Travel

Last of the Big Island

Just a few more images to finish out the string of Big Island posts.

Black Sand beach at Kalapana.  Where a rogue wave claimed my phone.

Blue surf at Laupahoehoe Point.  No beach here.  Just big rocks and waves.  I didn't realize it at the time but the photos from here turned out just a little fuzzy because of sea spray on the lens.

Akaka Falls in the mist.

Looking across to Mauna Kea from the end of the road at Mauna Loa.  Much more impressive in real life.

Pololu Valley

The eastern side of the ancient Kohala volcano is the home of a series of deep lush valleys carved backwards from the ocean by the abundant rainfall brought to that side of the island by the trade winds. Waipi'o Valley is the most famous because of it's regal history and dramatic 1,000 foot cliffs, which flank the valley floor on either side. Pololu Valley is perhaps a little less astonishing but as far as landscapes go, it is equally as pure.

View from the end of the road, looking down onto the black sand beach that marks the terminus of the valley as it meets the sea.

Looking into the valley from the cliffside trail.

Looking south down the coast.  Pololu is the northernmost of the dramatic valleys dissected from the mountain, and Waipi'o (whose outlet is not visible in this photo) is the southernmost.  In between these two are several other canyon-like valleys accessible only by foot.  I wanted very badly to hike back into those valleys and experience an even purer more pristine landscape, but we didn't have time.  I had to settle for Pololu, which, despite the few other tourists who made the hike down to the beach, seemed pretty unspoiled itself.

Many of these valleys were used anciently to grow large amounts of taro, or more modernly, rice and taro.  Today, agriculture is down except for perhaps in the Waipi'o Valley where several Lo'i (taro pond-fields) are still maintained.   Just looking back into the Pololu Valley made me want to go build a little shack back in the forest and farm taro for the rest of my life, even though I don't really like Poi.  I guess I just got caught up in the moment and the scenery.

Fields of Honoka'a

The northern end of the Big Island is cattle country. It feels less like a Southern Pacific island and more like a Northern California coastal plain.  Green pastures, sloping hills, and low fog.

We found this field just outside the little town of Honoka'a on our way back from the Waipi'o Valley lookout. The light was perfect and the ocean seemed to disappear into the sky beyond the horizon.

Where the Lava Meets the Road

At the Southeastern point of Volcano National Park ooze the most active and most recent lava flows.  The road extends only as far as lava has not covered it.  From the end of the road you can hike out several miles over the lava flow to see where the lava enters the ocean, or at least you could in 2006 when Beth last visited the park.  Currently, the lava viewing area is located on the other side of the flow, accessible only by going clear around (a two plus hour drive).  According to reports, lava wasn't visible flowing into the ocean at that time anyway, so we didn't even try to hike out.  But it was cool to see the newly formed coastline. Lava flows have added over 538 new acres of land to this shoreline since 1983.

Volcanic Sea Arch at dusk

End of the line.

Kilauea Iki

Since the larger Kilauea Crater is closed to the public due to dangerous gasses we decided to hike the Kilauea Iki crater (which means small Kilauea).

The crater floor is one big volcanic rock slab, almost entirely flat, except for the upheavals at the steam vents and a few other cracks where vegetation has begun to take seed.

Steaming, flesh-colored fissures at the vents.

'Ama'u Fern (endemic) growing from the rock.

'Ohi'a tree (also endemic).

'Ohi'a Lehua.  So called when the 'Ohi'a tree blooms.  Connected to ancient Hawaiian legend, 'Ohi'a and Lehua were two young lovers.  But Pele, the goddess of volcano and fire loved 'Ohi'a and in her jealousy turned 'Ohi'a into a tree.  Lehua, devastated at the loss of her lover, was transformed into the Lehua flower (the red blossoms) so that they could be together.  The Legend holds that when you pick the Lehua flower, it will rain.  I'm not all that familiar with the legend, and if I've gotten it wrong (beth) please correct me.