Don’t let me plan your next excursion.

I apologize in advance. Please don’t take the following personally if you’re from Ocean Shores, WA or Hilo, HI.  But Hilo is the Ocean Shores of Hawaii. There, I said it.

I said I’d never do it again. But I did. I made the drive to Hilo. I did however, make an exception since this was the first trip to the Big Island on my own with my kids and mom. I wanted to plan a few things out of the ordinary. And with just a few easy clicks, I found this great place in Hilo called Rainbow Falls. A magical place where you can swim – right near the falls. Just like in the movies. My daughter’s friend had posted a picture of her there just days before our adventure, so there was proof it did exist. To make the drive even better, I rented a jeep. The kind where the two top panels pop off to make a convertible. I was convinced this was going to be the trip that I fall in love with Hilo.

(A little background – I’ve been visiting the Big Island every other year over the past 20 years and every time we make it to Hilo, it rains. Pretty hard. You leave the hot and sunny weather in Waikaloa, drive a good 1.5 hours and get to weather you have been desperately wanting to avoid for the past 7 months. It never fails. Now, I don’t visit Hilo every time I visit the Big Island, but I have been enough times to say that the miserable weather over there is not a coincidence).

Back to the trek to Hilo. I was so excited about this trip, I talked our good friends who happen to also be vacationing on the Big Island to go with us. We stopped by their rental and as we began to drive out of their development, we called to ask…”Are you sure you don’t want to grab your roof panels?” (they were renting the same jeep as us). Their answer, “Nope, we’re going to chance it! Whoop Whoop!”

Fifteen minutes into our drive it starts to rain. Then the rain picks up and heavy rain continues until we get into Hilo. As we arrive at Rainbow Falls we are in the middle of a complete downpour. We get out, with towels over our shoulders, snorkeling gear hanging from a bag and check out our waterfall. We were all ready to jump into the serene, glass-like pools of water.

This is the shot I had seen on the World Wide Web. 









This is the horrific scene we saw with our very own, soaked eyeballs. Let’s not forget our towels and snorkels are still wrapped around our necks.

We see and hear violent, brown water bursting at the seams trying to get the hell out of Hilo. There was nothing rainbowy about this place. The rainbow was one color. Brown. And it was angry. We walked around a ways to see if there was a calmer area that we most definitely were missing. Nope. Soaked and confused, we walk back to our cars and drove up the street a bit more…just in case. We stop by the Boiling Pots. By this time, we are in the middle of a tropical monsoon. Buckets of rain are coming down. We run to the boiling pots. And they are even uglier than Rainbow Falls. If that’s even possible. I am googling “pools of water to swim in at Rainbow Falls” in the rain and what’s the first thing that pops up? “Two more locals lost to Rainbow Falls.” Where the hell were these articles in Seattle? All I saw were calm, beautiful pictures of tropical paradise called, Rainbow Falls. But in Hilo, my Google search comes up with death reports? Of course as any great tour guide, I kept that information to myself.

We run back to the car completely drenched. Meanwhile our friends still have their “top down.” Looking cool. Or more like authentic tourists.  Their seats puddled up like a nice Hawaiian swimming pool. And as soon as we heard their doors close, they zipped off and we don’t see or hear from them again until they hit the sun along the Kohala Coast. With their radio shorted out from being soaked, they drove to the sounds of the wind and rain blowing throughout their car. With a 5th grader and 2nd grader sitting in the back.

If their phones weren’t soaked, they would have written the worst review for Kerry Carty Excursions. Ever. Instead, they are using word-of-mouth. My tour guide stint is over. And so is my vacation. With exception to that one damp, moldy day, we actually had a pretty awesome trip. A trip of firsts (and lasts=Hilo). I am hopeful that I will find my own Rainbow Falls. One that is full of color, unicorns and is very, very dry.


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