A few weeks ago, I was talking with two guests at breakfast about their visit to
At first, this sort of outburst seems insane. We scratch our heads in confusion. We think they’re kidding, or that we’re all being taped. Then, when we realize they’re dead-serious, we want to shake these people by the shoulders and say, “how can you be so unhappy in such a beautiful place?”, “what’s the matter with you!” (Or something less polite.) Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve heard – or heard of – such a sentiment. We once had a guest check in during a rainstorm and get so wildly upset over the weather he drove off, returned to the airport, and caught the next plane home (it was sunny the next day).
Certainly these visitors returned home feeling let-down by the island. It seems a total waste – of vacation, of time, of money, of potential for great discovery, experience, and pleasure. After much thought, I’ve come to realize that this sort of disappointing travel experience has to do with unrealistic expectations.
But it’s not entirely the visitor’s fault. Tourist information can be misleading. We recently were walking around downtown
For instance, lava viewing can be tricky. The flows shift and change and you have to know specifically where to go to see it. We always advise guests to check the park website before going if they’re intent on seeing live lava, and talking with a ranger once in the park. It may not be visible. Or, you may have to hike out of the park (which was the case most of last year). If you plan on hiking outside of park boundaries you must be prepared with the appropriate gear. Also, you don’t want to BE that close to live lava anyway. All those really gorgeous close-up photos you see of molten lava are taken by professional photographers with huge lenses a significant distance away, while wearing special protective gear (if you got too close you’d be vaporized).
In short, it’s important to be realistic and understand that
We would definitely recommend seeing the Volcano. Take your time, stop at the information station, see if there will be any ranger-lead nature walks that day that you could join, or any hula or art exhibits going on. Walk through the Thurston lava tube, walk Devastation Trail, Kilauea Iki, and perhaps the Petroglyph trail. Slowly drive down Chain of Craters road and stop at the bottom and walk along the shore. Listen to the pounding waves, maybe walk along the rocks or lie down on them and watch the dramatic sky shift color. It IS a powerful place. Take your time, and let it in.