May 15, 2012: Aloha Diaries, Part 3
OK, things here just keep getting cooler and cooler….today I have included some pics from our hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and some underwater pics.
We arrived in the village of Volcano on Saturday after a bit of a drive which reminded us of the Pacific Coast Highway in California in parts – lots of beautiful coastline and lots of up and down. No road trip would be complete without first fueling up at a rib shack on the roadside – yum. We also stopped at a huge black sand beach and chilled with one of the big sea turtles on the beach for a bit. We’re staying at a tiny apartment in the village, which is tucked in really lush rain forest and is at a really high elevation (4000 ft), so it’s a lot cooler here than at sea level, and we’re also a 5 minute drive to the national park entrance. We spent our first day here in the park – we hiked the rim of a crater called Kilauea Iki and then went down in to the crater itself. It was HUGE and it’s hard to tell the scale from the pictures, but from the one where I’m standing on what’s now the crater floor, you might get a sense of how big it is. It took us just over 2 hours to walk about halfway around the rim and then all of the way across the crater itself. The last time it erupted was in 1959 and on the inside of it where we walked, they determined it hadn’t completely cooled until about 1990. The hardened lava is all sorts of really cool colours and shapes, and there are also some visible steam vents – areas where water trickles down in to the hot core and then is vaporized and comes back out. Looks like a bunch of little smoldering fires from a distance. We also went through what’s called a lava tube which looks like a big cave, but it’s formed by lava flow – the outside of the flow cools first, and then inside of the flow then continues through it, leaving behind a ‘tube.’ I told Dave that I felt like our whole park excursion was a throw back to my grade 5 or 6 science classes – every time I read something I felt like this was something I learned in elementary school! From this part of the park we drove down to the coast, which was pretty far – about 20 miles, with lots of stops along the way to take pictures of lava flow from over the years, and also an area which contained many ancient petroglyphs created by early Hawaiians. As we got closer to the ocean, the road is eventually closed from a 2003 lava flow, which we took some time to explore/walk on. It’s really an interesting place.
Yesterday we drove to a coastal city called Hilo and spent the day snorkeling again at another black sand beach. This time we took some pictures from underwater and we lucked out by coming across a HUGE sea turtle. It’s hard to see how big he is, but I remember turning around and seeing him off in the distance and being startled by his size – his shell was at least 1 m long and when he extended his flippers, he was really intimidating! Super cool to see him floating around eating and going up for air – he looked like a giant space ship floating around (we saw The Avengers one night on this trip – he totally looked like one of the ships in that movie!). Thanks to my Lonely Planet guide, we also found a fantastic bakery/sandwich shop, so after the better part of the day at the beach, we had a delightful fill up at the bakery.
And lastly, we went back to the national park lastnight to take some pictures of the glow from the lava lake inside the active caldera of Kilauea. You used to be able to drive around the entire rim of this crater, but due to the fumes and activity, you can’t any longer, so this is as close as you can get.
That’s it for now….today we’re off again to stay near the coast.
dpr and d2