Hawaii 2012 - Day 14: Two Rental Cars - Volcanoes revisited- Punalu'u Beach Park

Hawaii Travel Blog

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Our two rental cars: the Hilo based Chevrolet Impala (left) and the Kona based Dodge Charger (right)

The last morning in Hilo! Today we had to go back to the west coast once more for our last night in Hawaii in Kailua Kona. But first we had to get rid of our first car. So, we drove to Hilo Airport to dump it with Alamo after, of course, a photo session with our two big cars.

Now our Kona car, a huge Dodge Charger, was the leading car that had to take us back west. We chose to drive the southern approach, the longest of the three main roads back to the west coast. Longest but also the one we had not taken yet. It allowed us to have breakfast in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, where we enjoyed it at the edge of the Caldera Rim once again enjoying the beauty of the hardened lava and the continuous flow of SO2 in the distance.

A small part of the south section of the Crater Rim Drive, which is closed to traffic due to the high concentration of SO2 gas being vented by Kilauea, is, strange enough, open for hikers.

The current Crater Rim drive being taken over by nature again
Lucky for us! It had just opened, only three months ago! So, we literally hit the road. In the past four years of its closure nature had already taken over. In many places plants are growing in holes in the pavement.

We could walk as far as the Keanakako'i Crater. At this place the road passes between the huge caldera and the smaller Keanakako'i Crater giving great views in all directions. Upon return at the parking we had another look at the Kilauea Iki crater, this time from the site where the giant lava fountain had beeb in 1959.

We left the national park to revisit Punalu'u Beach Park. Revisit, because we had been here in 2009 too (see here). Puna lu'u is Hawaiian for "Spring Water" and the beach is called as such because underground streams of fresh water terminate at this beach.

A hono (green turtle) sleeping on the black sand in Punalu'u Beach Park
A more remarkable characteristic is the colour of the beach's sand; deep black! The sand is black because it was formed from the lava that hits the water and explodes into this black basalt.

The beach is home to the Hono, the green sea turtle. Unlike during our 2009 visit the honos were present this time. One was relaxing on the beach, several others were being smashed by the waves, over and over, against the sharp lava rocks. It did not seem to matter to them.

Everything took more time than we had anticipated, and the day was also shorter than we thought. So, our planned hike to the place where Captain James Cook had been slain by unfriendly Hawaiian natives in 1779, could not be done. As a result we arrived in a timely fashion at our last hotel in Kailua Kona, which allowed us to stroll around in the downtown area before having our last dinner which was, of course, another pineapple Thai curry on the (ocean view!) balcony of the hotel.

More pictures below.

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Our two rental cars: the Hilo base…
Our two rental cars: the Hilo bas…
The current Crater Rim drive being…
The current Crater Rim drive bein…
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on …
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on…
Breakfast with a SO2 view
Breakfast with a SO2 view
The same point of the old Crater R…
The same point of the old Crater …
Another view on the Kilauea Iki cr…
Another view on the Kilauea Iki c…
Another view on the Kilauea Iki cr…
Another view on the Kilauea Iki c…
The Nene can be happy the road is …
The Nene can be happy the road is…
Lava at the Keanakakoi Crater
Lava at the Keanakako'i Crater
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on …
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on…
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on …
A hono (green turtle) sleeping on…
A hono (green turtle) at the edge …
A hono (green turtle) at the edge…
Hawaii
photo by: WorldXplorer