It was time for the day trip to Big Island, Hawaii. We boarded the Go Airlines flight from Honolulu (in Oahu) to Hilo (in Big Island). After a 45-minute flight, we reached Hilo - luscious green, mountains far and wide, very different from the cosmopolitan Honolulu. It is said that in Big Island, one can find about eleven different climate zones ranging from arid deserts to snow-capped mountains and also the rain forests. Isn't that unbelievable for an island which is only 4000 square miles?? Its about 1/40 of the State of California.
It was drizzling when we reached Hilo, and the smell of the sand and the overcast clouds made me nostalgic - took me back to Kerala, my native place!!
We rented a car and started our drive towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park is known for the active Kilauea volcano. The various craters and old lava flows are best viewed with the 11-mile drive called the Crater Rim Road. The place looked eerie - sulphur fumes all over giving off the smell of rotten egg, black hardened lava on both sides of the road. We witnessed many craters along our drive through the Park, the largest one being the Halema'uma'u crater(See the picture). Halema'uma'u is home to Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes. Native Hawaiian people still follow the ancient tradition and culture. Legends has it that people who carried away the black sand or rocks from these islands suffered great loss and bad luck at the hands of Goddess Pele.
One can see that all life forms were completely obliterated which came on the way of the lava flow. But it was nice to see that some vegetation growing back after years of hibernation. The lava here flows from the mountains to the ocean and this is clearly seen when the drive takes you from the mountain top to the ocean side. Very hard, black igneous rocks are formed when the molten lava hits the water and sometimes it forms sea arches and other various structures(View picture below). There are helicopter rides over the active Kilauea Volcano which gives an opportunity to view the molten lava flow. But since it was raining, we skipped that part.
The last point of interest was the Thurston Lava Tube. These are underground cave-like structures formed by the lava flow. The trail to the lava tube was damp, with little sunlight, birds chirping and very cool compared to the eerie, black, sulphur smelling volcanic craters. It was really unbelievable to see that these two different climates in just about 5 mile distance.
We spent time till afternoon exploring more places in the National Park,grabbed some lunch from the refreshments area in park and headed back to Hilo.
The next destination was Akkaka Falls (see picture). The drive to Akkaka Falls was along the coastline from Hilo. One the way, we also drove through luscious rain forest, local farms to reach the Onomea Bay. After visiting Akkaka Falls, we made our trip back towards Hilo, visited the Rainbow Waterfalls and the Boiling Pots waterfall.
And then, it was time for bid good bye to Big Island but with the promise of coming back next time for more days. We were awed at the experience that we had during the day seeing volcanoes, rain forests, pristine black sand beaches, waterfalls.... Some things that we missed, but readers should consider while visiting Big Island are watching molten lava from helicopter or by 8-mile hike during night, Mauna Kea, hike through Waipio Valley, visit Kona coffee plantations and orchid plantations in the area.
Next post will be Hawaii Travelogue-III - Day trip to Maui.