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3/4/13- Originally published

Jaggar Museum and Halema’uma’u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

I am not unique is saying that our families experience with a real volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii was an incredible experience. When our van set out on the long journey around the Big Island, our first glimpse of the creation process that was below our feet was the smoke billowing from the seaside. As we approached, the land was actually on fire, and the only road trans-versing the landscape was engulfed in smoke.

With firefighters on both sides of the road, we cautiously made our way along Route 11 and the south side of the island. Very shortly afterwards, the pass was deemed too treacherous, and closed to traffic. It was then we realized what lied ahead was an incredible feat of Mother Nature and the foundation of the Hawaiian Islands.

Our first stop involved visiting the Thurston Lava Tube, which was a great experience in itself just imagining the molten rock that once flowed through the pass.

Our next stop involved visiting the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum and lookout over the Halema’uma’u Crater atop Kīlauea. Walking out to the edge of the crater, just knowing lava was below your feet was a pretty tremendous experience. The volcano vent, in a cloud of steam, and during the heat of the day, was still impressive despite actually not seeing lava. Just the shear size of the crater alone was incredible, and I found myself not wanting to leave and just taking everything in with all its natural glory.

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

Once the rest of our clan dragged me away from the crater, we quickly made our way through the Jaggar Museum. Once piled back into the van, the road surrounding the rim was closed due to the direction that the steam from the vent was blowing and the treacherous gases that they emit.

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

Therefore, we made our way out of the area and came across the steam vents along the rim. Just feet below the ground we were standing on were small cracks in the earth that poured out the same steam that was coming out of the volcano’s vent, though in much smaller doses.

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

The views of Halema’uma’u Crater were equally as impressive, though further from the vent.

One of the awe inspiring moments while visiting the volcano was the realization that despite the dangers and devastation surrounding the active volcano, there was actually an abundance of life, with lush grasslands and dense jungles, like around the Thurston Lava Tube. It was quite miraculous to contemplate vegetation thriving among the barren landscape.

120619 Jaggar Museum and Halema'uma'u Crater (Big Island, Hawaii)

Below is a short video I shot along the volcano rim. Despite it being windy, it really helps give a better perception of the immensity of the crater and vent.

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Source: InACents

Exploring the Inside of Kīlauea’s Lava Tube

One of the most exciting parts of visiting Hawaii was undoubtedly viewing the active volcano and its secret past. Our family had never seen anything like an active volcano before, and just knowing molten lava was in site presented a sense of danger while being perfectly safe.

It is also quite astonishing to think how quickly a volcano can take out everything within its path, yet with the right conditions, the densest jungle I have ever witnessed had quickly reclaimed the land.

Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku) is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The tube is located along the upper rim of Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (1)

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (2)

After a descent down steep grades and steps, you eventually arrive at the entrance of the lava tube. The hike is not ADA accessible, and should only be attempted by those with no medical issues due to the slippery conditions on the paths and the amount of walking and stairs that is required to not only enter the cave, but also climb back out.

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (3)

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (4)

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (5)

120619 Thurston Lava Tube Hawaii (6)

The surrounding jungle was quite dense and beautiful! The Thurston Lava Tube was our first encounter with Hawaii’s volcanic foundation, and although just an empty cave, was still quite a memorable experience.

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Source: InACents