Road trip to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

Hualalai volcano seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Hualalai Volcano from Old Saddle Road.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Favorite Vacation Spot.’ See more responses here.

It’s been a long while since I took a vacation, but a favorite day out is a road trip to the east side of the island and a visit to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden.

The day starts with a drive out of Hawi, up the hill to Kohala Mountain Road. This winding road climbs to around 3,500 feet before descending into Waimea. One the way, it passes through pastureland that is home to cattle, horses, and sheep.

A few miles after driving through Waimea, there’s a left turn onto Old Saddle Road. These days, the main road across the island is a smooth, wide thoroughfare, but it’s not so long ago that the highway was all like Old Saddle Road – narrow and twisting. In those days, rental car companies would not allow their cars to be driven on that road. Old Saddle Road is the last remnant of the original road and it’s one of my favorite roads to drive here, not just because of the road’s qualities, but because it’s one of the most reliable places to see pueos, the Hawaiian short-eared owl. On this road I drive like one of those people you follow and say ‘What the !@^%$@)&^ is that idiot doing?’ I’m prone to zipping off the tarmac and bolting from the car, camera in hand, snapping photos as I go.

Old Saddle Road joins the new highway a just before it reaches Pohakuloa Training Area, a large military base in the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of shells exploding here as they do live ammunition fire. Past this area, there are several good hiking trails that venture into the high elevation landscape. This is one of the best areas for seeing native birds that are still hanging on in much reduced habitat.

After that, there’s the descent into Hilo and then a jog north to the garden where, every time I visit, I see something different, something that wasn’t blooming on previous visits or that I’d just missed in the profusion wonderful plants to see.

And on the way back there’s a good chance that there’ll be a splendid sunset to be enjoyed.

Sunset seen from Saddle Road in Hawaii
Sunset from Old Saddle Road

Also posted for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Road Trip.’ See more responses here.

20 thoughts on “Road trip to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden

  1. Pingback: Sunday Stills: Being #Celestial – Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

  2. Pingback: Friendly Friday Challenge: ROAD TRIP – Week 2 – The Sandy Chronicles

  3. Kirstin

    WOW. Gorgeous. There’s nothing like exploring and vacationing close to home. I suppose even moreso when your home is Hawaii. Thank you for sharing. I work for a postal store and we often ship packages for people to Hawaii. I can never begin to pronounce the names of streets and towns. Usually they just hand me their phone and say “here, just read it”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Post author

      Reading it is probably safest. As i mentioned in my reply to Sandy, letters have different pronunciation here. So, if someone says the name, chances are you’re going to get the wrong spelling. I still do and I’ve lived here 9 years now!


  4. Terri Webster Schrandt

    A wonderful “staycation” for you, Graham! You got some beautiful shots of the gardens! I remember Hans and I driving from Kona at 7pm (delayed flight, etc) and driving the Saddle Road in the driving rain in 2018, LOL! Talk about grandpa driving…good grief, but it was hard to see, so I’m thankful the road was in great condition. What a wonderful shot of the Waimea valley and that pueo! Well done! Awesome road trip! The BI is just so magnificent in its biodiversity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Graham Post author

      It’s a favorite drive, going over to the east side, though the Hamakua coast route is fun too. I know what you mean about driving in the rain. Last week I was coming back from Kona and passed through a shower that was just lashing down. A mile later it was all sunshine and blue clouds!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SandyL

        At least it’s only 3 syllables. The last huhuhuhahaa … name you posted , lost me after the fourth syllable! I suppose you get used to it when you hear it said all the time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person


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