Copyright © 2010 by Kathryn Buck

Friday, 19 November 2010

A big tale about The Big Island

Week two of my Hawaiian adventure was spent on The Big Island... so called coz it's big (I guess?)

And oh my god, adventure it was! We flew from Oahu (it only takes thirty minutes and costs less than it does for me to get to London!) but the drive from the airport to our next amazing home for the next few days was loooong!

Driving from the airport in our 50 First Dates style Jeep Wrangler, I made sure I took in every bit of the scenery. It was strange, to say the least. Some times, it looked just like Yorkshire; with rolling hills, cut through by little streams - other parts were like something out of Lord of the Rings... and I mean Mordor, not hobbit land! Black, and ashen from all of the molten lava gushing over land killing everything on it's way and leaving pewter coloured rivers and whirlpools all over the landscape.

We always like to stay somewhere a bit "different" for at least a couple of our nights away and this place was really something special. On the South of the Island and in keeping with Lord of the Rings, it was called Hobbit House.

Designed and built by Bill and Darlene when they were first married thirty odd years ago. It's all curves, not a straight line anywhere - lovely stained glass windows made by Darlene in a Charles Renee Mackintosh style, the roof of the patio is supported by whole branches which appear to grow straight through the floor. Not only is it beautiful, but it is completely eco friendly too - it's solar powered, wind powered, they have a little allotment, and get this - a macadamia nut factory!

It's 1800 metres above sea level (and anything else actually) with a panoramic view over the sea and the surrounding nothingness. Be warned though, there is nothing to do here in the evenings - not even a telly, so you will have to find other things to do... if you catch my drift! Don't worry, the frogs here are far noisier than you could ever be!

The house far exceeded our expectations of perfection and so did the rest of the Island.

A few months before our honeymoon, a volcano erupted on the Big Island and rumour had it, it was still going in August when we arrived. Of course, we had to go on a thrill seeking mission to find lava! First we drove along crater rim drive, stopping at numerous craters, venting steam from the earths core into the atmosphere as though hiding an angry dragon deep in its belly.

We drove right down to the sea where you could see a giant plume of smoke in the distance where the red hot lava was hitting the sea.

The smell of sulphur was so strong in some places it could almost knock you out. There were warnings in certain areas telling drivers not to get out of their vehicles.

We walked through a lava tube. My Grandad had told me about this tube before we came. He had taken my Uncle years earlier when he was a little boy and he was terrified! He turned round half way and ran back to the light on the other end! I had expected it to be terrifying and claustrophobic, but it wasn't, it was just like walking through a cave.

After lunch we drove up to the visitors centre at Volcano National Park and asked where the best place to see the lava was. The ranger told us about a viewing point a couple of hours drive away which had only just opened because of the eruption earlier in the year (2008). We didn't know how likely we were to see it but we thought we'd give it a try anyway - we would never get the chance again... we were not disappointed!

We had quite a long walk across dried lava to get to the edge of the cliff over looking the sea and that big mushroom cloud of smoke I told you about. In daylight, you couldn't see much, but as it grew dark you began to see the red glow of lava being spat miles into the air.

Once it was completely dark, there was a constant spewing and splashing followed by "ooooh" and "aaaaah" in unison from its audience. We stayed for four hours just watching her bubble and boil. A truly amazing night which neither of us will ever forget.

The next day was a bit of an anti-climax really. We went to the black sand beach where sea turtles sometimes go to lay their eggs. The sand is black because it's made from volcano ash and ground lava. I didn't like it, it looked dirty and made the water look like slate instead of the brilliant azure around the rest of the Island.

The water was quite choppy but Paul is a strong swimmer and decided to go snorkelling anyway. He was lucky enough to see two huge turtles (one about four foot and the other was about three!) and a moray eel.

Because the Big Island is so errr... big, we decided to split our visit into two and stayed the remainder of our week on the North of the Island. And because this is becoming an epic post, I will tell you all about the Kona Coast next week!

Note to Rachel: 

If you go to the Big Island, please, please, please don't go home without trying to see the volcano. I promise, you will never see anything else like it for the rest of your life. 

Volcano National Park

Hobbit House - perfect for a honeymoon - Bill and Darlene will serve breakfast of fresh fruit on their patio overlooking the gardens and the ocean below. Get them talking about how Hobbit House came about.

If you don't fancy being so far away from everything but like the idea of doing something a bit different, there is also a tree house in the village near Hobbit House

The coqui frog is the size of your thumb nail but don't half have a set of lungs on them. Listen to one here.

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