Here we go again. Back to where it all started my curiosity, the contagious disease, the drug that drives me insane “Travel,” back to the beginning to Hawaii’s Big Island.
This paradise island infused with active erupting volcanoes, beautiful rainforests and snorkeling, has drastically transformed over the last four years. One of the most significant factors, of course, has to do with the 2018 eruptions of Kilauea volcano. The devastating events lasted for over three and a half months creating a path of destruction. The lava flow wiped away approximately seven hundred properties leaving many homeless. The lave didn’t stop there it continued down the beach and destroyed the famous Kapoho tide pools where the snorkeling was unbelievable. With the constantly changing environment many have fled the island to the mainland in hopes of finding a better home; however, tourism isn’t in any way at a holt.
Why visit Big Island:
Apart from having amazing landscapes that are featured in motion pictures, this lava land has a lot to offer. If anything people come from all over the world to view this always changing island. With such diverse climates and to be exact, the island is home to ten climate regions out of fourteen found in the world. For example, the weather in Kona is hot but breeze because the ocean is so close, lush green trees are everywhere, making you feel like you are in a jungle. But a slight turn to the right and you are driving towards the airport the scenery has changed completely. Now you are surrounded by mountains of dry lava, and the air is hot like in the desert. Everything is steel black except the highway. Peaking through the rigid lava surface is small vegetation. In time lava’s rich soil will give the small plants plenty of nutrients to thrive and in no time this lava land will be a rainforest with tropical birds and animals residing in its quarters.
Other parts of the island like Mauna Kea the tallest mountain in the world counting form its ocean base, receives such large amounts of snow as if you are in Norway driving north in the winter. Heck, May is no different in Norway it’s still four meters of snow in some northern parts. But this is no northern land, this is a tropical island that’s what makes it so interesting.
What to explore on the island:
Location: Mauna Kea. The tallest mountain counting from its ocean base. The mountain that is actually a dormant volcano and continues to flatten under its own weight. The mountain that receives snow on a tropical island. The mountain which summit is home to an observatory with the most powerful telescopes to view the stars. Yes, this mountain is located on Big Island. Before you go and explore this gigantic mountain take a few precautions. For example be driving a four-wheeler, a car that can withstand the snow the unpaved surface and the unexpected road conditions. As well as take into account that this mountain is located at a very high altitude and altitude sickness in common. For all the warning signs stop half way at the information center, they will have more guidelines for you to follow.
Above the clouds, location Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea, with the most beautiful sunsets
Dive into the past, a few centuries back. Witness how native Hawaiians lived, the homes they built, the art they created, and see the gods they worshiped. This tiny well-preserved village is an escape back in time. All though small, it’s just enough to get a good idea of what life was like for the natives a few centuries back. As well, here you will notice many people going off to the right side with snorkeling gear. That’s because there’s a great spot to dive into the ocean and look at what lurks underneath the deep blue waves.
Great snorkeling spot, next to the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Location: Pololu Valley and Waipio Valley
Both places are great hikes with an end location the beach. Swimming is permitted here, but its a wild beach with high waves and no lifeguards on duty, proceed with caution. Be mindful that both locations are a step-down hill hike with one exception. The difference is Waipio Valley can be hiked or can be driven down in a four-wheeler, as for Pololu Valley it can only be walked.
Drive through the small city of Hilo, stop for a coffee at the Surf Break Cafe. They make delicious pastries, and the coffee is tasty. After a short break continue past the city center towards a few snorkeling spots. Stop at locations like the Carlsmith Beach Park, Leleiwi Park, and Richardson Ocean Park. I do have to say nothing will compare to the tide pools, but this will have to do, after all, we don’t control Mother Nature all we can do is respect it.
Location: Kapoho the town affected by the lava
Driving past Hilo moving closer to the village of Kapoho. Here you come to a realization of just how mighty volcanos wrath can be. Neighborhoods stopped exciting, destroyed by lava. Driveways lead to emptiness, homes abandoned, cars left behind, it felt quite like a ghost town. All though the lava is not threatening and all dried up, the air is filled with toxins from the eruption, and the power of nature is very much present. Yet many residents that weren’t affected by the volcano stayed behind to protect their own and hope that nothing like this will happen again.
The 2018 eruptions of Kilauea volcano, has destroyed this property