Tag Archives: hawaii

Kilauea Iki volcano hike, beaches

A little more aloha: On our trip to the Big Island last month, we made a day trip to Kilauea to hike the Kilauea Iki (small Kilauea) crater. This was the site of a huge 1959 eruption. All is calm now.

fern forest

The 4 mile hike starts off at the edge of the crater, going though a beautiful forest with glimpses of the crater below.

kilauea iki crater hawaii

CollegeKid noted that the floor of the crater looks like “a giant brownie pan.” Why yes it does.

kilauea iki crater hawaii

But it’s not as smooth as it looks when you get down in the crater. These brownies are cracked!

kilauea iki and halema'uma'u

You can see the steam rising from Halema’uma’u, the crater inside the larger Kilauea caldera, on the other side of the Byron Ledge. You definitely know that you’re standing on an active volcano. Science rocks!

Pu'u Pua'i and Halema'uma'u

The blown out cinder cone between Kilauea Iki and the larger Kilauea caldera is Pu’u Pua’i (gushing hill). It doesn’t look that big from the edge of the crater, but when you get down into the crater, it’s a different story.

Pu'u Pua'i Kilauea

The kids decided to see what it looked like up top.

Kilauea Iki crater Hawaii

The second half of the hike crosses the crater floor. It was pretty windy the day we were there. The floor is mostly barren, but little bits of vegetation are making their way back. Steam rises from vents in the floor. After crossing the floor, there’s a climb back up to the crater’s rim. The trail is forested again, and the birds do a great job of singing but keeping out of sight. This is a great hike! I liked it even more than the one we did last year, and that was good, too.

punalu'u black sand beach

On our way back from Kilauea, we stopped at Punalu’u, a black sand beach. Yes, the volcanic sand really is black! And the water looks very blue by comparison.

punalu'u honu

Hawaiian green turtles (honu) come hang out here. It was pretty late in the afternoon, so we didn’t stay long. We wanted to get poké from Da Poké Shack on the way home, and watch the sunset from our lanai.

kona sunset

We made it with 15 minutes to spare.

We spent time on two other beaches on this trip. We visited Kahalu’u in Kailua-Kona, twice (second time because it beat sitting in traffic trying to go somewhere else). This is very civilized with a parking lot, concessions, and the easiest snorkeling ever.

convict tang hawaii convict tang

urchins urchins

pencil urchin hawaii pencil urchin

You can even just walk around on the rocks and see fish in the water, but that was so tempting that we had to get in and snorkel anyway.

K4 honu Kahalu'u

K8 honu Kahalu'u

Apparently this year they’ve started numbering the honu. I’m curious if it’s always the same one up on the beach. Guess I’ll have to go back to find out.

manini'owali kua bay

The other very fun beach is Manini’owali at Kua Bay. The water is spectacularly pretty here, as is the white sand beach. The waves are pretty strong in the winter, and the ocean pulls the sand offshore. Next month there will be a lot less beach. It all comes back in the summer.

santa hats kua bay

I dubbed these guys the Santa Society. There were three of them; I’m not sure how they kept their hats!

We came home just before Christmas, for a whirlwind of Hanukkah and Christmas parties. I’m happy to be home, but I do miss the warm sunshine.

yellow billed cardinal

And these guys. Yellow billed cardinal. They’d come after breakfast and pick up any crumbs we left on the lanai. Tidy is as tidy does!

Desperately seeking sea arch (Hawaii edition)

We made a return trip to the Big Island just before Christmas to get a little sunshine and warmth.

kona sunset

We wanted to do a hike south of Kona that promised a number of sea arches. Having seen Holei Sea Arch at the end of the Chain of Craters Road last year, I was pretty excited.

