Outside Beyond the Lens | Big Island
(soothing music) - [Jeff] Paradise is an elusive thing. For many, it's a place where white sands slip into warm and welcoming waters. I'm gonna stand really still. And he's just munching on grass.
Off he goes. A place where the sights and sounds, of a world suspended in beauty, resets each day after sun and sea collide. Yep, working on my birthday, it's all good. - You are working on your birthday, what kind of a horrible boss am I? To be making Zach work on his birthday? On the Big Island of Hawaii, paradise is also a place of extremes. Where newborn rock is shaped by wind and rain, in the shadows of a fire that never burns out.
We are standing on the edge of the K+lauea Caldera, looking right down into the active volcano right now. On landscapes that remind us of Earth's unsettled will to thrive. (people gasp) One of the things you'll see all around volcano's national park are these steam vents, which sometimes can emit gases other than steam.
And that's what you gotta watch out for out here, 'cause sulfur dioxide emissions can be a problem. And while this place is where so many come to escape, it is an ancient home to generations, with roots that run deep, and whose stories can be heard on the whispers of wind that gently blow in the mists on Mauna Kea. - You know, I grew up always wanting to be around horses and cattle. Most of us growing up on the Big Island always wondered what it'd be like to work for Parker Ranch.
And so eventually I got my chance. (waves crash) - [Jeff] Like so many travel destinations around the world, a trip to the Hawaiian islands for most is a chance to recharge and relax. (jet engines roar) (soothing music) But if you set out to see the beauty here beyond the lens, it can also be a place to find adventure, and a deeper appreciation for what places like this truly are. When you travel, the world becomes a smaller place. When you explore with friends that share a love of photography, destinations come to life.
- Are you not entertained? - [Jeff] We tell the stories of travel with our cameras, capturing images of the most beautiful places on Earth. But every adventure reveals more than what's found in the frame. The people, the food, and the unexpected turns that happen on every journey. - Let him go? - No, he's going downtown on you, hang on a second. - [Jeff] Brings the full experience of travel into focus. (upbeat music) - [Voiceover] Production funding for "Outside Beyond the Lens" provided by Visit Fresno County, nature, diversity, found in the heart of California's Central Valley.
From Fresno and Clovis, you can drive to three nearby national parks. By Hedrick's Chevrolet. - Hedrick's Chevrolet is proud to support the spirit of travel in each of us. Every journey has a first step; adventures start here - [Voiceover] By Advance Beverage Company, serving Bakersfield and Kern County for over 50 years. From our family, to yours.
Supporting Valley PBS and the wonders of travel. By the Penstar Group, promoting growth and opportunity in business, through collaboration and partnerships for the future. By Hodges Electric, serving California Central Valley for over 50 years, dedicated to supporting public television, and the calling in all of us to explore. And by Visit Yosemite Madera County, California's gateway to Yosemite National Park. Explore the outdoor magic of Madera County, and be inspired to discover more. (slow ukelele) - [Jeff] Over the years, I've been lucky enough to visit and explore all of the main Hawaiian islands.
And while I've enjoyed hiking in places, like the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, or exploring the remote waterfalls of Molokai, the Big Island of Hawaii is the one I keep coming back to. I love the open landscapes, the crowd-free places to swim. And I've always been fascinated by the Island's connection to agriculture, through the rich history of the famous Parker Ranch. (energetic ukelele) But for all the times I've been here over the years, I've never had the chance, as good as I do on this trip, to see the K+lauea volcano during an eruption.
I've never seen active lava anywhere on Earth before. And since its most recent eruption, back in September of 2021, the Halema'uma'u crater, in the heart of the volcano's national park, has been spewing lava from a single vent, putting on quite a show for those who hiked the crater's edge. Dave, Zach, and I have a quick four days to shoot this one, which will be a challenge, because getting around the Big Island takes time. It's called the Big Island for a reason. Okay, so we are at our first stop today, which is at the the Fish Ponds preserve area, here in Waikoloa. And Davis loaded up with his usual gangster wrap face covering, to keep the sun off of Dave's sensitive skin.
So what we're gonna do here is we're gonna go look for sea turtles. We kinda get in there, we don't like to touch 'em. Zach, no molesting the sea turtles. (laughs) - [Zach] They're impressive. - Yeah, but this is a good place to try to get into the water, and see some of the fish life, and some of the marine life that's here, in Waikoloa on the Big Island. (energetic ukelele) The section of shoreline we're accessing is open to the public, even though some pretty swanky seaside homes are found here.
This coral trail links two big mega resorts in Waikoloa. But very seldom will you see people swimming here. There is no sandy beach or easy way to get in the water.
