Seeing Kilauea Volcano really solidified (pun very much intended) my love for this island
Before I began this project, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted from my new desire to see the world. At that point, I had been to Mexico, Germany, London, and Costa Rica with no intent of stopping anytime soon. I’ll admit, these trips were fun, but a bit misguided. I went there for the sake of just going there. My travels weren’t necessarily aimless, but essentially they lacked a real sense of direction or purpose. But now, I think of a landmark anywhere on the map and then just like that, my next destination is set. However, I’m constantly refining my goals, adding new items to what seems like an ever-growing bucket list. With this being my third trip to Hawaii, but just a return to Oahu like times prior, I realized a new dream for myself. I hope to, one day, visit every single island in Hawaii.
My mother kind of has the jump on me in this race though, as she has been to Oahu, Hilo, and Molokai so far. I’m pretty close behind, having knocked off the first two in this trip alone. I think the next one on my list is Maui, I’ve heard it’s beautiful there.
Luckily, traveling within Hawaii, otherwise known as “island-hopping” happens to be extremely convenient. All it takes is a short, one-hour flight to experience the beauty and wonder of a new island. We opted for one of the further routes, from Honolulu to Hilo. Turns out, this trip had been long-overdue as my aunt and uncle, who currently reside in Hilo, had been waiting for our visit since they moved there five years ago. Let me tell you though, it sure was worth the wait. The Big Island, as it is popularly called, offered a completely different experience than any I had had in Oahu. Untouched terrain and vast landscapes, free of the crowdedness and congestion that often plague Oahu. The pure, unadulterated essence of Hawaii that you can only read about in books or watch in documentaries.
This unbelievable experience culminated with a trip to one of the most active volcanoes in the entire world – Kilauea Volcano. Highlights included a walk through Thurston Lava Tube, a stroll down Devastation Trail, a visit to the Sulphur Banks of Ha’akulamanu Trail to witness colorful, yet pungent mineral deposits, and lastly, a hike down Kilauea Iki Trail. This particular trail led us on a steep, rocky descent through a quiet rain forest down to the solidified floor of Kilauea Iki Crater lava lake. The surface still emitted steam from vents along the crater floor, which made for a pretty amazing shot. Our day concluded with perhaps one of the most beautiful phenomenons that the volcano had to offer. At night, we drove over to Jaggar Observatory for a different view of Halema’uma’u crater, which we had seen actively steaming throughout the day from several different vantage points. None however, were quite like what we would soon witness. At night, the lava within the crater reflects off of the rising steam, resulting in a “glowing” effect. Pictures or words can’t even do the phenomenon any justice, it simply has to be seen in person. I think it was a moment that captured the true beauty of the Big Island in one of its purest forms – and one that I will surely remember for the rest of my life.