Hawaii Big Island
02.11.2008 - 06.11.2008 20 °C
Our few days on Hawaii's Big Island started with a visit to the small town of Volcano Village at the top of the mountain, just outside the Volcano National Park. Our accommodation was a lovely rainforest lodge with a fantastic fish pond in the middle full of koi carp and a huge games room / lounge area. It was quite a bit cooler up there on top of the mountain and very misty at times, we later found out that the mist was volcanic gases known locally as 'vog'.
On our first day we went into the national park and hiked for a few hours around the rim of the active crater. Unfortunately part of the road around the rim of the crater was closed but we were shown a video why. In March 2008 a vent appered in the crater and a huge explosion threw ash and rocks nearly 2 meters in diameter into the road. Since then the vent has been steadily steaming and increasing in size and explosions are unpredictable. This did give us the chance to witness the volcano in action which was quite spectacular.
There is also a dormant crater which has a path right through the middle. It was facinating to walk across the solidified lava at the bottom of the crater and see the different whipped cream shapes. From a distance it looked like mud but it felt like walking on charcoal.
Just outside the other end of the crater there is a lava tube, an underground tunnel created by a hot lava flow. We walked through a 200 meter section that was lit, but at the end there was an optional further 300 meter section that was not lit at all. Gary enjoyed this pitch black section but Vicki was terrified. Gary wanted to turn off the torches and hide and scare other visitors, but wasn't allowed!
That evening we drove our car back down to the coast and walked across a solidified lava flow from 19.... to a viewing point where you can still see the lava flowing out of the volcano and running into the sea. This creates a huge plume of steam which glows red after the sun has set. Again it was so spectacular to see.
On day 2 in the Volcano park we drove down the Chain of Craters road where you get to appreciate the vastness of the volcano and the destruction that is causes. As you drive down the 30 mile road you see more craters and huge lava flows on the side of the mountain from erruptions over the last 200 years.
Our last day on the Big Island we drove for a few hours around the coast to see some beautiful waterfalls including Rainbow falls and Akaka falls.
We also spent the afternoon Imiloa Astronomy centre where we watched a 3D film in the planetarium about black holes and learnt about the scientific work being done at the observatories at the top of Mauna Kea (14,000 feet). Like the science museum in London there were lots of interactive things to play with and we had a great time.