Flowing out of the active volcano Kîlauea on the Big Island, comes one of the world's most frequent outpouring of lava. Lava has been issuing continuously at Puʻu ʻÔʻô since January 1983. In 1998 Kîlauea was said to be the most active volcano on the Earth, whose volume of erupted material could pave a road across the world 3 times (according to wikipedia). This is one of the most recent volcanoes in the world. This is also the legendary home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano Goddess, whom when angry, erupts. Since the 1983 eruiption along the East rift zone from the Puʻu ʻÔʻô vent and also the Kûpaʻianahâ vent, Kilauea continues to produce lava flows that travel 11 to 12 km from these vents through tube networks that discharge into the sea to two sites, Wahaula and Kamokuna. In the early to middle 1980s Kîlauea was known as "The Drive-By Volcano" because anyone could ride by and see the lava fountains — some as much as 1,000 feet in the air — from their car. In 1987, the flows destroyed the Royal Gardens Subdivision and now is one of the cheapest subdivision of lots - some of which sell for approximately $500, and is the newest real estate in the world, but there is little chance of ever rebuilding on them. More destructive flows hit in 1990, destroying the towns of Kalapana, Kaimû, Kaimû Bay, Kalapana Black Sand Beach, and a large section of State Rte. 130, which now abruptly dead-ends at the lava flow. More flows in 2008 destroyed an abandoned neighbourhood. At the end of Highway 130, Hawaii County Civil Defense officials setup a viewing center where people can come view the active flows daily. As of my visit on August 7, 2009 - these viewings are still active. When we went, we were very under-equipt, as it is very important to listen to their advice of good shoes/boots, flashlights, and clothing. We had one flashlight amongst three of us running at different paces, and had poor shoes, so it was quite a treacherous 1/2 mile hike into the the viewing area on sharp brutal lava rock fields with holes, pits, crevaches, and stumbling zones. Highly recommended to wear comfortable socks, walking shoes, hiking boots, and clothing prepared for the various climates of hot, damp, or cold. Daytime bring sunscreen, shades, and a hat. Night-time were jackets and/or sweatshirts, windbreakers, raincoats, or hoodies. (watch the weather and prepare) Bring water! Its still quite a distance from the active area where it flows into the ocean, so sometimes is hard to see, though best seen at night. This is for safety. As you can tell from the night photos, its hard to see more than a leaping glowing haze, other than the daytime pics shown here that where purchased from one of the many vendors in the parking lot. Thousands of visitors come here daily. It can get quite crowded. Try to get to the area by sunset and stick around for dark viewing. Viewing point doesn't open until 2 pm and closes at 10 pm. Cars are not allowed to enter past 8 pm. Gloves are recommended in case you fall so you don't tear up your hands. Binoculars are a bonus. Follow the rules at the Park, listen to the Rangers, keep your car locked and valuables out of sight. It was a fun experience. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Wai 'Opae Tidepools is one of the hottest snorkeling areas near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. It resembles a barrier reef. Its a protected Marine Life conservation district. The southern half of the tide pools were placed into this district by a community initiative to protect this fragile ecosystem. Apparently the area was previously pillaged of its marine life until it became protect. It is still open to the public to snorkel in and appreciate. No commercial activities can be done in the area without a permit and nothing that can compromise the ecology. The area is a fish nursery so is also abundant with young fish. A shallow basalt ridge on the seaward side of the pools causes waves to break but also allowing excellent water circulation by northeast trade-wind generated swells that support the life in the reef. Inside the tidepools is a maze of pools that weave around for the snorkelers to swim through. Lots of fish and coral. There are also closer to shore on the right hand side, cold water springs that flow into the area. Directions: Drive south from Hilo on Hwy 11 (Hawaii Belt road) to the intersection of Hwy 130 (Keaau-Pahoa Road) and veer left. Follow until intersects with Hwy 132 (Kapoho Road) and turn left, follow 132 til it ends, with a hard right onto Hwy 137 (Kapoho Kalapana Rd). The last road is Kapoho Kai drive - turn left here and follow road to its end, turn left, and around the bend, nestled to a small housing community called "Vacationland", you'll see a small parking area on the righ side of the road. There are no facilities. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
This is not a well kept secret but the people that live in this area try to keep it that way.
We know about it because we rented a house near the tidepools.
The Kapoho Tidepools stretch along a protected mile of coastline.
Snorkeling is tops here. Some of the pools are volcanically warmed.
The area around the pools are rocky and slippery when wet.
The homeowners in this area try to say the pools are private but they are not.
You can find several rental properties around the area.
25 miles south of Hilo
Treat yourself to some spectacular countryside views overlooking the sea.
Dotted with islands and ridge upon ridge, this almost inaccessible terrain stretches on for 11 miles.
