PACIFIC TRADE WINDS dramatically affect Hawaii's landscape. Prevailing winds push warm air up Mauna Kea's slope dropping 300 inches of annual rain on Hilo and its surroundings. In turn, the warm rain encourages thick vegetation -- in stark contrast to the leeward Kona coast that receives just 20 inches of rainfall yearly. Visitors to this side of the island experience a lush jungle instead of the rocky fields of Kona. They trade lava flows for waterfalls. And fortunately the trade off doesn't mean abandoning the 80 degree temperatures that maintain a warm blissful atmosphere everywhere on the island.
It's here we enjoyed the botanical gardens with its natural display of giant plants -- ferns, bamboo, trees, and a wide variety of super-sized flowers. We felt dwarfed by the scale of things...
And not to mention those endlessly flowing waterfalls and massive banyan trees that grew so large they covered acres of ground with those aerial roots!
It's a trade off on your perspective!