This is day 5 in my series all about our honeymoon! If you haven’t already, make sure you read the other posts first – they’re listed chronologically here 🙂 These are always pretty photo-heavy but this one is especially so – hope you enjoy!
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Today was our first full day on the Big Island of Hawaii, and we were so excited because we had a LOT of cool things planned! We got up nice and early to get ready and then headed out to breakfast. Chris was still a little tired from our fun the day before…
But it was a beautiful day and the island was calling our name! The view out our window really helped coax us out of bed.
Soon enough we were headed out! Our first destination was a little local place called Cafe 100.
I had chosen this place because they claim to be the original home of a local dish called the Loco Moco, which is rice topped with a hamburger, gravy, and an egg. It sounds like it would be disgusting but I kept seeing it mentioned everywhere so I knew I had to try it.
Cafe 100 was a small place with a large menu and everything sounded delicious. Everything was also super inexpensive!
I got my loco moco (and a sandwich in case I hated it) and Chris also got a breakfast sandwich. There was barely anyone else there so we quickly grabbed a table and chowed down.
Here’s a better look at the loco moco – it was actually weirdly delicious???
Like, I don’t think I’m going to be making these at home or anything but it was actually very tasty. It’s one of those things that is more than the sum of its parts, if that makes sense – that combination doesn’t seem like something I would EVER want to put together but it was actually really good and a huge portion. We also really enjoyed our breakfast sandwiches too. 10/10 for Cafe 100 overall!
Once we had finished eating it was time to head out to our first adventure of the day – the beach!!
BUT it wasn’t just any beach…one of the places that was a MUST visit for us in Hawaii was a black sand beach. The sand is black because it is made of basalt and formed by lava flowing into the ocean. All the photos I looked at back home were unreal and we knew that it was something we had to schedule for our trip – so we were off to Punalu’u Beach! The weather for the day looked amazing and we were so excited. We enjoyed some road trip tunes on the way to the beach, which was a little over an hour away from our hotel.
We were in for another beautiful drive – it was long but easy and fun with some stunning views out the windows.
I also didn’t even realize it but we were quickly going up hill! I realized my ears had popped and we started seeing signs for 2000 ft, 2500 ft, 3000 ft altitude – our highest point was 4024 feet!
Soon we arrived at the beach!
Right away we saw some signs mentioning sea turtles and were hopeful we could see some!
We stopped briefly for a snack because the picnic tables were all up by the parking, and we didn’t want to take our food down onto the beach.
That looks like poop in the cup there but it’s actually my beloved Hawaiian Host Caramacs.
The view was already getting us excited!!
And there’s my husband munching on crackers.
We finished up quickly and then headed out to explore the beach!!
And omg…it was just unbelievable.
Much like I wrote about our helicopter tour on Kauai, I truly cannot do justice to this place with photos. It was unlike anything I have EVER seen before.
The black rocks and sand were just amazing!!!
The weather was absolutely perfect too which made it even better.
It was so peaceful to stand and listen to the waves hitting the rocks. The whole place was so calm and serene, I could have easily stayed there all day. It was just a really amazing display of nature’s abilities and a huge difference from anything I have ever seen.
We walked around the area for a while and noticed a more crowded section of the beach a little further down, so we headed down to check it out.
We got over there and quickly realized that the reason it was so crowded was because there were TURTLES up on the shore!!!!!
They were hard to see at first but there they are, right up on the shore!! Just like when we saw seals on the beach in Kauai, there were signs around the area warning people not to get too close or disturb the turtles. There were a few tourists who were trying it but they got scolded by the lifeguards (and other guests like us) and mostly everyone was respectful.
We saw an opportunity for some great turtle photos and plopped down on the rocks just outside the coned off area – these turned out to be some of my favorite photos from the trip!
After the turtle excitement we headed further on down the beach. The sand was much more fine here and it was just so strange to see BLACK sand on a beach!
Here’s where Chris attempted to write “C + K” in the sand haha
We were really just having a great time being there – this beach was one of my top favorite places from the entire trip and still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I just couldn’t get enough photos from the whole experience.
Chris also found where someone was seemingly weaving palms together – Survivor, anyone??
On the opposite side of the sand from the water was a little pond with lily pads and some Nene, which is the official state bird of Hawaii! We saw them a lot on the Big Island.
Once we had our fill (but really, how could you ever?) of the beach, we trekked back to the car to head out to our next destination. Like I said – this was one of my favorite places on any island we went to and I am SO glad we decided to make a stop here.
But it was time to move on to our next stop which was also very exciting!! Another place that was a must do for us on the Big Island was Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We received this as another item on our honeymoon registry which we were so grateful for!!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park park includes volcanic landscapes, information about the science behind volcanoes and eruptions, and two active volcanoes. Kilauea, the more active of the two, erupted in May, just 3 months after we visited. We are really thankful and lucky that we got to visit the park at a time when it was safe to do so. It seems like as of the time I’m writing this the volcano has simmered down, and they hope to reopen in the fall. I just wanted to acknowledge this before getting into the details of our visit. If you’re curious about the current state of the volcano you can check out the most recent updates on the park’s website.
