Pele never sleeps
The Big Island was the second stop on our honeymoon. We wanted to see the volcano park, the lava and some other parts of the Island.
I turned out that the volcano park was so fascinating, we didn't see anything else of the Island. We don't have regrets, the park was big enough to keep us busy and as this was our honeymoon we wanted to keep it a bit relaxed.
Volcano village is on top of the crater. It is on the safe side, so you don't have to worry about lava flows knocking at you door at night.
Because it is on top of the volcano all the clouds have to get rid of their water, i.e. lot's of rain.
All the water makes it possible for the plants, ferns and trees to grow. You will see lot's of beautiful and rare plant. Some of them are unique for Hawaii.
Don't let the rain stop you from exploring the island. Big Island has 5(?) different climates just go looking for the one you like.
"Go for the flow"
The main reason for us to visit Big Island were the volcanoes. We were lucky Pele was stirring in her fire pot. There was lava flowing towards the sea.
It took us half an hour by car, to get from the wet top to the warm and windy coast. From the parking lot it was 45 minutes of climbing, jumping and walking to get to the flow.
It was amazing. The heat, the sound of crisping glass and the tick lava. It is like watching clouds, you can see anything in the slowly flowing lava. I think I saw the face of an old lady smiling at me. Was it Pele?
Uh Oh - it's Pu'u O'o
"The smoking gun"
Of course, there is lots of old lava to look at, but who wouldn't love a chance to see new earth being formed literally at your feet??
Pu'u O'o has been continuously erupting since 1983. It's taken out a couple of housing developments, a village or two, and a chunk of the Chain of Craters Road (so you can no longer do the circuit, 'cos there is no road!). Just before we arrived, Pu'u O'o obligingly started sending fresh new lava on its way to the sea. Thanks Pele! A perfect opportunity for a hike.
"Aim for the smoking hillside..."
We arrived at high noon, in the blazing sun on the black coastal lava "plains", with not a tree in sight. Brilliant! The perfect opportunity to test my SPF 45 sunscreen.
To see the current lava flow, you have to drive to the end of Chain of Craters Road (you'll know you're there when the road disappears under past lava flows). There's lots of cars, senior citizens, babies and young people, very few prepared for the blasting heat of the hike. Won't they be in for a surprise!
When we went, the lava was about 2-1/2 miles away - it took us a good 45 minutes to hit paydirt, but we're in pretty good shape. Expect to go a little slower and take an hour or more, if you don't want to trip and fall into a crevass.
"What are these people smiling about?"
They are carrying six litres of water between them and you aren't!! Ha ha!
Seriously, listen to the park rangers if you're considering a hike to the lava. There is NO marked trail! When they say "carry three liters of water per person", do it! Trust me, you will drink every last drop. Carry a first aid kit! Wear sunscreen! It's bloody hot, there is no shade, lava is not fun to walk on (especially if you're out of shape), and no one will be there to help you if you get hurt. It's a very difficult hike if you're unprepared.
Okay, enough lecturing...
"Where's the $%$@* marshmallows??"
See all that silvery lava behind me? Doesn't look impressive, does it? Well, it's *flowing* towards me and it's darn hot at 2000*F. Hence the "take the picture quickly, my shoes are on fire" look on my face.
If you look closely, you can see bits of red "molteness" here and there.
"I hope that's last year's lava I'm standing on..."
Another lava shot. Somewhat more red molten-ess here. Truly, it is awe inspiring to see this stuff flow across the coastal plain on its way to the ocean...and you. We'd all get excited when a particularly "speedy" flow would break loose and blurb its way over previous years' lava. We'd also get a bit nervous. Yeah, ha ha, sure we can outrun it.
"Looks so inviting..."
If you don't feel inclined for the hike, the ocean is on the other side of the road. Of course, there is no beach...yet. Instead, you're on the benchlands high above the water. And don't get too close. It looks like the waves can't possibly get that high, but oh ho! While you're back is turned, you'll be swept off your feet and sacrificed to the ocean goddess, Namakaokaha'i.
"Holei Sea Arch"
What can I say - it's a sea arch. And there were many lovely terns flying about, unconcerned by the crashing waves and lava creeping towards them.