September 27, 2012 – Kona, Day 4

Today is a busy day. We have two places we want to visit and a long ride.

Our first stop is at Punalu’u black sand beach. We leave very early so that we can catch a view of endangered green sea turtles basking on the beach at low tide.

Punalu’u black sand beach

The black sand on this beach is finer grained than many other black sand beaches. The finer grained black sand is created when a chunky a’a lava flow meets the ocean and shatters into small chunks. The ocean action grinds it down to fine sand.

Fine-grained black sand beach

We see two turtles, one on a rock and one on the sand. The sign says that we need to stay at least 15 feet away. The one on the sand keeps eyeing us suspiciously. The one on the rock seems to have a gouge out of its shell. We also see turtle tracks on the beach. They look like a small tank has passed by.

Turtle with a gouge in its shell

Turtle on the beach

Turtle tracks

Leaving the turtles behind, we make our way to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea, an active volcano. We all get out to take the requisite picture with sign.

Mary and John next to the park sign

Eileen and Jim by the park sign

After going to the visitor’s center our first stop is for a walk through the rain forest and a giant lava tube.

Rain forest

Mary in front of the lava tube

Very dark lava tube

We drive down the Chain of Craters Road and stop now and then to look at a crater. The road ends at the ocean where an arch has been formed by the lava flowing into the sea and the erosive action of the ocean.

Mary and John by the Holei Sea Arch

Our last stop is at the Kilauea caldera. It belches out a lot of sulphur each day. It is important to stay upwind of the steam as it forms noxious smog.

Kilauea caldera

After that we need to eat some lunch. We’ve been up since 5 AM and have brought along some peanut butter and jelly to make sandwiches. We are unable to find an unoccupied picnic table. We go to the Volcano House, the park restaurant. It is closed for renovations. We try a cafe in the town of Volcano. It is also closed. Finally we stop at a cafe whose food is served on styrofoam. There is a very sketchy bathroom. We make the best of the situation.

There is a long drive back to the condo. We are tired out. It’s been a good, long day. Some munchies and a salad round out our culinary day. I fall asleep almost immediately after dinner. So embarrassing.

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