Hawaiian Holiday Day 6
Day 6 - Volcano Day
We woke up at 5:30am this morning. We had a 9am helicopter ride that left from Hilo Airport today. Hilo is about a two hour drive from Kona. We chose to stay in Kona rather than Hilo because we wanted to see alot of the Big Island and Kona simply had more hotel options.
The scenery on the Big Island is quite different than Oahu. There is volcanic rock everywhere and the water seems alot rougher. Everything is also quite spread out. Once we left Kona, we did not see another gas station, restaurant or even many houses until we hit Hilo. We did see cows, ne ne's (geese) and goats. In fact, we had to dodge quite a few goats and ne ne's. That kept us on our toes while driving.
We flew on the Blue Hawaiian Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls tour. It was fantastic! We saw alot more waterfalls than we thought we would and the flowing lava into the ocean was just amazing. You see this one lone house that was left standing from a development that was destroyed and it gets rented out but you have to be helicoptered in and out and it's really close to the lava. NO THANKS!
Our pilot, Ray, was fun. He played music throughout including the Star Wars theme, Buffett's Volcano and the Hawaii 5-O theme. It was expensive but definitely worth the cost and would totally do it again. We took the first flight of the day so we could spend the rest of the day at Volcano National Park.
I really like how Volcano National Park is set up. You can drive the route in your car, but you can also get out and hike in to places to see things close up if you want. Everything is marked with distances too so you know what you are in for. We did the Sulphur Banks Trail, the Devastation Trail, the Thruston Lave Tube and Kilauea Iki. We also visited the Jagger Museum and drove Chain of Craters Road and Crater Rim Drive.
It was surreal being there. Steam vents are everywhere and the destruction is unbelievable. One minute you are in a rainforest and the next thing you know there is nothing but volcanic rock and ash. You don't get close to the lava flows and we did not see them while we were in the park. They let you hike in at night but we didn't do that so I don't know if you can see them. We would totally do this again too. We could have easily spent another day here hiking around and exploring but did not have the time.
We drove back to Kona along a southern route. We took the northern route that morning. We stopped at Punalu'u Beach. We wanted to see a black sand beach. We picked this one at random and saw three large sea turtles nesting on the beach. Very cool.
Again, there was not much to see driving back this way. More houses and towns but still no gas stations or restaurants. There were more goats to dodge. They seemed to be stalking us.
Silly us, made the mistake of not eating before leaving Hilo so we were starving when we got back. We went out for pizza and back to the hotel to visit with the Manta Rays before heading to bed. No sunset watching tonight since we were driving. Last full day in Hawaii tomorrow.