Heartbeat of the Earth

- 13-days walking and study tour to the Big Island of Hawai'i -

Tour code: HAW_HBE
Tour type: Walking & study tour
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 13 days (12 nights)

Dates:

Custom and group dates
no scheduled dates at present

Price (p.p.): open


Included:

  • Accommodation in double (shared) room
  • Half board excluding drinks (generally dinner in local restaurants)
  • All transportation on the Big Island
  • Park entry fees and local txes
  • Guided tour and entry to the lava cave
  • Accompanying material
  • VolcanoDiscovery Hawaii volcanologist guide
13 days itinerary | 6-days version (Kilauea volcano and sourroundings) | 10-days version (from Hilo & Kilauea to Kona)

13 days itinerary

Note:
It is possible to take part in only the first 6 days (Kilauea volcano area) or 10 days (Kilauea + Hilo area) of this itinerary if your time is limited.

Day 1: Arrival in Hilo - transfer to Volcano - Kilauea's caldera

The summit caldera of Kilauea volcano on Hawai'i
Arrival on the Big Island at Hilo airport and transfer to Volcano village near the rim of the Kilauea caldera (arrival in Kona and transfer from there can be arranged on request).
In the afternoon, if there is still time, we could do an optional warm-up walk to explore the area around the rim of the caldera of Kilauea volcano, with its lush rainforest on one side and the dry, desert-like lava landscape on the other. We'll have our first dinner in a nearby restaurant of our choice (e.g. very good Thai food, or Italian pizza). For the next 5 nights, we'll stay in a cozy B&B located in the lush rainforest of Volcano Village.
Acc.: : B&B in Volcano village (D)

Day 2: Kilauea volcano’s summit and active eruption

The summit of Kilauea is a significant focus of Hawaiian culture and legend and one of the volcanically most active spots on the planet. The growth of Kilauea, directed by the volcano goddess Pele, is recorded as living history in the plethora of geological features around the highest point of the volcano: steam vents, fumaroles, faults, lava tubes, explosive debris, historic lava flows, and the current eruption of Kilauea volcano within Halema'uma'u crater - home of Pele and sacred to Hawaiians.
Depending on weather etc. conditions, we spend part of the day on a hike in the area of the summit caldera to see some of its major features, descending from the rim down to the floor, where we walk on the surface of a frozen lava lake. way see fumaroles, steam vents, faults, lava tubes, frozen historic lava flows.
If conditions permitting, we use the afternoon and evening to see active lava flows at the coast in the evening.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B)

The frozen surface of the lava lake inside Kilauea Iki crater seen from the caldera rim
Walking across a field of fumaroles
Lehua blossom on a small Ohia tree

Day 3: The world's largest lava tube - active lava flows hike

In the morning, we visit what is the largest known continuous lava tube in the world. Once, a mighty river of lava was flowing here for over 20 miles down from the summit of Kilauea to the sea. Today, it is a pristine lava tube with accessible sections full of volcanic wonders, such as streamlined current eddies once formed by the flowing lava inside. We'll spend about 3-4 hours inside the lava tube to explore some of them. If conditions permit, we hike out to areas in the coastal lava flow field where there is interesting volcanic activity, e.g. active pahoehoe flows, lava pouring into the sea etc.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B)

Inside Hawai'i's largest lava tube
Lava close-up

Day 4: Kilauea's eastern Rift zone

Lava trees on the East Rift zone
We spend the day to hike along the axis of the Eastern Rift zone through a strikingly beautiful landscape torn between volcanic destruction and re-emerging life. We pass deep pit craters, barren lava fields, kipukas with lush rainforest (small islands of vegetation), gaping, smoking fissures, lava trees standing out from recent lava flows and other bizarre formations.
Again, in the evening, if there is interesting and accessible activity, we could opt for the observation of active lava in the evening / night.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B, D)

Day 5: Ka'u lava desert, Hawaiian footprints, giant turtles, South Point and Green Sand beach

