Tag Archives: Volcano

Maui e komo mai

20160404_084852_crop_1278x511-750x300And then there is Maui. Beautiful Maui. No ka bi, or is the best. I will be here for a week, so let’s see. First a few days with my friend, later alone. My worries about traveling in Hawaii by myself have already disappeared in the past few weeks. It is easy done here. However, how does it feel to be alone after such an intens trip so far. Well…

First we had a few days together. One day before we took the boat to Molokai. We spend it in and around touristic Lahaina. First we drive to a nice beach just north of it. Doing some snorkling, working on the sun tan. We see green turtles, again. Then we head back to town. It is a nice, happy village with all kinds of tourist shops selling the same stuff, all made by and probably sold by Chinese. And many, many restaurants. And a little bit of culture. The Front street is the place to be. Old buildings, reminding of the past, give the street it’s cosy character. It is nice. We stroll down the street, buy some really nice cow bone carved necklaces from a Hawaiian man. Lovely. The carvings have a certain meaning, which we can find back on their website. Long lasting live, good luck, safe travels, family, etc. And if it does not work, it will look nice anyway.

After Molokai, we stil have two days together. The first we spend hiking in Haleakala National Park, the second in Kihei. My friend leaves in the evening, so we finish with a nice big hamburger with fries at some local restaurant. Kihei is a strip of a few kilometers along the coast, filled with hotels, condo’s and shopping centres. Touristic again, but in a less cosy way. We find a nice beach south of Kihei, where we can snorkel again. I am surprised, the coral looks great here. Beautiful, just accessible from the beach. Again we see turtles and nice other fishes. At the end of the day I drop my friend off at the airport and head to Hali’imaile for my first 3 nights alone.

The b&b is called ‘Gods Peace of Maui’ and it is owned by a very nice couple. I have to be honest, I have only met Mika on my last day. I could enter, key was in the door, and they did not bother me any second in all the days I was there. I like it. I realise I miss my friend, but also I know I want to stay to see and do more things. I am not done yet. First day is hiking Haleakala and meeting some people on the hike. So I was not completely alone. Although, somewhere on the track I did see something very beautiful. I was so joyful and happy to see it, that I really needed to share it. Well, that is a bit tough when you are alone. I just made a picture to send it to the people I love. Modern technology, I sometimes hate it, but i  these cases it is very convenient to be honest. As if people are right next to you. Earlier that day, an older guy was watching the sunrise next to me. He at that beautiful moment called his wife with some smartphone app. She was in a different timezone complaining he woke her up. But he was so happy to share the moment, it was somehow adorable to see. And I even understood. He just needed to share that beautiful moment with somebody he loved. Just because he can.

The next day I drive to Hana, where you can buy a t-shirt stating “I survived the road to Hana”. It is supposed to be one of the nicest roads in Hawaii, and if you have to believe the Mauians, the nicest road of the world. Well, let’s see. I start in Pa’ia, that is nice already, and drive to Ho’okipa beach. I remember my Hookipa XXL t-shirt from my youth, Hookipa beach is something different though. Huge waves, a big group of surf dudes and dudettes in the water, waiting for the perfect ride.  And when they make a ride, it is awesome! These guys know how to surf, big time. Shaka!
But I have a road to survive. It is just about 45 miles or so, but it has 59 one-lane bridges and 617 (hairpin) curves in it. And that is just one way. I do plan to go back before dark. Off I go. First bit is ok. Nice views, beautiful bays, lush green forrests on the mountain side. And yes, there are the curves. I love driving curves, even thoug I am Dutch and not used to them. I find a nice radio station to go with the flow. Left, right, left, right… Halfway there is this small village called Keanae. I am just half way! I enjoy the scenery, wild lava cliffs, some Taro fields and a big rain shower. I find a nice coffee place where they also sell fresh baked banana bread. Hmmm… I have a chat with some couples. Again I notice that I am not alone on this trip. Even though the contacts are brief and I will never see these people again, the conversations are nice. I appreciate them.

Okay, done with the fun, we need to work, drive. All the way to Hana. It takes quit some time and around 2pm I am at my destination. What 2pm already? It took me close to 4 hours and I still need to get back. However, I feel rather tired and decide to just go to a beach for a picnic lunch and a rest. I do need to keep my attention to the road and the traffic when driving back. After a while I am ready to go. Left, right, left, right… I start feeling the muscles in my belly. Good workout! There is much more traffic on the road now. I stop a few times for some pictures, but it starts raining cats and dogs. Oooh, and I get really hungry. At last I arrive back in Pa’ia, greeted by a giant rainbow. I am exhausted. What a trip. 1234 hairpin curves, poor car suspension. I go for a nice Mahi Mahi (local fish) burger and drive the last few kilometers back to my b&b. I sleep like a baby.