Holei sea arch

Either we missed the trailhead, or the directions were wrong, but it was going to be a long hike over uneven lava rock gravel down to the shore. No thanks. We opted to go to another beach, Ho’okena, which was supposed to have one nice arch.

shingle urchins hawaii

We wandered the pahoehoe lava shore for a while, and found these.

shingle urchins hawaii

A consultation with Facebook friends later determined that they are shingle urchins. They’re about the size of a quarter, and look like purple leather buttons with flower petals under them. Cool!

sea arch ho'okena beach hawaii

Heading back, we found what we think is the aforementioned arch. It’s over an opening in the rock, so water pushes up through the hole behind the arch when the waves come in.

It wasn’t overwhelming, but at that point we were just trying to declare victory.

When the kids came to join us a couple days later, I told them of our quest. CollegeKid pointed out that there was an arch right below our condo’s lanai. Much easier to get to, and much more interesting!

sea arch kanaloa at kona hawaii

hawaii big island waves

This isn’t as terrifying as it looks; there is a lot of rock in front of/below them.

But it wasn’t all beach and waves. I got some knitting done! Malabrigo worsted + champagne corks = Korknisse!

korknisse hawaii

Volcano hike and more aloha in a later post…for now happy new year’s eve!

A little more aloha

Besides the moonsets, what else captivated us in Hawaii? More nature! More science!

We visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The island of Hawaii is made up of five volcanoes, and you never forget that you’re on them. Halema’uma’u Crater in the center of Kilauea Caldera continues to smoke.

Halema'uma'u Crater

And the edge of caldera continues to steam. The heat under the ground makes the rainwater in the cracks steam.

Caldera steam

We had a pretty ambitious day planned, and got to do most of it. We took a short (2.5 mile) hike that took us around the edge of the caldera, and down to the caldera floor.

Kilauea Caldera


Cairns mark the trail. I love how little plants have sprouted in the cracks on the floor, tiny attempts at new life. There’s actually a trail that crosses the caldera, but it’s been closed for years because it’s not safe.

We took a stroll through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was actually underwhelming, but out of the oncoming rain! No pic; it was over almost before it began.

We drove to the end of the Chain of Craters Road. Why is it the end? Lava overran the road in 2003. So cool that nature has her way.

lava road
Looking west back towards the usable road…

road closed
Looking east. Road closed, indeed.

Hōlei Sea Arch is here, too. You’re 90 feet above the water; don’t lean too far out over the edge to see it!

Holei sea arch

I’m not sure why there’s a lone stand of palm trees near here; I tried googling but didn’t come up with a definitive answer.

end of road palms

I wanted to visit the petroglyphs at Pu’u Loa, but it was near dark when we left the end of the road. And it gets really dark. No lights on the road, and it was raining, too. My biggest regret? I forgot that I wanted to see Halema’uma’u Crater glowing in the dark! I guess I’ll have to go back, soon.

We went snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach the next day. This is the easiest snorkel spot, ever. You can walk into the water and see fish, but they really look better if you put your mask on. Lots of honu (sea turtles) visit here, too.

honu kiss

They’ve named this fellow Rocky. Maybe he’s the same one I saw in January.


We toured a chocolate farm, Original Hawaiian Chocolate. This is the first chocolate venture to go from farm to chocolate bar in Hawaii. Single origin Hawaiian chocolate, mmmmm. Cacao pods form from tiny flowers on the wood of the trees.

green cacao


They come in different colors, but they all make chocolate. Inside the pod, the beans are covered with a white sticky substance. Geckos find it delicious.


We like the part from the inside!

chocolate vat

We also visited Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge. In olden times, if you had broken the strict kapu laws, you could be put to death…unless you made it to the pu’uhonua first. My family thought of it as “base,” and they felt a need to visit. Feeling guilty?



Last sunset…


And remember how I said that you never forget that you’re sitting on a volcano? Our last evening there we felt a disturbance, unnerving enough that I checked with the US Geological Survey’s site. A 3.2 earthquake, off the coast. Just a little rumble.


Back home, and back to knitting!

Chasing the moonset, and Korknisse aloha!

Our vacation in Hawaii last week coincided with the full moon. I love watching the moon set over the water, and this time I was prepared! The moon set later each successive morning, so my pictures were different every day.

Monday, the 16th, 5:24 a.m. HST.

