on the Big Island: around the volcano

lava flowing to the sea

On our first full day in Hawaii, we woke up early to birdsong. Actually, it was a rooster crowing at 3 am, but eventually all the little tropical birds started up as well. We made ourselves breakfast from the little cooler in the cabin – granola, boiled eggs and Kona coffee – and got ourselves out to the volcano!

Steaming Bluff
Kilauea Iki crater
steam vents in Kilauea Iki

Our timing for this trip was great, since Kilauea just had its first explosion in over 80 years a week or two ago, and was putting out a lovely cloud of ash and sulfur. Unfortunately, that meant that Crater Rim Drive was closed around half of the caldera, but we still got a pretty good view. We admired the ash cloud and the steaming bluffs, then hiked down into the crater of Kilauea Iki, which was a fantastic lava fountain in 1959 but is now a gently steaming valley full of cracks and rubble.

pork and onion sandwich at Kiawe Kitchen
Mehana beer - good

We had intended to go for drinks at the Volcano House after our hike, but several tour buses beat us to it, and there were vast numbers of tourists lined up out the door. Ugh. We drove back into Volcano Village and went right back to Kiawe Kitchen. We sat on the porch and ate big tasty sandwiches with Mehana beer from Hilo. I found a small someone in my salad, so I guess it was organic.

 we did not eat these

We also popped into the little general store next door. I did not buy any cuttlefish or roasted squid, because I am a wimp. For all I know, these are delicious.

lava viewing staging area

After a brief rest we headed out on our next mission: to see the lava flowing into the sea. We drove to the end of Hwy 130 and down to the makeshift parking area they’ve set up, complete with concessions stands selling water, sunscreen and photographs of lava. We got there just before sunset, so nearly everyone was camping out waiting for dusk. We took way too many pictures, and we weren’t as close to the lava as we had hoped to get, but it was very very cool.

watch out for the steam plume

Afterwards, having braved the hike back and the road out, we made it back up to Volcano in time to have dinner at Thai Thai. I had read many great things about this place, and it was nice enough, but there were two odd things: one was the notice on the menu that they use NO FISH SAUCE in any of their dishes (Thai food without fish sauce?) and the other was the chef completely forgetting to add any spice or chile to our stirfried eggplant with beef. The waitress brought us a little dish of liquid fire to make up for it, but still. The chicken satay was pretty good, as well, although more a chicken-peanut stirfry than a satay. The drinks list was abysmal, so we had tea.

Then we took our sore feet back to our hot tub!

sunset on Mauna Loa

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