Time to move back to Kihei. I park my stuff with my new airbnb host and go to ‘Iao Valley State Park. A nice area according to the pictures I have seen. In the end I am a bit disappointed. The weather was not very nice, too cloudy to really see the rocky needle. But also the limitatiins within the park. Tourists are not allowed to go hiking outside the one mile pathway provided. That is a shame, as the area can be really nice to explore. I also feel the native spirit here. It is a sacret place to them and possibly that is why access is limited. Shame, but I respect it.
I decide to drive along the west coast all the way to Honolua bay. Little did I know about tourism (I just studied it 25 years ago). All of a sudden the traffic signs change, the roads are better, the environment is clean, the roadside is nice green with lots of flowers and amazing buildings. I am driving on a resort, or better, I am driving in a town, consisting of a few very luxurious resorts. It is on the roadmap, nobody stopped me, so I keep on driving. This is posh. Definitely not my style of holiday, but for a lot of other people it is.
Finally I find a small bay, with beach and picnic opportunity. As soon as I sit and unpack my lunch bag I notice two big green turtles sleeping on the beach and at least 6 more in the water. Nice! I enjoy the scenery and soon two more turtles, or Honu as tthey are called here, wash up to the shore for a nice afternoon nap. There could not have been a better picnic spot on this road. I proceed to Lahaina to just enjoy the cosy scenery and some local pork slider dinner. A nice day, without really meeting people. I feel ok with it.

Then there is a day of diving at Molokini and sun tanning. Good fun to be under water and not get sea sick. I enjoyed the flora and fauna, did see loads of fish, few nudibranch, a giant octopus and a white tip reefshark in the depths beneath me. Imagining me being under water in the middle of the pacific. Woehaaa…
Next day, surf lessons. Just because I can. It is great fun, I even feel like a surf dudette few times. But man, that is hard working. No wonder these guys are drifting for a long time to catch the perfect ride. Paddle with the arms, jump on the board, falling off, paddling back. I am exhausted after the 2 hours, but I return after lunch to give it another go. After I lost all the skin of my knees on the rough surface of the board I decide to call it the day. Veni, vidi, vici waves! The funny thing of surfing is all the other starting surfers giving you a cheer and the shaka hand sign if you manage to get up and stand for a few seconds. We are all one big family. I have a nice chat with a family from Ottawa and that is it. Again a nice day, again ending with a beautiful sunset. I am going to miss Maui, miss Hawaii, miss Shaka, miss not being worried. I start thinking on how to implement this for me in our Dutch society.

He ‘elele ka moe na ke kanaka – a dream is a bearer of messages to man.

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See some more pictures on http://www.scubajo.nl/pictures.htm.

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Haleakala National Park

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Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

On the top of our list are volcanoes. We have seen many already, also here in Hawaii. But we really saved one of the best volcanic area’s of Hawaii for last. Haleakala National Park on Maui. Haleakala means ‘house of the sun’ in Hawaiian and we planned to go there on a Friday. In just 60 km we drive up from sea level to an altitude of 3,055 m. That is tough business for our car and the driver (me). I have to say, I simply love winding roads. About halfway up the mountain we find the clouds stubbornly hanging loose. Why not, Hawaii is all about hanging loose. Will it be clear on top? We keep on driving until… we are above the clouds. Nice! We check with the ranger at the visitor center for the forecast and he tells us it might even be clear in the ‘crater’ below the clouds. Okay, let’s go down and see.

Haleakala is not a crater as such. It is a valley originated as a result of erosion of the volcanic rock. In the valley are several smaller volcanoes which are responsible for many of the eruptions in the past. The volcano is now dormant, but according to scientists not extinct yet. We head for the Keonehe’ehe’e trailhead to hike into this valley for a few miles. The weather is cold and misty. We wear jackets and keep warm by moving down. It is a relatively easy descent. In the end we probably go 350m downhil, realising we have to go up the same way. But, before we go back, we take all the impressions we can get. And with much pleasure. The landscape is not of this world and was used by NASA in the past for training astronauts. Between the hanging clouds we get glimpses of what is there. Rocks, rocks, many rocks and lava sand. And there is some life. Plants in various shapes and sizes, protected by signs telling us to ‘stay on the trail’. A unique plant we see quite a lot is the Haleakala Silversword. A very nice, but endangered plant. We are too late for the blooming, but it looks incredible. Slowly the clouds are disappearing as well and by the time we get hungry we find the perfect picnic spot. A wooden plank on 2 rocks, with a view at the valley in front of us. We sit and just watch the scene and the clouds coming in and disappearing again. This is amazing. We feel so small. Many small cinder cones are visible when it is clear and we want to climb them, but that is not allowed. We take many pictures, just because we can.

