I drove south from Kailua-Kona round the south of Mauna Loa. On the way I stopped at a few different places.
My first stop was Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. A Pu'uhonua is a place where native hawaiians who broke kapu (the law) could seek sanctuary, as the punishment for breaking kapu is death. So a lawbreaker would need to try to reach this sanctuary before his persuers could kill him. To make it challenging, this particular sanctuary is a walled off bit of coast, right next to royal grounds. Any fugative would need to swim to the sanctuary.
The royal grounds next to the sanctuary were quite nice. There was an incredible number of yellow butterflies, lots of coconut palms, and a turtle.
Next I stopped at Whittington Beach Park, where there is an abandoned wharf; and Punalu'u Beach, where the sand is very black.
I finally arrived in my Airbnb in the town of Volcano, just 5 miles from Kīlauea's main caldera. The Airbnb is on the edge of town in the rainforest. In fact there is no civilisation directly south of it at all: just jungle, then a lava flow, then the ocean, then Antarctica.
The Airbnb is also off-grid. It's electricity is generated by some solar panels, and the water is just filtered rain water.
The next day, ideally, I would have visited the Volcanoes National Park that is just 5 miles away, but it is still closed after the recent eruption. I did drive though it though, which was interesting as they are still repairing it. Signs read: CAUTION RIFT ZONE WATCH OUT FOR CRACKS IN THE ROAD.
Instead, I visited the part of the national park that is still open, an hour's drive back south. I did a couple of hikes there, an hour long one across a lava field and across grassland: and a short one up an old cinder cone. As cinder cones don't get covered by more recent flows, they are green islands surrounded by the black lava, and the silvery vegetation that grows on it.
Whilst I was in the area, I also went to the most southern point of the USA, and watched people jump off the cliffs there.
There was also blowhole in the lava rock, but no-one was crazy enough to jump down it.
Finally, bored of black sand beaches, I went to see a green sand beach. It was a 45 minute hike in each direction, in 28 degree sun with no shade, but the beach was pretty cool. Apparently there are only 4 of them in the world. They are given a slight green tint by the mineral olivine.
Tomorrow I travel to Hilo. On the way I am going to see how close I can get to the recent lava flow without being arrested. Apparently there is a town you can go to that has views of it.