The Big Island – Hawaii – Day 6


We drove back to the Volcano overlook this morning to see it one last time before we head to the Southernmost point of the United States. This is the third time we’ve driven this road, so we’ve heard the Shaka guide story about the Hawaiian Queen who converted to Christianity and threw rocks in the lava lake and read scriptures and nothing happened to her.  Madam Pele, the Goddess of the Volcano, didn’t react in anger and erupt like everyone expected.  It’s been fun to see my children interested in some of the history, songs, and food of the island.

Leaving Volcano National Park, we drove to Punaluʻu Beach, a black sand beach, where we hoped to see turtles resting on shore.  We walked up and down the coast, but we didn’t see any.  Then as we were watching Bryan and Caleb play in the water, Bryan accidentally touched one not realizing it was swimming right by him.  As we looked closer, we could see several turtles swimming in this area. 

The fine black sand at this beach is actually caused by hot lava hitting the cold ocean water and shattering like glass into tiny pieces.  Most of the black sand beaches we have seen so far have just been small round lava rocks, so this beach was unique.  The boys loved the warm soft sand.

We found out how well it sticks when when you are wet or sun screened or just mildly sweaty.

There was a very small Christian chapel (built by the first Christian convert in the area) at the top of the hill that we walked to.  It has cement benches that could fit 12 people (our full family would take half the seats).  They hold services every Sunday.  It had two walls and a roof, basically enough of a structure to block the sun and weather (depending on which direction the wind was blowing) but still let it be outdoor and open.  

We then drove to the Southernmost point of the United States and learned about a 40 foot (12 meter) cliff jumping area. Shaka Guy told us all about the risks of jumping and none of us were really planning to jump. However, when we pulled over and there was a good group already there and we saw several people jump without any issues, Bryan decided he wanted to try it and did it without issue. Caleb then decided he wanted to try and after a while he got up the courage to jump as well.  Here is a video of them both jumping together.

The only way to get back up is to climb three metal ladders joined by chains. They rest against tires attached to the wall but there is still plenty of movement so it’s a bit scary just getting back up.

Katrina started considering it, but her fear of heights made it very difficult for her.  We recorded several attempted jumps and finally she decided she couldn’t make herself do it.  I had told the kids I had no interest in jumping and that the last time I jumped from this height I got hurt (the olympic pool in the town of Lava Hot Springs Idaho – 22 foot / 7 meter jump with my arms out wide).  At this point we had been here for well over an hour and I was pretty bored.  Bryan had jumped 7-8 times and Caleb 3-4 times.  I decided I might as well go for it.  It took me some time to commit, and even then I had to give myself a slow 15 second countdown. I focused on psyching myself up and loosening my muscles by swinging my hands and the wrists and rolling my head.  I jumped when I reached 0 without backing out and I didn’t get hurt so I’m pretty happy. This was definitely one of the kids favorites things to do so far. Caleb said he could now tell all his friends that he went cliff jumping at the end of the world.

Our next destination is Papakolea beach, which is one of only 4 green sand beaches in the world. This beach get’s it’s green color from the large amount of olivine crystals that are mixed into the sand. Unfortunately there isn’t a paved road that takes you to the beach – the parking lot is 3 miles away from the beach. We had planned to walk both ways, but due to the time at cliff jumping, I decided we should pay to get a ride one direction and that we could walk back.  The cost was $10/person one way.  They prefer to only let you pay for the roundtrip, but since there were five of us, they decided to let us pay for the one way.  The ride was pretty crazy, they must wear out their trucks pretty quickly on the sharp lava rock and bumpy path.  There were so many paths it seemed as though they would use one path until the ruts got too deep and then they’d just make a new path.  The dirt was very loose and light and would just blow away leaving big ravines where the cars had driven. 

The beach was pretty cool and the sand was more green than I expected.  Where it was wet it looked like a deep olive green color, but where it was dry and compared against the black rocks and other colors (like a white tree), made the greens pretty evident.  

The beach was also perfect for body/board surfing because it was pretty steep and the waves crested pretty close to shore.  The boys had a ball and had some pretty good surfing. 

We hiked the three miles back to the parking lot in about an hour and reached the car just after sunset. 

Our hotel tonight is the Big Island Bed and Breakfast.  It is a very nice place with a lot of land and fruit and nut trees.  The owner, Kelly, is very social and told us all about the property, the different fruits (Breadfruit, papaya, guava, bananas) and nuts (Macadamia), how she purchased the home, etc…  She has two big dogs to chase away the wild pigs and other rodents.  She has bees to pollinate everything.  The place has a shared kitchen, so we bought and made pizzas for dinner, a small gym, theater room, games, etc…  The kids all loved it here and wanted to stay longer (or just move in).

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