Category Archives: Parks

Mossy path on the Halemaumau Trail

The Halemaumau Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park takes hikers from near the visitor center down to the floor of the summit crater of Kilauea Volcano. It mostly passes through trees and some lush tropical foliage, this being the wet side of the island. Part of the way down the trail eases through a channel between two walls of rock, which are covered in moss. It’s a quite beautiful passage and, in this harsh volcanic area, has a remarkably soft feeling to it.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Place of Refuge and Two Step

There’s a good variety of fish at Two Step including raccoon butterflyfishes, seen here mingling with goatfishes and yellow tangs.
A barred filefish swims by with a startled look on its face, which is just their usual look.
Ki’i at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, better known as Place of Refuge.

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Anniversaries.’ See more responses here.

Often, on our wedding anniversary, my wife and I go to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden (formerly Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden). This year the garden was shut, and still is, probably until tourists return to the islands. So a different anniversary is my birthday, which is not marked with candles on a cake, since that would be prohibitively expensive, but usually by a trip somewhere and a meal out. This year we went down to snorkel at Two Step and then had a wander around Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, which is right next door.

Two Step is a very popular snorkeling spot on Honaunau Bay, south of Captain Cook. This is a marine reserve so no fishing is allowed and the fish tend to be more numerous and mellow because of this. It’s a popular spot to see and swim with dolphins, though I haven’t done either of those things there. Currently, it’s not nearly as busy since there are very few tourists on the island and those that are here are diligently following quarantine rules (I’m trying to keep a straight face writing this!).

After our swim we made the short walk to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park. The park is on the south side of the bay and, at the moment, is fully open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, on the other days, pretty much everything else is accessible, it’s just that the parking lot and visitor center are closed. What this means is that there’s basically nobody there so our visit was quiet and uncrowded. The park is an important place in Hawaiian history, and the location is beautiful. What’s not to like?

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Palm trees reflect in one of the fishponds at Place of Refuge.

Pluchea carolinensis

Pluchea carolinensis is also known as sourbush and cure-for-all. This latter name probably comes from its medicinal use in its native range, which is the tropical Americas. It’s a member of the aster family – Asteraceae.

The plant was first reported in Hawaii in 1931 and on the Big Island in 1933. It’s believed to be an accidental introduction, possibly associated with shipping to Hawaii and within the islands. The onset of World War II prompted the plant’s spread through the Pacific, probably in military shipments.

On the Big Island it’s most often seen in drier coastal areas, but it can tolerate a variety of climates and conditions. These photos were taken on the Puna Coast Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Part of Crater Rim Drive in Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater, at the summit of Kiluaea Volcano, underwent profound changes during the 2018 eruption. When lava drained from the summit vent, the crater floor experienced a series of collapses, radically changing the appearance of the crater and its surrounds.

I had seen this area from the air and posted about it (here). The middle photo was taken during that flight and shows where a section of Crater Rim Drive slid into the crater. When I last visited the park, I got a different view of this.

The recently reopened Byron Ledge Trail has good views across the crater. In the top photo, the chunk of road is clearly visible with its white line running down the middle of it. The bottom photo shows the longer view across the crater with the road in the distance. In the center of the photo, equipment used to monitor the volcano’s activity, can be seen. The tree in the foreground is an ‘ōhi‘a lehua with its brilliant red flowers. It’s an early colonizer of new lava flows and all those little dark spots on the main crater floor are ‘ōhi‘a lehua trees, mostly still shrub-sized at this time.

Goats at the watering hole

A recent visit to Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, otherwise known as Place of Refuge, included this encounter with a herd of goats. The goats were passing through and stopped to get a morning drink in the ponds. These anchialine ponds are connected to the nearby ocean through underground channels. Because of this, the levels of water in the ponds vary with the tides.

In the ponds, fresher water floats on top of saltwater from the ocean, which is why they’re a good watering hole for the goats. Back in the days when Hawaiian royalty lived on these grounds, the ponds were used to hold fish for future consumption by those living here.

For more information about Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/puho/index.htm.

Sulphur Banks Trail

One of the trails I took on my last visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the Sulphur Banks Trail, otherwise known as Ha’akulamanu Trail. It’s not far from the visitor center and so is usually popular with visitors because it’s an easy walk, about 1.2 miles roundtrip, and pretty level the whole way. But with few visitors around currently, I had the trail to myself.

This trail is one of several areas in the park where signs of volcanic heat can be seen even when there’s not an active eruption. Steam swirls upwards. The smell of rotten eggs indicates the presence of hydrogen sulfide in the air, one of the volcanic gases leaking from the ground along with sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide.

The yellow tint of the ground is due to the sulphurous gases and close examination reveals the sulphur crystals that have been deposited there. The crystals photo was taken at one of the displays along the trail. It wouldn’t be wise to thrust one’s camera too close to one of the active vents, such as those in the bottom photo.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Posted in response to this week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Close Examination.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea Military Camp

This is a view across Chain of Craters Road, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, toward the flagpole and entrance of Kilauea Military Camp. The camp was founded in 1916, the same year as the park, as a rest and relaxation facility for military personnel. Today, it continues to fill that same function though the facilities are somewhat nicer than they were back then. There’s an array of cottages, a store, theater, sports facilities, gas station, laundromat, even a bowling alley.

While it’s been an R&R post for most of its existence, during WWII it was used as a prisoner of war camp and as a Japanese internment camp.

For more information about Kilauea Military Camp, go to https://www.kilaueamilitarycamp.com/. For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Kilauea trails

Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recently opened up more areas of the park that had been closed because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. I thought this was a good opportunity to hike some of the summit trails that I usually avoid because they’re more accessible and popular with tourists. I put together a loop hike that would have been great had all the trails listed as open actually been open.

Despite this glitch, I had a good time and enjoyed the variety of landscapes the park has to offer. The top photo shows the part of the Kilauea Iki Trail that traverses that crater. The crater floor is a little under a mile across. This crater used to be much deeper before an eruption in 1959 filled it up another 400 feet. There is some vegetation, but the crater floor is mostly bare lava and steam can often be seen rising in various places.

The middle photo was taken on the Halema‛uma‛u Trail, which winds down from the summit into Halema‛uma‛u Crater. Despite the trail’s proximity to the vent in the crater, which was active until May 2018, vegetation thrives here as it does on many trails in the park.

The bottom photo shows a section of active steam vents alongside the Crater Rim Trail. This section of the trail is paved because the area normally sees very heavy use. When I was there, it was mostly deserted because of the lack of tourists on the island. The buildings on the horizon are the Volcano House Hotel which recently reopened for business, though the restaurant is still closed.

For more information about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to nps.gov/havo/. For more information about Volcano House Hotel, go to hawaiivolcanohouse.com/.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.