The Big Island: Trip 5

A couple weekends ago, we met our friends Lindsay and Channa on The Big Island for a quick trip. They were visiting from Seattle so we decided to crash their vacation for a couple days.

Saturday was a bit rainy so we slept in and then walked into Kailua for brunch. We ate at Daylight Mind Coffee Company (which was delicious) and then wandered back to our hotel.

After eating plenty of food, we decided to go on a short walk to the End of the Earth. We watched a few people jump off the rocks and enjoyed the spectacular view of the ocean.

After a relaxing day, we walked to dinner and enjoyed the evening!

On Sunday we decided to go snorkeling at Two Step. Great location with tons of fish! Videos below!

After lots of snorkeling, we worked up an appetite. We ate lunch at Da Poke Shack before saying bye and venturing back to Oahu! The poke was DELICIOUS.


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!



Maui: Trip 2 – Day 3

Laura and Jim’s Wedding Day!!!

On Monday, we woke up and headed down to have breakfast at the resort. After that, Josh and I drove to La Perouse Bay to hike around and see what it was all about. It was beautiful, but very windy. Snorkeling is supposed to be great in the bay, but the ocean was pretty rough. On our walk, we saw several goats just hanging out on the beach and in the wooded area. It was kind of hilarious to see goats hanging out on the beach. I feel like that would happen only in Hawaii.

After we got done with La Perouse Bay, we went back to the hotel to grab lunch at the pool bar and then got ready for the wedding! We went to the wedding around 4:00. It was in such a gorgeous location! Everyone looked so beautiful and it could not have been more perfect! I am so incredibly happy for both of them :). Towards the end of the night, Laura and I even got to dance to our song (Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys). The night could not have been more perfect for the two of them!

The Big Island: Trip 2 – Day 2

On Sunday, Josh and I woke up at 3:15 a.m. to head to our sunrise lava boat tour. Our tour was leaving at 5:00 a.m. from Isaac Hale Beach Park and we had to be there a half hour early to check in. We booked our tour through Lava Ocean Aventures and it was well worth it! Our boat was open on all sides so we were prepared to get wet and be cold! The coast we traveled on has some of the roughest waters in Hawaii. Part of the reason we chose the sunrise tour is that it would be the calmest time of day.

The amusing thing about this tour was that we all boarded the boat in the middle of a parking lot. They towed the boat to us and we all climbed up via a ladder. Once we were all on board, they towed us to the boat ramp and launched us…then we were off!

It took about 35 minutes to get to the lava ocean entry. It was pitch black and you couldn’t see anything…kind of scary! You could see the glow of the lava 10 minutes before we got there…amazing! Once we got there, you could instantly feel it getting warmer. The water around where the lava was entering the ocean was 180 degrees. Even 25 feet out, the water was still about 75 degrees. They stuck a bucket in the ocean to get some water so we could all feel how warm it was. The Captain got us within a couple yards of the flowing lava…it was SO close that we could hear the lava hissing when it hit the ocean. Pictures and videos below!

Lava Boat Tour Video 1
Lava Boat Tour Video 2
Lava Boat Tour Video 3
Lava Boat Tour Video 4


After hanging out at the lava for a little over an hour we headed back. I was SO seasick at this point, so I was thankful to start moving again. We got back to the park and headed back to Hilo, showered and slept for two hours until we had to check out. I was dying from being so seasick, so I was quite happy to sleep for a few hours. We checked out of our hotel and had lunch at Café Pesto before going to the airport to catch our flight out. I was quite happy to have some good food and a diet coke. After our amazing weekend, I think Josh and I can mark off the volcano area of the big island. It was so worth the two trips and a once in a lifetime experience!

The Big Island: Trip 2 – Day 1

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.

Lava Surface Flow Video 1
Lava Surface Flow Video 2
Lava Surface Flow Video 3
Lava Surface Flow Video 4
Lava Surface Flow Video 5


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.

Lava Ocean Entry Video


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!

The Big Island: Trip 1 – Day 4

Monday morning we woke up early to head to Isaac Hale Beach Park to catch our boat for the lava tour. Well not surprisingly this also got rained out due to the weather and roughness of the ocean. So instead we headed to Kalapana Cafe for breakfast and to regroup and figure out what we wanted to do on our last day.


After breakfast we headed to check out the Kapoho Tide-pools and Wai`opae Ponds. Rumor has it that they are wonderful for snorkeling, but with the current state of the weather we only visited them from above ground.


After our brief stop at the tide-pools, we headed north for a few miles to check out a natural lava swimming pool. The drive there was along one of the prettiest roads I have ever been on. It was also ridiculous how instantly our surroundings changed to a jungle. The surf here was outrageous. So much so, that we took a video because pictures just couldn’t capture the magnificent waves.


After hiking back through the mud to our car, we headed back to the paved road to Highway 137 to visit Ahalanui. Ahalanui is a spring- and ocean-fed pool containing a man-made wall that separates it from the ocean. The pool is heated to about 90 degrees…but we opted not to get in as it looked pretty disgusting. Even though fresh water replenishes the pool daily, I’m still not sure it was the cleanest thing to swim in. However, it was still pretty neat to look at. It also amazes me that there are pools that are heated by the earth to such high temperatures.


Our next stop down Highway 137 was back to Isaac Hale Beach Park. This time to visit Poihiki pool, which is also a warm water pool, but completely natural. We walked along a short path to the pool…and while it looked much cleaner, there were already a lot of people in it. However, we did sit for a bit and watch all of the surfing action at the park.


Once we got sick of watching the surfers, we made one last stop at Mackenzie State Recreation Area. We weren’t sure what to expect, but the owner of our B&B told us to make a stop here because the scenery was beautiful. We definitely were blown away. We thought the waves were ridiculous at the lava pool, but they were nothing compared to the waves here. They were so large and powerful that there were little crabs on the top of the cliffs that had been tossed up by the water. They would start to then make their way back down the rocks. Rough life for the little crabs. We also took a video at this location because the pictures could not begin to do what we saw in person justice.


After that amazing experience, it was time for us to head back to Hilo to the airport. Lucky for us, this time we were on Hawaiian Airlines which meant we had a big plane that would have no problems taking off in the rain…unlike our Molokai experience from a couple months ago :). Adios Big Island..til we meet again!

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!