In the morning, we drive to the south to the dry side of the Kilauea volcano, which is a desert of lava and ash fields, mainly because it's on the leeside of the trade winds and dry.
A short hike will give us an impression of this vast, alien landscape and we'll be able to see footprints left by Hawaiian warriors in an ash deposit from the violent explosive eruption in 1779.
We continue to drive down the south-western flank of Kilauea and reach, after about about half an hour, the famous black-sand beach of Punalu'u, famous for the green sea turtles that are often found here basking on the beach. We continue to drive to South Point - the southernmost point of the US, and a breathtaking setting.
From there, we drive along the rugged coastal road towards Green Sand Beach, a small beach surrounded by greenish walls created by erosion of an olivine-bearing litoral cone of Mauna Loa, always looming in the background, but often shredded in clouds... Swimming is possible if the sea is calm.
In the late afternoon, we return to Volcano for our last night there, which we'll celebrate with a well deserved delicious dinner.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano) (B, D)

Day 6: Hilo (or end of 6 days version)

View onto the oceanfront of Hilo with Mauna Kea in the background
This day is free to explore the island's colorful, laid-back capital Hilo. Interesting things to do include visits of the Lyman Museum, the Tsunami museum and stroll along the lively Farmer's market.
For those doing the 6-day version, the tour ends today and we transfer you to the airport or nearby destinations in fime.
Acc.: : hotel in downtown Hilo (B, D)

Day 7: Hilo and the Puna coast

The Puna coast of Hawai'i
This day is dedicated to the lush sourroundings of Hilo and the Puna district. Those who are interested have a good opportunity this morning to charter a helicopter for a sightseing flight over the lava flows from Hilo (which is best in the early morning before clouds come in).
Activites today include hikes to the some of the waterfalls near Hilo and along spectacular black basalt lava formations near Hilo. In the afternoon, we drive south to the beautiful Puna coast district to stop at natural saunas - hornitos that still emit hot steam from eruptions on the rift zone in this area. The road leads us through a dreamscape of enchanted forest with large arching trees and reach an amazing forest park with impressive lava tree molds created in an eruption from 1790.
We head down bit further to the coast to stop for a relaxing bath in a volcanically heated natural warm water pool next to the sea. We continue to drive slowly along Hawai`i's most scenic road, the "Red Road", with the wild ocean shore on one side and a colorful, abundant rainforest mixed with coconut palms on the other.

In the afternoon & evening, if volcanic activity is present, we have the option to go and see it.
Acc.: : as before (Hilo) (B, D)

Day 8: Akaka waterfalls and Mauna Kea

Cinder cones and telescopes on Mauna Kea
We drive to spectacular Akaka Falls (easy 1 hr round-trip hike) in the rainforest near Hilo and continue to drive up the slopes of Mauna Kea. At the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, we climb a beautiful cindercone for great panoramic views of both giant volcanoes and a hearty picnic.
In the afternoon, we drive up to the Mauna Kea Visitors Center at 9,000 ft, where we spend some time to acclimate to the elevation. Then we continue to drive upwards, stopping for a short hike to explore Lake Waiao at 13,000 ft, a unique alpine lake fed by permafrost and meltwater from snow in the winter, in a moon-like setting created by a large glacier(!) present here during the last ice-age.
Before sunset, we arrive near the top of the mountain, dotted with an impressive array of bright, silvery shining modern telescopes, some of the largest and most advanced in the world. If possible, we'll visit the interior of one of them. For an unsurpassed sunset from the Pacific Ocean's highest point, we hike a short but steep path to reach the holy summit of Mauna Kea with a small Hawaiian sanctuary.
After nightfall, we head back down to the visitor's center where we can spend some time stargazing under some of the earth's clearest skies while drinking hot chocolate, before returning to Hilo for a late dinner.
Acc.: : as before (Hilo) (B, D)

