Kilauea Volcano & Kona Coffee Farm Tour

Inside the Thurston Lava tube

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.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Right near where we parked, Katie stopped us and pointed out the Noni Fruit tree – also known as the stinky cheese fruit.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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:

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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),
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

apple bananas on the tree that smelled amazing,

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

and of course, coffee:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

coffee beans drying in the sun:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

We arrived at the beach and immediately came across a number of green turtles resting.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Including this guy trying to join his friends on the beach:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

After the beach, we headed to the main attraction, the Volcanoes National Park.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

We started by visiting the steam vents.

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

We then came to the lava fields – flows from years past that have covered the landscape, including the roads:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Katie explained the various types of lava rock that we encountered:
Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Next up was the Thurston Lava Tube where you can’t help but hum the theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

Volcano Tour with Hawaii Outdoor Guides

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

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