06.04.2011 - 06.04.2011 14 °C
Great start to the day, semi overcast but looked promising for a drive to see the Kilauea Caldera (the longest continuous eruption in the world). 3 hrs later we arrived at the Volcano National Park (not a short drive).
The drive from Kona to Volcano is nothing like any other drive i've ever done! The landscape is constantly changing, from rainforest style jungle through to desolate black wastelands (where recent eruptions have taken place). Many of the towns on the way are also very quaint and quite old fashioned. This island is nothing like Oahu and is a definate must if you are coming to Hawaii.
On arrival at the Nat Park we discovered that Kilauea is currently not erupting and it would be not possible to see any lava flowing (huge bummer...) We also discovered that it actually flows with lava quite infrequently so it is more likely that you won't see lava than you would.. again bummer.. but we live in hope!
So we were recommended to go for a walk inside the Caldera itself. A once in a lifetime opportunity. So we decided to take the 4mile round trip in and out of the caldera. To be honest it is a hike and a half (if you like me aren't used to hiking).. It is 400 feet decent into the caldera which means 400ft climb out... ouchy calf muscles!! The walk was so worth the effort though. No sooner did we get about half way down the mountain into the Caldera that it started to rain. A 4 mile round trip takes over 2hrs so we spent most of our trip walking in very steady rain.. to say that we were wet by the end of our trek was an understatement. We both had our rain jacket and both let us down!
Although it rained for almost the whole walk it was still worth the trip. The floor of the Caldera is very hard to describe. Its black (surprising huh??? not) and quite easy to walk on. Large fissues and chasms from which quite a bit of steam (we think) comes out of. There was two hills in the Caldera where the next eruption may come from that were also spewing out steam.
The main eruption for Kilauea is further around and is off limits to the public because the sulfur dioxide levels are too high for humans. The only way to see this part of the park is via helicopter (which we still may do one of these days). We've decided to return to Volcano sometime this week once the weather clears as it really wasn't a great day to walk the Caldera.
The drive home was quite eventful because the rain that we had experienced at Volcano turned into a large tropical storm (thunder, lightening and sheeting heavy rain). One of the roads we decided to take was 1 lane and the drop was enough to worry us and just trying to see thru the windscreen was difficult.. Definately a trip to remember (the jesus bar got a work out by yours truely-- Conductor drove well but the rain was pretty full on).
More heavy rain predicted tomorrow so its likely we will do some more driving (as there isn't much else we can do).