Day 9: Waipio Valley and Hapuna beach

Hapuna beach
We get up early to ride northwards to Waimea, from where we hike to a spectacular lookout deep within the Kohala mountains (~1-2 hr easy hiking), facing a 1,000 ft high waterfall dropping into Waipio Valley. We return for lunch in a small restaurant on the way and continue to another, lower lookout onto the shoreside of the same valley. If weather conditions are good we can hike down to the wild black-sand beach at the valleys entrance and another, smaller waterfall nearby. Otherwise, we return to the usually dry Kona side of the island and spend the rest of the afternoon on Hawai'i's best surfing beach, Hapuna Beach. In the evening, we'll return to Kailua-Kona, where we will celebrate the tour in a restaurant on the seashore.
Acc.: : as before (Kailua-Kona) (B, D)

Day 10: Kailua town (end of 10 days version)

Free day in Kailua-Kona or end of 10-day version. Day for own activities, beach, diving, snorkeling, shopping etc.
Acc.: : as before (Kailua-Kona) (B, D)

Day 11: Kona-side beaches and Hawaiian petroglyphs

Honaunau Beach and Sacred Grounds
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll drive north along the Kona coast to our choice of beaches in the morning. Two of our options are beautiful Kua Bay, a remote, beautiful white sand beach with a gentle ocean, and Kiholo Bay, hosting some of the largest Hawaiian fishponds on the island, with good swimming and panoramas and often lots of turtles.
We'll picnic for lunch at scenic `Anaeho`omalu Bay before a short walk to one of the best petroglyph fields on the island, a record of Hawaiian life before European contact. We'll continue to the far-northern city of Hawi on the now-extinct Kohala volcano, and look out over deep valleys, Pololu and/or Honokane Nui (optional hike, depending on time) valleys eroded into the volcano's ancient core. We'll return to Kailua-Kona in the evening.
Acc.: : as before (Kailua-Kona) (B, D)

Day 12: Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook monument

After breakfast, a short drive to the souths brings us to pristine Kealakekua Bay, the site of the Captain Cook memorial and the island's premier snorkeling and diving spot (diving trips can be arranged for certified divers).
We'll spend most of the day in this area, and there is plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling and short hikes along the very scenic coast. On our way back to Kailua in the early afternoon, we can have an optional stop to taste original, locally harvested, treated, and brewed Kona coffee. This evening is also a good chance to continue exploring the town, or perhaps to take in a tourist luau (dinner and show) or, for those certified, an amazing night dive with the giant manta rays.
Acc.: : as before (Kailua-Kona) (B, D)

Day 13: End of tour - transfer to / departure from Kailua-Kona airport

Departure (transfer to airport) from Kailua-Kona airport or own extension program (a short excursion in the area can be offered if time permits).
Acc.: : none (B)
Note:
As shorter alternatives, you could opt for one of the following (6 and 10 days) versions.

6-days version (Kilauea volcano and sourroundings)

Note:
This shorter tour is recommended if you want to get a good insight into Kilauea volcano with its many facets.

Day 1: Arrival in Hilo - transfer to Volcano - Kilauea's caldera

The summit caldera of Kilauea volcano on Hawai'i
Arrival on the Big Island at Hilo airport and transfer to Volcano village near the rim of the Kilauea caldera (arrival in Kona and transfer from there can be arranged on request).
In the afternoon, if there is still time, we could do an optional warm-up walk to explore the area around the rim of the caldera of Kilauea volcano, with its lush rainforest on one side and the dry, desert-like lava landscape on the other. We'll have our first dinner in a nearby restaurant of our choice (e.g. very good Thai food, or Italian pizza). For the next 5 nights, we'll stay in a cozy B&B located in the lush rainforest of Volcano Village.
Acc.: : B&B in Volcano village (D)

Day 2: Kilauea volcano’s summit and active eruption

The summit of Kilauea is a significant focus of Hawaiian culture and legend and one of the volcanically most active spots on the planet. The growth of Kilauea, directed by the volcano goddess Pele, is recorded as living history in the plethora of geological features around the highest point of the volcano: steam vents, fumaroles, faults, lava tubes, explosive debris, historic lava flows, and the current eruption of Kilauea volcano within Halema'uma'u crater - home of Pele and sacred to Hawaiians.
Depending on weather etc. conditions, we spend part of the day on a hike in the area of the summit caldera to see some of its major features, descending from the rim down to the floor, where we walk on the surface of a frozen lava lake. way see fumaroles, steam vents, faults, lava tubes, frozen historic lava flows.
If conditions permitting, we use the afternoon and evening to see active lava flows at the coast in the evening.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B)

