We spent Sunday, 17th, and the morning on Monday, 18th, at the Volcanoes National Park (extremely worthwhile by the way: it is best to pay the slight extra and stay inside the park at Volcano House overlooking the Kilauea Caldera. Drive down the Chain of Craters Road to the coast at night as then the red hot lava is readily apparent as it very slowly dribbles a few miles down the hillside from the Pu’u O’o vent and hisses into the sea in clouds of steam. By day the viewing remains excellent but in daylight the red colour of the hot lava is not readily apparent. You will need to allow at least four hours to walk across the cold lava to arrive nearer to the active flow.)
On the Monday afternoon we drove around on route 11, the only road via the south, to proceed to Kailua-Kona for the night. On the way, about 30 minutes drive south of Kailua-Kona on the west shore of Hawaii Island, we drove down to Kealakekua in order to see what it looked like and to reserve our kayak for the following morning. We booked by chatting to a pleasant local lady on the quay, one Regina. She charged us $25 each, so, as my wife took the morning off, $50 for the two of us for the kayak for the morning/day.
The entire south side of the island appears to consist of lava though mostly covered by plant life. On route 11 one is driving around the lower slopes of Mauna Loa, 13,679 feet, a dormant volcano of which Pu’u O’o is merely an active vent.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 46, volume 29, number 2 (2006).