The end of the road overlooks Pololu Valley.
The valley is deserted since most of the water supply has been diverted to sugar fields.
A steep hike from the lookout takes you to the valley floor.
There you will find a black sand beach that is not recommended for swimming.
You can't get any farther south in the USA than South Point.
Ka Lae ( the point) is what Hawaiians call the southernmost border of the fifty states.
South Point has a rocky coast line and winds so strong that I could barely stand still.
You will see some trees almost horizontal from the wind blowing them.
There is an alternate energy windmill farm here
This is a great place to take some beautiful camera shots.
If you feel energetic, a 3 mile hike takes you to the green beach.
Turn of Hwy #11 at the 70 mile marker.
At the Lava tree State Park you will experience the destruction that can be caused by lava flow.
This ohia forest was engulfed with lava during the 1790 destruction.
Moisture from the trees caused the rock to harden around the tree trunks.
All that was left was a hollow shell of lava rock.
There is a one-hour nature loop walkway that takes you through the park.
It makes for an interesting stop.
The park is open daily year around. Entrance is free.
n front of the park the beautiful stretch of road is called the tree tunnel because of the arched monkey pod trees that arch overhead.
At night when you pass by there is a loud choir of tree frogs.
Hilo's buildings are very old as most were built in the 30's, 40's, and 50's and only renovated to look new. Sun Sun Lau used to be a museum/Chinese restaurant with beautiful water features in and out. It used feel like you were in China just by the ambiance. Unfortunately, it closed down some time ago and was supposed to be converted into an office building. When i walked through the barren parking lot, all I saw were busted out globe lights and graffitti. The parking lot was riddled with old furniture that people dumped there. There was a lone worker on the roof in the back tearing up the old sheet metal. Still, I did not want to venture any further in as the graffitti looked gang related. I would hate to stumble upon a few straglers hanging around. I had no idea these gang losers were still around.
I was surprised to find a winery in Hawaii but here it is in a town called of all things, Volcano. It may not appeal to "wine snobs" but they have won awards in competitions in Atlanta and California. They make two traditional dinner wines from grapes grown there in what the proprietor told us was only 8 inches of topsoil - further down and you are into volcanic rock. They also make a few from local tropical fruits and a pretty good dessert wine (served over fresh fruit) from honey from the islands Macadamia nut blossoms, called, strangely enough, Macadamia Nut Honey Wine. They are open every day and will give you a tasting of 5 or 6 wines when you enter. The staff is very cordial and appear to be knowledgeable which makes it a fun diversion. As we say in Georgia, "Who woulda thunk it?"
You can see Mauna Kea's (kay-uh) shadow as it grows in the photo to the left. You will need to travel to the top for this unique sight. Why is this so unique here when there are taller mountains in the world? Because this mountain stands 13,797 feet above the flat ocean so there is nothing blocking its claim to what little sunshine is left as the sun settles below the horizon.
You could drive to the top yourself if you like as long as you have rented a 4WD since the road to the top is not paved all of the way and has a large section of loose gravel. You may also encounter fog, rain or even snow and ice so the driving conditions can be dangerous. You'll void most car rental agreements by driving up here so if you have a problem, don't call the rental company. Also, because of the high altitude, some folks may experience altitude sickness for which your remedy is only more oxygen. The tour companies carry oxygen tanks just in case. However, the real danger of coming up here is not the trip to the top. It's the drive back down. The steep grade may cause many to drag their brakes and eventually they will fade or fail. You may just end up making a straight path through the trees at the next turn in the road if you're not careful.
So, to avoid some of these pitfalls, we opted for the Sunset and Stargazing Tour with Arnott's Lodge. We rode in their van to the end of the road. Then I hiked to the summit while the wife stayed behind. At this altitude, I was quite winded for what seemed like such an easy hike up the short trail. The thin air really worked me over.
Be sure to pack warm clothes for this trip. It can be below freezing at this altitude while it is 80° F. at sea level. It was only about 40° F. with light wind while we were here but our trip to the top of Haleakala on Maui was much colder. There the winds were gusting to 25 MPH with an air temp already at 38° F. That put it below freezing with the windchill factored in.
I found bird shows on every island that I went to.
There are many many kinds of birds, tropical and very beautiful in colors.
Sorry, this picture is a little blurred. He was big and flying thru the audience at the show.
Watch your step on the beaches of Hawaii, in the water can be Sea Turtles which are endangered.
We ran across baby sea lions sleeping and also Monk Lions. They are also endangered with hefty fines if you go near them.
The monks had orange cones surrounding them as they come on shore to sleep before for a couple days before returning to the sea.
Spend and hour or two at one of the world's great gardens just north of Hilo on the lava-encrusted Onomea Bay. Besides great foliage, you'll find a beautiful seashore and a three-tiered waterfall.
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