(continued from here)
Early on Saturday morning we caught a flight with Hawaiian Airlines (that left ½ hour early!) to the big island. We arrived at Hilo, and spent the rest of the morning visiting Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii and the planetarium program there, where I was researching for my upcoming evening on the top of Mauna Kea.
We made the short drive to Volcano, HI to our home for the next couple days, Aloha Junction B&B. It was great to find that we were only a couple minutes from the entrance to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. In turn, it was about ten minutes from the observatory at the edge of the active crater of the volcano. We spent some time watching the plume before heading back to the B&B, but it was so awesome, we went back again near midnight to see the orange glow of the lava on the rising cloud.
Kilauea Volcano crater in daytime and (insert) at night
The next day we drove to the ocean south of Hilo and explored tide pools and the rugged shoreline before returning for lunch and then heading out for the sights along the Chain of Craters drive (catching just a small portion of the Super Bowl — we barely knew it was on). While the road wound between various craters and lava tubes, as we crossed lava flows under a misty sky it at times looked like we were driving across an alien landscape. We stopped off to make a 1½ mile hike to see the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.
bleak landscape along the Chain of Craters road
The next day we said goodbye to Volcano and made our way to Kailua-Kona along the Hawaii Belt Road. We had been told to stop at Punalu’u Bake Shop — the southernmost bakery in the US, where we sampled some delicious Malasada. From there it wasn’t far to Ka Lea, the furthest point south in the entire United States, surpassing our previous record. We watched the currents along the shore, and even picked out whales among the waves.
Ka Lae facing southward, and a whale rounding the point (inset)
The drive along the western side of Hawai’i was pretty bleak, yet very scenic, with the shoreline below on our left and slope up on our right. As we travelled through Kona, we stopped off at Greenwell Kona Coffee Farm and got a short introduction to how coffee is harvested and processed.
When we got to our room at the Royal Kona Resort, we were amused at how loud the waves were as they crashed along the shore, and it took a bit to get used to sleeping to that. Kona had the best sunsets of our trip, and the hotel was well located to enjoy them.
the view from our room at the Royal Kona Resort
More of our circuit around the Big Island in Hawai’i: pt 4