Josh and I headed back to the Big Island this weekend with two purposes: to see lava (since we got rained out a few weeks ago) and to see Belinda and Ted (two people who have known me most of my life and were visiting Hawaii for vacation). I am so very happy to say it was a HUGE success!
We landed late Friday evening and headed to Ken’s House of Pancakes for dinner since it was the only place open past 9 p.m. in Hilo. I had a fantastic curry chicken salad sandwich and Josh had a conglomeration of things (pictured below). After that, we checked in to our hotel which was on Hilo Bay and crashed in preparation for our big weekend ahead.
We got up on Saturday, grabbed a small to-go breakfast and coffee and headed to Honoli’i Beach Park. It is a black sand beach full of surfers. It is just north of downtown Hilo and is on a beautiful, scenic road.
After our slight detour, we headed north to the small town of Honokaa to meet Belinda and Ted for lunch. Honokaa was about halfway between where we were staying and where they were staying. We had a wonderful lunch at an Italian Pizzeria called Café Il Mondo. We then headed to Tex Drive In to introduce them to malasadas. They were pretty amazing!
We then drove down to where our hike was starting in Kalapana (fingers crossed the entire time that the weather would stay nice). We arrived around 3:00 p.m. and took off around 3:30 p.m. with our guide. Our group had nine people in it, which was a great size to be hiking with. We started off heading towards where a surface flow might be. From what our guide said, it didn’t sound like we would get to see one but he wanted to try anyways to see if there was any action. The terrain was definitely rough on the ankles and feet. It was amazing to hike on the different types of lava from over the years. You could tell a huge difference between ten year old lava, three year old lava and month old lava. The newer stuff was much looser and easier to slip on (luckily, neither of us fell). The lava is super sharp (kind of like glass) and can cut you if you fall on it. We could see the different areas where the steam was rising from the lava tubes on the hillside. It appeared that there would be lava to see there, but it was all underneath the top layer flowing in the tubes to the ocean. After about three miles, we reached a surface flow and it was amazing! At first, there wasn’t much action and we spotted just a faint glow. But once we got there, there were a few different areas opening up and flowing. I have never seen or experienced anything like it in my life….the sound alone of it hissing was just insane! The lava was 3,000 degrees and if you got close enough, it felt like your face was melting. The closest I got was about two feet and I couldn’t stand it after that. It was incredible. Pictures and videos below describe it much better than I ever could.
After spending about 45 minutes at the surface flow, we headed to the ocean entry area to see the lava flowing there. On our way there, we stepped over a crack that was glowing orange…amazing and scary at the same time to think about what you are walking on! There was tons of lava pouring into the ocean! There were about four different areas…it was so hard to see because of all the steam, but you could see the glow through the steam.
After about a half hour, we headed back toward where our shuttle would come to pick us up. Walking back on the lava at night was pretty rough and I was so thankful for my headlamp. The lava was so incredibly beautiful under the light…super shiny and sparkly. We finally made it back after about an hour and a half hike from the ocean entry point. In total, our hike was 5.6 miles. Our hike was through Kalapana Cultural Tours and they were AWESOME.
After profusely thanking our tour guide, we headed back to Hilo for a quick dinner before crashing. We decided to try a new place instead of going to Ken’s, since it was Saturday night and places were open past 9:00 p.m.! We ended up at a restaurant called Ponds close to our hotel. We had a corner table that was surrounded by water on both sides. It was very nice and relaxing. I had a pasta dish and Josh had fish. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to go to bed. We had to get up at 3:15 a.m. for our lava boat tour the next day!