Our first stop after arriving at the park was the visitors’ center to get some information and change our shoes. The park rangers there told us that we wouldn’t be able to see any flowing lava that day due to high levels of volcanic gases, but all the dangerous spots were blocked off so we could basically go anywhere we liked. We hopped back in the car and kind of just drove until we saw somewhere we wanted to stop.
The first place we stopped was a little pullout to the side of the road with a few trails on a marked sign. We started off with the Crater Rim trail, a nice easy half mile walk.
Just a few steps into the trail we were BLOWN AWAY by this view:
The name suddenly made sense as we realized we were walking around Kilauea Crater.
Chris in particular was absolutely amazed. He really loves outdoorsy-type stuff like this and I….don’t always like to do outdoorsy things, so this was a real treat for him.
But I was having fun too! The landscape just kept getting more Survivor-like so here’s me pretending to search for a Hidden Immunity Idol. We’re so dumb haha
Also me being an actual tourist and trying to figure out where we were on the map:
We were having so much fun though! The trail was easy and offered the most gorgeous views of the crater below.
That little white part down there we later found out was part of a trail where you walk THROUGH the crater. It’s lighter because it’s the only part that’s worn down from people walking on it!
The trail was only a half mile so we quickly popped out the other side where we found the entrance to something called the Thurston Lava Tube.
There was a large tour group that was at the entrance so we stood and listened to the guide for a few minutes. Turns out a lava tube is kind of exactly what it sounds like – a cave-like area that was formed from lava flow. It’s like a hollowed out cavern inside, which explains the signs above warning that it will be dark inside. It looked super cool so we decided to check it out.
This next one is a terrible pic but it kind of gives you the idea of what the tube entrance is like – it’s a little scary honestly because you’re literally just walking into darkness without any indication of what is inside. But there were a lot of kids on the tour group that was walking in front of us so I knew it couldn’t be anything too treacherous that I couldn’t handle.
Even though the schedule indicates that flashlights aren’t required when going into the tube during the day, it was still VERY dark inside! I used my phone flashlight to see where I was walking.
It popped out back kind of near where we entered. It was really cool to walk through something entirely created by lava!! Upon our return we saw the following sign which got Chris’s attention:
Chris had just been wondering how people get down to the floor of the crater, and this sign answered that question! We weren’t 100% sure if it was what we wanted or even how long the trail was (I was very uninterested in doing a 4 mile round trip hike lol) but we decided to go for it.
We quickly realized that our intuitions were correct and the trail WAS to the crater floor – the view going down was so cool!
I also took this photo to send to my family:
All my siblings and my parents love outdoorsy stuff and somehow I ended up being the odd one out who isn’t into it. So I took this photo and sent it to them to say “see? I can do the outdoors too” haha
The trail to the floor was mostly downhill, so it went by pretty quickly – and soon we were graced with the beautiful sight of the crater floor.
It was AMAZING – seriously just a wide open crater as far as you can see. You can tell in that photo how absolutely SHOOK Chris was haha
Looking back to the trail where we came from:
It was so amazing. Once we got down there we saw that the trail was marked with these little piles of rocks, called Ahu:
You can see them in some of the other photos. My mom told me this is a pretty normal thing seen on hikes and stuff to mark the trail in a more natural way. As a person who does not frequently hike or do other outdoorsy things, it was new to me and I thought it was cute haha
Anyway – we walked a little ways, staying within the marked trail and just took in the vast, expansive landscape:
It was also like, eerily quiet. It was so cool to be out there with pretty much no one else around us, in complete silence. I feel like again my words and photos cannot do this place justice because it was just like nothing I have EVER seen before.
In this shoddily taken panoramic photo you can also see some Ahu along the walkway.
We stayed down there for a while and could have walked the whole way across, but we figured out that that was the 4 mile hike they spoke of earlier. We didn’t know if we’d have time to do a 4 mile hike and still see everything else we wanted to, so we headed back up the trail. On the way back we took it all in again – I thought it was really cool how little green plants were sprouting up from this seemingly dead landscape:
There were also these little lava-lookin rocks everywhere. I picked one up but did not take any because I did not wish to anger Pele.
Remember how I said the trail was mostly downhill on the way in? Well. It was mostly uphill on the way up haha and steeper than I remembered! But we got back up to the top soon enough. We admired the views on the way back as well.
