Day 6 & 7 – Puna to Hilo – Muku’u Market – Swimming with Green Turtles
We leave early to avoid the heat and take an alternate route up to Pahoa. A guy at the hostel mentioned Muku’u Market so we are going to explore that this morning. The place is huge and we are on time since it starts raining soon after we arrive. We browse through the food and souvenir sections and buy some ripe bananas. Bengul notices some lady selling tea-towels imported from Turkey. The couple playing music at the other market yesterday is here.
We sit on one of the tables, gobbling up market food. The rest of the road is straight downhill and we reach Hilo just around noon. We sit among a group of outrigger canoes on the beach and have lunch trying to stay in the shade of a row of coconut trees. We pass over a bridge and find our inn which has been converted from an old sugar plantation. The old wooden building feels authentic. After settling down we hop on our bikes again and ride east to pick a beach for snorkelling. Hilo is much bigger than Kona. On the way we visit the Coconut Island and a few parks until we settle on Carlsmith Beach.
It’s Sunday and also a sunny day so it seems everybody is out. We find a spot near the water on the rocks and get into the water. There must be fresh water sources nearby because I’m occasionally wrapped with ice cold water while swimming in the warm bay. As I am watching small colourful tropical fishes, a big brownish blob passes around me, although it’s too slow to make me panic. It turns out it’s a green turtle. It gently flaps its arms and floats close to the surface as I watch it disappear into the other side of the bay. I raise my head out of the water to tell Bengul what I just saw and find her already photographing another turtle playing in the water next to the rocks. Another turtle is entertaining a group of people over another spot. This place is full of turtles.
After the beach we pick up some food from the store and head back to the inn. It rains all night and the next day. The bikes are soaked sitting in open air. Time to take them into the covered kitchen area, wipe them dry and lubricate the chains. We decide to walk to Rainbow Falls (without the actual rainbow) which is not too far and then explore the stores and buildings at the water front. We get a box lunch from Puka Puka Kitchen and then combine it with a mahi-mahi sandwich at another greasy takeout place. I look for a bike shop to get extra patches but the nearest one is a few miles out of the village. I visit the farmers market and pick up a few tomatoes and avocados. It’s still raining when we call it a night.