By the time we take our lunch ouf of our bags I hear a strange sound. Chuk, chuk… if we don’t speak, it should be completely silent in here. But now there are some chukies coming. Chukar (patrijs) they are called and they are most definitley not native. Probably they get food from hikers. We decide to go with the park advise to ignore them. Which is difficult if two of these birds are sort of chuking around you, within 2 meter distance. But we manage. Aftr lunch we go back up. A long hike, but with a surprising end. I feel like an angel when the Brocken spectre effect suddenly appears. I have a halo around my shadow… you see, I always knew there is something good in me…
We end the day with a view from the summit. We can see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island (both around 4000m high and above the clouds) in the distance and a very nice sunset over northern Maui and the clouds.

Hiking the ‘crater’
On the Sunday, just 2 days later, I decide to go to Haleakala again for some serious hiking. I start with the sunrise, which was nice. The sky is clear above the crater, giving me a perfect day to hike. I brought enough water, food and sunscreen and take off around 7:30am. There is still some frost on the soil. The ice cristals show it has been cold up here last night. I wear my fleece, but only for a few minutes. The sun is shining and there is no wind, so it gets pretty warm. I go down the Keonehe’ehe’e or Sliding Sands trail for about 6.3km and descent roughly 800m. In the crater I eat my apple and enjoy the views. I meet some other hikers doing the same teail and after a few minutes chatting I proceed to and around the Halali’i cinder cone, which is another 2.5km. I feel small in this gigantic lava field. Lava bombs the size of skippy balls are all around me, what if…
While walking around the cone I find a 20m deep pit and a very colorfull landscape: black, grey, brown, red, yellow and white rock. All in one area like a painter’s palette.

It is relatively quiet today, only the 4 of us are doing the whole loop to the Halemau’u trailhead as far as I can see at that moment. The trail proceeds on the Halemau’u trail and I include the Silversword loop. A small detour which passes a field full with these strange plants. The views of the cliffs of the crater in the background are stunning. Lunch is after another 3.2km at the Holua cabin. We are eating and chatting and slowly see the clouds moving into the valley. They take over and somehow I am glad. After the hut the trail only heads up for about 6km and with the clouds blocking the sun it will not be too hot. We need to take a path winding at the face of the cliff, ascending a bit more than 300 meters. Probably because there is nothing much to see in the mist, I start feeling tired. Of course I cannot give up now and I just keep on going. It is like climbing a building with 100 floors, just a bit more serene. Imagine that.
After a long day, I think I have been hiking for around 6 hours, I make it to the top. Now I only need to hitchhike back to my car. It is parked at tge start of thd trail, 9km up the road and I really do not want to hike that anymore. Luckily I am not the only one hiking the trail like this. There is a special hitchhiker pick-up spot alongside the road. It takes me just a few minutes before a Swiss couple is so friendly to pick me up and drop me off at my car. I take another view at the crater and decide to drive down and get some food. I am hungry like a horse after this hike. All in all it was around 20km and worth every inch of it.

Haleakala – `A`ohe loa i ka hana a ke aloha.

Helicopter flight

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He ali’i ka ‘āina, he kauā ke kanaka.” – The land is chief, man is the servant.

Before I came to Hawaii I decided that this would be THE place to do my first helicopter flight ever. I have seen some youtube movies and knew it, this is it. Big Island was the place where it should happen. Possibly over some volcano, hopefully spotting some lava. We booked a flight with Safari Tours for April the 2nd, in the front 2 seats. We came to the airport in time, well, too early to be honest. Eager to go. The lady of the company was very friendly. “Hello Joanne and Mary”, well, close enough. Together with a family of four we got our safety drill. Lifejacket on, instructions on how to use it, where the extingiusher is and what to do in csse of… and last but not least, she gave us the advise to enjoy ourselves!

