Sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea. Notice the waves of people entering and exiting frame at the most photogenic moments.

Mauna Kea panorama courtesy of the nice couple I met who also happened to be from NYC and Philly.

Driving up to the summit of Mauna Kea is a journey of many signs.

Made it to the summit of Mauna Kea, which is over 4200m above sea level and 10000m from the undersea base to the summit. This gives it twice the base-to-peak height of Mt Everest. After a mandatory stop at the 2800m-high Onizuka Center for International Astronomy and Visitor Information Station to acclimate to the decline in oxygen, I threw the jeep into 4wd and headed up the rocky 13km switchback through narrow passes and past broken or missing guard rails to finally reach the array of enormous telescopes at the summit high above the clouds. The oxygen content of the air up here is 40% of sea level, so that little (white men can’t) jump was exhausting. Thanks to the nice couple I met - also randomly from the NYC and philly areas - who took my photo and gave me great advice on where to get cheap delicious local pork and sushi dishes. Mahalo if you see this! (at Mauna Kea)

Made it to the summit of Mauna Kea, which is over 4200m above sea level and 10000m from the undersea base to the summit. This gives it twice the base-to-peak height of Mt Everest. After a mandatory stop at the 2800m-high Onizuka Center for International Astronomy and Visitor Information Station to acclimate to the decline in oxygen, I threw the jeep into 4wd and headed up the rocky 13km switchback through narrow passes and past broken or missing guard rails to finally reach the array of enormous telescopes at the summit high above the clouds. The oxygen content of the air up here is 40% of sea level, so that little (white men can’t) jump was exhausting. Thanks to the nice couple I met - also randomly from the NYC and philly areas - who took my photo and gave me great advice on where to get cheap delicious local pork and sushi dishes. Mahalo if you see this! (at Mauna Kea)

Additional photos from passing, ascending and traversing Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa at various altitudes.

Halemaumau (house of eternal fire) boiled with lava from 1823 to 1924, when contact between magma and groundwater set off a chain reaction of massive steam explosions. 1000m high ash clouds rained mud, flashed lightning, hurled an 8000kg boulder 300m and doubled the width of the crater to 800m. Nearly a dozen eruptions since 1924 have continued to transform the crater, and a 2008 explosion welcomed a new era of lava activity that still churns today.
Also after dark I got a creepy photo of the lava-lit smoke and a disembodied man’s head.

Big Island Off-roading - 20140908 from Adam Fram on Vimeo.

Kekahakai State Park in western Hawaii has an expansive dried black lava field leading to a gorgeous beach.
Ka Lae is the southern-most point in the USA, at the southern tip of Hawaii. It has a 12m (40ft) cliff jump, miles of excitingly dangerous 4WD-only dirt trails, and one of the planet’s only green sand beaches, Papakolea.

Music: Hillbilly Hellcats - Hillbillies On Speed

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and a cool chocolate factory slash coffee shop slash hot sauce store in Kainaliu.

Ka Lae and Papakolea, a set on Flickr.

The southern-most point in the USA - Ka Lae - has a 12m (40ft) cliff jump, miles of excitingly dangerous 4WD-only dirt trails, and one of the planet’s only green sand beaches, Papakolea. Winds are strong and consistent - the wind farm was a smart move - and many trees are permanently bent at a precarious angle. After 30 minutes of extremely fun off-road driving with no clear destination in sight, I asked a local Hawaiian if I was heading in the correct direction for the Green Sand Beach. He responded with something like “see that sign up ahead that says ‘No trespassing, Hiking only, No 4WD, violators will be prosecuted’ drive right past that sign up the side of that hill, make sure you have 4WD enabled, watch out for hikers, and take the high trails so you don’t flip your truck into the ocean. All the trails eventually lead to the green sand beach” Vroom Vroom. A few miles of amazing scary dusty dirty rocky bone-shattering suspension-melting terrain later, I dismounted my tired steel stallion, hiked 50m down a cliff wall, and arrived at an otherworldly paradise of sheer erosion-gouged rock faces, black-green sand, warm clear turquoise water, and carefree beer-drinking ukulele-playing Hawaiians.

Video coverage

Monday afternoon I took a Jeep to Ka Lae, the southern-most point of the USA’s 50 states. This view was the start of my drive, and it is a freshly paved highway compared to the miles of treacherous off-road grassland and punishing deep cut earth that lead me to one of the world’s only green sand beaches.

Monday afternoon I took a Jeep to Ka Lae, the southern-most point of the USA’s 50 states. This view was the start of my drive, and it is a freshly paved highway compared to the miles of treacherous off-road grassland and punishing deep cut earth that lead me to one of the world’s only green sand beaches.

Pololu Lookout has breathtaking vistas of enormous sheer cliffs, black sand beaches and lush green valleys, plus a few horses along the way. Kekahakai State Park has an expansive dried black lava field leading to a beach. Videos to follow.

Kua Bay, HI. One of the few white sand beaches on the big island. Most beaches here are black sand, and one beach near the southern tip is even black and green sand. Crystal clear bath temperature water and a light consistent breeze make it difficult to leave. I happened to run into a fellow volunteer at the beach which enabled me to share outloud my “is this real?” questions.

Two Saturday morning scuba dives to almost 30m and a few spontaneous “oh those are spotted and spinner dolphins quick stop the boat jump in” surface snorkel swims. Plus we saw Lefty Ray who is nearly 3m across and at least 40yrs old. Lots of colorful fish, other rays, and even a shy octopus who hid in her cave and squirted water at us when we got too close. Boat dives give lots of flexibility (plus great views, snacks, and conversation) but I’m looking forward to a shore dive next week with the hopes of seeing some large tiger sharks. (at Honokohau Harbor)

A few pre-snorkel and pre-scuba skies.

Boats big and small are fun for all. Shore diving next week and hoping to see some tiger sharks.