PANALU'U BLACK SAND BEACH.
At sunrise me and my camp mate woke up early to head down to the beach to see if we could spot any turtles, we couldn't but we got to see the sun slowly rising over the ocean and this beautiful popular beach empty of people. One thing I really like is how it goes from beach to jungle, black sand is composed of volcanic minerals and lava rock making the sand a lot more rocky and grainy in texture. Since we couldn't see any turtles I headed back to camp to have a shower, the showers were outside so I put on my swimming costume and had a fairly cold shower, it was a little bit awkward because everyone kept staring!!
Once everyone was up and breakfast had been eaten we all headed back down to the beach to have another go at turtle spotting. Seeing turtles was the number one goal on my Hawaii'an bucket list. I would never have noticed them but someone pointed them out to me, in the sea you could see tiny little heads bobbing up and down in the water, I was so happy. I wandered down into the ocean and over rocks to see if I could get a better view. Patience finally paid of with two coming closer to the rocks with one getting pushed and flipped over into a rock pool by a wave, which really made me think how turtles managed to swim in the water when they are constantly being pulled back and fourth by the waves.
These turtle were green turtles, in Hawaii green turtles are called honu and they are a symbol of good luck and longevity. They are such beautiful animals and I could have spent all day watching them but once I was satisfied I headed back to camp to start backing.
Chad took us to a bake shop that specialises in sweet bread and treats, I was expecting a little bread shop but it was huge. The bake shop and visitor center is the southernmost bakery in the United States, situated on a 4 acre tropical estate. I didn't buy anything other than a little lucky turtle charm and I sampled some of the sweet bread which were flavoured with guava, taro and mango which were pretty good.
We headed to camp pretty early today since it is first come, first served. The campground was located in a wooded area which made it feel a lot more like mainland america camping, however we spent two nights here with no showers!! Camping here is a lot more basic compared to mainland but I will get to that in the FAQ's at the end!
Once camp was set up and we had eaten lunch we headed back to the van to do the Mauna Ulu/Pu'u Huluhulu hike, which is a landscape created by the Mauna Ulu flow from 1969-74, the end of the hike ends upward climb in a forested cone (Pu'u Huluhulu which means hairy hill.) The hike was fairly easy, even if the weather was fairly drizzly complete with lots of information from Chad for example their are two types of lava pahoehoe which is the smooth lava which almost looks like melted fudge and aa pronounced like ar ar which is the rocky, jagged lava.
I picked up a piece of lava rock and I really wanted to take it home with me but I was warned that lava rock are Pele's children and taking a piece home is bad luck, apparently people who had removed lava rock and taken it home with them has sent it back due bad luck. Either way look how sparkly and pretty it is. The landscape is so barren so what shocked me the most was seeing life grow here, plants emerging from the lava rock but lava rock is meant to be really fertile something I didn't know. We also spotted a few lava trees, when hot lava engulfs a tree it cools on the outside forming a hardened crust and hollow inside.
The Pu'u Huluhulu is a haven for diverse plants and animal species, we didn't spot any wildlife although we could hear birds singing but we did spot this Uluhe (false staghorn) fern which almost feels like rubber and is often used in flower arrangements. The weather wasn't cooperating with us today so the view from the top was misty but on a clear day you can see steam from Mauna Ulu as well as Mauna Loa and Kea and even as far as the Pacific ocean.
Hawaii is known for being hot so I had no intentions of bringing any clothes for cold weather, only jacket and a raincoat, now I wish I brought more warm clothing with me. I wrapped up as best I could as the sun started to set for the Jagger museum and overlook and it was freezing. A group of us huddled on a wall wrapped in a blanket to watch the glow from the Halema'uma'u crater, as the sky slowly started to turn to night we slowly started to see the faint orange glow get brighter and brighter. Such an amazing moment to know there is moving lava inside that crater creating this beautiful glow.