One summer, when I was a teenager and the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano was also acting up, I sat in my Uncle’s living room in Hilo and watched the surreal sight of red-orange lava coursing down in the distance.
Many years later… and also many years ago… (it’s funny how time works)… I wrote a certain poem. An excerpt:
…do you remember the first / map you traced in the shape of the island / you left… An ocean between us fires / up, inhaling its own ash from the powerlines of existence…
The ocean becomes one with the volcano when flowing lava hits the salt water. I read that the meeting of the two explodes into black sand, creating a beach. A volcanic black sand beach is the lovechild of the ocean and the volcano, rich with lore and sacred to native Hawaiians.
The Hawaiian archipelago was formed out of massive volcanic events, which is why the islands are studded with active and inactive volcanos and craters. On Maui, from the road to Hana, you can turn onto Waianapanapa Road, where, emerging from the rain forest, you find yourself on the grounds of a park that features a small black sand beach. Let me tell you: If there’s one reason to drive the road to Hana – and there are many – this is it, as far as I’m concerned. The Waianapanapa black sand beach is a gift of the Haleakala volcano, and it is beautiful.
Waianapanapa black sand beach
Looking over the rim of lava rocks at this point, I spotted a large sea turtle swimming below in the clear blue-green water. I couldn’t get a pic of him, though, unfortunately.
Descending to the black sand beach
Most people think of the Big Island when they think of Hawaiian black sand beaches, but Maui has this little gem tucked away…
Stunning contrasts: sparkling blue-green water, white ocean spray, black sand, rain forest
Wet black sand, metallic in the sun
Waianapanapa black sand beach
I was quick to kick off my shoes and run down to the shore. That’s a strong tide! I had to use all the muscles in my legs to keep myself planted as the water rushed in and back out. It hit me at knee-level, and I was enthralled.
Enraptured at Waianapanapa
Driving in from the Hana Highway, you know you’re there when you see the sign:
Entering the Waianapanapa State Park
The day we visited the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater, the sky was blue and the air was typically thin and cold above the clouds. But we were dressed for it, and other than Callaghan’s very mild touch of nausea, we weren’t bothered by altitude sickness.
Heading up the Haleakala crater path
Mid-morning light on the lava rocks
Haleakala under a blue sky…
The inside of the volcano crater is another planet.
Looking down from the summit of the Haleakala volcano crater
The Haleakala volcano crater is too vast to capture in one phone pic…
Blue sky, carpet of clouds
We tried to get a selfie with the other-worldly crater floor visible behind us, but alas… this was our best shot:
Haleakala volcano crater – selfie at the summit
Haleakala volcano crater (10,023 ft above sea level)
Haleakala volcano crater
Treading on lava (Haleakala)
Entering the Haleakala National Park
I can’t think of a structure of nature that intrigues me as much as the Hawaiian volcano.
And for some reason, I didn’t get pics of the one Haleakala Silversword we saw. The Silversword is a rare succulent plant that only exists on and around the Haleakala volcano; it grows on volcanic cinder.
That concludes this post. Next up on Tuesday, I’ll share some pics from the road to Hana, and another gem we visited along the way!