Hot Lava in the Dark

This morning was the 3rd time I’ve gone on the Lava Ocean Adventures Tour, and it continues to surprise and thrill me every time. It’s the only Lava Chasing Charter that gives you a front row seat to experience Red Hot Lava spilling into the Pacific Ocean - the most incredible views of lava that you can find! Helicopter views are good, yet you won’t hear the lava crackle, sizzle and pop, or smell their sulfur – lava flows so fresh they’re still forming new land. You’ll be a breath away from the Volcano Kilauea’s River of Lava and the golden sunlit Kalapana coastline.

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Here is where the Pacific Ocean boils, you can feel it, and the crew of the Lava Kai hauls up a scalding bucket of seawater as proof. Right before your eyes, this 2,000º fiery river hits the cool ocean, balls of lava form sizzling hot rocks, turning them black almost instantly. Lava flowing into the sea is a rare occurrence; watching land being created is an incredible once in a lifetime experience.

Hiking there is great, but for safety reasons the county requires that you maintain a 1/2-mile distance from the flow (or receive a stiff fine). So the boat tour is the only way to get really close.

Shane, Dan & Keith are vivid storytellers, explaining that the lava (like most humans) takes the least path of resistance and follows the terrain. If lava flow leaves a tree standing, that tree was either elevated, or its roots were deep enough to continue to give life.

The infamous “Black Sand Beach” was the best surf spot on the island until Pele claimed it. Apparently Pele prefers surfing alone.

Whale Watching is possible; they swim in these warmer waters. Perhaps this is their natural Jacuzzi while on holiday here in the islands from Alaska!

Shangri’La guests receive a discount, especially on groups of 4 or more, so be sure to mention it! If you’re nice to Captain Shane, he may let you drive the boat. ALOHA!

Volcano Golf

If you LOVE golf like I do, you can’t miss playing on the gods’ grounds. The Volcano Golf & Country Club Course, just outside of Volcanoes National Park, is the best kept secret in Hawaii and often frequented by tourists from all over the world. It’s the only golf course in the world that is played on an active volcano.

Of course, you are not teeing off next to lava, or getting a free drop if your ball flies into a lava hazard (imagine a “lava trap” next to the green, how cool would that be? That would be one hot shot!)… No, you don’t have to play in the lava. But, it is built on top of old lava flows, so there is not one flat spot on the course, which makes it incredibly challenging. However, you do hear a ‘hollow’ sound when your ball bounces on the fairways or greens because of the porous rock underneath the grass. Playing golf at 4,000 ft. elevation at the top of the crater you’ll see your ball fly farther and bounce longer because of the thin air. You’ll often overshoot the green if you’re not careful.

Wild turkeys, elusive Hawaiian hawks and Hawaii’s state bird, Nene Geese, frequent the golf course, so if you don’t get a ‘birdie’ in score, you’ll still have a chance to get one if your ball should land near these unusual creatures.

On clear days from January through March, some of the most beautiful views of snowy Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea can be viewed from almost every tee box on the course. (Yes we get snow in Hawaii too!) Active Mauna Loa is the largest volcanic land mass in the world, towering above clouds at 13,677 ft. high. Measured from the ocean floor it’s twice as high as Mount Everest.

Your reward is wine tasting in paradise at Volcano Winery. The only winery in the islands is just a sip away, a 1/2 mile down the road from the golf course. Local wines inspired by volcanic fire and the bounty of the island - award-winning, vibrant creations like Macadamia Nut Honey Wine, and one blended with the exotic Jaboticaba berry grown here exclusively. With free tasting 365 days a year, Volcano Winery captures the playful spirit of our Hawaiian Paradise, and caps a breathtaking day of Volcano Golfing before heading to dinner.