Day 8 – 25th January 2016, Monday
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother, Ethan!
Journey down South to the Volcanoes National Park
Wake up time: 7:00am
Had breakfast of yoghurt and a mandarin orange.
Departed from Hilo Reeds Bay Hotel at 8:30am.
I was still a little hungry.
Stopped at Subway to pack a sandwich.
We arrived at Kilauea Chalet (where we would stay for the night) at 10am. It was still too early to check-in. They offered complimentary coffee at the reception area. We packed 2 cups to-go. It was one of the best and most fragrant Kona coffees that I had throughout my trip!
Volcanoes National Park
Since we couldn’t check-in, we decided to head to the Volcanoes National Park. It was just right around the corner from our chalet.
We stopped at the Kilauea Visitor Center to get some information on what to do/see and also to pick up the park map. They had a suggestion list of what to cover which was super helpful! My mom and I hadn’t planned on what to do at the park.
Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu)
We started off with the Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) walk from the Kilauea Visitor Center.
It was 0.6km one-way. This trail connected to the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu).
Active Halema’uma’u Crater (Check out the night glowing version of this below! At the end of this post that is)
From there, it was about 0.8km back to the visitor center. It was around 12pm. We took a short break (we had our packed food/snacks/drinks) before pushing off to Kilauea Iki.
Kilauea Iki Crater
Distance: 6.4 km loop trail
Estimated time: 2-3 hours leisure hike
Kilauea Iki descends 400ft through the native rain forest into the crater. The hike goes across a hardened lava lake that is currently steaming from the 1959 eruption. We walked around the rim of the Kilauea Iki Crater. It was a beautiful view from the top! We were advised to go for this trail but it was one of the longest (in terms of distance) trail routes in the whole park. We didn’t know if we had the time (we also couldn’t estimate how long it would take) to cover this trail. We only had one day in the park and we had no idea if this was worth our time.
As we were walking along the rim, I saw people walking across the crater! I knew that I HAD TO DO THIS TRAIL! And I am SO GLAD that I did! I didn’t know that the trail included a walk into the crater. It was THE HIGHLIGHT of my trip!
The trail started off with a 0.6 mile jungle hike down to the crater.
I turned on my Garmin FR 235 just so that I could track my walk on the map. The crater was HUGE!
I did a light jog down to the crater as I didn’t want to waste much time. My mom knew that she would take too much time to do the full trail, so she only hiked down to the crater and then back up.
It was a nice gradual descend down to the crater. When I was down there, I took my time to truly be in the moment and to soak in my surroundings. Words cannot describe how it felt like being down there. You feel SO SMALL. As if I am not small enough! I was just speechless and in AWE.
I was not posing for this! I was simply not ready!
As I was alone, I had to take many self-timed shots and selfies. As the crater was so vast, they stacked hardened pieces of lava (as in the picture) to mark the route. I used them as my tripod. I was being very resourceful. 😉
Came down through this path.
As the hike was pretty time consuming, there were not many people that attempted it. I was alone for most parts of the hike across the crater which was both peaceful and lonely.
Failed jump shot. The same goes for the rest of the shots!
Failed shot turned artistic. Not too shabby!
Chilling on what used to be molten lava!
I got lost a few times! It was not easy to navigate your way through once you’re down there!
I took some time to look for the trail head that led back up to the top. The other end was rocky unlike the opposite end which was flat and smooth. As such, I had some difficulty locating the trail.
Hello from the other side… of the crater!
It was another 0.7 mile jungle hike back up. Again, I jogged my way up! Going up this end was much steeper with more stairs. I would have preferred to go down this way and back up the way I came down.
Tip: If you ever attempt the Kilauea Iki Crater trail, go down the right side (look out for the 0.7 mile hike marker) instead of the left side (0.6 mile hike).
Total active + photo time: About 1 hr 15 mins (please take into account that I jogged down and up the trails)
I took the same amount of time as my mom which was perfect as she didn’t have to wait for me!
Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)
Distance: 0.6 km loop trail
It was a very short walk through the lush rain forest and through the 500 year old lava tube!
Check-In: Kilauea Hospitality Group @ Volcano Hale
The latest check-in time was 5pm. After the Thurston Lava Tube trail, we still had much to see. Since we were still near our chalet, we decided to back track to check in first before continuing the rest of the tour. GOOD CALL! We would not have made it if we had continued.
Kilauea Hospitality Group has 3 properties. We were at Volcano Hale. It is a little house with 5 rooms, 3 bathrooms, dining area, kitchen area and a living room with a fireplace.
Very cozy! I would definitely recommend staying here!
Crater Rim Drive and the Chain of Craters Road
After checking in, we did the drive all the way down to the end of the Chain of Craters Road.
Distance: 61km round-trip drive
Total driving times (one-way): 45 minutes down winding narrow roads
This road descends 3700ft to the coast and it ends where the lava has covered 10 miles of road since 1986. There were many trails/hikes along the way (Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder Cone, Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, Mauna Ulu Lava Shield, Devastation trail) but we didn’t have time to do them.
At the end of the road, we went down to see the Holei Sea Arch which was formed by wave erosion.
Walked down another 800m on the emergency access route.
We had our packed late lunch/tea in our car before driving back up at sunset. It was close to 6pm.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
Museum operating hours: 10am-8pm daily
Viewing point: 24 hours
The active vent of the Kilauea volcano is located within the Halema’uma’u Crater in the caldera of Kilauea. We were there to watch the glowing fume cloud, a sign that there is hot molten magma churning in the lava lake below.
Robust plume of volcanic gas.
We were at 4000ft elevation and the temperature dropped to 10 degrees. We went back to our hotel for a hot shower and to put our feet up after a long day of walking and hiking!
Honestly, if you are ever in Hawai’i, the volcanoes are a MUST! I LOVE this place so much! Don’t forget to bring some warm clothing and to look UP at the sky at night. 😉 You WILL BE AMAZED!
Day 9 – Back to Kona town the next morning which would mark the end of our trip! Till next time!