Wednesday morning we got up bright and early, hit up a Starbucks, and began the long drive to Kilauea Volcano National Park.
From Kona, the drive was about 2.5 hours. I think I might have fallen asleep a time or two, which J is used to when we take long rides in the car. We passed quite a few coffee stands and kicked ourselves for stopping at Starbucks when there was fresh Kona coffee we could have enjoyed! Oh well…lesson learned.
It was so beautiful driving along the coast and through the small towns on our way. One thing that I wanted to see while in Hawai’i was a black sand beach, and we passed one on the way to the volcano! You know we had to stop and check it out.
Punalu’u is probably Hawai’i’s most well known black sand beach. The sand is black because of the constant volcanic activity on the island. You can also find green sand beaches (we’re saving that adventure for our next visit). This particular beach is also a haven for the green sea turtle to bask on the beach. As badly as I wanted to take a piece of this unique beach with me, I left the sand behind.
We hopped back in the car and continued on to Kilauea. When we got there, we stopped to check out the visitors center and then headed up toward the Jaggar Museum. Here you have a great look at the crater and can even see the steam and smoke coming out.
Inside the museum is tons of information, pictures, videos, and ‘artifacts’ from the volcano. There was even a suit that was worn by a scientist that got too close to the lava and actually got severely burned. It was interesting to walk around and check everything out.
After browsing around the museum for a bit, we headed back down to check out some of the other parts of the park. On our way we passed the steam vents and got a different view of the crater -
Next we came up on Thurston’s Lava Tube. This tube was formed hundreds of years ago and was discovered by a local newspaper publisher, Lorrin Thurston. It’s hard to believe that lava once flowed through where we were walking!
Once we finished walking through the lava tube, we stopped at the Devastation Trail. It used to be a dense rain forest, but when Kilauea erupted in 1959, it completed wiped out the area.
It’s so crazy to be walking through a tree-filled forest and then you come to this.
After checking out the Devastation Trail, we began to head to the end of the road, down towards the coast. It was a long and sometimes winding road, but the views were spectacular.
Check out how thick that lava flow was!!
When we made it down to the parking area, we didn’t realize it was another 1/2 mile walk to where the eruption of 2003 left hardened lava over the road. It was insane to see that!
Even though we weren’t exactly equipped to walk on the lava, we ventured out to explore a bit, being careful of large holes and jagged edges. It was windy, but the sun was really beating down on us!
We began the longish walk back to the car and headed out of the park. We will be back to explore it more, and hopefully even see a lava flow into the ocean! (It was about a 5 mile walk across the hardened lava to get there and we weren’t dressed appropriately to do so)
Once we left, we stopped by Volcano Winery, where we sampled their collection of wines. I really enjoyed them and bummed that you cannot buy them locally, and it’s super expensive to have it shipped here…so if any of my friends visit, PLEASE bring me back a bottle or two…I will pay you!
We headed back to Kona, where I took a nice nap in the car…it had been a long day! We showered, chilled out in the hotel room for awhile, then walked down Alli Drive to the Big Island Running Company. C’mon…I’m a runner..I had to check out the local store! It was very small, but had a great selection of shoes, clothes, and running accessories. I picked up a shirt, a type of fuel I hadn’t seen back home before, and a pair of socks. My smart self decided to wear my new Sperrys without socks on our walk to the store, and in that 1/2 mile rubbed blisters on both feet. Yes, I looked ridiculous wearing the socks, but the way I was walking without them was even worse.
We were also in just the right place to watch the sun set over the ocean. Someone blew the conch shell and we looked for the “green flash” (a very quick spot of intense green light on the horizon), but didn’t see it. The sunset was beautiful though.
After the sunset we walked (well…I hobbled) back to the hotel and we drove back over to Kona Brewing Company for dinner. Yes, I know we can get pizza anywhere, but not Kona Brewing Company pizza! Pizza and beer was a nice way to end the day.
Being that we had been awake since close to 5 a.m., we crashed when we got back to the hotel, but pretty excited about our trip to Mauna Kea the next day!
Stay tuned for more of our Hawaiian vacation!
Until next time,