Richard was our pilot. He parks the heli, we are pointed to our seats, locked in our safety belts, headphones on, and off we go. Richard talks and talks and talks some more. Very entertaining, like listening to an one man show during a flight. I am not nervous, just excited to get up there. We pass some Indiana Jones and Planet of the Apes film sets, our pilot figurated in them somehow. We see a town called Pahoe. Here people were in distress not even a year ago. They saw a big lava flow coming down from Pu’u O’o crater (part of Kilauea volcano), threatening to take over their town and their houses. After a few months, the lava stopped, taking only one house, part of a cemetary and just stopped next to the recycle station. We fly over the lava, now black, hardened out and cooling down on the inside. Scary to realise people are living so close to this highly active volcanic area. House prices so close tomthe crater seem to be the lowest on the island… I wonder why.

Next Pu’u O’o crater. The little devil herself. Well, wow, just wow. She has been erupting since 1983. An impressive lava flow is what we see, old, black, hardened out… at least that is what she makes us believe. Nothing is more deceiving than a lava crust. We notice smoke at the ends, we fly over and see trees still catching fire. It is that hot. Poor trees, they just burn and they did nothing wrong. Wrong time, wrong place. The methane gasses flame up as well and we realise that nature is beautiful when it shows its horror face (and when we are at a safe distance). Richard explains that new lava is shiny and silvery, and when you focus you can see it move. I look carefully and indeed suddenly I see a more silvery spot in the huge lava field, and coming closer, I see the dark red lava slowly moving. Again, wow, just wow. Then we fly over the crater of Pu’u O’o. Wow cannot describe it anymore, this is awesome (America’s favorite word). A pool of hot lava is bubbling and steaming. I try to make some photo’s, but it is difficult. I have to just remember and keep on dreaming about it. Richard loves flying the heli, so we go over, and over, and over the crater. Many times to give us all the opprortunity to see it. Did I say wow already?

Next we follow the lava flow down to Jack’s place. The last man standing in the lava fields. His house was completely isolated, but he loved it and stayed until the bitter end. Lived for more than 30 years in between all lava flows. They always passed his house and avoided it. Until April 2012. See some more on this webpage. We only see the remains of his water tank, the rest is gone. The black flows are very, very impessive. I cannot imagine how many people have been afraid and lost their houses. So sad and yet so beautiful.

Last bit of the flight is over the beautiful lush green forrests of Big Island. Thousands of waterfalls no one probably has even seen from down below. The pilot even named one after his daughter. We fly a bit, discovering more nice waterfalls, and finally get back to the heliport. Wow, just wow. This is so nice. I have this smile on my face which cannot be washed off. I was not scared, just enjoyed every minute of it!

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

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For me, Hawaii is volcano. My main goal of this trip is to see the Kilauea, Halema’uma’u crater and more. Lava, steaming vents, sulphur smell… well, we are on the right island. Big Island, land of Pele, beach boys and… 5 gigantic volcanoes. Mauna Loa even being the biggest volcanomon earth, calculated in mass  from the sea floor. It looks like a small hill, but the top is over 4000m high.

We arrive in the dark, in the mist. However, the next morning is nice. Sort of clear, blue sky, few clouds. The park is at around 3500ft/1000m, so temperstures are very comfortable. Much sun cream is applied until we are very sticky at the end of the day. Off we go. Steaming vents, check, sulphur banks, check, crater rim road and… Kilauea with the Halema’uma’u crater, check. Wow, impressive. This thingy is huge and steaming from the main crater. This is absolutely amazing. How can a place so beautiful be so dangerous as well. The stupid thing is, we all drive, walk, relax in this place, which endures earthquakes every day and it has a very, very active volcano underneath. Well, a hot-spot even. I do not care about the danger, even though our American hosts like to point it out on every corner of the street. Every parking or edge of the rim has multiple signs stating all the hazards, dangers, do not’s. Ah well, I just wanna see, wanna feel, wanna hear, wanna  smell. Just using all my senses, except for tasting. I am not a geologist and will not be licking rocks 😆

The weather forecast for the afternoon is not completely dry, so we decide to just drive past all touristic and scenic sites. Pit craters, echo crater, lava flows from 1979, 1974, 1973, a nice sea arch at the ocean, a road which has been over flown by lava in the 70s , some ancient petroglyphs and finally a very nice lava tunnel. So many sites to visit, all telling their own story of how tiny we are compared to the power of volcanoes.
Tired of driving and the many impressions we go to the crater rim after sunset to hopefully see the lava glow in the Halema’uma’u crater. Unfortunately clouds have come again and visibility is close to zero. No glow at all, which seems to be very rare according to the rangers. We go ‘home’, where we have a very nice ‘doggy bag’ leftover meal from the supersized Thai dinner yesterday. While eating a great idea pops up in our minds. In the mornings the sky seems to be clear, why not catch the glow in the dark before sunrise. We set the alarm at 4am.

