In early May 2022 I joined Eric, Jodi and Michael on a one-week trip to Hawaii, ostensibly to celebrate Michael’s 10th birthday. We flew to the Big Island and then flew to Kauai about half-way through the week. In retrospect we should have made reservations 30 days ahead of time to hike on the NaPali Coast, one of the highlights of any trip to Kauai.

Big island

We flew into Hana, rented a car and drove to the Hilton Waikola Village resort where we stayed for the first 4 days. The Hilton is a very fancy resort  that is built around a lagoon that stretches for about a half mile along the ocean. The lagoon has a surprising amount of fish and wildlife including a number of reef fish that can be seen while snorkeling. But more interesting were the number of sea turtles that came into the lagoon and swam around with the guests. In addition they had a collection of captive dolphins that were trained to demonstrate tricks or swim with the guests.

Ancient Petroglyphs

Jodi found an online touring app called Shaka that proved to be useful in pointing us to interesting sites. We began by exploring a collection of petroglyphs at the Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve (also known as the Anaehoomalu petroglyphs) near the resort.  The preserve is located at the far end of a parking lot for a small strip mall. You simply park in the lot and walk the short distance to the path that winds around the petroglyphs, which are simply carved into a bed of rocks

Looking for petroglyphs near Hana

Sea turtles

We had several encounters with sea turtles at close range. They were not uncommon in the lagoon of the hotel. Not sure what attracts them to come so close to people. In driving around the island, we also saw sea turtles, in one case Michael was able to wade out and almost touch them.

Wading with turtles

Looking for lava

We spent one day driving to Volcano National Park on the other side of the island, hoping to see some active lava flow. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate as it was rainy and misty for most of the day. We were also not there during a time of great lava flow, though there was one spot in the Halemaumau Crater where we were able to see a reddish glow.

At the site of active lava flow.

Halemaumau Crater

Active lava flow can be seen at a distance through the mist

Lava tubes

Nahuku, or Thurston, lava tube

The most easily accessed lava tube is near the KÄ«lauea Iki Overlook in Volcanoes National Park. The tube is well-maintained with a paved walkway, stairs and lighting deep inside the tube. The easy walk is about 1.5 miles round trip.

The dynamic nature of these lava tubes can be appreciated by the recent (August, 2022) closing of the lava tube due to instrumentation that detected movement of a crack in the ceiling. Link

Huehue Lava Tube

We used the Shaka self-guided GPS audio tour guide to help navigate the island. Shaka recommended an unofficial lava tube 2 miles north of the Kona Airport near our hotel. The Huehue lava tube is officially closed so there is no parking, no walkway, and is quite a bit more ‘wild’ than Nahuku. Shaka’s recommendation was to ignore the no trespassing signs and just use care when exploring. Of course, this tube was much more exciting than the Huehue tube and appealed to Michael’s sense of adventure so much that we visited it twice.

I should have had someone stand near this opening to give it the proper perspective. This panorama was stiched from 3 images.

Flora and fauna

Black crowned night heron with juicy morsel

The endangered Hawaiian goose.

Traffic sign says “CAUTION. Nene Xing”

Mongoose in the wild

Dolphin show at the Hilton

Performing dolphin at the Hilton

Pair of frigate birds (Fregata minor) or ‘Iwa

Frigate bird. These birds are unusual in that they are able to stay aloft for up to two months without touching land or water.

Frigate bird

Red-footed boobie


We flew to Kauai for the remainder of our time in Hawaii

Waimea Canyon

Red dirt waterfall

Spouting Horn Blowhole

The Na Pali coast is socked in

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