And then when you do, it's very shallow. There are jagged lava and coral formations that demand careful navigation as you swim. All right, so Zach just got a good look at this sea turtle. We're gonna try to get in the water and get a closer look at him. Where's he at, Zach? - He's...
Oh, I see his fins pop up over there, see 'em? - [Jeff] Oh yeah, I see him right there. - [Zach] Yeah, he keeps keeps kinda- - [Jeff] He's kind cruising in that little dugout area. - Yup, he's just slowly kinda getting going around by the waves and eating, yeah. - [Jeff] Well, maybe we can get in the water. I put my stuff down right here, maybe we can get in right here and just kind of cruise out.
We gotta be careful, there's a lot of sea urchins in here, but the water's actually... I've been here before when the waves are just cranking in here, and it makes it a lot more difficult. And today, it's really calm. - [Zach] Yeah. - So let's get in here and see what we can do.
While it takes a little extra care getting in and snorkeling here... Zach, you're blinding the fish! Once you swim among these lava formations, and see the abundant fish life, you'll be hooked. The juvenile Green Sea Turtles here, called Honu, are native to Hawaii, but all were born about 600 miles to the west, where females swim to lay their eggs on the French Frigate Shoals.
(relaxing music) For the hatchlings to make it all the way back here to the Hawaiian islands, is a monumental task, against all odds. Here they are commonly found in the water, only inches deep, right next to the shore, feeding on algae and seaweed. All sea turtles are listed as endangered species in the United States, meaning it's a federal offense to harm, harass, or even touch these creatures. Okay, I'm walking out in the water right now. We just got out of the water, doing a great swim with some of the turtles, a lot of great fish.
And I see a turtle right now. Oh God, there's one right below me, I didn't even know it. Let's take a look at this, you guys, look at this guy right here. He is just cruising along.
I'm gonna stand really still. And he's just munching on grass on the rocks. And his buddy's over there too, you can see his buddy right there. So they're just kind of cruising. I don't want to hassle 'em too bad. We're just kind of checking 'em out.
Try not to chase 'em. They'll go back to their, they go back to what they were doing behaviorally. And they always keep track of the, they know know where the threat is, and they know where the deep water is. But it's just so beautiful to watch these guys do their thing, this close to shore, here on the Big Island of Hawaii. These beautiful sea turtles. (relaxing music) Off he goes.
He wants to hit that salad bar without somebody sticking a camera in his face, and I can't say I blame him. (soothing music) The two big population centers on the Island of Hawaii are Hilo, and the much smaller town of Kailua Kona. Most of the tourism flights to the Big Island come into Kona, however.
And even though this is a place with a lot of shops and eateries geared for tourists, it's also a place where the locals live, and like to hang out. Mix all that in with the history of the island captured here, and it's easy to see why a stroll on the streets of Kailua, Kona, is a must-do excursion on the Big Island. (soothing music) Back in Waikoloa at the condo, about 30 minutes away, the effects of our swim with the turtles, and the hot Hawaiian sun, are revealed. All right, hold on Zach, now wait a second. You were snorkeling today. (laughs) - I don't know, there's something different.
It's not quite here, but something back here (Jeff laughs) - [Jeff] You look like a lobster. Oh, that's gotta, that, dude. - [Zach] Kinda looks similar to... Maybe get some aloe back here. - [Jeff] Look at Dave's legs, you would think we would never know what sunscreen was. Oh my gosh.
Oh, that hurts me, looking at it. (energetic music) Sunsets on this side of the Big Island are like their own living thing. A symphony of colors and light that seem to have the coordination of a well-planned performance. And every night, a wonderful show that draws an audience outdoors for the last fleeting moments of the day.
- Beautiful. - Yeah. - I dunno why people come here. (chuckles)V (upbeat music) - [Jeff] The next morning, sunrise over the Big Island of Hawaii signals the start of a big day we have planned. Volcanoes National Park is on the other side of the island from Waikaloa, which means we have a two-hour drive up and over the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the two huge shield volcanoes that are the main foundations of the Big Island's land mass. Dropping into Hilo, and then taking Highway 11 up to the park entrance. (relaxing music) Okay, we are in the gate at Volcanoes National Park, and pretty excited, because it is a crystal-clear blue day.
We've sort of done it again, we get very lucky with weather doing this show. A lot of times, this time of the year, there can be a lot of clouds on this side of the island, it can be pretty soupy. (sniffs) Smell the sulfur, Zack? - I can smell it. - You can smell that sulfur dioxide in the air right now.
And just off to my left, we're gonna turn the camera over here. The K+lauea Volcano is currently active, and steam vents are all around us, and it's really, really pretty. (relaxing music) A quick stop at the massive Halemaumau Crater reveals what's been happening here since the beginning of K+lauea's last eruption cycle on September 29th, 2021.
