Hawaii Part 3 – Volcanos National Park

Hawaii Part 3

After a tough day of hiking, we decided we would take it easy the following day and take in some scenes in Volcanoes National Park. The drive to the park took us from one end of the island to the other. We drove past Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that rises nearly fourteen thousand feet above sea level. The drive was great to take in more scenery that we hadn’t yet experienced. After about an hour we made our way into Hilo and we were ready for some breakfast. We decided on Hawaiian Style Cafe, another suggestion from our hosts. After a quick meal we were back on the road for the last leg to the park. As we made our way into the park the weather started to cool off as we made our way to higher elevation. It was a welcome relief from the heat we had been feeling recently. As we approached the park the trees were a mix of pine trees and palm trees, a rather odd combination. 

We arrived at the park and made our way to the visitor center to plan our visit. We then headed out for Crater Rim Drive, but we turned the wrong way and found ourselves at the steam vents and the Kilauea Caldera. There were many different spots with steam coming out.

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Steam rising right in front of the lookout.

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Steam rising in the distance from many different points.

After checking out the steam vents we made our way to the overlook to take in the sights. Unfortunately there was no visible lava after the recent eruption.

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We made a last stop by a steam vent right by the parking lot. You could walk up to the vent and steam yourself as long as you could take. 

After taking in the views we started our drive down Crater Rim Drive, a 20 mile drive that takes you down to the ocean. There were many stopping points along the road and we stopped at almost all of the scenic points along the way.  Kilauea Iki Lookout was the first stop. 

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The Volcano was massive and it was like nothing we have even seen before.  Pu’u Pua’i Overlook was our second stop.  We were able to see a different side of the volcano crater that was responsible for creating the Pu’u Pua’i.  Pu’u Pua’i was created when the volcano erupted and shot cinder and ash Southwest to where the cone was formed.  Along the side of the Cinder Cone was a trail called Devastation Trail and we walked part of it to see what the devastation was.  

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We continued our drive down the road making stops at different craters and lava fields. It was very interesting to see the differences in the lava fields depending on their age. The different colors or rock showed the age of the lava and how many plants have started to grow on the lava field. As we continued on through the lava fields we could start to see the ocean in the distance. 

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As we were driving down the volcano the temperature started to rise.  Seeing how the lava flowed and where it flowed was very neat.  You were able to see what it missed and what was over taken with lava.  When we were getting closer to the bottom of the road before the ocean, it was all lava rock and the trees disappeared. The winding road through the lava rock gave great views of the ocean and the waves that were coming in to hit the coast.  Once at the bottom there was a spot to park so we could walk to see the coast line that was created by the lava.  We saw the Holei Sea Arch and the jagged coast line.  

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At this point is was really hot.  The lava rock is black and just radiates heat.  When we got in the car to head back up the volcano, the car showed 92 degrees outside near the ocean.  The views were absolutely amazing.  We admired the scenery of the lava rock and the trees that lined the road in awe of what we were driving through.  We did not stop at any points on the way up since we saw them all on the way down.  We decided to take the Coastline back to the house were were staying at.  This route took us about 2 hours to drive but we stopped at a black sand beach and saw some tide pools. Unfortunately, the tide pools near Pahoa were covered by the recent lava flows during the eruption.

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We then located the spot that we needed to go when we decided to hike to the Green Sand Beach.  We drove through run down towns and a few cute little towns.  We made our way through the rainforest into Kona.  Kona is the tourist area on the west coast of the Island.  There were street closures since Ironman would be going on tomorrow.  We then finished our drive back to the house in the rain.  Since it was raining we enjoyed listening to the rain for the night while we visited with our hosts.

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