Did you know? The Hawaiian Archipelago is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth. Suhweet!
We made our way to Hilo from Kona and stopped at their farmer’s market held twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays 6:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Bought some homemade green papaya salad and avocado spring rolls for after our hike at the park.
Continued up the Volcanoes National Park which contains the world’s most active volcano: Kīlauea, home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.
Entrance Fee: $10/vehicle
First stop was the visitor’s center where we grabbed a map of the park and a good itinerary for seeing the best of the park in around 4-5 hours with some driving and a 2 hour hike.
A quick drive down was our next stop: the Jaggar Museum and the view of the Caldera.
One of the park rangers explained the formation of the caldera and how the volcanic explosion created different aspects of the national park, like the Thurston lava tube and the lava lake, then she showed us how although all volcanic rock is made of the exact same composition, the cooling and reheating of the lava creates many different shapes, densities and colors.
This type has olivine deposits, which essentially created the green sand Papakolea beach on the Big Island, only one of two in the world, but unfortunately hard to get to unless you rented a car with four-wheel drive.
Driving back towards the official area to view the steam vents, we weren’t super impressed as most of them were surrounded by guard rails and park officials telling us not to throw in coins. Mostly another view of the caldera with gorgeous wild orchids in the fields. The steam vents in the lava lake are way more thrilling, and you can stand right next to them (and/or stick your hand over the vents like I did and have an eery realization that you’re standing over a super mega active volcano…)
Drove on to the parking lot for the Kilauea Iki trail and took the loop to the right away from the Thurston lava tube, about 4 miles and really pretty steady until the hike up to the lava tube. We were so lucky to have the sunshine shining in while we hiked in the jungle, then the rain started literally as we reached the car to head back. Lots of fun, well reviewed and for sure a fabulous 2-3 hour hike/walk.
view from the parking lot into the lava lake
into the jungle for the beginning and end
into the old lava lake
way better and more colorful steam vents, really think about what’s happening in the earth right under your feet… then try not to freak out 😉
the park ranger called these “hawaiian cranberries” and she ate a few in front of me, so then I ate some and didn’t die, and then I ate some more. not that I advise eating wild red berries, but yeah.
then up the jungle into the Thurston lava tube, totally worth the hike up! lots and lots of fun with great weather, we were so lucky!