A whirlwind tour of the island

Today was another busy travel day. We started the day around 730 AM (local time). After grabbing a quick breakfast we made our way back to the airport to take the Circle of Fire Helicopter tour with Blue Hawaii. At the airport we were ushered into a briefing room with a couple dozen other tourists for the helicopter safety briefing. Most of the other tourists were passengers on the Celebrity Millennium  which is the same ship we will be boarding in a few days!

The helicopter tour itself was pretty amazing. The pilot and guide was very knowledgeable about the island and the geology of the volcano. The tour took us from the airport, to the lava fields near Mauna Loa and Volcano National Park. Whereas last night we only saw the glow of the lava, this morning we were actually able to see lava creeping out of lava tubes to the surface, and in one crater, we could see bubbling lava. It was an incredible sight to see glowing molten rock being tossed about on the surface of a mountain!

A view of Mauna Loa from the helicopter.

After the tour, Rachel and I went back to the hotel, packed up, and made our way to Kona. We took the northern loop around the island. We got to see some of the more lush tropical rainforest parts of the island, and a new word: Gulch.

After a couple hour drive, we made it to our new home for the next two days, the Waikaloa Beach Marriott Resort. Because, we are on our honeymoon, my platinum status, or that the staff are just that cool, we were upgraded to a nicer room in the hotel. We didn’t stay long though, we soon started out for the southern edge of the island.

After close to 3 hours of driving, we made it to the entry point to the green sand beach trail. The original plan was to get there and hope a local would taxi us to the beach. The beach itself is a 2.5 mile trek across rough terrain  Normal travel by car is impossible, only a high clearance 4×4 with a driver experienced in off-roading should attempt it. No luck though, the locals who taxied people left before we got there. If we arrived a couple hours earlier we would have hiked it, but with the sun setting in an hour, we didn’t want to make the hike back in the dark. On the plus side, we still got to see green sand. The trail head had a thin coating of olivine which gave the normally gold sand/dirt a green hue.

We skipped going to South Point, 10 min away in favor of making it to the black sand beach before sundown. The lighting wasn’t great, but we managed to squeek out a few decent pictures of the beach and the black sea turtles sleeping near the water line. A very unique experience.

Sea turtles resting on the black sand beach.

It was a 2.5 hour drive back to the hotel. It was made longer courtesy of a tourist driving a mustang convertible 5 mph under the speed limit on the single lane road. He was breaking hard at every turn, which sadly was every 200 ft or so. It took an hour of sarcastic patience but I eventually passed him on one of the few straight-aways. Incidentally, I think I passed more drivers today, than I had in the last 14 years combined (two).

Tomorrow we take a tour to the top of Mauna Kea to see sunset and the stars.

Honeymoon word drop = only 3 (we spent a lot of time in the car)

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