Big Island of Hawaii || New Terra Firma

Exploring Some Of The Youngest Terra Firma On Earth Thanks To The World’s Longest Continuous Volcanic Eruption


Road Closed. Big Island of Hawaii, USA. March 1, 2013

They sure do know how to leave an impression on their visitors here in Hawaii. It was early morning yesterday when I landed on the island of Hawaii, a.k.a. the Big Island, having taken off at stupid o’clock from Honolulu International Airport on Oahu. But even at that hour there were still wahine (women) dancers doing their rhythmic hand waves & relaxed shimmies to slide guitar music in the breezy open-air terminal of Kona Airport. It was no Germaine’s Luau but it still stopped me in my tracks, a memorable welcome (back) to the Big Island, one of my favourite places on earth.

Wahine (women) dancers performing (at 9am) in the open-air terminal of Kona Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii. February 28th 2013.

Wahine (women) dancers performing (at 8:30 a.m.) in the open-air terminal of Kona Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii, USA. February 28, 2013.

Hula played a vital part in Hawaiian culture. In its various forms, it tells the story of the lifestyle, beliefs, and history of proud & remarkable people. The art was nearly lost in the early 1800s when missionaries preached against the “idolatrous dance and the vicious customs connected therewith.” Only the dedication of committed kumu hula (hula teachers) like Lahaina’s Aunty Emma Farden Sharpe helped to keep the art from alive.

– Reproduced from a panel on display in the Old Lahaina Courthouse in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.

The pace didn’t pick up much from there. I collected my hire car & drove, via the northern towns of Waimea & Honokaa, to the opposite/eastern side of the island before settling into my rental apartment on the outskirts of the town of Keaau (map-pointer-icon) just south of Hilo, the largest town on the largest of the Hawaiian islands. I paid a brief visit to Hilo in the afternoon to get reaquainted with it’s small town charms, & after an early night (the Big Island is conducive to those) the plan today was to tour the volcanic wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (NVNP). But that didn’t quite pan out. The seclusion of my apartment coupled with my desire for something I haven’t had in a while, a lie-in, an early night side, curtailed the day of sightseeing, putting NVNP on the long finger for 24 hours – I’ve been lucky enough to have already visited this part of the world back in 2003, when I also spent a day in HVNP, so my procrastination didn’t come with any pangs of guilt. All that said, I did venture out late morning (or it could have even been early afternoon) but didn’t go far, touring the lava-rich eastern corner of the Big Island south of Keaau, some of the youngest terra firma on earth.

A canopy of trees at the entrance to Lava Tree State Park. I came here to view lava trees - free-standing tubes of solidified lava left behind after the trees they smother eventually die away – but it was the canopy of trees on the roads surrounding the park that got my & my camera's attention. Lava Tree State Park, The Big Island, Hawaii. March 1st 2013.

A canopy of trees at the entrance to Lava Tree State Park. I went here to view lava trees – free-standing tubes of solidified lava left behind after the trees they smother eventually die away – but it was the canopy of trees on the roads surrounding the park that got my & my camera’s attention. Lava Tree State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, USA. March 1, 2013.

Kehena Beach was only created in 1955 by a lava flow that laid waste to the area, a powerful testament to the changing nature of the Big Island. Kehena Black Sand Beach, The Big Island, Hawaii. March 1st 2013.

Battling with exposure on Kehena Beach which was created by a 1955 lava flow that laid waste to the area, a powerful testament to the changing nature of the Big Island. Kehena Black Sand Beach, the Big Island of Hawaii, USA. March 1, 2013.

Road closed indeed. A single road sign is all that’s left of a road buried in lava on the south coast of The Big Island, Hawaii. March 1st 2013.

Road closed indeed. A road sign, remnants of a road buried by lava flows from what is the world’s longest continuous volcanic eruption – the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano has been continually erupting since 1983, an eruption that has added some 100 km² of land to the southeast corner of the Big Island, some of the newest terra firma on earth. I hiked to an active lava flow across expanses of igneous rock in this exact area of the island on my previous, 2003 visit to the Big Island – back then I remember driving further along the road submerged in this picture. Unfortunately the lay of the ever-changing Big Island land these days is such that no flows are presently (easily) accessible. Big Island of Hawaii, USA. March 1, 2013.

Hire car. Hilo, the Big Island, Hawaii. March 2nd 2013.

Hawaii Hire. Hilo, the Big Island of Hawaii, USA. March 1, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll have another go at visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. My alarm is set, just like it was last night, & it’ll no doubt go off, just like it did this morning. But I’ll be sure to get out of bed this time.

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