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Thurston Lava Tube Trail
2 Photosets

mini location map2022-04-06
33 by photographer avatartibber
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Sedona Loop Hike
Sedona Loop Hike
Thurston Lava Tube TrailHawaii, HI
Hawaii, HI
Hiking0.40 Miles 50 AEG
Hiking0.40 Miles
50 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Prelude: I watched several videos on what to do on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was the best video that we felt was most helpful and we did a lot of the things they suggested: [ youtube video ] and we also liked this one which has some great drone work [ youtube video ]

After sleeping out in the screened lanai at my cousin's condo behind the My Hawai'i Hostel (which cousin Connie's daughters own off of Ali'i Drive), our first full day took us eventually to this small hike of the Lava Tube. But first, the day before we were greeted at the airport with fresh plumeria leis made by cousin Connie and her daughter Jaelyn. We had a late lunch at Kona Brewery where I enjoyed a brown ale brewed with coconut :) . We checked out my cousin Jaelyn's house that has all the garden plants of Hawai'i including bananas, papayas, mangos and pineapples and some cute lizards. Oh and she has chickens too.

We got reservations for an 8:30PM night snorkel with the Manta Rays so we had to quit drinking for the day. One of the gals that I do gym class with highly recommended this activity. We ended up using veteran owned Kona Adventures ... t-snorkel/ and it truly was an experience of a lifetime. (It was technically a midnite swim based on Arizona time and we had been up since 4AM.) I was eye to eye with some of the Mantas and we got bumped/rubbed a few times as we seemed to be on the best side of the board. It was funny that as I was writing this, My Kona Adventures just sent me their Manta Ray video; however, I was somewhat disappointed with it ... sm&o=w&c=c It is not necessarily footage from our outing but of recent outings. I actually think their old video is better [ youtube video ]

You can see other videos of what we did online. Interesting though, is that so many of those other videos show lots of other fish around but for us, it was pretty much nothing but plankton or I have forgotten about seeing the other fish; maybe that's why we had the better experience. Our guide on the board was Chase, from Tucson I think.

Day Two: Despite the bad weather forecast for Volcano National Park we headed out as the forecast was the same for the rest of the week. First we dropped off groceries at the other business my cousins own, Cultivate Good Food about 15 minutes from the Hostel: Their juices are delish! After a not very good breakfast at a Chinese restaurant, we continued our drive on Hawaii Belt Road.

We pulled over at Mile Marker 75 near Ocean View to check out the viewpoint along Ka'u Scenic Byway on the slopes of Mauna Loa. There was a nice interpretive sign there discussing some of what we were seeing including the most southern point of the US. We then headed for Punaluʻu Beach between Pāhala and Nāʻālehu. The beach has black sand made of basalt and created by lava flowing into the ocean which explodes as it reaches the ocean and cools. We were lucky that the green turtles were also loitering about :) .

We continued on to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Kilauea Visitor Center so that we could formulate a plan of action in the limited amount of time we had and the inclement weather. Fortunately, they have different maps with suggestions based on your time allotment so that worked perfectly for us. We walked out to three different view points above Kilauea Volcano before heading back to get lunch at the Volcano House Uncle George's Lounge as we missed regular lunch hours. Here is where the Mai Tais began and wouldn't end until leaving Honolulu in eight days. My mission: find the best Mai Tai during my short time on two islands.

After lunch we drove to a parking area closest to the Thurston Lava Tube Trail. It was still raining off and on but at least it wasn't quite as windy. The trail is all paved, except for through the tube which is dirt and a bit of water from time to time. We were lucky that the inclement weather held off the crowds so we got to enjoy a lot of this almost to ourselves. It is quite the rain forest you hike on both sides of the tube. It's amazing how big the jungle can be even this somewhat tamed jungle.

As much as we would have loved to do additional hiking in Volcano National Park, there was just no way with this bad weather so we just had to appreciate what little that we got to see. After all, based on my new saying of the last couple years, "something is better than nothing". We headed back to Kona with an unscheduled stop on the side of the road to capture a beautiful Hawaiian sunset over the ocean.

Here are some videos for you to enjoy:
Day One around Kona - [ youtube video ]
Day Two Ka'U Scenic Byway including viewpoint stop and the Black Sand Beach with turtles - [ youtube video ]
Hawai'i Volcanos National Park including two Kilauea Viewpoints and Steam Vents [ youtube video ]
Thurston Lava Tube and sunset [ youtube video ]
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Green Turtle
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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