Volcanoes national park
Like I said in the first post itself, the whole point of going to the Island was to see the volcano and lava. So when I entered this national park, I was very excited.
We went to the visitor center where we bought identical t-shirts and I bought a book and some more souvenirs. After that we headed to Volcano House, where we got the first glimpse of the Kiluea crater. The crater is so close to the volcano house that I wonder if people there live in terror. We were able to see steam/smoke coming out of it continuously.
If you drive for few miles on the Crater rim road, you get to see Steam vents. There is a small trail of about 0.4 miles that takes you to a boardwalk of sulphur banks. You can see sulphur dioxide and Hydrogen sulphide gases coming out of the surface and also see yellow sulphur deposits on rocks.
Once you complete the trail, you walk for about 0.1 mile to see another view of the crater. After that, we headed to Jaggar Museum which gave an even closer look at the crater. This was the best view of the crater that we saw.
The museum had a display of the various kinds of rocks that come out of a lava flow. Crater rim drive was closed beyond the museum because of recent eruptions. We had to drive back to Volcano house where we had our late lunch. Once we were done with the lunch, we headed towards Thurston lava tube. We hiked the Devastation trail, which was about 0.5 miles and saw the devastation caused by lava flow. This is a very scenic trail. We had to quit Lava tube hike in the middle since we were late for the lava tour.
Lava boat tour
Our tour was supposed to start at 6, but when we were halfway, I got a call saying it was canceled due to technical reasons. The tour was rescheduled for 10 PM 😦 We had to see lava flow since that was the whole point of the trip. So we went to the beach and waited for the tour to start at 10. The lava flows through a tube and is visible only when it flows into the ocean. So the best way to see the lava is by taking a boat tour. The ride was really bumpy, almost like a roller coaster ride. Be prepared to get nauseous. The waves were hitting the boat really hard and the boat was moving at a very high speed too. At some point, the wave was as big as the boat itself. Unless you have a raincoat for yourself and your camera, you will definitely get drenched.
Also saw a green glow in the ocean. It is probably because of bioluminescence exhibited by some fireworms. Or because of some Phytoplankton, called stars of the ocean because they emit light at night and look like glowing stars in the water. I found this image while searching for them online: Link. Don’t they look magical?!
When we reached the lava flow area, I had trouble closing my mouth 😛 The view was jaw dropping; splendid would be an understatement. There was red lava flowing right in front of my eyes at such a close distance. And I saw steam rising from the water at the point where lava touches water. Amazing view and the tour boat went around the lava flow multiple times giving us a very clear view of the flow. Probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.
Helicopter volcano tour
We were so mesmerized with the lava show that we wanted to take a look at it again on the helicopter ride. The ride took us through the devastated area, showing us how the previous flows had erased all the plant life and cities like Kalapana. He also gave us an aerial view of the current lava flowing into the ocean. It was not as mesmerizing as the boat tour was but still it was good. We took this tour in the afternoon, so did not get to see much of the red lava, even though I saw few red streams midst all the steam coming out of the ocean. He gave us a glimpse of the downtown, Hilo city and couple of waterfalls too. But he did not take us to the craters, since it is supposed to be a no-fly zone. When we took the tour, we had imagined him to take us to the crater. The tour was not as exciting as we imagined it would be.
We had Thai food after the tour and then once we reached the hotel, went for a stroll to King Kamehameha mall and had yummy icecream and Macadamia nut pie there.
To be continued…