Tag Archives: Kalapana

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

Going to the flow

Cyclists head to the Kilauea lava flow where it enters the sea.
I posted here about the current flow from Kilauea Volcano entering the sea, in a dramatic, firehose-like outpouring. In that post, I mentioned that the day after my visit, a cliff collapse caused the firehose to disappear from view. Things have settled down again and the firehose is once more visible, though another large crack not far back from the cliff is expected to cause another collapse soon.

From the Kalapana side, it’s about four miles to the viewing area and a thriving trade in bike rentals has sprung up. When I was down that way last July there were a few bikes available for rent. Now there are maybe 200 or 300 available from a large number of vendors in the parking lot. At the viewing area, bikes were piled alongside the road, and locked in clumps.

I preferred to walk, seeing the towering column of smoke and steam getting gradually larger on the way out, and enjoying a star-studded night sky on my return.

For more information about Kilauea Volcano and it current eruption, go to hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.