So Volcanoes National Park – we stopped at the Halema’uma’u Crater – was just so-so for me. It seemed like a big hole in the ground with some steam coming out. I wasn’t the hugest fan of this place. They do have webcams on the National Park Service website, if you would like to see more.
The gift shop here was good and Jaggar Museum was interesting. I guess we can say we did it but out of the day this would be my least favorite thing to see. Yes I know, I am supposed to love it. I did not.
Much more interesting to me and seriously gorgeous were the Thurston Lava Tubes. Wow. Again a lot of textures for us to photograph and much greenery plus the lava tubes. My photos do not do this place justice at all. Sorry! 😦
Just be careful where you step in the lava tubes – there are some big puddles of water you can find yourself standing in as a surprise because you are too busy looking up and around you. Water drips from the ceiling so be aware of that, do not let it surprise you!
This was my favourite stop of the day. We really took our time here too – the bus driver said no rush, he had to go turn the bus around. Most of our group was well ahead of us but once they got back to the entry place they all ended up taking other paths through the rainforest and by the time we got back to the entry place they were returning to it from the other paths.
A photographer could easily spend half a day just at this location taking shots of trees, ferns, moss, the tubes, etc.
We made a quick stop at the overlook of Kīlauea Iki and wow, what a view! People were hiking the trail here which goes out across the crater floor which was once a lava lake. You could still see steam rising here.
Then onto the Punaluʻu Beach which is a black sand beach. One of the things I did like about the Big Island is the constantly changing scenery and the way so many different landscapes have been created by the various volcanoes.
Punaluʻu Beach was pretty fascinating and we had a long stop here enjoying the scenery and also watching some roaming dogs – peoples, keep your dogs on a leash for their own safety – As we arrived there was a dog running along the road – the owner of this dog we found at the Black Sand Beach however by the time we found the owner the dog had taken off and was not to be seen again, and the owner was really upset. 😦 Especially as I believe the dog was brought in from the mainland to an unfamiliar place on holiday, it was one of those you can carry in a bag type dogs. :((((
An old lava flow at the Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach.
The last stop was a coffee place called Royal Kona Coffee where we could sample Kona Coffee. They had a good range of coffee and souvenirs and I sampled the peaberry which was awesome but very expensive.
Coffee beans on a coffee plant at Royal Kona Coffee
I bought some chocolate coated coffee beans and some HI stickers for our cars. We were by this time running quite late – the visitor centre shuts at 5pm but they stayed open for us. We spent a decent chunk of time here too, enough to get some awesome sunset pics here.
As we drove back along the coast we could see the Celebrity Millenium pulling out of Kona and the sun was going down.I have to say these tours are very well organised. We never felt rushed at all, the driver was great and by the end of the day he felt like ohana (family).
We had a great day, and I could see that this might be a brilliant day trip to do from Oahu if you were willing to caffeine up and try not to fall asleep on the bus during the long day you would have. Sure, there are loads of opportunities to fall asleep but you would be missing out on the gorgeous scenery.
I would recommend this tour especially if you are visiting the Big Island, even if you are hiring a car. Our overall enjoyment level out of 10 was something like 25. 🙂 The tour is not that expensive at just $76 USD per person if you are based on the Big Island. You can read more about the Roberts Hawaii Grand Circle Island Tour here.
The Celebrity Millennium leaving Kona as the sun sets.