A time-lapse video from the USGS of the crater, and lava lake contained within it, show the rise of the lava over the past few months. Volcanic activity here caused the National Park Service to close the Jaggar Museum on the edge of the crater back in 2018, when things really started to heat up at K+lauea. (relaxing music) One of the things we've dedicated ourselves to today, is no matter what, we're staying here to see lava today, right? So even if we don't finish up till 11 o'clock tonight- - Yeah, yeah.
- You good with that? - We're gonna get stars, and we're gonna get lava. - Now, the big thing for you, Zach, is that there aren't any restaurants in operation here at that hour. Now we did buy some snacks, but I have a feeling Zach's gonna burn through those pretty quickly. - I think we'll find something down here at the water.
- Okay, there's nothing down there, by the way, I've been down there, except lava and ocean. - Well, there's some goats on the way up, I think. - We're not harvesting a goat in a national park. It's not happening.
(relaxing music) Our plan is to come back here tonight and hike into the crater, closer to where the lava is flowing, to get our first look at Hawaii's most active volcano. With half a day to kill until sunset and our hike into the crater, I wanted to take Zach and Dave down to the bottom of the park, along the Chain of Craters drive. This 19-mile paved road winds through the lava fields of past eruptions, and is an excellent way to see how these flows change the landscape. (soothing music) Once you leave the green jungles near the park entrance behind, an austere environment, barren and raw, stretches out in every direction.
(soothing music) The sheer magnitude and size of these flows is sobering to see as you drive. The hillside flows of the Maunaulu eruptions, that happened between 1969 and 1974, give a unique look at Earth's growth in its purest form. Getting out of the car here and hiking into these flows allows a closer look at the two different kinds of lava present in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
A'A' lava is more coarse and chunky, caused by faster lava flows that cool more rapidly. Pahoehoe lava flows are less intense, and allow the lava to move and cool slowly, often coming to rest in braids and pillows frozen in the rock. One of the things you'll see all around Volcanoes National Park are these steam vents, which sometimes can emit gases other than steam. And that's what you gotta watch out for out here, 'cause sulfur dioxide emissions can be a problem.
The park monitors those levels really closely, and if they get too bad, they'll shut the park down, or move people away from vents like this. This one is pumping out, I'm not a scientist, I don't have any kind of measuring device on me, but I don't smell sulfur right now. It looks like, and feels like steam, but it's just another reminder, and a really cool up-close way to get in here, and see the volcanic activity, you know, in person, really close. This is the kind of stuff you can touch and feel, and it makes it really special. It's another reason why this park is so fantastic.
(soothing music) With the day winding down, and parking lots going quick at the Desolation Trail head, that will take us down to the Crater's edge, we snag one of the few remaining slots. David Boomer coming up here right now. - Ready? - You ready? - Yeah. - [Jeff] All right, man. We lucked out, we lucked out.
That's solid gold right there, that's solid gold right there, right now. (chuckles) - [David] We got here just in time. - [Jeff] Yeah, just in time, man. Zach already took off, he didn't even wait for us. - Nope. (Jeff laughs) He said, "The light's getting good, I'll see you there."
- [Jeff] All right, we'll get headed down there, and hopefully Zach saves us a spot. - Sounds good. - Let's do it. (calming music) The hike down to the overlook is about a mile, and the sense of excitement growing with each step we take, closer to K+lauea, is real. Once we get to the edge, a surreal landscape opens up before us. (soothing music) (wind rustling trees) Pillars of hot gases rise into the fading light.
A transition of this place begins. Where the power of the fires below our feet are captured in the glow of lava against the clouds of steam over K+lauea. The best spot to see the eruption fills quickly, with eager park visitors, smartphones held high, straining arms, and the optic abilities of the built-in cameras to zoom in and grab the perfect shot.
We, however, went to the extra effort of hiking in some big heavy glass, allowing us to bring the vent tube and lava lake, well over 1/4 mile away, up close. And for the first time in our lives, the three of us see the eruption of a volcano. (lava explodes) (crowd gasps) (energetic music) One of the big draws for me on the Big Island is how diverse the landscapes are.
From tropical rain forest hikes and waterfalls, to overlooks that take your breath away, this place never ceases to amaze. (energetic guitar) As is usually the case, and especially for me, food is always a big part of travel. And the Hawaiian islands are known for some insanely good places to eat. One of my favorites is this fruit stand on the way back from the Waipio Valley Overlook on the Hamakua Coast. You gotta pick me one out to you, Zach. - [Zach] You want one yourself? - [Jeff] Yeah. - Or do you wanna share one?
