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Hilo, Hawai'i and Volcanoes National Park

Updated: Aug 5




I started my adventure going to Hilo, Hawaii. we started off in a plane from Grand Rapids and we had to go on 3 long plane rides, but it was still worth it.



This is me feeling very tired but helping Mom grab our bags and find a taxi at the Hilo airport. We landed very late at night and Hilo Airport is very small.


We stayed at the SCP Hilo Hotel. When I toured the SCP hotel I met a cat! This hotel is my favorite memory. I loved sitting alone on our balcony looking at Hilo Harbor.


Early the first day we had to go back to the airport to pick up our rental car. We met a nice lady at the rental window who asked if we wanted a 4WD jeep. Our first stop driving on our own was to find food. We loved Ken's House of Pancakes for breakfast. I had so much to look at because everything looked so different than back at home!


I spotted huge Acacia trees just like in Minecraft! We spent the day wandering around Hilo. We had fun looing at many shops, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the local farmers market where they sold crazy looking tropical fruits. We then drove to Rainbow falls (WAIĀNUENUE) where I loved watching the wild Hawaiian chickens run loose everywhere! Very crazy to see chickens on the roads everywhere


After recovering from our jet lag we set out on our first out of town adventure: to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.


I had breakfast at Volcano House and got my first chance to shop alone with cash in the gift shop while Mom ate her meal. I ended up purchasing a turtle box with my own money and had extra change to save. We first walked to the steam vents. they give headaches.


Next we sarted a very long and exhausting day hike of Kilauea Iki trail


Continuing on the trail and exploring.



I found Olivine everywhere on the trail inside the crater. Here's a great photo of a basalt vug with olivine crystals inside


Hiking the Devastation Trail out to the current lava lake in Halema'uma'a ("Fern House") Crater, finished the day with a pizza dinner at the bowling lanes and snack bar inside the KMC or Kilauea Military Camp



WWII Japanese internment camp and learning the history of Hawai'i in WWII


Our SCP Hilo Hotel. I spent some time walking around the grounds and beach. Cool looking Banyan tree in a park across the street.


We woke up very early to drive across the island to Kona. We had a snorkel boat charter all day. We saw the Captain Cook monument where he first arrived on Hawai'i, whales were everywhere and I snorkel in the open ocean looking for sharks! It was almost 3,000 feet deep


Our boat was a former special forces swift boat that was super fast and could turn sharply and we all had to stand up in the back and hold on to bars. They tried to throw us out with high speed corners. Mom lost her hat. They even let me drive and gave me lessons!

My turn driving




Saw whales and a mother whale with a baby!


Chill day at the hotel. Needed a break and do some laundry.



sleeping at 2:45am and Mom woke me up to check out the volcano webcams. We saw activity and decided to drive out to park to see volcano at night!


Me and Mom with one other visitor at 4AM alone in the park watching the volcano. The roaring sound will be something that I will never forget.


Botanical Gardens after spending all night at the crater rim of the volcano. We were tired and it got super hot. I loved the different plants and saw some interesting plants Ive never seen before!


Beautiful orchids!


Some cool looking plants everywhere you look.


Palm Tree stroll for a way to relax and unwind





Tired and hot we jumped in the Jeep for a needed a break. Enjoying the water and happy to be in Hawai'i.


We drove around the Big Island on a history tour. I was so tired from the night at the volcano so Mom jumped out of the Jeep to read to me all history signs. I was getting upset when she stopped for every history sign.


Statue of King Kamehameha in Hilo, Hawai'i. He was the king who united all the Hawaiian Islands into one Kingdom. This statue was originally in Kauai'i but moved here because he never conquered Kauai. They joined the Hawaiian Kingdom on their own.



The Naha Stone. We had to drive circles to locate this important part of the Hawaiian history. It was in front of a library on a back street in Hilo. The legend was if King Kamehameh wanted to be a king he had to lift this huge stone and move it. That would give him the power to unite all of Hawaii. He had only 3 tries to do it and he used up all 3 attempts before he finally moved the stone.


Back at our hotel I started chasing little geckos. Caught one and released after a close look and giving it a name.


Origami on the balcony taking time to relax


Drawing I created from some of the symbols I remember seeing on the wall of Ken's Pancakes.

We spent an entire day just driving around the island of Hawai'i and seeing the different climate zones, animals, towns, and shops.

Waking along the black sand beach at Punalu'u. Saw sea turtle warming up on the black sands. I found a coconut that I saved to take home. We ate lunch in Kona, Hawai'i before heading up into elevation and to see all the ranches. The Parker Ranch on Hawai'i is the largest ranch in the US.



Traveling to the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea at 13,600 feet. Watch out for that Invisible Cow sign!


4WD vehicle checkpoint at Maunakea Ranger roadblock- cleared for summit road. It is a very dangerous road and we couldn't let our brakes overheat because many cars loose control with hot brakes and have accidents. It was very steep and no rails. It looked like Mars.


Maunakea Observatories


Stayed only a short while. I didn't feel great at that height so Mom helped me while we got out to see snow in Hawai'i and the many famous sites. We did not drive all the way to the official summit because that is sacred land to the Hawaiian people and we could see everything and be respectful, too. We saw protests about the big telescope they want to build directly on the summit.


We spent our last night in Hilo and I said goodbye to my favorite hotel


Next we drove to the historic Volcano House inside the National Park where we stayed for 3 nights on the volcano crater rim


Our rooms inside the Volcano House

It was nice to be inside the park so we could spend time working on the Jr Ranger stuff and spend more time in Hawai'i



Some cool things I found on my hikes: Pele's tears small solidified lava drops. A lava tree where a tree once stood during a lava flow. Cinders matching the trail guide to Mauna Ulu


Checking out Mauna Ulu trails. Spatter ramparts, vents, rift zones, Thurston lava tubes, rainforests, lava flow deserts


Exhausted! Fell asleep on the couch. Mom went to the lodge fireplace after stargazing. It was cold at night because Kilauea summit is up at elevation of almost 5,000 feet.

Sunset over the volcano

Evening hikes from Volcano House to the steam vents


Breakfast with steaming Kilauea. Then a short drive out of the park to explore the Kazumara Lava Tubes. World's longest lava tube and all entrances are on private property, so we found a landowner offering to give us a tour

A lava tube within a lava tube.


Last day in Hawai'i.

A drive out to the end of Chain of Craters

Such a wonderful time together

running during a windy evening. Our last Hawaiian sunset. Mauna Loa in the background


Sad to say goodbye. Very quiet day spending time looking around and scared I will not remember it all


We had a late flight home from Hilo so we spent the afternoon at a beach next to the airport wandering in the surf. I saw a sea cucumber, crabs, tropical fish and a mongoose


U of H Hilo


Last drive before turning in the Jeep. We saw Fissure 8 devastation from recent 2018 east rift zone eruption. Dinner at Kens House of Pancakes. Crashing at the Hilo airport waiting for a 10pm flight to LAX



Sleeping the entire way home. Hilo to LA and all the way home to Michigan. Air travel is easy now.

Showing off my Hawaiian shirt from Volcanoes National Park.


Hawai'i has been my best trip ever so far!

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