By 5:51, things were looking distinctly reddish!

Tuesday, 6:23 a.m. The moon was full last night at 11 p.m., so this is the full moon setting. The sky is a lot lighter, closer to dawn.

Wednesday, 6:25 a.m. The moon is a lot higher than yesterday’s pic at this time.

By 6:51, the sky was pretty light. No more lovely moonlight on the water, but I do like the puppy-shaped cloud.

At that point, I wasn’t planning to wake early for any more moon pics, but on Thursday, I woke up early by accident, and saw Jupiter, below and to the right of the moon. 6:25 a.m.


I learned a lot about my new camera, and have a lot more to learn. Looking forward to it!

On Friday and Saturday, the surf was unusually high, and the beaches on the west side of the Big Island were closed. This meant less beach time for us, but we enjoyed watching the waves from our lanai. All the comforts of home, and surfers to entertain us, too.


I’ll tell you about our close encounter with a volcano in another post…

Have you finished your gift knitting? I don’t like scheduled gift knitting; it’s too much pressure for me. But I do like a little knitting for a personal touch. Do you remember the Korknisse I knit a couple years ago? (Pattern: Korknisse by Manne)


I decided to knit a few on vacation. But my gauge was a lot looser this time around (a little too much aloha?), so I had to dress up champagne corks instead of regular corks.

chunky korknisse

L’il chunkies wishing you a merry Christmas Eve!

Life’s a Beach…

Well, perhaps not, but I did have a stellar beach getaway last week. I went to Hawaii, the Big Island, with a group of friends to help celebrate a birthday. No people pix, since I don’t have permission to share them. What happens in Hawaii stays in Hawaii! But I did take my knitting. Gotta work, you know!


It’s a shawl; can’t you tell? I love all the blues in the water and the white sand at Manini’owali Beach at Kua Bay. This is a good beach for wave jumping.

Snorkeling was great (and easy) at Kahalu’u Beach, and rock hopping was even better for pictures.

kahalu'u honu

This guy was there all three days; sea turtles come up to bask in the sun on the rocks.

moorish idol

My favorite fish, the Moorish Idol. They’re quick; it’s hard to get a decent picture from above. My second favorite fish? The humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or triggerfish, which is the state fish of Hawaii. I just like being able to say it, but it’s good looking, too.

We went to Buddha’s Cup to see how Kona coffee is grown, and had a very informative tasting session there. The grounds (ha!) are beautiful, as is Milo, the resident parrot.






This is a jade vine. It comes in this unusual blue-green, and also fire-engine red.

Lots of different birds to spot here!



These are my favorite birds, the saffron finches.

We saw many beautiful sunsets.




And howled at the full moon.


I happened to wake up early the next morning (6:30) and saw the full moon setting over the water. It was magical. I was so pleased to get this picture, a 7 second exposure. Who knew my little point and shoot could do that? It was left on the “night portrait” setting for the birthday candles from the night before. When I realized it could do a long exposure, I set the timer for a 2 second delay so I didn’t have to touch the camera to push the shutter button.


The view from our lanai looked out over the water, with crashing waves on the lava rock below. It’s high whale season. We saw whales every day, sometimes heads, sometimes backs, and my favorite, the tail flip. It’s hard to catch a picture, though. Can you see the whale spouting in this picture?


And here’s a whale of a tale for you. It happened on our last day in Hawaii. That afternoon, we were on the lanai, watching whales a half mile offshore: flukes, breeching, turning…thrilling. We saw a kayaker getting closer and closer to the whales. We weren’t sure it was a good idea to be that close. And then…

A whale swamped the kayak! The kayaker disappeared for a bit. We waited for him to surface, unsure of what to do. Eventually his head popped up, a tiny speck in the sea. We could tell with our binoculars that he didn’t have a life jacket, just his floating paddle. He didn’t return to his kayak, though. We knew that he couldn’t swim to shore where we were, because it was all rocks and crashing waves. He was trying to swim back to the marina, which is maybe a mile or more  away. We called 911, and they asked us to keep an eye on him while they sent a boat and had 2 helicopters on standby.


