This and the next day were supposed to be all about tooling around the Hawaiian Volcano National Park. Of course, the park wasn’t being destroyed by seismic activity with steam and ash pouring out of the ground. And the chances of me seeing actual lava were nil.
However, the cottage I stayed at was AMAZING. First, it was set in the forest jungle that has cool, clean nights and warm, stunning days. I slept with the windows open. It was all great if you didn’t think about the fact that Kilauea was only four miles away and I experienced about six or so earthquakes. No big deal.
There was one part of the HAVO park that was open: the Kahuku Unit. It was about an hour’s drive in the direction I had come from, but I decided it was better than nothing. On the way, I noticed the vog was pretty thick and I could faintly make out the sweet, sweet smell of SO2.
Once in the park, aranger greeted me at the entrance with a laminated page and map which explained where the hikes were and what to see. Nearly four hours and 4.5m later, I had seen enough. Off to see black sand!
Next stop was the Panalu’u Black Sand Beach. In almost a test of reality, to see sand – on a beach – that is black as black can be is a sight to behold. After I took a few shots, I stumbled down the beach towards a large crowd gathered about what I did not know. When I finally arrived at the spot, I could finally make out what all the Japanese tourists with their selfie-sticks were going cuckoo over: turtles.
In a small area that was cordoned off by stones, there were three Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles napping in the sand – or as the Hawaiian’s call them ‘honu.’ There was a sign warning dumb tourists: Do not ride the turtles. Indeed.
Back at the cottage and after having a run in with a territorial Kalij Pheasant, I tried to nap till dinner time, but three 3+ earthquakes in about 30 minutes prevented that.
At dinner, which normally would have been unremarkable accept for the ridiculously priced and equally delicious rack of lamb AND the newlywed couple next to me that told me a story on how they saw lava. They had taken a helicopter tour earlier that day and were just blown away.
I immediately started researching on my phone.