Sunday, June 26, 2016

Adventures on the Big Island

I'm excited to have something new to share with you! Last weekend Christina and I spent a couple delightful days exploring the the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) for the first time. We weren't sure if we would make our flights, so we didn't book a room ahead of time. We spent a good portion of our first afternoon on the island trying to make a last minute reservation while sitting in a Kona coffee shop. It was a little stressful not knowing where were going to spend the night, but it ended well!

Here's what we ended up with--it was more than we needed, but quite fun! A little cottage at Volcano Guest House, very close to the national park. This proved very useful for nighttime drives to see lava action at the park! Christina and I slept upstairs with the windows open, listening to the peaceful night noises of the rain forest. 

Lush plants grew right up to the windows of our cottage!

The guest house property was set back from the road and surrounded by lovely rain forest. Christina and I marveled at the beautiful flowers that were growing around the property. 

 The driveway leading up to our cottage.

As I mentioned, we were close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, so Christina and I made several visits to it. 

This is Steaming Bluffs. I can't explain the science behind the steam vents in this area, except that they're connected to all the volcanic activity in the park. They look quite interesting, don't they?

Christina peeks into a steam vent.

My favorite experience at the park was going to the overlook by Jagger Museum, where you can see the lava glow from Halema'uma'u Crater. It was like nothing I've seen before! Pictures don't completely convey the way it looked (not to mention the sulfur smell!). Our host had mentioned that there was an "event" at the park right now, and in our ignorance we imagined some kind of special park program. What he meant was that the viewing at the crater was good right now. It was indeed an event though. There were more people there are night than when we visited during the day. They even had to direct traffic for parking. It felt like we were attending a concert.

This is a close-up of the lip of the lava lake--you can just see burbles of lava peeking up on the right side. 

Here's a slow-shutter shot of the entire crater.  The orange glow is not lava itself but the smoke coming up from the crater floor reflecting the light of the lava below.

 We came back to the same overlook the next day.

This is the Kilauea Iki lava bed. There was an eruption here in 1959 and the floor was covered with a lake of lava! (You can see Halema'uma'u Crater in the background and Mauna Loa is the mountain behind that.)

We also went to Punaluu, a black sand beach not far from the park.

This pretty pond is next to the beach.

 The view from Punaluu

There was a turtle hanging out in the shallows!

Black sand is so stunning!

The last spot we visited was possibly my favorite. 'Akaka Falls is a stunning waterfall a little north of Hilo. The trail to it is a very pretty, easy loop through the rain forest.

No idea what this is, but it's pretty!

Interesting fact: there is a Hawaiian fish called the 'o'opu that actually climbs up this waterfall. Seriously! There's a sign about it at the overlook that says "The 'o'opu uses its suction disk and pectoral fins to climb up the water-slickened surfaces along the rocky sides of the waterfall." Who knew?

 No surprise--we saw a rainbow while we were in Hawaii.

 Well, that's it for pictures from our trip. Thanks for reading--it was a great little adventure to get to share with my big sister. :-)