New Experiences in Hawaii

Jun 12, 2018

by Sabrina Hendrick '19
Edited for content and length

At the beginning of the school year, I had no idea what I wanted to do for my Junior Journey, until Dr. Gasper announced in our Microbiology class the trip of a lifetime. On this trip, students would have the opportunity to travel to the big island of Hawaii and conduct research, while exploring the "Aloha State". 

Why Visit Hawaii?

Kilauea Iki Crater at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
Kilauea Iki Crater at Hawaiiʻs Volcanoes National Park.

The lifestyle. If a slow paced life is what you are need of, the island of Hawaii is for you. Hawaii is the perfect place to slow down for a bit and take it easy. 

The culture. Even though it is part of the United States, people tend to overlook the island's incredibly rich culture of its' own. When we visited the Greenwell Coffee Farm, our guide, Ann, shared with us Hawaii’s incredible history. 

The weather. Average temperatures on the island range from 73°F in the coldest month, January, and 80°F in August, the hottest month. This weather changes depending on altitudes and which side of the big island you are on, with Hilo being the rainier side of the island and Kona the dryer side. Hawaii has the most perfect weather. 

The History. On this trip, I learned quite a bit of Hawaiian history and American history, as a whole. 

Natural Wonders

Sean Yumul at the City of Refuge.
Sean Yumul at the City of Refuge.

During our visit to the Volcanoes National Park, we participated on a hike to the Kilauea Iki Crater and Devastation Trail. The hike to the Kilauea Crater was one of my favorite parts on the trip. This hike included a descend through a lush rainforest all the way down to the solid Kilauea Iki Crater lava lake that was formed during the 1959 Kilauea Iki eruption. Our path was guided by ahu, or stacked rocks, that marked the trail all the way across the floor of the crater. The calm quiet of the crater made it so that all of us were able to take in our surroundings.

The very next day we had a second, smaller hike of what is known to be the Devastation Trail. This paved path allowed us to witness the incredible environmental recovery after the eruption of 1959, despite the initial destruction. We were able to witness the return of life to a once devastated area.

FSC Students in front of the helicopter.
From left to right: Logan Ash, Robert Marusko, Tayler Clarke, Sean Yumul, Taylor Eaddy, Jordan Carr, Armando Campos, Sabrina Hendrick

Our Experience

Whether it was a zipline trip, trying a poke bowl, going on a helicopter ride, or even an unexpected trek beyond the City of Refuge, we had a blast stepping out of our comfort zones. Our visit to Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, commonly referred to as the City of Refuge, was both exciting and serene. The clear blue water compared to the stark black rocks was a beautiful sight to see and we were able to see the ocean “breathe” through the course of its movements.

Our helicopter trip over the entire island of Kona was likely the most breathtaking view I have ever seen. Stepping into the confined cockpit of the aircraft was thrilling, as was the entirety of the ride across the island. The pilot of our helicopter was a marine pilot, Shawn. He even created a corresponding Spotify playlist to go along with the locations on our flight, which included TLC’s hit "Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls" and "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. We were able to fly over flowing lava tubes and were able to learn about different types of lava formations.

Overall, I have to say, I am so thankful for our trip director and chaperone. Despite our busy itinerary I felt an overwhelming peace and love for the island I had never visited before. For myself and a few other students, this island is one which we would love to call our homes in the future. This was the best trip I could have possibly chosen for my Junior Journey and I was lucky enough to go with a group of incredible people. For that, I am forever grateful.