Friday, February 2, 2018

Hawaii 2018 Day 1 - Big Island (Lava Hike)

Aloha!!!! Started my 2018 with a trip to Hawaii in January for ~10 day! I visited 3 out of the 6 main islands (Wikipedia may argue there's 8 major islands); the big Island of Hawaii, followed by Maui and Honolulu. I flew to Kona International Airport (KOA) from Seattle via San Francisco with United Airlines. The flights were pretty good, especially the flight from SFO to KOA where I met two girls from the United States whose father lives in Hawaii and they are huge fans of K-pop! Not that I'm a big fan as well but at least they were excited when I talked about my lucky Taeyang White Night World Tour concert experience last year.

First up, the big Island of Hawaii! This trip was with my co-worker LQ, her cousin BF and friend JJ whom I met for the first time. Thankfully BF is a regular driver in Canada, so she was able to cover most of the driving in Hawaii. We booked an airbnb at Hilo, which is about 2h drive from Kona Int'l Airport.

Common terms used in Hawaii:
1) Aloha = Hello
2) Mahalo = Thank you

Hilo Airbnb

The balcony has a lovely view of the sea and the river next to the house.

Hilo Farmers Market was in our itinerary but I did not go as the 3 girls woke up early and went for the market while I was still sleeping. All the stalls will be opened on Saturday starting at 6am while only a few stalls will be open on the other days of the week. I sent a text to LQ when I was ready and they came back to pick me up.

Waipio Valley Lookout

A little over an hour drive away from our Hilo Airbnb, Waipio Valley Lookout was a picturesque destination to admire. Note that you are only allowed to park your car there up to 30min (FOC), which is more than enough time.

Walk down a short pavement to the lookout area

Covered resting area

Akaka Falls State Park - Akaka Falls Lookout

1h drive away from Waipio Valley Lookout, we arrived at Akaka Falls Lookout, as this place is on our way to the highlight of the trip - Volcano Lava Sunset Hike that we would be doing later!

Hawaii Lava Bikes (Sunset Tour)
Address: 12-5169 Road, Pāhoa, HI 96778

LQ searched for a few vendors and decided on Hawaii Lava Bikes as they offer electronic bike and hike tour, also their availability fits our schedule. Each person is priced at USD 135 but LQ managed to get USD 10 off with promo code '808LOCAL' after requesting them for a discount. Thus it was USD 125 per person.

The tour started at 4pm at a booth most far off from other vendors. We had to sign an indemnity form before we start our tour. A hiking backpack with fruits, snacks and 2 bottles of mineral water is provided. For those who are interested in this hike, I strongly urge you to use the backpack provided as it would get really wet and dirty at the end of the hike - you would not want to dirty your own bag. Do wear covered shoes as the hike out to the lava is over sharp rocks.

We started off using electronic bikes from their booth, riding all the way uphill to this sign below:

This was where we parked our e-bikes and set off to hunt for lava! The hike was not very physically demanding but the weather changes like a woman! (Feminists: Don't start getting defensive and attack me. I'm a woman too and I know women's emotional roller-coaster. haha) It could drizzle for a few min, stopped, then followed by rain; this cycle repeats itself for the whole 4h hike, each time with different intensity. So please wear a windbreaker/raincoat or something waterproof!

Our tour guide, he's really friendly and takes good care of all of us

Be careful not to step on the edges of the cracks as they are really brittle! You could easily fall off.

BF spotted that little flame!
We were out for 2h and couldn't find the lava that were originally there a few days ago when our tour guide hiked. Luckily, BF has great eyesight and spotted a little flame. We were very excited and walked towards the fire spot.

It was really hot next to the lava!!! I felt like I was melting when I tried to get close. A few people asked me on Instagram(@lynne_chua) and Facebook as they wondered how we could get so close, ain't the ground hot? Yes it was hot but bearable. It only gets intolerable when I got really close to the lava.

It glows beautifully as the sky gets darker. Also, we were able to see more and more spots in the darker night!

More spots!

There were even more lava flowing at the back!


It was burning hot behind my back. "Risking my life" for the picture. hahaha

Check out the flowing lava video above!

It was dark when we started to head back. All of us were given light sticks and also started wearing headlight on our head. We later figured that it's easier to hold the headlight in our hand instead of wearing it on our forehead.

Drenched LQ, BF and JJ
The hike back was harder was it was 'downhill', dark and rained on/off too. Yet our heart was really full! It was such an exhilarating experience to find and see the lava real life! This 4h hike was so worth it! If you love nature, you got to do it once in your lifetime!

Things to take note for the hike:
1) Wear dark coloured outer layer - Why? My white jacket was dirtied with mud spots at the end of the hike and it was very difficult to wash it off.
2) Waterproof jacket
3) Good pair of covered shoes
4) Drink up!
5) Take the e-bike tour instead of normal bikes as e-bikes made life easier (uphill)!
6) Bring your camera!

Read about our swimming adventure with wild dolphins, manta rays and witnessing the awesomeness of humpback whales in my next post! Cheers~

Hawaii 2018 Blog Posts

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