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Published: August 5th 2007
I did a solo trip to 4 Hawaiian Islands around end of May 2007. I spend 3 days each in the Big Island, Maui, Kauai and last day in Oahu. It was a great experience even though I was traveling alone. It is a long flight from east coast to Honolulu. 10 hrs at least.
The landing at Honolulu gave a glimpse of what I was about to see for the next 10 days. Blue, turquoise water. Something you don’t see in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake Bay or those NJ beaches.
THE BIG ISLAND
After spending the first night at Honolulu, I took off next morning to Kona at the Big Island. The landing at Kona reveals to you the volcanic nature of the island. I saw the air strip surrounded by mud colored rocks with shades of black here and there.
I rented a PT Cruiser convertible at the Kona airport and set off to explore the big island.
The first activity in the Big Island was the dive in the water but aboard a vessel. They call it Atlantis Submarine. The dive lasts about 45 min. The submarine is a 48 seater with same number of windows for
Snap taken from Makapuu point
passengers to see. It was a little congested (not for the claustrophobics) but still comfortable. It
dived to a depth of 100 ft. U can get to see the corals and marine life. Pictures dont come out great inside water using the regular digital camera when you are shooting through a glass window. So you might want to focus more on seeing the fish and less on shooting.
Afterwards, I drove north and then east on Route 19 all the way up to Hilo, the place where I was going to stay for the next 3 days. Stopped at a couple of nice beaches along the way. Being a little hydrophobic, I don’t usually get my feet wet in beaches!
Before reaching Hilo, I took a detour to Waipio Valley. You get to see only the side view of the sea cliffs here. The awesome beauty of the valley can only be appreciated if you got a look at it from the sea or air.
Before reaching Hilo, I also checked out the Akaka Falls near Hilo.
My Hilo's vacation rental was in a secluded neighborhood. It rains a lot in Hilo or at least that’s what they say.
It mostly rained at night when I was there. So you have a tropical climate here. And you guessed it, mosquitoes and those nocturnal noises!
I started next morning to Hawaii Volcanoes national park. It was a little misty that morning. The rainforest in the park is something to behold. Fern like plants and vegetation not normally seen elsewhere.
I started driving around the Crater Rim Drive. Before completing the loop, I ended up on the Chain of Craters road. You get to see old volcanic craters and evidence of recent volcanic activities. You will see lava rocks everywhere here alongside the road.
I reached end of Chain of Craters road near the ocean. The drive down from an elevation of 3000 ft to sea level within an hr and the view around it simply breathtaking.
At the end of the road, I parked the car. Saw like 30 cars parked there. Applied sunscreen on my brown Indian skin (never used sunscreen before!). With my backpack containing water, binoculars and camera, I began walking towards where everyone was going. This is the road which was blocked by past lava flows. I walked on the rough lava rocks for about
10 minutes before coming to a point close to the blue ocean. From here, one could see the plumes of smoke about 2-3 miles away where the lava was flowing into the ocean. I got tempted. Signs at the park said that it is a 3 hr hike to the lava flow. I was curious. I had nothing to eat in my backpack. Just water. Would that be enough? Curiosity got the better of me. Saw a group of 4 hiking towards the direction where the smoke was. Then saw another couple move in the same direction. I too started. Strong breeze made sure that my cap disappeared somewhere in the black lava rocks. Cool breeze was a friend though. After walking about an hr and half, my paths crossed those of the couple I saw depart before me. I asked the guy if he knew where he was going. He thought I had an idea where I was headed for! Neither of us was sure if the 2-3 hrs hike was going to be worth the effort considering that we did not know if we would see red lava. The plumes of smoke never seemed to be coming close.
Another hr of walking, I ran into a sign which said it was dangerous to go beyond that point. So after almost 3 hrs of walking on solidified lava, was it time to head back without seeing any real red lava? I did see a patch of red about 200 ft away but was scared to go there since the terrain looked hostile. Hot air was blowing out of some holes. Since the breeze was blowing towards me, I was smelling those sulphurous fumes. There was nobody around me. Even using binoculars, I didn’t see a single human soul out there. The couple which was following me had already left without seeing any volcanic activity. I thought the girl was a little upset. Maybe they were on a honeymoon trip and a 6 hr hike on a lava field was not her idea of romancing in Hawaii!
