The islands of Hawaii were created by volcanic eruptions that pushed up lava from the ocean floor, over 25 million years ago. Isolated in the Pacific Ocean, these islands remained uninhabited by humans for millions of years. It wasn’t until around 500 A.D. that the Polynesians began to come from the Marquesas and Tahitian Islands that Hawaii received its first settlers. Isolation ended forever when, in 1778, Captain James Cook arrived. Once contact with the Western world was established, life on the Hawaiian islands underwent a multitude of changes. Along with plants and animals that these immigrants introduced, sadly, the newcomers also brought diseases with them, and in just 100 years, the population of the islands dropped from 800,000 to just 67,000.
Along the interior of the island of Hawaii, sits the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can explore the crater rim drive area as well as visit the Thurston Lava tubes, and there are some roads that run out towards the ocean that take you through lava field after lava field. There are several volcanoes on Hawaii. Probably the most well-known are Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. In fact, the highest point on the island, at 13,000 feet, is Mauna Kea. There is a new volcano forming now, called Loihi. It is currently on the ocean floor. You should be able to view it in it’s full splendor, crowning the ocean surf in about 10,000 years, so make sure to mark your calendars!!
A group of 5 of us met up with Rich Smith, a volunteer and member of Pacific C.A.R.E. Missions, an organization in Hilo that works to get medical supplies and other goods to the peoples of the Pacific Islands, and especially Fanning Island, one of our most-looked forward to port stops coming up after Hawaii.
Rich lives on the island and offers tours to the Volcanoes National Park as well as some other highlights around the Hilo area. He picked us up at the port in a nice comfortable mini van and off we went. During the day, he told us about the people of Fanning Island, how he became involved, etc. At the end of the day, we made a stop at Wal-Mart and we all bought a healthy amount of supplies for Fanning Island. The ship, too, had collection bins for Fanning Island. Many of the passengers on board brought clothing, first aid supplies, toys, and school supplies for the people of Fanning Island. We were all very much looking forward to our visit!
After we had toured the National Park and lava tubes, we went out along the lava highways and stopped after a bit and had a bit of a tailgate lunch. Rich had a variety of snacking type foods for us - sandwiches, fruits, wine, chips, crackers, etc. It was fun and spontaneous and I enjoyed it.
In the afternoon, before our stop at Wal-Mart, we visited nearby Rainbow Falls.
Too soon, the day in Hilo was over and we said our goodbyes to Rich, with promises to check out some of the places and people he told us about on Fanning Island.
Rain forest leading into Lava tubes
Really interesting flora and fauna
Lava fields along the highway
Lava flow from 1970's leading down to the sea
After a long time, new growth can pop up through this porous lava field
Time for tailgate lunch! Guy in the middle is Rich Smith, our tour guide for the day
That dark spot that looks like a river running to the sea is the lava flow
Rainbow Falls, near town of Hilo
Such pretty flowers grow in the islands!
Saying goodbye to Hilo
Yum, a Pina Colada for the sail away!