Before 911 arrived, a small tour boat (zodiac) happened by and he waved them down. Can you see him in the picture above? His head is a tiny black speck in the big ocean, on  the same level as the boat, but 1/3 from the right edge of the picture. Zoom in! They picked him up and transferred him to the rescue skiff that showed up a few moments later. He looked happy to be rescued. The skiff took him back to get his kayak, because he wanted to bring it in, so apparently he was ok.


Tour boat on left, rescue skiff at center, and kayak is just to the right of the skiff.

We ran into some firefighters at the grocery store later and got the scoop from them. The kayak was broken. The kayaker had some minor scrapes on his arm from the broken kayak, but nothing too serious. He probably could have made it back swimming, eventually, but it was good that we called. It’s a good idea to stay away from the whales, and maybe smarter to stay with the kayak to avoid SHARKS! (We hadn’t even thought about sharks. Yikes.) And apparently no one wears life vests here (except me).

We were glad to see the kayaker live to see another adventure. 60 years old; I wonder how many of his nine lives he’s used so far? We think we should go back every year to monitor the whales and the kayakers!

Honolulu whirlwind

Last week DH had a project in Honolulu. I took advantage of his location and headed over on Thursday for the end of his work week. His hotel room faced the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor; this is the view from the window.

ala wai sunset

It’s just down the block from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where I found this dragon on the beach.


I actually did do some knitting on the beach, too.


I wanted to visit a yarn store, so I picked Yarn Story. (Thank you Google.) I met the owner Kim, in her second floor space on King Street. She has a good selection of yarn, but I wanted something that I couldn’t get at home. This cute package holds my purchases.

yarn story

This yarn is from a local hand-dyer, Nadezhda’s Crayon Box. I have lots of access to hand-dyed wool, but this is the first time I’ve come across hand-dyed rayon/cotton. This color is Pink Lipstick and Pearls, pretty much not me, but I know a young lady who will love it. (Hi, e!)


Kim was knitting with some gorgeous deep sky blue 100% cashmere that Nadezhda is debuting…next week. I asked if she had another ball because I would have bought that luscious softness right then and there, but no luck. I guess I’ll have to go back.

This Romney wool roving is from Hawaiian Homegrown Wool Co. on the Big Island. It’s not as smooth as merino, but lofty and bushy. It will either go into thrums or maybe I’ll drop spindle it…or just put it in a basket and admire it. Kim says that this is the only commercial wool to come from anywhere in Hawaii.


We drove up to the North Shore, just for grins. Apparently lunch from a shrimp truck is a must-do. Giovanni’s was highly recommended, and it was delicious.


We stopped in at Turtle Bay Resort to check out the north shore waves, which are much bigger than those in Waikiki. Gorgeous! The beach is also nice, with deep coarse sand. No beach pic, though…

turtle bay

turtle bay splash

turtle dude

We did spend some time on Waikiki Beach on our last day, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue. I love how people leave him lei tributes every day.


Back to cold and rainy Oregon!

Never enough Aloha

Let’s see, where was I? Oh, paradise!

Friday we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. The bay was formed thousands of years ago when the southeast wall of Hanauma Crater eroded away. This is a perfect gentle snorkeling experience. Shallow waters, lots of colorful fish and coral. What’s not to like? Even swimming averse me had a great time.



I don’t have a lot of pictures from this day, because the real show was underwater!

Saturday began with a parade on Kalakaua Avenue, just below our lanai. It was the Hawaii Heroes and Veterans Parade, complete with troops and marching bands.


We went to Chinatown at noon and found it to be…underwhelming. But I think we’re pretty jaded (hah!) because we love San Francisco’s Chinatown. It’s hard to top that one. Saturday turned into a shopping day, which was fine, and gave CollegeGrad a chance to catch up with his college buddies. Nice to have friends living in Hawaii!

Sunday started out with a double rainbow over the water. Can you see the second one to the left of the bright one?