The frozen surface of the lava lake inside Kilauea Iki crater seen from the caldera rim
Walking across a field of fumaroles
Lehua blossom on a small Ohia tree

Day 3: The world's largest lava tube - active lava flows hike

In the morning, we visit what is the largest known continuous lava tube in the world. Once, a mighty river of lava was flowing here for over 20 miles down from the summit of Kilauea to the sea. Today, it is a pristine lava tube with accessible sections full of volcanic wonders, such as streamlined current eddies once formed by the flowing lava inside. We'll spend about 3-4 hours inside the lava tube to explore some of them. If conditions permit, we hike out to areas in the coastal lava flow field where there is interesting volcanic activity, e.g. active pahoehoe flows, lava pouring into the sea etc.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B)

Inside Hawai'i's largest lava tube
Lava close-up

Day 4: Kilauea's eastern Rift zone

Lava trees on the East Rift zone
We spend the day to hike along the axis of the Eastern Rift zone through a strikingly beautiful landscape torn between volcanic destruction and re-emerging life. We pass deep pit craters, barren lava fields, kipukas with lush rainforest (small islands of vegetation), gaping, smoking fissures, lava trees standing out from recent lava flows and other bizarre formations.
Again, in the evening, if there is interesting and accessible activity, we could opt for the observation of active lava in the evening / night.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano or Hilo) (B, D)

Day 5: Ka'u lava desert, Hawaiian footprints, giant turtles, South Point and Green Sand beach

In the morning, we drive to the south to the dry side of the Kilauea volcano, which is a desert of lava and ash fields, mainly because it's on the leeside of the trade winds and dry.
A short hike will give us an impression of this vast, alien landscape and we'll be able to see footprints left by Hawaiian warriors in an ash deposit from the violent explosive eruption in 1779.
We continue to drive down the south-western flank of Kilauea and reach, after about about half an hour, the famous black-sand beach of Punalu'u, famous for the green sea turtles that are often found here basking on the beach. We continue to drive to South Point - the southernmost point of the US, and a breathtaking setting.
From there, we drive along the rugged coastal road towards Green Sand Beach, a small beach surrounded by greenish walls created by erosion of an olivine-bearing litoral cone of Mauna Loa, always looming in the background, but often shredded in clouds... Swimming is possible if the sea is calm.
In the late afternoon, we return to Volcano for our last night there, which we'll celebrate with a well deserved delicious dinner.
Acc.: : as before (Volcano) (B, D)

Day 6: End of 6-days version in Hilo

If you choose the 6-day version only, our service ends today with ransfer to airport or nearby destination arranged.
Acc.: : none (B)

10-days version (from Hilo & Kilauea to Kona)

Note:
If you choose the 10 days version, your tour starts in Hilo and ends in Kona.

Day 1-10: same as in 13-days itinerary


Day 11: End of tour - transfer to / departure from Kailua-Kona airport

Departure (transfer to airport) from Kailua-Kona airport or own extension program (a short excursion in the area can be offered if time permits).
Acc.: : none (B)
13 days itinerary | 6-days version (Kilauea volcano and sourroundings) | 10-days version (from Hilo & Kilauea to Kona)

Hiking towards the active cone Pu'u O'o
Hiking towards the active cone Pu'u O'o
Lava flow field at night
Lava flow field at night
Huge lava flows descending the slope towards the ocean, igniting forest
Huge lava flows descending the slope towards the ocean, igniting forest
Heat radiating from fresh lava...
Heat radiating from fresh lava...
Green Sea turtle
Green Sea turtle
Red flowers
Red flowers


Volcano Calendar 2014

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