Little fatigued and not having seen red lava up close, it was time for a long arduous trek back to my car. Without a cap on the head and not having eaten something for 7-8 hrs, it was a hell of a hike. I did make it in one piece but it took
Red Lava inside cracks
Its just a 3 ft below!
me 3.5 hrs to return back to car. 6-7 hrs of hike and no red lava. Not a perfect day in Hawaii. But that was about to change the next day.
Third day, I decided to complete the Crater Rim drive and see as much as I could in the Park. Hiked Kilauea Iki. It is a crater of a volcano which erupted in 1959 and it still emits volcanic fumes!
After completing the trip to the park, I drove to Punaluu black sand beach. Saw some turtles basking in the sun there.
Then it was time for another attempt to see red lava but this time from the east end of the park. I drove east on Route 11 and then took Route 130 down to the destroyed town of Kalpana. The paved road reaches a dead end. Somebody suggested that I could drive 1-2 miles on the dirt road and I will reach a point where I can park the car and start hiking. On the way, I saw black lava on both sides of the dirt road. All that is left of the town are some homes and some patches of road not overwhelmed by lava. Finally
it was time to hike. This hike was short. Just 1 hr into the hike and I was standing right on solid black lava and below the cracks, I could see red. Just like metal melting in a furnace. Then I saw more lava, this time flowing out of the black rocks and solidifying in minutes. It was a pretty amazing site. To be able to see volcanic activity from such close distance and to be able to touch lava with a walking stick was unbelievable. Since I was travelling alone, I could not muster enough courage to stay in that unique place till sunset and then watch the eerie sight of reddish glows in the pitch black darkness of the night. It has to be an awesome sight to behold. Many people do that hike in the night.
Next day, I was in Maui. I visited Lao Valley. Drove around the west Maui on Route 30. At one point the route ends. Next you have a single lane mountainous road and there is a valley on one side. It was a little risky drive on it but exciting too. After driving a 25mph for 2 hrs,
I did manage to reach back to civilization in Kahului.
Next day it was time to take a trip to Hana. Road to Hana is surrounded by lush rainforest and beautiful vistas. But while driving, you got to keep your focus on the road. It is a constantly winding road. At Hana airport, I had a rendezvous with Armin, a guy who flies Ultralight Trikes, a kind of hang glider which is powered by motor. I flew with him on his Trike for about 45 min and saw the beautiful coast of Maui and Hana rainforest. It was a memorable experience.
Next day, I drove up the hill to the summit of Haleakala. I could not muster enough strength to wake up at 3am and see a Haleakala sunrise. It was time to see the Mars like landscape at the Haleakala crater. I hiked on the sliding sands trail for about 4 hrs and visited the first Cinder Cone. Awesome views.
My rental convertible had been leaking oil all the time and I was blissfully unaware of that. My hosts told me so only on the third night in Maui. Next day I had to take the flight to Kauai.
I was apprehensive. Will I reach airport with that car? Just 2 miles short of airport, the car starts shaking as if it did not want to go any further. I had to call the rental company and they arranged a tow. Luckily I didn't have to pay for that.
3rd Island I visited was Kauai. One of the highlights was a sunset boat trip to Napali coast. If you do snorkelling then you can take a boat trip to Napali and a nearby island which starts in the morning. If you dont want to get wet, a sunset cruise starting around 3pm is the perfect way to see Napali coast.
I also did an Ultralight Hang Glider flight over the Waimea Canyon and over the Napali coast. Birds in Paradise which is located near Port Allen offers these hang gliding flights. My ride lasted about 75 min and cost about $300. It was an awesome experience gliding between the walls of the canyon and then gliding very close to the Napali cliffs. These gliders take off from a runway just like a regular aircraft and they are powered by a motor.
I spent the last day
of the trip in Oahu visiting Honolulu and the scenic southeastern coast. Overall a great trip.
Full size photos at
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