Awoke gently to the sound of birdsong - no surf!
Warm sunlight poured through the shuttered windows onto our large four poster bed with lovely cool cotton sheets. We enjoyed morning tea and the boys bundled in, happy and excited 'like centre parcs'!
We made a plan for the day and then headed over to the lodge for breakfast - half a papaya with lime, followed by a selection of omelettes, eggs & bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and banana pancakes with maple syrup, all with volcano themed names such as Pahoehoe and Caldera.
Then we packed up the car and headed up into the Volcano National Park. We spent $2 on a truly excellent little guide to the Kilauea Iki trail. We started at the Thurston Lava Tunnel, an immense dark subterranean tunnel surrounded by ferns. Being early in the day we managed to walk through the tunnel alone and out into the rain forest.
The trail followed along the rim of the Kilauea crater, and the booklet informed us about the dramatic events that took place over five weeks in 1959 when the volcano last erupted. A crack appeared in the north wall of the crater, liquid lava at 2000 degrees centigrade poured out into the crater and flowed across the floor crashing in waves against the opposite wall. As the level of lava rose it started to block off the outflow, the orifice started to spray a jet of lava up into the air. Queues formed and crowds of people visited the area to view the spectacle, carrying umbrellas and newspapers to protect themselves from falling cinders.
In places the forests were destroyed by pieces of cinder up to a metre across being thrown across the crater.
The path continued through the new forest and down onto the crater floor.
We set off out onto the lava with some trepidation - we assumed that the sun beating down would make it unbearably hot. In fact there was a lovely breeze and it was a fascinating and beautiful walk across the crater floor over a vast flat area of smooth lava. In places the surface was fissured and huge spaces and holes were visible. From cracks in the lava, ferns and small trees and bushes grew incongruously.
On the other side of the crater we climbed back up through the forest to the car.
Mike and Bill constructed an instant picnic from blueberry bagels, salami, cucumber and mayo.
Next stop was the volcanic Green Sand Beach near the South Point - the southernmost point of Big Island and the southernmost point of the USA. There was a long road heading south, until recently a rough track, out of bounds to hire vehicles, but now paved for at least some of the way.
Chris rose to the challenge and we set off down the paved road until reaching its end at a rough car park under some trees. A young lad offered us a truck shuttle service - €15 for the six mile round trip, but who needs that when you have a JLR trained off-road driver at the wheel of your 4WD hire car! We rumbled and bumped our way to the edge of the ocean over deeply rutted tracks and grassy open areas before coming across a steep part with deep ruts and high sides. We left the car there and proceeded on foot over the remaining couple of miles to the beach.
The coastal scenery was spectacular. Enormous waves crashing onto rocky black volcanic beaches that we passed. It was a truly magnificent coastline.
We arrived at the green sand beach - rather surprising and very unusual. The sand was indeed a deep olive green, and the beach was set down inside a deep bowl of volcanic cliffs with a ladder at the top and a narrow path carved down through the cliff side to reach the beach.
The surf here was impressive too. We scrambled down and changed into swimwear before running into the sea to cool off and wash away the sweat and red dust from the trail.
Getting in and out of the sea was quite a challenge as the beach shelved steeply and the waves thundered into the sand - good timing was the key!
Back at the top we enjoyed another scenic walk back to the car and then drove back following the rough track to South Point Road.
5.30pm. Just right for watching the sunset from the southernmost point of Hawaii and if the whole of USA. We parked near the fishermen and boat hoists and walked south to where the surf was crashing onto the beach. A perfect sunset followed, the sun turning deep red and slowly dropping to the horizon, a few little puffs of cloud creating stripes and patterns across the sun as it disappeared with sea spray in the foreground. No green flash tonight.
It seemed a long drive back to Volcano, but Chris did us proud arriving home ten minutes before our table at Kilauea Lodge. Four very quick showers, best bibs and tuckers donned, and we were in our seats at our table with only a trace of shampoo still detectable!
An eclectic menu of meat and fish with soups and salads served alongside the entrees followed. Hilo mushroom soup with curry was very much more delicious than in sounded, antelope filet less so. Beef paupiettes won equal first prize along side the lobster Caesar salad!
After dinner we drove back to Plantation House to change into Volcano viewing boots and trousers and, once suitably dressed, drove on to the HVNP and to the Kilauea Overlook.
As we drove we could make out the anticipated red glow from the hot lava in the crater. We made our way to the overlook, admiring the glow and applying our new found knowledge of the sky at night, only to become gradually aware of a cool damp mist enveloping us, and gradually obliterating any view of the caldera and sky. Humph!
Home to Plantation house for a cosy hour or so by the fire and so to bed.