On the 3rd December 2012 (Hawaii Time), the day that we had been looking forward to in our Dragon Scout Group (DSG) Hawaii Overseas Exchange itinerary, it’s Day 7 and we would be flying over to Big Island from Oahu for a 2D1N adventure. Waking up early in the morning, leaving the DAV campsite and heading for Honolulu Airport, we checked in and waited for our domestic flight to Hilo, Big Island. It was a short flight around 45mins to 1hour and with the beautiful weather in the sky, we saw beautiful white clouds and saw the islands of Moloka’i and Maui below us.
Soon we arrived at our destination, Hilo Airport. Sterling and Wayson went off first to pick up the 2 rental vans nearby Hilo Airport. Once they were back, we started our adventure in Big Island. First up, it was lunch at a nearby eatery, always fun to taste local food, their portion is always upsized according to our standards. I ordered a large meal and shared around. When we finished our lunch, we continued our journey and our first stop was the famous Mauna Loa Macdamia Nuts plantation and factory. It was shopping time for Macdamia Nuts, souvenirs, looking at the production/packing line of Macadmia Nuts factory from the glass windows. We didn’t take up too much time there and soon we were on our way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, something I was eagerly looking forward to during this whole trip! Do follow Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Facebook!
As our rental vans traveled uphill towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the weather got cooler and we knew we were reaching soon. We reached the entrance of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the ticketing booths were located, continued driving in and we reached Kilauea Visitor Centre. At the Kilauea Visitor Centre, we learned about the geographical landscape on how Hawaii was formed, the flora and fauna on the islands of Hawaii. We watched a video presentation at the Kilauea Visitor Centre before starting our exploration around the Kilauea Visitor Centre area. Our first location was Volcano House, a short walk from Kilauea Visitor Centre, that was the start of our eye-opener adventure in Big Island. The vast open volcano land view was simply breathe-taking beyond words, it shows the beauty of Mother Nature and her creations. This was just a part of the viewing locations for the Kilauea Caldera, it’s really really big and vast!
Continuing on, we trekked back to Kilauea Visitor Centre, hopped back into our rental vans and began our Crater Rim Drive adventure. We soon reached the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu) and spent some time there, exploring the steam vents. It’s really strong and hot, like a hot sauna into your face! I asked the DSG boys and girls to take a group photograph there in front of the steam vents and they had a “hot” time while we were photographing away! The Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) was nearby too and we started trekking towards there from the Steam Vents. The flora and fauna were unique, there were lush greenery with beautiful flowers from the road walking inwards towards the Sulphur Banks. However before moving closer towards the Sulphur Banks, it became dry and barren with strong sulphuric activities and smell. After photo taking and exploring around the Sulphur Banks area, the DSG boys and girls trekked back towards the rental vans and we drove towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory.
I didn’t know much about this region at all, it’s very beautiful and I was mesmerised by the beautiful creations of Mother Nature, the vast land size, the geographical and geological nature of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s a hidden gem! From Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the views were so gorgeous and amazing. All the DSG boys and girls cameras went into overdrive mode and started photographing the sceneries, themselves and with their friends of this beautiful place. I also went a bit overdrive too, however, there were times I just paused, sitted down there, just silently viewed the entire Kilauea Caldera from left to right, like a panoramic eye. I haven’t had such an opportunity to sit down, relaxed and enjoy the gorgeous artworks of Mother Nature. The time there was very Zen, tranquil and peaceful for me, this was something very special inside my heart and soul (the Boy Scouting / Outdoor Adventurer / Traveler spirit) that had been missing from my life for quite a long time.
Our DSG boys and girls visited Jagger Museum and learned more about the Kilauea Caldera, looked at the volcanic rocks and the history of this area. Wayson and Sterling spoke to the Park Rangers Office and one of their Park Rangers kindly brought DSG for a short tour/presentation of Kilauea Caldera. Our boys and girls were grateful, they were attentive when the Park Ranger was sharing his knowledge and stories of this area. His talk was very interesting, captivating our DSG boys and girls, listening attentively. Our Park Ranger host was so great that tourists also flocked behind our DSG boys and girls, and listened to his sharing together too! When he finished his sharing, we all had to take a photograph with our lovely Park Ranger host!
It was dinner time and we left Hawaii Volcano Observatory for Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) for our dinner and accommodation. They are a pretty good place to stay while visiting Big Island especially for group tours and it’s definitely worth considering! Do check out their KMC website for more information! After dinner, we drove back towards Hawaii Volcano Observatory for another different view of Kilauea Caldera. It was pitch black darkness, except for 2 main things, the glowing fume from Kilauea Caldera and the many many beautiful star trails above the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. While we weren’t able to view a real life lava flow, we were quite close to the volcanic activities and right in the heart of volcanic land. This time again, I was brought back to my heart and soul again, like it was earlier in the day. Taking photographs, enjoying the night Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sceneries, sitting down and relaxing, I wished I was able to spend more time there at night, photograph the star trails and concentrate on photographing the glowing fume. However, time was not on my side and I didn’t have my tripod, telephoto lens and remote control. Therefore, I want to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park again with my full gear of camera equipment.
Due to time constraints, I couldn’t spend more time there during the night at Hawaii Volcano Observatory. We needed to head back to KMC for washing up, rest and recovery. The place was warm and cosy, nice beds with thick blankets. The dormitory was just like going back to Army Days for me except it was more relaxing! After a group debrief and personal reflection time for the boys and girls, we all had a good night’s rest before continuing with Day 8 adventure on Big Island, Hawaii.