We chose this day to have breakfast from McDonald’s, which was just down on the corner. Portuguese sausage, spam, eggs, and rice! Is this at your local McD’s? About 25 years ago, we had Portuguese sausage and rice for breakfast at a McDonald’s in Waikiki. I guess everything is super-sized now…I saved about half of it for the next day.


We had planned to go kayaking from Lanikai Beach, but our energy level wasn’t quite up to it, so we planned another hike instead. Our destination? Makapu’u Point, the easternmost point of the island. The trail is 1.75 miles long, and is hot and dry, and really windy on the eastern side of the point! I guess that’s why they call it the windward side of the island. The lighthouse at the point is stunningly beautiful, but it’s off limits to the public.


You look down at the lighthouse from the viewpoint at the end of the trail.


We saw a hang glider while we were at the viewpoint. He had a good time showing off for us.



On the way back down, we saw a rainbow, skimming over the water towards us. I love the little rain shower under the arc of the rainbow. It was a three rainbow day!


I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. It was just what this empty nester needed, face time with my family. I suppose we could have been anywhere, as long as it was away (too many distractions and comings and goings at home), but this was perfect.


Mele Kalikimaka! And I knit all the way home…

Aloha, Oahu!

It’s been an interesting year. Youngest son went off to college across the country, and DH does a fair amount of travel in his work. My nest is pretty empty sometimes! When CollegeGuy left, I planned a trip for his winter break return. I knew we’d all need some face time. Last week we traveled to Honolulu for some fun in the sun.


The Occupy Portland camp may be shut down, but there’s still an Occupy Honolulu.

Our first night’s sunset was spectacular, but then they all were. We were in a 12th floor condo in Waikiki, facing west.



The next day we hiked to the top of Diamond Head (760 ft at the summit), the volcanic crater that overlooks Waikiki. You can see the hotels in the background. The views were spectacular all the way around.


The boys (young men?) took advantage of this old winch to pose for one of their “vacation murder” shots. Someday I’ll post the collection…


And that afternoon, we played on the beach at Waikiki and looked back up to where we had been.


Thursday we paid our respects at the USS Arizona Memorial. The Arizona was sunk in the raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that drew the US into World War II. The memorial is a simple white structure which spans the submerged hull of the ship, where 1102 sailors are still entombed. It’s a stark, somber place, beautiful in its simplicity. The ship itself still leaks oil from its tanks; it bubbles up and spreads across the water. There is an estimated 500,000 gallons of oil aboard the ship, which is monitored for environmental hazard.


We also toured the USS Missouri, which is berthed next to the Arizona. The Missouri was the site of the signing of the Formal Instrument of Surrender that ended World War II, so the ships are bookends of the war. The end of our visit found us looking at the Arizona Memorial, the guns of the Missouri, and…a rainbow. Somehow fitting, I thought.


I did have time for some knitting on this trip; I took Thrumbelina with me. This is the Madeline Tosh Merino yarn that I showed you a few posts ago. It’s dreamy to knit with, but easier to split with my needle than the Malabrigo Worsted.



It wasn’t too warm on the lanai to knit with thrums!
More vacation in the next post…


I went on a little getaway last weekend with friends that I met at piano camp in Vermont years ago. We don’t play the piano as much as we used to, but we’re still friends and still get together, even though we’re scattered up and down the west coast. This time we headed further west than usual, to the Big Island of Hawaii.

There were beaches.


There were spectacular sunsets…





through rose colored glasses, even. (Really they’re charcoal shade lenses, but they really enhance the pink.)


We went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we saw petroglyphs…


and old lava flows.

(Doesn’t this one look like melted faces?)

(End of the road, apparently)


The ocean has carved out this arch from the lava rock island. This is the Holei Sea Arch. And Lambert.


Kilauea is a live volcano!


(Come closer to the steam and sulfur dioxide! The ring road around the crater was closed. Too much sulfuric gas.)

There were good things to eat…


and drink.

(utterly frou frou!)

And there were good friends to share it all.


But not much knitting!