Monday, March 25, 2013

Big Island, Hawaii [Part 2] - March 2013

Find Part 1 here

DAY 3: It was Ah's birthday, so the day started with a surprise! A cupcake bouquet from Bleu Cupcakery.

We wanted to snorkel again and tried a place further down Ali'i Drive, north of Kahalu'u beach park. However, we returned to the same spot as the previous day as people said it was the best in Big Island. Be careful of the rocks as they are sharp. Both of us had small scratches all over the body from swimming close to the rocks to see the smaller fish and turtles. Ah got a big gash on his finger that needed treatment from the lifeguard. 

As my underwater camera got damaged the previous day, I provide you with some pictures I found online of the fish and turtles we saw.

Source: Google images


We spent the evening sleeping under the cabana at Sheraton and later at night dined at Rays on the bay while seeing Manta Rays. There are lights flashed into the water. These are supposed to attract the smaller fish that in turn attract the manta rays. You can go for a paid swim with the manta rays, but you can also enjoy it from the restaurant or grab a drink and watch from the open garden next to it.  The food is only decent,  but the drinks are good.


DAY 4: Next day was planned for the east side of the island - green sand beach, black sand beach, volcano national park and Rainbow falls. The distance is not too much, but considering that the roads are single lane and curvy at many places, it took a long time to reach our first destination: PapakĊlea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach). It is at the southernmost tip of the island, which is also the southernmost tip of the US. There are only 2 green sand beaches in the world - one in Big Island and the other in Galapagos Islands. The sand is actually an olive green color caused by volcanic eruptions. We didn't know that there is a 3 mile hike to the beach along sandy paths. A great alternative is the shuttle service that the locals provide. It is well worth the money if you want to save about 3 hours and not walk so far. Or if you have a sturdy 4 wheel drive or an ATV, you could take that. We started walking but along the way hitchhiked in the open back of a pickup truck. It was like a roller coaster ride and we were covered in sand by the time we reached the beach. It was the perfect excuse to get into the water. We had a short stop there and enjoyed every moment of it. 

Southernmost point of US
Need a 4 wheel drive 

Green sand beach

Green sand beach
The color of the sand is more prominent in person. In pictures it ended up not looking very green.

Panoramic view of Green sand beach

From there we went to the Volcano national park. The weather changed from sunny bright to windy rains and the temperature dropped considerably. We were so not prepared for that! At the visitor center, a park guide told us the best route to cover the park. It is a beautiful place, so different from any national park I have been to. We saw the different calderas and drove down to the ocean level, where we saw the hardened lava that had flowed down the mountain into the ocean and extended the island (Big island is the only growing island in the world). The best place to observe a volcanic eruption within the park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of Kilauea that provide views of Halema'uma'u crater. At the jagger museum, during daylight there is a constant plume of volcanic gas is a constant reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake beneath the crater floor. After sunset, a view from the jagger point shows a bright red plume . 

Steam vents

Kilauea crater during the day from Jagger Museum

Lava on mountain 

Lava tubes

Lava on road

Red plume seen during evenings from Jagger museum

I have added a couple of pictures from an outside source to show the molten lava. You can get closer to the lava by taking a guided hike, boat tour or helicopter tour. These are not offered by the National park and have to be booked privately. Learn more here


- Dee


  1. I love the Big Island, wow stunning photos !

  2. The green sand beach looks awesome! Wish I was there right now!

    1. Dana, The view is absolutely stunning. Photos cannot capture the true beauty of this place. The water is very clear.