Executive editor James Badham says that seeing molten lava up close on the Big Island was one of the great experiences of his life. "As a kid I was fascinated by it, as an adult I never change the channel when a volcano documentary is on TV, and even though I've seen hundreds of images of flowing lava, the real thing exceeded expectations 1,000-fold."
One of his favorite spots was the south coast of Maui, where dry lava beds transitioned to green grassland, which gave way to the waterfalls and mango groves of Hana. "Hawaii is gorgeous," says Badham. "The land and sea are so alive; you can understand how, for the ancient Hawaiians, every part of the natural world was imbued with some kind of spirit." A journalist for 18 years, Badham came to ISLANDS in 1999.
The Kilauea lava flow made an equally strong impression on photographer Michael Moore. "It got to be dark, and the glowing lava was oozing out of the ground. It was eerie but amazing," he says. "You could look into a crack under your foot and see molten rock just six inches down, yet the surface was only warm to the touch. You have to experience the heat; it was so hot I thought my camera would melt."
Moore also enjoyed seeing spinner dolphins performing their acrobatics while he kayaked along the Kona coast, and getting the science scoop while hiking in Wai-mea Canyon. Moore, who says he's "always up for an adventure," has been a professional photographer for ten years and was formerly curator for the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California.
Hitting the Trail To hike into Kauai's Wai-mea Canyon with geologist Chuck Blay, contact The Edge of Kauai Investigations; tel. 888-233-8365, Web site www.teok.com. There are two places to rent gear, both located on the north side of the island, a little more than an hour's drive from Wai-mea. Check Pedal 'N Paddle (808-826-9069) or Kayak Kauai (808-822-9179).
Badham and Moore kayaked the Kona coast with Hawaii Pack & Paddle; you can cover only a couple of miles; do a longer, seven-mile round-trip (lunch and gear provided); or sign up for a multiday tour: tel. 808-328-8911, Web site www.hawaiipackandpaddle.com. You might also check with Ocean Safari's Kayak Adventures (tel. 808-326-4699) as well as Aloha Kayak Co. (toll-free 877-322-1444).
Those who hike to the lava flows on the Big Island (about eight miles round-trip) do so at their own risk. Stop at the park's visitor center for first-rate audio-visual displays and important safety tips. For current volcano activity, call 808-985-6000.
Pony Express Tours (tel. 808-667-2200; E-mail info@ ponyexpresstours.com) offers 7- and 12-mile round-trip rides into Haleakala ($145 and $180, lunch included). Keep in mind that the trail is nearly two miles above sea level; it can be very cold (into the 30s) and windy, and the sun can be brutal.
Beach Time On Kauai, Poipu has famous white-sand beaches, protected snorkeling areas right next to good waves, and restaurants and services at water's edge. For a beach adventure, drive to dramatic Polihale, at the end of a five-mile dirt road near the cliffs at the southern end of the Na Pali Coast. ("It's immense and powerful - one of the world's great beaches," says Badham.) On the Big Island, Moore liked Honomalino, a secluded black-sand beach about a half-hour's kayak trip south of Milolii. On East Maui's north coast near Paia, check out the windsurfers at Ho¿okipa Beach Park, home to the Aloha Classic championship; in Hana, Hamoa is a classic palm-lined cove with good body-surfing.
Room Key On Kauai, Badham and Moore enjoyed the lush Kiahuna Plantation, right on Poipu's best beach ($200 to $400 per night for a double; tel. 808-742-2200). On the Big Island's sunny Kona coast, they stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Resort, located on a long beach near golf and shopping ($186 to $365 per night for a double; tel. 800-688-7444). On Maui, they stayed at the Silver Cloud Ranch, a simple, family-friendly B and B that has beautiful protea gardens and is close to the road up Haleakala (around $100 to $200 per night for a double; tel. 800-532-1111).
What's to Eat In Poipu on Kauai, Roy's Poipu Bar & Grill is the place for refined Pacific Rim cooking. Nearby, Keoki's Paradise is a good spot for an umbrella drink in an airy jungle setting. After trekking Waimea Canyon, stop in at the Waimea Brewing Company for a pint and a shredded-pork sandwich. On Maui, Badham recommends the sophisticated Pacific fare at Hailiimaile General Store Restaurant, near Makawao. Moore's favorite food was the "awesome" (and pricey) seafood at Mama's Fish House, on the water, just outside Paia. He also recommends Grandma's Maui Coffee for freshly roasted coffee and dense cinnamon rolls; it's a pleasant walk from the Silver Cloud Ranch.
On the Road Rental cars (starting at about $40 per day) are the way to see the islands. Convertibles are tempting, but remember that showers occur frequently. On the Big Island, Badham's favorite drive was the Saddle Road, which connects the Kona coast and Hilo. Driving it may invalidate your rental contract, but the road is paved, safe, and virtually empty. ("It's an incredible route that leads through rich ranch country, across old lava flows between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, and into lush vegetation as you approach Hilo.") Watch for police, who patrol in their personal muscle cars. And keep an eye out for buses and bicyclists on the way up the smooth, twisting road to Haleakala, on Maui.
Read It and Leap The volcano-crazed will find great photographs - and explanations of the images - in Hawaii Volcanoes: The Story Behind the Scenery, by geologist Janet Babb. Pick it up at the park bookstore, along with a copy of the waterproof "Trails Illustrated" park map. For a copy of Chuck Blay's Kauai's Geologic History: A Simplified Guide, contact TEOK Investigations. Dedicated hikers should acquire The Hiker's Guide to the Hawaiian Islands, by Stuart M. Ball Jr., or Hawaii's Best Hiking Trails, by Robert Smith. For thrill seekers, there's the Adventure Guide to Hawaii, by John Penisten, or Extreme Adventures Hawaii, by Brad Olsen. Two good all-around guides for multi-island trips are Moon's Hawaii Handbook and Lonely Planet's Hawaii.
Web Headings To check out Kilauea's Eruption Update Page, go to www.hvo.wr.usgs.gov, and click on Kilauea; you'll find current reports and photos, and in-depth information from the U.S. Geological Survey. For excellent info and links, plus downloadable maps from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, go to www.nps.gov/havo. Detailed hiking-trail descriptions for all islands await at www.Hawaii trails.org
Special Screening Two volcano videos come recommended: Eruption Update, Summer 2001 features an hour of Kilauea fireworks. For a more technical explanation of volcanoes, check out the Smithsonian Institution's Inside Hawaiian Volcanoes. Both are available from the Volcanoes National Park bookstore; tel. 808-985-6052, E-mail hnha@aloha. net. For Hawaii on the big screen, watch for Planet of the Apes (filmed on the Big Island) and Jurassic Park 3 (shot on Kauai).
Cash Flow ATMs can be found everywhere.