The Big Island: Trip 4 – Day 3

Saturday we woke up and had coffee on our lanai before embarking on a long haul to the Hilo side of the island for a packed day. We drove through the middle of the island and stopped at Kaumana caves first.

After exploring the caves, we drove a few minutes down the road to Rainbow Falls. We spent some time enjoying the falls and the banyan trees.

After exploring, we decided it was time for breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes. The goal was to eat enough so we could make it through the day to our late dinner after our hike. We definitely achieved that goal!

After breakfast, we drove through the Puna area and stopped at MacKenzie State Park and to watch some turtles.

We finally pulled ourselves away from the turtles so we could meet up for our lava hike at Kalapana Cultural Tours! Josh and I went with this company before and they are so wonderful. The hike was different than a few years ago (as expected) and we started by riding bikes a couple miles down a gravel road and then hiked the remainder of the way to the surface flow. We lucked out as there were quite a few breakouts. After that, we hiked back to the ocean entry to check that out before hopping on our bikes for the ride back.

After our hike, we were all pretty hungry and ready to relax. We drove back to Hilo and stopped at Pineapples for dinner before driving back to the other side of the island. It was perfect after our long day — good food, good drinks and open air seating!

After dinner, we drove back and completely crashed after much needed hot showers…very excited to sleep in the next day!


The Big Island: Trip 4 – Day 1 & Day 2

In the beginning of September, Josh, my mom, Tom and I all took a much needed vacation to The Big Island for a whole WEEK. This is the first trip to another island that lasted longer than a few days for Josh and I…which was wonderful!

Josh and I met them at the airport and we all flew to Kona together. We checked into our hotel in Waikoloa (which was lovely) and then headed to Lava Lava Beach Club for drinks, dinner and a beautiful sunset.

The next day, we didn’t have a ton planned (on purpose) so we could relax and explore where we were staying. We had coffee on our lanai and then my mom and I went on a walk to explore. It was a gorgeous day and we had the walk along the beach mostly to ourselves. After that, we ran to the grocery, took a nap and then got dressed for dinner at Roy’s. Linda had two restaurants that she wanted to eat at and this was one of them. The food did not disappoint and we lucked out with a corner table surrounded by water!



Kauai: Trip 3 – Day 2

Day two started out with all of us being just a bit sore (maybe not so much Kyle) but the rest of us were feeling it. We made coffee and breakfast and then set out to explore! Our day consisted of checking out the the rocks at the end of the beach that had all sorts of things growing on them, walking the beach and visiting the caves at the end, lounging around camp (including in our tents when it decided to start raining) and then enjoying another beautiful sunset on the beach after it rained. We finished the evening by enjoying the stars. They were absolutely breathtaking. We also made friends with a black kitten. It took everything I had to not take him home with me. ❤

Hawaii Cat

After a long day, Nola has made it to Hawaii! Special thanks to my Mom and Tom for taking care of her for the last few months. She started her day at 5:00 AM ET in Indiana, had a nice two hour layover in Denver, landed in Hawaii at 2:50 PM HST, went through her quarantine inspection and arrived home about two hours later. She’s checking out her new view and settling in.

Gunstock Ranch

Today, we went on a field trip to Gunstock Ranch on the North Shore for fall break. We had a blast hiking, watching the kids swim and leading them around on the horses!

Kauai: Trip 2 – Day 2

On Sunday, Josh and I got up super early to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls. The hike is about eight miles round trip and we wanted to have enough time to come back and shower before we checked out. We were both really excited to be back on the Kalalau trail for the first time since our “first date”. We had MUCH better weather this time…no rain at all! The first two miles of the trail, we had already hiked when we hiked to Kalalau beach last year. The views of the Na Pali coast are stunning even a half mile in.

We made it to Hanakapi’ai Beach in about an hour. It was amazing to see the beach as it was completely covered by the ocean in the winter when we hiked last year. It was practically empty when we got there.

After we crossed the river, we veered to the left instead of the right to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls. The hike itself wasn’t too bad…we crossed the river about three more times on our way to the falls and it took us about an hour and a half to get there. The waterfall itself was absolutely amazing. The most beautiful waterfall we have hiked to yet (and we’ve hiked to A LOT). It was HUGE! Definitely worth waking up early for! We spent about 15 minutes at the falls and then started on our way back. Most people hike there to swim and enjoy the pool, but we didn’t have time to stay that long. Maybe next time!

