Our destination on Day 2 was the extraordinary Green Sand Beach at South Point (the southernmost point in the U.S.) and a wonderful trail that leads through the wind-swept grassy meadows along the coast.
We checked out of the Royal Kona Hotel after breakfast and our bags were loaded onto the vans. We drove up in the hills and visited a Kona Coffee company and had fun tasting all the many variations of Kona coffee. My favorite was the toasted coconut. Our next stop was Manuka State Park where we would fix our lunch bags for eating later at the beach. We would not be hiking at Manuka. But in the parking lot we found a colorful orange car with an interesting sign in the window “No Sniveling”.
One of our group, Steve, wowed us with his ability to juggle the little oranges from our lunch bag
We then drove to Ka Lae or South Point, a place of fierce and constant wind, where we started out on a three-mile hike along the coastline to the olivine beach. All along the trail there were breathtaking views of the surf breaking on the black lava rocks. The wind was so strong and so often coming from one direction that the trees, even very large ones, had grown parallel to the ground.
The trail took us to a point some 150 feet above the beach. Although the descent through rocks looked risky, the leaders assured us that it was not difficult and helped find a way to descend through the lava rocks of the beach. Towering over the green sand beach is a huge outcropping many stories high that had been beautifully carved by the wind.
After hiking down to the green sand, we pulled out our lunch all the while trying to keep the sand from blowing into our food or our mouths. If you look closely at the rock you can see olivine stones, with their green color, stuck in the rock.
We hiked back to the van, with the wind this time, for the drive to Volcano, our next destination.
Volcano is a small town very close to the most active of the Hawaiian volcanoes: Kilauea. The drive took us from the coast up to an altitude of more than 3000 feet. Kona had been a near desert, hot and dry. Volcano was entirely different, very cool due to the altitude and wet enough to be called a rain forest.
Up to this point, the Big Island of Hawaii has been very dry, almost desert-like. On the eastern side of the island there is a lot of rain causing the environment to be very lush and green. We were all excited to explore this new area.
We checked into our lovely accommodations at Chalet Kilauea and relaxed before heading out to dinner.
What I wore: I carried back pack with a water pack in it called a Camel Back. My Camel Back can hold up to 3 quarts. I wore pants from REI that can become shorts as the lower legs zip off. The pants are perfect for hiking because they are lightweight but they cover your lower legs so they don’t get dirty or sunburned. Another important item is the hat. A broad-brimmed hat that has a cord that can be adjusted under your chin tightly so that it can stay on your head in a wind (and it can be windy at times) is very important. Lastly, I would suggest a good raincoat or at least a coat that is light enough and resists the rain but also can keep you warm at times.