Monday, the students walked around to get to know the town of Kona. The students shot photos of historical buildings, fishermen, locals, wildlife and the ocean. It was a brutally hot day; even the locals said it was unusually scorching, so with that they treated themselves to a popular local Kona Coffee Ice Cream. In the afternoon, the group went to a nearby beach to take photos and cool off.
Tuesday, the group visited the green beach that is famous on this large island. They all drove to the top entrance of a trail that led to a green sand beach, only one of five in the whole world! The drive was breathtaking, open fields and gale force winds, horses and cliff sides and even a windmill farm. The students decided to hike to the beach that took about an hour and ended at the top of a cliff looking down to a beautiful and secluded olive-colored sand beach. The group swam, shot pictures of the area then headed back up the trail.
Wednesday, the students went to a black sand beach. The wildlife was abundant, with a marsh on one side full of geese, small birds and lavender flowers, and the ocean on the other side we found turtles that had come to shore to rest. Everyone watched the sunset then headed back to the hotel.
On Thursday, they went to a local coffee farm in Kona. Kona is famous for its coffee, mostly because of its roasting methods. Everyone enjoyed the tour that showed each step of a coffee bean, from tree to cup. Students were able to sample the coffee as well as feed the farm’s chickens.
The group then walked around the town adjacent to the farm, where there were lines of art galleries of different types: sculpture, jewelry, photography, painting and even ukulele makers. Then the skies really opened up, and the rain came down so violently that the roads were flooding and the river overflowed. After the rain cleared, everyone made it down the hill to have an authentic Hawaiian meal as they sat on the beach to watch the sun set.
Friday was spent going to Kole Kole beach, where a fresh water river meets a saltwater ocean. The students hiked to Waipio Valley, childhood home of King Kamehameha, where they hiked down the lush valley with local birds and bugs and no cell service to Hillawe Falls. When hiking back up, a tropical rain soaked them all!
On the day before departure, the group headed to the volcano Mount Kilauea. It is an active volcano, although it hasn’t erupted in years. They also walked through a lava tube, which is an underground tunnel that lava carves out when it’s flowing from a volcanic eruption. Later, they headed to the top of the volcano, where the temperature dropped to the fifties. They took photos of the glowing crater where steam rose out of the volcano’s opening. Steam vents also released the sulfur clouds all around, and by standing near them you could warm up considerably. The group ended at the lookout of the caldera, and the moon began to rise after a light rain had passed over. As the sky grew darker, the glow of the volcano became an intense red-orange—with the contrast of the moon it looked surreal.
The group was ecstatic about their excursion and their shots, and ended the day with another Hawaiian meal and headed back.