Day 1,969 of Traveling the World | Hawaii (Big Island), Hawaii | June 23, 2023

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was on our bucket list, as the day we arrived in Hawaii was the day that Kilauea started erupting. We tried visiting last week so that we could see it at night, but as we mentioned in our last post, it started raining quite heavily. So we made it a day trip yesterday, driving all around the Big Island. Kilauea was not erupting, but we went out to see the caldera and the steaming vents. We also visited a lava tube, made by lava quickly running in a stream. The tops and sides cool first, and when the lava finishes traveling through, leaves a “tube,” which takes about a year to cool down. There is a long switchback path down to the tube, which is nestled in ferns and trees. The tube is about 1,000 feet long, and is an interesting little feature of the park.

Did you ever hear of a Blackwater Dive? Mike went on his first one last night. It was different than any dive he had ever done before. There was a small group of six divers, one dive guide (Noam), and the captain of the boat (Frank). The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes that rise from the deep ocean floor, and they are not surrounded by a continental shelf, so when one heads directly out from the islands the water gets deep very quickly, approximately one mile deep for each mile out.

For this dive the boat headed out about three miles. A parachute-shaped piece of material was dropped off the bow of the boat, and the boat was allowed to drift during the dive, with the “parachute” pulling the boat through the water with the current. Prior to the dive, Noam said that if a shark was spotted, he would tap out a certain signal to let the divers know it was there. If the shark was showing an excessive amount of interest in the divers, he would tap out a different signal, indicating that the divers should surface and return to the boat.

The six divers were each tethered to the boat, with rope that allowed them to descend to about 50 feet below the surface. The divers were separated so that they were surrounding the boat on both sides and from bow to stern. The only lighting provided was a flashlight assigned to each diver. Noam was untethered and swam to each diver from time to time to point out something interesting and/or to check on the diver’s progress.

No sharks or other large animals were spotted, but lots of small animals were seen, including a small, juvenile flounder, shrimp, and many worm-like animals. Mike didn’t see anything that was larger than about two inches in size. The main interest was the surreal experience of floating a few dozen feet below the surface in pitch black water for an hour with several other divers, with light provided only by small hand-held flashlights. Captain Frank told us that we drifted two and a half miles during the dive. All in all, like the night manta dive Mike did last week, it was an amazing experience.

In just a few days, we will be leaving the warm, sultry weather of Hawaii. It has been glorious, but it is time to move on…again. As always. As soon as we know our way around, and all the tricks, directions, shortcuts, and amenities of a place, it is time to stretch our brains again and adapt to a new environment. But home is wherever we both are, so every place feels cozy and welcoming. We look forward to…traveling.

Another warm pretty day in Hawaii.
An inviting peek out the window of the resort’s chapel.
One of the chapel’s pretty stained glass windows.
Mike’s dive boat, getting ready to head out on a Blackwater Dive at 9:00 pm last night.
Dive Guide Noam explaining the tether system in the pre-dive briefing.
…and three miles offshore, the water is very, very black. Each diver was given a flashlight, and the one-hour dive yielded glimpses of very tiny creatures.
Noam securing the “parachute” after the dive.
We traveled two hours from Kona to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea was not erupting. This is our first glimpse of the caldera, with only steam venting from the fissures.
Along the access road, we occasionally saw these steam vents. We were able to get close to one, and the steam was very hot, but we don’t know if it is hot enough to roast a whole chicken like they did over the steam vents in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
We love the graphic illustrations of what could happen…if.
You have to squint and look very carefully down on the valley floor, as we did (although we could see movement). Way, way down, there were people walking through the valley. Some of those tiny dots are humans! See next photo.
Our newest phone is a Samsung S23 Ultra. We were drawn to it, partially because of its camera. These are the tiny dots in the photo above! We can see details of their clothing, and even their gender – amazing!
We followed signs to Devastation, as we loved the name. Turns out it is a cinder trail from a 1959 eruption!
The state bird of Hawaii is the nene, and has been so since Hawaii became a state in 1959. The nene is found only in Hawaii, and is among the most isolated, sedentary, and threatened species of waterfowl in the world.
Trying to protect the nene.
The lava tube was most interesting at the national park. The couple heading down the 6-7 switchbacks looked to be in their 80s. Each was leaning on a walking stick, and each limped as they walked. Yet they were going to walk down and experience this!
More graphic depictions that we think are fun…as long as they don’t happen to us, of course!
The tube was only about 1,000 feet long, beginning at this entrance.
The inside of the lava tube.
The path leading to the tube was very lush and green.
You can see the volcanic soil along the ocean.
..and some more.
This was taken as we headed into Kailua-Kona.
One of the hot sauces served in the restaurant where we had breakfast. Check the ingredients in the next photo!
Wow! The first ingredient is 100 percent Kona coffee! We had some Kona coffee last week, and it is very strong and very expensive. These ingredients caused the hot sauce to have a unique flavor – with a kick!
As we waited to get our rental car, this adorable child just stared at us. We loved the hair, sunglasses, and outfit – and the confident stare!

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