After we finished our hike, we headed back to the hotel to quickly shower and change. We were both starving, so we visited Kauai pasta. It was so delicious, but we were so hungry I completely forgot to take pictures of our amazing food! After stuffing ourselves, we headed north again to visit the Kilauea lighthouse. We visited this last year, but it was under renovation. I wanted to go back and see it now that all the renovations were completed. Surrounding the lighthouse is a bird sanctuary. It’s absolutely stunning with water on all three sides of the lighthouse and beautiful birds flying all around!

After that, we headed to the airport to catch an earlier flight than planned. We were exhausted and ready to come home!

The Big Island: Trip 1 – Day 3

The third day started out with another amazing breakfast and oddly enough no rain! We had pancakes, fruit, toast, coffee and juice. The other two cats also studied us during breakfast, attempting to decide if they should bother with us.


After breakfast, we packed up and headed to the easternmost part of the island. Since the winds come from this direction, scientists use this “untouched air” as a benchmark to compare to air in other areas around the world. The lava on this side of the island was also incredibly difficult to walk through!


After we stopped for a bit, we headed down a 4WD road to Champagne Pond. We took the road for about a mile along some very bumpy lava and ended up at the pond. The pond is a calm, protected ocean inlet that is completely clear. You could see to the bottom…and it was heated! It was about 90 degrees. When I got in, four little yellow and black striped fish surrounded my legs (of course). So I immediately got out and let Josh entertain the fish while I took pictures.


Unfortunately, after our visit to the pond, we got a call telling us our Lava Hike was canceled due to weather. We were both pretty bummed as we had been looking forward to it all day. But we decided to grab some lunch in Pahoa and head back to the Volcanoes National Park to see Chain of Craters Road in the daylight. We had lunch at Kaleo’s and it was just as good as the dinner we had there the night before!


Back we went to the park for our third and final time for this trip. It was definitely a good decision to go back. Chain of Craters Road was beautiful during the daylight (pictures below). At the end, you can hike to the current lava flow. Had we known this, we would have planned a bit better and hiked there ourselves. But it takes about 3 1/2 hours to get there and back and we were running out of daylight…so we made the safe decision to come back and do it on another trip (even though we both were DYING to go).


We headed back up Chain of Craters Road and out of the park towards the Puna area to check out Kehena black sand beach. It was actually kind of hard to find. It was created by the 1955 lava flow and then it sank three feet all at once in 1975 because of an earthquake. We ended up there during high surf and it was ridiculous. The waves were HUGE and covered almost the entire beach when the tide came in. It was beautiful!


After visiting the beach, we headed to the Kalapana Cafe for dinner (Josh) and ice cream (me). Yes…I had ice cream for dinner and it was amazing! We headed back to the B&B to pack up as we had an early morning with a lava boat tour!

The Big Island: Trip 1 – Day 2

Our second day started out with a delicious breakfast of french toast, tons of fruit, toast, juice and coffee. The breakfast set up at our B&B was fantastic. Our B&B also had three cats..which I loved of course. I forced them to be my friends :).


After breakfast we headed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for the first of many trips. It was about an hour away from our B&B and yes it rained almost the entire drive to the park.  We arrived and started with the steam vents. These were incredible…especially since they were super warm and it was cold and raining. I would have stood there all day if Josh would have let me. The steam vents are created when rain seeps into the ground and is then heated by the Kilauea volcano, thus creating steam coming out of the earth. It pretty incredible to see. This was a positive to the massive amount of rain they were receiving. More rain = more steam.


From here we went to visit the sulphur banks…along the path were some of the steam vents, which did not smell, but the closer we got to the sulphur banks the stronger the unpleasant smell. Sulphur banks are created when hydrogen sulphide gas and steam form deposits of sulphur, gypsum and hematite on the ground. It was pretty, but not the best smelling thing. A highlight of our walk is that we passed a guy with a Purdue hat. Boiler up!


After the sulphur banks we headed to the Kilauea Overlook to get a good view of Kilauea Crater and the Halema`uma`u Crater. Halema`uma`u is said to be the home of Madame Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.


After viewing the crater at a few locations, the road was closed so we had to turn around and head back the other way. There is a road (Crater Rim Dr.) that goes around the entire crater. It changes on what and when parts of it are closed, depending on the volcanic activity. We definitely learned that information you read in a book or looked up online literally changed on a daily basis. It was very hard to find information on certain hikes, etc. because of the always changing landscape. It definitely made it more of an adventure!

