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Day 3 – Jaggar Museum, Punaluu Beach and the Painted Church

Day 3 – Jaggar Museum, Punaluu Beach and the Painted Church

This is a part of our 9-day Big Island Itinerary.

Wednesday, December 27. With help of a local guide I made arrangements to meet an authentically trained Kahuna healer in Volcano.  We’ll treat her to a lunch at 11 am in Kilauea Lodge and then I will have a private session with Kahuna. After that we planned to stop at Jaggar Museum and Kilauea crater overlook, and then head to our rental cottage on Kona side. We’ll take the longer route, on Hwy 11, around the south end of the Big Island, stopping at Punaluu Beach and St. Benedicts Catholic Church (the Painted Church).

We slept longer, resting well from yesterday’s lava walk, then enjoyed morning coffee with papaya and pastries left for us as makana (gift) by Lava Lodge. Now, what is there to see and do in Volcano before meeting Kahuna? After 10 minutes of research, we decided to spend time at Volcano Garden Arts Gallery.

From the moment we parked the car and walked into the garden, we were enveloped with the sense of peace and tranquility. Soothing fountain, colorful plants and flowers mixed with small statues and pots, a spacious “room” with walls of living trees – everything invited us to quiet our minds and to rest our eyes taking in the surrounding beauty. Volcano Garden Arts had a look and feel of a Buddhist meditation center.

Statues of three Chinese wise men and Buddha child in Volcano Garden Arts
Statues of three Chinese wise men and Buddha child in Volcano Garden Arts

The gallery has many unique and special art pieces, lots of them by local artisans.  We were greeted by Ira Ono, the friendly owner of Volcano Garden Arts and artist in residence. He invited us to ask questions and to touch the pieces, which I appreciated a lot! I love to touch, I understand more about art pieces this way, and I only buy art that speaks to me both visually and through the touch – then I know it touches me on a deeper level. We bought a wooden “cat lying on the back” carved piece for our elder son, who wasn’t on this trip with us. He has four cats at home and will sure appreciate this naturally green and very light-weight carving from olive wood. We also bought a few more presents, finding beautiful and very reasonable priced pieces for everyone we wanted to bring a gift from the Big Island.

Cafe Ono was closed at this early hour, and we wouldn’t eat there this time anyway as we were heading for lunch with Kahuna. But Volcano Garden Arts is definitely a place to spend more time and eat when we return to Volcano.

We met Kahuna in Kilauea Lodge at 11 am and had lunch in their inviting and spacious restaurant. I ordered crab salad on the bed of greens, and it was heavenly good paired with in-house baked bread!

Crab salad on the bed of greens in Kilauea Lodge
Crab salad on the bed of greens in Kilauea Lodge


After lunch, I had a private session with Kahuna, which turned into a reading of Mana cards – a very interesting way to gain another perspective through Hawaiian symbols and wisdom, the interpretation of Hawaiian images and legends.

Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was our next destination. The park offers too many activities to do and places to visit in one day, you could easily spend a week in the park. If you only have 1-3 hours to visit, the park’s website recommends exploring the summit of Kīlauea Volcano via Crater Rim Drive, doing well-marked scenic stops and short walks. For our even shorter visit, we wanted to visit Jaggar Museum and to see Halemaumau crater from the museum’s overlook.

We didn’t see any glow, just vapor, as it was daylight time and Kilauea wasn’t too active that day. The best time to see the red glow is at dark, it is said to be an incredible show to watch the lights in the night sky. We absolutely loved Jaggar museum! It covers a lot of information with interesting displays and clear explanations. The artworks of Herbert Kane, Hawaiian artist, sculptor and writer, depicting mythological characters of Pele and other ancient Polynesian gods, are incredibly beautiful and powerful.

View of Kilauea crater from Jaggar Museum overlook
View of Kilauea crater from Jaggar Museum overlook

After much leaning and perusing the information in Jaggar Museum, it  was time to get on the move and start our long drive to the Kona side of the Big Island, to our final residential destination in Puako.

Our first stop was Punaluu Beach (Hawaiian transcription Punalu’u). It’s a black sand beach, which is famous because the endangered Green Sea turtles often hang out there basking in the sun. Punaluu beach is good for snorkeling, but it’s advisable to wear water shoes, because of the sharp lava rocks mixed with the sand.

Green Sea turtles basking in the sun on black sand Punaluu beach
Green Sea turtles basking in the sun on black sand Punaluu beach

Next, I wanted to visit a cultural and historical landmark of the Big Island – the Painted Church in Captain Cook, officially St. Benedict’s Catholic Church. It was built by a Belgian catholic priest Father John Velghe at the end of the 19th century.  Father Velghe alone painted all interior walls with frescoes, depicting different biblical scenes – a feat for a self-taught artist. We reached the church a few minutes before sunset. The old white building perched on a hill, overlooking the ocean and the setting sun, reflecting the sunset colors, was an amazingly beautiful and spiritual sight.

St. Benedict's Catholic Church - the Painted Church - in the sunset light
St. Benedict’s Catholic Church – the Painted Church – in the sunset light

We watched the sunset, and then walked inside. It was a bit dark indoors at this time of the day, but the frescoes still impressed us very much. It’s best to get here before sunset to truly appreciate the interiors, and then enjoy the sunset before departure.

One of the murals in the Painted Church in Captain Cook, Hawaii
One of the murals in the Painted Church in Captain Cook, Hawaii

Our last stop before Puako – Costco in Kailua-Kona. This wonderful store had everything we needed. It can save a lot of money on groceries. It also has produce from local farms, which is the next best to buying at the farmers market. We are probably going to eat out once a day for the remaining week, and will well utilize the kitchen in the rental cottage to prepare other meals.

Previous: Day 2 – Puna District, Hot Ponds, Walk from Kalapana to Active Lava Flows

Next: Day 4 – Waialea Beach, a.k.a. Beach 69

Back to 9-day Big Island Itinerary

 

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