feet deep. Several rainbows form throughout the mist of the waterfall’s impact into a large beautiful pool of water. Back on 19, curve along the Pacific taking in the beauty of the Big Island. When the highway goes high along the terrain, you can see the waves crash against the rock. After about four and half songs, you should see Waipio valley down below surrounded by the huge cliffs you are driving on. If you don’t see the valley, then either keep going for another song or turn around and try to find it. Wild mares run along the valley beach all the time leading their offspring to fresh water streams leading into the ocean, full of cool mountain water.
After the valley, the northern town of Waimea is full of green pastures and Hawaiian “cowboys” that tend to the sheep and cattle as you pass a large ranch. In town, there are horseback tours for people and villagers moving about town. It’s easy to hit a horse, so please drive with caution. Possibly, the sky will grow dim and rain will hit the windshield like small needles. This is what I call Seattle-like weather. Eventually, it will begin to get sunny and there should be petroglyphs to your left, or inland. There is about, I don’t know, a million symbols carved into the lava rock. The western side of the island is dry and white sand beaches line the coast to your right along the ocean.
When you arrive in Kona, several people walk the streets from resorts to shops, and from white sand beaches to restaurants. The shallow waters are filled with people and further outward are boats, submarines, and small cruise ships. The white sand beaches mirror the sun’s rays and the resorts are filled with people both local and tourist. Leaving the Kona, the outskirts of town have fishponds. There are manta rays signs. I’ve never seen a manta ray, so I’m not sure they exist. You should definitely be able to spot the local honu or green sea turtle. But turtles may not tickle your fancy in Hawaii (I recommend spending a night to see a transsexual street prostitute turn a few tricks by the ocean).
At this point, your economy car has made it over half way around the island. Heading south, Highway 19 has become Highway 11 after you leave Kona. When you arrive to an area called Ka Lae, where Southpoint Park is located, you are at the southern most part of the United States. There will be only blue, blue ocean between you and Antarctica. If you want to hike left (if you are facing the ocean), there are greensand beaches. The area permits routes to the beaches for four-wheeled vehicles, but economy size rental cars should avoid this area. I also should have told you that early. Enjoy your hike.
Now, head east back on Highway 11. The green/blue contrast will soon be cremated literally. There will not be too much sightseeing in this lesser populated area. This southeast/northeast highway can now be called Volcano Highway as you drive between black rock. Black sand beaches dominate the coast. If you’re brave, when you arrive to the town of Volcano that honestly is just a volcano, you can check out the Kilauea Volcano and its slow weeping tears of lava. It’s active so rolling around when you’re up there isn’t a good idea. You could roll into a pool of lava. It burns. Highway 11 turns back into Highway 19 and you made a full circle back to Hilo. It will be probably pouring with rain as the evening sets. Return your economy car. Take a breath. You’re done.