Lava Lava

On Thursday we leave Kona and head for the east side of big island via the Hawaiian Belt Road, which wraps around the southern tip of the island. We stop at this one-man operated bakery; Big Rob’s Bakery and Cafe. He made an amazing BLT sandwich, which we saved for our lunch later in the day and the best Malasada’s (Hawaiian donuts) which we enjoy in the car. We follow the road to the most southern point of the island (also the most southern point of USA) and find an easy park in the busy carpark at Kaulana Bay. It’s from here we have to either go by foot or pay a local $10 per person each way to take us on the back of their beat-up 4WDs to Papakolea, a remote green sand beach (1 of 4 in the world). We chose to go by foot. It’s a 5km walk which is quite confusing due to no signage and several tracks – all being used by these dilapidated 4WDs. There are several other travellers out walking too – and you can hear some arguing about which track to take at the various intersections; it’s kind of like being on an ultimate pick-a-path. We eventually make it to Green Sand Beach – it’s quite a drop down from a cliff to actually get to the beach. We enjoy a swim to cool down from the heat and wash the dust from the trail. We splash out on the $20 return 4WD trip. It was well worth it too; the truck felt like it was falling to bits the whole time…

We make it to our next airbnb, our host takes us around his section (a rural lifestyle block) telling us all about his plants. This was the longest check in ever – it took 90 minutes before we managed to get our bags into our room. But his yarns were pretty interesting, and this repeated many times during our 3-night booking – I’d hate to put him and my Aunty Kathryn in a room together! He’s a super interesting person who fought in the Vietnam war, built a house from scratch (and also built our cabin room), writes lyrics, has an eclectic taste in music (which we learnt from the CDs he loaned us for our day trips which included his own pirate record), he studies the life of pirates, dresses up as a pirate, is a professional Santa Clause too and foremostly a green thumb. His garden had many interesting fruits -unfortunately many weren’t ready. We did sample the guavas and an orange. There were also plenty of lizards and birds to take photos of. Each night we would sleep to the sound of the Coqui Frogs (who get their name from the sound they make – it sounds like they keep asking for a cookie)…

Our accommodation was about 6 miles away from the destruction of last year’s eruption and our host gave us detailed instructions on the roads we needed to take to see the lava flow and fissures. The drives were incredible – some houses/streets seemed completely unaffected while houses 50 metres away were buried under lava rock. Many streets had signs warning against trespassing which we were adhering to, standing just outside the cordoned off areas. Until, while taking a photo I hear suddenly “You can go over the fence… I’m a local…” Before I know it this Hawaiian lady is taking us on a guided tour right up to the lava flow…

We also found ourselves visiting a beautiful black sand beach. It was a bit of climb down to this spot and it was quite busy. Probably 100 people… and at least half of them were nude! (See the photo of Kadin below…)

Further up the road we found another black sand beach. This one is the newest beach in the world. It had just been formed from last year’s eruption. Here you could see the lava flow reaching the sea. The road in was built up and over the pahoehoe (lava flow). The black lava pebbles also made the water look black – made for an awesome spot to swim…

Just down the road from our airbnb was a nice lookout spot where the waves crash onto the rocks. We sat there for a few hours. Apparently, sometimes you can see whales from there. We saw some crabs and a local boy catch a fish from the rocks…

On Saturday we went to the Volcano National Park. Unfortunately, there was no active lava during our visit. However, there was plenty of gas and good walking tracks. The lava rock was very sparkly and we wanted to take a few pieces – but apparently if you do you will have really bad luck. We don’t risk it and just take lots of photos instead…

We kicked off our Sunday at the local farmers market where we bought these delicious banana/choc filled pancakes that were shaped like fish. We also get some more little bananas and a big juicy pineapple. I also treat myself to a coffee… they taste real good here -because they grow their own. Feeling full we head north to Hilo. Here we visit the gardens and rainbow falls. At the falls there is this amazing tree – we think it may be even more spectacular than the falls themselves. The town is almost completely closed, being a Sunday, but we find a local Japanese sushi shop and enjoy the fresh ahi – (tuna) fish on our sushi rolls. Another hour up the coast (it’s a spectacular drive around many ‘gulches’ – ravines) we end up at our airbnb where we settle on a free pasta snack (from the pantry) for dinner…

The next morning our airbnb hosts offer to give us a lift down into the nearby Waipi’o Valley in their 4×4. So, we head up to the lookout in our rental, park up, then jump in with them. It’s an intense road in, only accessible by 4×4 or by foot. But with all the rain (which there’s plenty of at this part of the island) the road looks very slippery and the hikers we see don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves as the descend. The road drops 800 feet (244m) in 0.6miles (0.9km) at a 25% average grade. At the bottom there is a black sand beach with a spectacular view of many waterfalls cascading from both sides of the ravines. Our hosts usually go surfing there – but the waves were a bit rough, so they put a hammock up instead and chill for a few hours. We hang around for a bit …thinking it’d beat the walk back. After an hour and a half, we decide we should start walking back – and maybe our hosts will spot us during our ascent (or we could put a thumb out and grab a lift with another 4×4). On the trail back out we see a crumpled car rusting away and stop to take a photo. A local calls out from behind us “the driver survived…” he then walks alongside us for about 10 minutes explaining the history of the area and sharing how he lives in the valley. Someone had burnt down his house (hut) the other night so he was trekking out to get some more supplies. He shows us a fresh water spring as he refills his bottle. Further research after this encounter revealed that there are at least 50 free-spirited hippies that live in the valley and it’s not uncommon for them to torch one another’s dwellings during disagreements (the police don’t get involved). As we part ways, he tells us to go down the side road to see the tallest waterfall in America. The twin waterfall is beautiful and worth the quick detour. We then start walking the ascent up to the top. It’s pretty steep – I’m sure if it was any steeper, you’d be rock climbing and need a rope. Our hosts end up picking us up when we’re just past the half way mark – perfect timing on their part…

We spend the rest of the day on the sunny part of the island. It’s amazing how the climate is so predictable. You can look at the map and see exactly where you need to drive if you want rain or sunshine. We find ourselves on a beautiful sandy beach until the sun begins to set, and we head back for our last night in Hawaii. On Tuesday we have a couple of hours to fill in between check out and going to the airport, so we head back to the sunny side and enjoy another beautiful sandy beach while we eat leftovers for lunch…

Next stop – Hollywood!

Have fun at work!










  1. Love your little quotes Gem with the pictures. Had a bit of a giggle. Gemma on a log
    :-)……Stunning pictures. I feel like I am with you on this trip, thank you for all the great info. Very interesting. Have just watched a beautiful documentary of Aukland and the Islands that surround. What an amazing place. I can see how you are so proud of your homeland. Stunning cinematography. Don’t know whether I could get use to black sand though ha ha….I thought of you when I watched it. I hope one day I will be able to visit New Zealand….. I noticed you caught a lot of fish on your Dad’s boat that day.
    What are the laws there? Very interested as we as you know are very big on our fishing life. Over here we are only allowed to catch 2 fish per person and only 2 Dhu fish per boat. Not much but very grateful when we can them. Anyway hun keep having fun with your hubby and will continue to love all your beautiful adventures . Can’t wait for whats coming up ahead.
    Take Care Love
    Joy xx


    • Thanks Joy! Yes, you’ll definitely have to visit NZ sometime, you’d love it. The fish we were catching are Snapper and the regulations are over 30cm and 7 per person on board (but we’d never catch that many). The kingfish needed to be 750cm (Kadin’s was only 600 -so it went back). Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Hope all is well with you! ❤


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