Hawaii: The Big Island: Puna

We only did one thing in Puna. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more we’d have loved to do. And that definitely doesn’t mean that one thing wasn’t worth it. The one thing I wanted to do in Hawaii was see lava. Seeing lava is the premise of this final blog post about our vacation in Hawaii.

When I discovered Lava Ocean Adventures I became obsessed with getting on a boat, speeding past the coast and watching lava drip and sizzle into the ocean. This excursion was the only one we pre-booked before leaving the mainland. We were going to do the Lava Boat Tour at sunset on August 29th (my 25th birthday). Unfortunately Pele had other plans. The weekend we arrived on the Big Island the lava tube to the ocean collapsed, halting all flow to the ocean.

Lava Ocean Adventures contacted us about the changes in condition and we transferred our reservation to a guided lava hike on Wednesday. The hike was so much fun. We walked across the lava rock dessert to where red hot lava was flowing to the surface. The hike took us 4 ½ hours (round trip) of carefully stepping over uneven terrain. As lava hardens, the glass particles rise to the surface creating very sharp rock. Lava Ocean Adventures recommends wearing long pants on this hike as a precaution against cuts if you fall. Not wanting to hike in jeans, we took our chances and trusted our ability to stay balanced. One thing I would highly recommend are high socks. I was constantly plucking shards of lava rock from inside my shoes. Also, be sure to have a good pair of hiking boots as you really don’t want to fall. Rain was coming in behind us and I spotted a beautiful rainbow blessing our trail.

Lava Hike 1 Lava Rock

Rainbow Over Lava

Photographs and imagination can’t even begin to describe the experience of seeing new earth being formed. Feeling the heat and staring into the glow of the magma is incredible. Off in the distance we could see the smoke from the top of the mountain and after the sun set could see the trail of fire making its way down to the sea.

Flowing Lava 2Flowing Lava 1

For our hike back to our vehicles, our tour guides provided us with headlamps so we could maneuver the environment safely. I actually had a lot of fun getting back. Stepping carefully onto solid ground and not into crevasses reminded me of the childhood game “don’t touch the ground it’s lava!” I had two twin beds in my room when I was little and was constantly rearranging them, whenever they were on two separate walls my brother and I would throw pillows on the floor and jump from pillow to pillow to reach the other bed, taking care not to fall onto the carpet. Except in this situation, you wanted to step on the (hardened) lava!

Lava Hike 2

Things to do on our next trip (aka things we didn’t have time for but wanted to see)

  • Lava Tree State Monument; Highway 132. In 1970 10-foot-deep lava flowed through the forest from Kilauea Volcano hardened around trees which burned away. The molds from these trees still stand.
  • A local we met at Kona de Pele in Kailua-Kona recommended we drive along Red Road for one of the most scenic drives on the island.
  • Ahalanui Beach Park. At this park the waters in the “hot pond” reach up to 90degrees. For my thin Florida blood, this is perfect water temperature.
  • Kumukahi Lighthouse. Cape Kumukahi is the easternmost point in the state and boasts the freshest air! This lighthouse survived the lava flows from Kilauea Volcano that wiped out the town of Kapoho.

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