- [Jeff] We can share one, I think. - [Zach] Yeah. - Yeah, I don't need to eat... It's not that good to eat that much. - [Zach] Let's get a bigger one then. - [Jeff] How's business been, pretty good? - It's a little slow today, but it's been, it's starting to be this summer, the summer, so it's gonna be a little more.
- [Jeff] Right on. Today, it's ice cold coconut water and fresh pineapple. - Okay, first one. - [Jeff] Yeah, okay, thank you. Bottoms up. All right, good stuff, right? You feeling refreshed? - This is what I was waiting for.
- [Jeff] Yeah, it's tough to beat. - Fresh cut pineapple, yeah, it's a different thing. - [Jeff] It is a different thing, it's so tasty. In the nearby town of Waimea, trip to the Big Island would not be complete, in my opinion, without a stop at Village Burger. It's in a strip mall in town, but don't let the obscure location fool you.
If you like a big juicy cheeseburger, made from the world-class beef, raised right here on the island, this is a burger experience you will not soon forget. All right, oh man, goodness. Zach didn't waste any time.
- I'm going right in. - [Jeff] I don't know how long I should keep recording this without telling you you've got three ounces of mayonnaise hanging off your face. Cattle ranching on the Big Island of Hawaii has a long and treasured history. The world famous Parker Ranch is the largest of several cattle operations on the island, and is one of the oldest ranches in the United States. Predating many mainland cattle ranches in Texas and Southwestern states, by more than 30 years. (cattle bellow) The ranch is named after John Palmer Parker, who in 1809, jumped ship to visit the Big Island, and found it overrun with maverick cattle wreaking havoc on the countryside.
Parker offered to help Kamehameha I with managing the cattle problem that began in 1788, when British Captain George Vancouver gifted the ruler of Hawaii five cows. Those five cows, over the years, turned into 40,000. Parker was successful in teaching the Hawaiians how to manage and process the cattle into salt beef and hides, became very wealthy. And then later married King Kamehameha's granddaughter in 1816.
- One of the interesting, I think, points of history, was when A.W. Carter started managing the ranch. And he was basically managing it in a trust for Richard Smart's mother, who inherited the ranch at a very young age. And so her mother, Thelma Parker, who we referred to as Tootsie, basically hired A.W. Carter to run the ranch. And he ran it for many, many years. He's the one that basically bought other lands, kind of traded a lot of people for their lands, or their homesteads, and basically grew the ranch to the size that it became, a significant empire.
When Richard Smart passes away, he has he ranch set up into a trust. And so he had some family members that he cashed out in his will, but all the land holdings went into a trust. And the beneficiaries of the trust are the community hospital in Waimea, two private schools in Waimea, and a community foundation. So Richard really wanted the ranch to benefit the community, and he knew education and health was important. (uplifting music) - [Jeff] After spending some time with Keoki at the ranch, high on the slopes of Mauna Kea, he suggested we take a short drive out of Waimea, where the original homestead of the John Parker family was found.
(uplifting music) This is the place where a dynasty, important to the history of Hawaii, and an agricultural company that helps take care of the people here, was born. Not far away, on a quiet grassy slope of a once active volcano, the Parker Family cemetery is found. Here, John Parker, his wife, and generations of their descendants rest. The lives of those here bridged two worlds between the Hawaiian king that unified these islands for the first time, and a legacy of a ranch that continues to grow and protect this special place.
(soothing music) Hawaii has many faces and meanings, for those who live here, and who travel here. Understanding and respecting the history of the Big Island makes me treasure my time here even more. It's an aspect of travel I hope more people begin to embrace. These places are so much more than just a playground for those of us who come here to explore. (slow piano) Being curious about the places we choose for adventure deepens the experience we have in places like Hawaii.
And when our time here is up, and we return home, hopefully we bring home more than just a pretty picture. (slow piano) - [Voiceover] Production funding for "Outside Beyond the Lens" provided by Visit Fresno County. Nature diversity, found in the heart of California's Central alley.
From Fresno and Clovis, you can drive to three nearby national parks. By Hedrick's Chevrolet. - Hedrick's Chevrolet is proud to support the spirit of travel in each of us. Every journey has a first step, adventures start here.
- By Advance Beverage Company, serving Bakersfield and Kern County for over 50 years. From our family to yours. Supporting Valley PBS and the wonders of travel. By the Penstar Group, promoting growth and opportunity in business through collaboration and partnerships for the future. By Hodges Electric, serving California Central Valley for over 50 years, dedicated to supporting public television, and the calling in all of us to explore.
And by Visit Yosemite Madera County, California's gateway to Yosemite National Park. Explore the outdoor magic of Madera County, and be inspired to discover more. (energetic music)