In the morning, we left Pahoa and headed back to the Warm Pools for a morning swim as we'd felt so relaxed the day before that we thought it would do us some good. These pools are situated in an enclosed area where hot thermal waters spring out of the lava rocks and mix with the cool seawater which is channeled in from the sea via a tidal tunnel. The eccentric locals congregate in this pool almost daily and it was great to just hang out and swim a few laps in the warm water.
On to Volcano National Park, where we got chatting to a Ranger who told us the best routes to take. They have a lot of activities on and lead many free guide tours around the forests which surround the crater as well as further afield. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the area was covered in a shroud of mist and drizzle - not exactly hiking or outdoor weather, so we decided to go to the Jagger Museum and Volcano Arts Museum instead.
At the Jagger museum, we learnt both about the scientific and the cultural significance of the volcano. Or example, did you know that there 2 types of lava? Aa is the rough, jagged mountains of rubble and Pahoehoe are the smooth, liquidlike, rippled flows. About 75 acres of new land have been added to the island by lava flows that have poured into the ocean since 1983.
Pelehonuamea (Aka Pele) has many names: Ka Wahine 'Ai Honua (the woman who devours the earth), Kaluahine (the old woman of the pit), and Ka Wahine 'Ai Lehua (the woman who devours the Lehua blossoms). These names describe the many volcanic forms she embodies, for native Hawaiians believe that she is all things volcanic - steam, lava and volcanic eruptions. These mythological aspects are beautifully portrayed by numerous paintings of Pele by Herb Kane which are exhibited at the Jagger Museum.
At the Volcano Arts Gallery, we looked around at the beautiful island artworks. This is also one of my favourite little galleries in the world. I especially enjoy the art of Dietrich Varez who makes amazing myth-inspired Hawaiian style prints. The music of Gabby Pahinui, the grandfather of the slack key guitar, was playing whilst we browsed through beautiful sculptures, jewellery (such as the exquisitely delicate Ni'ihau lei necklaces made from tiny, pastel-coloured shells collected on the beaches of the "forbidden island" of Ni'ihau), prints, photographs and paintings. It is not at all surprising to see that many artists have found inspiration in the unusual natural landscapes and rich cultural stories of the native people.
After getting soaked running to and from the car, we decided to go to our accommodation at the Holo In at Volcano Village. It's a tiny, ramshackle place hosted by a Japanese family but, as we were only staying 1 night, it didn't really matter. Most importantly, was clean and quiet. We met 3 Swiss young women who were heading out in the evening on an illegal hike to the rim of the active crater! They had paid a tourguide (apparently a geologist) $50 each to guide them (without flashlights so they wouldn't be spotted by rangers) to edge of the active crater of Kilauea so they could see lava flowing! Not only did they face physical danger (or possibly even death) with serious burns and sulphur poisoning but, if they were caught, they could be given a huge fine for violating the law!
We didn't fancy any of the above risks do, after driving to the official spot near the Jagger Museum to see the glow of the crater from a safe distance, we returned to the hostel and drank wine and chatted with 2 lovely French couples. Oh my, how times have changed...