Today’s theme was see the entire Big Island. Josh and I went to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park early in the morning. We stopped along the way at a little restaurant recommended by our petroglyphs tour guide yesterday. It was called Lava Rock Café, and we were told that we had to have malasadas. Malasadas are balls of dough, deep fried and then covered in sugar. They had regular plain ones and then ones filled with a wide array of delicious flavors. I opted for one plain and one raspberry filled one. They were awesome. The filled ones are very filling though, so Josh ate most of my plain one for me.

Then we continued on our journey to the volcanoes. Along the way we drove through a lot of varied scenery, including a lot of beautiful waterfalls.

We stopped at the visitor’s center and were told by a very helpful and friendly park worker that the morning was going to be nice, and that there was a nice 4 mile hike through the forest and down on a volcano crater that he highly recommended. It was a very large loop, and he told us that it was much better to hike it in a counter-clockwise direction, so off we went. The start of the hike was down 400 feet through beautiful rainforest. Then we reached the far end of the volcano canyon and hiked back towards the place we started across the very uneven and interesting pahoehoe (smooth lava). There were also patches of aa (rough, sharp lava). It was a nice hike, although entering the rainforest area again and hiking up the 4oo feet we had descended at the start was still not fun. Our trail popped out at the Thurston Lava Tube, which we went to see. It was not very impressive and was also crowded by tourists. I much preferred our hike that was quite solitary for most of the hike until we reached the crater, and even then the people were very spread out. I tend to like places much more if there are not tourists at them.

After our hike we had lunch at a little local restaurant, but nothing memorable. Then we went back to drive the rest of the Crater Ridge Road (only half of the road is open currently because of the gases being released by the volcano). We were planning on going to one of the observatories after this, in order to see the Transit of Venus, but we didn’t need to because at the second visitor’s center there were several sun telescopes set up so that we could see it from there. Since we had seen it, we decided to continue on our circle of the island and see the whole thing.

When Josh saw that we could go to the southernmost tip of Hawai’i, he decided that we should do it. Hawai’i’s southernmost tip is the southern tip of the United States. Also, from there, straight south is nothing but ocean until you reach Antarctica. I said that the GPS said it was going to take a long time, but Josh disagreed. Well, it takes a long time to get down there. Hawai’i is such a diverse place. To get down to the tip of the island you drive through the pan-handle of Texas. Seriously. It is dry, barren, has a few run-down looking barns and some horses and cows. There are wind farms in the distance.

We drove until the end of the road and reached the tip. We took some pictures. Then we followed a sign that said “Green Sand Beach”. We got to another parking lot and looked at the distance we’d have to walk to the beach and decided against it.  It wasn’t pretty out, anyway. We heard later that it’s a 45 minute hike down from the lot. There are only 2 green sand beaches in the world: one in Hawai’i and one in the Galapagos Islands.  We looked at pictures on the internet and called it done.

We continued on our quest around the island and landed in Kailua-Kona for dinner.