Final Days of our Hawaiian Adventure

Thursday–National Volcano Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park protects some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world. Extending from sea level to 13,677 feet, the park encompasses the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

Mauna Loa

The Volcano National Park explains:

“The Hawaiian name “Mauna Loa” means “Long Mountain.” This name is apt, for the subaerial part of Mauna Loa extends for about 120 km (74 mi) from the southern tip of the island to the summit caldera and then east-northeast to the coastline near Hilo.

“Mauna Loa is among Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. It has produced large, voluminous flows of basalt that have reached the ocean eight times since 1868. It last erupted in 1984, when a lava flow came within 7.2 km (4.5 mi) of Hilo, the largest population center on the island. Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again, and with such a propensity to produce large flows, we carefully monitor the volcano for signs of unrest.”


The Bowlers walking on lava rock

Volcano National Park says:

 “In 2018, a new eruption of Kīlauea volcano changed the island of Hawai‘i forever. From May through August, large lava flows covered land southeast of the park destroying over 700 homes and devastating residential areas in the Puna District. At the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes, and a massive collapse of Kīlauea caldera.”

Following a very explosive and destruction, Kilauea finally stopped action later in 2018.

We explored the dormant volcano caldera at the National Park Center and Aiden completed the volcano ranger badge. We explored around the park and even walked upon some dried lava.

Aiden talking to park ranger at the Volcano National Park

It was interesting to see that soon after the lava flows, life returns with tiny plants that grow quickly in the grow in the volcanic fertile soil.


Ala Kahai Trail by the Sea

Ala kaha kai means “shoreline trail” in the Hawaiian language. The trail follows the coastline over ancient fishermen’s trails through over 200 ahupaa the traditional sea to mountain land divisions. In ancient times travel would often cover both land, and sea in canoes for potions of the journey. It passes through both public and private lands, providing access to numerous beaches and resorts.

Much of the trail receives only limited maintenance and sections have been eroded or developed into roads. Only the one section of the trail has signage. We only went a little way but there was a park ranger station, so Aiden could earn another badge.

Beach 69—Waialea Bay

This pretty little white sand beach has nice trees for shade all along the shore and it has a very secluded, rugged feel to it that we really enjoyed. The slope of the beach is very gradual, the bay is more protected and calmer, and the snorkeling is a shorter swim from shore than at Hapuna Beach just down the road. But when the tide is up there is not much beach for hanging out on.

This beach was our favorite snorkeling beach when we lived in Hawaii 40 years ago.

Jason and I both snorkeled, but Jason went out further and got moving pictures of turtles swimming.

We knew it in 1970s as Beach 69 because that was the number of the telephone pole at the turn, but that pole is now gone. It is also known as the Waialea Bay section of the Hapuna Beach State Recreational Area, and it is north of Kona and Waikoloa on the Kohala Coast

It is ironic that when we visited Beach 69 with Diana and Jason, I kept saying that I didn’t think this was the right beach. Jason and Diana kept insisting it was. Finally, I couldn’t deny that they were correct—this was Beach 69, even if the tide was out and it was far rockier than I remembered. But I still enjoyed the snorkeling.

The guy below reminded me of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”—he was so high and so corny. This beach with its lack of amenities and its laid-back people was like being in a time bubble of the 70s and 80s.

Pu’ukohola-Heiau National Historic Site

Pu’ukohola Heiau, one of the last major temples built in the Hawaiian Islands, was constructed by King Kamehameha the Great from 1790 to 1791. Arguably one of the greatest leaders in Hawaiian History, Kamehameha became the first person to unite the Warring islands into the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Pu’ukohola Heiau played a crucial role in the unification of the Hawaiian Islands, for Kamehameha built the temple as a result of a prophecy that came through a priest named Kapoukahi. The kahuna or priest told Kamehameha that if he would build a heiau on the hill known as Pu’ukohola and dedicate it to his family’s war god Kuka’ilimoku, he would be able to conquer all the islands.

Heiau as it is today
Heiau as it was in King Kamehameha’s day

We were able to watch the whales (though not as closely as we’d watched them from our whale-watching boat).

The guide was telling us there were sharks in the water, so Aid walked in to say that he’d been in shark-infested waters. Then they actually saw a shark.

Size of a real whale’s tail

Hawaiian Food

I love Hawaiian fruit, and we had a lot of them, from lilikoi (passion fruit), small sweet bananas, starfruit, cumquat, abiu, tree tomato, etc.

I had a chance to eat my favorite dishes, lomi-lomi salmon, searched ahi, and malasadas.

Hawaiian Flowers

Flowers are so abundant and so different from all home flowers, especially on the Hilo side of the island which is lush and green with flowers everywhere.

Don’t ask me to tell you what kind of flowers they were—I don’t know.

We used to go to the jungle to pick flowers to make leis.

Our lodgings—Royal Sea Cliff

We stayed at two places, the Wyndom Royal Sea Cliff Hotel in Kona, a time-share that was gorgeous and right on a rocky beach. We even had a washer/dryer in our room.

We also stayed near the volcano in a lodge in the jungle. Both were unique and reminded me of the difference between the Kona and Hilo sides of the island.

Volcano Lodge

This lodge was like going back in time to the 30s when it was built. And it was in the middle of a tropical rainforest (and yes, it rained)!

Going Home

Finally, on Friday night it was time to go home. I flew out at 10:30 p.m. after enjoying a trip to paradise.

I left dreaming of all the things I saw and places I went.


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