Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Images of the Big Island

Lava Rocks Kona
These last two weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii have almost been like paradise.  We are very fortunate to have been able to visit three sets of friends who live here.  We are indebted to Zina, Carla and Jake, and Jasmin, Brian, Derek and Meagan for being such wonderful hosts!  Most of all, were are honored to have friends like these people.  Visiting people who live and work here was the best way to see the island from a "local" perspective.  The activities and food where so much better than enjoying a "resort" experience.

Waipi'o Hostel

It is one of the reasons we have chosen our new nomadic lifestyle.  We hope to travel and visit the many people with whom we are lucky to call friends.  So stand-by, we may come visit you next!
Waipi'o Cookhouse

If you are a musician, or love someone who is you simply must visit Kiernan Music Company either online, or in Old Town Kainailu.  Talk to Brian or Derek.

Steff and Zina
If you visit here, look for good B&B's or Hostels that get you away from a resort and into the community.  Look for good local food.  The places on the side of the road, or tucked into corners of strip malls.

Black Sand Beach at Waipi'o Valley
Take a walk to the overlook, and look out for the chickens on the side of the road!  Take the small tour instead of the big one.  Go with your friends to the local music, food or craft venue.

Rent snorkel gear, and try not to be beat up too much by the strong surf of the Pacific.  Look down through crystal clear water and see the many fish.  And, look out to see the water spouts and the flukes of the whales as they return to home waters, as we did at Ho'okena beach yesterday.
Painted Church

Stop and look at the Painted Churches, and appreciate the art they contain.  The one at Pahoa has been moved TWICE by parishioners to save it from lava flows.

Painted Church - Pahoa
Most of all, enjoy the one with whom you are traveling, the times you share, and the friends, both old and new, you see along the way.

Tonight we board an airplane an fly back to the mainland, where our journey continues.

Philippine Orchid 

Lava Tree Sate Park

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau - Place of Refuge

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau - Place of Refuge
It is Friday, so why not go to a Place of Refuge?  The interesting thing about Hawaii is the mix of culture and history.  It comes home when you visit the Place of Refuge, which has been designated as a National Historical Park.

Hale o Keawe
The history here extends back over a thousand years as royal grounds where kings and queens lived.  And alternately, a place of refuge for those who violated a Kapu, usually resulting in a punishment of death.  Getting there were particularly difficult, as it was Kapu to enter royal grounds.

Ki'i Protecting the Grounds
Most interesting is that the Hale of Keawe, or temple, is still used today by Hawaiians for worship and offerings.

Honaunau (Two Step) Beach

We started our tour of this area by snorkeling along the two step beach.  Once finished, we toured the complex.  

The Keone'ele Cove is considered sacred, and is the home of several Green Sea Turtles.  We were escorted around the grounds by small yellow birds, who seemed to consider themselves royalty.

Green Sea Turtle

Royal Birds?

Near the cove, there are several canoe houses, for royal use.
halau wa'a - Canoe

Hawai'i Volcanos National Park

Observation:  I am unable to tell the difference between the frogs, and the birds here in Hawaii.  The only guideline that I can use is that usually birds don't sing at night, and the frogs less likely to sing at day-break.  So, what I hear at night must be the coqui frogs, and the songs in the morning must be the
wide variety of birds that inhabit the forests here.

One of our goals for travel is to visit as may of our National Parks, monuments and historical areas as possible.  the Big Island presents a unique opportunity to visit the ecosystem around an active volcano.  We spent the better part of Tuesday AND Thursday visiting the park.

Thurston Lava Tube

We visited Tuesday with friends Jake and Carla.  Both have volunteered with the Friends of Hawaii Volcanos National Park and know the park well.

We started our visit with a walk through the Thurston Lava Tube providing a graphic reminder of how large these can get.  Midway through in the cold and dark it is difficult to imagine this large river of 2000ยบ lava coursing through!
Carla, Jake and Steff

Next, Steff and Carla took shorter walks around the visitor center, while Jake and I took off along the Kilauea Iki Trail.  The trial starts in the rain forest before descending into, and then across the Kilauea Ski Crater and over the ridge just kissing the side of the Kilauea Caldera before walking through the rain forest back to the visitor center.  I can recommend the Poke for lunch at the Volcano House restaurant.  We headed down the mountain just as the clouds and rain rolled in.

Kilauea Caldera

Rain Forest Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail

Looking toward the Halema'uma u Crater
Halema'uma u Trail
Flowers in the Crater

Rain Forest Flora

We returned to the park on Thursday.  It is along the way on the South Route back to Kona.  We were on our way to visit friends Brian and Jasmin in Captain Cook.

