Sound exciting? It was. Sunday was our day to travel down the coast to view the volcano with stops along the way.
Our first stop was Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, home of a monument to Capt. James Cook. It has sparkling aquamarine water and, when we were there, a novel wooden boat just floating in the water. There were also tons of crabs and dolphins as well. A man sat at the entrance carving wooden statues. We hope to go back later to kayak and snorkel.
St. benedict’s Catholic Church, also known as the Painted Church, was our next stop. A cat sat on the altar up front basking in all the attention he received while church members offered crafts to keep the churn in repair. I loved the various scenes painted on the wall, such as the symbolic picture of a good death with rays of hope shining, the appearance of the Cross to St. Francis, and the Temptation of Jesus. Above, a beach theme was painted with the beaches and palm trees on the side and the open sky at the top.
We finally saw a sea turtle at our next stop, Pu’ uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. The green sea turtle, Honu, swam just before the beach poking it’s head above the water every once in a while. Surrounding it, were the statues and explanations of early life on the Hawaiian island. Aunt Jo especially loved the wooden canoes on display. They were pretty cool.
We then followed the winding Hwy. 19 further down the coast past an early 1900 lava flow stopping to eat at the well-recommended Hana Hou Restaurant and Deli. I got the super delicious Overloaded grilled cheese sandwich.
I still had to cross the road for a strawberry filled Malasada at the below well-known bakery, which had terrible service but great malasadas.
After that huge and amazing lunch, we kept on driving with one last stop at Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. There were two sea turtles sleeping on the beach.
It was our last stop before finally making it to the widely anticipated Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We had to see the lava tubes and that was one of our first stops within the park. We stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube, which walked us through the rain forest.
Our drive through the park to the observatory took us past several steam pockets. The park’s staff was not friendly at all, but the views were breath taking.
We stayed at the Thomas A. Jagger Museum until after dark to see more than just smoke rising from Kilauea.
It was a great cap to the day. We continued the rest of our drive around the island after dark and got home around midnight.