4am, my alarm is buzzing. I silence it. Don’t want to get up. I check the window and decide it is very misty. After 10 minutes my friend says something and leaves the room. What the…? After few minutes she returns. She checked the webcam and it is clear and glowing in the pit. I check the window again… oh, it is condensation. Hmmm… well, why not. We get up, dress quickly and head off. 4:40am we are standing at the rim of the crater. We are definitely not the only lunatics and feel very fortunate to be able to see this. It is so beautiful. We enjoy every second, feel no cold (until our fingers are not able to operate our camera buttons anymore) and stay until the sun has risen. Wow, just wow…

We plan to hike the trail in the Kilauea Iki crater. We want to do this 6km trail before we have to check-out from the hostal. A very nice hike along and through this crater, which will take us 3 hours to complete. We are enjoying every moment, warming up a bit, seeing very strange landscapes of lava flow, with both pahoehoe and a’a lava. Along the way I remember we did not yet have breakfast and decide in the middle of the crater it is time for some food. What a nice place for a picnic. We have to go back to the hostal to get our luggage, but we will come back in the afternoon. Why not…
And so we did. In the afternoon we hike the nice trail to Pu’u Huluhulu and Mauna Ulu. Not too difficult, but again very nice. It is like walking on chips, you hear the crisping sound of breaking lava under your feet all the time. The view is nice, unfortunately clouds again come in, blocking the sun. Along the way we see lava creations with round holes in them. Tree stems, there were trees there when the lava came down. The trees are long gone, but the prints and shape of the stems are still clearly visible. Amazing! En route to the top of the view point at the end of the trail we meet a couple of Nene goose. They slowly walk the same trail. We do not want to disturb them, as they are probably nesting somewhere. Strange place for them, but hey, why not… The end of the day ends wet again. Rain is pouring down again. Time to move on (unfortunately) to Kea’au, on to our next airbnb host.

Aloha Kilauea, until we meet again!

Big Island – Hāhālua and more

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away!

Hāhālua, or manta, is a large fish swimming in the waters around Hawaii. Wing span can be up to 5 meters of this super friendly pacific manta ray. “They have no real teeth, no stinger, and a harmless disposition. Their only defense is to flee. These huge and gentle creatures feed on a food source of almost all microscopic organisms called plankton, so Manta must work very hard to get this tiny food. At night, light attracts brine shrimp, a form of plankton that rays feed on.  Using their cephalic fins like big scoops, they funnel water into their wide-open mouths and filter out these organisms.

We wanted to see them and decided to book a very touristic tour to a bay which is lit with lots and lots of lamps, attracting the plankton and thus the manta rays. Probably with 50 divers we were sitting at the bottom of the bay, lighting it up with our lamps. After a little while she came. A young ray, probably 1.5 – 2 meters wide, swimming and feeding itself. Mouth wide open swimming, no better flying over our heads.
In the end we arrived back safely in the harbour. We had a great dive, even though I was so, so sea sick. Lost a lot of weight there and fed the manta’s. So, it was all on me this time.

The next day we make a slow start. My stomage finaly relaxed again, so I needed food. Breakfast with a view on the sea, palm trees and a giant cruise ship. Hahaha, time to leave before all the guests start swarming the town. We drive slowly to Volcano, passing by some nice spots along the way. First of all the beach where Captain Cook got murdered in the end. To be honest, it is a very nice place now. Then to Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (try saying that). This is a beatiful historical site with some houses and wood carvings representing ancient times. A great place to have lunch, with a view again. White beach, palm trees, nice swell and some lovely cardinal birds.
Next stop painted church, which is very nicely painted on the inside, and black sand beach. The last is well known for the endangered green turtles which come to the shore to just relax on the beach. Luckily, many Hawaiian volunteers do their best to protect these animals.
At the end of the day we arrive at Holoholo inn, a nice hostal, owned by an old Japanese world traveller in the town called Volcano. We enjoy a Thai dinner and go to sleep. We are the only guests tonight. It feels strange to be alone in this large place, but we sleep well.