And another photo for my family, this time to say “I hiked down there”:
One last look from the top:
We got back to our car and decided to eat our last few snacks. It had also just started raining so it seemed like a good time. We had about 3 hours left until we needed to head out to our dinner spot so we waited out the rain and made a plan. The map had a driving trail that said it would take 4-6 hours, which we obviously wouldn’t have had time to do in full, but we decided to head out and we would just turn around if we went too far.
The trail had a bunch of marked spots where you could pull off the road and see old hardened lava and other little landmarks. This was – again – really eerie. There were usually not a lot of other people around, and it was just silent all around.
It turned out that the “4-6 hours” estimate must have meant “4-6 hours if you stop at every single marked spot”. We stopped a few times and not for too long, and we ended up getting to the end of the trail in about 45 minutes!
The trail ended at the sea arches, and we could tell we were getting close as we saw the ocean on the horizon. It was SO beautiful and stunning as we approached. I swear the sky in Hawaii is somehow more blue???
We parked and headed out to look at the sea arches. On the way we saw some more Nene!
I love weird and interesting signs and I was a big fan of the Nene ones we kept seeing.
The sea arches were SO cool!!! I don’t really know what I was expecting when I read the words “sea arch” but it wasn’t that. But they were so awesome! They didn’t even look real.
After the sea arches we walked a little ways further down the trail, til we got to the point of no return, so to speak:
So yes, we COULD have gone on an actual hike and seen flowing lava! But obviously we were nowhere near prepared for that and didn’t have enough time. It just wasn’t the time for a 10-12 mile hike. I sent this pic to my family and they said they would all do that so maybe there is a return trip in the future where we hike to the lava haha
Once we couldn’t go any further without actually hiking, we headed back to the car.
On the way back we saw one more stop we wanted to make, which was to see some petroglyphs! These are rock carvings that were done hundreds of years ago by native Hawaiians.
It was a short walk so we made the quick stop to check it out!
There were a lot of cool and informative signs all about the petroglyphs and their history.
It was also made very clear that these are sacred and revered rock carvings and that visitors should be careful and respectful around them.
The way the trail was set up was again with Ahu markings, and at the end there was a manmade wooden surface to walk on around the petroglyphs, so we could safely view them without damaging them. They were so cool!
It was so wild to see carvings in this hardened lava that was HUNDREDS of years old.
After we finished checking them out, it was for real time to head back! We were getting close to the end of the day and still had a few more things we wanted to do. We headed back to the car and made our way back up the driving trail toward the visitors’ center. On the way, we stopped at some steam vents:
As well as the Steaming Bluff Overlook, which was this:
We were basically trying to see as much of the park as possible before we had to go! After all that we headed to the center of the crater to see if we could find some lava flow. We had some time to kill before the sunset, when the visibility was supposed to be the highest, so we checked out the Jaggar Museum which explained the history of the park and its volcanoes. It was really interesting!
There were also lots of park rangers walking around, answering questions and just helping explain things – it was so cute how they were all so passionate!
Soon the sun set and it was time to go outside to the crater and see if we could find some lava. There were a lot of people gathered around to look as well – and we DID see some jumping lava!!
The photos don’t do it justice (how many times will I say that…) but it was unbelievable in real life. It was the cherry on top of a perfect day to see the flowing lava!!
After our full day in the park, it was time to say aloha and head out to dinner! We had really worked up an appetite after being out and about all day. Our destination for dinner was actually a hotel located just outside the park, called Kilauea Lodge & Restaurant. The place was super cute and quaint, and when we sat down with our menus we noticed a surprise:
It turns out my mom had called ahead to let them know we were celebrating our honeymoon and set up some surprises, including this personalized menu! It was so cute and fun, they also gave us some balloons hahaha:
Chris was hungry and not as amused as me, haha. But anyway – it was such a cute little place!!
Our place settings even featured our good friends, the Nene:
I had a delicious soup, Chris had a salad, and then for our entrees I had a chicken dish and Chris had a steak:
Everything was so tasty and fresh, but we opted to skip dessert – surprise surprise, our long day of activity followed by a delicious meal made us super tired so it was time to head back to our hotel for the evening.
The drive home was a little treacherous because there were so few streetlights, but the silver lining was that we could see the stars which were so stunning! The whole day was just so full of beauty in nature that we had never seen before. I feel like I keep saying this, but it was unlike anything I had ever seen. This was one of my favorite days of our trip and I know we will remember it forever!
When we got back to our hotel I had a laugh at how housekeeping had made up our bed:
We realized we should probably finish up our leftover pizza from the day before, so we had it as a midnight snack while we packed our bags up. The next day we were heading to our final island of the trip so we got our things ready before finally passing out in bed!
So that wraps up day 5 of our honeymoon!! It feels like we’re nearing the end but some of the best things are still yet to come…tomorrow we’ll head to our last island (Oahu) and we check into AULANI!! I am so excited to write about all of it and relive it all over again 🙂 Thank you for reading as usual! ❤