The closest thing you get to a road trip living in Hawaii is island hopping. Sometimes you need a little motivation to book a flight (even though its only a 20 minutes each way). Mine was to see the lava flow into the ocean on Big Island. The lava had been pumping for the past month and when I was there in April for my birthday we went to the lava fields, but no gooey magma was witnessed. I had a day off from work and convinced my partner in crime, Kevin, to explore Pele with me.
I have a lot of family in Hawaii and one of my aunts lives on Kona side while another lives on Hilo side, so we had a place to stay at either end of the island. We flew into Kona Friday morning and went to Kua Bay for a few hours, ate lunch at Kona Brewing Company, then booked a Manta Ray night dive. Now, I know my motto is to live local but this was just too cool not to do. I had little shame in booking the tour and felt validated when the divers on the boat told us they could tell we were local and gave us a discount. If you’re ever on Big Island and want to hang out with manta rays the size of a bus check out Sea Paradise.
The next morning we woke up and drove Saddle Road to Pahoa to check out the lava on Kalapana. The drive was about 2 hours and was absolutely beautiful. The change in scenery from one side of the island to the other is unreal.
We arrived at Kalapana at noon and it was HOT. We decided that hiking 8 miles through black lava fields mid-day was not the best idea. Instead we stopped in at Kaimu Black Sand Beach, then headed to Kopoho Tidepools.
After we cooled off we headed back to Kalapana to see the lava. It was still hot so we rented bikes for the trail rather than walking the 8 mile path. We checked out the lava gushing into the ocean while we picnicked and then went lava hunting.
About a quarter of a mile in we started smelling the sulfur and the silver sheen of the new lava let us know we were approaching an opening. Not long after that we spotted the glow. I was freaking out over the fact I was standing on flowing lava! Disclaimer: we didn’t pay for a tour but made friends with one of the park rangers so we knew where to step. My shoes did start smoking at one point though…
Our last day on Big Island before returning to Oahu we drove from Hilo up to Waipio and did one of the coolest hikes ever. The hike involved navigating through irrigation tunnels and up a ridge to a 40ft water flume in the middle of the jungle. It was definitely on my to-do list and while I would love to disclose the exact location, it’s on private property so you’ll have to do a little research and risk analysis on your own. However, I am happy to share photos 😉
The hike only took about 3 hours round trip and we were back in Kona in time for dinner with my aunt. It was an adventure packed weekend and we only covered a fraction of the things to do there so I anticipate another trip back soon.