My last day in Hawaii was a guided tour of the island with Hawaii Outdoor Guides. The day long tour started with a 9am pickup from the hotel in Waikoloa by our guide, Katie.
Our first stop was at the End of the World, also known as the Kuamoo or Lekeleke Burial Grounds which is a very sacred part of Hawaii. At first it looked like just a huge field of lava rock but Katie pointed out the terraces that are the burial spots for many ancient Hawaiians.
Right near where we parked, Katie stopped us and pointed out the Noni Fruit tree – also known as the stinky cheese fruit.
Marc picked one up off the ground and indeed it did smell like stinky cheese…it also splatted ‘real good’ on the ground when thrown.
On our way to our next destination, Katie pointed out that our snorkel boat cruise likely stopped at the bay in this photo:
The next stop was the Greenwell Coffee Farm where we toured the farm after sampling some of the coffee (nothing beats freshly grown coffee at the source) and saw enormous avocados (the size of grapefruits and bigger),
apple bananas on the tree that smelled amazing,
I highly recommend picking up some of their chocolate covered peabody coffee beans…I wish I had bought more.
After a great picnic lunch on the farm grounds, we headed to our next destination, Punalu’u Beach which is a black sand beach. On the way, as we drove along the coast, Katie stopped the van quickly as she had spotted a whale spout.
Unfortunately, I didn’t catch it with my camera but did see it breach.
As we entered the beach area, the ever eagle eyed Katie spotted something else that got her very excited. The NeNe bird (or Hawaiian Goose) is native to Hawaii and it’s extremely rare to see a gosling, let alone two as they are endangered:
We arrived at the beach and immediately came across a number of green turtles resting.
After the beach, we headed to the main attraction, the Volcanoes National Park.
We started by visiting the steam vents.
There is something definitely surreal about the contrast between the beautiful Hawaiian floura alongside parts of the earth that are just open pits of rock, steam and sulphur.
This is the Devil’s Throat:
Next up was the Thurston Lava Tube where you can’t help but hum the theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark:
The last part of the tour was cut a little short because I had a plane to catch. Normally this tour would end up at the volcano’s caldera and the Halema’uma’u Crater after the sun has set and you can see the glowing lava below. On this day, despite it being beautiful and clear in Kona, it was overcast at the crater so I’m not sure how well my photos would have turned out anyways. But at the Jaggar Museum, we got to see live thermal imaging video of the lava in the crater and it’s history.
I can’t recommend this tour enough…it was a great way to see the island and to hear about it’s history from a friendly and knowledgable guide. I thought I knew a lot of the history but I learned a lot and even filled in some gaps in (my) history – like what actually happened to Captain Cook – I didn’t know the full story of his demise until this tour.
If you’re lucky enough to get Katie as your guide, while you eat fresh cut pineapple, she’ll play you the Rainbow Connection on her ukelele which is pretty much the best version I’ve ever heard.
Hawaii Outdoor Guides also offer multi-day camping trips on the island…I had never considered camping while in Hawaii but now I want to.
More photos from the tour can be found on my Flickr set.
Disclosure: The tour was provided complementary by Hawaii Outdoor Guides