Dec 23, 2011

Honeymoon in Hawaii (part four): A volcano

We ended our very short jaunt to Maui and headed to Hilo on the Big Island on Monday morning. We decided to have a little fun so we upgraded our rental car to a Mustang convertible. I actually wasn't really on board with renting the Mustang because to me a car is a car, but I was oh so wrong. It was so much fun to drive. 

We stopped at Ocean Sushi for lunch. Usually, affordable and sushi are a scary combination, but I thought the food was pretty decent. Of course, I ordered the simplest things, which, in my opinion, are the best types of sushi. 

Ocean Sushi in Hilo
Sushi roll with tuna, avocado and tobiko and chirashi bowl

Hilo is the largest city on the Big Island but I found it to be extremely quiet and thought that it felt like a  small town. Hilo is one of the wettest cities in the world and that is supposed to be what makes the buildings look older than they really are.

Hilo shops

After lunch, we headed to Volcanoes National Park for a half day before we needed to check into our treehouse. We started at Kilauea Visitor Center and drove up Crater Rim Drive to the Jaggar Museum. The road past the museum has been closed for some time.

Our first stop was Caldera Overlook. To get to it, walk across the street from the visitors center and past the Volcano House, which was also closed. There is a great view of Kilauea Caldera and Halema'uma'u Crater. This overlook is not that well-visited and there was only one other group of people when we were there.

Steam coming from Halema'uma'u Crater

We got back on the rode and stopped at the steam vents. There is a man-made steam hole in the parking lot that has a gate around it, but if you walk a couple of minutes away from the parking lot and towards the crater, you can see natural steam vents and a view of Kilauea Crater. 

Steam vents

The rest of the drive along Crater Rim Drive was painful because there was roadwork going on and traffic was flowing one way at a time. Once we finally arrived at the Jaggar Museum, we were treated to this view of  Halema'uma'u Crater.

Halema'uma'u Crater from the Jaggar Museum

The Jaggar Museum offered some informational exhibits on Pele and different types of lava flow. We had to back track along Crater Rim Drive and past to park entrance to come to Pu'u Pua'i Overlook to see the hiking trail that we had planned for the next day. A roughly 3 mile hike along the crater floor. 

View of Kilauea Iki from Pu'u Pua'i Overlook

We still had some time left in our day so we continued on and completed the short Devastation Trail, which is exactly what it name suggests. The half mile trail takes you from forest to tephra and back to forest. The contrast is so stark but beautiful at the same time. 

Forest begins Devastation Trail

The landscape becomes more barren...

Until nothingness

But then you can see forest on the other side
And there is life again.

We still had some more time in the day so we decided to stop by the Thurston Lava Tubes. As we pulled up to the parking lot, we saw Matt's dad, stepmother and brother in the parking lot too! So we took a short stroll with them through the lava tubes. I was actually very disappointed in the lava tubes because I was expecting this to be one of the highlights of the volcano. I had read that there was an unlighted portion of the lava tube that you can walk through to see pitch blackness, but that portion was behind a locked gate. I'm not sure how long that section has been closed, but it was a big bummer for me. We split up with Matt's family and went to check-in to our treehouse. 

250 Keawe Street
Hilo, HI

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