Ribbon Lava
Pu'u Loa Petroglyhs

We took the mile long hike to see the Pu 'u Loa Petrogyphs followed by a short drive and shorter walk to see the Holei Sea Arch.

Steff on the Boardwalk
Holei Sea Arch

While leaving the sea arch, we were treated to several Nene, or Hawaiian Geese.  They are both endemic to Hawaii, and considered endangered.


Pu'u O'o Eruption from the South

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lava Boat Tour - Issac Hale Beach State Park

About that Lava Boat tour....

Jake and Carla, our friends and wonderful hosts here on this side of the island, suggested taking a "small boat" tour to see the lava flow enter the water.  These small boat tours differ from the big boat tours in that there are a maximum of 6 passengers on the small boat, and upwards of 50 on the larger ones.

We took the chance Monday morning to get a ride, and learned that there was room on a later tour, starting at 3:30PM.

Capt. Kana from Moku Nui Lava Tours told us that the water was like glass, and the flow, as it entered the water was very active.

6 Person Catamaran
We joined 2 other couples for a 40 minute ride to the lava flow, spending about 45 minutes enjoying the show, and another 45 minutes back to the beach.

It is difficult to describe the magnitude of the flow, as the lava enters the water.  And pictures don't capture it either.  This most recent flow entered the water in July.  It is dependent upon the depth of the lava lake in the Halemau'uma'u Crater of the Kilauea Volcano.  The lower the level, the greater the flow into the sea.  Capt. Kana said that the flow was "very active!" with a big smile.

Pu'u O'o Lava Flow
We were not disappointed.  The lava flow adds land to the island, primarily under water.  The lava builds up, breaking the surface of the water, forming massive benches, where additional flow adds to the accumulation.  At times, there are massive explosions, sending hot lava, and larger "lava bombs" into the air.  Some boats have been hit, though we were fortunate on our cruise. 
Lava Explosion
As the water in this area is 120 to 140 degrees, so take a dip
at your own risk!  You can hear gas bubbles "pinging" on the
bottom of the boat, as the bench builds below you.  The
explosions result in red hot, floating rocks all around your
Floating Rocks
We had plenty of time to enjoy the show, taking many more photos that we should, or that you would want to see.  Though frankly, it was hard to stop.

We enjoyed wonderful views, as the steam and vapor clouds cleared.  Capt.
Kana would position the boat, so everyone on board would get an
opportunity of getting good photos.  His first mate, actually his daughter also helped by taking photos of anyone who wanted one.

Once we had our fill, the good Captain headed back to safe harbor.  Along the way he stopped to point out a lava tube, and explain how they are formed.  Essentially the outer edges cool, as the interior flow remains quite hot until the flow dissipates.  The hotter lava flows out, leaving the tube.  Some are quite large, and many remain hidden.  This particular tube was revealed after a particularly large swell collapsed the cliff that concealed it from view.

Lava Tube
Capt. Kana headed back and we enjoyed the view.  On our way back we were joined by a pod of dolphins who played in the bow wake.  He also reported that one of the Big Boats reported nearly hitting a whale and seeing another, on the way out to the flow.  He said that these are the first sightings of the season.
Capt. Kana

As we left the flow we both remembered what we saw, and enjoyed the view along the coast of the Big Island.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Akaka Falls - state Park

Akaka Falls

Monday morning started with the hope of catching an early morning Lava Boat from the Issac Hale Beach Park.  Fortunately for us, there wasn't room for us but more on that later.

Instead, we decided to visit a waterfall that we had read about.  It is located about 11 miles north of Hilo.  Parking in the parking lot, we took the half mile loop, giving us views of both he Kahuna and the Akaka Falls.

The Akaka Falls, at 442 feet, is the longest free fall waterfall in Hawaii.  It is located along the Kolekole River which begins on the slopes of the 13,803 ft Mauna Kea.

Rain Forest
There is an interesting legend regarding the origin of Akaka Falls and the chieftain who in remorse of his infidelities towards of his loving wife, and threw himself over the falls.
Rain Forest
The walk meanders through a rainforest, which receives over 84 inches of rainfall a year.  To walk the loop (follow the directions and walk it counter-clockwise) be prepared to navigate some stairs!
Kahuna Falls

The lookout for the Kahuna Falls gives you a view of this cascade working it's way through the forest.  There is water everywhere giving to a number of photographic moments.

I do wish I knew the flora and fauna better here on the island.  It is quite impressive.

After our short walk, we stoped at a roadside stand for fresh pineapple and coconut.  I'm not sure if it could get any better.