Viewing posts for the category Fun Activity

Hilo Beaches

Carlsmith Beach is a beautiful beach with many coconut tree islets just off shore. The beach is surrounded by turquoise waters, too choppy for my snorkeling tastes unfortunately, though many other visitors felt very comfortable swimming. There were sharp black lava rocks to walk on (bring water shoes) and white sand-bottomed coves. Carlsmith Beach is probably the most beautiful beach we went to in our attempt to turtle-spot, though we did not spot any here. Parking here was limited and the beach was busy, but for good reason. 


Southern Coast - Green Sand Beach (Papakolea), Black Sand Beach (Punaluu) and Pu'uhonua O Honaunau (City of Refuge)

Green Sand Beach - Papakolea Beach, near South Point, Big Island, HI

The hike to Green Sand Beach was 5 to 5.5 mile roundtrip from the parking lot to Green Sand Beach, depending on the route you take. Locals offer a shuttle ride on the back of a pick up truck though I saw no prices listed.

Berry Creek Falls, Big Basin State Park

Our first trip to Berry Creek Falls was an unsuccessful one. In an attempt to make the hike a loop, we unknowingly went off on an equestrian trail and couldn't find our intersection for the hike to the Falls. One good thing that came out of that long hike - we realized that bikes are allowed on the relatively flat Skyline to Sea trail. 

Dinosaurs in Utah  

Dinosaur National Monument, Jensen, Utah

Our first dinosaur encounter occurred toward the end of our trip on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument. We visited Quarry Visitor Center at 9am and were told the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall was to open at 9:30am. Normally, there would be shuttles or a caravan escort hourly, but on the day of our visit, the Ranger told us to drive to the Exhibit Hall at our leisure. There was a 1-mile trail connecting the Visitor Center to the Exhibit Hall, but unfortunately, for the most of this year, the Fossil Trail will be closed due to a recent landslide, (estimated opening September 2017). Fossil Trail is also a hike where one would most likely encounter fossils, according to a Ranger.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

My kids have been begging to go gold panning for a while now. So I told my oldest son to research where we could go to do that, and he presented Marshall State Historic Park to me.  Located in Coloma, it is a 2.5 hour drive from the SF Bay Area. We pulled into a quiet street with a few exhibits displayed on a sunny but cool Saturday morning. The river seemed to flow at a high rate so we made very sure we found a small inlet to pan for gold. We were told by the Visitor Center staff that the gold panning beach area was across the one-lane bridge and downstream. We carefully made our way across and walked a little ways to find a safe spot. The boys took out their pans, but quickly found that our foil pans were no match for the heavy wet sands. We had better luck picking out gold flakes from the sands with our fingers. Perhaps a metal pan would have done a better job. We did not find any nuggets, just flakes, though an insufficient amount to run any at-home tests to ensure it's authenticity. Perhaps a more “lucky” approach to gold finding would be to spend an hour or two panning with the State Historic Park’s staff for $7/person. More information at the Visitor Center or by calling the Park before heading over. Extreme weather cancels. If you plan to gold pan for free on the beach, check with the Visitor Center about river conditions.