Hawaii is amazing. The Big Island has every terrain thinkable – tropical paradise, Jurassic Park, Mars, desert chic, permafrost…and the list goes on and on. Today, we decided to step it up a notch and head beneath the surface.
It was a two and a half hour drive across a bumpy road. Everything is so far apart there. (I guess that’s why it’s called the “Big” island.) For the first hour, everything to our right and our left was lava. Shrubs dotted the landscape, while washed up white coral had been neatly arranged to spell things like “J <heart> T” along the two-lane highway. Suddenly, as though we’d crossed an imaginary demarcation line – the scenery became jungle.
But you know what? Spelunking rocks. (Haha – see what I did there?)
We crossed the Big Island to spend our day climbing within the interwebs of lava tubes that honeycomb the island (with its still very active volcanoes). These hollowed, hallowed tubes fill you with awe and mystery as you wind your way through the mazes. It’s pitch black, cannot see your hand in front of your face, dark. The floor is hardened into ripples beneath your feet as you clamor over fallen piles of rough, ragged, rubble rock.
“You ready for your three-hour tour?” inquired our guide? (Well THAT sounded ominous…)
Each entrance to the 55-mile length of the cave is called a “skylight,” a result of a cave in. (Bet you never thought about measuring the depth of ground beneath you before building your house did you?)
Our guide shared that several of the trees at each entrance lack moss growth. “The Hawaiian Kahuna (priest) blessed each entrance. Asking safety and security for all visitors,” shared our likely stoned tour guide. “And in my experience through all these years down in the peaceful calm of the cave…”
He paused, as I skittered down a pile of rubble on my cute little behind. (Don’t worry, I was fine – not even a scrape.)
“So far, the blessing has worked,” he concluded.
After we returned to Earth’s surface, Jon and I headed to Kilauea National Park. A park ranger shared that no molten lava had been seen that day, so Jon and I decided not to trek the additional two hour drive to the potential viewing point (which would have resulted in a 4+ hour drive home – everything on the Big Island is really far apart. I guess that’s why it’s the Big island.)
Instead we hiked along the Sulfer springs, the scenery a dead-ringer for the Jurassic Park sound stage, with holey recesses in the ground shooting steam. It was very weird to realize I was strolling along a very very live volcano – on some of the newest land on Earth. I kept my eyes widely peeled for a rogue goat or the rippling effects of a water bottle, which may give me precious moments to avoid an angry T-Rex on the run.
I noted that if I was not going to be able to see flowing molten lava, I would happily be satiated by a poolside lava flow fruity beverage.