Whilst I was writing up my notes from the trip I realised that it had left all sorts of impressions which didn’t really fit anywhere in particular; so here, by way of conclusion, are some of my favourite Hawaii memories… Continue reading
With an evening flight and only 30 miles to drive, we didn’t really have a plan for our last day on the island, and so spent it rather enjoyably wandering around places that we may not otherwise have bothered to visit. Continue reading
Day 6 was a day of driving and hiking around the volcano – I think we walked about 9 miles altogether – through a mix of sunshine, showers and strong breezes.
Having visited the lava tube at Hilo, the Thurston lava tube here felt a little over-civilised, with its lighting and walkway, but it was fun to walk through.
Naturally it was drizzling as we started our longest walk of the day, the Kilauea Iki Crater hike. This took us around the rim of the crater and then down and over the surface of the lava lake. This lava was molten in 1959, and whilst it has now solidified completely, extreme temperatures are apparently still detectable down below. I was completely fascinated by this – it was so obvious that this had once been liquid, with cracks and undulations giving the impression of frozen movement, and to be walking on rock younger than many people we know was amazing.
After all the morning’s excitement, it was time for a restorative coffee at Volcano House before driving down the wonderfully-named Chain of Craters road to the coast, and a picnic lunch by the Holei sea arch. The whole coastal plain of this part of the island has been formed by lava flows, and the cliffs are consequently black and dramatic.
The plains themselves were apparently inhabited by ancient Hawaiians, and they have left their mark on the landscape at the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs. Considered a sacred site, a boardwalk has been constructed around the petroglyphs, so visitors can admire them from above.
Back up on the mountain, we hiked across old lava to Pu’u Huluhulu – the top of the wooded hill in this picture below:
It actually wasn’t as far as it looks – maybe a couple of miles – and it was fascinating walking past various features of the landscape: a clearly-delineated lava flow that was taller than we are, and casts of tree trunks being of particular interest. Once at the top we could look down into the old crater, now filled with trees. We also noticed the boundary between the older woodland and a more recent lava flow (which you can just see at the top right corner of this next picture) – just to the right of this shot was a desolate expanse of rock.
Returning to the car we wound our way back to the hotel via a couple more old craters – the road was well-provided with pull-out spots to park and take a quick look at the sights along the way – but by this point even I had had enough volcanic activity for one day so we didn’t linger at any of them.
We set out for South Point bright and early – we didn’t need to set an alarm the whole week we were in Hawaii, waking up with the sunrise (around 6am) each day. I have no idea how we managed that, it never happens at home, but it certainly allowed us to make the most of each day. Anyway, South Point, or Ka Lae, is both the southernmost point of the island, and the southernmost point of the United States. The cliffs are dramatic and beautiful, and it was extremely windy.
Heading south today, we drove back through Kailua-Kona, stopping briefly in Safeway for picnic supplies before taking the coastal route past attractive houses and glimpses of ocean along Ali’i Drive.
Day three began with a visit to Pu’ukohole Heiau. This temple was built in 1790 by King Kamehameha, the monarch who unified the Hawaiian islands. All heiau are still considered sacred sites so visitors are not permitted to enter, with the kapu (forbidden, or taboo) area marked with crossed sticks.
Setting out into torrential rain once again, we drove north to the Waipio valley outlook. A fortunate break in the clouds enabled us to look down into the valley – the road down is famously steep, and tourists are discouraged from going any further.
We landed in Hilo at around 7pm on Thankgiving night (November 26th), which meant that there were virtually no cars on the road as we drove the short distance from the airport to the hotel – an excellent start! We’d chosen the Wild Ginger Inn for our two nights in Hilo, and were immediately charmed by its slightly rickety character. An old plantation workers’ house from the 1920s, it was perfectly comfortable and convenient, although the nightly chorus of frogs (which stopped only during intervals of torrential rainfall) took a little getting used to.
Our latest trip took us almost as far away from New York as we could be whilst still remaining in the United States – the Big Island of Hawaii. As with our previous trips, I’ve made some day-by-day notes (online soon..!), and the full photo album is online at this link, but I wanted to share a few general thoughts and pictures here. (And yes, given that we flew out on Thanksgiving – November 26th – I am somewhat behind in posting this, but better late than never, I hope!)