Our next stop was Thurston Lava Tube. Unfortunately only the lighted portion was open to the public. There is a darker section that is usually open, but has been closed due to recent volcanic activity causing rocks to fall in the tube. We were ready to explore the darker side, but the lit area was still very cool to see.


Next, we headed down Chain of Craters road for a bit to Mauna Ulu, the source of the second longest eruption (1969 – 1974). Along the way we stopped at Lua Manu Crater which is 109 yards in diameter and last had lava flow into it during the 1974 eruption. After Lua Manu we stopped at Puhimau Crater, which still has magma activity flowing beneath it.


After these two stops we made it to Mauna Ulu for a short hike up to Pu`u Huluhulu. The hike consisted of different markers pointing out types of lava, trees, regrowth, devastation, etc. It was an interesting hike with some cool views. It was also neat to walk across so many different types of lava that had hardened.


After finishing our hike, we headed out of the park back towards our B&B. The current lava flow is sometimes visible at the end of Highway 130. So at the recommendation from our B&B owner, we headed over there around 5:00 p.m. to see what was going on. We got there and were told that the only things visible at this time were steam from the lava hitting the ocean and steam rising from up on the hill where the lava flow was. The lava had reached a point in this flow where it was mostly flowing in lava tubes to the ocean. Which made for great ocean viewing. Luckily, we had scheduled a boat tour for Monday morning to see this in action! This most recent lava flow had completely wiped out the historic fishing town of Kalapana. A few people have rebuilt their homes on top of the lava (picture below). It was very interesting to see. The road to the viewing point is public property, but the lava field on either side of it is private property and you are not allowed to walk on it. There is a guard at the end of the path who gave us the tip to head back to the park to view Kilauea Caldera at night as they would have the best “show” for the evening. The absolute BEST thing about this walk out to the viewing area was that there was a giant double rainbow over the lava field. It is the must stunning rainbow I have seen to this date since my time living in Hawaii. Of course, shortly after viewing this it started to pour rain again. However, getting soaked again was worth seeing something so incredible.


After stopping at the viewing point we headed to the end of Highway 137, only about five minutes away. At the end of this highway is a little cafe and the start of the new Kaimu Black Sand Beach. What was previously Kaimu beach was a beautiful black sand beach with many gorgeous palm trees lining the shore. It was eventually, completely covered in 1990 by the Kilauea eruption. Today, new palm trees have been planted on this brand new shoreline land in an effort to restore Kaimu beach.


Next, we headed back to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to check out Halema`uma`u Crater at night. We had no idea what to expect…well we expected it to be raining…but we didn’t know what to expect besides that. It looked like a fireball had lit up the sky. We drove in and could see the clouds above the crater illuminated well before we got close to it. The clouds were a light orange from afar. We got to the Volcano Observatory and couldn’t believe what we saw. I would try to describe it, but the pictures will do a MUCH better job of it!


After many pictures, rain drops and getting very cold, we got back in the car and decided to drive Chain of Craters Road all the way to see if we could see anything. The road was pitch black and it was raining, so it made it interesting for Josh to drive. We saw two things on this trip down the road: 1. We saw a red glow in the distance of the current vent and 2. Stars were super bright out here because it was so dark. The pictures does not do them justice!

Chain of Craters Road Stars


We finally headed back to the B&B after a ridiculous amount of driving for the day!

Aiea Loop Trail

Today I hiked the Aiea Loop Trail which is located in the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area. The park is located about 10 miles from where I live and took me about a half hour to get there (I didn’t even get lost!). The trail is about 4.8 miles long and took me about an hour and 50 minutes to complete at a pretty fast pace (including stopping for pictures and a few offshoot trails to see some pretty cool views).  It runs along the ridge of the west side of the Halawa Valley (not to be confused with the Halawa Valley on Molokai) and I was able to see Pearl Harbor in a few places at a distance. There were so many different types of trees ranging from Norfolk Island pine trees to native koa and ohi‘a trees. It was also an incredibly muddy hike in places and I ended up with mud on my legs past my knees…I also drove home in socks because my shoes were completely covered in mud. I passed a few different people along the trail, but for the most part it was pretty desolate…except for a wild boar (my first time seeing one). I was walking along and all of a sudden it grunted loudly to my right and went running through the woods…scared me to death! However, I tried to get a picture through the trees :).