Around the Big Island - Kona to Volcano


Some things are better at night…welcome to the Volcano National Park


While the professional triathletes start the 3.5Km swim portion of the triathlon in the morning, we enjoy a wonderful breakfast of fruit and eggs and fresh scones.   From the dining room of the Inn we can see the black shadow of race participants move through the water.  Our plans to wander through Kona and along the west coast of the island are being hindered by triathlon road closures.  Although I’m a little disappointed we don’t have time for a coffee farm tour, we have a long drive back to Volcano (for the second time) and need to hit the road.  MG saves the day when he finds an unblocked route that allows us to access Hapuna Beach.  As most locals and tourists have avoided the area due to the Ironman, we have the picturesque white sand and turquoise water beach to ourselves.  We enjoy the beach and get back on the road. 


Hapuna Beach all by ourselves 


As we continue our journey, for a small stretch of the highway, we are moving alongside the Ironman athletes as they complete the cycle portion of the event.  Since the cycle route is a loop we see the professional group passing the 120Km mark, while others are approaching the 60Km marker on the other side of the street.  Watching the event (of course) makes MG wish he was part of the competition.  Shortly after the beach, we take a detour along Kohala Mountain Road – offering unique views of the coast and several volcanic mountains (Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai).  The end of this road (and the town of Hawi) also marks the turn cycle midpoint for the Ironman participants.  We grab a sandwich, iced tea and a smoothie (for MG) and ice-cream (for me) at the Kohala Coffee Mill and watch the stragglers complete the first 90Km of the Ironman cycle portion.


The Ironman Hawaii


Stopping at a few lookout points along the way, we continue on to Volcano…by the time we arrive, we’ve turned the day into a road-trip…laughing and singing along to the radio.  I’ve had my arm out the window for so long it’s a bit sunburned.  Familiar with the area, we have no problem finding the cottage (Volcano Artists Cottage).  It’s rustic, but perfect for a one night stopover.  We immediately make the five minute drive to the Volcano park, for the first time I’m the one in the driver’s seat…trying to give MG a break from all the driving.  We tour the park (including the steam vents and the lava tubes) and then come back to the cottage to change into warm clothes before heading back to the park for sunset.  As the sun begins to disappear, the smoke and glow lava from the Halema’uma’u Crater becomes more prominent.  By the time the sun has set for the day, only the stars and the red-orange glow illuminate the area.  Given the weakness of my night vision, MG is back in the driver’s seat of the car and we stop at the extremely busy Thai Thai Restaurant in Volcano.  It is approaching 17:30 and the place is packed with tourists and locals.  Everything looks good and I get a death stare from MG when I ask for an additional minute to decide.  Thankfully he has already ordered an appetizer or he would have probably decided for me J.  We have a nice dinner together and check out the pictures MG took at the volcano. 

Later, back at the cottage, we get prepared for an early start the next day.