Day 8 – Hilo to Laupahoehoe – Botanical Garden – Rain – Tsunami town
The rain slows down to let us get on with the rest of our journey. We get off highway 19 as soon as we can to the Old Mamalahoa Hwy at Papaikou. The lush Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden is located near Onomea Bay and full of exotic specimens from around the world.
$15 entrance fee is a bit steep but we’ve got to see it. We walk through giant mango trees (I never knew they were this big) and delicate orchids and various kinds of plants brought from other tropical regions of the world.
We merge back to highway 19 and the rain starts to pound heavily. Luckily the temperature is high enough that we can ride comfortably while wet. My shoes squeak whenever I try to walk. Just after noon we arrive at Laupahoehoe. There are museums in the village to see but we head straight to the park which is at the end of a short and steep access road. This area experienced a big tragedy in 1946 when a tsunami hit the school down where the park is now located, killing 20 students and 4 teachers.
There isn’t many people around in this weather, so we are able to find a covered picnic area and string our wet clothes to dry in the wind. Later some visitors come to watch the waves pounding on the rocky shore and to take pictures of the tsunami memorial.